The thread of continuity which binds the various limbs of the Vedas is the underlying philosophy of Vedanta. Vedanta occupies a holistic and integrated perspective with regards to the sum of creation stating that all of life is intelligent and interconnected, subject to the immutable law of Karma.
This philosophy is the palpable, guiding force behind all the branches and methods of Vedic Astrology. Astrology embodies the organic and holistic thinking of the Vedas by demonstrating a relationship between the order and precision of the heavens and the events and timing of earthly phenomenon.
Astrology was conceived by the great sages of antiquity, who, in their superconscious state cognized and codified the laws of Astrology in order to aid mankind in their attempt to rise above the limitations that the force of their past actions created. As a science Astrology is highly mathematical and precise, and can be used successfully by the skeptic and devotee alike. But what Astrology offers to the Truth Seeker who consciously endeavors to maximize the opportunity for self reflection, Sadhana, and spiritual growth, is a knowledge so vast and profound in its nature that it can be a companion to any journey as deep and as subtle as the aspirant is prepared to take. Thus, the unique riches of Vedic Astrology resonates with the Seeker, who like the great science itself, is propelled by the quest for the unifying Truth of life.
Briefly, let us consider a few ways in which Astrology can support the aspirant in fulfilling his/her Sadhana.
First, there are several key elements in the chart which we can look at to help determine the level and character of the native's spiritual inclinations and maturity. Most directly they involve a study of the First, the Fifth, and the Ninth houses. Furthermore, the influence of certain planets by virtue of placement or aspect encourage or hinder spiritual awareness, Jupiter being the most auspicious indicator with regard to spiritual and religious life, and Saturn also being critical in promoting the ability to be steadfast in spiritual practice. Thirdly, all horoscopes can be evaluated in terms of what is revealed about the essential domains of life, Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha and fourthly, another means for evaluating the chart is for insight into spiritual inclinations with respect to the three basic natures, or Gunas: Sattva, Rajas, and Tama.
Regarding an overview of key houses, the First, Fifth and the Ninth, the Fifth house requires special attention because it indicates the merits of the past Karmas. Benevolent planets placed in or aspecting the Fifth house and Fifth house rulers well placed will bring an abundance of spiritual grace.
The First house is a very significant house because it reflects the spirit of the person, and therefore, when the First house ruler has a positive relationship to the Fifth or the Ninth house, then that person w ill encounter spiritual growth in this life.
We always look to the Ninth and Ninth House Rulers regarding spiritual matters because the Ninth House is the House of Dharma, religion and higher consciousness and indicates valuable insight into the spiritual affairs of the Native.
Jupiter plays a dominant role in bringing people into the spiritual fold, and rules Sagittarius, the Ninth sign of the Zodiac, which governs the expansion of knowledge. When Jupiter is well placed in the chart, in its Dasa period, Jupiter is bound to bring spiritual awareness into the individual's life.
The powerful influence of Jupiter and its impact in one's spiritual life is demonstrated to me often in my consulting practice. One does not need to be intellectually developed to enjoy the benefits of Jupiter, as it's influence will bring a certain degree of spiritual yearning regardless of other planetary limitations. I remember one such case, owing to the rather bold and dramatic gesture of my client, who canceled her check after her consultation with me because she considered the predictions preposterous. It was in 1986, and at the time she was passing through Rahu Dasa. She could be described as somewhat flighty, flirtatious and fun loving, with a tendency to manipulate people to her advantage. I advised her that she would likely marry a foreigner, live abroad and travel. I also suggested that she would become very religious and that it would benefit her to begin a program of meditation. Ten years later, when Jupiter Dasa started, she went through an enormous transformation. She met an Arab divorcee, they were married, and she converted to Islam. She now lives in London and Kuwait, and has fully adopted the Islam philosophy and way of life. In July 1998, she actually showed up at my door, feeling ashamed of how she had treated me twelve years previous, and insisting to write a check as gesture of apology.
It is generally known that Jupiter brings spiritual knowledge and wisdom, but Saturn is also a key determinate in the success of spiritual practice, for it is the influence of Saturn which leads the individual to Truth by virtue of Detachment, Renunciation, and Simplicity of life.
Over the years I have had the honor and pleasure of being consulted by those who have felt the calling to take up Sannyas. In such cases, beyond the character of the horoscope in general, I would look to the position of Jupiter, whether it was auspiciously placed, and also if the placement of Saturn would appear to support the rigors of the monastic life.
The Vedic "Purusharthas," Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, refer to the principal domains of earthly endeavors, and they give us another important way of evaluating the horoscope. Dharma reveals the morality or duty of the individual, Artha, inclination with regards to the economics or wealth, Kama, the desires and sensual pleasures and Moksha, ultimate liberation or realizations of God. By looking at the horoscope and how the planets demonstrate Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, one gains insight into the individual's basic instincts with regard to these goals in life, and thus suggests what kind of lifestyle will best encourage right living for spiritual progress as well as give insight to the kind of spiritual regimen or program that will best suit the individual.
The three Gunas coexist in varying degrees of dominance in all individuals as reflected by the dominant characteristics of various planetary groupings. The interplay of the Gunas determines the nature of all our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Sattvic attributes express Tranquillity, Calmness and Purity. Raja attributes are Desire, Activity, Energy and Power, and Tama is expressed in Dullness, Laziness, Inertia, Inactivity and Weakness.
The Sattvic nature is indicated by predominance of influence from Jupiter, Sun and the Moon, and promotes a mind that is content and happy and generates Wisdom, Faith, and Love. The Rajasic nature is reflected by Venus and Mercury and promotes desire for material objects, comforts, and tendency to excess. It is characterized by a restless mind and is ambitious, with a tendency to exploit others for his benefit. The Tamasic nature, ruled by Mars and Saturn, is in a constant state of distress, inactivity, indecision and fear. Such a nature is subject to the whims of his passions, rather than reason.
Astrology recommends Sadhana depending on which Guna predominates in the thinking of the individual. For the Sattvic nature, spiritual progress will be well facilitated by practicing Hatha and Raja yoga. The individual inevitably will progress through these practices, the relative ease will be affected by other planetary aspects. For the Rajasic nature, spiritual practice centered on Bhakti, or devotion will allow the desires to naturally bring the individual to God. For the Tamasic nature, Karma Marga, or following ritual and assuming responsibility in a church or temple will help to focus and train the individual to spiritual awareness.
The ancient seers, in their infinite compassion, also devised a system of remedial measures to help alleviate the restrictive bonds of Karma and to allow deeper communion with particular planets or deities. These remedial measures include the practice of certain mantras, meditations, and other spiritual practices.
The power of such practices could be illustrated by one of my clients, an art historian connected to a prestigious museum, and her financier husband, who came to consult me after some five years of frustrated attempts to have a child. They had ample resources and pursued all medical avenues to overcome the obstacles to a successful pregnancy, but all of her conceptions had miscarried. In looking at her chart, one could see her Fifth house (house of children) was afflicted by Mars and Rahu, so we set up a regimen for her to do propitiation to Lord Subramanaya (Deity for Mars and Rahu) until she delivered a child. In little over a year, she came to me to tell me that she had a baby.
These are a few examples of the techniques used for evaluation a chart. Vedic Astrology offers layers of insight to the aspirant, by virtue of the methodologies we have outlined as well as a studied appraisal of the overall disposition of the Planets. However, in understanding the horoscope, the greatest reward comes upon deep reflection and contemplation, as insight occurs on various levels of our being and we often need to "learn" and "relearn" any given thing until it is ingested at an originating part of our "knowing."
Beyond an understanding of one's horoscope, an appreciation of the underlying concepts of Vedanta which forms the philosophical basis for Vedic Astrology can help the individual to confront his personal challenges in the most productive manner, which will inevitably accelerate spiritual progress.
In this regard, one does need to cultivate an appropriate attitude of acceptance and forbearance of those conditions and circumstances that cannot be changed. However, Astrology does not purport an attitude of resignation and passiveness where individual effort can be applied. Vedic Astrology used appropriately is a means for the individual to take responsibility for the circumstances in which he finds himself. In such a system it is not constructive to have anger at seeming misfortunes or to harbor resentment towards the messenger of one's Karma, rather the individual realizes that every event represents an opportunity or challenge for growth as judged by the cosmic law of Karma, the arbiter of Destiny.
Another essential concept for spiritual practice is that of Detachment, that is, as said in the Bhagavad Gita, "perform action independent of expectation for reward or punishment." To achieve a state of Detachment regardless of the results of any given action embodies the true spirit of Renunciation often talked about by spiritual teachers. The idea is to engage in life in a spirited and enthusiastic manner, performing one's duty to the best of one's ability, while remaining unattached, thus Renunciating the results. At the foundation of this concept is what one can call true faith or trust in God such that the individual can willingly submit to the will of the Divine in confidence that all is just and that one will be provided what is necessary. Renunciation, whether one is a Householder or Monk, is at the core of all true Sadhana.
Chakrapani Ullal is a world reknown astrologer who has brought Vedic astrologers of the East and West together.