He is known in Hindu scriptures as the greatest trouble giver as well as the greatest well wisher. He is depicted dark in colour, clothed in black; holding a sword, arrows and two daggers and variously mounted on a black crow. The crow (sometimes a raven or vulture) is Shani's Vahana.
According to Vedic astrology, Shani Bhagavan is one of the nine Navagraha or planets. A favourably placed Shani on the horoscope of a person stands for a strong career, healthy life and everything positive for that person. In fact, a well-placed Shani in one's horoscope is something every astrology-believing Hindu hopes for, as no other 'graha' can bestow what a favourable Shani can. Shani placed "unfavourably", on the other hand, denotes troubles in all of the above. Shani is much feared by those Hindus who believe in astrology, as the "malefic" effects of his being unfavourably placed can be quite severe. The diseases which Lord Shani curses of at the physical level are - decay, constriction, poor blood supply, atrophy among others, and at the mental level - narrow mind, low esteem among others. These diseases need to be cured by Lord Shani's rules and regulations only.
Shani rules the signs Makara (Capricorn) and Kumbha (Aquarius), is exalted in Tula (Libra) and is debilitated in Mesha (Aries). Mercury, Venus, Rahu, Ketu are considered friendly towards Shani or Saturn, while the Sun, Moon and Mars are enemies. Guru or Jupiter maintains neutral relations with Shani. Shani is the lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Pushya, Anuradha and Uttara Bhadrapada.
Shani Bhagavan has the following associations: his color is black or dark blue, metal is iron and gemstone is Blue Sapphire. His element or tattva is air, direction is west (where the sun sets and darkness begins) and he rules all seasons. The traditional foods for Shani are sesame seeds or black gram, black lentils or udad, his flower is the violet and he is linked to all black animals and all trees that are considered useless and ugly.
Shani rules over masses. Without the planet's blessings in one's horoscope, a mass following is difficult to come by. It is said that an exalted Saturn in the ascendant (or Lagna) of one's horoscope awards one with such leadership position entailing fame from and recognition among masses. More over, such people are said to have high commitment and perseverance for the task at hand. On the other hand, a debilitated Saturn in one's horoscope makes one's 'Karma' weak and such individual with debilitated Saturn is said to have poor commitment and perseverance towards duties and hence suffers in the process of completing one's karmic obligations. Hence 'Moksha' is difficult to come by without Shaniswara's blessings in one's horoscope.
His Adi-Devata is Prajapati and Pratyadi-Devata is Yama.
According to the Vedic astrology, in order to get protection against the bad effects of Saturn's transit, the following are the possible remedies during the important transits of Saturn - Kanta Sani (When Saturn transits through the eighth house from the natal moon sign), Sade-sati (when Saturn transits through the twelfth, first and second houses from the natal moon sign) -
- Worship Mother Goddess Kali during Dark Moon
- Worship Vishnu in the form of Lord Krishna and keep chanting 'Om Namo Narayanaya', 'Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare..'
- Pray to Sree Hanumanji in His Supreme Cosmic Form, which is the Form in which He shook Shani Bhagavan off of His back and the form in which He received divine blessings and instructions from Surya, the Sun God.
A common mantra for drawing the support of Shani Bhagavan is:
Om Sham Shanaischaryaye Namah.
Remedies of appeasing Lord Shani include taking responsibility of one's wrong actions, self-analysis and hard work. Donation of black cloth on Saturdays and serving poor also helps.