Having banished the infant Shani (Saturn) to the furthest visible orbit of all the planets, Surya (the Sun) pondered the problem of recovering his wife, Sanhya, who had left him because of his treatment of the child.
“I can’t simply bring him back. I’d appear weak, losing my authority, my gravity, my light itself faltering. Besides,” he muttered, looking at his once pristine reflection now marred by dark spots, “That gaze of his is dangerous.”
Reports had reached Surya that on the way to banishment, Saturn had reportedly crossed paths with Ganesha, a Deva who brought nothing but good fortune to all. When he met Saturn’s gaze the gentle Ganesha’s head had burned completely away. Only the intervention of Vishnu, who had replaced the missing head with that of a bull elephant had saved Ganesha’s life.
“Dangerous” was Surya’s response. But he still wanted his wife back. He couldn’t imagine spending all of time without her. “Time” he thought. “That’s it!”
Not long after, as Sanhya, Surya’s wife, still in the form of a divine mare grazed in her father’s sweet grass pasture, she heard thunderous hooves approaching. Surya had come as a magnificent blazing stallion to reclaim his bride.
“I’ve solved it,” he shouted as he approached. “The baby, Shani, I’ve made it right.”
Not looking up, Sanhya continued to graze, but Surya saw the tiniest flicker of her ears. She was listening.
“So I put him in the most distant and stable orbit of all the visible planets. I’ve given him a belt of many rings, not unlike Shiva’s discus, to protect him and warn his enemies to stay away.
“Because his orbit is slow, stable, and distant, he is now the official keeper of time in my Solar System. All must pay homage to him if they are to accept the reality of the world, which is that nothing is permanent. Time is the most valuable substance any conscious entity has, and wasting it, not keeping commitments made around it, puts all at risk of bringing suffering to themselves and others.”
Sanhya glanced at her husband and said sarcastically, “Well, that ought to make him popular.”
Surya, encouraged that she was listening (and ever-optimistic) pressed on.
“But there’s more! From his distant, slow vantage point, he will be able to see how every living creature uses its time. The cause and effect realm of karmic action and its results will be under his watchful eye. And so, I’ve made him the judge of the karmic ledgers of debts and credits. As each soul leaves the body of one life behind, Shani will determine if their karmic lessons have been learned or if they must revisit some before advancing to their next level of consciousness.”
Sanhya frowned. “Meaning what?”
“Meaning if an entity lives a particularly good life they might return as a Sadhu, Saint, Sage or other higher being. If they harmed others and/or lived selfishly then they will return to a lower level of being in order to repeat lessons they obviously haven’t integrated into their behavior and being.”
Sanhya snorted, “Are you serious? Who could ever love a planet with such powers?”
Surya moved closer. “You do understand I’m giving him full authority in this? He’s already powerful enough to scare me, and I’m not easily frightened.”
Sanhya said, “He’ll need to learn to control his power.”
The Sun agreed. “I’ll get Hanuman involved. He was once an out of control Devi too. Shani will use his abilities to create delays, obstacles, and obstructions for those headed toward selfishness and harming others. He’ll do this not to punish, but to draw attention to the actions of those affected. By his own example in curbing his power, power gained through the pain of his conception and birth, he’ll lead each being toward a better way of living, loving, and learning. Tough but fair, he’ll only increase the difficulties as needed to draw attention to inappropriate actions.”
It was Sanhya’s turn to consider. Was this enough? Did Surya mean what he said? And would Shani agree? After all, with the power to hurt even the Sun, young Saturn had no incentive other than his own moral sense. Sanhya wondered, would Surya’s plan work and allow her to return to him?
Next installment: Hanuman helps seal the deal.