It’s the eclipse season with two coming up in the month of August, 2017. There’s a lunar eclipse on August 7 and a solar eclipse on August 21. A number of my clients are asking if eclipses are truly inauspicious. And is it really necessary to follow the rules and rituals that our grandparents insisted upon, and our parents followed diligently?
The short answer is that eclipses are a good opportunity to pause from the daily grind and reflect on your spiritual path. It’s the reset button to purge, refresh and restart. The long answer – including the why and so-what of it – is below.
A quick astronomy refresher first. A lunar eclipse or Chandra grahan takes place when the Earth comes in between the Sun and Moon. A solar eclipse or Surya grahan takes place when the Moon comes in between the Sun and Earth. The Sun appears to wear a cloak of darkness during the eclipse.
In ancient times, solar eclipses were feared. The Sun went dark during the day causing widespread panic. The astrological narrative is that Rahu, one of the nine planets in Vedic astrology, attempted to swallow the Sun causing the bright star to go dark and cloudy. Then, God Indra enlisted help from the great sage Maharishi Atri who is believed to have pulled Rahu away from the Sun, ending the eclipse.
Many doomsday stories from Hindu mythology are attributed to the day of solar eclipse. A couple of these are from the epic Mahabharata. One story has it that the Pandavas lost their gambling match, losing their country, riches and their wife, to the Kauravas on the day of solar eclipse. Another story has it that the city of Dwaraka was submerged on the day of solar eclipse.
How are eclipses relevant to present-day lifestyles beyond astronomical curiosity? Scientifically, the gravitational pull from the Moon during a lunar eclipse and from the Sun during a solar eclipse disrupts the energy balance on body mass. In the human body, this plays out typically in the form of highs and lows in blood pressure, minor or major disruptions to the digestive system, mood shifts like hyperactivity or low energy and dullness, and also negative thoughts. Even those who are not typically sensitive to subtle energy shifts experience physical symptoms and changes in mood. Eclipses have been branded as inauspicious to get people to pause all activity and focus on their bodies and their spiritual path. This is the intention with which the classic list of do’s and don’ts are religiously followed.
It is advised to not eat at least 12 hours before the start of the eclipse and during the eclipse, so that the digestive system gets a thorough cleansing. People are advised to stay indoors and to not be out and about. This is because during an eclipse one’s physical and mental faculties are not functioning to its optimum best. Accidents and avoidable arguments are known to have taken place during a solar eclipse severely disrupting normal life. Sharp instruments, tools and the use of heavy machinery are best avoided during an eclipse for the same reason of hyperactive or slowed down faculties.
So what is one supposed to do during an eclipse? Spending time reading the scriptures, praying, doing yoga or light stretches and chanting mantras are believed to have an immense spiritual impact because all these activities give more power to the Sun when it is at its weakest. The literal meaning of grahan is to take in, accept or absorb. It’s the most sensitive time to accept goodness, compassion, kindness and love while giving up negativity, darkness, anger and jealousy.
The time after the eclipse is when a physical and ritualistic cleansing is done to restart activities with a fresh frame of mind. Take a shower, clean the idols in your prayer room or altar, cook fresh food and eat with renewed enthusiasm for the new beginning. Any spiritual activities during the eclipse period is said to add good karma to your balance. It is highly recommended to donate food and clothing to those in need after the eclipse.
Astrological impact: Eclipses are great times of reflection for energy workers, tantriks, and anyone tuned in to nature’s energies. It’s a great time to meditate and feel the shifts in energy at this time. Astrologically, those born under Rahu dasa and those currently running Rahu dasa are most sensitive to eclipses. They tend to dream a lot during this phase and also feel sudden shifts in their energy body. It’s best to stay positive and think happy thoughts.
Date: 7 August 2017
Time: 22.44 to 1.49 IST
The eclipse will be visible in India if the clouds favorably stay away, of course.
Date: 21 August 2017
Time: 21.16 to 2.34 IST
The eclipse will not be visible in India.