True or Mean Rahu?

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Q. I was wondering whether you could clarify whether one should use True or Mean Rahu?

A. Hare Krsna!

All planets have got a mean (average) motion and true or actual daily motion. Below please find a table of the average (mean) daily motions of all the planets:

Planet Deg Min Sec
Sun 59 08
10 36
Mars 45 00
24 00
Jupiter 12 00
12 00
Saturn 05 00
Rahu -03 00

But in actual practice we use the true velocities of the planets, which can vary greatly from the mean motion. For example on July 7, 1957 Saturn was moving at a speed of minus (-) 03 minutes per/day (in backward not forward direction) while Mercury was moving 2 degrees and 7 minutes per/day. This is significantly different from the mean motion.

The mean motions are arrived at by averaging out the velocity of a planet over a long period of time, usually a year. In older systems of astronomy they were used as a preliminary step to finding the actual position of the planet.

Since for all other planets the true position is used, it seems intuitive and natural to use the True position of Rahu. And, by contrast it seems absurd to use the Mean position of Rahu if its True position be known.

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Some argue that we should use Mean Rahu even when its True position is known because Rahu is said to always move backward and using its True position would violate this dictum because sometimes during its True motion it reverses direction. The retrograde motion of Rahu thus (according to them) attaches a significance that somehow gives it its special character. This again is a weak argument. It is well known that the overall motion of Rahu is backward and if any special meaning attaches to Rahu because of this (it is doubtful that there is) then it is not lost when taking its True position because every astrologer knows that Rahu on the whole has a retrograde motion. In the same vein most of the other planets: Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn also have retrograde motions but on the whole their motions are in the forward direction. The significations of these planets are not lost when they move in retrograde motion. In other words Saturn is still Saturn when it is direct, retrograde or stationary. Hence Rahu doesn’t stop being Rahu just because at times he moves in a forward direction.

I hope this answers your question.

Yours in the service of Sri-Sri Radha-Govinda

Shyamasundara Dasa