Vedic astrology or Jyotish is an ancient science that together with Yoga, Ayurveda, music and sacred geometry was revealed to the Rishis, the ancient sages of India, many thousands of years ago. Through their observations, mathematical calculations and meditation they knew about the precise location of the planets around the Sun and also the role they played as agents of karma.
I have recently had a Vedic astrological consultation with Krishna Darshan, (www.9graha.com) disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda, hatha yogi and astrologer, and I am amazed at the accuracy of the information on my birth chart. How can the planets know our karma, was my question to Krishna. I learned that planet in Sanskrit is “graha” that which holds or grabs. Are we then held by the influence of the planets? And is our karma reflected in them?
We have been to the Moon, today a Rover is running around Mars sending thousands of pictures and we know the composition of the Sun and other distant stars. Shall we assume that we know all there is to know about those celestial bodies or is it possible that there is something else more subtle that the Rishis knew about and that our science has not been able to detect and measure yet?
Karma or the mysterious law of cause and effect operates not only on the physical plane -in physics or chemistry, for example – but also on the mental plane, the source of our words and deeds. Everything we think, say or do sows seeds that will sprout in the future, in this lifetime or in future lives. At the same time we are reaping now the effects of past thoughts, words and actions.
When we are born we are not doing it by “chance”. We are in fact choosing the place, time and conditions with which we have an affinity due to our past experiences. The Sun, the Moon and the planets act just as mirrors of our propensities but the responsibility for who we are is entirely ours as well as the ability to free ourselves from our karmic bonds.
It is difficult from a materialistic point of view to understand that, as the Vedas declare, the planets and the stars are the instruments of God by which karma operates. Our sense of separation from creation does not allow us to see beyond the “here” and “there”, the “inside” and the “outside”. I can understand how the Moon influences the tides and the women’s menstrual cycles but it is more difficult to comprehend how it affects our mood, and yet it does. Through analysis of the light spectrum astrophysicists can determine what minerals and gases are burning in a distant star (oxygen, magnesium, copper, etc…), the same components found right here, in our own bodies. Is it possible that beyond the physical level, at the thought and psychic level, we are also connected with the cosmos, sharing a common memory and history? After all, we are an integral part of creation, even though sometimes we feel alienated from its mysterious laws. The ancient Rishis lived in a state of symbiosis with nature, the sky and the cosmos and could experience the interconnection of all worlds, animate and inanimate. Swami Sivananda says that a sage lives a rich life on Earth but also a richer cosmic life.
Our quest as yogis is to live that richer life but for that to happen we must first understand how our past thoughts, words and actions, our mental and emotional patterns affect us and others around us and then learn to avoid creating new patterns of bondage. This is where Jyotish can be helpful by identifying our tendencies, our likes and dislikes, attachments and aversions that keep us bound to repetitive thoughts and behaviors. By becoming aware and acknowledging them we can work on lessening their grip on us or, I should say, us lessening our grip on them.
Ultimately, if we want to free ourselves from the hold of karma we need to walk the path of Yoga and practice its techniques. It’s not enough to know about our tendencies, that’s just the beginning. And then, when the yogi reaches the state of full enlightenment the notion of time and space, form and non-form dissolves. Only then the idea of heaven and earth is transcended and freedom from the influence of the stars is possible.
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