Rahu is, in Indian mythology, the daemon who is imagined to be the cause of the eclipses of sun and moon. When, in consequence of the churning of the milk sea, the gods had obtained the amrita, or beverage of immortality, they endeavored to appropriate it to their exclusive use; and in this attempt they had also succeeded, after a long struggle with their rivals the Daityas, or daemons, when Rahu, one of the latter, insinuating himself among the gods, obtained a portion of the amrita. Being detected by the sun and moon, his head was cut off by Vishnu; but, the amrita having reached his throat, his head had already become immortal; and out of revenge against sun and moon, it now pursues them with implacable hatred, seizing them at intervals, and thus causing their eclipses. Such is the substance of the legend as told in the Mahabharata (q.v.). In the Pturanas (q.v.), it is amplified by allowing both head and tail of the deamon to ascend to heaven, and produce the eclipses of sun and moon, when the head of the deemon is called Rahu and his tail Ketu, both, moreover, being represented in some Puranas as the sons of the daemon Viprachitti and his wife Sinhika. In the VishnuPurana, Rahu is also spoken of as the king of the meteors.

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