The Shani Mahatmaya is the story of a few incidents in the life of King Vikramaditya before his seven and a half years of Sade Sati starts. The king is in his court listening to a debate on which planet is the greatest. Learned scholars represent each planet and describe their virtues. The King listens to the descriptions of Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangal (Mars), Budh (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter) and Shukra (Venus). The King then asks the seventh speaker to describe the seventh planet Shani Dev or Saturn
Description Of Shani Dev
The representative of Shani Dev was dark, tall, and dressed in very traditional clothes. He spoke in a very low and harsh manner. He stated that Shani is the most terrifying of the Navagrahas. Saturn is not only terrifying but also the most feared by one and all, Shani is the ruler of loss, bereavement, and misfortunes. When pleased Shani Dev can give a person a kingdom and when displeased he can take away everything. Shani can take away things to the extent that the world will forget the name of the person. He is also is the Lord of time. Therefore he is is the significator of death and longevity. Even the Devatas get scared of his presence nearby.
The gaze of Saturn is terrifying and inauspicious. He is very cruel. Shani Dev signifies the Shudra caste and the servants. He is an oil presser by trade. The gem of Shani is the blue sapphire and his metal is iron. Shani Dev rules the Rashis of Makara (Capricorn ) and Kumbha (Aquarius). He is the ruler of the West direction and worships Kal Bhairav. His is the son of Chaya and is known as the son of Shadow. He is also called Manda meaning slow and endless since time is endless.
The gaze of Saturn is very inauspicious. When Shani was born he looked at his father Surya. Surya got leprosy. Then he looked at Arun, his father’s charioteer and he fell down and broke his thigh. He then looked at the seven horses of the chariot and they all went blind. Surya tried many remedies and none of them worked. Finally, when Shani Devs gaze left them, they were all healed. Surya’s leprosy was cured, Arun was healed and the horses could see. His gaze affects everyone.
Shani Dev And Lord Ganesh
Shani Dev plays a key role in the story of the Ganesh. He did penance at Banares and pleased Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva then blessed him that he would be a planet. When Lord Ganesh was born to Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathi, they celebrated his birth. All the Devatas visited to congratulate the couple and brought gifts for the couple. After the celebrations, they all left one by one but Shani Dev stood last in the line on purpose.
Shani Dev blessed the child while turning the other way. Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathi found this very strange. They requested him to look at the child and bless him. However, Shani Dev explained that as his gaze was not auspicious he did not want to create problems for the child by looking at him.
Finding A Head
Parvati Devi insisted that he must look at the child. Lord Shani Dev agreed while warning her that he was not responsible for any negative consequences of looking at the child. He did not look fully at the child but only glanced at the baby partially. Immediately Lord Ganesh’s head turned to ashes. Parvati Devi became very upset at this. Shani Dev explained that it was not his fault.
Lord Shiva also became very upset. He sent his Gan to find a mother and child who were sleeping facing opposite to each other. They looked everywhere but all the mothers were sleeping with their child close to their chest facing each other. Only the elephant was sleeping facing opposite to her child. So, the Gun cut the baby’s head off and brought it to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva then fixed the head on the body of Lord Ganesh.
The way to appease the planet Saturn is to offer black sesame (Til) seeds, sesame oil and sugar to an iron image of Shani Dev on Saturdays. One can also give sesame seeds or iron donations to needy people.