Jyotisha, Hindu Astrology

Misuse of Astrology

Jyotisha is a sacred science of reading our karma, which makes it powerful and potentially intimidating. We would all like to improve our karma, promote the fulfilment of our desires and remove life’s difficulties. Most people go to astrologers primarily hoping for this, not necessarily seeking deeper spiritual and karmic guidance, which is what a good astrologer can best provide. Unfortunately, there are astrologers who, understanding this vulnerability, take advantage of people, charging large fees for consultations and recommendations.

One of the most controversial areas of Vedic astrology is remedial measures. Such measures are an integral part of the system, just as of medicine, but some can be expensive, such as certain gemstones and elaborate rituals. While these may be helpful, some astrologers intimidate the client into feeling they must have these expensive measures or their lives will be ruined. This is not unlike a doctor who recommends medical cures that are burdensome to his patient.

In India there are so-called tantric guides who utilize astrology and other occult and spiritual practices. Some are genuine and provide good advice. But there are charlatans as well, who advertise a kind of cure-all approach to human problems, including disease, infertility, lack of a proper marriage partner and career difficulties. Their promises extend even to fabulous wealth, fame or power—all for a certain price. Some do not actually charge for their readings, but offer a list of expensive remedial measures. Often the rituals they recommend are done at a distance, without the person being there, which is usually recommended for successful rituals. Astrologers who are improperly or inadequately trained may simply give bad advice, which can have a negative impact on the lives of their clients, much like a wrong diagnosis and treatment in medicine. Some, particularly new astrologers, may put too much confidence on mechanical techniques of chart readings and make dire predictions based upon these without any real track record in the field.

Vedic astrology is a genuine profession to follow, but only if applied with continual deep study and as a spiritual practice. It cannot be approached merely as a job and should not be taken up as a lucrative, influential or powerful career.

Yet, we cannot always blame the astrologer. If we approach an astrologer seeking to avoid karmic responsibility in life, which is the opposite of what astrology is meant to teach us, then we can easily fall prey to misleading schemes.

Astrology should be part of a spiritual path of controlling the mind and reducing desire, a way of self-knowledge, not a means of ego enhancement for either the astrologer or the client. Then it can work magic—the magic of higher consciousness, not the magic of quick worldly benefits.

Chakrapani offers this advice: “When a person values astrology not just as a profession, but as a knowledge, as a wisdom, as a means to understand one’s growth, then that knowledge is supported by the devotion—the feelings, the faith you have in your own self, as well as in the Deity or the spirit which may guide oneself. And when you have that kind of a faith, the inspiration within gives you judgment, rather than the mechanical interpretation of a chart, which anybody can learn by studying textbooks.”

Astrology for you

Are Five Primary Uses of Jyotisha, which relate to the main goals of human life:

1) kama: family and relationship issues such as marriage compatibility, timing of children and domestic happiness;
2) artha: help with finances, business and investments;
3) dharma: determination of career and vocation;
4) moksha: guidance in spiritual life and for cosmic and self-knowledge; and
5) arogya: physical and mental health, which is the foundation of the first four.

In addition, there are four main applications:
1) Hora or jataka examines individual birth charts. This is the main approach that we consider for personal potentials and well-being.
2) Mundane astrology examines the charts of nations and political leaders to predict social and political events. It also used to predict weather and earthquakes.
3) Prashna (“question”) astrology addresses specific questions—at both individual and collective levels.
4) Muhurta (“moment”) chooses favourable times for all types of action, mundane and spiritual, individual or collective. Hindu holy days, for example, are determined by calculations based on muhurta as recorded in the Hindu calendar (panchangam).

How Might I Benefit from Jyotisha?

Astrology can be of tremendous benefit. It clarifies our nature, destiny and karma, revealing our svadharma (“own” or “unique path”), so that we know how to pursue our life’s highest purpose. It helps us deal with the limitations of destiny that are present in every life. It shows us how to optimize our hidden potentials. It gives us the key to right timing of actions. And it helps us understand the fundamental laws and patterns of the universe.

How Accurate Is It?

Jyotisha deals with probability, as the factors that determine karma are very complex, both individual and collective, of present and past lives. In this respect it presents a forecast, something like a weather forecast, which contains variables, with some things quite likely and others only possibilities. The planets provide indications and energies that we can become aware of and use in a more positive manner. The stars themselves do not compel us to act, but reflect the subtle forces through which our actions must proceed. We are not controlled by the stars. Rather, they are a reflection of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

To be really accurate, an astrologer requires an extensive analysis of various factors. This can extend into many hours and multiple readings. For this reason, most astrology aims only at macro-managing the chart. Micro-managing can only be done with charts that are given considerable time and effort.

Should a Vedic Astrologer Be a Hindu?

This question was asked at the 1992 International Symposium on Vedic Astrology. Most of the astrologers interviewed by Hinduism Today said yes. Dr. B. Sureshwara of Chicago answered rhetorically, “Should a Catholic priest be a Christian?” Chakrapani added, “If he is not Hindu, embedded in the tradition, he will not really understand Hindu astrology. Every aspect of it is interconnected with the Hindu religion.” Who then would qualify as a Hindu? Sureshwara proposed, “anyone who believes as a Hindu,” and Chakrapani, “anyone who sincerely loves Hinduism.”

What Is the Nature of a Reading?

Most people go to astrologers for an examination of their birth chart. This can be looked at for a general life examination; or specific domains of life, like career or health, can be examined within it. Along with the birth chart, the Vedic astrologer will explore various divisional (amsha) charts, particularly the navamsha, nakshatra positions, and planetary periods (dashas and bhuktis), and perhaps annual charts or solar returns.

Hindu astrology is as much concerned with helping us improve our karma as with telling us what our destiny is likely to be. It is a kind of “karmic management” program to help us optimize our karma. It is not a “karmic fatalism” under which we are consigned to passively accept bad circumstances in life. To use it in a deterministic manner is to misuse it. By doing so, we fail to benefit from its real power, which is to help us gain mastery over our lives and not be the victims of fluctuating outer events. Astrology is the ultimate science of time management, an aid in dealing with life’s many choices.

Chakrapani explains, “By looking at the horoscope and how the planets demonstrate dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth), kama (pleasure) and moksha (liberation), one gains insight into the individual’s basic instincts and can suggest the best lifestyle and spiritual regimen (sadhana) for that individual. The three gunas - sattva (calmness), rajas (action) and tamas (inertia) - coexist in a varying degree of dominance, also evident from the chart. The interplay of the gunas determines the nature of all our thoughts, feelings and actions, hence sadhana is recommended according to the predominant guna. Hatha yoga and meditation for those of sattvic nature, devotion for the rajasic person and selfless religious service for the tamasic.”

Chakrapani continues, “Sometimes the advice just lets people cope better with life. Sometimes it is just the knowledge of karma and reincarnation implicit in Vedic astrology which, especially for the Westerner, creates a spiritual perspective on life. It helps the individual take responsibility for the circumstances in which he finds himself and forego resentment at the seeming misfortunes indicated in the chart—which is, after all, a mere messenger of one’s karma and, in fact, an opportunity for personal growth.”

What Information Should I Expect to Acquire?

A reading of your natal chart should yield an understanding of trends and periods of your life, with favourable times for action. It should provide a clarification of your karma in all the main fields of life. It may include remedial measures to follow, such as gems, mantras, yajnas and pujas. A good astrologer can easily see important trends and can sometimes predict specific events, but even the best will only be 80 percent correct in predictions, and may go wrong completely if the birth time is incorrect. Knowing that given birth times are not necessarily accurate, he will ask questions of the client to see if the events in the person’s life agree with their chart as calculated by the given date. Sometimes a change or “rectification” of a few minutes in the birth time will yield a much more accurate chart. Follow-up consultations should include a review of previous readings, their indications and predictions and any remedial measures suggested, along with appropriate adjustments. Follow-up readings may address changes in planetary periods, transits or annual chart indications, along with the client’s questions and concerns.

Fields of Application

There are various areas of specialty in the world of jyotisha. Here we present the insights of experienced practitioners of Vedic astrology on five fields of application.

Parenting by Dharma, by Dennis Flaherty

Firstly, an astrologer can identify for devout parents those times for conception more divinely ordained than others to bring an evolved and high-minded soul into their family. Health of their newborn is then naturally the parents’ foremost concern. The child’s chart will indicate areas of constitutional weakness and potential illness. In some cases balarishta yogas - negative karmas of the past with the potential to cut this life short - are seen. In all cases, including extreme ones, remedial measures are effective, especially the parents’ prayers. This is not just wishful thinking. I have personally seen miracles.

The astrologer can suggest appropriate education based on the child’s inclinations for profession. Spiritual inclinations may be seen and encouraged. Appropriate disciplines can be recommended. For example, if the child has a strongly placed Saturn, verbal admonishment can bring about humbling results. If Mars is strong, physical chores constructively engage the child’s nature, while corporal punishment will negatively engage the Martian nature, further fuelling samskaras of anger and potential violence. What is good for one child is not good for another.

Planning a Stellar Career, by William Levacy

I have found three special places that identify career activity. The first house or ascendant and its ruling planet give big clues. The sixth house, that of service, has more to say about those “bread-and-butter” jobs that make us money. The tenth house, of karma or action, tells us about career or life purpose. Vedic astrology can give clues to your karma in this life. It can tell you where your dreams lie and how you might make the most money. From that point forward, you can set a vision for your future and develop the competence to deploy those dreams completely, correctly and in a timely manner.

Right Timing, by Christina Collins-Hill

Electional astrology (muhurta, “moment,” in Sanskrit) selects a time for an action to commence by searching for positive future planetary placements. By doing this, we can relieve or correct difficult conditions in the natal chart which cause impediments to a desired objective. Spiritual muhurta includes timings for initiation, weddings, name-giving, etc. Material muhurta covers matters of education, business, surgery, travel, law, etc.

The Great Cycles of Life, by Edith Hathaway

A dasa is a cycle or period of time. In Vedic astrology there are 55 different dasha systems, of which the Vimsottari is most used. Vimsottari (literally 120) refers to man’s ideal 120-year lifespan, with various cycles, subcycles and sub-sub-cycles within it. These dashas are indicators of when the karma-phala, fruits of karma from past lives, will unfold. The sequence of the dasas is the same for everyone, but the starting point varies according to the individual chart, specifically the Moon’s nakshatra. The duration of the maha-dashas, or major cycles are: Sun, 6 years; Moon 10 years; Mars 7; Rahu 18; Jupiter 16; Saturn 19; Mercury 17; Ketu 7; and Venus 20. Dashas unfold differently for each person, depending upon the birth chart.

Astrology for Health, by Vamadeva Shastri

Medical astrology aims at assessing our health potential, our likely diseases, their possible cure and our lifespan, as well as potential emotional and mental problems. This system is intimately connected with ayurveda, the Vedic medicine. All of us eventually get sick and die, so every chart has negative health potentials—a disturbing fact when dealing with those close to us. Proper analysis can show us when a person is likely to get sick and their potential for recovery. By providing early warning of impending negative planetary periods for our health, astrology gives us time to take precautions and offers methods to minimize the negative effects.

What Can I Do to Get Started with Astrology?

1) First, find a suitable astrologer and have your birth chart read. He or she will help you learn about your chart so you can understand its various elements, including your ascendant, Moon sign, Sun sign, important yogas, and the ruling planets.
2) Some devotees find it helpful to learn the birth charts of their family members as well.
3) It is informative to be aware of your nakshatra, its name, Deity, ruling planet and indications.
4) Learn and celebrate your tithi pravesh, or Vedic lunar birthday.
5) Learn about remedial measures, particularly mantras to the planets and the place of planets in temple worship.
6) You may wish to incorporate jyotisha japa along with your regular japa.

Once I Have My Interpreted Chart, How Do I Use It?

1) Most importantly, you can use this knowledge to understand and mould your character, as you work with your emotional and intellectual inclinations, strengths and weaknesses.
2) Through the years, you can observe and anticipate the ebbs and changes as you go through your planetary periods.
3) You may find it helpful to consult your shastri when planning major events, changes or facing important life issues. Knowing when influences will prevail, you can plan accordingly in working through your karmas.
4) Use the information you have gained when making long- and short-term plans and decisions.

How is the Panchangam Best Used?

1) Acquire a panchangam for your area and observe the auspicious days and times it indicates. I recommend the detailed Panchangam by Himalayan Academy, produced annually for any time zone. It has a good introduction explaining its use.

2) Use the panchangam to choose auspicious days and times to begin activities and projects, such as weddings, new ventures or entering a new home. Many festival days are ideal for special events.

What Other Ways Can I Use Jyotisha?

1) Those who have a shastri to consult (or are well versed in the science themselves), may use jyotisha to help in selecting employees, associates, business partners, etc.

2) Baby names are often chosen according to astrological factors.

3) One of the main uses is for marriage. Traditional families will always consult a shastri to check compatibility between potential spouses, and between their families.

4) Jyotisha can, in many ways, grant a deeper, more appreciative, understanding of other people and thus improve relationships.

How Can I Use this Wisdom to Guide My Children?

1) The knowledge revealed in the child’s natal chart will help you understand and confidently work with his or her nature and development.

2) It will enable you to competently guide the child through the various periods indicated in the chart.

3) Applied at a deeper level, jyotisha can help you cognize how your nature, as a parent, impacts the child. All this gives patience and stability. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami observed: “For raising offspring, a forecast can be of the utmost help. A baby predicted to have a fiery temper should be raised to always be kind and considerate of others’ feelings, taught to never argue with others. Of course, good examples must be set early on by parents. This will soften the inclination toward temper. Fighting the child’s impulse will just amplify it. A child of an independent nature should be taught early on to care for himself in all respects so that the life ahead will benefit society and bring honor to the family. ”

Each planet is regarded as a devata, or planetary Deity and cosmic power, as shown in this artwork, each depicted with his animal vahana, or vehicle.

In a nutshell:

Indeed, jyotisha is an intricate, complicated system of knowledge, requiring a good grasp of astronomy, astrology and human nature. People can and do spend lifetimes exploring its vastness. But here is a super-simple summary.

Vedic astrology is based on mathematical divisions of the zodiac and defined relationships between planetary locations. The zodiac is a narrow band across the sky through which the sun, moon and planets travel, expressing various influences, both physical and subtle. The main zodiac division used is that of twelve signs, or rashis, of 30 degrees each, but other divisional charts are used as well.

The Earth rotates at about one sign every two hours, causing the signs and planets in them to rise in the east and set in the west. The point of the sign rising in the east forms the cusp of the first house (bhava). This is the ascendant, rising sign or lagna, which determines the orientation of the chart as a whole. The sign ahead of the rising sign becomes the second house, with the rest of the houses following in sequence.

Each house rules over specific domains of human life. Mapping the specific houses, their signs and the planetary positions within them is the foundation of Vedic astrological interpretations. To these fundamentals many other calculations can be added.

William Levacy summarizes in Beneath a Vedic Sky: “The astrologer’s role is to match the patterns in the birth chart with patterns in the heavens to understand the nature of that person’s life. The astrologer consults the records in the ancient texts, much of which is memorized, and then analyzes, synthesizes and draws a conclusion about the likely events at hand. The correctness of the reading is directly proportional to the experience and spiritual advancement of the astrologer, as well as to the recipient’s desire and receptivity to having their chart read clearly.”



















































Planets: There are three levels of planetary Deities. The Devata represents the planet itself as a Divine power. The Adhidevata represents the over-ruling cosmic power beyond the planet. The Pratyadhi-Devata represents the aspect of Ishvara behind the planet.

Are “Bad Times” Really Bad Times?

1) There are astrologically bad times in life, just as we have difficulties in various spheres of life, or bad weather days. These may be related to health, work, finances or relationships. But bad times also can aid in spiritual growth and are good for sadhana. 2) There are ways to deal with bad astrological times, just as with adverse weather conditions. Astrology should never cause us to lose our sense of well-being. 3) Better than having good karma in the chart is having the strength to overcome adversity, which is always there in life to some degree. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami pointed out, “Difficulties need not be bad news if they are approached as our chance to grow in facing them.”

How Much Time and Emphasis on Jyotisha Is Healthy?

1) Using it as a personal meditative tool and timing aid is helpful. 2)Daily examination of the panchangam is informative. 3) Looking at the birth chart around the times of one’s birthday or at the changing of planetary periods or important transits (two or three times a year) is wise. 4) Professionals may find it useful to consult a shastri of jyotisha and vastu on a regular basis. Kings and politicians often had a full-time retinue of astrologers. 5) Regular astrologically based worship is good, such as mantras to planets, and circumambulating the planetary altar in temples. 6) Dependence on astrology can be taken to extremes. It should be a guide to action, not a substitute for it.

This article is Courtesy Hinduism Today magazine, Hawaii”

Also read
1.  Fate, free will and Vedic astrology
2. Astrology Science of the New Millenium 

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