Astrological elements relevant even today

Every action has to be atoned or rewarded as the case may be in this life itself. We carry forward the past Karmas into this birth and will obviously leave traces of them at the time of death. Hence it is recommended to do good Karmas, Astrology was always important as a science those days for a steering in the direction or path of mankind. Nature was always integrated into life and one regarded every aspect as divine. It is a well known that ancient Indian literature, especially Sanskrit, whether religious or secular, had an integral approach. The ancient sages never viewed any subject in a specialised away, but as a part and parcel of the total knowledge.  Even scientific literature like medicine, music, mathematics, warfare or astronomy and astrology.  Like Mahabharata and Natya-Sastra which declare that everything observed in the world outside could be found in them, the works such as the Brhad Jatoka and Brhat Samhita of the illustrious astronomer Varahamihira, contain a marvellous array of astronomy, botany, erotics, geography, architecture, trade and commerce and others.

The saints realized that the external world was nothing but a projection of the spirit.  They declared that man’s life on earth is but a link in a long chain of existences.  There are a number of Ketus or Comets which affect atmospheric events.  For example, the tamasa kilakas or dark shafts, which are seen sometimes on the sun’s disc must have been observed by the seers as having enormous effect on weather and health.  These phenomena the  sun-spots of modern astronomers.  Ourl health depends on the harmony existing between the body and the intensity of radiation from the cosmos.  Panini had studied human psychology and delineated it in his aphorisms.  He had undertaken a stupendous task of collecting all the expressions, conveying various ideas, putting the seal of authority on some and rejecting others for laying down rules for correct expressions.   The grammarian was not a dry literary figure but a lively man of the world.  The speciality of astrological branch of studies consists in the fact that jyotisa being very ancient, is called the “Eye of the Veda (Knowledge)”.  The science of jyotisa is also the knowledge of time, as our entire life is ruled by this; the embodiment of time being the sun- the embodiment of the three Vedas.  Though time is eternal, it becomes conditioned by movements of the planets.  In ancient times, seasons were reckoned by means of periodic sacrifices, marking the timely changes.  Hence sacrifice forms an important part of astrology through which the Nava grahas, the divine planets, are invoked and propitiated. Panini aptly proves how our fore-fathers were able to control the weather gods through japa, homa  and other means. The Sun’s hymns state that both Lord Narayana and Lord Siva reside in the centre of the solar disc.  In this science,the two luminaries constitute its warp and woof.

How do we logically reckon the day? Is it from midnight to midnight or from one sunrise to the next?  We get the answer that by today we mean the period between the previous midnight and the coming midnight. This mode was prevalent in the Vedic period.  Panini explains the formation of words indicating different units of time in the lunar almanac.   We come across the words trayodasi caturdasi pratipat, amavasya and pournamasi.  Among them the most important are amavasya and purnamasi for, in ancient literature, the moon represented the month.  We find this in English vocabulary and in Southern Indian languages.  Both in Tamil and Kannada, Tingal means the Moon and month.  People of the ancient times had no other means of measuring the time except our sun, moon and the stars. Later, we have the two kinds of reckoning viz., from the first day after the new Moon and full Moon respectively.

In astrology asterisms or naksatras play a very important role.  Panini devotes several sutras to them and names many such as Rohini, Asadha, Krttika, Tisya, Punarvasu etc.  He explains the derivation of the word  naksatra as one that does not decay or fall down.  This shows that they are permanent. The Mahabharata says that the star Abhijit had slipped down in the sky.  This phenomenon, calculated to have occurred 13000 years before Christ, resulted in only 27 naksatras from that period for counting days, as Abhijit was no longer visible along the lunar path.  Similarly we learn from the Valmiki Ramayana that Visakha was the dynastic star of the Iksvakus. It is well known that in astrology, seasons are assigned to different planets.  They belong in order to Venus, Sun and Mars, the Moon, Mecury, Jupiter, and Saturn.

In Indian system, lunar months are mostly used for rituals.  For example, Upanayana cannot be performed in the southern solstice.  Similarly, Asadha, Bhadrapada and Pausa are considered as vacant months.

 

 

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About the author

Dr Padmaja Venkatesh (Suresh)

Experienced and noted artiste of Bharatanatyam, teacher, researcher, TV host and social worker, Dr Padmaja holds degrees in Commerce, Law, Diploma in choreography, a Masters in Philosophy and a doctorate. Her institution Aatmalaya Academy, Bangalore imparts training and has a charitable wing Kalachaitanya for propagating arts for lesser privileged and rural children.

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