In India we have a very important god named Saturn. We also call him Shani. To other cosmic gods we pray, “Give us wealth, give us name, give us fame.” On the different days of the week we worship the planets, stars and cosmic deities, to come to us with their inner and outer plenitude.

But to this particular god we say, “O Shani, don’t look at us. Don’t cast your glance at us.” We pray for this god not to come to our house, not to look at anybody dear in our family. Why? When this particular god looks at a household, immediately something bad happens. When Saturn comes into our family, on the physical plane there will be some calamity: our dear ones will die, we will lose money, or some catastrophe will take place. That is why in India we say, “Don’t come.”

We have to know that it is only our human desire that prays in this way. Our divine aspiration could never do this. Human prayer wants to possess and be possessed by the world, by relatives and dear ones.

This is our human desire. But Shani comes and gives us renunciation. He creates conditions of human hardship and imposes austerity on us. He even takes our dearest ones away from us. Ordinary human beings will find it hard to embrace this kind of deprivation. But when a seeker wants to reach the Highest, he asks Shani and Rudra, another cosmic god, to expedite the journey towards the transcendental Goal. He prays that they will do their divine work and cut all attachment. Shani and Rudra want us to be freed from the meshes of ignorance. That is why they constantly strive for perfection in and through us. It is precisely because we are fond of living in ignorance that we human beings are afraid of Rudra and Shani.

According to Indian tradition, there is a special Saturday — Saturday is ‘Saturnday' — when we invoke Saturn and speak highly of him just before we eat. We pray, “Please don’t come, please don’t come. Please never come to our home. That is why we are praying to you.” After the day is over, when we feel that he won’t come to us, then we take as prasad a particular kind of husked rice mixed with milk, banana and coconut. But here we are all seekers. We are praying to him to give us liberation and to free us from attachment. So we shall invoke him in his highest aspect.