Today on our drive back from Korat to Pattaya we started seeing signs for a wat with a giant reclining Genesha depicted. They got more and more frequent, and then we saw that the same wat had a Rahu statue as well, given my close connection to Rahu even a little before receiving my Sangwan Rahu sak yant, we definitely had make the short detour to pay respect. As it turns out I made my first public offerings to Rahu (video above) – I do offer him coffee and coffee beans each day in my apartment. It feels like he has been extremely generous to me.
This is highly personal stuff, the kind of thing I’d rather not write about. Despite keeping this blog, I’m actually a very private person. As might surprise people, I don’t easily share things by nature, in particular things like this. But I also consider this blog a responsibility, and that relating the personal things in my experience is part of what I owe for having this remarkable opportunity t0 be living and fighting in Thailand for such a long time.
Connecting to Rahu – the Demon Who Eats the Sun
Rahu holds a complicated position in Thai mentality. To a large extent he’s seen as a semi-demon and a demigod, which is reasonable enough in that he goes around swallowing the sun and moon. Because he’s also considered to be a potential bringer of chaos or unlucky happenings, a lot of folks respond to his name or image with a kind of apprehensive tone and generally the idea is to either placate him with offerings or to try to scare him away with lighting firecrackers and banging things to make loud noises. You’ll sometimes hear this during eclipses, when Rahu is swallowing the sun or moon (depending on the kind of eclipse, of course).
He’s not bad, per se, but when Thais become aware of my adoration of Rahu – usually because I’m wearing him on my fight shirt or they see my tattoo on my chest – it’s a little like if you said you were way into the chaos of Dionysus or maybe murderous Cain, who un-careful readers certainly categorize as villainous or at the least an aberration from the general group of “helpful” characters. Dionysus is one example I think of because of his connection to inebriation, ritual madness, trickery and addictive-type behavior. Rahu, to me, in his consuming nature and relentlessness also touches on themes of addiction; but to me, that very same focus, insatiability and obsession can be very positive in that it is passion, it’s love and dedication. It’s connected to my Muay Thai, for sure. And Cain is a trickier example because his villainous association comes from an actual act of murder, brought about by jealousy and spite. Rahu doesn’t fit into that in terms of his story, but the way in which my friend Paweena in Chiang Mai asked, “why do you like Rahu?” felt very much like the cautious and truly shocked inquiry into why someone would focus prayers to Cain. The only failing in these literary comparisons is that Rahu is seen as an active force in this world, a dark power.
Here’s what I told Paweena: I don’t think Rahu is “bad.” I believe in balance. Ganesha, for example, is kind of a “light side” to Rahu’s “dark side” in the same Force, if I can geek out on Star Wars terminology. Ganesha is the placer and remover of obstacles. He’s both. So if your path is blocked that’s because of Ganesha just as much as if a new path opens up for you. In my personal understanding of cosmic forces, deities, gods, monsters, devils, angels, etc. everything is also its opposite. Chaos and order are one force; birth and death are one force; swallowing the sun makes you a lord of light just as much as it makes you a lord of the darkness. Perhaps this is what makes it easier for me to understand the Old Testament God, who was “a jealous God” and was as capable and willing to destroy entire cities and populations as he was to help one guy out of a situation, or, you know, not kill Cain. I connect to that; and maybe that’s what I’m connecting to with Rahu. There are people who might ask “why would you want a wolf in your house?” The way I see it, there either is or isn’t a wolf in your house and if there is, I want him to be on my side.
In a more esoteric sense, I simply feel connected to Rahu and did so about as immediately as I came to know him. And I think that’s about as meaningful as it gets in terms of connecting to a powerful entity – the affinity is there before you ever learn to understand it or define it for yourself. And I guess I’m in the process of understanding it for myself still.
Wat Samanrattanaram is about an hour and a half from Bangkok. You can click on this link to get to a Google Map of it’s location.
It is actually very near Buakaw’s old gym Por. Pramuk. We were extremely surprised to see a small hand painted sign to the gym on the village road were were on, approaching the wat. You can visit the Wat Samanrattanaram’s website here.