Among the Navagraha, Planet Saturn is most unique: not for reasons of fearing Sade Sati, Ashtama Shani, Kantaka Shani and Saturn Mahadasa or any of its gochara (transit). Planet Saturn in the only planet that has divinity in its name. Oh yes, there is Suryanarayana, but whom among the planets has “easwara” as its name? Saneswara, of course! On this festival of Shani Dev, we share the story of Shani Dev and King Vikramaditya.
The Story of Shani Dev and King Vikramaditya
The name “King Vikramaditya” has been assumed by many kings in Indian history. Vikramaditya was the king of Ujjain. He was famous for his wisdom, valour and magnanimity. Due to his great power he had became “emperor”. Madenlekha (Queen of Ujjain) was the wife of Vikramaditya. He had two children Adityavardhan and Manjili.
The seven gods of the weekdays are the Sun (Surya Dev), Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and Saturn (Shani Dev). Once upon a time, the seven gods of the week were in meeting. Rahu and Ketu are also there. Rahu and Ketu put one question to the Gods. The question was “Who is the powerful god amongst us?” They could not decide on this matter. So they went to Indra for his adjudication. The King of the Gods – Indra – thought if he gave a decision in favour of any one god then the other gods will be dissatisfied with him. He spoke thus: “Respected gods, I am also like you so, how can I decide that who is great? I can’t give an impartial judgement! So, better thing to do is for all of you go to the Planet Earth. There you will find one King by name Vikramaditya. He is praised for dispensing justice all over the Earth. Upon hearing this, the gods of the days of the week (the planets) went to King Vikramaditya.
When the gods came to King Vikramaditya, he felicitated them with all respect and proper honours and begged how he might be of service to them. They told him about their problem. It was very difficult task for Vikramaditya. But he was dutiful king so, he accepted this challenge gracefully. After thinking on this, He arranged seven thrones. These thrones were made from Gold, Bronze, Brass, Tin, Zinc, Mica, and Iron respectively. The thrones were put by numbers. The Gold throne was put at number one and the iron throne was numbered the last. Then King Vikramaditya requested to seven gods to grace the throne of their own selection. God Surya (Sun) was in the gold chair while Shani Dev selected the Iron chair.
When the seven gods were seated in the chair of their own selection, Vikramaditya said, “Now according to the order of your throne you may decide your own rank and none can put that I placed my judgement upon you.” Hearing to this, Shani Dev (Saturn) stood up and said to King Vikramaditya, “You ranked me the lowest among these gods. You don’t know my power. The Sun can stay in a rasi (sign of the horoscope) for one to two months, Mars for one month and a half, Jupiter for maximum thirteen months, Mercury and Venus for one month only. Rahu and Ketu, these two can stay in one rasi for eighteen months. But only I can rule a rasi (sign) from two and half years to seven and half years. This period is known as “sade sati”. When faced with this sade sati period, even powerful gods tremble. When I was angry with Lord Rama, he got banishment to the forest instead of the throne of Kosala. Now be prepared because it’s your turn.” Saying all this Shani Dev went back and sat on his iron throne.
Vikramaditya’s Sade Sati
After a very short time, “Sade Sati” period given by Shani Dev took place in the horoscope of King Vikramaditya. The King’s sade sati period began which went for seven-and-a-half-years. Shani Dev took human form and went to Vikramaditya’s kingdom as a horse-seller. He had very attractive horses. People were also praising the beauty and strength of those horses all in the marketplace. When King Vikramaditya heard about the strange horses, he sent his minister Ashawapal to buy the best horse for him. When Ashawapal came back with one attractive horse, the king was so pleased to see the horse that he could not stop himself from riding on this horse. But, while he was riding on the horse, the horse disappeared into the air with a great speed. After a few seconds the king was in a deep and thick forest. He was very tired. Due to his being outside of his kingdom, King Vikramaditya faced many problems. All these problems were created by Shani Dev.
At the palace of Ujjain, Queen Madenlekha was worried about King Vikramaditya. Queen Madenlekha was a devotee of Shani Dev. So, she requested to Shani Dev to save her husband. Due to the prayer of Queen Madenlekha, Shani Dev promised her, “I will save your husband but he has to endure for his karma“.
King Vikramaditya was out of his kingdom, so nobody was taking notice of him. At last, Vikramaditya reached a nearby city and in the city he met a respectable businessman. This businessman also, he was not taking notice of Vikramaditya. The King was looking like a beggar. Acting his sympathy, the businessmen took him to his home and arranged food for him. On that day businessman earned more profit due to the grace of Shani Dev. But, he thought that this man (King) is lucky for him. Thinking this he kept him at his house for work.
The king was enduring his Sade Sati period. He was living in the businessman’s home with a changed name. After some days, there was a marriage of this businessman’s daughter. In this marriage Vikramaditya was the responsible person. He went to the market with businessmen’s other daughter to purchase materials needed for the marriage. In the market, Vikramaditya met Shani Dev who was in disguise. Shani Dev gave a picture of a duck to Vikramaditya.
The marriage arrangements were proceeding properly. Suddenly, the bride’s necklace was lost. The necklace was swallowed by the duck which was in picture. The businessmen’s wife asked Vikramaditya about necklace but he could not explain anything to her. She thought that he was a and she had him arrested the soldier of King Chandrasen.
King Chandrasen was the sworn enemy of King Vikramaditya. When he looked to Vikramaditya, King Chandrasen was very, very happy. He ordered to the soldiers that King Vikramaditya’s hands and feet be cut with one stroke of a sword. Listening to this order, Vikramaditya cried out. But, the soldiers went ahead and cut his hands and feet.
The King was without hands and feet. He was dallying each day like a beggar. A teli (oil seed crusher) was looking him one day and he felt pity on him. He took him to his house and arranged food for him. He also dressed the king’s wounds and after some days, this teli, he made Vikramaditya capable of driving the bullocks around the grinding machine. Now, Vikramaditya could do his work properly. Like this, time passed on. The Sade Sati period was about to be over.
One night, the king was alone in his work. He was singing a song. His voice was sweet. His song was breaking the silence of the night. In a nearby kingdom, a princess heard the song and she got fascinated about the singer (Vikramaditya). This princess, she called to her personal attendant and sent him to find out about the singer. After some time, the attendant came back and he told the princess that the singer was servant of one teli and he was handicapped. Listening to this story, the Princess decided that she would marry that singer otherwise she would remain unmarried throughout her life. When the princess’s parents heard about this decision they dissented with the princess and her decision. But, ultimately, they were ready for that marriage.
The King (father of princess) went to the teli with the proposal of marriage. The king said to this Teli, “Arrange for the marriage of this handicapped person, my daughter wants to marry with this man.” This teli, he did not believe what the King was saying to him. But after time, the teli was ready for marriage.
The marriage of the princess and the handicapped Vikramaditya was over. But this princess, her parents were not happy. At the midnight of the honeymoon night, King Vikramaditya had a small nap. Shani Dev visited to the King’s dream and said, “King Vikramaditya, you ranked me the lowest among the gods. All this has happened to you and this is the effect of my sight, drishti. You have undergone enough sufferings for your misjudgement. Now your Sade Sati period is over.” Hearing this news king became happy and he requested to Shani Dev “Do not inflict such suffering in future on anyone like me. The God accepted the king’s request and disappeared.
After Shani Dev took his leave in the dream, King Vikramaditya opened his eyes, and became surprise to see that his hands and feet were in proper shape and once again attached to him. The princess and her family members were also overjoyed to see this. When they came to know this handicapped person really was, that he is King Vikramaditya, the King (the princess’s father) was overwhelmed with joy.
This news reached immediately all around and in nearby towns. The businessman also got this news and felt guilty about his behaviour with Vikramaditya. He went to Vikramaditya and requested of him, “Excuse me for my wrong behaviour with you.” And he also invited Vikramaditya for dinner. King Vikramaditya accepted his request and the next day he went to businessman’s house for dinner. In the house of businessman, King Vikramaditya said, “I shall dine in the same room where the necklace had lost.” Without asking any question, the businessman arranged the dinner in that room. When the Vikramaditya were dining, he saw to his great surprise that the invaluable necklace was emerging from the same duck which was in picture. This emerging miracle was seen by all the people who were present in that house. The businessman was so much overwhelmed with joy and he too decided to marry off his daughter to Vikramaditya.
After some days, King Vikramaditya returned to his Kingdom. Queen Madenlekha became so much happy to see Vikramaditya has returned to his kingdom. On the next day in the court, The King Vikramaditya said to his courtiers to make a proclamation by the beat of drum that God Shani Dev is most powerful like no other God and so, they should keep fast on Saturday as a mark of honour of God Shani Dev. After that in the kingdom of King Vikramaditya, there was arrangement of worship of Shani Dev on every Saturday. And Vikramaditya and his two queens live happily ever after.
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