Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Karma in Vedic Astrology

Newton’s third law of motion ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’ forms the core of the theory of Karma in Vedic Astrology. As you sow so, you reap is the essence of the principle of Karma in Jyotish. This principle is inherent in the very structure of the universe. According to astrology events in a person’s life happens according to a sequence which is scheduled by the law of Karma on the calendar called time.

The moment of birth starts the Law of Karma. Every action causes some effect. With hundreds of actions that we perform this has a complex and intricate effect entangling us in a web of cause and effect which most human minds cannot fathom. The Law of Karma is a self governing and a kind of auto mechanism that forever controls our destiny. Mahatma Gandhi once said that ‘After inventing the Law of Karma God was able to retire’. The birth chart is blue print of the kind of Karma that we are likely to face and the challenges that lay ahead of us. Humans are reborn at the moment the planets move into a particular configuration. That configuration can then be studied to discover whether a person’s past activities were pious or impious, and what events are most likely to occur in a person’s future as a result. The planetary positions at the time of birth can thus reveal the events of a person’s present life as well as his or her past and future lives. The quality of a birth chart can be judged by the planetary positions in the zodiac, in the different signs and constellations. Thus a person takes a position in this birth according to the karma accrued in past births.

Vedic Astrology classifies Karmas as under:

Sanchita Karma (The sum total of all Karmas)
Prarabdha Karma - the Karmas we ought to be ready to experience.
Kriyamana Karma – The current Karmas
Agama Karma – The approaching Karmas

Quite often one kind of karma overlaps the other due to the complex & incomprehensible nature of Karma. Let’s very briefly look into each one of them:

Sanchita Karma:

This as already mentioned is the entirety of all karmas of this life and past lives. Reincarnation assumes that one’s past actions performed in previous lives are the causes of the effects being experienced in this life time. The doctrine of reincarnation has been an accepted philosophy since times immemorial in the Indian culture. According to the Bhagvat Gita, one of India’s famous and treasured scriptures ‘just as a person casts off worn out clothes and puts on others that are new, even so does the embodied soul cast off worn out bodies and take to others that are new’

A man who wonders why he was able to acquire such high academic qualifications so easily, earn a fortune so easily, have ill health despite the best medical care, suffer loss of near and dear ones prematurely must realize that it is the eternal law of karma that is in operation. The mind has forgotten the karmas that he performed in his previous lives that are causing effects beyond this control in this life.

Prarabdha Karma:

Prarabdha is that portion of the past karma which is responsible for the present body and state of affairs in a man’s life. That portion of the sanchita karma which influences human life in the present incarnation is called prarabdha. It is ripe for reaping. It cannot be avoided or changed. It is only exhausted by being experienced. You pay your past debts. prarabdha karma is that which has begun and is actually bearing fruit. It is selected out of the mass of the sanchita karma." It is what appears as fate or destiny. An entity does not experience all of the Sanchita Karma at once. Only that portion which is ripe will surface at any time.

Kriyamana Karma:

This is what we do in the present with our free will. While Sanchita Karma & Prarabhda Karma are destined or fated , Kriyamana Karma represents our current actions by the us of our will. People are not mechanical devices merely controlled by our past actions. We can by exerting and struggling create new favorable situations. This is Kriyamana Karma.

Agama Karma:

New actions that we plan to execute are a measure of our capacity to envision future actions, whether or not we implement them. To set an intention to be more careful in the future would be our agama karma. Without kriyamana and agama karma our life would be entirely predestined upon birth. We would, in effect, be completely at the mercy of our past karma. Let’s say we go on a joy ride and get into an accident. The accident would be considered our prarabdha karma – our allotted karma for this life out of entire sanchita karma. To dress the wound in order to lessen the suffering would be our kriyamana karma. To plan or to set our intentions to be more careful in the future would be our agama karma.

The Three Levels of Magnitudes of Karma:

In addition to the four kinds of karma, there are three levels of magnitude to any given karma. Karma can be fixed/strong or non-fixed/weak, or a combination of the two. If the karma is strong then the predetermined event will almost certainly happen. If the karma is weak then it may be relatively easy to avert it. The three levels of magnitude are:

1. Dridha karma - Fixed Karma – This is karma that cannot be changed by any effort on our part. Only the grace of God can alter fixed karma (Dridha). These are destined to be experienced because for the intensity of the causes. Many times we experience that an event simply happens despite all efforts to avoid it. In vedic astrology Dridha Karmas happen when there a confluence of factors.

2. Dridha/Adridha - Mixed karma – This is karma that can be changed but only with substantial effort. This can be changed with concentrated mental application. Will power is necessary.

3. Adridha Karma - Non-Fixed karma – This is karma that can be easily changed with some effort. It’s like having a clean paper on which you can write what you want.

It is possible from astrology to determine the magnitude of the Karma.

Possible Remedies for Difficult Karmas:

Jyotish / Vedic Astrology is an excellent method for delineating one's Karmic pattern - the good times, the bad times, the lessons that need to be learned, etc. However, many people are not so happy with the bad times and would like to improve the bad times if possible.

Yagyas (ancient Vedic ceremonies) are among the strongest remedial measures. Yagyas should only be undertaken under the advisement or direction of a competent guru, Hindu priest or Vedic astrologer.

Fasting is an art and there are many other structures to fasting that are too intricate to go into here. No one should undertake fasting without medical clearance and specific instructions.

Here is an example of a fast directed to specific planets: Fast Sunday for the Sun, Monday for the Moon, Tuesday for Mars, Wednesday for Mercury, Thursday for Jupiter, Friday for Venus, or Saturday for Saturn and Rahu.

Mantras, generally, should only be used under the direction of a competent spiritual advisor or Vedic astrologer. They can have negative effects when done improperly.

Some mantras are very strong and should absolutely not be used by the general public. Do not pick a mantra out of a book and start using it. That is like going into a drug store and choosing a medicine at random. It can be ok at best, dangerous at worst.

However, there is a small number of widely known, "public" mantras that are generally safe for any adult.

Charity is *always* a good thing. If you engage in enough charitable giving, you can probably offset almost any bad Karma seen in your chart.

However, there are ways to maximize your charitable giving, according to the Vedic tradition. If you want spiritual benefits, probably Thursday is the best day to donate. If you want to grow in power and status, Sunday is the best day to give money or articles away. If you want more love, and physical enjoyment and creativity, most likely Friday is the best day.

The Vedic tradition also delineates classes of people and classes of animals who are the ideal recipient of your charity. This maximizes the effects of your charitable giving.

Gems are said to be powerful although it is not stated in the astrological texts as remedies. Gems are supposed to work. However, gems are probably not as powerful as mantras and yagyas. Ideally, if you are going to use a gem for Jyotish purposes, it should touch your skin for maximum effect. The gem should also be blessed, have a yagya, and be worn for the first time on a certain day. Gems chosen improperly that are not suitable for the individual horoscope can wreak havoc. One must be especially careful of blue sapphires and diamonds.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Predictive Styles of Vedic Astrology

The main styles of vedic astrology are:

  1. Parashari Jyotish
  2. Jaimini Jyotish
  3. Nadi Jyotish
  4. Tajika Jyotish
  5. Tantric Jyotish
  6. Krishnamurthi Paddhati


Parashari Jyotish refers to the style or tradition of jyotish as elaborated by Maharishi Parashara in his classical work called the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. Maharishi Parashara is often referred to as the father of jyotish or vedic astrology. BPHS contains 97 chapters and a total of 2,000 verses dealing with natal astrology. There are several other classical works that are elaborations of the Parashara system of astrology. Some of them are Brihad Jataka, Phaladipika, Saravali, Jataka Parijata. These contributions came after the BPHS and are important additions to the BPHS. The Parashari system of astrology is the most common and most popular form of natal astrology practiced by a majority of the Indian astrologers.

Varahamihira was another very respectable contributor whose chief contributions were the Brihat Jataka and Brihat Samita. It is said that Varahmihira lived around the 4th century AD in the court of the Emperor Chandragupta II and happened to be the court astrologer. He was renowned for his accurate predictions, knowledge and learning. Brihad Jataka is his most widely read book which deals with birth or natal astrology.


Maharishi Jaimini was a great vedic seer and is believed by some authorities to have written the Jaimini Sutras, a work which forms the foundation of this system. Jaimini Sutras are cryptic and complex verses whose meanings and interpretations are subject to a lot of debate and confusion. A small minority of people practice this system of jyotish. There is little resemblance between the Parashari system and the Jaimini system. Jaimini system seems to have been developed as an alternative or a parallel to the Parashara system. There are a few astrologers who believe that both the systems can be used together and complement Parashara astrology with the Jaimini system to improve their predictive skills. However common sense tells that they both are very different systems and it is doubtful if they can be merged. It is wise to not club the Jaimini system with the Parsahara brand of astrology. Jaimini aspects are different (it uses rashi aspects), Jaimini dashas are rashi dashas as opposed to Parashara dashas which are nakshatra dashas, jaimini calculation of strengths of houses is different, calculation of longevity is different etc. According to me there exists a wall between the two types of astrology although many learned astrologers differ in their views and believe both styles can co-exist.


It is said that the Rishis of India became so masterly at astrology that they began generating horoscopes of people who were not yet born, and predict the major events in their lives. The Rishis were superhuman. They did horoscopes with thousands of birth charts. Fragments of the Nadis have survived and are handed over from parent to child in certain families of vedic Indian astrologers who act like guardians or custodians of the horoscopes. These remains are identified by their authors or schools and the horoscopes are found in “Nadi Granthas”. A Nadi Grantha, is a compilation of already calculated horoscopes with predictions given. You go to the reader, he calculates your chart and then finds a matching one in his collection and reads out the predictions. The reader does not necessarily know astrology. Each Nadi is unique in style depending on the Rishi who wrote it.

There are many Nadi Granthas mainly in South India. In the North there is Bhrigu Samitha in Punjab. In the south the popular ones are Kala Chandra Nadi, Vashista Nadi, Suka Nadi, Dhruva Nadi, Buddha Nadi, Brghu-Nandi Nadi, Bhargava Nadi etc.

When a complete reading is available ina Nadi Grantha it usually includes four parts: A bhava Phala, Yoga Khanda, Karma Khanda and Shanti Khanda. Just like everything else in the world, in the world of astrology also there are counterfeit Nadi Granthas who are out to cheat you. For this reason one must be careful in getting a reading through a Nadi Grantha.


The Tajika system is a late development and is a cross between the Vedic and Arabic astrology introduced into India by the Turks. Tajika is a Sanskrit term for an “Arab”. Tajika is somewhat popular in Northern India (which was ravaged by the Muslims) amongst the eclectic astrologers who don't strictly follow Vedic tradition.

In the Middle Ages (around 1587 AD) a Hindu astrologer, Nilakanta, wrote a text and commentary on this system called Tajika-Nilakanti. There have been a couple of translations into English of the Tajika system of Prasna Tantra and their method of "yearly horoscope" called Varshaphala. This Varshaphala is nothing but the "solar return" that is used in western astrology with a few Vedic twists added. To better understand Tajika system one should study the works of William Lilly (17th century English astrologer) for Prasna, and other Western texts on Solar returns.

Tajika system is hardly known in East India and practically unheard of in South India where Vedic traditions are more carefully preserved from impurities such as Tajika. It is unfortunate, that without finding out its antecedents, at least one well known astrologer has introduced Tajika into ISKCON. This is the danger of mimicking what ever Hindus do and assuming it is Vedic. You have to research and dig for the truth.

Tajika system’ highlight is its generally above average method of doing yearly readings. However; I believe that the Tithi Pravesha or the luni-solar year chart is a far superior method of seeing the yearly drift of a chart since it bases not only on the Sun’s position but the moons position as well. Vedic astrology is also capable of doing yearly readings, or readings for any length of time. But the "yearly reading" is a Tajika specialty. If you are not certain whether the yearly reading is Vedic or Tajika find out how the astrologer bases the reading. If he answers that it is based on the sun returning to the same position as it was at the time of your birth, then that is a clear indication of Tajika. Generally speaking whatever Tajika system of astrology can do; Parashara system can do it better.


The origins and roots of tantric jyotish are most unclear or unknown. In an astrological context the word Tantric means a mystical and intuitive attitude towards jyotish. Tantra calls for sacrificial rites and a person who practices this school of astrology relies on his internal information over his observation of the external sources. Often times he gives amazingly correct readings using magical and psychic techniques. Techniques might include observation and interpretation of omens, observation of breathing patterns at the moment of the question, speech patterns of the client, mannerisms, clairvoyance, astral travel, the use of information received from spirits and the use of other shamanic techniques. These methods are generally performed within the parameters of the jyotish model. A tantric jyotish interprets omens according to when and where such omens happen.


In very recent years an astrologer from Tamil Nadu, the late KS Krishnamurti, attempted to formulate his own system which he called the Krsnamurti Paddhati. This system is based primarily on the Parasara method with a lot of focus on the Nakshatras and their lordships. It gives more importance to the Nakshatra lord and sub lord rather than the house lord. The Vimshottari mahadasha is the foundation for this system. Then on the basis of the rulerships of the nakshatras based on the Vimshottari method he created his system. He also adopted the Placidius house system from the West. This is an uneven house system, and the first house begins from the lagna point.

The KP system is definitely not as popular as the Parashara system. Many astrologers reject it outright. It has defects such as assuming the nakshatras are ruled by certain planets. This rulership only applies in the vimshottari mahadasha scheme, not others. For example, astrologers in East India-Bengal, Assam etc., prefer ashtottari dasha, a cycle of 108 years. In Ashtottari Mahadasha the stars are ruled differently and none are assigned to Ketu. Very few books have been written on this system by other astrologer’s other than the originator.

The KP system has some following in South India. It would be better to avoid this system although it is interesting and logical in its own way.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Branches of Vedic / Hindu Astrology

Vedic astrology (Aagam Shaastra / Jyotisha- futurity sciences) has three main branches or Skandas:

Siddhanta or Ganita Skanda (Astronomy): Astronomy & its application to astrology.

Samhita Skanda (Mundane astrology): Covers Mundane astrology, predicting important events related to countries such as war, earth quakes, economic cycles, political events, astro - meteorology, financial positions, electional astrology; house & construction related matters (Vaastu Shaastra), animals, portents & omens etc.

Hora Skandha : Predictive astrology, which is interpretation of horoscopes:

This branch has the following different sub sets or branches:-

Jaatak Shaastra / Hora Shaastra (Natal Astrology / horoscopy): Prediction based on individual horoscope.

Muhurtha (Electional astrology): Selection of beneficial time to initiate an activity to get maximum fruition from the life activities. Actions tend to produce results accoreding to the planetary configurations under which they are initiated. One muhurta is 48 minutes.

Swar Shaastra (Phonetical astrology): Predictions based on name & sounds.

Prashna (Horary astrology): Predictions based on time when a question is asked by querent / querist. Almost all questions are answerable from a horoscope calculated at the time of the question. A few famous classical works in this genre are Varahamihira’s Daivajna Vallabha, the Shatpanchasika of Prithyshas (Varahamihira’s son), Prashna Marga which is a complex work authored by an unknown jyotishi and Neeelakantha’s Prashna Tantra.

Nimitta: It is the interpretation of omens. This requires ones intuitions to be in full flow. It is very difficult to do this without direct instruction from a skilled ominologist. This is learnt only by oral tradition.

Ankjyotisha / Kabala (Numerology): A branch of astrology based on numbers.

Nastjaatakam (Lost Horoscopy): Art of tracing / construction of lost horoscopes.

StreeJaatak (female astrology): A special branch of astrology dealing with female nativities.

It is said that one conversant with all the above branches will never err in preditions. An almost impossible feat to achieve! Such an astrologer is a true daivajna (knower of Gods intention).

In our next post let's look at the styles of Jyotish.

The Origins of Jyotish or Vedic Astrology

The beginnings of Jyotish or Vedic astrology are indeed lost in time. It is a science and art whose origins are difficult to fathom. It is estimated that Jyotish; or the science if light is at least 4000-5000 years old. The roots of Jyotish can be traced to what is the present day India. It is thought of to be a divine science passed on by Sages of the past orally. These Sages were Micro Gods who understood the secrets of the cosmos, of time and of light. In the first chapter of the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra (BPHS) which is one of the classics of Jyotish, Maharishi Parashara says that Jyotisha was taught by Brahma to Narada, who passed on the knowledge to Shaunaka. Parashara heard this from Shaunaka and then passed on the knowledge to Maitreya; his disciple. Maitreya; for the first time put it down in the form of a book called the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. BPHS is a masterpiece; a classic and a treasure trove of the vast ocean of Indian Astrology or Vedic Astrology. Sage Parashara was the father of Sage Vyasa. Maharishi Vyasa was the one who compiled the Vedas. Parashara was the grandson of Sage Vasishta and son of Sage Shaktya.

Jyotisha is the Hindu system of astrology and one of the six limbs of the Veda and regarded as one of the oldest schools of ancient astrology to have had an independent origin. Vedas are sacred books of the Aryan people. The Vedas were fully comprehensible only to the rishis. The Vedas have by and large remained unchanged for thousands of years. Jyotisha is one of parts of the Vedas and is therefore a part of the Vedanga. Jyotish deals with the planets called "grahas", and “Nakshatras” which are Fixed stars. These are which are thought to seize or act upon created beings and influence their actions and life. Hindus believe that mankind has fortune and misfortune in life because of karma; many use Jyotish to understand the vicissitudes of life due to the influence of planets. While in past centuries, Brahmins were the primary practitioners of Jyotish, since the last century, a renaissance of study of Jyotish and other Vedic sciences emerged in India and the west. The term "Vedic astrology" has been recently introduced by American and Western astrologers in the 1980s and 1990s. The purpose of Jyotish is to use it as an aid in for making important decisions in life.

Jyotish uses a total of 9 grahas or seizures. These are the Sun, Moon, the five planets and Rahu (North node of the moon) and Ketu (south node of the moon). Jyotish does not employ the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The Sun is considered the Soul of the solar system in Jyotish. The light energies coming from the Sun, Moon and the planets and the stars all influence the mental and physical planes of all beings. Jyotish uses accurate mathematical calculations to determine the positions of the planets in order to foretell the future of individuals. According to Jyotish man is a creation of the cosmos. Jyotish believes that each one has a unique planetary combination. This unique combination depends on the exact time, place and date of birth.

In my short experience Jyotish is a reliable model of the human experience. There is nothing that can come close to Jyotish in delineating the life path of an individual in advance. The power of vedic astrology lies in its predictive ability; for which there is no equal. Jyotish is a universally applicable model and can easily adapt to any environment; eastern or western; provided its general principles are properly understood. Jyotish takes years of study, discipline & experience to completely master it and use its full potential. It is said that Jyotish is the Jyotir Vidya (the lore of light), a vidya that can be had only from jyotishis.

Long Live the Divine Science of Jyotish!!