Lord Shani or Shri Shani Dev : Embodied by the Planet Saturn/Shani Graha in Vedic astrology
In the puranas, Lord Shani or Shani Dev is the son of Surya Dev and Goddess Chhaya. Shani Dev is also the elder brother to Lord Yama.
Interestingly, Shani Dev gives us the results of our deeds through our life by appropriate punishments and rewards. Lord Yama grants the results of one’s deeds after death.
Spiritual Significance of Shani Dev/Shani Graha
The relevance of Shani Dev in Kali yuga is immense. When one understands the spiritual significance of Shani Dev, then one realizes that Shani Dev, unlike what is believed, actually bestows welfare.
Since Shani Dev is designated with the task of granting the fruits of one’s actions in this life, he is one of the most feared amongst Hindu gods. The powerful Shani Dev is believed to have the control of making a king into a pauper as well as changing the fortunes of an impoverished man.
The age today is one of superficiality and it is easy to become ignorant and entangled in the abyss of materialism. This leads to a life without purpose and makes people bewildered, totally devoid of any higher ideals that can lead to spiritual evolution.
In this Age of Kali of instant sense gratification, people are tempted to perform wrong actions and get enmeshed into a web of desires and material bondage. It is the suffering given by Lord Shani due to our past wrong actions, that acts as a reality check and makes us investigate into what is true and what is untrue. It is the tough times in our life that remind us of our mortality and motivates us to perform good actions in life.
When suffering comes in the form of challenges pertaining to job, family, health, wealth or psychological turmoil brought about by the unfulfillment of desires, one may get temporarily insecure and depressed. But this depression or anxiety happens because our sense of being is externalized and superficial.
The suffering is important from two perspectives:
Firstly, the suffering that one undergoes is a result of one’s past karma. Hence during times of trial, one should always remember that “this too shall pass” and remain hopeful as they are expiring the effect of their bad deeds thus giving them freedom to engage in good deeds in future;
Secondly, often, suffering brings forth the spiritual awakening of person. Some of the greatest sages and philosophers became detached and self-realized only after a bout of suffering in their lives. When suffering comes, it arouses a deep sense of humility in an individual and makes him aware of a higher power or truth that exists in creation. Thus the suffering one undergoes makes a person humble and often starts his or her spiritual unfoldment in this life.
Keeping in mind the above two points, we have to understand Shani Dev’s role in the spiritual evolution of an individual.
Suggested Reading: Conversation of Goddess Parvati with Shani Dev
It is Shani Dev’s duty to bestow good rewards for good deeds and suffering for bad deeds. Every person has the choice to perform the right or the wrong action. It is Shani Dev who grants the emotional maturity, spiritual growth and wisdom that makes us choose right over wrong and perform deeds that makes us move closer to Moksha or self-realization.
Shani Dev’s role is immensely significant in maintaining order and justice in creation and helping an individual evolve spiritually. Shani Dev grants Viveka and Vairagya to a person so that he can make efforts to become one with the Brahman and get free from this cycle of birth and death.