Devotion to Gods is often in a form of a narrative of their acts, their deeds, their properties, their strengths and how their devotees are cared for. Many Gods in Hindu devotional material interact with other Gods, animals who can communicate, and humans. The Mahabharatha is the great story of the presence and actions of the Gods among men and women in the history of India which was called - and still is - Bharath. Hence, Mahabharatha, the Great Story of Bharath. Shani Chalisa records the many facets of Shani, planet Saturn in the ancient times, and also recalls the transits of Planet Saturn.
Chalis is Hindi for 40. Chalisa is doing something 40 times. Chalisa's that are recited as prayers to Gods are very famous, for example, Hanuman Chalisa, Shiva, Ganesha and Ganesh Chalisa. Each of the forty verses of the Ganesh Chalisa conveys one particular form of blessing and, depending on the faith and devotion of the devotee, the fruits of the particular verse are attained.
Shani Chalisa is 40 verses in praise of the one we know as Planet Saturn, who is the planetary deity, Shani. As planet, Shani is the only planet directly titled as a god (although all the planets are forms of divinity and hence, Gods) for the proper name is Sanishwaraya. Iswarya means God; (variant spellings exist; Iswaraya is in Eashwara, which simply means "the god, the all". For example, one may say easwara sarva bhutanam - meaning all that exists and has form is divinity, God.
Doha is a very old "verse-format" of Indian poetry. It is an independent verse, a couplet, the meaning of which is complete in itself. All of these couplets speak of one or another Legend of Lord Shani as deity and address the aspects of Planet Saturn and the influence Saturn has on figures in history - as well as what we may expect today - as it moves through the signs (rasi) and houses (bhava) of the zodiac.
The verses below begin with the adornments of Saturn; he is the bearer of the spear, and has the slayer sight (drishti) of Saturn - that is, the curse that whoever Saturn looks at would suffer. Shani is one of dark (black or very dark purple ) beauty; like other Gods, Saturn holds the mace, the trident (suggesting Lord Shiva) and the battle-axe. He is called Konastha, Pinglo and brother of Yama, the god of dharma (who is also the god of death). Shani is also called Krishna (dark-skinned) and son of Mother Chhaya (the wife of the Sun who was a shadow, chhaya). Saturn is called Sauri (Son of the Sun) and Manda (the slow moving one). Saturn may turn a king into a pauper and a pauper to a king. He may transform simple work into tedium and tedium into the quickest task!
Through deranging the mind of Kaikeyi (third wife of King Dasaratha of the Suryavamsha dynasty) (of the Sun) he caused Lord Rama to lose his kingdom and delay of his coronation. Through the veil of maya, Lord Shani causes the golden deer to appear, thus bringing about further ills for Lord Rama with the abduction of his wife Sita; he causes Rama's brother Lakshmana to faint, bring fear and concerns to many, including Rama. Hanuman, his devoted servant caused the golden towers of Lanka, the kingdom of Ravana, to burn. (There are several legends of Hanuman with Saturn, and also, Lord Ganapathi).
He gives a picture of a peacock to King Vikramaditya, which came to life and stole a wedding-necklace during the ceremony; He causes the king to be blamed for theft of a necklace, and for the fall of King Vikramaditya during the king's sade-sati (seven-and-a-half year transit of the natal moon). He was also responsible for the fall of King Harish Chandra. This story illustrates the strength of the sade-sati:
King Harish Chandra was surrounded by the troubles from all sides. He had no escape. Lord Shani spares no one. At the last phase of his sade-sati, when his wife brought her son’s dead body for cremation and King Harish Chandra was forced to make his wife pay the tax (death tax) in the form of her sari, the only cloth over her body. At that moment Maharishi Vishvamitra and Lord Shani appeared before him and stopped her from doing so. He was much pleased with him for his dutifulness and he returned him all his kingdom and made his son alive. When King Harish Chandra came to know that Lord Shani was a causing factor behind all his troubles, he cursed Lord Shani by these words, “Those performing good deeds, won’t be affected by his fatal powers.”
Lord Shani was responsible for King Nala losing his position and his wife through the bite of a snake; unknown to many is the fact that Lord Shani is brother-in-law to Lord Shiva through the latter’s marriage to Goddess Kali (sister to Lord Yama and Lord Shani). We have legends of the boy Hanuman swallowing the Sun, Rahu swallowing the Sun and Shani swallowing the Sun (Shani is seven times more powerful than the Sun) and going to the netherworld. Vehicles (in these days, auto-mobiles; in the days of the ancients, vehicles were animals you rode upon and signified both your wealth, your prospects, or, in the case of Lord Shani, your karma that you had to reap!
Precious metals were also important in worship and in significations around the home, particularly with the sacred science of vaastu, now called architecture. Steps to the home made out of various metals have certain significations with respect to Saturn. There are also legends of the planets having to lie face down on steps and the planets were begging Saturn, the slow-moving one, to aid them.
Devotion always merits the fruits of devotion. Lord Shani has the vairagya principle of Lord Shiva, the principle of detachment. Just as Lord Shiva sits in silent meditation utterly detached from anything material, so also Lord Shani, as cosmic force, causes misfortune and suffering with respect to attachments and to any evil one may have committed in the human life in order to acquire material objects. When a devotee is detached and serene, Lord Shani restores their name and fame and appurtenances in the worldly life; nonetheless, they (the devotees) do not really care for this having learned the lessons of detachment!
Before we begin to chant the Shani Chalisa, Lord Ganapathi is invoked to clear the obstacles, and to provide thoughts of the spiritual forces around us. Each mantra is a powerful magazine of spiritual forces. With the recital of OM, the energy of the Source of All Creation comes; then we bid Lord Ganapathi to come and provide protection. You may listen to the chant of Om Gan Ganapathi here: (text is below)
Om Gan Ganapati Namo Namah
Siddhi Vinayaka Namo Namah
Ashta Vinayaka Namo Namah
Ganapati Bappa Moriya
Shani Chalisa with translation
जय-जय श्री शनिदेव प्रभु, सुनहु विनय महराज।
करहुं कृपा हे रवि तनय, राखहु जन की लाज॥
Oh, Shani Maharaj, the gracious one !
Listen to my prayers, you who are the victorious one !!
Bestow your grace and protect us all !
Keep all your devotees modest and pure !!
जयति-जयति शनिदेव दयाला।
करत सदा भक्तन प्रतिपाला॥
Victorious, victorious, Lord Shani, generous !
Protecting the devotees, who come under your shelter !!
चारि भुजा तन श्याम विराजै।
चारि भुजा तन श्याम विराजै।माथे रतन मुकुट छवि छाजै
Your dark beauty and all four arms !
Your forehead is adorned with the crown of pearls !!
परम विशाल मनोहर भाला।
टेढ़ी दृष्टि भृकुटि विकराला॥
You're smart looking with the huge spear, the bright !
You are with slayer aspect and frowning sight !!
कुण्डल श्रवण चमाचम चमकै।
हिये माल मुक्तन मणि दमकै॥
Your ear-rings shining in two ears !
Over your chest, the necklace of pearls !!
कर में गदा त्रिाशूल कुठारा।
पल विच करैं अरिहिं संहारा॥
You are carrying the Gadha (mace),
Trishul (trident) & Kuthar (battle-axe) !
Slaying the enemies once for all !!
‘पिंगल कृष्णो छाया नन्दन।
यम कोणस्थ रौद्र दु:ख भंजन॥
Pinglo, Krishna & son of Maa Chhaya’ !
‘Yama, Konastha, Rodra & killer of pains !!
‘सौरि मन्द शनी दश नामा।
भानु पुत्रा पूजहिं सब कामा॥
Sauri, Manda, these ten names of yours !
Son of Lord Surya (the Sun), you grant them fame !!
जापर प्रभु प्रसन्न हों जाहीं।
रंकहु राउ करें क्षण माहीं॥
Over whomsoever (you cast your dristhi, sight),
you become pleased, but ones (excepting your devotees) !
Granting your grace, you protect them hence !!
You can turn down one from the heights of sky !
Or even can raise him from Earth to Sky !!
पर्वतहूं तृण होई निहारत।
तृणहूं को पर्वत करि डारत॥
The simplest of work, you can make so tedious !
Or the tedious one, you can make simplest !!
राज मिलत बन रामहि दीन्हा।
कैकइहूं की मति हरि लीन्हा॥
Lord Rama was sent to exile instead getting a kingdom !
Through deranging 'Mother Kaikayi',
King Dasaratha's wife !!
बनहूं में मृग कपट दिखाई।
मात जानकी गई चुराई॥
In the woods he saw a deer, the illusory one !
This way, Sita (Mother Janaki,
embodiment of prakriti, nature) was stolen !!
लषणहि शक्ति बिकल करि डारा।
मचि गयो दल में हाहाकारा॥
You made Rama's brother Lakshmana faint !
The whole army became frightened !!
दियो कीट करि कंचन लंका।
बजि बजरंग वीर को डंका॥
No sooner did Bajrang Bali (Sri Hanuman) invaded Lanka !
The Golden Lanka was turned to ruins !!
नृप विक्रम पर जब पगु धाारा।
चित्रा मयूर निगलि गै हारा॥
When King Vikramaditya suffered your Dasha Period !
The pictured peacock had swallowed the necklace !!
हार नौलखा लाग्यो चोरी।
हाथ पैर डरवायो तोरी॥
Lord Krishna (i.e., Lord Shani, the dark one)
was suspected in the theft !
And was beaten up badly for the suspicion !!
भारी दशा निकृष्ट दिखाओ।
तेलिहुं घर कोल्हू चलवायौ॥
During your adverse Maha dasha span !
He had to work, at the house of a layman !!
विनय राग दीपक महं कीन्हो।
तब प्रसन्न प्रभु ह्वै सुख दीन्हों॥
With submission & love he prayed you Lord !
You got pleased & granted all that he desired !!
हरिशचन्द्रहुं नृप नारि बिकानी।
आपहुं भरे डोम घर पानी॥
King Harish Chandra in your dasha period !
Lost all his belongings and his wife got sold !!
And he himself had to do menial work !
At a low caste sweeper's house !!
वैसे नल पर दशा सिरानी।
भूंजी मीन कूद गई पानी॥
King Nala when suffered your dasha period !
He became helpless like a fish out of water !!
श्री शकंरहि गहो जब जाई।
पारवती को सती कराई॥
Your transiting over the rashi of Lord Shiva !
His wife got Sati (incinerated in a fire)
that badly hurt Lord Shiva !!
तनि बिलोकत ही करि रीसा।
नभ उड़ि गयो गौरि सुत सीसा॥
When you looked at Ganesha, the Lord !
His head did fly to the height of sky !!
पाण्डव पर ह्वै दशा तुम्हारी।
बची द्रोपदी होति उघारी॥
When the Pandava brothers passed your dasha period !
Only Draupadi (their wife) was sold - nothing was spared !!
कौरव की भी गति मति मारी।
युध्द महाभारत करि डारी॥
Even the Kaurvas (evil minded opponents
of the Pandava brothers) lost all their wisdom !
And the Mahabharta (great war of India) had to fought !!
रवि कहं मुख महं धारि तत्काला।
लेकर कूदि परयो पाताला॥
शेष देव लखि विनती लाई।
रवि को मुख ते दियो छुड़ाई॥
Swallowing the Sun, you went to the third world !
The Sun was but saved by the prayers of all the Gods !!
वाहन प्रभु के सात सुजाना।
गज दिग्गज गर्दभ मृग स्वाना॥
Lord Shani has seven vehicles (transports) to ride of his own !
The elephant, horse, an ass and a deer, one !!
जम्बुक सिंह आदि नख धाारी।
सो फल ज्योतिष कहत पुकारी॥
The dog, the jackal, the lion, all having nails !!
Accordingly the results, so an astrologer says !!
गज वाहन लक्ष्मी गृह आवैं।
हय ते सुख सम्पत्तिा उपजावैं॥
Riding on an elephant, it brings home money !
On a horse, brings comforts and the wealth !!
गर्दभहानि करै बहु काजा।
सिंह सिध्दकर राज समाजा॥
On an ass he gives losses in many ways !
On a lion he grants the kingdom and fame !!
जम्बुक बुध्दि नष्ट करि डारै।
मृग दे कष्ट प्राण संहारै॥
On a jackal he takes away all the intellect !
On a deer, he grants death like pains !!
जब आवहिं प्रभु स्वान सवारी।
चोरी आदि होय डर भारी॥
Riding on a dog gives threat of theft !
Makes him a beggar and a rolling stone !!
तैसहिं चारि चरण यह नामा।
स्वर्ण लोह चांदी अरु ताम्बा॥
The same way are all your four steps
(entrance to the residence) !
The golden, iron, silver & copper !!
लोह चरण पर जब प्रभु आवैं।
धान सम्पत्तिा नष्ट करावैं॥
समता ताम्र रजत शुभकारी।
स्वर्ण सर्व सुख मंगल भारी॥
Over the iron step, you take away wealth !
Over copper it is normal & and the silver is most auspicious !!
The golden step is ever bright !
Granting name, fame & all the right !!
जो यह शनि चरित्रा नित गावै।
कबहुं न दशा निकृष्ट सतावै॥
Whosoever sings your worthy prayers !
He's never troubled by your adverse periods !!
अद्भुत नाथ दिखावैं लीला।
करैं शत्राु के नशि बल ढीला॥
You show people of your excellent acts !
Killing their enemies and making them helpless !!
जो पंडित सुयोग्य बुलवाई।
विधिावत शनि ग्रह शान्ति कराई॥
Calling learned men who perform your pooja !
Through the Vedic ways, he (the pujari) gets you pleased !!
पीपल जल शनि-दिवस चढ़ावत।
दीप दान दै बहु सुख पावत॥
Watering a pipal tree on Saturday, each !
Offering dhoop (incense, fragrance)
and deepak (lamps, little lights) at you feet !!
कहत राम सुन्दर प्रभु दासा।
शनि सुमिरत सुख होत प्रकाशा॥
Rama says singing worthy songs of Lord Shani !
Brings them comforts, health, wealth & money !!
प्रतिमा श्री शनिदेव की, लौह धाातु बनवाय।
प्रेम सहित पूजन करै, सकल कष्ट कटि जाय॥
Worshipping Lord Shani, over the idol of iron !
His love & devotion, takes away all pains !!
चालीसा नित नेम यह, कहहिं सुनहिं धारि धयान।
निश्चय शनि ग्रह सुखद ह्वै, पावहिं नर सम्मान॥
Reciting the Chalisa, he ever gains !
Lord Shani is certainly an auspicious God !!
Who grants the health, wealth & wisdom !!
Besides the respect, name & fame !!!
Shani Dham Temple is located in the Indian capital of Delhi
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