Jyotish, yoga and vedanta

Author: Krishna Darshan - Alan Wiuker
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Jyotish, also known as “Vedic astrology” is one of the 6 “vedangas” or explanatory limbs of the Vedas, 6 sciences which are to be studied in order to be able to fully understand and practice the Vedic teachings. It is called “the eye of the Vedas” because it allows us to “see”, bring some light into the darkness of ignorance and the subtle laws or creation and karma.
There is a very close link between Jyotish and Yoga. Both sciences come from the same origin - the Rishis, the ancient Yogis. That knowledge was got by divine revelation to the Rishis in their profound meditative and mystical super-conscious states.
Many of the Vedic Maharishis like: Vashishta, Brigu, Garga, Jaimini, Parashara, Maiytreya and others were well versed in the science of Jyotish and wrote important treatises on it.

If we study the origins of Jyotish, we find that its main use is for the spiritual evolution. Jyotish is a helpful tool used by one who is working toward self-knowledge and understanding of the divine laws. It is a divine Vidya, a science revealed by the Yogis for the understanding of the laws of the universe, karma, the mind and time.

• Jyotish allows us to know and recognize the individual Karma.
• Yoga is the way by which one can overcome and liberate oneself from that karma.

Jyotish has two dimensions or levels of application and understanding: the “exoteric” or the external, worldly level, and the “esoteric”, the inner or spiritual dimension.
Most people are interested mostly in the exoteric and worldly aspects of life, where Jyotish is most popularly used, mainly for making predictions about the future, in areas like professional and material success, marriage, children, health and etcetera.
Many people believe that this is all what Jyotish is about but it is in fact much deeper than that.
Those aspects of life are important for humans, no doubt, but that is not all there is, that is not enough to find the complete happiness and self-realization, even though very few people are consciously looking for it.
The Rishis and Yogis taught emphatically that the highest purpose of life is the attainment of Spiritual illumination, realizing the true spiritual and divine nature of the Self and its identity with the Supreme Consciousness or God.

The planets and the mind
The motion of the planets and their different placements in the sky have a very strong influence on the human mind, mood and behavior. The Sun and Moon have an influence on the Nadis or subtle channels of Prana in the shukshma sarira or “astral body”, and therefore a strong influence on the psycho-physiological sate.
Jyotish is based on the moon. The moon is the mind, and the whole experience of the world and its duality happens in the mind. The placement of the Moon and other planets at the moment of birth show the state of mind we are born with, and the continuous motion of the planets show how this mind and mod are affected and changing.
The vedic calendar or Panchanga is based on the relationship between the moon and the sun at a particular time. This shows the relationship and interaction between the mind, body and soul, or how the mind has the capacity or not to reflect the light of the Soul.

“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.” S. Sivananda (Swara Yoga)

Jyotish, Karma and Vedanta philosophy
When man forgets his own spiritual nature and identifies himself as a separated individual, there is an experience of dissatisfaction, lacking something and unhappiness.
But the mind, in its spiritual ignorance and illusion, thinks that the missing happiness is to be found “outside” in the world, by acquiring something that he thinks he is missing.
This ignorance is the cause of desire, which leads to do actions in order to get the desired object or “fruit”.
This is the origin of Karma. Every action done in order to get a result or “fruit” creates a reaction to be experienced, and the individual soon becomes trapped to the material and separated experience, which only brings more pain and dissatisfaction and bondage to the Samsara, the wheel of births and deaths.
But in fact, that bondage and limited experience is just an illusion experienced by the mind in the state of ignorance.
The true Self or Atman is always free, perfect, self luminous and unaffected by karma.

In Sanskrit, the word for planet is “Graha” which can be translated as: “that which grabs, grasps, holds or traps”.
The Grahas grab, tie us to the material world, to experience the results of the past actions.
The Grahas are the instruments of God by which the law of karma operates. Their role is to protect Dharma.
The great Maharishi Parashara, father of veda Vyasa and one of the main exponents of the knowledge of Jyotish wrote on his work know as Brihat Parashara hora shastra:
3-4. “The unborn Lord has many incarnations. He has incarnated, as the 9 (Nava) Grahas to bestow on the living beings the results due to their Karmas. He is Janardan. He assumed the auspicious form of Grahas to destroy the demons (evil forces) and sustain the divine beings (dharma)”.

By analyzing the birth chart we can understand what kind of actions the individual has been doing in the past and how these actions are affecting the current life experience.
From a vedantic and Yogic point of view we can say that the grahas basically show our illusion, the “dream” that each person is wrongly experiencing as “the reality”, or what the person wrongly experiences as “this is me”.
The Grahas can be viewed as the “Jailors” who keep the soul trapped in the dimension of time and duality, past, present and future, pleasant and unpleasant, which is nothing but an illusory experience of the mind.
• The study of Jyotish is not enough for the attainment of Moksha. The intellect alone is insufficient for that purpose
• For that, the knowledge of Yoga is given. Yoga is a means for the attainment of Moksha or liberation from karma.
But the study of Jyotish is very useful to understand the evolutionary stage of an individual and which are the main lessons that the soul has to learn.

Life as a school
We are all born on this earthly plane with the purpose of continuing the learning process towards Self realization.
This is a slow process of purification of the mind which requires many life times.
Life is a school, where each person is on a different level of progress and needs to learn specific lessons.
For each person there are different lessons to learn, even though the goal and final lesson is the same. That can be seen on the birth chart.

The birth chart
The favorable or well disposed planets in the birth chart show the result of progress and good actions that the native has already done in the past, he has acquired some knowledge and experience, and that manifests in this life in the form of good opportunities, good luck, talents, protection, enjoyments, health and prosperity.
But even these favorable situations have a beginning and an end. They don’t last forever, and the more one gets attached to the favorable and pleasant conditions of life, the more one suffers when they end.
Even the “good” karma ties the individual to a material level of experience, which is subjected to change and end, and therefore it doesn’t give the expected full happiness
That means that the native still has to learn to detach from the pleasant and use the good opportunities in life just to keep progressing in spiritual knowledge.
The planets placed in difficult and adverse places in the chart, like for example, debilitated or afflicted planets, or planets ruling difficult houses or receiving bad aspects or forming difficult astrological yogas, show the areas that the person still has to mature and learn important lessons.
They show energies that that the native has not yet learned to use correctly or has misused in the past, creating “Papa” or adverse karma, that will manifest in this life in the form of difficult and painful situations.
But those difficulties are beneficial for the spiritual growth. The afflicting planets and the sufferings in life are in fact, teachers in disguise.
When everything goes well in life, man often gets attached to that enjoyment, thinking it will last forever, whereas when pain manifests, it usually awakes the Soul to look for a deeper meaning of life and a thirst for liberation from pain dawns in his mind.
So often is seen that people change their life on a spiritual direction after the experience of pain, loosing a dear person or going trough a serious disease.
These experiences remind us that everything is temporary and we are just “passing trough” this physical existence only for a short time, just to learn something.
Both good and bad karmas, favorable and adverse planets, are chains to the material plane.
Someone is tied with a golden chain, other with an iron chain, but both are prisoners.
Some one is dreaming a pleasant dream, other is having a painful one, but both are just dreams in the mind until one wakes up.

Yoga is the highest “Upaya” or astrological remedy
Jyotish and Yoga are complementary sciences.
• Jyotish can give us the knowledge for a “diagnose” of the condition of a person.
• But it is Yoga which provides the authentic “cure” for the situation.
Other upayas are usually performed with the objective of avoiding pain and undesired situations and obtaining what the mind desires. This can only bring limited and temporary results.
But Yoga is not an easy upaya. It is not a “magic pill”. It requires a long and constant effort to discipline the mind (Abhiasa) and detachment from the illusory world (Vairagya).
Just the intellectual knowledge of the karmic situation helps, but is not enough to liberate oneself from that karma. An intense process of self discipline, by which one can change the setting of the mind is needed. This is Yoga, taught by the Rishis, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and all the great Vedic scriptures as the means to attain liberation from karma and sorrow.
Spiritual life can be explained with the analogy of an inner battle between the higher and lower mind, the good and bad samskaras, the instinctive and the higher spiritual nature.
In the birth chart we can see the “battle field”, our allies and foes, but Yoga gives us the tools or weapons by which we can fight and win that inner war, defeating the enemies of ignorance and ego, and attain the victory of freedom.
Some of the classical Yoga methods or paths are known as: Bhakti yoga, Gñana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and others.
These methods work differently and have different effects, and are suited for different human temperaments and capabilities.
But finally, they all reach the same end, which is God and Self-realization, and liberation from the grip of Karma.

The role and service of Jyotish for spiritual seekers
Jyotish can be a very helpful tool for yogis and spiritual seekers to understand karma, what can be changed and what can’t, how to recognize and work out the personal karma and dharma.
Even though the universal laws apply for every person, every one has a different path to walk according to their previous karmas. Different lessons are needed to be learnt. What is the best path for one person may not be the best for another. This is shown on the birth chart.
The capacity and natural tendency or talent for a particular type of yoga path, type of mantra or Ishta Devata, type of Guru or spiritual teacher, can be seen in the birth chart, as well as the obstacles in the path and the areas of life where there will be a need to focus and purify.
Trough Jyotish we can understand the quality of time, the cycles and periods of influence that the planets have on the mind and mood and how to prevent or counteract them

Sri Swami Sivananda wrote:
"An elementary knowledge of astrology is of immense value. The various Ritus or seasons are brought about by the movement of the earth round the sun. The atmospheric conditions affect the body of man. The planets have an influence on the mind and body of a man. They exercise benign or malevolent influence on him in accordance with their position in the various houses. He who has some knowledge of astrology can ward off the evil effects of unfavorable planets.”
Sri Swami Sivananda “Practice of karma yoga” page 17

The field and the knower of the field, a vedantic meditation
In the Bhagavad Gita chapter 13th, Sri Krishna says:

3. Tat kshetram yaccha yaadrik cha yadvikaari yatashcha yat;
Sa cha yo yatprabhaavashcha tatsamaasena me shrinu.
“Do thou also know Me as the Knower of the Field in all fields, O Arjuna! Knowledge of both the Field and the Knower of the Field is considered by Me to be the knowledge.”

Commentary by Sri Swami Sivananda:
“Kshetra means “field”. The body is so called because the fruits (harvest) of actions in the form of pleasure and pain are reaped in it as in a field.
The physical, the mental and the causal bodies go to constitute the totality of the field. It is not the physical body alone that forms the field.
He who knows the field and he who beholds it as distinct from himself trough knowledge is the knower of the field or matter”
“The Immortal Soul (yourself), dwelling in the body is the Knower of the Field. Verily, it is the Supreme Being who has projected Himself and assumed the form of this Knower of the Field within this body. This self is none other than That.”

Jyotish shows us the “field”. The Grahas are the dispensers of Karma in the individual. Jyotish is about understanding Karma, but not to identify with it, but rather to observe it as a witness.
By Yoga and Jnana we can get the awareness and realization of the “knower of the Field” the eternal witness, the supreme consciousness, beyond duality and karma.
But is he who has knowledge of BOTH, the field and the knower of the field and can distinguish between the two that has “the knowledge”.

In that sense Jyotish can be used as a vedantic meditation tool, by observing everything we can experience in the form of pleasure and pain, just as the manifestation of past karma, just the Grahas doing their work. Then we can get a higher understanding of what the birth chart is, in the sense of understanding and recognizing the Samskaras and Vasanas, the deep rooted tendencies and karmic seeds that we bring into this life as a result of past actions and how they influence on our current perception of the universe.
The placement of the Grahas at our birth show the kind of experience we have in the world, how we “superimpose” (adhyaroopa) our individual mental tendencies and impressions on the absolute reality.
Also in the same way we know about the yearly seasons and changes in the nature, the changes and cycles of the Grahas in the sky create different effects in the individual and collective minds, triggering the manifestation of certain karmas and affecting the mood, emotions and perception.
A person may say “I am depressed” “something is wrong with me” . When we look at the situation in the light of Jyotish we can see that there is a certain planetary period or transit creating that experience. We can observe that the experience of pleasure and pain is a result of karma and ignorance and even predictable trough Jyotish.
But the wise who understands this can remain as a witness of the situation, even minded, knowing that “that is not me” “that is just the Grahas doing their work”. Pleasure and pain come and go.
In the highest realization the wise is not affected by karma any longer. He has complete identification with the knower of the field, the supreme Atman.


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