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Sections: Introduction | Grahas and Human Life | | Medical Astrology | Common Questions | Qualifications of an Astrologer | Fallacies in Astrological Readings and Interpretations | Navagraha Shanthi or Parikaras |Panchaangam or Almanac

(Request to Internet Readers: As a policy, I do not give predictions through e-mail or other modes of correspondence. Readers may kindly excuse me)

Introduction:

Vedic Astrology (which is one of the three sections of "Jyotisa" ) is among the most ancient of all sciences in the world and is part of the "Vedangas"(scriptures) of the Hindu religion. Jyotisa, which is the science of celestial bodies and the eye of the Vedapurusa, consists of 'Skandhas' or sections dealing with mathematics, astronomy and astrology. There are treatises on astronomy written by celestials and sages and ordinary mortals. Sages like Garga, Narada and Parasara have written samhitas (treatises) on this subject. Great contributions to this subject are also made by Varahamihira, Aryabhatta, and Bhaskaracharya.

Vedic rituals are performed according to the position of various planets [and the Sun and the Moon]. There are rules to determine this. The right day and hour [muhurta] for a function is fixed according to the position of celestial bodies. Astronomy examines the position of the planets and other heavenly bodies. It does not concern itself with how they affect the life of the world or the individual. It is not its function to find out how the celestial bodies are beneficial to us or how they may be made favourable to us. Such functions belong to astrology. Jyotisa includes both astronomy and astrology.

Unlike sciences like Mathematics, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology etc., Vedic Astrology aims at something higher than ordinary logic and commonsense reasoning. To quote B.V.Raman, "astrology comprehends something higher, intuitive and subtle...It relies more upon the skill and intuitive capacities of the interpreter than upon complicated rules. It records the interactions of influences of all things, visible and invisible."

Several books are published on this Astrological science in English, Sanskrit and other Indian languages. Books in English are available also outside India in many  countries in Asia, Europe, America etc. One of the greatest contributors to this science in recent years is Late Mr. B.V.Raman, an eminent astrologer, and Former Editor of "The Astrological Magazine", published from Bangalore, India. He and his grand father Late Mr. Suryanarain Rao  wrote a number of books on the subject. They have also translated into English many of the original treatises (on this science) of great saints of India.

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Grahas and Human Life:

I deem it as my privilege to give here relevant excerpts on the subject of astrology, from the lectures of the Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham (popularly known as "the Periyaval" ) on Hindu Dharma.

"The condition of a man corresponds to the changes in the position of the nine grahas. A human being does not enjoy happiness all the time nor does he always suffer hardships - that is, he experiences a mixture of happiness and sorrow. While he may be pushed up to a high position today, he may be thrust down to the depths tomorrow. It is not man alone that is subject to changes of fortune. Establishments too have their ups and down, so also nations."

"The sages saw a relationship between the position and movements of the planets and the destiny of man, the sorrow and happiness experienced by him. There is a branch of astrology called 'hora-skandha'. If we know the planetary position at the time of commencing a job or enterprise, with its help, we should be able to find out how it would take shape, how we would fare in it. If our horoscope is cast on the basis of the configuration of the planets at the time of our birth, our fortunes over the entire period of our life can be predicted."

"Different reasons are given for the ups and downs in a man's life, for his joys and sorrows. It is similar to finding out the different causes of the ailment he suffers from. [The physicians, mantravadins, pundits, and psychologists will give different reasons.] ... All these different causes may be valid. All of them go to create an experience. ... Many outward signs manifest themselves as the fruits of our past karma. They are all related to one another. The course of planets governing our life is in accordance with our karma. We come to know the consequences of our actions in previous births in various ways. Astrological calculations help us to find out such consequences as indicated by the heavenly bodies."

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  Research in Medical Astrology:

This Vedic science requires further deep study and research to make it useful to human beings in the modern world. Some efforts are being made in this direction by leading Astrologers in India. Research articles are published in journals such as Astrological Magazine. Still, they are inadequate and there is a long way to go. One field in Astrology which needs special attention is on the medical side. 

No doubt, Vedic astrology has recognized diseases and has correlated it to the Ayurvedic system of Indian medicine known to the people from ancient time. Each Rasi and planet (as also house) is ascribed one or more parts of the body and specific diseases that would occur in the dasa/bhukthi of the planet responsible for them. Books written by late Dr. B.V.Raman and some allopathic doctors give clues to the types of diseases and the planetary configuration under which they will occur. It is possible to indicate, to some extent, the parts of the body which will be affected and the broad nature of the disease and its duration.

Vedic astrology can prove to be a great  help to doctors in  determining  the exact nature of a disease. It will serve as a supplementary tool  for them; they would be successful in their diagnosis and in giving  proper treatment. The question is whether the knowledge currently available is adequate for the purpose.

What is lacking today,  is precision based on empirical data. Modern medicine (allopathic) has so many diseases which can not be strictly correlated to the Ayurvedic system of medicine.  Research has to be  directed towards this area, by collecting the data in regard to a large number of patients and collating it with each individual person's natal chart, dasa/bhukthis  and 'Gochara' position. It will then provide a clue as to  the exact nature of the disease in advance (in the parlance of the modern allopathic medicine) and how soon the patient can get cured. 

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Common Questions:

A number of people have been asking me: How does this science and the knowledge obtained through it benefit a person in his day-to-day life?. Another common question is: Are the predictions based on the "natal chart" and the "Gochara" results absolute and unchangeable?

The primary objective of this science is to guide human beings with a view to make their life better and more fruitful. The "natal chart" gives the broad spectrum of a man's life and indicates the effect of his past "karmas" during this "janma". It is like a canvas with a painting which can be improved upon; there are several aspects of one man's life which cannot be changed during his life period. But, it does not mean that a person has absolutely no control over his life and actions. If it were so, he will become an animal; even the scriptures which gave this wonderful science (along with the religion) will have no meaning. The man is endowed with a "free will" for using it to his/her best advantage; with this "free will" he/she is expected to go through the "karmas", to create new and better "karmas" in this life, with a view to getting himself /herself out of this cycle of "life and death" and to finally attain the goal of emancipation (salvation) or unification with the "Absolute". There are obvious limitations on individuals to use the "free will" to his/her best advantage; there are limitations on the mental capabilities; the environmental differences, the family background, the physical limitations and all such things may pose, in the case of individuals, restrictions on the use of "free will". Granting this and subject to these limitations, astrological science shows a man his/her inherent strengths, weaknesses, (mental as well as physical) etc., for him/her to understand and determine the process and the manner of using his/her "free will" for a better life in this "janma". It also shows him/her the very limitations and genetic factors which contribute to ill-health and other problems of life. For example, the power of the mind can be seen from the position of the Moon, and the physical strength and "atma bhala" from the "Lagna Lord" and the Sun. An understanding of these two factors of a man's life are very important to help him in improving his life or, where such an improvement is beyond his capacity, to seek super natural help in solving problems of life. Trend indicators would help in developing the mind to accepts facts of life as they are, and to go through the "karmas" with an equilibrium status.

Astrology will only indicate trends of life. As the Sanskrit adage goes: "Those who know Astrology can only indicate in a way what will take place in future. Who else, except the Creator, Brahma, can say with certainty what will definitely happen?"

(For a more detailed explanation on the free will aspect, see the section Fate and Free Will.)

Definitions:
Gochara: Planetary transits over natal chart. Natal Chart: Chart indicating position of planets and ascendant at the time of birth. Karma: Destiny as determined by one's actions. Janma: Current life in the reincarnation theory. Atma Bhala: Strength of soul. Lagna Lord: The planet governing the ascendant.

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Qualifications of an Astrologer:

Readers have also asked me on how to identify a good Vedic astrologer. I would like to share my views with my readers on this important question:

Early texts on Vedic astrology have referred to the qualifications of an astrologer. These include a thorough knowledge of Vedas, humility, clarity of thought, keen intelligence, wisdom and an equipoise nature with objectivity, impartiality and truthfulness in predictions.

A question arises on the relevance of these qualifications relating to knowledge of Vedas in the context of this science being accepted and studied the world over. The science as it has evolved is still linked to the Vedic sacraments and is part of the Vedas. So, a basic knowledge of the sacraments is helpful for purposes of understanding the principles and postulations, which form its backbone. However, all those who are outside the influence of Hindu culture and moorings cannot be expected to read and understand the Vedic sacraments. What is important for a study of Vedic astrology is the acceptance of the twin postulations in the religion, viz., reincarnation and past karmas. These form the basic premises in the predictions of a native chart and a Vedic astrologer who does not understand or accept the twin postulations would not be effective in his predictions or his ability to provide guidelines in shaping the native's life.

The other qualifications prescribed for an astrologer hold good even today. Those who practice this science should be intelligent and also have clear vision and a mind free from corrupt thoughts and influences. Objectivity is very important in a study and interpretation of a chart. The complex interactions between the cosmic forces generated by the various planets and the human beings requires careful analysis and scrutiny before coming to conclusions on the future of the native.

Confidentiality and truthfulness is as important in this science as in other sciences like medicine. Probably, confidentiality is more important in this science than others, as it deals with the gamut of a man's entire life and his future. Being truthful does not mean crystal presentation of predictions. An astrologer should be aware that he is dealing with an individual's emotions and mind. While giving predictions, especially those relating to sensitive aspects and ‘difficult to digest' situations, his communicative skills should be refined to suit the nature of the person who is seeking his help. In this, he takes the role of a psychologist.

Before an astrologer reads the chart of an individual, he should study his own present period of life according to the dasa system adopted for predictive purposes. It is my experience that whenever astrologers attempt to make predictions during their own unfavourable dasas, they have not been very effective in providing guidance to the native. It does not mean that a professional astrologer should stop his practice and turn away his customers. When the running dasa and Gochara are not favourable to the astrologer, he is prone to commit mistakes and make wrong readings; in this period, he should be very careful in his analysis and take more than ordinary precautions in reading a chart and giving predictions.

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Fallacies in Astrological Readings and Interpretations:

Astrology is a science dealing with the past, present and future of an individual or a country, which are always a matter of concern to every human being. The future is revealed through a reading of the basic natal chart prepared on the basis of the date, time and place of birth. The interaction between two cosmic forces - the human being on the one hand and the planets & stars on the other, forms the very basis of such interpretation. Astrological science, as any other branch of scientific knowledge, has certain postulations, rules and norms which are crucial to accurate readings of a horoscope and therefore, to predictions. A misinterpretation or wrong understanding by the general public, mostly caused by pseudo astrologers, can lead to unfortunate results in the lives of individuals. This does not mean the science is imperfect or abstract. Any branch of science can be misinterpreted by wrong understanding of its objectives or imperfect knowledge of that science. While the fundamentals of this science is never in question, what is usually misinterpreted is the effect of individual stars and planets in ones life without a proper study of the totality or cumulative interaction of all the planets in the chart of the concerned individual. The gullibility of human beings is being exploited by ascribing certain results to individual stars and planets which are not corroborated by empirical evidence. I shall refer here to a few common mistakes made in astrological predictions in the area of matching of boys and girls for marital alliance.

Matching of Horoscopes

One common mistake done by most astrologers in India is to match the horoscopes of the concerned persons only by certain norms laid down in text books and 'panchangs' (almanac); these norms are called in different names in the South (e.g. In Tamil Nadu it is called Paththu porutham). These are tally points or short cut methods used to find out the compatibility among two individuals, a boy and a girl. Usually, the norms lay down the starting point for comparison from the girl's birth star. The basis of these tally points is the belief that the most important aspects of life, such as health, longevity, prosperity, sexual compatibility, progeny, mutual understanding long marital life, happiness etc., are revealed by studying the placement of Moon in a particular constellation and the tallying of these constellations and Moon's position in charts will give the clue to the success or otherwise of the marriage. This is far from true.

No compatibility analysis is possible without carefully studying the various aspects of life as portrayed in horoscopes in question, such as personality, the mental framework, marital life, progeny, the profession, spending habits, and relationship with close relatives etc. Compatibility analysis has to be made not only with reference to the Moon but has also to cover other important planets like Jupiter, Venus and Mars, the ascendant lord, the planet governing the marital aspects. This kind of examination requires deeper analysis than merely comparing the position of the Moon in the two horoscopes. If a total analysis is not done as stated above, it would lead to the couples getting into problems of adjustment in life.

Another commonly miSunderstood area is the effect of Mars in the lives of boys and girls. It is said that if Mars is posited in 2nd, 4th, 7th , 8th or 12th house in a horoscope, it causes "Kuja Dosha" which is also variously called "Ankaraka Dosha" or "Sevvai Dosham " in different languages in the South India. This is based on a theory prevalent mostly in the state of Kerala that Mars in these positions causes the death of the spouse. It is claimed that a similar dosha should be present in a horoscope of the boy or the girl to be matched, to counteract the disastrous effect on the marriage.

While it is not necessary to go into the merits or demerits of this postulation, one has to bear in mind that there are several exceptions to this rule and a mere placement of Mars in any one those positions would not cause such a dosha. Usually, the position of this planet is counted from lagna; there are some who advocate that the position has to be seen from the Moon and Venus in addition to Lagna and the most malefic nature of the planet is manifested in these positions when seen with reference to Venus.

There are only twelve houses and if this theory is accepted, it will give innumerable combinations for a total 12 houses; you would then hardly find any horoscope without this dosha.

Does this mean that most of the people living in this world are affected by Mars leading to a threat of family/marital life? It is absurd to think so. Let us for this discussion assume that the relevant point for determining the position of Mars is only Lagna, which is accepted by most of the astrologers in South India. But then, there is a lot of confusion as to what factors nullify this dosha in a horoscope. While, it is not necessary here to get into technical details of what those exceptions are, I shall refer to the difficulties created by astrologers with differing views on the subject.

Several astrological books in English or languages and some Panchangs (Almanac) give these exceptions. Unfortunately, there is no uniformity in this. An astrologer who believes in a particular Guru (preceptor) or panchang, will not accept the opinion of another astrologer who follows a different norm. So much so, the girl's parents who have taken the trouble to examine the horoscopes of the concerned boy and the girl are dismayed when the boy's astrologer points out this dosha as existing, when actually it does not. On account of these differing norms, what would have otherwise been a good matching is rejected, creating immense problems to the girl's or boy's parents.

In my view, even if it is granted that a girl's horoscope does have Kuja Dosha, if the boy's horoscope indicates good longevity and marital life, how can the dosha in the girl's horoscope alone affect the boy? If the boy's horoscope is weak in these areas, then alone, there is justification for rejecting a horoscope of the concerned girl. Secondly, there could be many other combinations of planets in the horoscope of the girl which would nullify the effect of this so called Kuja Dosha. It is usually forgotten that it is not merely Mars which could be a threat to a person's marital harmony or spouse's longevity; there are several other malefic planets (e.g Sun, Saturn, Rahu & Ketu) which could ruin the marital life of an individual in the same way as Mars does. Why then single out poor Mars? It is important for an astrologer to examine the totality of the effects of all the planets in a horoscope before coming to conclusions on the effect of the so called "Kuja Dosha".

The same mistake is done in respect of the effect of horoscopes which give the position of the Moon in some particular constellations (stars). It is said a girl born in the constellations of Moola, particularly the first quarter, is supposed to cause the death of her father-in-law. If it is Jyeshta (Kettai), it is the elder brother, if it is Ashlesha (Ayilyam), it is the mother-in-law and if it is the last quarter of Visaka, it is the husband's younger brother who is said to be affected. What surprises one is how can a girl entering a family as the wife of a son determine the death of the parents-in-law or the brother-in-law, as the case may be? This is not borne out by facts. On the other hand, we have a lot of cases, where these constellations had no effect on the longevity of the concerned in-laws. The astrologers do not examine the horoscopes of the person said to be affected; instead, they summarily dismiss the horoscopes of such girls. Many deserving girls have been denied matrimonial alliance merely on the ground that they were born in the so called destructive constellations! As in the case of Kuja Dosha, here also, the totality of the effect of all planets should be examined in detail before coming to any conclusions.

I would urge parents of both Boys and Girls to bear these aspects in mind while consulting their astrologers.

(I propose to write on this subject in some more detail pointing out many such fallacies. I shall be happy to receive constructive criticisms and opinions on this subject.-- Ramanan).

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Navagraha Shanthi or Parikaras:

The planets which are inimical to an individual will give bad results during their Main "Dasas" (periods),  "Bhukthis"  (sub-periods) or "Antharas" (sub-sub-periods) or during their transits (Gochara). The aspects of life which generally receive such bad effects will be (1) those for which they are Karakas (those governed by the planets), (2) the aspects represented by the "Bhavas" which are owned by the planets, and (3) those represented by the "Rasis" (signs) which are resided in or aspected by them. The planets also cause miseries or problems according to their Gochara (transit) results. Depending on which specific aspects of life are affected, one has to do Shanthis or Parikaras (propitiatory actions to counter the ill effects) for the particular planet(s) and its/their Lords.(Gods); this way of direct appeal to the concerned planets and their Lords will give quick and timely results.

Vedic Astrology generally associates the following planets with the Lords shown against them:

Sun: Lord Siva ...............Moon: Goddess Parvathi.(Ambal)

Mars: Lord Karthikeya (Subramanya).......Mercury: MahaVishnu

Jupiter: Lord Dakshinamurthi......Venus: Mahalakshmi

Saturn: Lord Yama..........Rahu: Goddess Durga

Kethu: Lord Ganesa or Indra

For some of the specific slokas on Gods and Goddesses, see the separate section on Slokas & Sthothras.

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You are welcome to send your comments or seek clarifications on  this section on Vedic Astrology; please send an E-mail to me at: sgvramanan@hotmail.com