Ketu: 27 definitions



Ketu means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi, Hindi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

Alternative spellings of this word include Kitu.

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In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Source: Puranic Encyclopedia

1) Ketu (केतु).—(KETUMĀN). A Dānava. He was the son of Kaśyapa (grandson of Brahmā and son of Marīci) by his wife Danu. This Asura, who exists in the shape of a planet had thirtythree brothers, i.e. Vipracitti, Śambara, Namuci, Pulomā, Asilomā, Keśī, Durjaya, Ayaśśiras, Aśvaśiras, Aśva, Śaṅku, Mahābala, Garga, Amūrdhan, Vegavān, Mānavān, Svarbhānu, Aśvapati, Vṛṣaparvan, Ajaka, Aśvagrīva, Sūkṣma, Tuhuṇḍa, Ekapāt, Ekacakra, Virūpākṣa, Harāhara, Nikumbha, Kapaṭa, Śarabha, Śalabha, Sūrya and Candramas. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 65).

But Ketu maintained closer relationship with Rāhu, a step-brother of his, being the son of Kaśyapa by another wife called Siṃhikā. Rāhu and Ketu are even today considered as inauspicious planets. Rāhu wears a half-moon and Ketu holds in his hands a sword and lamp. Amitaujas was Ketu reborn. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 67, Verse 11).

2) Ketu (केतु).—A great sage of ancient India. He attained salvation by self-study. (Śānti Parva, Chapter 26, Verse 7).

3) Ketu (केतु).—A synonym of Śiva. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 17, Verse 38).

4) Ketu (केतु).—A King born in Bharata’s dyanasty. (Bhāgavata, 9th Skandha).

5) Ketu (केतु).—(DHŪMAKETU). The following story is told in Viṣṇudharmottara Purāṇa about the birth of Dhūmaketu.

Noting that the population on earth had increased abnormally Brahmā created a damsel called Mṛtyu and asked her to kill people. At this command of Brahmā she began crying, and from her tear drops various kinds of diseases originated at the sight of which she took to penance. Then Brahmā appeared and blessed her saying that no one would die because of her at which she heaved a great sigh of relief from which was born Ketu or Dhūmaketu.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

1a) Ketu (केतु).—A son of Ṛṣabha.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 4. 10.

1b) One of the 100 sons of Vipracitta and Simhikā besides Rāhu (s.v.).*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 23. 7; VI. 6. 37.

1c) A son of Tāmasa Manu.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa VIII. 1. 27.

1d) A planet with a chariot of 8 horses, all green;1 in size one-fourth less than Bṛhaspati.2 Dhūmaketu, the first among the Ketus.3

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 23. 90; 24. 136 and 39; Matsya-purāṇa 93. 10; 127. 11; Vāyu-purāṇa 52. 82; 111. 5; Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 12. 23.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 128. 64.
  • 3) Vāyu-purāṇa 53. 111.

1e) A son of Danu.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 6. 18.

1f) The second son of Druhyu.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 48. 6.

1g) One of the prāṇahinas of the king.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 57. 69.
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Source: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)

One of the Nava-graha (Hands that indicate the Nine Planets).—Ketu: left hand–Sūci, right hand–Ardha-patāka.

Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (natya)

Ketu (केतु) refers to a planet which can de depicted using hand gestures (hasta or mudrā).—When the left hand and the right hand assume sūcī-hasta and patāka-hasta respectively, it is considered as the hasta for the planet Ketu (dragon’s tail).

Natyashastra book cover
context information

Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Shilpashastra (iconography)

Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (śilpa)

Ketu (केतु) refers to one of the Navagraha (“nine planetary divinities”), as defined according to texts dealing with śilpa (arts and crafs), known as śilpaśāstras.—Few planets are discussed with respect to the hastas in Bharatanatyam and iconography. In images, Ketu is found with two hands in añjali-hasta.

Shilpashastra book cover
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Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Source: Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Ketu is the body of an Asura, who partook Amrit while disguised as one of the Devas, during the churning of the sea of milk. He was beheaded by Vishnu's discus, with the head becoming Rahu. He is responsible for the eclipses of the moon, which he causes by swallowing Chandra, in revenge for Chandra and Surya's betrayal during the incident mentioned above.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

Ketu (केतु): Ketu is generally referred to as a "shadow" planet. It has a tremendous impact on human lives and also the whole creation. Astronomically, Ketu and Rahu denote the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they move on the celestial sphere.

In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Tibetan Buddhism

1) Ketu (केतु) is the name of a Pratyekabuddha mentioned as attending the teachings in the 6th century Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa: one of the largest Kriyā Tantras devoted to Mañjuśrī (the Bodhisattva of wisdom) representing an encyclopedia of knowledge primarily concerned with ritualistic elements in Buddhism. The teachings in this text originate from Mañjuśrī and were taught to and by Buddha Śākyamuni in the presence of a large audience (including Ketu).

2) Ketu (केतु) also refers to one of the various Grahas and Mahāgrahas mentioned as attending the teachings in the 6th century Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa.

Source: The Indian Buddhist Iconography

Ketu (केतु) refers to one of the nine planets (Navagraha), commonly depicted in Buddhist Iconography, and mentioned in the 11th-century Niṣpannayogāvalī of Mahāpaṇḍita Abhayākara.—His Colour is blue; his Symbols are the sword and snake-noose; he has two arms.

Ketu is described in the Niṣpannayogāvalī (dharmadhātuvāgīśvara-maṇḍala) as follows:—

“Ketu is blue in colour and holds the sword and the noose of snake”.

[Under the name Ketugrahadeva, he occurs once in the Chinese collection].

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
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Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Source: The Jaina Iconography

Ketu (केतु) is the name of a deity from the Jyotiṣka-Devas or Navagraha group of deities commonly depicted as in Jaina iconography.—Ketu, as imaged by the Śvetāmbara. is a snake deity. He rides on a cobra and bears the attribute of a cobra. He has no direction to rule over. The Digarnbara description of the planet’s attribute is unavailable.

Source: Trisastisalakapurusacaritra

Ketu (केतु) is the descending node or dragon’s tail, formed by the headless body of Rāhu. In representations it somewhat resembles a sword.

General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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India history and geography

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary

Ketu.—(EI 24), the shape or form. Note: ketu is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

ketu : (m.) flag; banner.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

Ketu, (Vedic ketu, *(s)qait, clear; cp. Lat. caelum (=*caidlom), Ohg heitar, heit; Goth. haidus; E.—hood, orig. appearance, form, like) — 1. ray, beam of light, splendour, effulgence Th. 1, 64; which is a riddle on the various meanings of ketu.—2. flag, banner, sign, perhaps as token of splendour Th. 1, 64. dhamma-k° having the Doctrine as his banner A. I, 109=III, 149; dhūma-k° having smoke as its splendour, of fire, J. IV, 26; VvA. 161 in explanation of dhūmasikha.

Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

kētu (केतु).—m (S) The dragon's tail or descending node;--in astronomy, the ninth of the planets;--in mythology, a demon. See rāhu. 2 A banner or flag.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English

kētu (केतु).—m Name of a demon. The 9th of the planets. A banner or flag. Descending node.

context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Ketu (केतु).—[cāy-tu kī ādeśaḥ Uṇ.1.73]

1) A flag, banner; चीनांशुकमिव केतोः प्रतिवातं नीयमानस्य (cīnāṃśukamiva ketoḥ prativātaṃ nīyamānasya) Ś.1.33;

2) A chief, head, leader, foremost, any eminent person (oft. at the end of comp.); मनुष्यवाचा मनुवंशकेतुम् (manuṣyavācā manuvaṃśaketum) R.2.33;14.7; कुलस्य केतुः स्फीतस्य (kulasya ketuḥ sphītasya) (rāghavaḥ) Rām.

3) A comet, meteor; Bhāg.2.6.15; Ms.1.38.

4) A sign, mark.

5) Brightness, clearness.

6) A ray of light; प्रययौ कान्तिमिव द्रुमाब्जकेतुम् (prayayau kāntimiva drumābjaketum) Bu. Ch.5.3; Bhāg.8.6.15. cf. also 'केतुर्द्युतौ पताकायाम् (keturdyutau patākāyām)' इति विश्वः (iti viśvaḥ).

7) The descending node considered as the ninth planet, and the body or trunk of the demon सैंहिकेय (saiṃhikeya) (the head being regarded as Rāhu); क्रूर- ग्रहः स केतुश्चन्द्रं संपूर्णमण्डलमिदानीम् (krūra- grahaḥ sa ketuścandraṃ saṃpūrṇamaṇḍalamidānīm) Mu.1.6.

8) Day-time.

9) Apparition, form, shape.

1) Intellect, judgement; नि केतुना जनानां चिकेथे पूतदक्षसा (ni ketunā janānāṃ cikethe pūtadakṣasā) Rv.5.66.4.

11) A pigmy race.

12) A disease.

13) An enemy.

Derivable forms: ketuḥ (केतुः).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Ketu (केतु).—(1) name of a former Buddha: Mahāvastu iii.237.7; Gaṇḍavyūha 104.16; (2) name of a future Buddha: Gaṇḍavyūha 441.25; Mahāvastu ii.354.21 = iii.279.5 (in all these follows Siṃha who follows Maitreya, or Pradyota who follows Siṃha); (3) name of a Pratyekabuddha (compare Pali Ketumā?): (Ārya-)Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa 111.10.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Ketu (केतु).—m.

(-tuḥ) Ketu the dragon’s tail or descending node; in astronomy, the ninth of the planets; in mythology, a demon: the body of Sainhikeya severed from the head (Rahu), by Vishnu, at the churning of the ocean, but immortal, by having tasted the Amrita. 2. A banner, a flag. 3. A mark, a sign, a symbol, &c. 4. Light. 5. A comet, falling star, &c. 6. Disease. 7. A pigmy race inhabiting Kusa Dwipa, the progeny of Jaimini. E. cāy to worship, tu Unadi affix, ki substituted for the root.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Benfey Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Ketu (केतु).—i. e. kit + u, m. 1. A sign by which an object may be recognised, Chr. 289, 3 = [Rigveda.] i. 50, 3; Chr. 294, 1 = [Rigveda.] i. 92, 1; [Rāmāyaṇa] 2, 54, 5. 2. A banner, Mahābhārata 4, 2068. 3. Chief, [Rāmāyaṇa] 4, 28, 18. 4. A meteor, [Mānavadharmaśāstra] 1, 38. 5. The mythological name of the descending node, represented as a headless demon, [Rāmāyaṇa] 3, 35, 52.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Ketu (केतु).—[masculine] brightness, light ([plural] beams); apparition, form, shape; sign, mark, flag, banner; chief, leader.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Ketu (केतु):—m. ([from] √4. cit), bright appearance, clearness, brightness (often [plural], ‘rays of light’), [Ṛg-veda; Vājasaneyi-saṃhitā; Atharva-veda]

2) lamp, flame, torch, [ib.]

3) day-time, [Śāṅkhāyana-brāhmaṇa]

4) ([Naighaṇṭuka, commented on by Yāska iii, 9]) apparition, form, shape, [Ṛg-veda; Pāraskara-gṛhya-sūtra]

5) sign, mark, ensign, flag, banner, [Ṛg-veda; Atharva-veda; Mahābhārata] etc.

6) a chief, leader, eminent person, [Ṛg-veda; Rāmāyaṇa iv, 28, 18; Raghuvaṃśa ii, 33; Bhāgavata-purāṇa]

7) intellect, judgement, discernment (?), [Ṛg-veda v, 66, 4; Atharva-veda x, 2, 12]

8) any unusual or striking phenomenon, comet, meteor, falling star, [Adbhuta-brāhmaṇa; Manu-smṛti i, 38; Varāha-mihira’s Bṛhat-saṃhitā; Bhāgavata-purāṇa] etc.

9) the dragon’s tail or descending node (considered in [astronomy] as the 9th planet, and in mythol. as the body of the demon Saiṃhikeya [son of Siṃhikā] which was severed from the head or Rāhu by Viṣṇu at the churning of the ocean, but was rendered immortal by having tasted the Amṛta), [Harivaṃśa 4259; Rāmāyaṇa; Viṣṇu-purāṇa]

10) ‘a pigmy race’ See -gaṇa below

11) disease, [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

12) an enemy, [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

13) Name of a son of Agni (author of [Ṛg-veda x, 156]), [Ṛgveda-anukramaṇikā]

14) (with the [patronymic] Vājya), [Vaṃśa-brāhmaṇa]

15) Name of a Dānava, [Harivaṃśa 198]

16) of a son (of Ṛṣabha, [Bhāgavata-purāṇa v, 4, 10]; of the 4th Manu, [viii, 1, 27])

17) aruṇāḥ ketavaḥ, ‘red apparitions’, a class of spirits (a kind of sacrificial fire is called after them āruṇaketuka q.v.), [Atharva-veda xi, 10, 1 f. and 7; Taittirīya-āraṇyaka; Mahābhārata xii, 26, 7.]

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Yates Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Ketu (केतु):—(tuḥ) 2. m. Ketu, the Dragon’s tail or descending node; a demon; a flag; a comet; a sign; light; a disease; a pigmy race.

Source: DDSA: Paia-sadda-mahannavo; a comprehensive Prakrit Hindi dictionary (S)

Ketu (केतु) in the Sanskrit language is related to the Prakrit word: Keu.

[Sanskrit to German]

Ketu in German

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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Hindi dictionary

Source: DDSA: A practical Hindi-English dictionary

Ketu (केतु) [Also spelled kitu]:—(nm) the descending node of moon, comet; a mythological demon whose head (Rahu) was severed by Lord Vishnu and the torso was later known as [ketu]; a banner.

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