incarnating soul 2

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                                      A    VA LIANT     CHOICE

                                         (A   One -Act -Play )

 DRAMATIS   PERSONAE

Gayatri :  A soul preparing to incarnate

Prashant:  A Guide soul

Gambheer:  A Teacher soul

Yogini, Nirvana, Advait:    Souls assisting the incarnating soul

Voice of Siddharth: Voice of a Master, The Buddha from a higher realm

THE   SETTING

A small group of soul forces are engaged in discussion and preparation for the reincarnation of one of them.

The stage is laid out in a simple setting with a rockery in the middle on which five figures are seated at different levels as people would on a picnic. One of them, Gaitri is seated on the floor in the space which the rockery encircles on three sides, except the side facing the audience. She is seated in the lotus position, eyes closed in Yogic meditation. Most of the spirits are dressed in similar white silken robes and sandals, irrespective of sex. The incarnating spirit Gaitri seated on the floor is dressed in a cotton saffron robe of the same type. The guide spirit Prashant is dressed in cream silk and the Teacher spirit Gambheer is in blue silk.

The scene opens in virtual darkness with very dim pools of light to the accompaniment of strains of a Sitar playing Raga Parameshwari as the curtain swings open. The music then dies out  before the dialogue begins.

THE    PLAY

Yogini:    Even after so much preparation, it is difficult when it finally comes to take the plunge as if into an abyss, a bottomless pit. Not all one’s knowledge of physical reality and experience of eternity prepares one for the jolt of matter, the bombardment of the senses, the metamorphosis. 

Nirvana:    It is remarkable that we do so despite the fact that there never is any compulsion in the choice of whether to enter Earth life or to remain in equilibrium. The choice of incarnation has therefore always been a valiant one.

( Gaitri stirs from her meditation, looks around and slowly rises to her feet turning to where Prashant is seated at the lowest extremity of the rockery. She goes and stands beside him, casually placing her hand on his shoulder and addressing him)

Gaitri:    I always quake with fear before making entry, every single time, unfailingly, but have always opted in favour of going again and never because I enjoyed the experience.

Prashant;    On the other hand, I have never felt your kind of compulsion. Perhaps I am not courageous enough.

Gambheer:    ( seated at the highest point in the rockery) Or because you are not in need of  the experience for such growth which you manage to attain on the basis of other strengths.

Yogini:    Once you commence, there is no end to the need for repeated reincarnations revealing some more subtle aspect of matter which one quickly realizes has in it the inherent dynamics for ascent to higher levels.

Nirvana;    I have always felt that it is an act of great courage to want to experience embodiment, the imprisonment of being, the subjection to physical senses, the lessons of pain, the shocking displays of the law of opposites. Discounting of course the  experience of sex ( Chuckles).

Prashant:    Nirvana, you surely need to reincarnate precisely because you have yet to overcome your lingering memories of carnal relationships.

Gaitri:    In my view the sublimation felt in sexual ecstasy is hardly something to be frowned upon. Providence has created it not merely for ensuring procreation but to give the earthly persona a foretaste of the higher ecstasy that we experience when ultimately merging with the supreme spirit at the highest levels.  Sexual love derives from Spiritual love which is the prototype for sex.

Gambheer:    I did not mean to denigrate sexuality. After all it is a great motivating force that can help overcome the ego and to sublimate its baser attributes, particularly when it gives rise to a kind of profound love. I believe it was conceived for that very purpose rather than merely for procreation which earlier was possible through simple regeneration. That kind of world would have created horribly inflated egos where each entity was entirely self sufficient creating a clone of itself and in opposition to other clones which differed. What I meant was that hankering after it as a motive for reincarnation was completely misplaced.

Nirvana:    Hey, I was only joking, but I’m glad we have analysed its value on the physical plane.

Gaitri:    Returning to choices of reincarnation – we have available, unlimited number of choices of gender, circumstances of birth, strengths, weaknesses, life-span, race, social status, familial relationships – the spectrum is indeed very broad. What is important is to arrive at the right combination for the kind of experience one wishes to have for a certain kind of growth.

Gambheer;    It is not easy subjecting oneself even to one’s own choices.

Prashant:    Even linking up as a guiding force has been an overwhelming experience. How much more must be witnessing and enacting one’s reincarnation?

Yogini;    You choose for instance, whether you wish to work out with the domination of being a male or experience the  ‘passivity’ of womanhood – differing parameters and compulsions making for different settings.

Nirvana:    Conceptually, the plan always appears a good one for the purpose for which it is created with positive sustaining features and negative ones representing trials and obstacles. But the results are quite often unpredictable and traumatic. I still carry the ache for someone I dearly loved whom i left behind.

Prashant:    It is precisely in such situations that the Guides play a crucial role. For instance in averting suicides, depressions, addictions and morbidity, though it is hard work creating the right volition at the material level to avert an untenable situation. You certainly need dear Nirvana, to rise above your lingering cravings. Both sex and attachments need to be overcome and sublimated. Attachments are a form of love which have to serve a purpose, not become a purpose in themselves. Love for a son/daughter should not become an obsession even after that love has secured them in life.  In all earthly scriptures such obsessive attachments have a name – in the Hindu scriptures it is called ‘Moh’ – infatuations which arise from ego and are evil, hampering the progress of the Soul. Other scriptures also define such infatuation as being negative.

( Gaitri turns away from Prashant and faces the audience)

Gaitri:    It is really hard infiltrating the material world even to get to your own incarnation. It is as if  you are dealing with insensitive beings who neither heed, hear or obey. The physical gravity, electromagnetism, time-frames and compulsions of organic life produce the extremely stubborn phenomenon of ego.

Yogini;    Nothing is as startling there as to witness the possession of one’s incarnation by its ego, the force of the ego-personality. It is a force that pegs it down and gives it a novel motivation, dimension and twist. The sheer weight of ego and its compulsions are at time overwhelming.

Gaitri;    Yes, it is at the heart of the challenge – the challenge of the primary experience of matter and also the ultimate one – the fetter of fetters which makes you appreciate so starkly the return to the freedom of equilibrium.

Yogini;    Can you imagine the trauma of possession, of being possessed or wanting to possess. The continual violation of subliminal will by the force of ego and procreative desire which is only another manifestation of ego. The appalling dependence, the reliance, the submission to another’s will (pausing) in exchange for making the imposer submit to yours later. ( laughter all around). Bilateral control dramas that go on endlessly.  At the time of release, as the material desire slips away with the possessions, what an overwhelming sense of relief returns! How strange that love and compassion should find such a gross manifestation in matter.

Prashant;    Yes, how quickly desires and attachments arouse murderous rage. You could kill for the hand of your love or for ensuring that your progeny gets ahead of others – love for family, one’s ethnic group or community of believers could lead people and nations to war in the name of love or even faith! The mortal world confronted by the uninhibited flux of opposites runs riot prior to our equilibrium.

Yogini;    Yet as our incarnations experience the grinding weight of ego, the workout strangely, inexplicably, enhances our luminescence and the equilibrium becomes more meaningful.

Gambheer:    Indeed, it would appear paradoxically that the interface with matter is always alleviating. We Teachers have always been supportive of those willing to experience matter, having ourselves incarnated infinitely, we feel satisfied and able to play our role in helping others with choices and settings.

Advait:    Never having considered materialization, I must ask what is the distinction between a planned negativity and one that is spontaneous?

Gambheer;    On the material plane, negativities arise with every challenge because of the nature of ego. Anger unchecked reaches murderous proportions. depression leads to suicide. Jealousy to injury, greed to cheating, lust to betrayal and so on. On the other hand where these interactions have been planned to produce a challenging situation, as when two soul forces incarnate as enemies by agreement to work on the hate syndrome, then there is no problem. but when an extremity arises involuntarily, as in the case of murder, suicide, genocide – then we have reached a dangerous crossroads, often out of control and these end with fall in luminescence for the incarnating spirit involved, its Guides and Teachers.

Advait;    Of course, there are other ways of enhancement than reincarnation, such as, a study of the great Masters and their mysterious purposes – what on the material plane is taken as pure devotion and spiritual communication.

Gambheer:    True there are those safe alternatives for the timid and reluctant souls but without the roller coaster ride I’m afraid their evolution remains stunted even for the best intentioned.

Gaitri: (addressing Gambheer) It is only by your love that I mustered courage to incarnate again and again Sir, secure in the knowledge that your strength,  guidance  and wisdom would see me through when the rhythms become most disturbing.

Gambheer:    At such points of material crisis when the incarnation is no longer able to sustain the shocks and threatens to abort, we reluctantly enter the Auric field around the embodied spirit with a strong beam of healing light but interfere only when such a point arises because the trials and problems, their experience and resolution are part of the master plan of the incarnating spirit, chosen for a purpose. But choice does not mean that situations will be predictable and the risk is always there of a situation running out of control, leading ultimately to a severe dimming of luminescence as after a suicide or murder or the accumulation of enormous negativities which are not in the plan.With such dimming of luminescence there is only one choice left for the poor volunteer soul-force – to devise an immediate return to another incarnation to dissipate the accumulated negativities. However that option is frowned upon and is really an admission of failure.  At that point the poor incarnating soul has already descended to a lower realm of resonance – the obverse of what it intended.

Prashant:    (addressing Gaitri)  I shall always volunteer as your Guide, dear Gaitri, were you to wish re-entry – the experience earned in being a Guide or Guardian has been quite as fulfilling for me as the experience of incarnating itself, though less courageous.

Gaitri: ( moving to centre stage facing audience with arms out stretched) I need to choose womanhood to fight subjection and experience patience. I need to learn about equitable treatment of siblings, of powerful relations of sacrifice , of overcoming deep hatred, jealousies and animosities and in the face of these trials to overcome addictions of one kind or another that inevitably develop. What are the cardinal points that I must choose for this, what relationships, what addictions, climaxes in life and what circumstances of birth and death?

Nirvana:    ( suddenly animated with an inspirational thought ) I volunteer to join Gaitri, incarnating as her domineering and violent husband.  Let Advait and Yogini be the siblings between whom you are to exercise equity. Let the circumstances be the changing norms in which liberalization of women is the issue. Let the times be the end of the 20th century on Earth in the Solar System. Let your earthly goal be dissemination of greater understanding of the spiritual world through an appreciation of the growing metaphysical orientation in science and technology. Let the climax of your life be the separation from the domineering spouse. Let the ultimate isolation be betrayal of your love by friends and relatives. Let the resultant cynicism and anguish lead you to drug addiction and finally suicide from which you are saved. Then would begin your rehabilitation and total transformation with the growing spirit of social and humanitarian service. May you then grow in prestige and power and become instrumental in  initiating the fundamental transformation of the material world through the propagation of  a paradigm shift away from gross materialism towards a holistic appreciation of reality and the first steps in social transformation away from violence towards a peaceful planet with an equilibrium almost matching our own. Let such transformations occurring here and there be finally crowned by the appearance of a Master to lead the world into a new age of expanding consciousness, signalling the end of the childhood of man. ( sighs after the long speech comically raising his eyes upwards )

( As Nirvana completes his  speech the group of souls break out in spontaneous applause )

Prashant:   Bravo Nirvana, very creative suggestions. That is indeed a beautiful theme – a fundamental revolution and transformation of material consciousness,  the very transformation of man’s destiny. ( sighs deeply) but such a  metamorphosis would surely need more than a single incarnation.?

Gambheer: Granted that it would be most enobling an assignment and most enlightening. But , yes, would it not be too ambitious a task to expect Gaitri’s incarnation to move the entire material world?  After  all she is no prophet or Avatar.

Yogini;    Yes but we can reach out to other groups with what Nirvana  has proposedoposed – it could have a chain reaction of universal responses from several levels of the spirit world.

Gaitri:    Indeed I can sense  a rising crescendo of responses coming  in our direction even as we speak from every ethereal level – great and glorious luminescences pooling in their assent.

( flickers of light flash on the backdrop in all the colours of the rainbow from all directions  to denote responses from different levels, to the accompaniment of thunder and the positive and assenting strains of Raga Desh  in orchestra in rising volume – then the lightening flashes cease and the melody is reduced to a background accompaniment. )  

Prashant:    How energizing the spontaneous responses are. Let us then together invoke the blessed Lord Siddharth to help us in our venture from his highest realms.

( Gambheer leads the invocation and chanting with the Mantra ”Om Mani Padme Hum” – We follow his lotus jewel footsteps – as the others join him in harmony in a circle as the pools of separate light upon them converge into one brilliant spot at the centre )

All:    Om Mani Padme Hum – O Lord of the spheres, grace us with your presence. ( A point of bright blue light on the backdrop enlarges like a blue-white sun while the light upon the gathered souls dims in obeisance. )

buddha

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Voice of Siddhartha:    ( sonorous ) You envisage a historic coming in an age of transition from the Information Age to a Consciousness Age to mark the evolution of man to super-manhood on earth. This is indeed more than a simple incarnation of a soul experiencing material existence for enhancing its level of luminescence. Your proposal would involve the incarnation of  a galaxy of souls in such a fundamental transformation of the very essence of matter and material existence – a most worthy if ambitious project.

Prashant:    Master, your august presence in our midst does us great honour and we are already overwhelmed with luminosity and motivation to do your bidding. The interaction of numerous soul forces has already created an ambiance in which such a historical event as your incarnation would become the nucleus for a fundamental transformation of the human material, leading to other far reaching transformations. On Earth there has always been a legend of the coming of a new messiah for more than a millennium.

Yogini;    Great seer, as your glorious light infuses me, I wish to devote myself only to serving you in your descent to the world of matter.

Nirvana:    O  omnipresence, I delight in your compassionate visitation. Our naive  invocation was indeed presumptuous in  suggesting  that you  incarnate.  you are beyond such a need. I do hope we have not disturbed your supreme equilibrium.

Gaitri:    Glorious master, your sudden appearance in answer to our simplistic exchanges has already filled me with so much light that I no longer wish to experience reincarnation, let alone dare to suggest that you too descend to transform the realm of matter.

Gambheer:    O  compassionate one, we cannot presume that you have illuminated our quarter merely heeding our limited exchanges. Rather I sense that you have superior purpose and would like us to conform to your great and glorious design. Indeed all the realms of spirit bow to your holy purpose. what better can we do than incarnate and prepare for the descent of your glorious Avatar.

( All fold hands and bow to the glorious presence signified by the glowing light on the backdrop)

maitrya

Bodhisatva Maitrya – the messiah to come Credit: Norton Simon Museum – triadvisor.com

Voice of Siddharth:    The time is nigh when a part of me shall make its descent into the material world in the mountainous region of pious Tibet, even as a new millennium dawns on planet Earth in the Solar System of the Milky Way galaxy.  Soul forces will move to incarnate high and low in these regions as we begin the process of ending the childhood of man and creating a new material equilibrium. Numerous soul forces will endeavour  to structure and restructure the material plane as an ideal gymnasium for their enhanced evolution, till the environment is right again for matter to rise to its fullest potential.

( With these prophetic words, the blue-white light fades and disappears. The pool of light on the gathered spirits brightens again. They now congregate around Gaitri  as she prepares  for her own reincarnation. She is seated concentrating her being in deep thought in the lotus yogic posture. They surround her, hold and support her, a spirit in ‘labour’. Prashant stands behind her in his role as the guide spirit with both hands on her shoulders. linking with her thoughts. The others hold her with compassion from all sides. An Earthly yellow light glows around Gaitri and Prashant. )

Gaitri:    ( with eyes closed ) I can see her in labour and i can feel my descent into the heavy medium. I am now within the fetus as it stirs to be born. I shall now maintain silent contemplation and immobility to the exclusion of all other thoughts, watching over my incarnation’s passage till its completion. Prashant will be with me always through the experience, free to use all his resources.  Together we shall guide my incarnation. I shall inspire my material form and personality with intuition, which it may choose to act upon or ignore. while Prashant shall assist in the unfolding of the basic plan through the use of coincidences and guidance of other companion incarnations who are to interact with mine. Gambheer shall oversee our joint sojourn and use his power to avert irretrievable malfunction of the plan, assisting finally in aligning the progress of this life within the larger context of the descent of the Master, even as several other Teachers do likewise in the infinite reaches  with other wards, in other groups.

( As Gaitri falls into deep meditation and Prashant and Gambheer now stand on either side of her with a hand on each shoulder , the others contemplate her, concentrating their thoughts on her incarnation in compassionate communion, as all lights begin to fade except the broad yellow beam on the figure of Gaitri in meditation, before this too begins to fade and go out even as the sound of wailing of a new born child grows louder and louder. )

incarnating soul

Credit: soulbirth.co.za

 

 

 

 

 

Moonpic

CREDIT: whitewolfjourneys.com

The journey of this blog, has taken us through varied interpretations of the Soul from the Hindu Eastern ‘Atma’ to the Western and Middle Eastern Judaic versions and again to the modern fusion achieved in ‘New Age’ insights. Personally what sticks with me is the Hindu concept of Soul and Reincarnation, garnished with the New Age concept of  ‘Choice in Reincarnation’. The idea of Choice appealed greatly to me and I allowed it to help me reinterpret my Hindu beliefs. The theory of Karma and its consequences in reincarnations were logical and ancient and initially satisfying – yet it appeared to have one drawback – on the one hand it was too mechanical ( in the Gita Krishna underlines that the Lord – i.e. God – does not produce fruitful results of action – Nature does this through the law of Karma ) the law therefore appears to be unfeeling and automatic like gravity, just too mechanical (like blind justice). It also imposes judgement in observing suffering around us – a beggar, invalid, deformed, bereaved or otherwise suffering individual we encounter must have ‘earned’ his sorry state from previous misdeeds – this produces a judgmental reaction in the observer even when laced with compassion and condemns the unfortunate sufferer as suffering the consequence of his actions  – ‘as you sow so shall you reap’  /  ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’ – and so on. The introduction of the concept of CHOICE OF REINCARNATION   by New Age thinkers has changed this entirely giving Karma a totally new interpretation. All these old and new elements have gone into the present post in personally, restructuring the concepts of Reincarnation and Karma experienced by the Soul. The first post explains my new understanding and the second which will follow presents it as a one-act play to help comprehend and dramatically visualize the points made.  The first is therefore an Exposition of the One-Act-Play that follows it . This reinterpretation is quite radical and may not appeal to many who may be appalled by the thought that their present plight ( if unfortunate) arises from their own choice. Some people would prefer to accept the idea that ones unfortunate condition may be the result of a Karmik fate rather than one resulting from ones own  conscious choice. In both cases what it boils down to is that we are responsible for our present situation.

 

                                                                                                                                 A    VALIANT    CHOICE    ( A Play )

PART  I  –  EXPOSITION

(An imaginary Soul preparing to reincarnate)

It was very difficult to make the right choice. Nothing could be gained from pleasurable plentiful easy options alone. The handicaps, obstacles, trials were the more important choices, the fundamental experiences to improve the quality of ones being.  There was complete freedom to make the right combination of choices or to make no choices at all. There never was any compulsion here, no peer pressure, no fear, no punishment.

There was no hunger as existence was not reliant on consumption but was self-sufficient. the only hunger was for experience on the physical plane.

There was no fear of mortality. the only concern was for one’s further evolution.

There was no procreative sexuality as survival of one’s kind did not depend on reproduction – though there were attractions and appreciation of others and great affairs of love extending over eons were quite common place.

Fear did not exist. Motivation arose from creativity and a sense of duty and dedication.

Anger in grosser states was here a kind of unbending determination.

It would be meaningless to lie when the truth was known to all and no thoughts could be secret and there was no room for deception.

There was nothing to steal as possessions were beyond your reality.

Nobody could be hurt so the question of inflicting injury never arose.

There was no judgement because you were your own harsh judge, jury and executioner.

Your primal essence glowed with clarity in an ambiance of bliss and perfection. Of course, there were higher  levels and there were peers but you were left to evolve at your own pace.

There was complete harmony, equilibrium and freedom. No disturbance of any kind, nothing painful, nothing enforced in that timeless essence.

Then  from the heart of this equilibrium arose a whim,  inventing opposites as a means of comprehending equilibrium, the postulate of two notes making a  harmony, the promise of a finite time to measure infinity, the concept of mortality to define immortality better, the idea of material diversity arising from essential unity. The hallmark of  material creation  was  mortality, a  finite, diverse world under the sway of the law of opposites – . good, bad, light and shadow, water and fire, pleasure and pain, male and female.

To comprehend one’s own reality, it was desirable to materialize and experience mortality, to be in the full glare of the law of opposites. So the choice was yours – first whether you wished to materialize and then the nature of your materialization.  To materialize meant to become embodied.

The choices were unlimited and came to you in your contemplation and discussions with companions and peers. Pain and suffering were the constant accompaniment to mortality, where the experience you wished to undergo was entirely of your own choosing. Was it to be one in which towering ego had to be overcome; obsessive attachments shown to be illusory; an acquisitive nature’s ultimate realization that possessions were meaningless; restraint and control to be learnt in a life driven by lust; addictions to be remedied; language of exchange and service to be perfected; the lessons of want to be learnt in poverty; compassion to be perfected in a life of suffering through disease; frugality, temperance and charity to be learnt through a life of billionaire abundance; the appreciation of perfection learnt in a lifetime of deformity or hardship; anger to be sublimated in a lifetime of raging insanity; innumerable relationships and interaction between two personalities worked out in different situations and combinations.

It was not as if soul forces were riven with imperfections needing remedy. Soul forces were the essence of perfection and equilibrium but the need to evolve necessitated the experience of mortality, the trials and tribulations of a material existence. The choice of category of experience and level and quality of existence was its own, like one’s choice of a book from a library.

The planning for a re-entry into Earth-World  was intricate and thorough. The combinations which would sustain a  life span without allowing the incarnation to founder from excessive trials while facilitating the desired experience, had to be carefully worked out. The negative elements needed to be balanced with positive ones. Strengths were available to all in many forms ( as weapons of defence to be selected carefully) in such a way as to ensure that the desired experiment was not nullified. Much like weapons of defence available to a Roman Gladiator. Weapons such as beauty, riches, nobility, generosity, special skills and talents, genius and creativity, spouse’s love, parental love, love from progeny, people’s love or acclaim and admiration, animal loyalty, successful career, great achievements, winning nature, power and prestige, to name a few. Handicaps and obstacles were also aplenty, to be judiciously combined like heavy weights with a sound diet. The choice of most trying circumstances could include abject poverty and hunger, shame humiliation and infamy, disease deformity and physical ugliness; orphanage and loneliness; persecution and victimization; guilt and ignominy of heinous crimes; insanity derangement and depression; insatiable greed, lust and addictions; ignorance and illiteracy; dogmatism and fanaticism; consuming hate and a life time of revenge; faithlessness and cynicism; over bearing ego and compulsive need for domination; cruelty, wastefulness and destructiveness etc.

The heaviest crosses could well be borne by the worthiest souls, having chosen to carry them – not unlike the choice of the most difficult course for graduation. Better or easier circumstances therefore did not translate into presumption of superiority of the embodying soul.

Sometimes companions would incarnate together, while other companions would assist in the difficult planning and materialization process, overseeing the incarnation as Guides and Guardian souls. Peers and even Masters were available for consultation. Some companion Guides would then attach themselves as boatmen to steer the adventurer soul on its courageous journey across the ocean of matter, to ensure that the journey of life played itself out and did not come to an abrupt and ignoble end nor  was the incarnated personality so discouraged as to quit midway. The Guides provided succor, assistance and relief from extremely untenable and unpredictable situations, while the general tenor of a chosen life story unfolded along its determined course to provide material experience and help  in evolution and understanding the material aspect of the spirit. Guides had a difficult job being present as it were between two worlds simultaneously. Masters came with great transforming messages and experienced the suffering inherent in mortal existence.

Preparation for departing souls was always full of compassionate congregation and support before its descent into the grossest elements and there was constant concern to see that its courage was rewarded by a successful and complete sojourn of the chosen life-span. Souls also undertook to incarnate together as relatives, spouses, friends, enemies and numerous other relationships to help in working out an issue of common interest on the material plane – the themes were varied – love, betrayal, exploitation, sacrifice, revenge, addictions, superiority or inferiority complex, majority or minority community, differences of race, colour, caste, sex, creed etc. Often familial relationships and circle of friends and acquaintances were the same group of participants in succeeding reincarnations being switched or shuffled about. The soul assuming the role of father  might seek to experience a switch with the soul playing the role of son in the next incarnation. Friends might opt to play the enemy in the next. Masters became servants, wives husbands or an intimate relationship in one might become nothing more than an acquaintance in the next.

It is for this reason that it was ‘unethical’ during an earth life to be judgemental. Compassion became important for the same reason. This of course did not mean that the development of negativities in a life being played out was unreal or to be condoned or that sufferings were not real enough or that punishments imposed during earth life were undeserved or that crimes were not real. Each life’s circumstances contained certain compulsions and the results were not always predictable.

The physical incarnation necessarily was made oblivious of its spiritual lineage and purpose and identified totally with its physical persona acting and reacting to its environment with the totality of its physical aptitudes and shortcomings. The thick earth medium of senses and their objects quickly grasped the incarnate spirit in the flux of temporal life, thrusting forward from one challenge to another without respite, much like a the breath-taking ride on a roller-coaster. The spirit generally emerged at the end strengthened and more luminescent.

The incarnating soul force in the company of interested companions was at all times also able to observe its incarnate self-acting and reacting to the given circumstances much like one would a video of oneself and capable of beaming in some influences or corrections to improve the experiment, but the incarnation was no puppetry and could produce unpredictable results both appalling and exhilarating .  The spirit was often amazed by the behaviour of its incarnation. There was always the risk that a dismal outcome of an incarnation gone wrong might affect the resonance of the incarnating soul, diminishing the level of its clarity. Equally a successful engagement with physical trials would enhance that clarity with accompanying evolution to a higher order of Spirit. Eventually all souls felt encouraged to take the risk of material reincarnation for evolution to a higher level of being, rather than stagnating blissfully at their own level.

 

SoulFamily

Credit: blog.richhealing.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Artist: Pieter Weltevrede Credit: sanatansociety.com

 

Venus is portrayed as handsome, endowed with extraordinary physique, broad shoulders and chest, with heavy thighs. He has beautiful eyes, a fun-loving nature, charming but passive disposition with a countenance exuding peace. He is fond of wearing colourful attire and has a white horse as his steed. This attractive figure is the Acharya or Guru of the Titans, the Asuras and Daityas who reside and rule the nether worlds and perpetually crave the nectar which the gods alone monopolize making them immortal. The Asuras are therefore the antithesis of the Devas, the demigods with whom they are in perpetual conflict. He is known in India as Shukracharya (the Guru Shukra) and his day of the week is Shukravar, Friday. Like Brihaspati for the Devas, he too is adept at giving advice to the Titans. He too like Brihaspati is a Brahman. Several sects of Brhamins in India claim descent from him, much like the dynasties and clans of several ruling families in India trace their origins to the Sun and Moon.

Shukra, the Guru knew something that his counterpart Guru of the demi-gods did not : the Mantra to revive the dead. Immortality was after all always the most contentious of issues between the Devas and the Asuras. We have already recounted the story of how the Asuras were denied the nector of immortality which emerged from the churning of the cosmic oceans. Jupiter ( Brihaspati) wanted to learn the secret of Venus’ ( Shukracharya ) formula for bringing the dead back to life. He therefore sent his son Kacha to study under Shukra’s guidance. Shukra’s daughter however fell in love with him. The Asuras learning of Kacha’s secret intent killed him but Shukra kept reviving him. Finally Kacha learnt the secret of reviving the dead despite the Asura’s efforts to prevent him.

vamanAccording to another legend the Asura chief Mahabali came to grief when he did not heed the sagatious advice of Guru Shukracharya. Mahabali had gained ascendency over the heavens the earth and the nether worlds by defeating the king of the demi gods, Indra. The gods beseeched Lord Vishnu the supreme being to restore their realms to them from the mighty Titan. Vishnu assumed the form of a little Brahmin lad, Vaman and came to the ritual Yagya being performed by Mahabali for futher empowerment. Mahabali magnanimously asked the Brahmin lad to ask for any wish which would be granted. Shukracharya warned the King not to be fooled by the lad who was none other than the lord of the universe in disguise. Mahabali felt honour bound to keep his pledge and did not withdraw the offer. Vaman said all he wanted was land as much as he could cover by taking three steps. Mahabali asked him to demand something more valuable, like villages, chariots jewels, palaces etc  Vaman said he wanted nothing more. The wish was granted, whereupon Vaman suddenly grew to cosmic proportions and with one foot covered all the heavens,  with another he covered the rest of the universe and demanded where he should take his third step. The magnanimous Mahabali then was left with no option but to offer him his head. The threat from the Titans was thus averted and the heavens were restored to the demi gods and the earth was saved from being ruled by the Asuras.

 

 

pw_pl_venus01_detailShukra is significator of sex, passion, spouse, romance, marriage, genitals and semen. He also represents spring, flowers and living things. He is also associated with embroidery, ornaments, perfumes and entertainment. He also represents the fine arts, music, dance, theatre,ooetry, philosophy and aesthetics. He typifies love, indulgence, charm, cultivated manners, a congenial and happy disposition, sensual aspects of life and mundane pleasures. He is indicative of the ability to be attractive and the fulfilment of objectives through charm. He is also indicative of enjoying the comforts of conveyance and ownership of vehicles.

However his adverse placement in a horoscope signifies problems in the reproductive system, normalcy in sexual relations and impotence. Aspects of other planets exacerbate negative and positive aspects of sexuality. For instance when influenced by Jupiter or Mercury, it brings forth genuine love but Mars creates a passionate and over sexed nature. When aspecting other planets it has diverse effects. If its aspect on Saturn is adverse it may produce loose moral character and domestic infidelity. Its placement at birth in different celestial houses will create different results. Again the movement of planets as they transit different signs of the Zodiac during the lifetime of the subject would give distinct effects depending on their quality – Zodiac signs have earth, fire or water qualities, are fixed, moving or common in nature or again male , female or neutral.

Venus is inherently a benefic planet, though as we have learnt, on the subjective level this need not mean favourable results for a horoscope. It rules over the Zodiac signs Taurus and Libra, is exalted in Pisces and debilitated in Virgo. It is powerful in the Fourth house, benefic in the First, Fifth and Ninth houses and ineffective in the Sixth. Its presence in the Seventh, of which it is also ‘Karak’ ( significator) is not considered favourable for a chart on account of the belief that Significators in their own celestial houses are not favourable. Venus is friendly towards Mercury and Saturn, neutral to Mars and Jupiter and inimical to the Sun and the Moon. His steed is the white horse, his metal is silver and his gemstone is the diamond.

diamond

 

 

 

himalayas and deodars

 

M O U N T A I N      B L I S S

 

Branching overhead

The great maple

Umbrella

Covers the sky.

 

Marching up the mountain stairs,

Stately Deodar pines ascend

Surrounding me, augustly,

Tall, bottle-green sentinals.

 

The clear air

Stirs a summer dance

Of flashing leaves

And gliding butterflies

Everywhere.

 

This cheeky Magpie,

Longtail trailing phosphorescence

Flits, branch to branch,

Now high, now falling low,

Feasting carnivore.

 

 yellowbilledmagpie2                                                               

With Himalayan impertinence

Perches within reach, defiantly,

Bright yellow beak, unfriendly eye,

My gross intrusion spies.

 

Then suddenly tweaks the tail

Of my slumbering dog,

Become danger to her nest.

 

Cicadas fill the ears

With mountain music,

Their eerie castanets resound

Through the forest’s silence

Where pine-needles flash

And pregnant cones fall,

An infant pine to imbed.

 

Thoughts begin to rest,

Descending in a spiral vortex,

Strangely induced unexpectedly

By this other world here

Of sublime heights.

 

As commanding snows

In a range

Declare divinity,

Raising the spirits

With rare wonder

Of thoughtlessness. 

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 A  R  B  O  R   E  A  L

 

I am a tree

You do not know me

I chose to be

Meditating

for a century.

 

You believe that I don’t

But move I do

imperceptibly.

My thick bark feels

The change in the air

Far better than you,

Knows seasons thoroughly.

 

My arms extend

As I open twig fingers,

A kiss from the sun

Makes me grow a leaf.

 

Then I feed hungrily

Sun’s rich sap,

Carbon in the air,

Earth’s minerals juicy,

Mix and stir

A delicious elixir.

 

Now having fed

On sun and earth and air

I feel fine and fit and ready.

 

Did you know

That in my bark

Resides my heart

In every branch and twig it beats

And that is where

I start my love affair.

 

thO7ANGBTQA touch of sun

Such sensation,

Goosebumps appear

Bulge and split and tear

Into flowers everywhere

Pistils and stamens

Pollen and ovum

My twin gender declare.

 

I sing a song then

Sensual with fragrance

In a language, one

With butterflies and bees,

Love’s chaperons.

 

I feel a thrill

As a bee fills

My flowering heart

With pollen

And I seed fulfilled,

Then send my own pollen

To a pretty tree

With ecstasy.

 

thVPNMHP2MThen having loved

I grow pregnant

With fruit and pods of seed

My infants drop

Into the earth to feed

 

My feet are my roots

Hidden probing shoots

Freeing my personality

Into the air above,

We together, one entity.

 

Now happily

My branching arms

Embrace the sky

Pubescent with leaves

As I grow

Taller thicker denser

From adolescence to maturity.

 

th7NUGL408Now  I invite birds

 On my boughs to nest

Their weary night’s protective rest,

Every creature made

Finds shelter in my shade,

th7KK2FX8PMy limbs are heavy

With fruit soft and sweet

For every being a special treat.

 

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Then in winter

Shedding my leaves,

Ceasing all activity

My essence withdraws

To my slumbering capillaries.

 

Hibernating like a Yogi,

To my woody meditations

I retreat,

My arboreal journey

Now complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

pw_pl_jupiter01

Artist: Pieter Weltevrede Credit: sanatansociety.com

Jupiter, Brihaspati has an exalted place among the planets. There are references to him even in the Rig Veda, the earliest known Hindu scripture.. In Puranic legends he is the Acharya or spiritual mentor of the demigods, the one to whom all turn for advice in a crisis. Thus he is known as Devguru, Guru of the gods. In the Hindu calendar Thursday is dedicated to him and is therefore called  Guruvar, day of the Guru. It is a day on which all activities associated with Gurus are undertaken . The spiritualism he represents is doctrinaire and ritualistic Brahmanism. He is a philosopher par excellance, representing all sacred scriptures and is the epitome of wisdom. He is therefore regarded as the most benefic and auspicious of planets. His ‘vision’ is like nectar wherever it falls in a horoscope, being inherently benefic. Where the Sun represents the Atma or soul, Jupiter represents the Jiva, the soul incarnated.

He is significator of religiosity, faith and spiritual devotion, morality, behavior, charity, respect for elders, compassion, benevolence and a dispassionate outlook. He is also significator of fortune and fame, wealth and progeny. He also represents a mild and adaptable nature inclined towards reason, adherence to law, honesty, sincerity, common sense and lack of prejudice. This would include clerical, intellectual, academic, judicial and legal establishments and vocations. The part of the body under his influence are the thighs.

A positive presence in the horoscope would indicate that the subject has accumulated favourable Karmas in preceding lives, which are likely to manifest in the present one through fortuitous events and unexpected gains.

Jupiter is visualized as being heavy bodied, stout chested and fair-complexioned. He has a peaceful disposition and modest demeanour and is forgiving by nature. His vehicle is the elephant. He is friendly to the Sun, Moon and Mars, neutral to Saturn and inimical to Mercury ( foster son) and Venus, his counterpart among the Titans ( Asuras) who it will be remembered was supportive of the Moon’s elopement with his wife Tara.

However, being the most benefic of planets does not mean that he will not be responsible for any adverse events in the life of the subject whose horoscope is under consideration. Like all planets, Jupiter too can be well placed or adverse for a chart and when adverse can create major turbulence. Like other planets he too can become a ‘killer’ or Marak. But this does not mean that he has any inherent evil .Planets are mere tools in the divine programme to help one reap the rewards and punishments of ones Karma and the punishments or adversity is not so much judgemental as reformative, facilitating the cleansing of the soul for its evolution from one lifetime experience to another. Thus an adverse Jupiter may be merely a means of teaching lessons through adversity for the subject’s good and be no more than corrective in nature. Like-wise a favourable Jupiter would enhance ones capability in certain areas to enable one to deliver ones full potential in a field, again enabling further progress and evolution of the soul.

Jupiter’s stone is the yellow Sapphire worn in a ring to offset his adverse effects or enhance his favourable presence in a horoscope.

Lord Brihaspati

Lord Brihaspati

 

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Artist : Peiter Weltevrede Credit : sanatansociety.org

Artist : Peiter Weltevrede
Credit : sanatansociety.org

Mercury, product of the Moon’s illicit liaison with Jupiter’s wife, whom he abducted, created turbulence in the celestial realms of the demigods. He is portrayed as one who is somewhat dark of countenance, an attractive but delicate physique and extraordinary beauty. But ambiguity is part of his nature. He is called the ‘heir apparent’ of the planets and a prince among them. He likes to joke, speaks with multiple meanings in parables and riddles and is very adaptable and flexible. According to some descriptions he is neutral and therefore adaptable in nature, others go to the extent of describing him as a neuter, asexual, even a eunuch. But there are also legends that say something more. They add that he is even capable of changing his sex depending on his current inclinations and that in doing so he has begot offspring both as a female and a male. It is therefore not surprising that he is lord of the sign Gemini, Mithun, which denotes twins, a male and a female, a dual nature and therefore free and detached. It’s the kind of dualism one may find in a hermaphrodite. The dualism of the Sign Gemini is also indicative of active and passive principles, good and evil, a union of opposites. He is therefore also fickle minded. His flexible nature also means that he imbibes the qualities and characteristics of other planets he gets associated with in the natal chart. There he mimics them and acquires their attributes. He is like a mirror, truly mercurial.

If the Moon is the impressionable innocent mind, his son Mercury is its discriminating intellect. He is the inspiration of intellectuals, artists, writers, academics and astrologers. He is full of humour and wit and loves the company of the learned and the artistic. He is also associated with traders and businessmen. His influence is particularly suitable for diplomacy, given his capacity to adjust to diverse situations and environments.

He is significator of intelligence, scholarship,education, oratory, communication abilities, verbal and technological, music, mathematics, science and fine arts. He denotes a restless if dynamic nature and is the epitome of logic and analysis. He governs the arms, the auditory organs and the nervous system.

Such is the curious depiction of the planet Mercury, Budh, synonymous with intelligence and Astrology. For students and scholars he is their ultimate mentor, the one who will decide their academic fate.

He is also the intellect that discriminates. Being neutral he acts as a benefic when associated with benefic planets, mirroring their natures and malefic when otherwise. He is exalted in Virgo and debilitated in Pisces. He is inimical to his father the Moon, friendly to the Sun, whose company he is always in, in the Zodiac and Venus, who was supportive of his father’s elopement with his mother, in the uproar which the event created in the heavens. He is neutral to Mars, his foster-father Jupiter and Saturn. He too spends a month in each Sign of the Zodiac, closely pursuing or just preceding the Sun. His gem is the emerald, his metal, all manner of alloys, true to his mixed inclinations, His day is Wednesday. His ‘vehicle’ is a hybrid lion with an elephant’s trunk, again denoting his adaptability and ambiguous nature.

Quite often those keen to gain admission to an educational institution of repute, or interested in pursuit of scholarship and higher education, finding a weak Mercury in their charts will take recourse to acquiring a ‘Budh’ Yantra, an amulet and seek the planets blessings by chanting to him on Wednesdays.

 

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moon days

Credit : digitalgalleryindia.com

The Gregorian calendar that we use in India to get along with our lives in the modern world is like a mask  traditional India wears. The lunar calendar is the face behind it. What is fascinating is the ingenious marriage of the two as it has evolved in the lunar calendar for the traditionalist called the Panchang. While each of its pages displays a month of the solar calendar with dates as per the Gregorian calendar, it is impressive to see how with each Gregorian date, in the square for it is entered all manner of information on the passage of the lunar date and its astrological significance and the lunar defined festivals which are not merely stellar and astrological events but deeply religious ones.

Hindu spirituality and the stellar world are coterminous. Hindu mythology and cosmology move hand in hand each reflecting and strengthening the other. For the Hindu, the birth of the cosmos was after all a metaphysical event as much as a physical one. In the Beyond Beyond state, the Universal Unconscious Mind for a moment experienced an egotistical consciousness, triggering creation. Thus myth and math combine and while a pragmatic determination of  days is derived from calculation of degrees and their sub division in the movement of the Moon and the Sun through the constellations of the Zodiac, the material fact governing the passage of material time in the material lives  of people, there is also the metaphysical significance attached to these stellar passages based on the mythology and cosmology of the Vedas and the scriptures.Thus the gods acquire a stellar context, while the planets, a mythological one, with mythological reasons for their placement. 

At the back of my mind therefore I have always been aware of that lunar date for addressing those issues but never really enquired who fixed it and how. Most Pundits and astrologers get their information from the Almanac while the public, from the dates given in the Panchang calendar but they rarely bother to find out how these dates get fixed. A lunar day can begin at any time during the Gregorian day and likewise end at any time with no regularity. Therefore festivals never arrive on the same Gregorian date each year. Sometimes there are two and on rare occasions even three lunar days during one Gregorian day. Intrigued and confused I decided to find out and called a reputed astrologer home to get to the heart of the matter. He warned me that it would be beyond my comprehension but I insisted that he give it a try. The following is the result of that.

Days of the month according to the Hindu Almanac begin with the first day after the full moon, Purnima and continue for fifteen days till no-moon, Amavasya. This is the phase called Krishna Paksha ( dark as Lord Krishna). Then commences the remaining half of the month when the Moon is in ascent called the Shukla Paksha. The thirty lunar ‘days’ of the two halves in terms of our solar month gets compressed into 27/29 days depending on the movement of the Moon. When a Tithi begins at sunrise it is co-terminous with a solar day but sometimes a Tithi can extend into more than a solar day even extending into the third solar day. Tithis extending into several solar days are considered inauspicious for certain activities like marriage.

The principle for determining a lunar day is acutely complex but with full astronomical logic. Simply put, the lunar day or Tithi is determined by calculating the difference in the longitudinal locations of the Sun and Moon in the Zodiac at 5.30 AM on any solar day. The figures for the location of the Moon are subtracted from the figures for the location of the Sun to arrive at the difference in degrees, which is then divided by 12. This is because it would be recalled, the Moon is deemed to traverse one Tithi every time it moves 12 degrees from the Sun’s location. From the resulting figure is subtracted 15 ( lunar days). The balance figure indicates the Tithi on a particular solar day in the Gregorian calendar.

samrat yantra

Giant Sun Dial 1800 A.D. Jaipur

iPhoto Library

Jai Singh II the Astrologer King who built the observatory

The Panchang has two sets of tables in regard to the Tithi. One provides the location of the Sun, Moon and other planets at 5.30 AM on days of the Gregorian calendar, throughout the year. The time 5.30 AM has been adopted as mean time. The second set is specific to a city and provides the exact time of sunrise and sunset which varies from place to place. This information is necessary because the Sun is the principal heavenly body in astrology and is also the ‘witness’, much as fire is the witness in ritualistic fire worship of Yagyas. The daylight hours are the hours of the witness and therefore the span of time from sunrise to sunset become crucial as all auspicious activities must take place during this time. Furthermore before the advent of standard time for all India, it was the practice to calculate Tithis from place to place based on the time of sunrise and sunset. One Hindu king even went as far as building a grand open air observatory in the city of Jaipur in the 18th century to determine the precise movements of the Sun.

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Another early 18th century sundial at the Jaipur astrological observatory

Let us now try and calculate a Tithi to make the issue clear. According to the Panchang on 25 July 2003 ( the date on which I consulted the astrologer about the manner of fixing Tithis) the Tithi at Jaipur was Ekadasi, the 11th lunar day. On that day the longitudinal location of the Sun and Moon are given as follows   

  Zodiac Sign                  Degree

                      ( Rashi )                   ( Ansha )                   

Moon            1 (i.e. 12+1=13)            18                   

Sun                      3                                8

                                                                                                  ___________________________________

                                                                                                        subtract            10                                  10

NOTE: Each Zodiac Sign has  30 degrees of the 360 degrees of the Zodiac ( 12 Signs x 30 = 360)

The above indicates that on 25 July 2003 the Moon having traveled through the first Sign, Aries, was now in Taurus second Sign of the Zodiac having completed 18 degrees out of 30 degrees of Taurus. The Sun having traveled through the third Sign Gemini was in the fourth Sign Cancer having completed 8 degrees out of the 30 degrees of Cancer. The difference in the positions of the Sun and Moon was 10 Signs which is 10×30 degrees = 300 degrees. Add to that the difference in degrees which was 10, equalling 310 degrees. As the lunar calendar is divided into two phases of 15 days we subtract 15 days from no-moon to full moon (180 degrees) and are left with 130 degrees. Every time the Moon moves 12 degrees from the Sun it constitutes a Tithi. Dividing 130 degrees by 12 we get 10.8 days after the full moon. Thankfully this tortuous excersise is done by experts and the Pundit or the common man does not have to turn his hair grey doing it.

On 25 July therefore at 5.30 AM the major part of the 11th Tithi would have passed and only 0.2 of that Tithi would carry into the day until 8.58 AM at which point the 12th Tithi, Dvadashi would commence. Thus on the 25th July two lunar dates would occur, the eleventh and the twelfth. The twelfth would in turn terminate on the 26th at 10.42 AM. The above shows that lunar dates can occur at any time during the solar date and carry into the next solar date. The precise times of commencement and termination of Tithis are crucial for predictions of auspicious and inauspicious times for events in a Hindu’s life, for drawing up his horoscope, commencements of festivals and timings for prayers and even engaging in commercial activity. The Panchang provides all such information from city to city and are therefore an invaluable necessity for regulating such activities.

Now that we know what a Tithi actually is let us turn to their classification, to learn how some are auspicious and others not so. The basic principle is the strength of the Moon. It is generally auspicious when in full strength, five days either side of full moon, moderately so in between and inauspicious as it reaches no-moon status for five days on either side of no-moon.

The Tithis are classified in groups of three, into five categories : Poorna, Rikta, Jaya, Bhadra, and Nanda.

The Poorna Tithi implies that it is full, complete, all embracing and generally positive in conferring good effects. (These astrological interpretations based on Vedic injunctions are what one may call forecasts of a general nature for the multitude, equally applicable to all. The particular astrological forecasts for an individual of course will have to rely on his individual horoscope)  The 5th, 10th, and 15th tithis are Poorna, which includes the full moon day, Purnima falling on the 15th tithi of Shukla Paksh. There is a traditional practice of leaving some milk in a metal salver in the open on such nights so that the auspicious rays of the full moon may empower the milk which is consumed the next day ensuring good health and fortune. The ruling planet of Poorna Tithis is Jupiter who confers riches, growth and strength. For religious and auspicious activities these are the best Tithis, particularly if they fall on Thursdays, whose lord is also Jupiter.

As against the Poorna, there are the empty category called Rikta, denoting want, impoverishment, weakness and scarcity. No celebrations or activities for gain should be undertaken on these Tithis. They are the 4th, 9th, and 14th Tithis. Their lord is Saturn, distant from the Sun and therefore a dark planet of want. A Rikta falling on a Saturday is particularly inauspicious.

Another category is Jaya signifying victory and courage. These fall on the 3rd, 8th and 13th. Here again the best Jayas are the 13th of Shukla Paksh (ascendant phase) and 3rd of Krishna Paksh ( descending phase), somewhat auspicious being the 8th of Shukla and Krishna and least auspicious are the 13th of Krishna and 3rd of Shukla. Lord of Jayas is Mars, therefore the best Jayas would be those that fall on Tuesdays, whose lord again is Mars. In activities where victory is desired, like in battle, legal conflict etc, Jayas are the best days to launch such activities.

Then we have the Bhadra category concerned with charitable and welfare activities. These fall on the 2nd,7th and 12th. Here again the most auspicious Bhadras are the 12th of shukla and 2nd of Krishna. the least auspicious are the 2nd of Shukla and 12th of Krishna. The ruling planet of Bhadras is Mercury and the best Bhadra would be the one falling on Wednesdays whose lord is Mercury.

finally there is the Nanda category falling on the 1st, 6th and 11th Tithis. Their lord is Venus and they denote pleasurable activities. These Tithis are appropriate for inaugurations and entertainment. The best Nandas fall on Fridays, Venus’ day and the most auspicious Nandas are the 11th Tithi of Shukla Paksha and 1st Tithi of Krishna Paksha.

This is how the curious Tithis rule the lives of Hindu traditionalists and often even those who are not but who wish to be on the right side of the stars, just in case. 

jantar mantar

Sun Dials at the famous 18th century Jantar Mantar observatory Jaipur.

 

miniature_painting_raga_chandra

The Moon, Lord Chandra, is a well-known figure in Hindu mythology, with striking good looks, almost effeminate, tall, youthful and amorous by nature. He has a likable and friendly persona but is both sensitive and fickle minded and somewhat wild and unpredictable. He is shown wearing fine white garments and silver ornaments. He is known as Lord Chandra, the shining one and Soma, the intoxicating drink of the gods, from which we derive the name of Monday, Somvar. He wears a garland of pearls and rides a chariot seated on a lotus cushion, drawn by a pair of antelopes, befitting the speed with which he traverses the heavens as the fastest ‘planet’, barely pausing in a Sign of the Zodiac for a couple of days. He helps trees and plants grow, is a source of strength for the demigods on account of their supping of the divine nectar, Soma, which he symbolizes.

Legends tell us that he is the son of Varun, lord of the oceans. Other legends tell us that he is son of the sage Atri and his consort Anasuya. The Yadav dynasty of Lord Krishna, the divine incarnation of Vishnu the sustainer of the worlds, claim descent from him, as do several warrior clans, calling themselves the Chandravanshis. Legend also has it that he abducted Tara, the wife of Brihaspati, Jupiter, the guru of the demigods and she begot his son Buddh, Mercury. A popular legend speaks of his marriage to the 27 daughters of the administrator of the temporal cosmos, Daksh Prajapati but his obsessive devotion to only one of them Rohini, to the complete neglect of the others upset Daksha. The 27 symbolize the star clusters (Asterisms) within the Zodiac, also called the Lunar Mansions, the Nakshatras. The moon inhabits one each day of the lunar month. The legend goes that thus angered the intemperate Daksha cursed the Moon, afflicting him with leprosy. The Moon pleaded with shi-n1Lord Shiva to undo the curse. After much penance Shiva allowed a modification of the curse. Thereafter he was to experience a diminishing of his glow for half the month and a revival in the other half till he attained his former glory during Purnima, the full moon day. The moon also adorns the hair lock of Lord Shiva to keep him cool after he drank the pot of poison which emerged from the churning of the  cosmic oceans, to save the world from apocalypse.

Quite aside from the myths and legends the Moon occupies a predominant position in the lives of Hindus as the single most important ‘planet’. The Hindu calendar for millenia has been lunar not solar. Days of the week are determined by the position of the Moon in the Nakshatras and the month is defined by its waxing and waning phases. Auspicious and inauspicious moments arise from the status of the Moon. For Hindus it is their true chronometer and also the harbinger of good and evil events. But it is much more than a device to track time. It has been given a central place in astrology because of Vedic presumptions. It is regarded as a significator of the mind and emotions as the Sun is the significator of the Soul. The state of the mind governed by the Moon becomes the key element in determining the life of man.

The Moon governs the manner of determining days and months in a year. We therefore have a lunar day ( Tithi ), a lunar month and a lunar year, lunar birthdays and natal charts. Among Hindus it is not the solar birth Sign ( the Zodiac Sign in which the Sun was at the time of a birth) but the Zodiac Sign which was on the horizon  at the time of birth that determines the birth Sign assigned to a person. For instance my solar birth sign is Sagittarius but the birth Sign for my natal chart is Cancer. We have already seen that there are 27 Nakshatras or star clusters within the 12 Signs of the Zodiac, 2  1/4  for each. Hindu astrology, Jyotish, gives you your precise Nakshatra at birth ( the Nakshatra in which the Moon was at the time of your birth ), which determines your likely personality and inclinations. The placement of the Moon at birth also determines the planetary cycles of life, the Dashas, which are central to predicting events in one’s life in Jyotish.

The Moon in the ascendant phase is a benefic planet for the subjects chart and in the waning phase at the time of birth is malefic. The moon is lord of Cancer and like the Sun owns only one Zodiac Sign. It is exalted in Taurus and debilitated in Scorpio. It is friendly to the Sun and Mercury, neutral to others and inimical to none. This ‘relationship’ between planets assumes significance when studying the natal chart. For instance when two planets are in ‘opposite’ Houses of the chart in astrological terms they are said to ‘aspect’  or influence each other. Their relationship then comes into play for predictions.

The Moon is significator of the mind, intellect, temperament, mother, meritorious Karma from previous lives, beauty, complexion, attractiveness, para-psychological abilities and love of pleasure. On the negative side it is significator of lunacy, addictions, jaundice, epilepsy and lethargy. Physically it represents the mind, chest, breasts and limbs.

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Nakshatras with adjacent Zodiac signs

the sun

Artist: Pieter Weltevrede Credit: http://www.sanatansociety.com

The Sun was one of the most important gods of the early Vedic period, influenced by Aryan beliefs. However, in the later Vedic period with growing philosophical sophistication  produced by the influence of pre- Vedic indigenous belief systems  and the arrival of the Trinity of Creator, Sustainer and Annihilator, the Sun progressively lost his pre-eminence in the Hindu cosmological framework. Yet as a visible and active symbol of godhead he continued to retain his hold on  Hindu spiritual inclinations. Vedic hymns are numerous that extol his grandeur in exquisite Sanskrit poetry. There are many Sanskrit words for sun each with a slight difference in the highlighting of some quality of the Sun : Aditya, the giver of light; Ravi, luminous;  Savitar, impeller towards light and enlightenment; Divakar, the one who gives us daylight; Mihir the one who waters the earth; Sakshi, the witness; Karmasakshi, the witness of our deeds and the most common, Surya, Lord Sun. These names are very commonly found among men in India.

One of the most beautiful Vedic hymns to Surya is recited universally in India, touching ones heart and soul.:

Asato ma sat gamaya ( Lead us from falsehood to truth)

Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya ( Lead us from darkness to light )

Mrityor ma Amritam gamaya ( Lead us from death to immortality)

 It is a motto and morning theme song at schools to inspire young students. I was delighted to find that it has also inspired Hollywood, becoming the concluding incantation of the popular blockbuster Sci-fi film, Matrix Resolutions.

There is also the famous Gayatri Mantra which is the mystical mantra that promotes enlightenment. Lord Krishna in the Hindu bible the Bhagawad Gita tells Arjun his disciple and friend that of all the Mantras he is the Gayatri, the highest. The mantra has profound mystical depths. It suggests the connectivity of the earth ( life on the material plane ), the cosmos ( the created physical universe) and the spiritual realms, the different levels of reality permeated by a divine essence, manifested through the transporting light of the Sun, upon which we meditate, praying that thereby ones mind is enlightened:

Om, bhur buvaha svaha ( earth, sky, and heavens)

Tat savitur varenyam ( the divine essence manifesting through the creative principle of light, the sun, worthy of praise)

Bhargo devasya dhimahi ( that divine light we meditate upon)

Dhiyo yo naha prachodayat ( may our intellect and mind be illuminated by it)

 

The role of the Sun as a vehicle to facilitate such enlightenment is central to the mantra

 

According to legend when Lord Rama, earthly manifestation of the supreme godhead, became fatigued and despondent in his battle against the demon king Ravana, his mentor the sage Agastya initiated him into worship of the Sun with the Aditya Hridaya Stotra ( heart of the Sun hymn ) which then reinforced his confidence and strength. The hymn is often prescribed to strengthen resolve and assure success in adversity.

In southern India in the state of Tamil Nadu one of the most celebrated festivals is that of Pongal , while in the North the festival of Makar Sakranti is the most auspicious, both dedicated to the sun when it enters the sign of Capricorn and begins it six month journey of empowerment through summer.

Konark-06

credit: indiaouting.com

A famous Sun temple in the east is the magnificent tenth century Konarak temple in Orissa state. The stone temple is shaped like a giant chariot drawn by the Sun’s seven solar steeds, representing the days of the week, with giant stone wheels having twelve spokes representing the Signs of the Zodiac. Another famous temple is at Kumbakaran in Tamilnadu. It enshrines the sun as the principle deity surrounded by the other eight ‘planets’ facing him. Pilgrims with planetary afflictions ( Doshas) in their horoscopes visit the temple to appease the deities for mitigation of the afflictions. This is the only temple in India where all nine planets are found together. The Sun is also called Adivar, the first among the planets and is called the king of the planets.

Several royal families claim descent from the Sun – the Suryavanshis – with the legendary avatar Lord Rama being the foremost among them.

According to one legend, the Sun is the son of Indra, lord of the heavens. According to another he is the son of the sage Kashyap and Aditi, the earth. The legend goes that Aditi found one of her sons in the shape of an egg and presuming it to be lifeless called it Martand ( dead egg) and cast him into the sky. However in the sky the egg shone with brilliance and Surya was born.

The sacred sign of the Swastika used often in ritual prayer is also sometimes taken to represent the Sun.

Another interesting legend is about the marriage of Sanjana, daughter of the divine engineer and craftsman Vishvakarma ( the god of all mechanics) , to the Sun. Their first child was Manu, the Indian equivalent of Adam. however, Sanjana could not bear the brilliance of her consort and whenever the Sun approached her, she looked away. angered by this the Sun cursed her with fearsome progeny. She then gave birth to the god of death, Yama, and Yamuna, the river which skirts the capital Delhi and is notorious for overflowing her banks causing annual suffering and havoc. Finally unable to bear his presence she fled to the woods, leaving behind her sister, shadow ( chaya). At first the Sun mistook her for Sanjana and we have learnt of a son emerging from that unlikely union in the shape of Shani ( Saturn). Later on discovering the subterfuge he abandoned Chaya and ventured forth to find his beloved Sanjana, who meanwhile transformed herself into a mare to escape detection. Surya located her and transformed himself into a stallion and mated with her. She kept changing form into that of other female animals while he did likewise as a male animal, each time mating with her, thus populating the world with many species of animals. 

sudarshanMeanwhile Sanjana’s father Visvakarma sought to remedy the problem of too much brilliance with some divine engineering and taking some of the solar fire out of Surya recast it into weapons for the gods. Thus Lord Vishnu acquired the flashing discus which he is depicted as swirling on his finger, Lord Shiva his splendid trident, lord Yama, god of death his staff and lord Kuber, god of wealth, the mace.

Lord Surya also fathered the monkey king Sugriva of the Ramayana. In the other epic the Mahabharata, Kunti the mother of the heroes the Pandavas, nurses the guilt of having borne a child out-of-wedlock from the Sun, without really wanting to. She had steadfastly worshiped the Sun in the hope that he would grant her a vision of himself. He did more than that and left her with an unwanted child, Karna. Karna was allowed to drift in a basket to his fate but was rescued by a childless couple who reared him. When later he learnt of his true identity from his mother he became deeply resentful and swore revenge on his half brothers, joining the ranks of their bitter enemies. Karna becomes one of the most tragic figures of Indian mythology.

sculpture_at_konark_temple

Lord Surya sculpture – Sun temple Konarak

These are some of the colourful legends about the Sun in Vedic, Puranic and later Hindu mythology, influencing the imagination and spirituality of worshipers. Worship of the Sun as a deity has however dwindled and is confined only to a few corners of the subcontinent. However, the Vedic god appears to have found permanent sanctuary in Hindu astrology and is prominent in the Hindu calendar as the principal planet with a day of the week, Sunday, Ravivar, dedicated to him. For determination of time and casting of horoscopes the time of sunrise and sunset play a crucial role.

 In Hindu astrology he is significator of Atma, the soul and also of the individual ego. He is also the significator of father in the horoscope, health, courage, honour, status, fame and power. He also is significator of eyes and vision, bones and a balanced nature. A strong well placed Sun in the horoscope is an indication of a dynamic extrovert personality. Surya is however in astrological terms considered a somewhat malefic planet, probably in view of the heat he generates resulting in drought.

The Sun is lord of only one Sign in the Zodiac, Leo. He is exalted in Aries and debilitated in Libra. He is friendly towards the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter, inimical to Saturn and Venus and neutral towards Mercury. His gemstone is the red ruby and metal, gold. His day is Sunday. Devotees are advised to do the Surya Namaskar, prayers to the Sun, as it rises each morning, for good health and spiritual evolution. It is a common sight to see them by the river bank or sea-shore at dawn with folded hands.

 

varanasi-priest-sunrise-worship

credit: sodahead.com

 

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