The planets, karma and the mind: How astrology
Darshan - Alan Wiuker
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Jyotish in the light of vedanta philosophy
Vedic astrology or Jyotish is an important branch or Vedic
knowledge. It is called “the eye of the Vedas”
and it is a science of understanding time and karma.
To understand how astrology works, we need to understand first
about the relationship between the material universe, the
mind and karma as explained in vedanta philosophy and Vedic/yogic
When we observe the sky, the planets and the stars, we normally
perceive them as objects that are very far away, separated
from us, external to us.
But according to the teaching of the Vedas and the ancient
Yogis and Rishis, the truth is that there is no such a separation
or duality between the external universe and the mind or internal
Such an affirmation is not just born out of a mental or philosophical
speculation, but it comes from a direct experience, a direct
knowledge obtained by accessing a higher state of consciousness
known as Samadhi or super-conscious state.
In that state of samprajnata samadhi the universe and its
objects are perceived “as they really are”
in their own intrinsic nature, instead of being deformed,
veiled, confused or stained by the individual mind in the
ordinary waking state of consciousness.
Those yogis and Vedic astrologers explain that in fact
there is no such a separation between one’s mind and
the objects that we perceive as external and that such a separation
is only a projection of our own mind. It is the mind that
creates the external forms, and places them within time and
It is the mind the one that creates the concept of
time and space. These two do not exist independently from
the mind; they are a function of the mind.
Mind functions with this time/space parameters. If you remove
time and space, you cannot think, the mind cannot work. And
if you stop the mind, if the mind remains totally quiet, without
“vrittis”, time and space disappear, cease to
This cannot be fully understood with the mind/intellect because
that intellect itself can only work within time and space
parameters and cannot understand or grasp something out of
This is why only in the state called Samadhi or perfect meditation
you can know the true nature of things as they are and not
as the mind believes them to be. And even the knowledge of
the mind itself can only be understood in the Samadhi state.
Samadhi is a very special state of consciousness, different
than the common 3 states of consciousness that everyone knows:
waking, dreaming and deep sleep.
The samadhi state is known as the 4th state of consciousness,
and it is really only known to the advanced yogis. The mind
needs to be specially trained to get it.
In the samadhi state there is a perfect and sustained focus
or concentration of the mind and the silencing of all mental
agitations. (There are different kinds and levels of samadhi
too, but we are not going to get into this topic for now.)
In a similar way as when you wake up from a dream, you understand
that the objects that you perceived in the dream where nothing
but creations or projections of the mind from past impressions,
similarly it happens when you “wake up” from the
so called Waking state into the higher state of samadhi. Then,
the objects that were perceived as real in the waking state
are now understood to be just creations of the mind, just
like a dream.
For the yogis, both worlds, the one perceived in the waking
state and the one perceived in the dream state are us unreal
and dependent on the mind’s content and past impressions.
They are “superimpositions” of the mind.
What does this term and concept of “superimposition”
(adyaroopa) very much used in Vedanta mean?
To understand it, analogies are used: You walk in the darkness
and three is a rope in the floor that someone had left. But
in the darkness and lack of sight clarity you see a snake
instead or a rope. In fact, the truth is that there is only
a rope and there is not any snake, but your mind created the
snake, it confused the rope with a snake and it really believes
that there is an actual snake there. In the ignorance of the
rope, the mind believes in the existence of the snake, it
is actually “real” for you as far as you don’t
know it’s a rope, and that creates emotions, like fear.
Emotions affect the flow of prana in the Nadis. This creates
changes in the physical body, like changes in the blood pressure,
heart beat, secretion of adrenaline, and others. But when
someone brings a light and points it to the apparent snake,
then you recognize that there was only a rope and no snake.
Then at that time the fear and its symptoms disappear and
there you recover the calmness.
The mind has “superimposed” a snake on the rope.
So when we look at the universe, we don’t see it as
it really is, but we superimpose our unconscious mind on it.
So when we are looking at the universe, what we are really
seeing is just like seeing our own unconscious mind reflected
in a mirror. Everything that we experience in life, every
event, the forms we see, people, objects, our own body, beauty
or ugliness, good and bad, are just projections of our own
mind, which has taken a more gross state and we now called
the “material” word.
To understand more this process of the mind becoming or projecting
the material world, please refer to my article “Creation,
mind and body”.
The ordinary mind is always in an extroverted and agitated
state, it is always out-going. Because of that, it is not
capable of understanding that everything that is “outside”
is just a projection of the unconscious level of the mind.
The outside is really inside.
In fact, there is no existence of a real division between
“exterior” and “interior” outside
and inside. It is only the mind that creates that concept.
In the same way each object that we perceive and each experience
we have in life is a reflection of a part of our psychic world.
The various kind of psychological activities, various kind
of desires and impressions in our mind caused by past experiences
and actions, (which we are mostly unaware of), manifest now
as the various life events that we experience, body we are
born with, kind of people we meet, objects that we are surrounded
by, the nature and environment that we live on, and the experience
of pleasure or pain that we obtain from them.
The experiences we have can be classified as: pleasant, painful,
mixed or neutral.
That depends of the type of thoughts and actions performed
in the past that created those events being more positive
or negative or, in other worlds, the positive or negative
mental impressions and karmas performed over innumerable past
Due to that, each individual has a subjective experience of
the material world, each one perceiving or experiencing the
world in a different and unique way because each one superimposes
their own mental impressions upon the world.
Sometimes we may coincide momentarily and perceive and experience
something together or collectively and sometimes we perceive
and experience life in a complete different individual way,
like people living in two completely different worlds.
Some people live in a state where they are predominately joyful;
they feel lucky and thankful, while at the same time, someone
is living life as a hell in this very earth. Some feel life
as a blessing, others as a curse, and some as a mixture of
the two. That depends of the karma that each one has sown
in the past and the mental tendencies that we have built up
over many lives.
The joys and sorrows of life, the pleasure or pain that we
experience do not happen just by mere accident but are the
visible manifestation of what’s already there in our
unconscious mind impressions, we called them karmic seeds
that are sprouting in the form of events. While living them,
experiencing them, we become conscious of them, even though
in the ordinary state of consciousness we do not understand
the connection between the two things.
To illustrate this better I will use an analogy of a movie:
The world that we perceive/experience, is just like a movie
that our own mind projects. Each person is living in a “movie”,
a drama in which he or she is the main starring character.
All kind of dramas happen in that movie, which make us experience
all kind of emotions, moods, joy, sadness, sorrow, fear, attraction,
repulsion and etcetera.
But to see the movie in the movie theatre, there is one important
condition needed: The theatre hall has to have the
lights off!. If someone happens to turn on all the
lights of the hall in the middle of the movie, the movie would
disappear and we would only see a white screen and a projector.
The illusion and emotions created by the movie would disappear.
Sometimes the movie that we see is a horror movie, a monster
or evil murderer is chasing the nice boy or girl and causes
him great torture. Then the spectator experiences fear and
terror, his blood pressure rises, muscles become tense, and
many other physical reactions happen.
At other times the movie is a romantic one, other times a
laughing one, other times it is a spiritual one. All of them
generate different kind of emotions and reactions in the spectator’s
mind and body.
In this analogy, the projector of the movie is our own unconscious
mind in the form of Vasanas and the spectator
of the movie is the conscious mind and ego.
The projector projects light consist of a combination of 3
colors, yellow, red and blue. They are combined with each
other in different proportions, and that is what creates all
the different shapes, sizes and forms that make the movie.
This triple color light is the Maya, which consists
of the 3 gunas, satva, rajas and tamas. From the
combination of the 3 gunas in different proportions, all the
objects of the creation are created or perceived.
The movie itself that we see with its own script and
dramas is nothing but the projection of the impressions in
our mind created by the past karmas. The movie being either
of a more joyful or horror nature is according to the nature
of our past karma being good or bad, “punya” or
“papa”, virtuous or sinful.
Behind the projector there is a person sitting, the operator
of the projector machine. He knows how to use the machine,
and he knows which movie to play at the right movie theatre
and at the right time. That operator is “ISHWARA”
or GOD. He is the one that distributes the movies
but it is us the ones that have already chosen which movie
we wanted to watch and have bought the tickets for that time.
Ishwara just gives us the fruit of what we have already chosen.
In this way, each of us by our own free will, have taken different
options and decisions on our past. We have done actions based
on that. Those actions have cause either good or suffering
to other beings. These have consequences that will be experienced.
Based on that, God arranges our karmas and puts them in a
format to be experienced. He does so by making us to take
birth at a time and place where the position of the planets
matches the kind of karmas ripe for us to be experienced.
Ishwara combines different past karmas of the individual which
are compatible with each other and arranges
them in the form of a particular birth, longevity
and experiences. (prarabda karma)
Other past karmas which are not compatible with that birth
will have to be experienced in a future different birth, under
different conditions.(this left past karma that is stll unexperienced
in this life and is to be experienced in some future births
is callad sanchita karma)
The upanishads declare that it is Ishwara the one who distributes
the karmas to all living beings. Ishwara is the creator, preserver
and destroyer of the macro-creation, the whole universe, which
comprehends all the individual universes. The supreme
intelligence and omniscience of Ishwara is such that he can
arrange to coordinate the karmas of everyone to be experienced
at the right time and moment when they cannot be in contradiction
with each other.
He arranges for people who have similar karmas to be watching
the same life “movie” at the same time. Or that
people of very different karmas experience it in such a way
that it complements each other.
For example, I’ll make a little story: Suppose the person
“A” has stolen to person “B” in a
past life. Now in this life, perhaps without knowing each
other, person “C” comes and stills the money from
person “A”. “A” feels very “unlucky”
because he doesn’t remember that he has stolen in his
past life. But as the police is chasing “C” ,
he drops the money in a bag on the street. Suddenly, person
“D”, who happen to have given a lot of charity
in his past life, is walking in the street and just finds
a bag of money that was dropped by the thieve. He doesn’t
know where it came from. Nobody claims that money bag. So
he feels it was some good luck, so he keeps it and uses that
money to help other people, creating more good karma, because
he already has that tendency. And you can imagine how it continues…
Like that things happen, perhaps my story is very simplistic,
karma is more complex than that, but nevertheless this story
illustrates how karma works and how Ishwara has coordinated
everyone’s karmas to be experienced in such a proper
time and place so that they are always complementarily to
each other so that everyone will always get what has sowed
in the past.
So, in this way we collectively experience a “reality”,
a material world that is made from the interaction of all
our individual karmas which are ripe to be experienced.
That also explains why two or more people meet at a particular
time and may be experiencing the same or similar situation
at the same time, that’s because they have some common
or complementary karma from the past.
Sometimes we see a whole nation suffering the miseries of
a war or an epidemic disease or draught, or hunger, or enjoying
the prosperity and power of their place, or celebrating together
in a party, or being in a jail at the same time, nothing of
this collective good or bad events happen by accident but
it is all been ordained and arranged by Iswara’s supreme
knowledge and immeasurable intelligence needed to manifest
all this, based on each one’s karmas.
And Ishwara does all this, delivering the karma to
the individuals, through the agency of the 9 Planets or Grahas.
Then each individual is born when the Grahas are in such a
placement in the sky that corresponds to the karmas created
in the past that have to be experienced in this life.
So it is that when the Rishis meditated in depth they got
the revelation that every heavenly body is a symbol of the
various dimensions of the mind and life, or similar to what
the psychologist Carl Young named as “Archetypes”
of the unconscious mind.
And within those heavenly bodies, there are 9 which were called
the “9 Grahas”, normally translated
as 9 planets, but the word Graha means “that
which grabs” or “to hold”.
So their function is to hold us to the fruits of our past
karma and create the corresponding experiences.
So, the 9 Grahas are the instruments by which Ishwara delivers
the karmas to all living beings.
Those Grahas govern or direct the process of creation, evolution,
transformation and the combination of the 5 elements onto
the manifestation of our experiences of life. Each of the
Grahas is in charge of a specific aspect of life and a particular
element of nature and the creation process that we have analyzed
in Creation mind and
All the 9 Grahas have a beneficial function and are instrumental
in the maintenance of the cosmic Dharma and are favorable
to our own evolution.
Even the so called “malefic” planets are in fact
positive Divine instruments, manifestations of Ishwara to
sustain Dharma and destroy Adharma, and show us the right
path to follow.
Every time we do an unrighteous action, a wrong action or
what we call a “Sin”, it creates a disturbance
and an enemy relationship with a particular Graha, according
to the kind of action. Then, those Grahas, instead of giving
us their blessing and positive qualities, they become our
enemies and punishers. And every time one does a dharmic or
good action, which benefits the creation and the divine plan,
the corresponding Grahas turn favorable and friendly towards
us and bless us with their most positive qualities.
In this way, we can see at the time of birth, which planets
are placed in position called “auspicious”, which
will bring blessings to the person, and which are in “inauspicious”
placements which show one has misused that energy in the past
an created the bad karmas and now this kind of energy becomes
unfriendly to us and a cause of sufferings.
So each individual has a particular, more or less friendly
relationship with each of the Grahas and those will deliver
to the person what he has sowed in the past.
By studying the movements of the Grahas we can even predict
when those results will be delivered.
Now I will proceed to briefly mention just a few of the functions
that are governed by each of the 9 Grahas. If you want to
see more details, please refer to my article "Meaning
of the planets” .
1. The Sun
represents the Atman or Soul, the internal light, the pure
consciousness, the witness of everything, the true Self. But
as far as one is still in the state of Avidya or ignorance
of one’s true nature, The Sun manifests as our ahankara
or individual ego. It also rules over the health and vital
energy, also the fire element, energy and activity. (Also
Mars affects these areas). The Sun destroys mater to produce
energy and light, (just as fire consumes fuel to transform
it into energy and light). The sun represents power, authority,
government, the king. It is out-going, active, hot, male,
and it predominates during the day time and summer season
and during the waning moon face or dark fortnight.
2. The Moon
is the opposite pole to the Sun; it governs the mental/emotional
functions in general and especially the “manas”
in particular. It also rules over nutrition, water and liquids,
the mother, the female, the receptive principle, it is nourishing,
if transforms energy into substance (opposite to the Sun)
It is cool and predominates during the night, the winter and
the waxing moon fortnight.
governs over the fire element, energy, transformation and
action. It is the warrior’s energy, the capacity to
fight against obstacles, oppositions or enemies and defend
one’s own principles. If it is misused, it becomes and
attracts violence, war, pain and destruction.
rules over the Buddhi or intellect, and over the capacity
to communicate, speak, think, memorize process information
and calculate. He rules over the earth element and the sense
rules the ether element and the experiences through the sense
of hearing. He also represents the Guru or teachers, priests,
religion, spirituality, wisdom, dharma, expansion and good
governs over the water element and the sense of taste. He
also rules over the experience of sensual pleasure, sexuality,
relationships, arts, beauty, the female, the wife, and the
urinary and reproductive organs.
governs over the air element and sense of touch. He signifies
discipline and austherity, hard work and deep focus. It rules
over the experience of pain and sorrow, as well as the strength
and endurance to that.
represents our subconscious desires, fears and the shadowy
hidden side of the mind and also the search for the unknown
or secret. It represents that which is out of the norms, out
of the established rules, the outcaste and the foreign.
represents our past memories and also the subconscious, but
more related to our rejections and dissatisfaction. He rules
over the search for the liberation from suffering and samsara
and attainment of Moksha. He is one who doesn’t fit
in the society but wants to get out of it, the renunciate
or sadhu, the mendicant and the ascetic monk.
There are many more experiences and things
ruled by these planets besides the few I mentioned here.
The importance of the Moon
and its effect on the Nadis
Among these planets, in Jyotish, the Moon Is considered as
the most important Graha. It is also very important to see
its interaction with the Sun and the other planets.
The Vedic calendar or Panchanga is based
on the moon’s placement in the sky and its relationship
to the Sun.
By analyzing the placement and connections of the moon at
the time of birth we can understand which is the structure
of the mind the mental tendencies, or samskaras that one is
born with. In order to asses that, the first things we have
look is if the moon is waxing or waning and If it is close
to the full moon or to the new moon. That indicates if the
moon is reflecting more or less light.
The Sun represents the Atman. It is the source of light. That
light is reflected in the mind and then manifested as concrete
experiences in life.
During the new moon or Amavasya, the moon does not reflect
any light from the sun, and the reflection is maximum during
the full moon.
The changing and alternating cycle of the moon during the
month makes the energies of the moon and Sun be predominating
also in cycles. For example, during the day there is more
sun energy and during the night the moon predominates.
During the waxing fortnight of the month the moon energy predominates
and during the waning time it is the Sun.
During summer time the sun predominates, during the winter
the moon predominates. Also if we divide the day in different
portions or hours we will see that there are hours where the
sun predominate and others the moon does.
In this way, the Sun-Moon alternation creates cycles, sub-cycles,
sub-sub-cycles and so on.
These cycles have a strong influence over our breath
and the flow of Prana in the Nadis. The two main
Nadis are Ida and Pingala, which correspond to the right side
of the body and right nostril (Pingala) and left side, left
The alternation between Ida and Pingala, right and left nostril
and also inhalation-exhalation, is like the paddling of a
bicycle, or the up-down movement inside an engine. This
motion is what allows the vrittis, thoughts or mental agitations
to happen, or you can also say that it is the deep
seated samskaras and Vasanas that make the prana become agitated
therefore allowing the actualizing of the Vasanas into present
thought waves. In whatever direction you look at it, the movement
of the prana and the movement of the mind always go together.
Master Swami Sivananda explained this very
“The lunar days influence the function of the Nadis
(astral energy channels).
It should be born in mind that the Moon exercises a powerful
influence over the human mind. In the Purusha Sukta you will
find:-Chandrama Manaso Jatah- the Moon is born of the mind
of the Virat Purusha or cosmic being.
In the cosmos, the Moon is controlled by the cosmic mind.
The individual mind being a speck of the cosmic mind has therefore
the connection with the Moon, and being only a speck it feels
controlled by the Moon.
When the Moon waxes and wanes, its connection with the mind
also fluctuates and thus, there arises a sympathetic reaction
in the mind. Hence, the relationship between the flow of the
breath and the lunar days.” Sri Swami Sivananda
To read more about the different effects
of the lunar days, you can refer to my article: Tithi-Lunar
Besides the lunar cycle, we have to observe
also in which part of the sky the moon is, as seen from the
earth. So we can locate it in front of a Rashi (zodiac constellation
or sign) or in a specific Nakshatra (star) within the constellation
or at a specific placement in the sky in relations o the earth
horizon. That will give us a lot of information about what
influences the moon/mind has, what kind of “colors”
it is stained with, all of which has an influence in the light
that the moon/mind is reflecting.
An example: if I am looking at a white wall I see everything
white. But if I wear some green colored eye glasses, then
I will see everything as green. If I wear red glasses, the
I will see everything red.
In this way the Moon, meaning, our mind, is the glasses through
which we are looking at the world. The world is just light.
Everything is made of light. But each individual mind perceives
it differently, according to what kind of stains it has, what
kind of colors are in the mind. If the mind is darkened or
cloudy I will see everything as dark and highlight the more
dark or negative aspects of live. If the mind is more clean
and shiny, I will perceive more the positive things in a more
So, according to the placement of the moon in the sky, it
will be stained by different combination of colors and shades,
which make our individual outlook and experience of life.
Besides the Rashi (sign) and Nakshatra (star), there are the
influence of the other planets. The other Grahas can be strongly
influencing the moon/mind either by being very close to it
(conjunction) of by being in a place where they are “looking”
at it (Drishti) and this is what is translates as “planetary
aspects”. (Different than western astrology aspects)
We will also look at where these other Grahas are located
in reference to the Moon, for example, in the second house
from it, the 5th house from it, etcetera, this will tell us
a lot about their influence on the mind. (For example, Jupiter
placed with the moon or in angle with it shows an optimistic
mind, good intelligence and material prosperity.)
Besides their placement at the moment of birth (birth chart)
we will also see that the Grahas keep moving in their cycles
around the Sun. This is called the planet’s transits.
There are times when those planets reach a point where they
coincide with the placement of planets in our birth chart,
or coincide with certain houses, which represent the different
domains or dimensions of life experience.
At those times, the planets deliver their effects according
to our karma, so these transits trigger the manifestation
of events, experiences, in our life.
Besides those transits there are other calculations used in
jyotish to predict when the different karmas will manifest
and in which ways.
But remember again that it is not that the planets are influencing
our mind, but the planets are really indicators of
what is already in our mind, what we are born with,
our tendencies and karmas. Their motion and cycles determine
when we are going to experience their effects, when are the
different scenes of the “movie” of our mind going
to be displayed, in the form of actual events and experiences.
Coming back to our analogy of the movie and the projector:
If the projector is the mind and the drama of the movie is
the manifestation of our karmas, the Grahas can be compared
to the parts of which the projector is made of, the elements
that allow the projector to display the movie, like the lamp,
the film, the lens, the motor, etcetera.
And behind all that, if we switch the lights on we will see
that the only permanent reality is the Screen. That screen
is the Param-Atman, the Self, the witness of all, the immutable
consciousness, upon which all the drama is projected and sustained
by, but the screen is never affected by the movie and drama
The light of the movie hall allows us to see the screen and
recognize the real nature of the movie. The light is the Jnana
or supreme knowledge of the Self.
Only in the darkness of the hall the movie takes an apparent
reality, but disappears when the light is on.
If there is fire in the movie, the screen doesn’t get
burned, neither the spectator.
The Bhagavad Gita explains that the Atman
cannot be burnt; cut, destroyed of affected by anything that
happens in the drama of the mind, neither in the physical
manifestation of it.
Bhag. Gita, II-23, 24,25
“Weapons cut It not, fire burns It not, water wets
It not, wind dries It not.
This Self cannot be cut, burnt, wetted nor dried up. It is
eternal, all-pervading, stable, ancient and immovable.
This (Self) is said to be unmanifested, unthinkable and unchangeable.
Therefore, knowing This to be such, thou shouldst not grieve."
Hari Om Tat Sat
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