In order to understand Vedic Astrology
needs to be an understanding of Vedic principles, otherwise Vedic
Astrology will become just another “ology” that fails to give
meaningful answers to life’s dilemmas.
term Vedic means “from the Vedas
.” The Vedas are a
storehouse of knowledge containing Spiritual hymns that arose from the
ancient culture located in the area of what is now called India.
means “knowledge.” Actually, it refers to the knowledge of truth,
absolute truth, the truth of the Self and the underlying mysteries of
were written as the ancient Sat Yuga
or “Age of Wisdom” was coming to a close. These documents
were meant to preserve the wisdom of this earlier, more enlightened epoch
in human history. Many cultures seemed to possess similar occult
knowledge-the Toltec, Egyptians and Native Americans, yet it was the
people of ancient India who best preserved this wisdom. It is estimated
that the oldest Vedas are at least 4,000 years old, based on Astronomical
references written in them. The miracle of the Vedic system is how well
preserved and coherent the sciences are, especially given the history of
India and its numerous invasions.
culture at that time was called “Bharat
.” The great and
famous story Mahabharata
means “Great Bharat.” The seminal work of Hinduism
, Bhagavad Gita
is from the Maha Bharata. In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna
teaches Yoga to the warrior Arjuna
on the eve of the Great Battle. Yoga
is more than a set of exercises that bring peace and balance
to the physical body. It is a series of techniques and a system of living
that awaken us to inner truth, our inner Godliness. Yoga uses breathing
exercises and Mantras
(sacred sounds), physical postures, devotional practices and
service to scientifically awaken this inner truth and Godliness. According
to Yoga and the other Vedic Sciences
, we are all aspects
of God. Everything is an expression of God’s great Lila
(story) of Self-discovery. Embodied life is an opportunity to
realize this truth, to realize our true Self and become re-immersed in the
Universal Self at the heart of our being and the heart of all beings.
this great play are creatures at every stage of evolution: minerals,
plants, animals, humans and deities, who based on past Karma
(action) take form in order to learn and grow towards
spiritual Self Realization, realization of God. All creatures suffer
within the limitations and level of understanding of their current
Mineral creatures wish to be sensate (like plants).
Plants wish to move, satisfy and experience desire (like animals).
Animals wish to understand the world (like humans).
Humans wish to transcend the limitations of the world (like deities /
Deities wish to be one with all.
suffering is caused by the illusion that we are these separate forms,
rather than the undifferentiated God. This illusion is called Maya
. Through the veiling
power of Maya we identify ourselves as a finite mind/body creature and
seek to expand toward that infinite inner Self. All of our longings and
the longings of all creatures are an attempt to become all that we truly
are. Even though we may not be aware of our true Self, we are that and
that compels us always.
deep, fundamental understanding caused the ancient Vedic people to develop
many Sciences that would heal us in this world.
There are many Vedic Sciences
and Vedic Astrology
are three primary branches of the Vedic tree.
Ayurveda literally means “The science of living.” It is the classical
medical system of India, its natural healing system. Ayurveda is mainly
the Science of matter, called Prakriti
Vedic Astrology is the ancient Astrological Science set forth in the
subsequent books. It is mainly the Science of Spirit, called Purusha
, and its affect on matter.
Yoga literally means “union.” It is the practical application
of all Vedic teachings. It provides techniques through which our egoistic
drives can be merged with our cosmic nature.
Self has entered this body, this dense jumble. If a man finds him,
recognizes him, He’s the maker of everything-the author of all! The
world is his-he’s the world itself.”
- Brhadaranyaka Upanishad
Spirit is called Purusha. When spirit takes form it
is called Prakriti. Every object
as Prakriti is an expression of Purusha – Matter Expressing Spirit. This
world of Matter Expressing Spirit is formed by the five elements; they are
the building blocks of the Vedic Sciences
. Their properties provide the
archetypes that underpin all aspects of Vedic thinking. First we will
examine the five elements, and then explore their evolution as affected by
the three Gunas
(qualities of nature).
Starting with the grossest element and moving towards the
finest, the five elements are:
– Water – Fire – Air – Ether (Space).
Each of the five elements is responsible for some important
aspect of the self and one of the five senses.
Primarily responsible for the physique, though its influence
does not end there. Earth, as the densest element, has also the heaviest
psychological influence. Our physical body demands the most attention when
its needs arise. For example, no matter how enjoyable it may be talking to
your best friend on the phone, you will only suppress the urge to go to
the bathroom for so long before you relent.
Psychologically, Earth is our practical nature, literally
being “down to earth.”
Earth connects us to the sense of smell. Ayurveda
says anything we can smell contains Earth.
Prominent planets in Earth signs will be sensual and hands
on. They want to be useful and will work hard. They are practical in
expression. They will wash your car on your birthday. Too much Earth
brings stagnation and clinging to form.
Primarily responsible for the senses. Water specifically
shows the flow of the senses from the physical body to the outer world and
the emotional connections and impressions made through the senses. It is
also our receptive emotional mind. It is on this vital level that our
energy must connect and receive the environment in order to satisfy our
bodily needs (Earth). We see a chocolate éclair in the window of a bakery
and our mouth starts to water.
Psychologically, Water has to do with our deep emotional
bonds, memories and sensory impressions.
Prominent planets in Water signs make one want to merge and
bond emotionally. They can be the most psychic of signs. They will cook
you dinner on your birthday. Too much Water can lead to excessive
Water connects us to the sense of taste. Ayurveda
says that anything we can taste contains water.
Fire is primarily responsible for the mind and mental
impressions while also being responsible for digestion of all sorts,
whether digesting food or digesting information. Fire is also our active
emotional mind, our passionate nature and the instinctual,
conditioned/reactive mind. It is the element of Fire that digests sensory
impressions (Water), turning them into thoughts we can use. Otherwise, our
minds would be a jumble of sensory data.
Psychologically, Fire represents our active desire nature.
We literally “burn” to satisfy our desires. It is Fire that makes us
“want” the chocolate éclair in the window.
Prominent planets in Fire signs will exhibit an active, bold
or perhaps aggressive nature. Strong Fire types can be the most
inspirational of signs, yet also the most self-centered. They will buy you
sexy underwear or wear them for you on your birthday. Too much Fire can
lead to excessive anger.
Fire connects us to the sense of sight. Ayurveda
says anything we can see is touched by Fire.
Air is primarily responsible for the intellect. The Air
element corresponds to movement of all sorts in the body, breath,
thoughts, etc. Air is our higher intellectual and social mind. It is the
mind of our philosophies and opinions – our politics and
rationalizations, as well as how we relate to others and society as a
whole. It is through the Air element that we observe and interact socially
with the world, forming conclusions about it and our self. It is the Air
element that will decide whether or not we will eat the éclair in the
Psychologically, Air represents our higher mental
capabilities as well as our conscience and ethical principles.
Prominent planets in Air signs will generally exhibit a
social nature. They like discourse and debate. They will take you to the
Opera on your birthday. Too much air and one becomes ungrounded, aloof,
dry or sterile.
Air connects us to the sense of touch. Anything we can feel
is touched by Air.
Ether is primarily responsible for consciousness. The
element of Ether corresponds to pure consciousness itself - our awareness.
It is the layer of being beyond the four gross physical elements. Ether
refers to the witnessing consciousness, that which is able to perceive the
thought process and remain unidentified with it. It is our intuitive
nature, connection to freedom and the closest to our true Self.
represents an initial freedom from the mind/body complex. It
is through the element of Ether that we perceive the distance between the
thinking and feeling mind substance and the oneness of creation and our
connectedness to it. The behavioral archetype is that of one who is
detached in a healthy way, as the observer or witness. Ether is not
represented in the Astrological Signs of the Chart.
Ether connects us to the sense of sound. Ayurveda
says that it is through sound that we perceive space.
Each finer element contains, observes and animates the
grosser ones. In this way, and for this reason, the primordial sound of Aum
is the first act of creation. Even in Christian texts it is stated “in
the beginning there was the word,” the Amen. Amen is simply another form
of Aum. All creatures are produced in this way through the unique sound
vibration based on their Karma
, yet all creatures arise from
the same source, the same primordial origin, the sound of Aum
. Thus, through the element of
Ether, the dance of creation begins out of the equilibrium that existed
before (sound resonates through Ether). After Ether, the Air element is
formed (intellect), then Fire (mind), Water (sense mind), and Earth
(body). This model shows why Mantras (sacred sounds) are so
powerful. They resonate through all five of our elemental bodies. As shown
above, life is created from the finer elements to the grosser ones.
However, our spiritual path is walked in reverse. First we must master the
body, then the senses and sense mind, then the active emotions, then the
intellect, and finally pure consciousness. When we see a chocolate
éclair, the physical body (Earth) is animated by the senses (Water). The
desire to eat it arises in the instinctual mind (Fire), but the higher
mind (Air) actually decides whether
or not to eat the éclair. Our consciousness (Ether) makes us aware of
In Hatha Yoga
, Asana (postures) are
designed to balance the five elements.
Holding the posture stabilizes and relaxes the body.
A stable, relaxed body stabilizes the emotions and the senses.
Stable emotions allow mental peace and removes desire and motivation.
Once struggling stops, perceptions clear and the mind can enter the
Once perceptions become clear and the mind is present, consciousness and
blissful awareness fills the being –one rests in their true nature.
Hatha Yoga prepares the mind and body for meditation. In
meditation we connect to our deeper Self and balance the five elements in
this way. We connect to the Universe (Ether) through the breath (Air).
Deep breath slows, deepens and stabilizes the mind and active emotions
(Fire). With the passions controlled we can observe the senses and
connective emotions (Water) with detachment; upon which the body becomes
stable (Earth). A stable body in meditation is one of awareness. Since we
started with breath connecting to Ether, higher consciousness will be
observing the thoughts and mind/body events.
According to Vedic thought everything is an expression of
pure God energy, pure God consciousness. As stated above, all physical
bodies arise out of this balanced God state. But as a result of past Karma
and the Samsaras
(mental impressions) that accompany them, the five elements
arrange themselves to create the body that reflects the appropriate
person, animal, or whatever. This karmic energy points to the lessons that
need to be learned in that lifetime.
For example, a person who needs to work through anger
problems in this lifetime will inherit a body, mind and upbringing that
will challenge them to confront their anger and hopefully transcend it. In
the case of anger, the element of Fire will likely predominate. An
Astrological chart reveals this. It is a portrait of the soul’s Karma
and the pattern of illusion in which we may become trapped. As
Karma means “action”, we may mistake ourselves to be our
actions, not our essence. This is Maya
, the illusion that we are
merely an acting, mind/body experience.
the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains the nature of Maya
, in Ch.14
or goodness, Rajas or activity, and Tamas or inertia; these three Gunas of
mind bind the imperishable soul to the body, O Arjuna.”
the three qualities of nature. The term Guna
means “that which binds,” as each Guna is like a separate strand,
which when placed together form the rope of Maya
. They are what bind us to the illusion
that we are merely a physical/mental creature. All matter and energy
consists of the three Gunas
different quantities. They are the component qualities of the physical,
mental and spiritual worlds. The 3 Gunas are:
Stability, inertia, ignorance, attachment. Tamas binds through inertia and
our tendency to cling to situation and form. Best expressed through the
physical body as the desire for physical life, which provides the vehicle
for spiritual development.
Activity, passion, desire. Rajas binds through motivation and our desire
to experience pleasure. Best expressed through the mind and emotions as
the desire for happiness and intellectual stimulation.
Harmony, knowledge, peace. Sattwa binds us to the truly good things of the
world and as such to worldly happiness, which is also a barrier to final
liberation. Best expressed as the Soul qualities of peace, contentment,
love, forgiveness, etc.
Each of the Gunas
a proper and necessary function. Tamas provides the solidity and stability
of the physical world; for us, that means our bodies. Solid objects have a
preponderance of Tamas, especially when at rest. Rajas maintains the mind
and emotions, animating the physical world through need and preference.
When the body needs to eat or move, Rajas gets us moving. Sattwa looks
after the higher mind and Soul and its progress, compelling us to learn
about ourselves and to seek completion.
each of these attributes also act as obscuring factors as their
expressions show our projected illusory limitations, thus forming the rope
. When Tamas becomes a mental or
emotional state, the intellect becomes stagnant, which brings clinging and
ignorance. An excessively Rajasic body will bring exhaustion and
instability. Neither Rajas nor Tamas is healthy for higher learning.
Higher learning requires a Sattwic mind. If suddenly you become sleepy as
you read this you would stop learning, as the heaviness of Tamas overcomes
your attention. If suddenly you became hungry or sexual or angry, also you
would stop learning, as Rajas would compel you to act and disturb the
mental peace necessary for learning.
beings are under the sway of the three Gunas
, even enlightened beings. The
difference is that enlightened beings are not identified
with the Gunas. A Saint will generally exhibit a harmonious, balanced and
peaceful nature, those things associated with Sattwa. Yet the Saint will
be established in the Self, not identified with the qualities of Sattwa.
have a preponderance of Sattwa.
have a preponderance of Rajas
and other Subhuman creatures have a preponderance of Tamas.
illustrate how the Gunas
work: This morning, as your alarm clock went off there was an excess of
Tamas. Your body and mind were heavy and perhaps you had just mistaken
yourself in a dream as being your real self. Sleep, inertia, and delusion
are Tamasic. As you started to become motivated and got up from the bed,
Rajas was dominant, as Rajas is activity. The need to go to work to earn
money so you can have things that give you pleasure and that you enjoy is
also Rajasic. Worldly pursuits are mainly Rajasic in nature as they are
primarily self-centered. As you read this, in search of knowledge and
understanding beyond pleasure seeking and accumulation, Sattwa dominates
of the time we are Rajasic, striving towards Sattwa, trying not to be
pulled down by Tamas. Our experiences take on the quality of the
predominant Guna. Even though waking from sleep is generally Tamasic,
Saints, for example, awaken in a Sattwic way. Our spiritual practices, or
lack thereof, determine whether we are growing toward higher knowledge and
harmony, descending into darkness and delusion, or simply maintaining our
outward desire driven existence.
Either way, our true Self is always there, unspoiled and
causeless, silently and peacefully existing beneath all actions and beyond
the qualities of the Gunas
Awareness, Higher Will
Love, Joy, Pleasure
Air / Touch
Fire / Sight
Water / Taste
Structure, Limitation, Detachment
Earth / Smell
is a South Indian Vedic Astrological chart. Understanding this chart
reveals Vedic Astrology
to be the study of the Soul’s Karma as shown through the
Chakras. An Astrology chart is a portrait of the Chakras. Chakra means
“wheel” and refers to the energy center of the body.
two right middle squares are the fields of the Sun and Moon, which operate
through the signs of Leo and Cancer respectively, and through the Ajna
Chakra. Bordering those squares are the 2 signs of Mercury, which operate
through the Visuddha Chakra, one chakra down from the Ajna. Bordering the
signs of Mercury, the signs of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn follow
through the rest of the Zodiac. Essentially the external horoscope is a
picture of the internal, astral landscape.
This brief overview of Vedic principles is intended to illustrate
the deeper transpersonal connection to Astrology and life in general that
has been lost in our modern Western view. Astrology is the Science of
and a glimpse into our eternal nature, not just a way to
predict the future, although that also has its place. Astrologers have the
opportunity and indeed the obligation to share a deeper truth with their
clients, but first the Astrologer must understand these principles
themselves. Hopefully this brief glimpse will whet your appetite toward
are many incarnations of the unborn Lord. Janardana
incarnated as the Nava Graha
(nine planets) to bestow on the living beings the results of
their Karmas, He assumed the auspicious form of Grahas to destroy the
strength of the demons (evil forces) to sustain the strength of the Devas
(divine beings) and to establish Dharma
(religion or faith).”
Hora Sastra Ch. V.3-4
above quote is Sage Parashara, taken from the Bible of Vedic Astrology
, Brihat Parashara Hora Sastra
. The Maharishi, after
a brief introductory chapter describing the nature of the universe and
matter, proclaims that God (lord Vishnu) has assumed the auspicious forms
of the Nava Grahas (Nine Planets) so that living beings can experience the
results due to their Karmas, destroy the demons of our lower nature and
sustain our divine nature. It is important to note that before the Sage
says anything about planets, signs or Astrology in general, he defines the
purpose of the Science. That purpose is to unlock the secrets of our Karma
so that we may awaken to our highest truth from our current
state of illusion, or Maya
Crucial to understanding the Science of Vedic Astrology
retaining its honor and connection to other Vedic
Vedic teachings, the 3 Gunas
the universe through the principles of form (Tamas), desire (Rajas), and
Truth. (Sattwa). Parashara alludes to them in the above statement as “the
living beings (Rajasic) must destroy the demons (Tamasic) and sustain the
divine beings (Sattwic).” These archetypes reveal themselves in the
Astrology chart as Bhavas (houses) Rasis (signs) and Grahas (planets).
The Bhavas are related to Tamas, as
it is they who mainly show what will be the concrete results of our
worldly Karmas. We judge children, career, family life, physical health
etc., from the Bhavas.
The Rasis are related to Rajas, as
they show the operating mental/emotional energy behind the events in our
life. How we feel about what is happening with our Karmas is read mainly
from the Rasis. The Rasis contain within them the energy of the Bhavas.
The Grahas are related to Sattwa, as
theirs are the fully formed and transcendent qualities of the universe.
These universal energies are felt through the Rasis and experienced
through the Bhavas. Our deepest core quality is not material or mental –
it is spiritual. Accessing this quality has to do with knowledge, not
emotion or experience. This knowledge is shown as the full expression of
each Graha. Suffering is simply our inability to express the Grahas fully
due to the filter of our ego, which is the limited vision of our higher
Self. The Grahas contain within them the Rasis and the Bhavas.