JYOTISH SHASTRA 2
Achintya avyakta rupaya nirgunaya gunatmane |Samasta jagadaadhara murtaye Brahmane Namaha ||
Salutations to the Supreme Brahman who cannot be visualised in the mind or
otherwise, who is beyond the mind and who is nirgun, without a physical form in whom manifests the trigunas of Satwa, Rajas and Tamas.
The Ācārya started the session by chanting the initial mantras of Jyothisha. He went on to describe that the above mantra was from the famous Sanskrit treatise on Jyothisha, Surya Siddhanta. This was an insight as we are generally aware of the Surya Siddhanta being one of the primary written books on Astronomy. There are 18 Munis attributed to the contribution of Jyothisha and they are always invoked for their blessings. It is to be noted that no known pictures of these 18 Munis, are available, however, at the Murugan temple in Palani, adjacent to the main sanctum sanctorum, one can find idols of the 18 Munis engraved in stone. They are also known as Ashtadasha Acharyas.
Jyothisha is also known as ‘Vedachakshu’ or eyes of the Vedas. It is important to understand that in all sashtras or forms of learnings, be it Ayurveda, or Natya, the knowledge always originates from the Supreme or Brahma, hence the first of the 18 Muni’s is Brahma Rishi, next is Vashishta, then Atri, Manu, Paulasthya, Rauhasya, Marici, Angiras, Vedavyasa(author Vyasa Hora), Narada, Shaunatha, Bhrighu(author of Nadi granthas), Chavana, Yavanacharya(author of Yavana Jathakam), Garga (authored Garga Bhagavatham, also composed Nakshathra Sookthamwhich is a part of Atharva Veda. Kashyapa , Parashara (author of Brihat Parashara Hora), and the last of them is Soorya Muni(author of Surya Siddhantha).
Jyothisha offers two distinct paths to the seekers of Truth; the Ganapathi way and the Skanda(Subramanya) way; guiding the individual to the path of Moksha or enlightenment. Unfortunately, it is a matter of great regret that today’s jyothishis never touch upon this aspect, but merely stress on forecasts and use this ancient wisdom as a tool to garner material wealth and fame.
Let us have a slightly detailed look at the two paths to the “Eternal Truth” discussed by the Ācārya.
Skanda or Subramanya in his quest for Truth rode on his mount the peacock, in pursuit of truth and he unveils knowledge on the evolution of karma, the reactions of karma, the structure of karma, understanding of prarabdha karma1(collection of past karmas to be experienced in this life) which is a part of the sanchita karma (accumulated karma). The name Subramanya itself has such a deep meaning. Subramanya is also known as Deva Senapati or Commander of the Devas, which in itself is fascinating and improbable, considering the fact that he is a mere boy of about 6-7 years. How is this possible; conflicts happen at two different planes, the external and the internal. To fight the external there is the need for force, strength and power, however we are aware that even the most ferocious and angry individual is calmed by the innocence and unconditional love of a small child. Hence for spiritual learning and enlightenment it is essential for the mind and the thought to be pure. The inner purity is like the innocence of a small child. The innocence that can win over anything. Subramanya is also known by other names like Aandavan, Velayudhan and so on.
The swift-flying peacock symbolises the enchanting ego of an individual, and Subramanya riding his mount denotes overcoming of this beautiful ego, a necessity to understand Karma.
On this occasion Ācārya also touched upon the mount of Ganesha, mooshika, which symbolises desire, controlling which is of utmost importance.
The other path which is very short but difficult is the path of Ganesha which is to directly seek the Truth within the self, an inward journey.
The devata of Jyothisha Sashtra is Subramanya , hence if one seeks knowledge in this area, the blessing and grace of Subramanya is indispensable. Subramanya is also credited to have destroyed Tarakasura (taraka is ego) Tarakasura symbolises Ego, at a human level, with each of us desiring to be the star amongst others, a form of ego. There is a saying that at Pazhani the abode of Lord Muruga, one cannot completely count the number of steps to the top. This again is symbolic of the fact that for the individual who sets out to seek the Truth, the time that will be taken to achieve the goal can never be known in advance. ‘Jyoti’ in the word Jyotisha symbolises Consciousness or Supreme Awareness. Hence Jyotisha is the Science of Consciousness or Cosmic Intelligence.
Today’s temples are generally constructed on a bought on land bought from someone or land donated by someone unlike in earlier days, when temples would only be constructed at a suitable land after considering the various factors of Vastu Shastra.
Jyothisha Deeksha can be compared to a situation where the electrical wiring is complete and is waiting for the electrical connection. The moment power is supplied everything becomes live. The moment of connection is the catalyst of change, when the individual will start seeing the world in a way where nothing is bad or good.
“Everything that is happening is the parinama of Karma” The moment the mind understands this subtle truth, the individual becomes Lord Rama, said the Acharya. He was citing the incident from Ramayana, when Lord Rama was taking leave for vanavasa and he informed one and all that Kaikeyi Mata and Mandara Mata should not be blamed for anything that has happened. After all it is my Niyogam (loosely translated as fate) and has nothing to do with what they have done or how they have acted upon. The lord did not have any resentment against any individual, as his mind was clear. Hence it is important to look at Jyotisha as a Spiritual Science. After all this is how the Maharishis have tried to explain Jyotisha.
Ācārya then touched upon the word Hora, which indicates the karma done by the individual in the past, which can include all our past lives. According to Jidu Krishnamurthy the ego has an age of 1000’s of years; what the individual is today is a parinamam of the tapas of 1000’s of years, hence for each of us to be together in this session today, is a result of the individual tapas of all of us. Of course, one cannot define this, after all it is like asking a vellarumkallu (quartz stone) who created it and presented this form to it. If the stone could speak it would say, it is not a single person or entity, I was a rock many years back, the sun, the rain and the weather, weathered me down to this present form which has been transformed into this beautiful idol. In the same way numerous forms of karma, that have happened in the path of our lives,such as facing hardships, failures, victories, experiencing and sharing the empathy and sympathy, result in the formation of “Aham”, the “I”, the “Ego”, which needs to be weathered down for the purified form to emerge.
A good or bad thought is enough to bring changes. Hence it is important to purify the ego by churning it in the yagagni of life and karma. It is like the offering of butter to Lord Krishna. The Lord is not looking for the physical butter but the sacrificial yagna of karma offered in the form of butter.
The Ācārya next focussed on the ritual of ‘Ellu Villaku’ (Black Sesame Lamp), which of late has become a very common practice in almost every temple. Referring to Bhagavad Gita, he continued, “yajñārthāt karmaṇo ‘nyatra lokoyaḿ karma-bandhanaḥ tadarthaḿ karma Kaunteya mukta-sańgaḥ samācara”, doing work in this physical world should be in the form of a sacrifice, work that is done not just for the physical benefits, but for pleasing Lord Vishnu. Consider karma as a form of yagna which can lead the individual to moksha. The lighting of the ellu thiri (villaku) is the shortest form of yagna and symbolically it means burning off the individual’s inner ignorance. Unaware of this deep implication we look at the activity at the mere physical level, buying and burning numerous ellu thiri’s. We foolishly believe that solutions to our problems can be purchased with wealth, externally. Sadly the problem is within the individual and the correction is also needed in the ‘Self’. An activity is composed of many aspects, including and not limited to observing, inferring, understanding, executing, dispensing, and many other subtle facets…
Jyothisha deals with self-realisation, and within Jyothisha itself there are thousands of ways for liberation, secrets and methods that reveal itself only to the sincere seeker!
Onam is a few months away, let us understand a bit about Onam from a Jyothisha perspective, said the Ācārya. Onam begins on the nakshathra ‘Atham’; it is also the birth star of Swami Vivekananda. Atham’s devata is Shiva. Atham to Thiruonam is 10 days, basically it is 10 days of ‘Sadhana’. Many of us are aware that from Atham the laying of the pookalam(Rangoli with flowers) begins and the design of the kolam is circular, however on the 7th day(‘Moolam’ nakshathra) the kolam gets 4 corners. The laying of the pookalam with different varieties of flowers denotes the birth and growth of the human culminating on the 10th day of Thiruonam, when one is expected to install and consecrate Onathappan(symbolising Vishnu) suggesting the joining of the atma to the paramathma (or self realisation). Surprisingly no thantri(Priest) is required to install and consecrate Vishnuin the courtyard of the houses!
The star Atham is also the nakshathra of revolution, not externally but within, individual born on this nakshathra have revolutionary ideas and thoughts. Atham is from the Kanni Rashi, which is considered as the force of kundalini.
Ācārya then focussed on another important sacrament of human life and its association to Jyotisha, namely vivaham(marriage). The sankalpa of vivaham from the bharatiya context starts with the union of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi. On the day of the vivaham it is the groom who arrives at the home of the bride and it is also the bride who first garlands the groom. We generally address the couple as the bride and the groom, vadhu-varan, similarly Lakshmi-Narayanan, Uma-Maheshwaran; here we can notice that the woman is addressed first then the man; emphasising the importance of the woman. The objective of marriage is moksha. There are 8 different types of marriage; Brahma, Prajapatya, Daiva, Arsha, Asura, Gandharva, Rakshasa, and Paishacha. Unfortunately today the marriage ceremony cannot be attributed to any of the 8 types. It is only the economics that reigns supreme. However as the objective of marriage is moksha or liberation from the belots of samsara, jyothisha play an important role in this samskara. Marriage lays the foundation for the family and hence there is the need for ‘porutham’(compatibility) in many aspects. The granthas talk of 25 poruthams, of which 10 are important, and amongst the 10, 5 are most important for a good marriage . The Ācārya went on to explain that if there is mana porutham or compatibility of the minds then all other forms of porutham are baseless. He cited that for Brahma, Prajapati, Daiva and Gandharva only mana porutham was considered. After all marriage is not a business transaction of commodities, but an auspicious association Lakshmi and Vishnu leading to moksha.
“Horethya horaatravikalpmeke, vaangchhanthi poorvaaparavarnnalopaal” chanting this Ācārya continued, 'ahoratra' meaning day/night and symbolically it means happiness and sorrow (in life). The compounding of the two Sanskrit words Ahas and Ratri gives the word ‘ahoratra’. 24 hours as per modern astronomy, one revolution of earth, which is 360°. If we drop ‘a’ from the beginning and ‘tra’ from the end of ahoratra, what remains is ‘hora’, hence it also deals with the good and bad aspects of life. In Jyotisha, every aspect has to be analysed and understood in two planes, the external and the internal. Here it is important to understand that both are not separate. It is just like observing a huge tree. One can see the tree physically which is symbolic of life as we see. The roots of the tree are not visible; however, it is the roots that hold the tree together. In the same way our inner plane needs to have a strong foundation and one should ensure that it does not get corrupted and weakened. However, the reverse is not the same, a little injury or damage externally will eventually get restored, just like in the tree. Here it is important to also understand that at the inner plane if one is righteous in one’s thoughts, decisions and actions, the entire universe will stand by him and vice versa! Outer world is the reflection of the inner world, what ever the individual is going through is the outcome of the individual’s own doing, be it good or bad. Hence according to jyothisha it is not necessary to meet the individual, even the place where the individual dwells is indicative of the person. Similarly, the kitchen in a house can portray the spirituality of the house, in the western world however it is the bathroom that does so. In the Bharathiya samskaram, the kitchen is the place of homam. In a new house Ganapathi homam is conducted in the kitchen.
Anything and everything that we do at every moment of life has an explanation in jyothisha. The ten-day celebrations of Onam are a means to conquer the ten indriyas or ten senses, 5 active and 5 cognitive. Similarly, the three steps of land symbolise the trigunas. Onam also brings into memory the Vamana avatar and how Vamana asked for 3 steps of land; here we can visualize an infantile thought process, if given the right nourishment, it can expand to infinity. IN Sanskrit Onam is indicated as Sravanam, the period of knowledge. Onam falls in the month of Chingam, which is Simha Rashi. It is a month of Atma Sadhana. It is also a month wherein famous personalities have been born; Sri. Aurobindo, Narayana Guru, Ayyankali, Brahmananda Siva Yogi, Sahodaran Ayyapan. Chingam is also the first month of the year according to kollavarsham. An individual’s karma has a profound effect on their sreyas, and preyas, at time even leading to their destruction. So all forms of pariharams(external remedial measures) are basically parivarthanam(changes) that should happen within. Hence it is the individual’s karma that needs to be offered as a payasam (remedial measure) to the Supreme. Perform the karma as a yagna for the benefit of the world. It also means that every quality is within the individual, only it needs to be activated.
Ācārya also touched upon the days of the week, Ravivāra or Sunday, Somavāra or Monday, Mangala, Budha, Guru, Shukra and Shanivāra. All the days represent the planets.
................to be contd.
1Prarabdha is the portion of the past karma which is responsible for the individual’s present body or incarnation, the portion of the sanchita or accumulated karma which the human life acquires in the present incarnation, one that cannot be avoided or changed, one that will only be exhausted through experiences.