Hindu Astrology

Hindu astrology, also known as Jyotish or Vedic astrology, was practised by Hindus and ancient civilisations since time immemorial. We as hindus need to discard the idea that it is some type of superstition. Astrology is composed of two words "Astro" referring to the study of celestial bodies and phenomena and "Logos" meaning the logical application of this scientific study. Vedic refers to the period of the writing of the Vedas and the codification of the data from the Brighu's (database across India). There are numerous Rishis (ancient seers), whose writings being studied even in this modern age and time. We, however tend to follow the Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra, which was written by Maharishi Parasara.

Karma and Reincarnation

Before we delve too much into astrology, we need to understand why we are here, and a bit more about hindu beliefs and practices. One of the foundations of Hindus are belief in the law of karma and reincarnation. That is “as you sow, so shall you reap”. For every action that you commit, there will be a reaction. If the reaction does not come in this birth, then we are sure of it coming in future births.  Our present birth and the events that unfold are some of the effects(reactions) from previous births. It is because of the karma we bound in our past lives that we have met our family and associates.

Every action, word, thought etc. is recorded and our lives unfold according to our own actions. No one else can be blamed for this, but ourselves. We undergo numerous cycles of birth and death until we can understand and realise our ultimate purpose of life, which is to realise God and merge with God. There are 8, 400,000 species of life according to Hindu scriptures, and sometimes we have to undergo birth and death in many of these species. However, being born in human form is one of the highest forms of birth and the closest we can come to realising our ultimate purpose. Human Beings have the power of discrimination ( to distinguish between right and wrong) and make choices. We are blessed to have intelligence. Let us make use of this.

It is said in Jyotish scriptures, that we are born at that time, date and place when the heavens(planets) are in perfect alignment, for our Karma to unfold (the events of our previous births continue).

One thing we need to realise is that we cannot bypass our karma. We have to work out our karma sooner or later in order to move on and stop the cycle of birth and death. If you had committed a negative act in your previous birth such as causing injury to another being and if you had not paid for this as yet then you will surely have to pay sooner or later, in this birth or the ones to follow.  More on this matter can be found in books by modern saints such as Swami Sivananda, Swami Ramakrishna, Satya Sai Baba , Srila Prabhupad, to name a few.

How will Jyotish or Astrology help me?

Now that we understand the law of karma and reincarnation, we ask the question then “ If my karma has to unfold anyway, then what is the purpose of astrology, how can this help me?”

Astrology or Jyotish is used as a guide for our lives and helps cushion the negative effects that will unfold in our course of life as well as enable us to make use of the positive effects more effectively. Karma in our astrological chart is only 33,3% of our life and the other 66,6%  is for our free will.

In no way whatsoever will an astrologer tell you that you can free yourself from your karma shown in your chart by remedies, mantras etc. Remember your karma will have to unfold anyway. Astrologers can only predict when this negative or positive period will come into your lives and offer remedies to cushion the effect and help you gain endurance during the negative periods. Remedies and mantras will help you gain peace of mind and help you through this negative periods quiet easily. Same is true for the positive periods indicated in your chart.  The rest is entirely up to the individual, how he utilises this birth as he has free will and can make choices and decisions to move on.

We must strive to complete our karma and accept trials and battles that we undergo in our daily life and try not to accumulate more negative karma. Chanting of mantras, Gemstones and rituals given by astrologers can assist very positively for this. If a child has done something wrong, the child will be punished by the parent for this , but if the child pleads leniency and manages to seek forgiveness from the parent, then the punishment may be of a lesser extent that what was originally anticipated.

It is a fact that the planets have an effect on life on earth. Some of the visible effects are the effect of the oceans tides due to the gravitational pull of our moon, the effect of the Sun on plants and animal life on earth etc. Life would not be possible without the Sun. So what about the other planets. In Jyotish, the planets (forced definition of the word Graha) used for calculating the effects on our lives are the luminous bodies in the sky - Sun, Moon, The planets - Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. The north and south lunar nodes (imaginary planets) Rahu and Ketu are also used.

These planets are constantly moving through the asterisms in the zodiac. The Zodiac comprises of 27 Nashatras(asterisms), each measuring 13°20’ (13°20’ x 27 = 360°.

More on planets:    (Pundit S. Rath)

Parasara : The planets are classified as krüra (evil) and saumya (good) based on their inherent nature. The Sun, Saturn, Mars, weak Moon, Rähu & Ketu are evil planets. Venus, Jupiter, Mercury and Moon are good planets. Mercury is classified as an evil planet if it conjoins evil planets; else it is a good planet. Mercury, when conjoined more good planets or when placed alone in a sign is considered a good

planet. The strength of the Moon is based on the moonlight. The Moon should have

more than half-light to be considered strong. In general, astrologers accept that the Moon is strong from sukla pakña (waxing fortnight) añöami tithi to kåñëa pakña (waning fortnight) añöami tithi.

Sun is the ätmä (soul) of the kälapuruña (time personified) and is the natural significator of all souls. Moon signifies the mana (mind) and chitta

(consciousness)3. Mars signifies the sattva4 (strength) and Mercury signifies the speech (and voice). Jupiter signifies jïäna (knowledge) and sukha (happiness) as Venus signifies potency (semen/ procreative abilities).

Each of these planets represents an aspect of the individual of which, the representative of the true spiritual self that is neither created nor destroyed, is the Sun. The word ätmä has various meanings which focus on the self. The moon

signifies the mana (mind) in its five levels of consciousness: -

1. Physical Consciousness: The physical existence of the individual and consciousness of the physical existence of the existence of all other bodies and relationships with these bodies.

2. Mental Consciousness: Knowledge of material and other things that influence the mental makeup and create various desires. The important aspects are (a) luxuries, vehicles and other things that enable a more comfortable life, (b) religious and spiritual knowledge and aspirations and (c) Education and higher learning.

3. Sub-conscious: The peculiar mental makeup of the individual that filters the information and works in the background. This is the (a) inner strength, weakness or ability and (b) the ability to resist evil or negative forces.

4. Super Conscious: The mana (mind) of the individual is linked intricately to the minds of the ancestors as is seen in the genetic make up of the individual. It carries the karma of past existence and benefits from or suffers due to the good and bad karma of the forefathers/ancestors. Ingeneral the two areas are the patrilineal karma and the matrilineal karma.

5. Supra Consciousness: Varähamihira states ‘ätmä sahaiti manasä mana indriyeëa svärthena cendriyamiti krama eña çéghraù |yogo'yameva manasaù kimagamyamasti yasmin mano vrajati tatra gato'yamätmä ||B.S. 75-3. The ätmä (soul) merges with the mana (mind); the mana merges with the indréyas (senses) and the senses with their respective organs in rapid succession. This entire merger is instantaneous. With such a (strong and intimate) bond is there anything unattainable by the mind? Besides, wherever the mind goes, the soul shall follow.’ The ätmä is the master of the chariot and the mana is the reigns. The intellect is the charioteer and the horses are the indréyas (senses and their organs). The objects are the goal. Our view is that the number of horses attached to the chariots of the various planetary deities indicates the number of fully developed senses and sense organs that the animals represented by them possess. For example, the Sun symbolizing birds, has seven horses and this could mean seven fully developed sense/organs. The Moon symbolizes the human being and has the ten horses to its chariot indicating that man is the only animal which has all ten senses/organs fully developed. There was a debate as to whether the ätmä separates from the mana at some stage after death and many astrologers felt that this does not happen, else how could the person remember his past incarnation. Our view is based on the above teachings of Varähamihira and other Vedic seers and we believe

that the ätmä is separated from the mana and the senses/organs as a part of the process of death. This is the greatest gift of Maheçvara. How else could the ätmä and mana reunite during the birth process (as explained by Varähamihira above) if they were not separated beforehand? Secondly, memory is a function of the ‘dhé’ (intellect) and not the mana (mind). Thus, Supra consciousness refers to the fact that the mana is directed on a path of worldly experiences based on karma of the individual in the past incarnations that could neither be suffered nor forgiven called prarabdha dåòha karma.


More on this topic will be discussed at a later stage.

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