Vedic Astrology Blog

Introduction to Jyotish, Vedic Thought

'Veda' is a Sanskrit word, which means 'knowledge'. 'Vedic' means 'of the knowledge'. This word was used in ancient India to describe the original culture


'Veda' is a Sanskrit word, which means 'knowledge'. 'Vedic' means 'of the knowledge'. This word was used in ancient India to describe the original culture, the original knowledge given to humans at the beginning of creation. It was passed down orally since the time of creation, and then eventually in written form to the present. 'Vedic' refers to original knowledge given by God to humankind.
Please understand right from the start that by "God" we are referring to the Vedic Vaishnava conception of Divinity, which is vastly different from the Christian conception most Westerners are familiar with. By "God”, we are referring to the Supreme Vedic Deity, Sri Krishna, who is always accompanied by his female counterpart, Shrimati Radharani. Together they are the Supreme Couple, and they are represented to us through many layers of spiritual and material reality within each of, which they are reflected as other deities such as Brahma and Saraswati, and Siva and Parvati.
So, when we say "God" anywhere in this book, we are referring to the revealed Vedic conception of God, which is a far cry from the vague ideas of a bearded old man who judges from a throne. We are using the English language, and we accept its limitations, but I ask you, the reader, (Vedic Knowledge Online) to have an expansive and broad understanding as you read. For more information on the Vedic Vaishnava conception of Divinity, please read our book "Vedic Spirituality". It is rather essential for a proper Vedic Astrologer to have both devotion to and understanding of the proper conception of Divinity or God since astrology is studying the direct working of God in our lives.
Vedic Astrology comes from the Vedic scriptures of ancient India. The centerpiece book on Vedic Astrology is the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. This is the great scripture on astrology by Sage Parashara.
Parashara Muni and his illustrious son Veda Vyasadeva were both friends of Lord Shri Krishna and the Pandavas. It was the son of Vyasadeva, the grandson of Parashara, known as Sukadeva Goswami, who spoke the Bhagavat Purana to Parikit Maharaj, the grandson of Arjun. This great work, the Bhagavat Purana, is the cornerstone of personalism in Hinduism, also known as Vaishnavism. It is easy to understand that Parashara Muni, his son Vyasadeva, his grandson Sukadeva and the Pandavas who are also the grandchildren of Vyasadeva, all of them knew Lord Krishna. All of them were personalists, or Vaishnavas.
The Bhagavat Purana teaches that at the beginning of creation, an expansion of Krishna known as Vishnu creates the material Universe. Precisely the way it is created is more or less described in various Puranas. The creation includes a description of the breathing of MahaVishnu, wherein Universes are breathed out like bubbles. Within each Universe, another Vishnu appears, and a lotus flower sprouts from his navel upon, which Lord Brahma appears. At this time, the Universe is empty. Brahma receives knowledge from Vishnu lying below him in the form of the Gayatri Mantra, which contains all knowledge. Infused with knowledge from Vishnu, Brahma then creates the Planets and people and all other manifestations within the material Universe. Within the span of only one breath of Vishnu, the universal bubbles go out and then during inhalation are again retracted. During this one breath, Lord Brahma appears, lives his life and then dies during the inhalation or disappears as it were.
Lord Brahma's lifespan is equal to millions and millions of our years. Our current bodily life exists within a fraction of a second of one of Brahma's days. Therefore in truly universal or Brahma, Vishnu time, our lives are considerably insignificant. Because Vishnu breathes out bubbles and then breaths them back in, there is motion upon the bubbles. They are in a sense spinning in cosmic space. Within the bubble, Brahma appears and creates everything. Again, there is motion. It is said in the Puranas that when the bubbles are out, Vishnu glances upon them and infuses them with life. During Brahma's lifetime, which is millions and millions of our years, we small and marginal little living entities go through innumerable lifetimes.
The aim of life is to achieve liberation, attachment to God and detachment from matter, so that we can be elevated to the more eternal spiritual worlds to participate in pastimes with the Lord and all his liberated devotees.
This material creation, which is a bubbly dream of Lord Vishnu, is created for our perfection, training, and liberation. What this really means, especially to an astrologer, is that the material world is a great school created by Vishnu for the elevation of new Souls to the status of participating in Lila, or the pastimes of God and His liberated devotees. When Brahma creates the Universe under the guidance and knowledge of Vishnu, he does so with incredibly divine mystic power and artistry. There is great artistry and wonderful magical formations built into the material nature. Part of that magical mystical artistry is the illusion that we are all on a spatial ball encircling a Sun with other balls; when in fact there are actual personalities in charge of, responsible for and carrying out the interactions of all things in this material Universe. These personalities, who factually exist and who are of a much higher caliber than us are known as DemiGods.
The Planets are actually physical representations of humans on a much higher plane. What we see as 'the balls' is a representation of their potency to our material eyes. There are other planes of existence that perceived correctly would enable us to see the Planets as DemiGods, just as if we could see Souls, we would see one within each living body.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that He regularly comes to re-establish religious principles on Earth so that at all times there is a chance for the complete liberation of those Souls who are ready. It is always therefore the plan of the Lord that sufficient knowledge be brought down to the waiting devoted sincere spiritual aspirants. Therefore, part of the artistry and magical systems used by Brahma in designing everything was taught to his sons who then taught these things to their disciples. Parashara, the so, called father of Vedic Astrology, claims that he learned astrology in this way, ultimately from Brahma, the creator of everything in this Universe, who is known as Aja the unborn, because he has no parents within the Universe, but rather sprouts directly from the navel of Vishnu.
The proper student of Vedic knowledge understands that ultimately Vedic Astrology, like all Vedic knowledge, is revelation and not the creation of meditation by sages and not the speculative empirical discovery of scientific humans. Vedic Astrology is revelation. It is partial knowledge only of some of the systems of control put in place by Brahma under Vishnu. If a Vedic Astrologer is also a very sincere Vedic spiritualist, they can see and realize new and more full aspects about the science than is currently revealed in the standard books on the matter. This is true of all Vedic and spiritual subjects. Further revelation is possible and available to the sincere, humble, and devoted spiritualists, who by sincere practice draw the attention of their invisible guardians and receive gifts from them.
In the Parashara Hora Shastra, where most of the science of Vedic Astrology is taught, at one point Parashara Muni tells Maitreya Muni that, "I am revealing to you what the people of Kali Yuga will be able to understand and no more". In other words, there is of course more to be known, and it may not be all in the books. We may or may not find out this 'more' that exists out there in cosmic reality. It is enough for us to be sincere spiritualists, try to learn what is available to us, and go on happily.
The main business of life is not astrology. Shri Krishna describes in the Bhagavad Gita that the main business of life is to become His devotee and a detached but sincerely hard, working dutiful servant through whom things are done. Krishna describes that everyone should perform the regular matters that are a part of their everyday life, but this should be done with detachment from the fruits or the outcome of those endeavors. Instead, attachment to relating with Krishna (the Supreme Lord and source of Divinity) should be cultivated, thus attaining maximum satisfaction for the Soul. This is more the aim of life than becoming a great astrologer.
My realization is that the reason the Lord has revealed Vedic Astrology to humankind through the agency of the sages and the scriptures is that astrology can confirm the spiritual teachings of the scriptures to a large degree. Astrology is one of the strongest material proofs of certain principles given in the spiritual sections of the Vedic scriptures.
One of the cornerstone points of Vedic spirituality is the principle of Karma and reincarnation, Karmic control of us by the DemiGods. Vedic Astrology proves that at the time of birth, the entire life of the individual is already largely if not fully planned. This proves that we are being controlled, and that free will is just that, it is will alone; but that the actual events are controlled outside of and beyond us by God as it were.
As Shri Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita that the DemiGods are His agents, and that they carry out the granting of both good and bad results to us according to our Karma, Vedic Astrology gives us a profound way to see and realize that this statement is indeed fact. Anyone who studies Vedic Astrology even just a little will begin to see that it works. There will then be profound realization that indeed the Planets are God's agents for controlling our lives or delivering our Karmic reactions to us.
Vedic Astrology reveals a profound spiritual and philosophical truth to us: that our lives are fully controlled from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Realizing this can be catastrophic to some people who are not yet ready to accept that they are living in the benevolent cupping hands of the Supreme Lord at every moment of their lives. In modern times, especially in the West, it is vogue to think of us as masters of our lives, as the creators of our destiny. This may be argued in philosophical terms as fact, but Vedic Astrology shows that there is another side; a side where we can see that we are fully controlled.
One of the world's greatest philosophers, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (early 1500's, India), has stated that to understand the Absolute Truth is to know that we are simultaneously both fully controlled and independent. In other words, full Determinism and free will exist simultaneously for us. What this means is that while our lives are fully controlled by God through the universal DemiGods, at the same time His power and majesty in creating us is so amazingly great that we experience free will at every moment even though we are controlled. We feel as though we are choosing. We feel the emotional results of our choices.
It is true however that even our choice is controlled. Even our choice flows from our mental condition from birth and from the mold with, we were individually created. So, the cosmic super reality is that we are simultaneously free and controlled. Astrology focuses on one side of this equation, while other sciences and perceptions focus on the other side. A Vedic Astrologer must be a genius in such a way that he or she can walk this razor's edge in between these two realities, deftly going between the two according to the nature and needs of the situation at hand in both their personal and professional lives.
Happiness. We all want it. Our cats and dogs want it and our Houseplants want it. The trees in the forest stretch ever upward in an effort to receive enough light to go on living. At least we want to go on living, to survive. At the very least, we want survival. But beyond survival, we want fulfillment of other desires. Even prisoners in the worst jails survive. We want more than survival, we want fulfillment of quite a few desires. For this fulfillment of desires, we struggle hard. Pleasure, enjoyment, and happiness, we strive for these things. We want these things. For each of us, the fulfillment of desire and the sense of pleasure take on different forms. Some humans consider eating a T-bone steak to be a pleasurable experience while for others; it is vile, even while still in the thought stage. Some consider enlightenment a worthwhile endeavor while others consider it a waste of time at best.
This Earth seems to be a dirt ball floating in a great space. Combined with atmosphere and Sunlight it has proven itself to be capable of providing so many varieties of animated beings with an environment in, which they can pursue, both survival and fulfillment of their variegated desires. Yet, oddly, no living thing survives, everything dies. Every 100 years or so the Earth is supporting a whole new set of human bodies, with all previously living ones are either buried, burnt or eaten by animals and turned into stool. Therefore, there is a constant sense of not only urgency, but of competition for the use of limited resources. An underlying knowledge in all living things here is that death is the greatest deadline we face, and that between this moment and that unknown deadline, we have but a limited time in, which to gather and enjoy whatever we seek. This creates tension, to put it mildly.
To make matters yet even more interesting, nobody knows for sure, at least in terms of "scientifically 100% sure" why the heck this is all here. Why is it like this? What is it for? Is there a purpose? Is it an accident of chemistry and evolution, a folly of enzymes and microbes, or is there a reason? A God? A purpose? What am I? What are we? Why are we? In this ocean of tension, competition, unfulfillment, and impending deadlines, we are also faced with a lack of reasons and answers to the most basic questions. And so, it is, as it is, and so it shall be, and so we go on, at least trying to survive and enjoy our senses, as it always has been, as it were.
Then we meet the "Vedic Scriptures". What are these? These are ancient books of India. Mythology perhaps? Is it the wishful thinking of ancient tribes of villagers in an "uncivilized" country? Or are they parables containing somewhat valuable, but still mythologically phrased, teachings of super, thoughtful sages of a pure and enlightened ancient India? Or can we? Dare we take them literally? Do the far out stories and histories go beyond our sense of rational? Should we, orphans afloat in an ocean of insecurity, uncertainty, and certain peril, dare decide what is "rational"? Should we instead, adopt a mood of submission and surrender to what describes itself as "truth revealed from beyond the borders of this time and space". Do we dare have faith in such a thing?
In this world, there are atheists and atheistic scientists. These are persons who believe only what they can see, test and prove. They discourage others from the path of "faith in the unseen". For them, religion is wishful thinking. It is folklore for simple folks. Or, it is the opium for the masses of suffering and irrational humanity.
Yet, they cannot see to the edge of the Universe. They cannot prove from where everything came. They cannot answer the fundamental questions of life. Why we are, what we are, and what follows death, if anything. Yet, they dare to attack the "competing" religion, as irrational, and not worth our faith or attention. How dare they! They provide virtually no answers, yet they insult that, which does!
Religion, a compound Greek word meaning "again union with God" is similar to the Sanskrit word "Yoga", which means "to link" or "union". Although there are various religions, or paths to linking with the whole truth, the Vedic Scriptures, and the path or paths they represent and teach, are undoubtedly the vastest, and the most primeval. Therein we find practical science, systems, instructions, and philosophy covering virtually every aspect of life and creation. We find descriptions of the origin of the Universe, the ontology of the progress of the Soul, the theology of the Souls encasement in bodies, the science of war, the art of lovemaking, and the science of medicine, just to name a few, and all described within a consistent framework of interrelation, which clearly leads us to, guess what, "Happiness".
Yes, the aim of the Vedas is happiness, and nothing less than full happiness. In fact, in describing the destinations of the various Vedic paths, we find words and phrases describing highly happy states of existence, which are somewhat untranslatable into English. However, translations are required, and therefore states of Yoga, or Vedic religion, such as Brahmananda, Prema Bhakti, Madhurya Rasa and Mukti are translated into spiritual bliss, the highest love, and divine union with God, and liberation from matter.
Because the goals, and even the daily disciplines, of the various Vedic paths to happiness defy simple translation, one finds that the condensed Vedic aphorisms found in the Sanskrit scriptures expand dramatically when carefully translated by a devoted translator. In English, one must use many more words to describe that, which is told in short Sanskrit verses. Not only that, but the way of Vedic thought, is dramatically different from the way of modern thought, especially in the West. Therefore, along with translations of the Vedic scriptures we often find “discussions", "purports”, or “illuminations". Those lengthy add-ons by the translator or commentator, wherein they attempt to bring us up to speed with what is actually being taught.
And so, it is with Vedic Astrology. This form of astrology, which claims to be a God, given science from the spiritual world beyond our Universe, is rooted in a system of consciousness, which must be learnt by Westerners through a deliberate attempt at consciousness transformation. The serious student of Vedic Astrology in the West, and India for that matter, can only be that person who is willing to submit themselves to belief in things, which are not easily seen with our flesh, eyes. The student must be willing to develop their faith in things divine with a passion and not as a part time interest, but as a full time paradigm. A view of the creation and life, which overwhelms and encompasses their whole being. Only in such a state of devotion to the Vedic truths can one actually understand the Vedic conclusions or sciences, including astrology. Lack of this level of devotion is the prime reason for the lack of good Vedic astrologers worldwide, especially in the West. The increase of the above level of interest and devotion will therefore be the prime reason for the increase in the number of competent Vedic Astrologers worldwide and in the West.

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