ECLIPSE FICTION
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HINDI BOOK
    What I write here is only my
reasonable conviction about why many
people consider any Eclipse as
damage-causing occurrence. It is well
known now that Eclipses are caused by
either the moon coming in between the
sun and the earth or the earth coming
in between the sun and the moon. Also
such crossing of the heavenly bodies is
a common thing considering the
frequency of movements of these
bodies in the sky. It is not a great rarity
for two vehicles to block a third vehicle
between them on our streets.  
    Fortunately the sun, moon and the
earth travel in their own lanes and
never collide with each other. Yet many
people in the world including many
educated men and women perform
strange rituals and observe fast or
undertake purifying chores before,
during or after an eclipse, like the one
that happened on the 15th January
2010.
    Long long time ago the people were
not aware of the mechanics of an
eclipse. There were bad effects such
as blindness that occurred to people
who looked up at the sun that was
easier to see during an eclipse. The
result was pain in the eye and often
blindness. This was considered to be a
punishment to the person who looked
up at an eclipsed sun. Although no
such blindness or pain in the eye arises
when one looks at an eclipsed moon,
the difference was not considered and
all eclipses were treated similarly; that
is they are a source of curse to the
people who do not perform special
rituals to ward off the evils of an eclipse
taking place in the sky.
    And since the early man was not
aware what really was the mechanism
of the eclipse, he began to make up
stories. One of the theories he
proposed and tried to give it a spiritual
basis was that the bad planet Rahu
was swallowing up the indefensible sun
or the moon. Rahu is a shadowy planet
described in the astrological texts and
treated like the so-called Saturn in
disguise. Saturn is alway quoted in
many religious texts as the villain trying
to lead the good believer (in God) to the
wrong path. It was necessary to prevent
any untoward effect by his open attack
on good heavenly bodies such as the
sun and the moon. He could even cast
his malevolent shadow on the poor
creatures on the earth and cause
unseen damage to his body, mind and
soul. It is only an invented story which
caught up with the ordinary folks and
got stuck in the religious books. When
any theory becomes stuck in the
religious books then it becomes the
word of God. Any word of God has to
be respected and followed to the last
letter. Thus all that we do to ward off
the evil effects of an eclipse got a
religious value.
    Hindu astrologers have been
predicting the exact time of the eclipses
occurring during any year from ancient
times. The dates and the exact
durations of the eclipses are given in
the Panchaanga books. Nobody should
try to see at the sun directly. People
want to see the solar eclipse because it
shows a rare phenomenon of the sun
getting totally darkened, or when a ring
like figure appears in some eclipses.
When a total solar eclipse reaches the
point of full eclipse then there is a
diamond-ring-like beautiful picture
appearing. But none of these should be
seen with a naked eye. Looking at the
eclipse even for a second can damage
the eye permanently. This damage can
occur very slowly and take over six
months to be noticed.
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Eclipse is associated with a few items
of misconceptions
By Mohan Shenoy
    But none of these should be seen
even for a second can damage the eye
permanently. This damage can occur
very slowly and take over six months to
be noticed.
    How to view the eclipse safely?
Make a viewing box as follows: take a
long narrow cardboard box and remove
one side. One side, not one end. We
need the end. When one side is
removed you can see the inside of the
two ends very well. Paste white paper
over the inside of one end. Make a
small hole in the center of the other
end.         
    To get a sharp picture the hole
should be neatly cut and measure only
one-eighth inch (2 mm.) in diameter.
Hold this box against the sun with the
holed end facing the sun. You will notice
a picture projected on the surface of
white paper. If the hole is too small or
too large, then the picture will be hazy.
Rahu and Ketu are shadows of the
earth that occur at the points where the
Lunar and Solar paths transect each
other. These paths transect at only two
points, the one at the northern sphere is
Rahu and the one at the southern
sphere is Ketu. They are imagined to be
a Dragon's head and tail and they are
exactly opposite to each other. During
an eclipse these shadows disappear
and the event is perplexing to the
uninformed person. The astrology
books explain the event variously but
not objectively. One mistake leads to
another and so did the interpretation of
the disappearance of the Rahu and
Ketu shadows. Many astrologers
consider that the Rahu is a demon who
swallows the sun during a Solar
eclipse.         
    Actually it should be that Sun
swallows the Rahu. But neither occurs.
Only the person looking from the earth
assumes that the Sun has been
mutilated. The God is at his weakest
state and needs to be protected from
Rahu. Therefore the temple doors are
closed. Fortunately always God returns
with his original glory, soon after eclipse
is over. In fact the moon moves away
and the Sun is not blocked anymore.
As a precaution the superstitious person
becomes himself an untouchable.Food
prepared earlier is thrown away. People
are advised not to eat during the eclipse
and a few minutes after. These are all
imaginary fears. A rope is a rope no
matter what our mind tells us when we
see snake-like immovable dark thing in
subdued light. We imagine that the dark
thing is a snake. Afterwords we laugh at
ourselves for mistaking a rope to be a
snake.
    We must reject anything that is
untrue even if it is quoted in our ancient
scriptures and other works of past
saints and sages and correct our
actions and deeds according to the
latest knowledge that we have; proven
beyond any doubts. Any Eclipse can not
do us any damage and we must accept
this fact in our life. We must stop giving
unscientific attributes to the eclipses.
We must consider the mythical stories
about the bad effects of the eclipses as
false. We must stop following the advice
given by fake pandits about the
malevolent shadows cast on us by the
eclipse phenomenon in the sky. We
should teach this lesson to our
youngsters so that they eliminate one
source of anxiety and apprehension in
their life.

Concluded.
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