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Legend of Grahan according to Matsya Purana

There is an interesting legend related to the Surya Grahan and Chandra Grahan which goes back to the period of the churning of the ocean (Samudra manthan). The Sun and the Moon get eclipsed many times a year and the Matsya Purana details the story regarding this event.

During Samudra manthan, amrut was one of the most important things to emerge for which the gods and demons had a tough fight. The consumption of amrut would have made the demons immortal and hence the Gods had to somehow keep them away from acquiring amrut. Then Lord Vishnu worked his tricks and ensured that only the Devas received amrut.

However during this process, one of the demons called Swarbhanu with his yogic powers disguised himself as a Deva and sat in between the Sun God and the Moon God. While Swarbhanu was receiving amrut, Lord Surya and Lord Chandra observed this and immediately alerted Lord Vishnu. Vishnu then cut off Swarbhanu’s head with his sudharshan chakra. However by this time he had already received amrut, he did not completely die but his head and body got separated. His head was known as Rahu and the rest of the body was known as Ketu.

Since it was Lord Surya and Lord Chandra who were responsible for this fate of Rahu and Ketu, it is believed that once in a while Rahu emerges to hold the Sun and the Moon in his mouth and hence the grahan occurs. This came to be known as Surya grahan and Chandra grahan.

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