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What is the need of Jyotish Shastra (Astrology)?

“In my horoscope it is written there, “At the age of seventy years he will go across the sea.” It is written there. Yes. And there are so many things still. So this astrologer was so accurate. I have got that horoscope. Not here. If some day I shall, then will show. It is clearly written there that “This time he will go across the sea.” Just see. The circumstances became so that I have come. So astrology is so nice.”
[Srila Prabhupada - Lecture on CC Madhya 20.330-335  - December 23, 1966.]

Purpose of Vedic Astrology:

Vedas are the oldest literature known to human beings and the history of Astrology traces back to Vedic times, lakhs of years ago from now. Astrology is ‘VedaChakshu’, the guiding eye for molding the future and attaining self- realization. The fundamentals of Vedic Astrology were believed to have been instituted by Brahma, the creator. This knowledge was then passed down to various Rishis and to man. Jyotisha Shastra, Vedic Astrology, in its current form, is thought to have been written several thousand years ago by Maharishi Parashara, although, the work have even have existed several thousand years more prior to that in oral form. Parashara’s book, “Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra” is the primer on Vedic Astrology and most scholars view Parashara today as the father of mainstream Vedic Astrology.
Planets are called ‘Grahas’ in vedic Astrology. Graha means that which catches. Grahas are those which catch the human beings and shed their influence on them. Grahas affect all inanimate and animate objects in this world.

The purpose of Jyotisha Shastra is to avoid problems before they arise. The aphorism, “Pull weeds early” describes a major purpose of astrology. Another quote states, “If you want to get rid of a snake, get rid of it when it is really small”. In fact, Patanjali, a famous Indian philosopher who wrote the “Yoga Sutras”, stated that it was important to know how to “avoid the danger which has not yet come”. A good astrologer uses the tools of Vedic Astrology to forecast the times to promote events in one’s life or to pull back, recognizing the indications point to some obvious serious risk.

Another greatness of Jyotisha Shastra, Vedic Astrology lies in providing remedial measures for various problems faced by human beings. The remedies are mentioned by sages in various works and also in Vedas. But the suitability of a remedy for a case is to be judged by a competent astrologer.

Importance:

The Introductory slokas of the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, the great classic of Vedic astrology authored by Maharishi Parasara starts as below,

“Once upon a time, offering his obeisances to all knowing sage Parsara and with folded hands, Maitreya asked him: O venerable, Astrology which is the supreme limb of the Vedas, has three divisions, viz. Hora, Ganita and Samhita. Even amongst the said three divisions, Hora is still far excellent. I desire to know of its glorious aspects from you. Kindly relate them to me.”

The Shisya (student) of the Maharishi, Mitreya rishi describes Jyotisha or Vedic astrology as the supreme limb of the Vedas. Originally there is one Veda, which is said to have emanated from the breath of Lord Mahavishu, and was later divided into four branches by Maharshi Vedavyasa for easier comprehension. The four branches are the Rik, Sama, Yajur and Atharva Vedas, which contain the hyms or mantras recited by the four priests preforming a Yajna (vedic sacrifice).

The auxiliary knowledge necessary for the proper performance of the Vedic rituals is given in the six corollaries of the Vedas called Vedangas. They are mentioned by Parijata Harihara in his Prasna Marga as follows:
“ The Vedas have six limbs, viz. Jyotisha, Kalpa, Nirukta, Siksha, Vyakarana and Chanda. For the Vedas, the six important limbs, viz. the feet, the face, the hands, the eyes, the nose, and the ears are represented by Chanda, Vyakarana, Kalpa, Jyotisha, Siksha and Nirukta respectively. As astrology is the eye of the Vedas, it is given the pride of place. No person possessing all the organs intact but without eyesight can have individuality.”

Therefore, although astrology is a subordinate part of Vedic knowledge, it still ocuppies a very preeminent position, because with its help one can foresee the results of his actions.

Vedic Astrology & its divisions:

Sage Maitreya mentions the three branches of astrology, namely Hora, Ganita and Samhita, which are elaborated upon by Harihara as follows:

“Ancient astrological science is divided into three Skandhas or six Vedangas. The three Skandhas are Ganita, Samhita and Hora. Sages have classified the great science of astrology into six Vedangas, viz. Jataka, Gola, Nimitta, Prasna, Muhurta and Ganita. Ganita Skandha deals with Gola and Ganita. Hora Skandha deals with horoscopy, Prasna, Muh¡rta and a part of Nimitta. Samhita Skandha deals elaborately with Nimitta. Samhita also deals with the varying fortunes of the people, changes in weather and progress of the animal kingdom. It sketches also the nature and shape of meteors, shooting stars and all the wonderful natural phenomena.”

The six Angas of Vedic astrology are the following:

Ganita: Mathematical calculations connected with the movement and positions of the planets within the zodiac.

Gola: Spherical astronomy, resulting from the spherical shape of the planets and their movements around their axes and orbits.

Jataka: Radical astrology, or analysis of the birth chart, which includes all the general rules of horoscope reading.

Pras na: Query astrology, or analysis of charts erected for the time and place of putting a question before the astrologer.

Muhurta: Analysis of favorable and unfavorable moments to begin any activity.

Nimitta: Reading of omens, bodily signs, behavior or humans, animals and natural phenomena.

Harihara also mentions that Vedic astrology can be divided into Pramana and Phala. Astronomical calculations come under Pramana (proof) as they deal basically with astrophysical characteristics of the planets. This is still important for a Jyotisha, because these calculations will lie in the foundation of the astrological interpretations. The astronomical interpretations themselves come under Phala (fruits) as they actually delineate the fruits of the native’s karma, or activities performed in his previous lifetime.

The oldest available book on Astrology is ‘Rigjyothisha’, written by Lagadha.

There are 18 pioneers in Astrology, who contributed for its development. They are: 1. Surya, 2. Pitamaha, 3. Vyasa, 4. Vasishta, 5. Atri, 6.Arasara, 7. Kasyapa, 8. Narada, 9. Garga, 10. Mareechi, 11.Manu, 12. Angeerasa, 13. Lomasa, 14. Poulisa, 15. Chyavana, 16. Yavana, 17. Bhrigu, and 18.Saunaka.

Varahamihira (123 AD) wrote ‘Brihat Samhita’, a great work on Astronomy and Astrology. There are 105 chapters and 4000 verses in this book. He has shown how Astrology can be applied for the welfare of public.

Aryabhatta-I (476 AD) wrote ‘Aryabhateeya’, which comprise a great deal of Astronomy, Mathematics and Astrology. Even Astronomy of this book is spread to Arab countries. Aryabhatta-II (950 AD) wrote ‘Mahasiddhanta’, where he explained more clearly about calculation part of Astrology.

Bhaskara-I (629 AD) wrote ‘Mahabhaskareeya’, a book on astro-mathematics. Bhaskara-II (1114 AD) gave ‘Siddhanta Siromani’ where a lot of Mathematics can be found. Details of square, square root, cube, cube root, factorial values, and factors of a number are explained. Details of planets, calculation of radius of earth , eclipses, and atmospheric layers (7 zones) above earth are discussed clearly.

A lot of other authors like Kalyana Varma, Kalidasa, Venkatesa, Neelakantha, Mantreswara, etc. have published books on Astrology.

It is also important to know that good Vedic astrologers are not fatalistic, but point to useful and actionable indications or probabilities that certain behaviors might emerge or that specific events could take place over time. In spite of the debate about whether we have free will or not, it is important to know that the effects seen in an astrological chart are not required to happen as they stand. A motivated, sincere person, under the competent guidance of an experienced Vedic astrologer, can make effective changes in their lives. Nature is basically benevolent and changes can be made for the better.

Vedic astrology is linked to other Vedic systems, such as Ayurveda for health, Vastu for dwellings and other philosophies. Vedic Astrology is part of a holistic, integrated knowledge system and its effects can be bolstered by interoperating with its “sister” sciences. The Vedic Astrology system is kind in that not only is a person told what might happen, but they are presented a list of potential remedies or corrective actions to offset the quantity and quality of karmas that are returning to them, as seen in the birth chart. After all, it is held that the natal chart is a list of the karmas or previous actions that we have brought into this life.

Zodiac & Kundali:

The chart, called Janma Kundali, represents our starting point in this life and where our pluses and minuses lie throughout our lives. Zodiac is the outer wheel from where the radiation from different celestial bodies is received, filtered and sent to earth. The entire Zodiac chart is divided into 12 signs, starting from Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. There are 4 things to be done in a human life: Dharma (righteous path), Artha (wealth), Kaama (Desire), Moksha (Unification of soul with God). These are one by one represented by the 12 houses of the zodiac. The hidden meaning is: A man should follow righteous path to achieve wealth and fulfill his desires. At the same time he must be desirous to reach God, and find ways to finally unify himself with the super soul. The potentiality to achieve this is represented step wise by the zodiac.

There are 27 stars and each star has 4 padas (quarters). Thus a total of 27 x 4 = 108 star padas will arise, which have been distributed in the zodiac. Since 12 signs are there in the Zodiac, every sign gets 9 padas. Each pada is of 3 degrees 20 minutes duration and 9 x 3deg 20min = 30 degrees. So each sign takes 30 degrees duration.

There are grahas or Planets whose role is to bestow the results of past deeds, done either in this birth or carried from previous births. Planets merely transmit the results which we earlier stored in the form of radiation. There are 9 planets identified: Sun, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus , Rahu (Ascending Node) and Kethu (Descending Node). All the planets are not comfortable in all the signs. A planet is comfortable in its exaltation, or friendly or own house. Then it may give good results. A planet is not comfortable in enemy camp, and can give bad results.

Each planet aspects its opposite planet, i.e, the house and planet in 7th from it. Additionally, Jupiter has 5th and 9th aspects. Mars has 4th and 8th aspects. And, Saturn has 3rd and 10th aspects.

By observing the inter-relationships between the signs, planets, stars and their positions, we can understand the inherent capabilities of a human being, his thought process, and his weaknesses, and finally conclude what he has in store for his future. Various Dasa- systems are developed to know what planets are currently influencing a human being and promoting him to do what kind of things.

Relevance in Krsna Consciousness :

Jyotish-shastra is considered the eyes for civilized human beings to see past, present and future.  In present society, people live more or less the life in complete ignorance.  There is no knowledge of soul, God, this world in which we live and how things function by the laws of nature.  There is no university, school or facility to educate all these things systematically.  The net result is ignorant masses guided by ignorant leaders in all field.

Jyotish-shastra is a perfect and very intricate science based on mathematical calculations.  In this there is calculations of different stars and the effect of their position on lives of individuals, collective impact (may be on community, nation or whole world), on weather etc.  So a perfect astrologer educated in particular branch of astrology, can give precise predictions.  This job was done by brahmanas in Vedic society.

The use of this science is very  wide and of utmost importance if one is interested in reviving the Varnashram division of society as spoken by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita, “According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me.”  This was also the desire of the founder acharya of ISKCON society – His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

This is very meaningful tool in the lives of all the varna and ashrams.  The householders have esp. significance of this in their lives.  It is the duty of every parent to make the note of the newborn’s date, time of birth & place to make the horoscope and also know the future of the child.  This not helps the parents to plan the future of child, but also prepare parents to meet the challenges they might have to face in bringing up the child.

Many people (in catagory of atheist and also firm believer in god, soul etc.) think that there is no need of astrology. If that was the case, then all the great personalities as we learn from our ancient scriptures, would not have used this science.  For example, from Srimad-Bhagavatam we understand that when King Parikshit was born, his grandfather King Yudhishthir called for learned astrologers for the future predictions of child’s life.  When Lord Chaitanya was born, His parents called for learned astrologers including Nilambar Chakravati Thakur (maternal grandfather of Lord Chaitanya) and they made predictions about Lord Chaitanya.  Also from life of Srila Prabhupada as he himself told many times to his followers, when he was born, his parents got his horoscope made and the predictions were made about his life and mission.

Here are few quotes from Srila Prabhupada on astrology.

“Astrologer, a perfect astrologer is called sarvajna. Sarvajna means he knows past, present and future. A real astrologer means he will tell you about your past life and he will tell you about your present life and your future life also. There is a system of astrology in India which is called Bhrgu-samhita. Any man will go, and if the expert in Bhrgu-samhita science, he will at once tell you what you were in your past life, how you are acting in this present life, and what is your next life. Therefore, perfection of astrology is in the Bhrgu-samhita, and they is called sarvajna. In old Indian system, as soon as child is born, an expert astrologer will be called forth and there will be ceremony, jata-karma, just after the birth. Just like, before giving birth to the child, there was some ceremony which is called garbhadhana ceremony, and between the birth-giving ceremony and the child is born, there are two other ceremonies, sadhavakan …. So after the birth of the child, the astrologer is called forth and he begins to tell about the future of the boy.”

[CC Madhya 20.125 – Lecture – November 27 1966.]
“In my horoscope it is written there, “At the age of seventy years he will go across the sea.” It is written there. Yes. And there are so many things still. So this astrologer was so accurate. I have got that horoscope. Not here. If some day I shall, then will show. It is clearly written there that “This time he will go across the sea.” Just see. The circumstances became so that I have come. So astrology is so nice.”

[CC Madhya 20.330-335  - Lecture  - December 23, 1966]
“A boy likes another girl, and the girl likes another boy. That’s finished. Let them become husband and wife. Formerly, it was not. Formerly, according to Vedic civilization, there was no liking of the boy or the girl. The parents of the boy and the girl, they would see, “Whether this combination will be happy.” They will bring horoscope and calculate astronomically, “What is the symptoms of this boy? What is the symptoms of this girl? Whether they will be peaceful in married life?”"

[S.B.12.2.1 – Lecture – San Francisco, March 18 1968]
Woman (1): Is astrology of any importance to a way of life, I mean…
Prabhupada: Yes. This is a science. Yes. This is a science. It is a science. That science is acceptable by the human society. Medical science, legal science, engineering science. Similarly, astrology also, another science. But the astrology is simply useful so long you have got this body. But as soon as your body is finished, there is no more use of astrology.

[Lecture - Boston May 3, 1969]
During marriage ceremony, the family consideration is very strong. Now that is dwindling. Formerly, family traditions, then horoscope. The so-called love was not given any importance, the so-called love. As in other countries the boys select wife or girls selects… No. There is no importance on this. The father, mother will see the horoscope, whether this boy and girl will agree according to the horoscope. Raja-yoga(?) There are some calculations, astronomical calculations, from his birth, from her birth, and the expert astrologer will select, “Yes, this boy and this girl will be happy.” Then they are married. If there is any discrepancy, they will deny, “No.” These were the considerations. Then family tradition. What is the tradition of the boy’s father’s family, mother’s family, so many things they calculate, then the marriage settlement, “Yes.” And the boy might not have seen the girl. There is no necessity of the boy seeing the girl or the girl seeing the boy. There is no necessity. After marriage, when the marriage ceremony is performed, then the boy and girl can see one another: “Oh, she is my wife.” (laughter) “He is my husband.”

[Room Conversation, Vrindavan, March 10, 1972 ]
These things are stated. “Husband and wife will keep together so long their sex power is strong. Otherwise they will divorce.” This is written. Svikaram eva hi udvahe: “Marriage will be performed simply by agreement.” According to Vedic system, marriage is a long program. The father of the girl and the boy first of all select. Then their horoscope should be consulted, how they will mix together, and then the family, then personal qualification, so many things… Then dowry… After all this consideration, when everything is satisfactory, then the father and mother of both sides will agree, and they will be married. That is marriage. Now, at the present moment in Kali-yuga, it is said, svikaram eva hy udvahe. Boys and girls will loiter in the street and two of them, as they agree, “Yes, we will live together.” That’s all. Bas. This is stated. And that is happening.

[Room Conversation, Melbourne, April 7, 1972]
Svarupa Damodara: Srila Prabhupada, are these astrologers, ah, are, can we believe in them, what they say? Called pseudo-science.
Prabhupada: No. Astrology is a science. [break] …that I shall go to the foreign countries and throughout the whole world I will establish so many temples, so many things… this…
Svarupa Damodara: So they have some intelligence to tell that…
Prabhupada: No, no. That is calculation, calculation. This astrologer, this astrologer was a very big astrologer and when I was in service, Dr. Bose’s laboratory, so Dr. Bose was treating one patient. He was vomiting blood. So he was treating as tuberculosis. Then he could not cure him after giving all medicine. Then he asked the astrologer, this astrologer who made my horoscope, “What is the matter? Panditji, can you tell?” So he calculated. He said, “You are making wrong treatment. He has got some sore in the throat. It is not heart.” And he treated, he was cured.
Yasomatinandana: Vedic science is so perfect.
Prabhupada: Yes. He knew it.

[SP – Morning walk – December 8 1973, LA]
Jayahari: Prabhupada, this morning you talked about astrology in your lecture. Is this accepted in the Vedic scripture and by the gurus?
Prabhupada: Oh yes. Astrology means… That is also Vedic. Jyotir-veda. Jyotir-veda. That is also part of the Vedas. The brahmanas, they learn these three things: astrology and medicine. These two things. A brahmanas is supposed to go to every householder’s place, and he will inform, “Today is such and such tithi. The such and such thing should be done.” And if required, if somebody inquires about, “Now I am going to that place. What will happen? Just find out the auspicious moment,” so they will give him. Still it is current. It may be wrongly done or rightly, but the system is still there. Astrologer. The king should be always accompanied by a first-class astrologer. [break] …there is a whole street, both sides simply astrology. [break] …good astrologers.

[SP – Morning walk – December 29, 1973 LA]
It is still, such kind of astrology there in India. They will speak what you were in your last birth and what you are now, and what you will be in your next birth. That is astrology. So still there are Bhrgu-samhita. Anyone go, and you simply give them your exact time of birth, then they will make immediately horoscope, immediately. Still there is. As I told you that in my horoscope it was declared that after seventieth year, I shall go to foreign countries and I shall establish many temples. In my horoscope that is. Now I see it is coming practically. You see? So that is horoscope.

[SB. Lecture 1.16.1 – December 29, 1973 – LA]

When Parikshit Maharaja was born, so… I have told you already. Learned scholars in astrology, they were calculating the horoscope of the newly born child. So he was being described that “This child, this baby now born, he will be hero like this. He will be devotee like this. He’ll be…” This horoscope made, in future what he will be. So Maharaja Yudhishthira was anxious and he informed the learned brahmanas that “This is all right. I thank you for your calculation. First of all, I want to know whether he will follow his forefathers. I want to know.” That was the question.

[SB 1.16.17 – Lecture – January 12 1974]
Formerly, boys and girls of similar dispositions were married; the similar natures of the boy and girl were united in order to make them happy. Not more than twenty-five years ago, and perhaps it is still current, parents in India used to consult the horoscope of the boy and girl to see whether there would be factual union in their psychological conditions. These considerations are very important. Nowadays marriage takes place without such consultation, and therefore, soon after the marriage, there is divorce and separation. Formerly husband and wife used to live together peacefully throughout their whole lives, but nowadays it is a very difficult task.

[S.B.3.21.15 purport]
Shudra has only one samskara—marriage. And the brahmanas, kshatriya, vaishya, they have got dasha-vidha-samskara. Before birth, when the child is in the womb, there is ceremony. Then when he is born there is ceremony. Then he’s little more, little more… Just like Parikshit Maharaja, when he was born, immediately all the brahmanas came. Jata-karma ceremony. A child is born. There will be some puja, …, and then there will be horoscope made immediately, in what moment this child is born, what will be his feature. All the brähmaëas made immediately horoscope. You’ll find in this Bhägavata. This is called samskara. Not that like cats and dogs they are born without any samskara, and because he is born in a certain family he becomes brahmanas, kshatriya, vaishya. No.

[S.B.5.5.17 – Lecture – Vrindavan, November 5, 1976]