Astrology is both Science and Art. Hence only the talented can appreciate and understand it. Rightly Visnugupta declares that nobody other than a sage can master the ocean-like science of astrology. The great Varahamihira declares, “No sin will creep into a place that is sanctified by the presence of a true astrologer. No person who studies and divines the course of destiny will ever be found in hell, but will reside permanently in the world of Brahman.”
In this book an attempt has been made to give a good account of the science of astrology, with a view to making the reader a good and true astrologer. It also shows that astrology does not make man a fatalist, a helpless automation in the hands of a merciless Fate. It should, on the other hand, help him to take to self-exertion and self-help. This hoary lore, according to the author, is to be practiced not for selfish ends, but to guide the needy and the distressed, to remove the cause of their suffering and to turn their attention towards God.
Prof. Ramakrishna Bhat, a popular Sanskrit teacher and astrologer, retired in 1947 as the Head of Sanskrit Department of the Hindu College, Delhi University. His original writings in Sanskrit include the Maha Kavya, Sri Sivanandavilasa, Sri Ramadasagita, Arjunah etc. He edited and translated classical works like the Brhat Samhita of Varahamihira and Horasara of Prthuyasas.
In the History of Science, which is a branch of the intellectual history of mankind, not infrequently we come across human efforts which symbolized, as it were, man’s own imagery into the knowable world of matter and form. Very often some of these efforts, in their earlier phases, revolved round the faith that man is the microcosm, an integral part of the macrocosm. In different periods of history, the concept of macrocosm and microcosm assumed different shapes and meanings in different culture-areas.
That man is the principal figure and that the earth on Which he lives is the centre of the universe are wholly in tune with the crystallized concept of microcosm and macrocosm. An offshoot of this human inclination is that the happenings on earth geographically and in the life of man individually are, of necessity, influenced by the components of the universe, of stars and planets. It seems reasonable to suppose that the proto-elements earlier forms of astrology could be traced to this inclination of man. Perhaps, in all the ancient civilizations — in Egypt, Babylonia, India and China — when man the food gatherer became man the thinker, the nature of the proto-elements of astrology must have been more or less similar. But those elements were prone to take different shapes till they reached a stage of systematization based on recurring experiences over a long stretch of time. In this process each culture-area tried to introduce its own knowledge of experiences and this knowledge was passed on from one generation to another. Possibly, the science of astrology grew from these experiences and around the knowledge of the triad — man, earth and planets.
There are different schools of thought regarding the place of origin of astrology. It would perhaps be wrong to think of a particular place or group of people as originators of astrology. Equally wrong would it be to imagine that astrology in its present form and practice was disseminated at a particular period of history. In this short compass it is rather difficult to go into the historical influences at work from time to time in relation to the science of astrology. Suffice it to say that astrology, as stated before, gradually evolved and absorbed in its evolution the thought-structure of the culture-area in which it grew. From this standpoint it is futile indeed to think of indebtedness of one country to another, particularly in the remote ancient period when astrology was an active participant in the movement of ideas from one place to another, notably among Egypt, Babylonia, India and Greece. A chronological differentiation in this respect seems at best to be an intellectual exercise and, in effect, a conjecture.
In India, the way in which Naksatravidya, the science of stars, has been thought of even in the Vedic literature shows that it was regarded as one of the intellectual attainments. The word Naksatra means star in general as well as an asterism in the zodiacal belt. The star groups or Naksatras were referred to as Devagrahas Parts of the body of the Primordial Being, Prajapati, have been extolled in terms of Naksatras (His hand — Hasta, mind — Citra, base — Mula etc.). The Kalapurusa also has been imagined in much the same way by the later exponents of Indian astrology.
In the Vedic as well as the Post-Vedic literature including the Puranas there are innumerable references to the auspicious days in relation to the Naksatras, for marriages, ploughing and the like. Some of them were even thought of in terms of Punya or Papa Naksatras and prognostications were usually made on that basis. In the Mahabharata as well as the Ramayana there are passages which speak of inauspicious or unlucky movements with reference to Naksatras as well as planets. It seems to be fairly certain that the Naksatravidya was held in high esteem in India of the Vedic and Post-Vedic period. A knowledge of the Naksatras was necessary for a religious rite (sacrifice) called Nakssatresti as well as the srauta rite concerning the consecration of the sacred fires. In the Chandogya, it is stated that among the lores which Maharsi Narada knew was also the Naksatravidya or the Science of Stars.
The Science of Stars was, however, not all that noble and worthy of adoration as it developed. Gradually, some profane accretions and unscrupulous practices crept into the hoary Science, which was designated as the “Eye of Knowledge”, and probably the baser side of it began to manifest itself. It was for this reason perhaps that Manu thought of one whose existence depended upon the practice of astrology as unfit to participate in religious rites. Kautilya also denounced the use of astrology in ordinary life except by the royal personages in the interests of the kingdom and the subjects. A similar view is expressed in the Gautama Dharma Sutra. The Taittiriya Brahmana speaks of an astrologer (of course, a bad one) as fit to be consigned to animals. The famous Astronomer-cum Astrologer Varahamihira too condemns a bad astrologer as “Naksatrasucaka”, a sinner and one who defiles society. However, he plays extraordinary compliments to a worthy astrologer who, in his view, should know practically all branches of knowledge under the Sun, and be a guide, philosopher, and teacher to society (See Brhat Samhita, Chapter Ii). He declares in this context, “One wishing for prosperity should not dwell in a place devoid of a good astrologer. For he is the Eye and no sin will creep in where he stays”. Such an astrologer, he declares, is Panktipavana — sanctifier of a religious dinner.
The foregoing citations illustrate that astrology based on the Naksatras and planetary movements was well known to the Indians and that its profane aspects were viewed with great indignation. I hope it is not necessary at this stage of scientific development to refute the charge that astrology is no science. There are persons amongst us who aver that planets do not exercise any influence on human life. We can only refer them to the findings of prominent astronomers and medical men in the West. According to Dr. Bachman of Syracuse University there is a direct relationship between the violent eruptions on the Sun’s molten surface and human illness, depression, pain and well-being. Dr. Russel Fields of Washington opines that a certain geometrical position of Saturn with reference to Mars and the Moon could predisp9se a person to the dread disease of cancer. It is held that the incidence of correlation between solar flares and cardio-vascular disease is too glaring to be ignored. Hence there is nothing unscientific if our astrology explains how the planets in outer space influence human life and behaviour on this earth, After all our earth, we are told, was originally fragment of that flaming ball of burning gases the Sun, about two thousand million years ago.
There is yet another aspect of Indian astrology which needs special mention. Horasastra or predictive astrology relating to the horoscopes of individuals emphasizes that Karma and Punarjanma are powerful determinants of the lives of individuals. This is a characteristic concept of Indian astrology as there does not seem to be any corresponding concept either in the Babylonian or in the Greek astrology. The individual has to perform good deeds and lead a pure life so that he can reap the benefits of good planetary influences in his future birth. Astrology is, therefore, a valuable guide to look up to, in order to have an insight into one’s own life, here as well as hereafter. In this respect the method followed by astrology stands in good stead. A knowledge of astrology is incomplete without understanding its premise and methods. Astrology being an ancient heritage is naturally founded on a philosophical and spiritual approach to human life as a constituent of the macrocosm. In this contest we can quote what Cheiro (Count Louis Hamon) remarks in defense of palmistry, substituting ‘astrology’ for ‘palmistry’.
“It becomes a study not contrary to the dictates of reason, but in accordance with those natural laws that we observe in the shaping of even inanimate objects, which, by demonstrating the effect of a heretofore cause, are in themselves the cause of a hereafter effect.” Thus astrology is not only a good guide but warns the wary about the “weak and broken bridges” on the way. The aim of this ancient discipline, therefore, is to correct man’s angularities, make him lead his life in conformity with the accepted laws of conduct, evolve psychologically and spiritually and ultimately merge in his Source. The Prayascittas or expiatory rites prescribed in the Dharma astras suggest that man is no automaton in the hands of an inexorable fate. It is the conviction of great Sages and Saints that by self-effort coupled with sincere devotion to God and faith in one self man can rise above the influence of his environments. Indian astrology has a rich and hoary tradition in that it was propounded and propagated by great sages like Manu, Garga, Parasara, Kayapa and a host of others who had not only observed minutely life around them but also developed the intuitional eye by dint of hard penance and selfless and pure conduct. The reported utterances in trance of Edgar Cayce about astrological entities and re-incarnation bear out in a remarkable manner the findings of these ancient Sages of India. “The twelve Signs of the Zodiac represent soul-patterns. The solar system has eight dimensions through which the soul passes exhibiting levels of consciousness. The soul of the entity is part of the universal consciousness and has dwelt in these environs.., the signs of the Zodiac are Karmik Patterns ... the planets are the Looms, the Will is the Weaver.”
As a science astrology has discovered “correct methods and reached correct knowledge about the influence of planets on the human mind and on the day-to-day activities of human beings.”
In the pages that follow I have in my own humble way attempted to bring to the fore not only the rationality of astrology but also the nature and structure of the correct knowledge that our forefathers possessed regarding the predictable influences of planets on human beings, and to give a spiritual bias to astrology. The reader is taken step by step in this work from the rudiments viz, the distribution of constellations in the Zodiacal belt which is divided into twelve Signs, and the planetary hierarchy, through the method of calculating the ascendant and other houses of a natal chart, assessment of the strength, influences, aspects, afflictions, mutual relations etc. of the planets, to the final stage of reading the brighter and darker sides of the subject’s life, his chances of success and failure, their periods, ingress of the Soul into the mortal coil and exit there from as well as its departure to other worlds according to its Karma. I am sure the illustrative charts, appended to explain different rules will be of special benefit to students and lovers of astrology.
Much of the contents of this book had appeared in the pages of the “Astrological Magazine” edited by Prof. B.V. Raman, who invited me to contribute articles on several subjects, especially on the principles of astrology entitled “Lessons in Astrology” over a period of about four years. I therefore take this opportunity of acknowldging my indebtedness to him. My thanks are also due to the many readers of the Magazine who had appreciated my Lessons and asked me to make them available in book form. I am beholden to Sriman Shiv Saran Vaish of Pilibhit, who being an eminent astrologer himself, gave me fraternal encouragement and inspiration constantly during the publication of the Lessons. I must not forget to remember with gratitude the loving help I have received at the hands of Dr. B. V. Subbarayappa, M.Sc., Ph. D., my friend and erstwhile colleague at Bangalore. I am especially thankful to Sri Sunder Lal Jam, Proprietor, M/s Motilal Banarsidass, for printing and publishing this work promptly and attractively.
Now it remains for me to lay this work of mine as a humble offering at the holy Lotus-feet of the Lord Sri Siddhi Vinayaka of Madhupura whose unique grace has been guarding me in all situations.
It is a happy augury that the claim of astrology as a discipline worthy of serious consideration is being accepted more and more by unprejudiced thinkers all over the world. It is a pity, however, that there are still a few misguided and prejudiced scientists and rationalists in India and elsewhere who have not yet given up their insistence on their pet theory that distant planets and stars do not exert any influence on the earth and its denizens. It is really baffling to modern scientists as to how the ancient Seers were able to observe and correlate celestial phenomena with terrestrial occurrences such as earthquakes, epidemics and the like. The great Varahamihira, one of the pioneers of Indian astronomy, states’ that the comets named Tamasakilakas, Dark Shafts, which are seen sometimes on the Sun’s disc have enormous effects on weather conditions, human behaviour and health. According to the ancient authors, who must have observed minutely these phenomena now termed solar flares, sunspots etc., they cause dust-storms, earthquakes, famines, pestilence, political changes etc. This, we are told by modern scientists, is due to the flows of corpusles that the Sun sends off that are called sometimes ‘Solar Wind’ having their own magnetic fields which interact with the magnetic field of the earth and influence terrestrial happenings, affecting the electrical potential of individuals. Dr. Russel Fields of Washington is of the opinion that the incidence of correlation between solar flares and cardio-vascular disease is too glaring to be ignored. If all beings are not affected simultaneously by cosmic radiation etc., it is due to the in-built resistance of such individuals.
The above explanation would be sufficient to explode the myth that outer space and planets have no influence on human beings. In fact earthly beings are the products of solar and cosmic radiations. It is these radiations that sustain the discarnate spirit while moving in space as well as during its stay and development in the mother’s womb. Accordingly the Vedic Seers have sung in ecstasy — The Sun is the Soul of all that is moving and stationary in the universe.
I am happy to acknowledge the appreciation of the scholars who have recognized the value of this work as a worthy introduction to the science of astrology. I am now offering a revised and enlarged edition of the Fundamentals of Astrology. In this new edition some new elements have been introduced in order to make the work more useful to the students of Astrology: A more scientific method of calculating the Candra-Kriyas, Candra vast has and Candravelas, a chapter describing in detail the decanates, their forms, character, usefulness etc.
Amrtaghatis (nectareous periods), periods of risk in the case of birth in the Gandanta constellations, effects of conjunction of five and six planets, a detailed account of the significations of the 12 houses or Ehavas, effects of planets’ occupying the twelve Signs (not houses), planetary configurations for the birth of sub-human beings (Viyoni-janma) — all these have been duly incorporated. All Sanskrit words have been spelt with proper diacritical marks. Minor errors, wherever detected, have also been rectified. I hope, therefore, this edition will serve the interests of both practitioners and students of astrology in a big way.
Lastly I am beholden to Shri Sunder Lal Jam, Proprietor of M/s Motilal Banarsidass, for his abiding interest in the propagation of our ancient culture wherein is enshrined the science of astrology, and for his inducing me to prepare a revised edition of this work. I pray to the Supreme Lord that by His grace all lovers of pure Indian culture including astrology may be benefited by studying this work and adapt their life to the rules of noble living and thinking for attainment of the ultimate Beatitude.
By the grace of the Lord Sri Siddhivinayaka, this work, whose third enlarged edition is now offered to the learned public, has already found favour with both students and practitioners of this ancient science viz. Astrology, both in the East and West. To make the work more useful to readers, an Appendix on the Pancanga or Almanac, which is a necessary ingredient of the daily life of a cultured Indian like prayers, has been added to the text in this edition, which, I hope, will be appreciated as useful by discerning students of astrology.
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