Vedic Astrology - Jyotish
In ancient times, in the Vedic tradition, the science of Astrology was called Jyotish (Vedic Astrology). Astrology was understood from the word, Jyoti, which means light. So the idea is the knowledge of the cosmos, the cosmic counterparts; the planets and how they influence our mind, body emotions our whole life - is in a sense, lighting up the path of our evolution.
Imagine you're in darkness and you're walking around in the middle of the night. You're bumping into things. You're hitting your knee, you’re swearing, you're falling down the stairs, you're walking into walls and all kinds of problems. If you had a light, if you had a lamp that you were walking with in front of you; then it lights up the path. So you can see the rocks, or the stairs, or the ravines, or whatever problems can come your way. You can also see which path might be easier to walk on, that's smoother and well-trodden.
So this is the purpose as indicated by the ancient aphorism, “Heyam dukham anagatam”, Avert the danger that has not yet come. Prevention is better than cure. Without this knowledge, of course, we can bumble through life, which many people do. We bump into this, we knock that, we have all these problems in terms of, our work, our relationships, or our health; and we think that's just part of life. It's a matter of luck, so we do the best we can. Many say, "Well, ignorance is bliss. I don't want to know what's coming up in my life. I prefer not to know.”
Imagine you're going for a trip in a car, you've got a 4-hour drive to a holiday destination. Would you like to know that at the 2-hour mark there's going to be a big bend in the road? And there's going to be a truck with a driver who's sleepy? And he's going to veer right across his lane into the other side of the road where you're going to be? Wouldn't you like to know that in advance? Sure, you might still have to get out of the way of the truck, or you might have to slow down, or you might have to stop 5 or 10 minutes before and wait 'til the truck goes past, so it delays your trip. But any of those options would be a hell of a lot better than staying on the road. Ignorance is bliss until the truck comes around the corner and wipes you completely off the road.
This is the basic understanding of Jyotish or Vedic Astrology as has been understood or at least practiced and believed in by many, many ancient cultures, and many of the most highly-advanced, and most successful civilizations. These civilizations have lasted for tens of thousands of years - whether the Aztecs, the Mayans, the ancient Greeks; many cultures through to the Vedic civilizations, have the understanding of using astrology, which is very mathematical and illustrates how the planets can affect us. If we understand those influences, we can use them for our benefit to ride the waves of nature that are positive and life supporting. Or we can take action, recourse to avoid as much as we can, any negative ways or influences from Mother Nature. As is the cosmic body, so is the human body. As is the macrocosm, so is the microcosm. Anoraniyan mahato mahiyan. Smaller than the smallest, is bigger than the biggest.
Basically, for those that do not believe in astrology - and that's perfectly understandable - we want to have a look into some wisdom or at least some knowledge that can hopefully give us a better understanding of how it might be possible that the planets do influence us. So these expressions, "As is the macrocosm so is the microcosm. As is the cosmic body so is the human body. Smaller than the smallest is bigger than the biggest," all these are based on the understanding that Mother Nature's intelligence is universal. As we say in many podcasts the latest modern scientific, quantum physics, unified field theories; the cutting edge of science, is that there are fields - underlying fields - that are non-localized and universal in our world from which everything in our material creation springs.
Modern Science and Planetary Influences
So, it’s not just ancient science - the understanding that consciousness, intelligence, this unified field of energy and intelligence expresses into all the cells and tissues of the human body and, in fact, our whole universe; modern science is actually glimpsing a similar understanding. So, that is the wisdom: that mother nature in creating our universe, uses the same patterns of intelligence.
What we mean by that is: the same structure inherent within consciousness, which is non-physical; it's un-manifest. That same structure becomes manifest into the sounds and the vibrations, which we know underlie everything in our universe of physical creation. When it manifests into the nucleus of a cell, the embryonic cells that structure our human body; that same intelligence, the same structure and the same functions go together, and then into the human body as a whole.
The planets, the constellations in our sky, are in fact mirrors of that same structure and function that are in our human body. We know from a Western, or a modern perspective, that we have tides and these are very much regulated and governed by the cycles of the cosmic bodies, the Sun and the Moon - particularly the Moon. The phases of the moon dictate the phases of our tides, of our oceans. Changes in the tides; the king tides, coming in and going out affects so much in terms of fishing or any livelihood that depends on the water. All boat captains need to know how to read the stars and the tides, and the tides, of course are influenced by a cosmic body, the Moon.
There's been a lot of research, as well as anecdotal evidence from psychiatric nurses and doctors that on a full moon- it’s not just the werewolves that come out. Psychiatric doctors and nurses will tell you that patients in a psychiatric ward often behave completely differently, emotionally, and in terms of being aggressive; they display significant changes on a full moon.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Insights
We know more and more about cosmic influences from science. This has been brought out beautifully by a doctor named Tony Nader. Professor Tony Nader is a PhD, neuroscientist and medical doctor, but also trained by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the Vedic tradition of knowledge. The understanding of consciousness being primary in all his studies with Maharishi. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi got Dr. Nader to use his knowledge of neuroscience; the understanding of all the parts of the brain and neuro anatomy and make correspondences between the cosmic body and the structures and functions of the human body. Particularly parts of the brain that connect to the universe, to the cosmic bodies, the planets as well as all the divisions of a cell, for example.
What he found was a one-to-one correspondence, between the structure and function within consciousness. All the ancient texts talk about the different parts of Veda.
Jyotish (Vedic astrology), Sthapatya Veda or Vastu vidya (the science of building houses), Ayurveda, yoga, the science of unification and transcending; all these ancient literature texts, talk about the fact that there's an exact one-to-one correlation between them (parts of Veda) and the parts of a cell. For example, the different systems and tissues within the human body, the different parts of the brain the 4 chambers of the heart or lobes of the brain that connect exactly in terms of structure and function with the 4 main chapters of the ancient texts of yoga.
So, what he (Dr. Tony Nader) has done specifically in terms of Astrology, is correlated the 9 major areas of the human brain: the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the putamen, the amygdala; and other parts of the brain that neuroscience has mapped in detail, with the 9 main cosmic counterparts: the planets, the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, etc. It's absolutely fascinating. He's brought out understandings of the different functions. For example: the tides we just spoke about, that are controlled by the cycles of the moon. The moon in vedic understanding is called “chandra”.
Moon, Mind & Emotions
What Dr. Nader has done is shown that the moon corresponds with the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus, of course, connects with functions related to emotions. Not only fluid balance within the body but, fluid balance within our universe which is the tides, but also connects to emotions. During the full moon, when Chandra, or the moon, is full; it’s fully lit, it's at the peak of its expression. With us as humans, that influence, that seed intelligence also has its effect. So our emotions, if you like, are strengthened or they're a piqued. If we are happy and balanced, then that would also be expressed to its fullest extent. If we ever experienced psychiatric problems and there's some stress or some anger, then on the full moon these will be expressed to their fullest extent.
In agriculture, for example, there is an ancient understanding of following the cycles of the Moon in terms of when to plant seeds for crops. Generally one plants things, the understanding was, on the start of the waxing moon, because with the waxing moon, things are starting to increase in the environment. The (gravitational pull of the) moon brings energy, water, up from the depths of the soil, up to the surface so when we plant the seed it gets all that richness and fullness and the full nutrient benefit. Then on the waning moon, when things start to wind down, that's when energy would go into a pause. That's when you would maybe till the soil, to get it back in preparation for the next cycle; for maximizing the nutrients in the soil.
Then often on the full moon or just after is when you might harvest the crop, pick things when they're at their fullness. Then they often would have a celebration. The full moon celebration is something that was always done in traditional times. They would celebrate at that time, at the end of the harvest. So, this is just a bit of a taste of the understanding of how we are not distant, we are not separate from the planets. The universe means we are a “uni-verse”. Everything is one. We are all connected. There's some key understandings we want to touch on in terms of this understanding of Jyotish or astrology. The first is that the planets, in a sense, are a reflection back to us of our life. Just as the planets or the stars light up the night sky; the understanding of Jyotish is to light up our life, to give us a greater vision of what's coming in our life so we can negotiate that better.
The analogy I often use is a wave, or waves on the ocean for a surfer. Out on their surfboard it would be very beneficial for them to know that in 2 minute’s time, or in 10 minute’s time, or in half an hour’s time; there's going to be a fantastic set of waves coming in off the shore. So they can paddle out and get in position and be ready for when these beautiful waves and this nice big swell comes in. It would also be of great benefit to a surfer to know that in a minute's time or 5 minute’s time; there's going to be a really big, nasty, barreling, gnarly, (whatever-the-latest-surfing-terms are for) dumping wave that is going to wipe out half the surfers at the beach. If you knew that ahead of time, as a surfer, you could take remedial action.
You could decide, “I'm going to get out of here, I'm going to go in and have a pint of beer at the local kiosk,” or “I'm going to walk up the beach and go up to the next surf spot, half a mile up the beach,” or “I'm going to be ready for this gnarly wave and I'm just going to duck dive. I've been practicing for the last six months and can hold my breath underwater and that's going to be really good practice. I can dive under this wave and come out the other side, and no problem,” or “I might just paddle up 100 meters to the left, so that I missed that wave and get out of the way.” So this is an analogy for the next key understanding with astrology, and that is that things are not fixed in stone.
What if I don't want to know my future?
One of the main problems people have today with astrology is, “I don't want to know what's going to happen to me. I don't want to know what influence is going to come next year.” What this means is that we have a feeling that astrology is fixed that it's like going to see a psychic or clairvoyant where we learn that something is going to happen on this day. This is actually not the true understanding. The understanding is that we have free will. So the influence that we get from the planets is there and it is fixed in one sense, but it doesn't affect our ability to have our own free will.
So, this is the analogy of the surfer with the waves. If we can understand life, as any surfer understands the tides and all the influences that affect the ocean; it's possible ahead of time, to know what's coming in terms of the ‘waves on the ocean’.
The surfers still have free will. They can train for a long time to build up their paddling strength, they can become more skillful as a surfer so they can get out of the way of harmful waves, or ride the big waves. They can improve their oxygen consumption, or how long they can hold their breath so if there does come a gnarly bad wave, they can dive under the wave. They have a lot of control about how smooth, or enjoyable, or blissful their experience of surfing is. If they don't do any training, they don't improve their skill as a surfer, they don't improve their endurance or their fitness or their strength, then they're not going to enjoy the experience as much. They're not going to be able to ride the bigger waves, or take advantage of those. They're not going to be able to get out of the way of difficult circumstances.
Karma, DNA, Genes & Astrology
Astrological influences are just that; they’re the trends, they’re the tendencies, they’re the influences. Then it's up to us to actually live our life and be masters of our destiny. The planets are a reflection of our life. In a sense, they are our karma. We've had a podcast earlier on karma.
In modern times we understand that we have genes, we have genetic information that we're born with; in each cell of our body, there's our DNA, our genetic information which dictates, to a large extent, our predisposition to certain things. We still have free will, though, about how we live our lives. Our genetic information, in the vedic understanding, is our ‘karmic imprint’. We are born at a certain time, to certain parents, in a certain location in the world based on our karma. What we need, to live the life we need to go through to evolve is according to our level of past karma. What's important is the third understanding.
The third understanding relates to why a lot of people dismiss astrology, or don't like to look into it further. It is the understanding that there are good predictions and there are bad predictions. Another way of looking at it is we can use the understanding of astrology, in an enlightened way, a wise way to actually benefit and help our life. Or it could be used incorrectly, without wisdom, in an ignorant way; which can, of course, cause more trouble or harm or suffering in our lives. In a sense, it's no different to anything else in our lives.
You go to a doctor, and the doctor can be absolutely fantastic. There are wise, intelligent, enlightened, doctors who know exactly what's wrong with you and give you the perfect prescription and when you follow it, you feel better. Or you could go to a doctor that’s got their own agenda, they give you a prescription, and it creates more problems than you started with. Or it could be an accountant - you can have a fantastic accountant that makes you thousands of dollars extra each year, or you can have a dodgy accountant, that gets you to invest in something that's terrible and you lose money.
Astrology is similar.
We need to find an astrologer, an expert, a pundit who we resonate with, or we have confidence in, who has some higher level of understanding. Just like selecting a GP, a naturopath, a personal trainer, a dietician, or a health coach. We would test them out. Does this feel good? Do I feel better? Does it make sense when I do what they suggest? Is my life better? if not, you find another expert or pundit. It’s a level of insight or understanding that we get from whoever is giving out that knowledge.
How does it work? Astrological Birth Charts
The next step is a basic understanding of how it works, and I'd like to say right up front that I am no expert in this area. I'm not a Jyotish expert or an astrology expert. I use it for myself, so this is a very basic understanding. I’ll just do an introduction to give us some insight into how it’s possible that something outside of, these bright lights in the sky that we see through a telescope; how they can maybe, actually, influence our life.
The understanding, basically, is that when we are born, we’re born at a certain time in a certain location, and that time and location are significant. It represents what we call our birth chart. At the time of our birth, all the stars, the planets, the constellations, and the lunar constellations, the nakshatras, are at a certain location in the sky. So, there's a certain influence coming to us as a newborn baby right from the first moment we are alive, from our first breath. There's a certain constellation that is on the eastern horizon when we're born and that's different for all of us. That constellation gives us what's called our lagna, or our birth sign. You often hear someone is a Scorpio rising, or an Aries rising, or a Taurus rising; based on the time we're born and what constellation is rising at that time, that will give us certain influences or tendencies, or characteristics about our life.
There are 12 different ‘houses’ that also give us the different parts of our life. Certain ‘houses’ relate to father, others relate to mother. Some relate to siblings. Some relate to, work and finances, others relate to relationships. The constellations move through the sky at different times in our life, so they have a different influence at different times of our life.
We also have the planets and the planets are moving around the sun. As they move, they give different influences on our life. It's the combination of the constellations, the movement of the planets, what houses they are transiting in, what parts of the sky they are transiting, which give us our experience of life. This is the understanding we touched on being brought out by people like Dr. Tony Nader, and was understood by the great astrologers throughout time. These are great ancient teachings/traditions/wisdoms; for example that Saturn is a planet often considered quite a spiritual planet. It governs loss, delays, grief, which you might think are all negative things.
The other key understanding with Jyotish and astrology; is nothing is negative or positive, it's just the viewpoint (the perspective) we are looking at it from. So, many people, from a Western perspective, often do look at Saturn and think of it as a negative planet. However, if you are looking at something from the perspective of a material viewpoint; such as loss of your job, loss of a loved one, loss of a new relationship or whatever; then yes, that could be seen as a negative. From the Vedic perspective; there is also a loss of ignorance, or misunderstanding.
A yogi or someone coming from a spiritual life, embraces the influence of Saturn because it represents the loss of the ignorance of life. It's the ignorance of life, which clouds or obstructs our full expression or understanding of spiritual growth and enlightenment. Yogis and spiritual seekers look forward to the times where Saturn has a big influence. It’s called “sati sati”, which is the Vedic term for,“Saturn return”. It’s a seven-and-a-half-year period that we all go through in our lives 2 or 3 times. It’s when Saturn is transiting, just before, through and after the Moon sign in our chart. It's often on a material level; a sort of outward, external level of life, which can be quite challenging as it often comes with big changes.
From a spiritual perspective, it can be often wonderful. The great yogis will often look forward to this ‘sati sati’ time, because it is an opportunity to gain enlightenment.
It all depends on our birth chart, because Saturn, for example, is going to be in different locations within the birth charts of different people. For some people having a Saturn influence can be very wonderful, they really enjoy it. For someone else, it could be really challenging times for them. It's the same with all the planets. ‘Shukra’, or Venus, is often associated with the arts, creativity, luxuries and wealth in life, this is often our comforts. So, people often enjoy ‘shukra’ influence. ‘Mangal’, or Mars, is often associated with the dynamic, fiery, competitive, combative sort of process. Mars is the lord of my chart.
My rising sign is Aries, and Mars is the lord of Aries so that's really predominant in my life. It’s energy and dynamism, activity, and often that combative nature, which a lot of athletes or business people have. Mercury is more about communication, Jupiter is about knowledge, education and wisdom. The planets themselves have a ‘personality’; they offer traits that have certain strengths or weaknesses. We are governed, or ruled by, certain planets or combinations of planets, which gives us the influences in our lives.
Practical Uses - Naming babies, dharma, relationships
How might this understanding of the planets’ affect on us, in terms of astrology, be used in a practical way? Traditionally it was used in many different ways. The first way was in navigating our life; to make it smoother and more enjoyable. Having a birth chart done, in traditional times, was common practice. Everyone in the whole village, tribe or community, would have their birth chart done. It would be the very first thing that was done. As the baby was born, the local astrologer, pundit or doctor would record very precisely the time the child was born. Then soon after the birth the astrologer would take the birth time and create the birth chart, which would give the foundation for things such as naming the child.
Traditionally, they believed in something called ‘namkaran’. The birth chart - the time a person is born - has a sound associated with it, a favorable or auspicious sound. That sound - if it's used in the naming of the child; that first syllable or the first sound that represents that human entity, that soul, will create a positive or favorable influence for that child throughout its entire life. If the sound at the birth time is maybe “gud”, you would call the child “Gudron”. Where the sound was "sha”, you might call the child “Shamala”. That would influence the child's life by naming it correctly based on the birth chart.
The birth chart, of course, also would be used to give a prediction of the different influences throughout the child's life through what they call the ‘dasha periods’. The ‘dasha periods’ are the phases, or the cycles of life, and they're usually governed by a primary planet. Someone in a Jupiter cycle, for example, would have influences of Jupiter for a phase of their life. The chart would actually tell them, give them instructions or indications of the times they’re best to learn new information or maybe go into studies. What a person’s ‘dharma’ is, or their higher purpose in life, whether they're a baker, an engineer, a doctor or a teacher, is based on the birth chart. It can give indications of what predispositions for certain careers or vocations a person may have or how best to fulfill their ‘dharma’.
Jyotish and understanding our birth charts takes away much of the stress of trying to figure out all of what we attempt to figure out on a daily basis. Kids getting to the end of their high school certificate, year 11, year 12, and not knowing what they are going to do. If you had some indication, astrologically, of the areas that are going to be most favorable to you, it would remove lots of guesswork and false starts. While this may not seem like something you want to do at the moment, in two years' time you're going to go into a completely new ‘dasha’ period. A different phase where you’re going to get a whole lot of support of nature for studying medicine, agriculture or geography, for example. Or maybe you’re more inclined toward sports, you’ve got to do something where you use your hands because you're very good with your hands; you've got great creative insight or you should do something in a business sense where you help businesses, just to really narrow things down.
Once again, it's not that jyotish and a birth chart would dictate what a person does, because we always back it up with our own intuition. This is the real, final understanding that jyotish, or astrology is not something that we blindly accept. Yes or no, good or bad; we use it and we let it resonate with our own intuition or gut feel. Does it feel right from outside as well? Remember, we have free will. So, we take the advice from the astrology, but then we either reinforce it through our own gut feelings. “Yes, this feels right. Yes, I would enjoy that. That just makes sense.” Or, “No, that just doesn't feel right. You know it might be favorable for me from an astrological sense or this pundit has suggested this, but I just wouldn't enjoy that.” The ideal is when both match up. We have the astrological indication that says this, and then we also from our side, resonate with that and our gut intuition says, “Yes, this feels good.” So this will give us a lot of confidence.<br
Compatibility (marriage or business), Muhurtas (auspicious beginnings)
Throughout one's life, once the birth chart is done, one would use that for all sorts of different things; like relationships, for example, so they have a science of compatibility. If you're going into a new relationship, which might be a romantic relationship with someone for potential marriage and starting a family; or it could be a relationship in a business sense. You're looking to go into partnership with someone in a business, what would happen is the birth charts of the 2 individuals or the 3 or 4 – ( I’m not talking about polygamy here), but in terms of the business sense you might have 3 or 4 or 5 different parties - the birth charts of each would be considered by the expert.
The expert might say;: “Yes, these two people have very high compatibility. “The likelihood of them having a very happy, smooth relationship together would be very, very likely.” Or “These two people, according to the birth charts, this person wants to travel all over the world and make lots of money, and this person is really just a homebody. They want to go and live in the country and plot their little patch of soil and not have much to do with society. So in a few years’ time, you two are going to separate.” All these things can be given some really strong indication by comparing the birth charts of the individuals involved in the situation.
Another aspect of the use of birth charts and astrology is what's called ‘muhurta’ or ‘muhurt’. Muhurta: the science of auspicious beginnings. In our life we start things at regular intervals; we start new studies, new jobs, new families, relationships, new businesses, new crops, we start writing a book, we start things at regular times throughout our lives. For the really significant things in our life, such as new relationships, new businesses, purchases of real estate, or buying a business the understanding of ‘muhurta’ allows us to begin at an auspicious time or times.
We mentioned earlier about growing crops according to the phases of the moon. There are certain times to plant the crop or the seed, where you will have a more favorable crop at the end.
There are certain times, as a surfer, if you catch the wave when the wave is just reaching its peak you will generally have a much more enjoyable experience, because the wave will do all the work. You can just ride the wave and enjoy it. Whereas if you try and catch the wave when the wave is crashing down, then that experience is not going to be very enjoyable, because you got the timing wrong or not at the most auspicious point.
So, you would get the birth charts done, and there would be a time or a series of times, little windows, where you would start a significant activity. I recently bought some land. When we get to the point of building on the land, there will be a ‘muhurta’ that will be given to me. That is a window of time when it's best to start that process so that we generally get more favorable support of nature for that undertaking. The same would be true with a couple who are getting married, or trying to conceive a child; or someone who's taking over a new business, starting a new, significant job, or signing a significant contract.
They would have a ‘muhurta’ - a specific time where if one can, if it's practical, start that activity to get the support of nature. Like getting the support of the wave on the ocean, rather than trying to swim against the wave. You’ve all probably had this experience. Some things you start and they just flowed. You’ve got support of nature. Whereas other things have been difficult, or strained, or have challenges and obstructions and delays.
A final wisdom of the ancients is the use of gemstones. Traditionally, different gems were associated with the different planets and being able to pacify or strengthen the different planetary influences. Diamonds, rubies, yellow sapphires, red coral and many other different types of gems were known to have a certain vibration, or energetic resonance. When they're worn on the body - when they're placed on the body as a necklace or a ring, that energetic influence would be chosen according to the individual. It is not favorable for everyone to wear diamonds, or to have a ruby, or a yellow sapphire. It depends a lot on your individual constitution, and that's often based on your individual birth chart and what gemstone is best for you; a pearl necklace is not for everyone. All the different gems have that understanding.
The final point before we get to some little takeaway tips for you; is really what the great contribution of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has been to this whole science of astrology. My background, of course, is Maharishi AyurVeda, that’s my training. My training, actually, was in Maharishi Vedic health education. It was very broad education on all the different aspects of Vedic science - these ancient sciences we've spoken about. Traditionally, or even up to very recently, in terms of astrology what most people would get would be just simply recommendations from the astrologer.
For example: “Don't start a business now, wait six months when you go into this new phase, and be really careful about your prostate over the next few months because of this influence.” “Don't worry about trying to start a new business for 3 years. Try and have your first child in the next 18 months because it's really good.”, these sorts of things. “And don't go driving a car late at night over the next few months because you're likely to have a car accident.”
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought back to this whole understanding the practice of what's called “yagya”. Yagyas are remedial measures for astrology. Maharishi said, from his insight, from Brahman consciousness; that we don't have to accept negative influences from the planets. We can also promote, or magnify any positive influences from the planets, and how that's done is through the understanding, and application of what's called ‘yagya’. 'Yagyas are Vedic performances done by experts trained in this ancient science to positively influence an individual’s karma. To help ‘burn the ‘seeds’ of our karma, or to neutralize the effects of one's karma or the planetary influences on our life. This is done through the science of sound. The Vedic understanding is that everything in the universe is sound, its vibration.
On the deepest level of nature's functioning, those primordial sounds that basically express into all the material expressions of life including our individual mind and body - that can also be influenced. People who are properly trained from the level of the transcendent; they develop their own consciousness, and they chant. They understand that there are certain chants that create certain vibrational effects throughout the universe that can influence the effects of the different planets on our lives.
Again it's a bit like a wave. You’re out in a lake and there's someone who produced a wave and there’s a wave of water coming towards you as you're standing in the middle of the lake. You can stand there and you can just accept that this wave is going to come and it's going to influence you. It's going to come in and rise up and hit you in the belly button. Or you can do something from your own side to create another wave. So you would create a wave from where you're standing in the middle of the lake. You would send a wave out across the water. As those two waves meet, there would be some neutralization of the first wave that was coming from the edges of the lake. So, you have some influence on that. ‘Yagyas’ are in a sense, the same thing.
The experts do these performances to create an effect on the level of sound or vibration, universally, that would affect particular planets. The chants that are done are done to ‘appease’ the different planets. Different ones for Saturn, for ‘rahu’, (which is a node of the moon), or for ‘chandra’ the Moon, or ‘surya’ the Sun. Either to promote the beneficial effect of that planet, or to neutralize any negative effects of that planet. This is really what Maharishi brought back to the understanding of ‘jyotish’; to make it a holistic science so we don’t have to accept the negative influences. We have some power from our own side to avert the danger that has not yet come.
As we know, karma can be very, very extreme. My understanding of it is there are different levels, or grades of our karma - astrological influences. For example, you might get recommended by an astrologer to be really careful driving your car over the next month because there's a high likelihood that you could have an accident. If this is a very low-level influence, all you might need to do is be well-rested and just be a bit more mindful when you're driving. So you'll notice that things are coming up on the road and you can easily brake or slow down or avoid those because it's just a very minimal influence. At a higher level of influence, you might need to be really, really careful. You may need to actually just stop driving for certain periods where you think there might be higher likelihood of an accident. You might have to take actual action that you otherwise would not. It might actually mean delays to your travel plans, or it might mean you have to change activities because you actually don't drive for those weeks.
At a high level (of karma) you might need to take remedial actions such as a ‘yagyas’. You might have a ‘yagya’ to help neutralize or reduce the influence of the effect of what's happening with that planet. As I understand, at an even higher level; at some point there could be an influence or a karmic influence which there's almost nothing that you can do about. It’s ‘set in stone’. You need to experience, at least to some degree, that karma. That's what is due to you. So, even with ‘yagyas’ - you might try to do multiple yagyas, you rest well, you meditate, but still there's some influence that can do almost nothing about. Nothing you can do that stops you from getting in a car, and you have an accident and that's just your karma. That doesn't mean, even at that highest level, that there's no point in us doing what we can, because everything is subjective. There will always be levels of challenge, or obstacles, or suffering in our lives.
Even in terms of death, some suggestion is that at certain times in a person's life, that's just their time; their ‘number’s up’. There's almost nothing they can do to extend their life, even with the yagyas. These remedial practices of ‘yagyas’, herbs, meditating, having a good diet, or exercising - all these things that we can do to improve our life and our health; still have their benefit, because even if it is at the point where we are going to drop the body - we're going to pass on. That death or that transition can still be smoother, or more peaceful, or filled with more contentment than if we haven't done those things. Otherwise, the death or the passing could have been more stressful, or there's more pain or there's more suffering.
So everything we do, based on our free will, has its effect. Just as the planets will always have their influence. The idea of using astrology is to use it to our advantage, Heyam dukham anagatam: Avert the danger that has not yet come, and equally to gain the support of when the planets are beneficial, or favorable, or auspicious; to ride those waves to enjoy our life to its maximum.
Some little tips:
1. Don’t compare your life with others. This is a big one that I really, really learned and valued from ‘jyotish’. Often I would compare my life, as many of us do, to other people. “Oh, their business is going so well, I wish I was them.” “They have such good health. They never get sick. I wish I was them.” ”They have such a great marriage, I wish I was them. It’s so good.” The teaching of ‘jyotish’, is that we are all different. Just because someone else has something good in their life - that might be the case, but it's also the case that they've got a different astrological blueprint. They have a different birth chart. They probably have a different planet that is governing their life at that time. They might have what's called an exalted ‘shukra’ or Venus. ‘Venus exalted’ means Venus is highly favorable, all its qualities; wealth, artistic expression, luxuries and comforts in life - they're getting the support of that, whereas you might be in a cycle where you don't have that at all, and you're in a completely different period that might be governed by Saturn or Mercury. So, you can't compare yourself with others. All we can do is to use the understanding to improve our own life. We all have our own karma, and that's what we want to use this understanding to help us with.
2. Do not fear astrology. Often people fear what they don’t yet know. ‘Oh, I don't want to know about it, ignorance is bliss’,but I hope we've brought out this understanding that it's nothing to be feared. We just have to use it in a beneficial way. It's like anything: fire can be used in a positive, life-supporting way to heat your house and to cook your bread, or fire can be used detrimentally and it can be harmful. Use the understanding of astrology to the point that it's beneficial and helpful to you, and maybe not using it to a degree that you find it stressful, or harmful.
3. Remember, we have complete free will. We decide whether we try and catch that wave, or we duck under it. We decide whether we go and have the holiday at that time or we don't. So, use your intuition - your gut feel. What I would suggest if some of this is resonating with you is to go by step by step.
4. I’m very happy to give some basic recommendations of astrologers I know, to get you started. Those who already practice Transcendental Meditation may be familiar with the Maharishi Jyotish Pundits.
Do what you would do with any other practitioner in any other field of your life; Try 2, 3 or even 4 different ones and test them out. Trial and error, just as you would with a doctor. I would do the same in this regard, with vedic pundits, try them out.
I suggest you get them to give you a reading on your life to its current point. If you're 20 years old, 30 years old, or 80 years old; you could say, “I want to get a general birth chart reading done. Please tell me about my life up to this point.” Then you can get a gauge of how accurate they are. If they tell you, “You are likely to have six kids, have 14 marriages so far, and have been in 6 serious car accidents”, and you've had none of those, you’re probably not going to keep using that person. If the person says, “You have 3 or 4 kids, all boys, you’ve always had great success in work and made lots of money, you've bought a lot of properties and you love the fine arts”, and all of that's true; then you can have a lot more confidence in that pandit.
That's the way I would go about it, ‘test the water'. Be curious.
5. Remember, the more specific you want the advice, the more specific you need to ask your questions Just asking, “Is my life going to be happy?” - that's a very vague and general question. If they say “Yes”, it's very hard for you to come back with any sort of definitive insight, because happiness is very subjective. If you say “Am I likely to have 6 children, or 2 children, or 12 children, or no children?”, that’s more specific.
6. The goal of all this is that it helps your life. Jyotish is here to light up the path of our life. It's nothing to be feared. If we know the influences that are coming, we can take action or recourse to improve that situation. It might not always be good; whether it's poor finances, or poor health, or trouble in a relationship, but knowing it in advance, can enable us to do something about it. Enjoy the journey.
This is actually one of my favorite jokes. So for all the married couples out there, I think you'll really enjoy this one. If you're a woman, and your husband is not listening to this one then please share it with him.
It's about astrology and it’s about a woman who was traveling through India. She finally got to India after many years of wanting to go there, because of her husband, she’d always invite him and he'd never come. He's always too busy at work. He wanted to stay home, watch the football. So she finally took a friend and she said, “I'm just going to India I want to go. I want to learn all the old traditions.”
She's walking in a little town one day, and there's a psychic, a clairvoyant, psychic reader sign up. She says, “I always wanted to know my future”. So she goes in. She sits down. The woman has purple hair and long fingernails and she says, “Yes, what would you like, lovely lady?”
The woman says, “I would really love to know my future. Can you tell me what's ahead for me in my life?”
The clairvoyant looks into her crystal ball. She says, “Whoa. Oh, oh, oh, oh.” She looks up at the woman. She says, “Oh, I'm dreadfully sorry. I don't know how to tell you this. But I see that your husband - he's going to come to a violent, horrific, gruesome end. I'm so sorry. But that's what I see. I'm really, really sorry.”
The woman is in absolute shock for 5 or 10 minutes, she can't speak. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, she looks up at the psychic and with all her strength she says, “
Do you think I'll get acquitted?”