By Dr. K.V. Seshadrinatha Sastri
Lunar eclipse, as per astronomy, occurs when the Earth casts a shadow on the Moon. This phenomenon is referred to by many of the ancient scriptures – starting from the Vedas. ‘Brihat Samhita’ (the oldest among the classical astrology texts) and ‘Chandra Graha Ganitha’ (a classical astronomy text) emphasize that Rahu (one of the lunar nodes) hides the Moon owing to its position on Earth. The Puranic scriptures too narrate this in the form of a story.
It is considered as event of significance because even modern science accepts that all animate and inanimate things do get influenced by the invisible rays that are emitted during the eclipse. During the Full Moon days, high tidal waves are witnessed in the seas, whereas the entire surface of the sea is known to be relatively calm during the eclipses. Some studies have claimed that people who suffer from epilepsy get affected more on such days. Pregnant women are also asked to be cautious, as certain research findings have indicated that the radiations can possibly affect the baby in the womb.
The human body is said to experience a sudden dip in energy levels during this time. Therefore, Dharma Shastra (Vedic conduct) prescribes in detail the appropriate activities to be done for the optimal utilization of this celestial time period.
Instead of activities that require more of physical involvement, focus is given to those activities that relax the entire body and result in peace of mind. One such recommended activity is to have a shower during the start of the eclipse. This can soothe the body, calm the mind and conserve one’s energy levels. Another activity that anyone can do is to mentally contemplate on the chosen form/symbol of a higher power or a personal deity, and chant their mantra or sacred sound.
It is also advised not to consume food during the eclipse time, due to a marked decline in the digestive power during this period. However, patients, pregnant women, aged persons, babies and children, who cannot remain without food for a long time or whose bodily functions will get disrupted without intake of food, are exempted.
One can safely have food at least 4 hours before the start of the lunar eclipse. This is so because the digestive juices start secreting as soon as the food is taken in and thereafter, it takes 4 hours for complete digestion to take place. After the eclipse is over, one should take bath again and can consume food immediately.
Due to the effect of the invisible rays, it becomes important to safeguard items of daily use (such as milk, curd, and so on) from these radiations. For this reason, a piece of Darbha grass (renowned for high spiritual energy and anti-radiation properties) should be placed on each of these items 3 hours before the eclipse starts and can be removed after the eclipse is over. Also, watching the eclipse with naked eyes is not advised.
Since the impact of the eclipse on the Moon remains up to 3 days after the eclipse, therefore any ceremony for worldly pleasures or benefits should be conducted only after 3 days. If death anniversary (as per the lunar month) falls on the lunar eclipse day, it should be observed only on the next day.
On the lunar eclipse day, acts of charity are encouraged so that they bestow contentment to the donor, bring happiness to the receiver and also enhance one’s good karma (merit). It is a very auspicious time, as per Vedic Astrology, to start any spiritual practice. Propitiating one’s ancestors yields the best results when one performs the ancestral ritual called Tarpanam during the peak of the eclipse (when the Moon enters its waning phase).
In India, this lunar eclipse starts at 11:52 pm on June 15th, reaches its peak at 1:45 am on June 16th and concludes at 3:32 am on June 16th. Astrologically, this can impact persons born under specific stars and suitable Vedic remedies are prescribed for these stars. Moreover, the eclipse might have sudden, erratic and widespread effect on flora, fauna and the atmosphere.
Therefore, it is important to utilize this unique time to channelize our minds towards those activities and rituals that that concur on scientific and spiritual lines, and bring only positive benefits for everyone.
The author serves as Member, Advisory Board, Astrology and Vedic Services, AstroVed.com. He is a distinguished Astrologer, eminent Ayurvedic Doctor, and former Principal of Sanskrit College, Madras.