The Circumstances of Saturn’s Birth
Saturn (Shani in Vedic Sanskrit) is the 5th child of the Sun (Surya). Surya’s wife Sanhya bore him three children (Manu, Yama, and Yani). She loved her husband and did her best to please him, however, his scorching heat had exhausted her over the centuries and she realized she needed a break. Sanhya knew Shani desired her to always be near him and would suffer if she left, so she resolved to take a pilgrimage to her father’s house only after finding a means to fool her husband.
Sanhya created an exact copy of herself from her shadow and named it Chaya. She instructed Chaya she should pose as Sanhya while Sanhya was visiting her father. Chaya was able to fool Surya and also bore him three children (Manu, Shani, and Tapti). During Shani’s conception Chaya became so involved in pleasuring Surya that she lingered too long in his presence. As a shadow form of Sanhya, she didn’t have enough substance to protect the newly formed fetus from Surya’s immense heat for long periods of time. Lost in love-making, she lingered with dire consequences.
When Shani was born, his skin was permanently seared black by solar heat. In addition his joints were inflamed and his movements slow and painful. Seeing the condition of the newborn, Surya became enraged at Sanhya’s deception and might have destroyed Shani had not Chaya intervened, pleading that she had been faithful both to her mistress, Sanhya, and master, Surya, and the baby was not at fault.
Shani, seeing his mother’s distress allowed his gaze to fall on Surya who was immediately afflicted with black spots that erupted from his skin in cycles that wax and wane over 11-year periods. Seeing the power of his Son, Shani banished him beyond the orbit of the great benefic planet Jupiter (Brihaspati) so Shani’s potent gaze would be weakened by distance. In time, he forgave Chaya as she was only doing what Sanhya had ordered. Their third child, Tapti, was born subsequently and both Chaya and Surya took care to limit their time together to protect the developing fetus. Tapti was born without affliction.
Eventually Sanhya’s father declared it was time she returned to her husband. When she came home, her husband confronted her about the deception. Sanhya admitted her deceit and then asked how Surya had found her out. He told her about the birth of the deformed baby whose gaze was so dangerous and powerful that it even threatened him. When Sanhya asked what Surya had done with child and learned if its fate, hurting and alone in the furthest reaches of visible sunlight she became furious with her husband.
“You did this to a baby?”
“I did this to protect all of us.” The Sun pleaded for understanding. “It could kill us all with a glance if it wanted to.”
“So, I wish he was here right now,” Sanhya said. “You’re a monster and I’m leaving until you fix this!” And with that, Sanhya turned into a Divine White Mare and galloped away toward a large pasture outside of her father’s home.
The Sun, Surya, was stunned by her sudden departure but knew he could not go after her until he repaired the damage he had done. “But what to do?” he thought to himself. The Sun disappeared behind a cloud for many days as he pondered the problem.
Up next, Saturn’s fate is decided….” And Surya goes in pursuit of Sanhya.