Do you believe that the idea that eclipses occur because Rahu‘s immortal head is swallowing the sun is a metaphor, or that there is actually a being named Rahu who is actually swallowing the sun when an eclipse occurs?
First it would be good to admit that the culture who came up with that crazy sounding myth is the same culture which was predicting the time and place of eclipses with near modern accuracy. So maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to write off the whole thing as crazy?
My understanding is that eclipses occur where the path of the Moon intersects the path of the Sun (“ecliptic”) only at times and from places where the two bodies, Sun and Moon, are simultaneously present at the intersecting locations. This is how Vedic astrological/astronomical literature defines and accurately calculates the invisible position of “Rahu” and “Ketu” and thus accurately predicts the occurance of eclipses.
Vedic literature also says that at the two locations where the Moon’s path crosses the Sun’s, there is a demigod/demon (force of nature) positioned. And that this powerful force (“Rahu” on one end, “Ketu” on the other) takes advantage of this location to exact revenge upon the Sun and Moon by swallowing them.
The level of reality upon which demigods and demons exist as discrete localized personalities is not the level of reality in which human beings in the current epoch of development, exist, except in very rare cases of persons with stuff usually called “ESP” or persons who have intentionally cultivated higher tunings of their sensory faculties (by yoga disciplines, for example). On our level of reality, there is no demon swallowing the sun or moon when there is an eclipse. All we see on our level of reality is their “shadow” or effect – we see an intersection of lunar and solar ecliptics causing the Sun and Moon to baffle one another and their light to be temporarily extinguished.
So, on our level of reality, no there is no Rahu… also there are no demigods living “on the Moon”, No angels in the “clouds”, etc.
Our level of reality is not the only level of reality. This is what I am getting at in general by agreeing that empiric evidence is extremely relevant and useful for our practical world, but disagreeing that it is reliable as the sole or final authority for determining the totality of reality. This is the point of my Boy and His Ruler, story. (You can CLICK THIS to read the very short story)
- Vic DiCara