Yoga, meditation and Jyotish
Darshan - Alan Wiuker
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There is a very close link between Jyotish
(Vedic Astrology) and Yoga. Both come from the same origin:
the Rishis. These wisemen or seers of ancient India were not
the creators of Yoga and Jyotish. That knowledge was attained
by divine revelation to the Rishis in their profound meditative
and mystical super-conscious states.
If we study the origins of Jyotish, we find that its main
use is for spiritual evolution. Jyotish is a helpful tool
used by one who is working toward self-knowledge and understanding
of the divine laws, not merely a means by which to satisfy
curiosity about future events or to confirm or justify a personality.
These concepts are erroneously linked to astrology in general,
and more so in the West.
Jyotish is a tool used to comprehend personal karma and the
“samskaras”, which are the tendencies of thought
and behavior deep- rooted in the subconscious mind. Samskaras
create conditioning thought patterns, acting as some sort
of mental program. This mental program tends to continually
repeat the same attitudes. The total of these attitudes and
samskaras form what we call personality, and that is what
creates our karma and destiny.
Samskaras can be seen by the astrologer in the birth chart,
and can also be known by the Yogis in meditation.
Understanding and recognition of the samskaras is the key
to understand past, present and predict the future.
This knowledge by itself is not of much use if we do not have
a way of changing its effects on our life.
Samskaras can be changed. This is the essence of Yoga. Yoga
is considered by the Rishis themselves as the method for transcending
and liberating one from the effects of karma.
“Prarabda” is that part of the karma that we cannot
change. It is like an arrow that has been released and it
is too late to change its direction. It is the karma which
is flourishing in this life, even if part of it has not yet
shown itself. Therefore, we need to understand, accept, and
work out that situation in the best possible way. What we
are able to change, is the way we react to this karma; and
this is what generates the future karma.
In Sanskrit, the word for planet is “graha” which
means, “that which grabs” or “that which
traps”. The grahas act like forces that condition the
mind and energy patterns in the astral or subtle body, keeping
them fixed and difficult to change.
The discipline that allows mental patterns to be modified,
overcoming the strong hold of the “grahas”, is
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 spiritual nature.
We can say that Jyotish can show us the “battle field”,
our allies and foes, but Yoga gives the tools or weapons by
which you can fight and win the war defeating the enemies
of ignorance, ego and bondage, and attain the victory of freedom.
There are various Yoga methods within the Yoga tradition.
These methods work differently and have different effects,
and are suited for different humman temperaments.
Finally, they reach the same result, which is God and Self-realization,
and liberation from the weel of Karma.
Some of the clasical Yoga methods are:
Raja Yoga is defined as the suspension of all mental fluctuations
or “vrittis”. This can be achieved through rigorous,
self-imposed thought discipline that gradually develops into
a state of deep concentration until complete mental silence
Restlessness of mind or distraction is believed to be the
source of all human suffering.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras states:
“Mental pain, depression, physical nervousness,
and irregular breathing are the symptoms of a distracted state
Concentration raises the energetic level
of the mind and takes one to inner silence.
Within this inner mental silence, the Self’s true nature
is perceived, destroying the illusion of ignorance and bringing
the experience of perfect peace and knowledge.
While the mind is active and agitated, the individual identifies
with his thoughts, acquiring a false sense of himself. He
identifies himself as separate from the universe. This creates
a feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness that, in turn,
creates desires and future karma.
How can one control and silence that turbulent mind?
Without a doubt, the mind is difficult to control. However,
control can be obtained through a constant and steady practice,
accompanied with indifference toward enjoyment of sensory
Just as an athlete gradually trains his body and muscles,
the mind must also be trained. The mind must be observed at
all times in order to recognize its tendencies or samskaras.
Upon recognition, these thoughts must be substituted by their
For example, if we observe in the mind a tendency towards
selfishness, we can concentrate on humility. If we see greed,
then we can focus to develop generosity. Each time we see
the selfishness vritti manifesting, we can cultivate the opposite
in our mind. Through this process we cultivate the mind until
the selfishness samskara is substituted and cancelled by the
positive samskaras of humility and generosity.
Each time negative thoughts appear in the
mind, they must be consciously substituted by their opposites.
This type of mental discipline requires perseverance
and a strong will.
It is through this method that negative samskaras are substituted
and eventually eliminated. This purification of the mind along
with restrictions and ethical and moral observances constitutes
the foundation for meditation.
The main practice in Raja Yoga is meditation. The mind has
a tendency or samskara to go toward the outside, toward senses
and external world experience. Meditation begins by taking
the mind away from the senses and bringing it within (pratyahara).
Later on, concentration on a single thought or idea (dharana)
is developed until it flows without interruption (dhyana).
When this practice is kept long enough, samskaras are defeated
and a super-conscious state arises (Samadhi), a state in which
separation between the individual and the whole, subject and
Meditation allows the meditator to find or percieve his inner
Self, that refuge where the effect of the planets and karmas
cannot reach or affect.
Adverse planetary positions though, can indicate that the
process may be more difficult or may take longer time.
One of the most powerful and efficient concentration techniques
for controlling the mind, changing the samskaras and destroying
astrological adverse effects, is Japa, mental
repetition of Mantras. The entire universe is made up of sound
or the “Word”. Mind is nothing more than sound
in a higher and subtler frequency. Grahas (planets) influence
the mind and prana with their own sounds and vibratory frequencies.
Mantras are combinations of syllables that correspond to specific
vibrations or sounds from the nadis (energy channels) and
chakras (psychic energy centers) of the astral body. They
act as keys or access codes to a latent superior energy and
spiritual power that lies dormant in each human being.
The “frequency” or vibratory level of our mind
determines what we attract in our life. Dark and pessimistic
thoughts attract other similar thoughts and disgrace or suffering
situations. Angry thoughts attract anger from others, creating
violent and destructive situations. Enlightened, loving, peaceful
and optimistic thoughts attract blessings and well-being.
Through mantras, the vibratory frequencies of the mind can
be changed and elevated, thus, changing what we attract to
There are various types of Mantras used to obtain different
kinds of benefits. Each planet has its own mantra and specific
purposes that can be used to harmonize their energy in our
astral body and invoke their positive influence. But the most
powerful mantras are called “Moksha Mantras” (the
names of God). They work on the very root of the mind, awakening
the Divine (God’s) consciousness. All planetary energies
act as servants or instruments of God. Invoking the divine
energy is like going directly to the source, the king or master
of the planets, the creator of the law of karma and source
of all light.
Hatha Yoga / Kundalini Yoga
Nowadays, there is great misunderstanding about Hatha Yoga.
It is commonly associated with body discipline and flexibility
development. Erroneously called physical yoga, the physical
discipline is only a small portion of what it really is.
The word “Hatha” means the union of “Ha”
(solar energy) with “Tha” (lunar energy), the
two poles of the universal cosmic energy. Hatha Yoga relates
basically with mastering and controlling the subtle energy
or prana with the purpose of mind control in order to reach
Raja Yoga or mental silence and the super-conscious state.
In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, an
authoritative traditional scripture about Hatha Yoga, the
author, Yogi Swatmarama, declares that teaching and practice
of Hatha Yoga is done with the objective of attaining Raja
Yoga or control and silencing of the mind. He says, “Hatha
Yoga is like a monastery where those that are afflicted by
the three classes of tapas (sufferings) take refuge.”
These sufferings are “adhiatmica”, physical or
mental suffering, “adhidaivika”, suffering caused
by planetary influences and “adhibhautika”, suffering
caused by natural elements like tigers, serpents, earthquakes,
In Hatha Yoga, the psychic energy is controlled
from its more dense manifestation, physical body movement,
on a subtler level, the movement of the breath and followed
yet by subtler levels, energy movement in the astral body,
nadis and chakras. In essence, all the elements of nature
(earth, water, fire, etc.) are controlled which in a subtle
way they constitute the mind itself.
Hatha Yoga practices begin with Yamas and
Niyamas (moral and ethical norms), purification, detoxification
and body control, achieved through a proper diet, Kriyas and
Asanas. Postures, maintained steadily and firm for a length
of time, are the asanas. They render health and strength necessary
to maintain a quiet, relaxed and controlled body. Techniques
that follow are Pranayamas, Bandas and Mudras. Through breath
control, the prana is directed toward the central channel
or Sushuma nadi (energy channel corresponding to the spinal
cord) and the Kundalini Shakti is awakened. The power or creative
energy of the universe that lies dormant at the base Chakra
(Kundalini) is then directed toward the higher Chakras. When
this potential reaches the Sahasrara Chakra (the center of
divine consciousness), Samadhi or super-conscience is attained.
This is accompanied by the annihilation of all samskaras,
illumination and liberation from karma.
A very close relationship exists
between Hatha/Kundalini Yoga and astrology.
Yoga is based upon the knowledge that the entire universe
or macrocosm is present within each individual in his astral
body or microcosm.
The energies from the sun and moon
are manifested in each individual as the two prana poles or
vital energy. They manifest in the process of inhalation and
exhalation as well as in the two main energy channels or nadis.
These nadis are Ida (moon), located in the left side of the
body and connected with the left nostril, and Pingala (sun)
located in the right side of the body and linked with its
corresponding nostril. It is from the interaction of these
two energies that all mental and physical activity happens.
Planetary imbalances on each individual’s natal chart
produce a disturbance in the energy flow. As one of them is
predominant over the other, physical health and mental equilibrium
Through breath control, balance and regulation of inhalation
and exhalation energies, the Hatha yogis are capable of unblocking
the nadis, thus, neutralization of the afflictions takes place.
Malefic planetary influences, like the one from Saturn, produce
prana blockage and constriction, restricting its flow. Another
example is Mars; when afflicted it generates excitement, restlessness
and prana agitation. These effects can be overcome through
the various pranayamas.
Another very interesting aspect is meditation on Rahu
and Ketu (the moon nodes) in relationship
with the Sushuma Nadi and the Kundalini Shakti.
Mythology describes Rahu and Ketu as a snake demon who went
to drink the nectar of immortality, only allowed to be consumed
by divine beings or Devas. The sun and the moon witnessed
this and announced it to Vishnu who then cut him in half.
However, since the snake had already drunk some nectar, it
was transformed to an immortal being. As a concession, a place
with the planets in the heavenly function was granted, provoking
the solar and moon eclipses. Their function is to make every
being face his shadows and unresolved past karma conflicts.
The snake represents the Kundalini Shakti or latent spiritual
power. When this energy is inactive or disconnected, as consequence
of previous karmas, it flows down, closing the entrance of
the Sushuma nadi. It manifests as desire, that which creates
duality in the mind and the attraction and repulsion forces.
The placement of Rahu and Ketu in the birth chart will indicate
the areas of life in which the atraction and repulsion (raga-dwesha)
will take place as a result of unresolved previous karmas.
However, when this duality is overcome, through working out
the previous karmic debts and acting without attachment to
desires, and by the Yogic practices, Rahu and Ketu are reunited
or connected. In turn, they transform into the power that
drives conscience and creative energy back to its source or
In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, we read:
Shakti gives liberation to the Yogis and bondage to the fools.
He who knows her, knows Yoga” (3/107)
The same force, when it is dormant or active
only in the lower chakras, is a source of darkness, dissatisfaction,
conflicts and diseases. It binds us to karma. When it is directed
toward the superior chakras, through purification of the nadis,
and mind control, through Yoga techniques, illumination and
liberation from karma is achieved.
The Kundalini shakti and it’s negative or positive spiritual
potential can be seen in astrology in the 8th house and it’s
strength, and by the placement and influence of Rahu and Ketu.
The mythological snake’s search for the nectar of immortality
brings out the final motivation of this energy.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, says:
the sushuma becomes the royal road for Prana, the mind remains
suspended and the yogi cheats death”. (3/3)
“When the prana moves in the sushuma
and the mind is absorbed in the void, the intelligent yogi,
he who can stop mind fluctuations, uproots all karmas”
“The sun and the moon create the division
between night and day. Sushuma consumes the time; this is
a secret”. (4/17)
Whilst all the planets move in one direction
(direct movement), Rahu and Ketu move in the opposite direction
(retrograde). Planetary direct or forward movement can be
seen as the manifestation process of individual experiences
in the objective world. The retrograde movement of Rahu and
Ketu gives us an idea that they move in the opposite sense,
from the objective and material manifestation back to its
source, the pure consciousness or God. This is what the Kundalini
Shakti does. First, it manifests the universe from the original
pure conscience to the objective manifestation, remaining
static there in a latent form until the moment it is reactivated
by Yoga and starts its way back, chakra by chakra, from the
material and objective manifestation to the absolute consciousness
Another aspect that challenges the intellect is death itself.
Astrologically, the moment of death is determined at birth
time and is part of our prarabda karma. Nevertheless, death
can only happen when prana moves in ida or pingala. This generates
the time in the mind and allows astrological forces to act.
However, when prana is retained in the sushuma, it “cheats
death”. This is considered the only way to prolong longevity
beyond what has been established by the prarabda karma. This
explains the millenary longevity of some yogis or siddhas.
However, that’s not the objective of Hatha Yoga. Longevity
is interesting only until past karma has been work out completely
and not as an end by itself.
It’s important to point out that real Hatha Yoga techniques
must be learned from a qualified teacher alone,
not merely through books.
Bhakti means devotion and love to God.
Bhakti Yoga means a total surrender to God and his will.
A personal relationship with God is established through prayer,
chants, worship ceremonies or rituals and a constant memory
or thought of him.
This is the most characteristic path in the majority of the
traditional world religions.
Yogis understand that God is one, beyond all duality and form
limitation but he manifests himself in infinite names and
forms. Each individual can relate, perceive, experiment or
conceive God in different ways. In the way that one searches
for God, in such a way will God manifest.
That is why Bhakti Yoga is neither a religion nor a dogma.
It recognizes all religions and faith forms as valid, as long
as they are practiced with sincerity and for the purpose to
unite with the divine. Each person has a different approach
towards God. We cannot impose one name or form to be accepted
The essence of Bhakti, beyond any external form in which it
is practiced, is about the opening of the heart, feeling of
cosmic love, renouncing the ego or individual will and acceptance
and surrender to the divine will.
There are different levels of progress in Bhakti.
Beginners are ussually only capable of relating to God with
a certain name, in a specific temple and through prayers and
rituals pre-established by their religious system.
As the progress continues in Bhakti, God is perceived in all
forms, in all beings, inside and outside ourselves and at
The most important elements in Bhakti are love and self-surrender.
A beginner is only capable of loving a few persons, generally
associated to the idea of the “I” and “mine”.
One says, “I love my God, my religion, my parents, my
wife or my husband, my children, my friends, my dog, my cat,
Bhakti focuses on expanding this love toward all beings, realizing
God and the soul’s manifestation in all beings and in
all creation. It is not an emotional, romantic, or theoretical
state. It is an experience that develops gradually through
purification of the mind and the ego, an experience that leads
to the mystic ecstasies.
The attitude of the devotee or Bhakta toward life and karma
is about acceptance and surrender. The Bhakta does not try
to change a life situation or its karma, as in other Yoga
paths, but he accepts it as God’s will. The devotee
prays, “God, may thy will, not mine, be done.”
Only God knows what is good for each individual. Sometimes
what we don’t want or like in our lives is precisely
what we need to experience for spiritual progress. Many times,
life’s adversities are what awaken the Soul to search
for an answer and to understand life’s higher purpose.
Many people discover the true love and the value of inner
peace, after they have passed difficult tests, lost dear ones
or suffered through a disease.
God is really our Soul and everything that happens is his
will and his divine play. Human intellect is finite and incapable
of understanding the divine plan and the cosmic intelligence
behind all events.
The mind is under the influence of the principle called “raga
and dwesha”, meaning attraction and repulsion.
We desire pleasant things and reject unpleasant ones. Sometimes
what begins as pleasure ends up in suffering and vice versa.
God is the master or king of creation and is beyond nature
laws, even the law of karma.
That is why true devotion is capable of producing so-called
“miracles”, meaning the change of something that
seems impossible of understanding due to the limited intellect.
Planetary forces or Grahas are under the control of God’s
will. It is said that God always protects those who seek refuge
in him (even if his help comes in a way that one does not
Therefore, the true devotee does not fear karma or the planets.
“My God, give me the serenity
to accept the things I can not change,
the strength to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to recognize the difference.”
Saint Francis of Assisi
Jnana is the way of knowledge or wisdom and it is considered
a difficult, advanced one. It requires great previous progress
in other types of Yoga and a high degree of spiritual awakening,
obtained through many lives.
Jnana means knowledge, not a knowledge of objects, but knowledge
of the Self or true nature of the soul.
This Yoga is based in Vedanta philosophy, contained in the
last part of the Vedas, called the Upanishads. It teaches
that the cause of all suffering is ignorance and erroneous
identification with the ego, mind and body.
All experiences of duality, suffering and separation between
the individual and the happiness, the absolute, God or Brahman,
is an illusion created by the mind itself in the state of
The Upanishads say, “you are perfect happiness.”
you are the Soul (Atman), the immortal Being, one with God,
infinite and luminous. Nevertheless, mental illusion makes
us identify with the body and thoughts, which create a personality
or ego that is erroneously identified as the “I”.
This illusion is called “Maya” and is very difficult
Mind disturbance creates a veil that does not allow us to
Just as the sun always shines even when concealed by the clouds,
so does the Self. Heavy fog, created by the mind, does not
The individual, physically and mentally, is in constant change
and transformation. However, there is a reality behind it
that does not change, a conscious, eternal, silent witness.
Atman or Self is always the same, even if the body and mind
change. The Self is eternal. It existed before birth and it
will continue to exist after the body’s death. We can
see how personality can change completely in one person. Simply
put, the personality of a person as a child is different than
in youth or when old, nevertheless we know the Self or “Atman”
is the same.
All processes of birth, growth, change, decay and death affect
only to the body, not the Atman. All suffering is generated
when what is changeable and transient is erroneously confused
with the Self.
We have an intuition that happiness exists; it is our essential
But due to ignorance and illusion, we search for happiness
in the exterior, in whatever can be perceived with our senses;
that happiness never arrives. We think that if we had everything
we wished for, we would be happy. However, when we obtain
these things, happiness does not arrive and there is always
a feeling that something is missing. This is the cause of
desire and karma, and then, the tangling of the soul in the
material world and its suffering.
Jñana yoga consists in recognizing
this play of the illusion and meditation in the inner Self
or Atman. The main practices to do it are called “Viveka”
Viveka means discernment or discrimination between real and
unreal or illusory, between the Self or Atman and the ego,
between permanent and transient. There is an involvement of
the intellect that is in constant attention recognizing the
ego and Maya plays.
Vayragya means dettachment or dispassion and consists of recognizing
the ephemeral existence of all that is perceived through the
senses, renouncement of all desires and intention of obtaining
A Jñani is someone who, through this discrimination
and dettachment, has reached a state of perfect mental peace.
His mind is no longer disturbed by the pairs of opposites,
such as, heat and cold, attraction and repulsion, pleasant
and unpleasant, gain and loss, praise and criticism, etc.
A Jñani is always satisfied in the
inner Self and happiness, drinking the soul’s nectar
enjoying its divine nature. He does not have desires. For
him, karma generation ceases and he is liberated from the
birth and death cycles.
A Jñani is like an actor that performs his role in
life’s play, but always remains aware that it is a temporary
one and does not identify with the character he is playing.
Jñana Yoga is a constant meditation in the Atman and
its peaceful, eternal and luminous nature.
The soul or Atman is not affected
by karmic law or the planets.
They only operate in the physical, astral and causal
bodies, but not in the Atman. The Self does not act. It is
always the silent witness. It is the ego, the one that feels
the doer and tangles himself up within karma.
This is a description from the Bhagavad-Gita:
“The Self is
never born, nor does it ever dies. After having been, it again
ceases not to be; unborn, eternal, changeless and ancient,
it does not die when the body is killed.”
“Just as a man casts off worn out
clothes and puts on new ones, so does the embodied Self casts
off worn out bodies and enters others which are new”.
“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, immovable and ancient.
“This Self is said to be unmanifested,
unthinkable and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing thus to be
such, thou shouldst not grief” (2/ 20-25)
Karma yoga is the yoga of action.
In the Bhagavad-Gita Gita, Yoga is defined as “skill
All action generates a reaction. The reaction or Karma generated
by the action depends on the intention that motivates it.
Two persons can externally be performing the same action with
different intentions. For example, two persons will assist
a third person. The first one does it simply to help and diminish
suffering, while the second does it to obtain a favor in exchange
or for others to see him as good. Obviously, the reaction
generated will be different.
Karma Yoga consists in selfless action and service.
Each action performed with an expectation harvests a reaction
that in turn generates new actions. This tangles the vicious,
We must all act. Without performing any action, survival of
the physical body is not possible.
What can we do to liberate ourselves from the bond of the
The key is to perform the action as a duty to accomplish,
but without expectation of its results.
Each person, according to his previous karma, has a Swadharma,
a duty to perform (this can be seen in the astrological birth
chart). It is a service to give to the world and a sacrifice
to do for others. A duty exists for everyone, according to
his or her work. There is a duty for a father, a son, a citizen,
etc., to act with justice and straightness when faced with
Performing duties properly, with the best capacity and without
expecting a reward or result, is how past karma is exhausted
and ended without generating future karma. This form of action
automatically brings mental peace.
The great obstacle for spiritual self-realization is the ego
or egoism. We are always acting with the thought of a reward
or gain that will be received in exchange. The ego always
wants to take instead of give. This unconscious attitude generates
the feeling of separation from others and the entire universe,
leaving a sense of dissatisfaction, contraction, mental limitation,
loneliness, fear and a feeling of emptiness. Egoism is like
a great veil that, with its dense energy, covers and hides
the inner light of the Soul.
When service for others and the universe is performed without
hoping to gain anything, the mind expands and the ego dissipates,
unveiling the inner light.
The soul or Atman is present in all beings and the entire
creation. When assisting others, we recognize our presence
and the presence of God in all beings, expanding our consciousness
and realizing God.
A moment comes when servicing or giving brings more satisfaction
Service without interest is one of the more effective ways
to overcome limitations and ego impurities and is a necessary
factor for all spiritual progress.
Karma Yoga is efficiently combined with Bhakti Yoga when action
is performed as a service to God and its results are offered
to him, recognizing him in all beings. Also with Jñana
Yoga, when actions are taken without personal desires, one
feels as an instrument and not as the doer.
The Atman never acts; it always remains as the silent witness.
The role and service of Jyotish for
Jyotish can be a very helpful tool for yogis and spiritual
seekers to understand their 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 acording 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.
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
were there will be a need to focus and purify .
Some people will be naturally fitted for a life of renunciation
or Sannyasa, monkhood life, while others will have to develop
their spiritual progress while remaining involved in the world
or as householders.
It is important to point out that for spiritual advice and
counselling, the astrologer should be himself or herself a
spiritual Sadhaka or practitioner, and have the experience
and the proper training in that field, and not just an intellectual
knowledge of Jyotish techniques.
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