A Rationale for Vedic Astrology
The following article is written by Pavan Kumar.
Introduction – The purpose and rationale of Vedic Astrology is an important place to begin an exploration of this Vedic Science. It helps to properly implement the information it gives us. In the Vedic system rationality and logic are an important entry point into deeper philosophy or spirituality. If something is irrational, then it is not spiritual However, this does not mean that important aspects of philosophy and spirituality cannot lie beyond rationality, such as knowledge obtained via the method of direct perception as also indicated in this article.
The following postulates allow for a rational basis for Astrology, as will be explained below:
- Light as a basis for time
- Space/Time moments acting as seeds for all that is possible in that moment
- Cyclical nature of time
- The law of cause and effect, which works in time
- The precedence of mind over physical manifestation
- The mutual relationship between mind as subject and physical manifestation as object
Justification of the Postulates
Note, that points a) to d) are important postulates of modern science too (Relativity and Quantum Mechanics). Points e) and f) have been acknowledged by many of the greatest thinkers even in later European Theoretical Physics and Philosophy, such as Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Einstein, Newton, Kant, Schopenhauer etc. These two points can be directly perceived via self-observation. For example, the fundamental concept of ‘I exist’ always precedes the sensory awareness of physical manifestation. Without these points physical manifestation would become self-referential, i.e. subject and object would both become material, and this would ultimately lead to nonsensical results. Both subject and object would become the same thing in this case, and there would be no basis for observations. This has been illustrated in Quantum Mechanics, in Logical Philosophy through the work of Gödel, and also gives rise to self-referential paradoxes such as Russell’s Paradox. Further investigation of modern thought in this area lies outside the scope of this article, but the Vedic view will be looked at later in the article in its own section. A rationale for Vedic Astrology is also given from the Vedic perspective there.
As points e) and f) are not dependent on sensory data, it is possible for their truth to remain eternal. They are similar to other principles such as Mathematics, Ethics, Logic etc., where their truth is established inwardly rather than depending on external sensory data. On the other hand, the ‘truths’ based on sensory data have a finite life, e.g. the various theories of motion or light in modern Physics.
Postulates as a Rationale for Astrology
Relativity theory of Physics tells us that light defines time. The one feature that all physical objects of manifestation have is that they either are a source of light, or reflect light. Hence we can primarily define objects of manifestation by their light (note that Black Holes are the obvious exception to this, but they remain indefinable in physical existence). The changes in physical manifestation represent the passage of time, and these depend on the changes of light emitted by the physical objects of manifestation.
The main source of light for the Earth is the Sun, followed by the reflected Sun light of the Moon. From very ancient times to the present day they have remained the two most important objects for the measurement of time, defining the day, month and year. The next most important sources of light on Earth are the planets (reflecting the Sun light like the Moon), plus the stars whose light reaches us. These sources of light help fine tune the measurement of time, particularly when we consider longer time cycles such as the (approximate) 24,000 year cycle of the wobble of the Earth’s axis of rotation. They allow for the differentiation between years, as well as millennia in these longer time cycles. This differentiation becomes particularly relevant for old and long-lasting civilisations such as the Vedic civilisation centred in (though it almost certainly seems not restricted to) India, which has time-spans of 10,000 years and more. Hence there is no better way of measuring time than observing the heavenly bodies. This factor corresponds to point a) above.
The most meaningful way to capture the state of a particular moment in time then would naturally be to catch a snap-shot of the position of the heavenly bodies at that particular moment. There is another important factor that reinforces this point. The longer an object lasts for, the better it is able to reflect the status of a system at any moment. For example, a stone that has been present in a particular environment for several years will reveal more about that environment at any moment than a stone that has been present in that environment for just a few days. The heavenly bodies are the most ancient objects we can observe. Therefore this also makes them highly appropriate to record the state of any moment in time.
Quantum Theory requires that each moment must contain in latent form all the possible outcomes in that moment. From this we can see that any moment contains all the information on the entire life beginning at that moment. Moments occurring during a particular life will contain less information, as they will be restricted to the circumstances prevailing during that moment of that particular life. This is the field of Prashna or Horary Astrology. Thus the horoscope of a moment becomes the best piece information to indicate to us what is possible for a life born during that moment. This relates to point b) above.
Points c) and d)
The periodicity of the motion of the heavenly bodies gives us the periodicity evident in Astrology and time, relating to point c) above. This is an important factor that helps facilitate the predictive nature of Astrology. The changes that occur in physical manifestation that define the passage of time obey the law of cause and effect (point d) above). This gives the ability to deduce at least some outcomes that are possible in each moment when used in combination with point d) as the basic starting position. It should be noted that the law of cause and effect, like points e) and f) above, represents an inner principle or an eternal truth, rather than being dependent on finite sensory data.
Points e) and f)
Once we give precedence to mind over other manifestation, we can see that physical objects are in fact states of mind, or created by the mind (dream-objects). It seems reasonable that the most long-lasting and massive physical objects (i.e. the heavenly bodies) will reflect the mind (as the subject) most fundamentally as its archetypes. An example of this is the role the Sun plays in Astrology. As the primary source of light for the Earth, and thus the main driver of physical change and metabolic activity, it represents similar qualities for us mentally on an individual level. On an outer mental level it relates to our outer will and personality, on an inner level it relates more to our inner will or the Soul. This gives us insight as to how the heavenly bodies reflect us individually at all levels of our being, and it relates to points e) and f) above. As the law of cause and effect governs heavenly bodies too, we can see how this law also works in the mental realms, and how it gives the ability to make predictions across the mind and body.
The Vedic approach to cosmology also utilises a rational approach, and gives us deep insights into fields such as Philosophy and Astrology. With it we can derive the above points, and additional concepts, from a fundamental perspective. Returning to the subject/object duality addressed above, we have seen that the subject must have a non-material (i.e. a mental) component to observe material objects, in order for its observations not to be ultimately nonsensical due to self-reference. In fact, taking this result to its logical conclusion, there must be a factor that lies outside time completely in order to make observations in time. This can be described as the fundamental and only reality (Purusha in Sanskrit), as it is a permanent real or true state. What lies in time is thus pseudo-real (Maya in Sanskrit) as it has no permanence in time. For something to be real or true, rationality demands it must permanently be so.
Therefore the Purusha is actually what exists, and the apparently manifested Cosmos must be so by the will or force of the Purusha. This ‘creation’ is like the Purusha’s dual (Prakriti in Sanskrit) which allows for all manifestations in time, and the force becomes the life-force (Prana in Sanskrit) of the Cosmos. From force we have a resultant energy (by Modern Science) or light (ChidJyoti in Sanskrit), which becomes the basic energy for manifesting the Cosmos. At this ‘stage’ it should be noted that there is no time and manifestation, but just Jyoti and Prana. Light allows for the evolution of physical time, as explained earlier in the article, and light as energy allows for manifestation up to the physical level (matter and energy being equivalent by Modern Science). The appearance of the creation of time is an intelligent process as it already utilises the law of cause and effect (the most fundamental law we know), so the Purusha and Prakriti must contain consciousness and intelligence. All of the other fundamental truths referred to earlier (e.g. ethics, logic etc.) must be contained here, as they precede physical and emotional manifestation.
What this implies is that the manifest Cosmos is built not only from force and light/energy as also recognised by Modern Science, but also from time and intelligence. These factors are infused through out the particles of even the physical matter in the Cosmos. Hence the physical Cosmos also has the secrets of all aspects of time embedded in it. Modern Science does recognise the connection between light and time, and light (as energy) and matter, but most Modern Scientists do not take this to its conclusion. Modern Science extrapolates physical states into the past and future from present states, but this is restricted to a material level. Vedic Cosmology indicates it is possible to go further, and to extrapolate mental and more fundamental states from physical states. Once again, as the stars and planets are the most materially massive objects and greatest sources of light we know, it allows for a rationale for Astrology.
Putting all of the above points together, the best way to capture the information of the entire life of a person is via the star/planet positions at the time of their birth, or the natal horoscope. Via the workings of the law of cause and effect through time, the picture of this seed moment allows us to deduce and see future effects at a physical as well as a mental level of a life of a person. The circular or periodic nature of time further aids in this.
As discussed above, the law of cause and effect can be seen to have a deeper and wider meaning to cover states of mind and more fundamental states, in addition to the modern understanding of the law in the physical sense. On the hand, it is a part of the physical structure of the Cosmos, and not just an abstract law. This brings it in line with the meaning of the Vedic law of cause and effect, or the law of Karma. The horoscope can thus be seen to be a cause and effect map in the sense of Karma. Living a life that facilitates smooth execution of the law of Karma in turn becomes the individual Dharma, or an intelligent, healthy and ‘lawful’ way of living. This is the most important purpose of Vedic Astrology. Living in ignorance of (especially contrary to) this law causes our Karma to forcibly change our lives, which usually requires pain and suffering.
It is worth noting that the one of the implications of the law of cause and effect is that Karma must have already been put in place by us at the seed moment of our birth for it to be relevant to us. This is the basis of the theory of Reincarnation. It is not the same personality that reincarnates, but one naturally related to it (as a continuum) via the law of Karma. As such the same personality (or anything) cannot even survive from one moment to the next, but is always changed by the law of Karma. As a moment has no finite existence in time, again we see the pseudo-real or illusory (Maya) nature of manifestation.
Another important point to note is that there is no such thing as automatically a bad or good horoscope. A Dharmic life allows any horoscope to give good results, and vice-versa. The Yogic Dharma specifically gives us the practical tools to see goodness in all (even the so-called ‘bad’), and thus constitutes the various remedies or therapies of Vedic Astrology. This is also the way of Tantra or Vedic Alchemy.
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