Archives for category: astrology and spirituality

2ND HOUSE

 

The Second House is concerned with wealth, more particularly, accumulated credit and worth. It is also concerned with family, friends, capability or otherwise to enjoy happiness, ability to speak the truth, beauty and love.

HOUSES -PLANETS- SIGNS

The next constellation, Leo  falls in this House for our subject under study. The Lord or owner of Leo is the Sun, situated for our subject’s horoscope in his 5th house ( see chart above). That House is part of the Holy triangle (First, Fifth and Ninth Houses are thus categorized in Hindu scriptures). These are auspicious areas of the chart. The 5th and the 9th Houses are where the Goddess of prosperity and well-being, Laxmi is said to reside.

The Second House is one of the three Houses of ‘acquisition’ deemed inauspicious for ownership of Signs falling there (together with the 6th and the 11th). However, as the Sun, the owner of the Sign Leo, happens to be located in the ‘Holy Triangle’ (the 5th is such a Triane House) and further as scriptural injunction proclaim that a malefic planet located in an unauspicious House will produce auspicious results, it is likely to produce positive effects. Additionally the Sun is located in the constellation Scorpio in the 5th House, whose lord is Mars, a planet ‘friendly’ to the Sun. The sun is therefore in a friendly Sign. We noted in the post on the First House that planets in friendly Signs are inclined to do good to the House concerned, whereas planets in unfriendly Signs bring harm – the analogy of a person being in his friend’s home being happy is apt. Therefore the beneficial effects arising do not get blemished either. Furthermore, the Sun in the 5th House is aspected by Jupiter (count 7 from where jupiter is located in the 11th House). Not only does Jupiter’s aspect always bring goodness (Jupiter’s vision according to scriptures is like nectar falling) but Jupiter also happens to be an extraordinary friend of the Sun (Param Mitra), enhancing the positive attributes acquired by the Sun. Here let us recollect the principle of flow on which Jyotish astrology relies. Positive energy thus generated from the Sun flows to the Sign it owns, Leo, in the Second House.

We also note that the Lunar Node Rahu is located in the Second House. Rahu essentially malefic in nature produces effects according to the lord of the Sign it occupies – in this case the Sun. As the lord of Leo has developed several positive attributes, Rahu will act accordingly to imitate that ambiance  particularly during its phase (Dasha) of 18 years (more on the Dasha system later) it will be beneficial for the horoscope. We also note that Rahu is not aspected by any planet, allowing unmitigated influence of the Sun’s positive attributes on it. Rahu therefore, though in a ‘killer zone’ (Marak Sthan – the Second and Seventh Houses are thus defined) may not become a killer before the normal span of life of the subject is over and only eventually in its phase or sub-phase be the agent for precipitating death.

Yet the influence of separative planets in the Second House (both Rahu and the Sun being so defined) has the effect of making the subject of the chart wander away from home, origins, family or clan and parents. Yet on account of the Sun’s positive attributes, this could prove a blessing in disguise and be the cause of his development away from his native place of origin. However, it makes for a personality given to lying and misleading others.

The location of Leo in the 2nd House is indicative of earning wealth through activity connected with Government. The location of the owner of the Sign (Sun) in the 2nd House,located in the 5th ( House of progeny) brings gains or wealth through progeny and is indicative of a wealthy individual. It also makes the subject capable of handling difficult assignments effectively and display of exceptional intelligence in early years but it also makes for an unhappy nature.

The aspect of Saturn on the 2nd House creates obstructions and delays in fulfillment of issues relate to the House – thus the subject may attain to a comfortable life of wealth and well-being only in later life.

This House also appears to have fared reasonably well, taking all factors into consideration. However, what is forecast is separation from parents through their early demise or in other ways and separation through wanderlust or nature of employment and gain of wealth from such separation. The subject is not likely to be wanting in wealth, whatever the nature of the separation.     

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FIRST HOUSE 2

 

In the previous two posts I sought to explain the astrological chart in Jyotish  (Hindu Astrology). I tried to give a clear idea of how the chart has a reality in space projected from the earth and that the 12 houses in the chart representing different aspects of ones life are essentially directional. We studied the placement of the Zodiac Signs in the 12 Houses for an individual who we selected for our case study. We then studied the regions of the chart and the ownership of the Signs by planets which has a central significance in Jyotish astrology. Finally we studied the placement of planets and their value as emerging for the chart in question. the idea was to give interested lay men some understanding of a complex discipline. I now propose to give a House by House assessment of the individual chart in question. For those who have not seen the earlier posts it may be useful to do so to be able to follow the presentation now being made.

The First house is called the ‘Lagna’, the connection, in Jyotish astrology. It shows the connection of the incarnating soul to the mortal world. It is also called the House of birth and the ‘Ascendant’, meaning the Zodiac Sign which ascends on the horizon at the birth of a particular subject. It represents the bodily vehicle which the soul has been assigned to inhabit, to discharge the fruits of its past Karmas and to engage in fresh Karmas in the course of its journey of 48 million incarnations (according to Hindu scriptures) to eventual enlightenment and reunion with the Absolute Essence – truth, Consciousness and Beauty (Satyam – Shivam – Sundaram). The nature of that vehicle consisting of the body and mind, is represented by the First House; its shape, appearance, size, health,character, temperament and personality. It also represents the early stages of life and longevity of the subject.

Our chosen subject was born in the Sign Cancer ( not according to the solar calendar, where the Sign at birth in which the Sun was at birth is taken as the birth Sign, but according to the Hindu system of astrology, where the Zodiac Sign rising at birth on the horizon is taken as the birth Sign), the Kark Rashi or Cancer in this case. The very fact of birth in Cancer confers a sensitive and creative nature, mild and introverted, friendly, slender of build, potential; to be prosperous, intelligent, spiritually inclined, compassionate and generous. Lord Rama’s birth sign is also believed to have been Cancer. The ancient scriptures provide the key to these interpretations. This emerging picture based on the Zodiac Sign in the first House, will however be modified and amplified by other factors introduced by planetary influences.

The consideration of the First House is always most important. As they say, well begun is half done. If the First House is ‘spoilt’, it becomes an impossible task for the rest of the Horoscope to repair the damage. If the elements going to influence the First House are positive it will be a real head start for the life of the subject in question.

HOUSES -PLANETS- SIGNS

 

We have seen that the Moon is going to play a positive role in this Horoscope. Not only is it only the Lord of the Ascendant (Cancer), the sign at birth in the First house – it is also the ‘Strongest’ planet for the chart, determined on the basis of complex calculations of position, location, strength and association with other planets, but the First House has been adjudged the strongest house for the chart. Together they make for a powerful birth. We need to probe deeper. The Moon is located in Aries at birth in the Tenth House. This is good because Mars ( we saw in the earlier posts) is a powerful planet for the chart, and it is the owner of the sign Aries in which the Moon is a tenant in the tenth house( see illustration of chart above). The reason why Mars is powerful for the chart is because it owns two Signs located, one in a ‘Triangular’ House, the Fifth ( part of the holy triangle of 1st, 5th, and 9th, the most auspicious Houses in all charts) and one in the Central area (called Angular Houses). Furthermore it itself is located in the ninth House, the most auspicious house in the Holy Triangle and in the chart. According to scriptures, a planet owning one of each becomes most auspicious for extending benefits to the subject of the chart. These positive attributes acquired by Mars tend to pass on from owner of a Sign to the tenant – from Mars here, to the Moon. The Moon as owner of the Ascendant Sign Cancer in the first House receives these positive Martian attributes and passes them on to the Sign it owns, Cancer located in the First House. This becomes a superb flow of positive martian energy flowing from the ninth House of Fortune and Spirituality and past good Karmas, to the Moon and the constellation it owns and in which the subject is born.

This principle of ‘flow’ is important in Hindu astrology. One is always on the look out for the channels being established through which positive and negative energies may flow through any given chart.

Now one has to look around for other factors and influences to build further on these positive attributes or detract from them. The next important consideration is planets ‘aspecting’ (looking at ) the First House and planets aspecting the owner of the Sign in the first House.

Venus from the seventh House (180 degrees) is looking at the First House (see chart above). The Venus aspect is benign, because it is located in Capricorn, owned by Saturn which is a friend, therefore Venus is a tenant in a friendly House. when you’re in the house of a friend you are happy and in a good positive state of mind. Venus is also in an ‘exchange’ of Houses with its friend Saturn, meaning that both friends are in each others’ Houses as tenants. this in astrology is considered a ‘special relationship’, which makes both more than happy. This positive energy from Venus then ‘flows’ into the first house to enrich it. Saturn, the friend’s philosophic nature thus passes from it to its friendly tenant Venus and onwards to the first house it is aspecting.

Jupiter is also aspecting Venus in the seventh House. Jupiter is significator of wisdom and knowledge and it passes these attributes to Venus and onwards to the First house. Thus the subject of the chart receives all these positive energies in its First House making it likely to be philosophical, learned and wise on account of the Saturn and Jupiter aspects and glamorous on account of the venus aspect on the first house. He is likely to have a life full of luxuries, refined sensibilities and artistic sense, lover of fine arts on account of their combined flow of energies through venus to the first House.

However, Saturn’s aspect on the First house is likely to be troublesome for the subject’s health, particularly in childhood ( as the First house represents health in early life) though its malefic influence is modified by the ‘special relationship’ formed with Venus through ‘exchange’ of houses, its conjunction with Jupiter ( both sitting together in the same House, the eleventh) and its being aspected by Mercury from the Fifth house. Furthermore as Saturn owns the Eighth House of longevity and death (Aquarius being located there which it owns – see chart above) and also aspects its own Sign in the house there, it promises a fairly long lifespan for the subject. According to scriptures, Saturn in its own house or aspecting it ceases to be a ‘killer'(Marak). If these modifications were not available, its aspecting of the House of birth would have led to the death of the subject in infancy. Yet essentially, Saturn remains malefic, even if it makes the subject more philosophically inclined and for Cancer ascendants in the Natal chart, remains an eventual ‘killer’ i.e. in the end in one of its phases (more about phases) later  when the normal lifespan is ending it will be the initiator of death. In any case it portends poor heath for the subject. However in aspecting the First House, along with the modified malefic influence, it also carries the positive energy of jupiter with which it is conjunct (in same House) and Mercury with which it is in mutual aspect each looking at the other. Thus its philosophical nature with poor health) combined with jupiter’s knowledge and wisdom an Mercury’s skills with speech and writing are also passed onto the First House and help min shaping the subject’s abilities in these areas.

There remains a fuller consideration of the Moon as Lord of the ascendant, first House. a powerful and well placed Moon will give the subject prestige and power, make him a leader or administrator and involved with governance. The Moon is also significator of the mind, from creativity to lunacy. in our case study the only aspect on the Moon is that of Rahu, the Northern Lunar node, from the second house. Rahu is a deviant planet and produces a deviating mind. If the Moon was weak in the Natal chart it could lead to mental illness but as it is the most powerful planet with Mars ( in the ascendant phase on the eve of full-moon), it becomes insatiable curiosity, need to investigate and always look for a quest. But Rahu’s aspect creates an urge to taste variety, even when it is prohibited.

We have seen that those born in Cancer have a pleasant and amiable personality. The influence of Mars, as the Moon is located in its Sign, gives this pleasant personality aggressive traits, a pushing nature and vigour and zeal.

Thus from an analysis of the First House a preliminary pen picture emerges. the positives outweigh the negatives. this is a lucky man. More about him in the analysis of the second House.

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astrological aspects

 

 

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From my earlier posts we are already familiar with the universal prohibitions arising from the nature of the Tithi ( Hindu Lunar day), the daily Chaughadias ( hourly change in auspicious and inauspicious phases of the day) eclipses etc. The longer term prohibitions become more significant as they affect Hindu social life and commercial activity over extended periods as contrasted with the shorter term prohibitions which pass quickly from hour to hour or Lunar day to Lunar day. These prohibitions relate to ‘universal effects’ as contrasted with ‘individual effects’ which are the concern of the horoscope of an individual or sometimes of a national unit.These universal prohibitions, applicable to all are governed by the following astrological or astronomical events:

DAKSHINAYAN

The fundamental precept of long-term prohibitions arise from the belief that when the Sun is in Uttarayan (Norther swing) moving from the tropic of Capricorn to the tropic of Cancer, it is an auspicious time  as the Sun becomes stronger and empowered with every passing day. The commencement of this process is marked by the great festival of Makar Sakranti ( entry of the Sun into Capricorn) mid January, with great rejoicing, kite flying and feeding cattle around town. When the Sun is in Dakshinayan ( southern swing) moving from Cancer to Capricorn, its rays grow weaker, losing power and the time is less auspicious. This is marked by Kark Sakranti ( entry into Cancer), mid July. If this were strictly observed or enforced, no auspicious activity like marriage, inauguration of temples , entry into a new home, ceremonial tonsure of a child’s hair, coronation or assumption of important office etc etc  would be astrologically recommended during a six month period during each year. Fortunately, relief has been provided in the month of Margsheesh ( November-December) but only till the Sun enters Sagittarius ( Dhanu Sakranti) in mid-December when the prohibition becomes total as in this month the Sun is at its weakest in the year.  This period is called the Malmas, the dark month.The prohibition ends with Makar Sakranti and suddenly there are marriages everywhere once again. Even a former Governor of Rajasthan state waited till Makar Sakranti before assuming office.

SHRAAD

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Soon after the Dakshinayan phase commences, come the further prohibitions on account of Shraad. These are observances which are not festive but equally essential. We are said to be born with two types of obligations: debts to the gods ( Dev Rinn) and those to the ancestors ( Pitri Rinn). Dev Rinns are discharged through prayer and ritual and the first half of every day is for that. Pitri Rinn is discharged through ritual observances for ancestors and the latter half of the day is appropriate for that. Both are to be undertaken with the Sun as witness, therefore preferably between sunrise and sunset.

The Shraads commence with the full-moon of the month of Bhadrapad and end with the no-moon of the month of Ashwin, generally falling in the month of September each year, prior to the Sharad ( Winter) Navratra ( discussed in the post on fasts). This is a fortnight during the year which is reserved for deceased ancestors. Ancestors include three generations of parents, grandparents and great grand parents and uncles, aunts and siblings who have no progeny other than yourself to honour them. That which is done with Shraddha, faith, is Shraad. During the Shraads all other auspicious and festive events are prohibited. Each of the fifteen Shraad days is dedicated to the ancestor who died on that Tithi. Prayers and offerings to ancestors consist of preparations of rice, lentil and milk and the favourite food of that ancestor if known and then distributed to five beings – a cow, a crow, a dog, ants and a beggar – called the Panch Gras. Thereafter Brahmins are fed. This upholds an ancient tradition of feeding all manner of beings before consuming ones righteous repast. Through the mouths of these beings the ancestors are satisfied and honoured. mahalaya-ama-nIt is believed that the ancestors are permitted to visit the mortal world from their realms as spirits during this period to observe whether they are still loved and remembered. Most people observe these rituals meticulously as it is believed that one will be blessed with progeny and they will be assured long life and a successful career only if the ancestors thus honoured bless the family. The principle is that you are only entitled to future generations if you care to remember and honour your past generations – sounds quite logical.

DEVSHAYAN

images (9)Growing up in an Indian home one often hears the remark ‘sorry we can’t celebrate the wedding for the next few months, the god’s are asleep’. This was always intriguing. how possibly did the gods go to sleep? Of course one was familiar with the strict timings observed in temples when the gods awaken in the morning to the chanting of Mantras and the afternoons when the curtains are drawn or gates closed when they are resting, bathing or being presented with offerings of food. The timing for worship and divine audience  Darshan, was fixed in the morning and evening hours. If you came at the wrong time your worship would be without viewing the deity of the temple. Thus one was familiar with the concept of divine rest periods. But the prolonged rest for months on end in the lunar calendar was another matter and once again had stellar origins.

The period of divine rest or inactivity falls between two Ekadashis ( eleventh Tithis). Beginning with the Ekadashi in the Indian month of Ashad, Shukla Paksh ( lunar ascending phase), falling generally in June-July, it extends to the Ekadashi falling in the month of Kartik, Shukla Paksh. The first Ekadashi is popularly known as Devshayan Ekadashi ( Divine rest Ekadashi), signalling commencement of Devshayan Dosh (divine inactivity affliction) and the second one is called Devauthni Ekadashi ( Divine awakening Ekadashi) signalling end of the afflicted months.

Hindu-God Vishnu imageAs the Devshayan Dosh runs more or less concurrently with the Dakshinayan, the prohibition becomes strengthened further and no one dares to breach it by arranging any auspicious activity then. After the Devuthni Ekadashi, cities in India suddenly spring to life for a month, squeezing in a spate of marriages and events. Roads become so crowded with marriage processions and bridegrooms on horseback and elephants moving with their dancing and singing entourages that traffic happily comes to a standstill, unless of course you have to take a flight or a train. Mass marriages are also the order of the day for people of humbler means.

MALMAS

A month later, despite the prohibition arising from ‘divine rest’ having been lifted, another prohibition arises on account of the Sun entering Sagittarius and once again there is a complete lull on the Hindu social calendar. The entire sub-continent pauses till the Sun leaves Sagittarius and enters Capricorn on Makar Sakranti when its Uttarayan phase begins. Then all is well again for another six months, though short-term prohibitions do crop up from time to time. the Pundit is your trusted guide through all this. The question arises why the Sun’s entry into Sagittarius is deemed unfortunate. Of course the obvious explanation is that it is the month in the year when it is the least empowered having moved to its southernmost point and therefore inauspicious. But there is also a mythological basis for Malmas being inauspicious.

Jupiter, lord of Sagittarius, is the divine mentor and Guru of the demigods. When a royal personage, like the Sun enters the abode of his Guru, he must humbly conduct himself as a disciple and assume a lower seat from him, which he does not find pleasant. This causes him discomfort and being thus reduced in stature he is not his radiant self and in such a state cannot be expected to confer auspiciousness on celebrations. Marriages therefore are avoided during this period. also deferred are important trading and commercial transactions. Indeed, the Indian stock market itself is affected by these distant and invisible cosmic events and it is only after Malmas has passed that the stock market assumes full momentum again.

  Once, being in a hurry I installed a statue of my father in the village square at considerable cost with a stone carved canopy, despite warnings by the Pundits. Within days I was informed that a wayward truck had hit the canopy and that it had shattered, though the statue only suffered minor damage as it too was toppled to the ground. Could have been an unfortunate co-incidence – who knows? 

While the presence of a visible Full-Moon engendering a feeling of auspiciousness and a clearly visible eclipse or transit of a comet arousing fear and being interpreted as evil, may be understandable, the occurrence of a cosmic event which is not visible and can only be known through calculation of movement of the Sun affecting something as mundane and material as the stock market is most remarkable and shows the dominant influence of stellar phenomena on Indian culture and civilization. One cannot escape the feeling that India invisibly reels under a stellar spell.

ADHIKMAS

The third major prohibition period is the additional  month which we saw had to be inserted within  a month in the lunar calendar every three years. Generally Adhikmas ( additional month) falls in late summer or monsoons and therefore in the period of Dakshinaya and the Devshayan, thus not creating an additional period of prohibition but this may not always be so, when the prohibition period would grow even longer than it is. Apart from the prohibition of marriages, during this month, the scriptures  demand that one prays more, fasts, sleeps on the floor, eats only once a day and is charitable.

JUPITER IN LEO

The entry of Jupiter in Leo is another signal for prohibitions. Again we go back to the relationship of Jupiter and the Sun in Indian lore. As the Guru of the Indian Olympus enters Leo, abode of the Sun, the Sun begins to feel the same discomfort having to act deferentially to his Guru and marriages are once again avoided during Jupiter’s sojourn in Leo. However as this would mean no marriages for a whole year because that is the period that slow-moving Jupiter remains in the Sign, the Pundits have found a way out of this impossible prohibition by restricting it to a shorter duration when Jupiter enters a segment of three degrees of Leo from 13 degrees 20 minutes to 16 degrees 40 minutes called the Navmansh of Leo, thereby limiting the prohibition to less than two months.

COMBUST JUPITER AND VENUS

Other prohibitions are associated with periods during which Jupiter or Venus become ‘combust’ ( get too close to the Sun as viewed from Earth). A ‘combust’ planet cannot exert its benefic influence and becomes a source of negativity, therefore inauspicious during such phases. During such phases also, marriages are avoided. fortunately with the Sun’s movement onwards as also that of faster moving planets, the combust status remains only for a short duration.

From the foregoing it should become abundantly clear that planning a calendar event in India is no joke and the astrological almanac is the arbiter for fixing the timing of auspicious and inauspicious events with the assistance of the Pundit – those who take this lightly do so at their own peril!

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Gandhi observing fast of silence

The Hindu calendar is as full of fasts as festivals, with fasting being obligatory on most festivals. A fast can be total and stringent or of a limited nature. for instance a fast can prohibit the consumption of certain cereals, milk and its products, types of vegetables, particularly onion and garlic and other root vegetables and recommend  consumption of alterante edibles. Fasts can also include other prohibitions, like abstaining from drinking water,  avoiding eating consuming meat,abjuring violence, impurity, untruthfulness, sleep, gambling and sex, and observing silence.  Milder fasts allow eating of fruits and drinking water and milk. 

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The Buddha fasting before enlightenment – Gandhara sculpture

Fasts are undertaken primarily for spiritual evolution but also aim particularly to absolve one of sins committed, to overcome astrological afflictions, alleviate suffering and disease, achieve material well being, for the peace of deceased ancestors and to secure a place for oneself in divine spheres, Devloks. in the afterlife- that is, to attain the goals of Arth ( wealth and material wellbeing), Kama ( pleasure and love), Dharma ( religious and moral duties) and Moksha ( liberation and spiritual release and evolution, the ultimate aim of life). different fasts are directed at propitiating particular deities. Fasts are also undertaken during festivals

 

THE TITHI

Fasts generally fall into categories depending on the Tithis ( Lunar Days). An earlier post dwelt at length on this complex concept, which define the days of the Hindu lunar month. In a brief review let us try and grasp the import of the Tithi. The Tithi is a unique creation of the Indian mind based less on what is visible and more on calculation. India’s is perhaps the only civilization whose mentors conceived of recording the passage of time from day to day by relying on a formula of calculation rather than the visible movements of heavenly bodies. Most cultures  in antiquity conceived of days commensurate with the presence of the Sun in the sky and nights with its absence or again the visible phases of the Moon in the night sky. Not so the unique Indian sages and astrologers. For them the Tithi, the Indian equivalent of a day and a night was in fact a matter of calculating the difference in the longitudes of the Sun and the Moon. Quite an abstract way of defining the passage of days but one that would satisfy their  need for accuracy in recording the passage of time. There is a practical logic behind the exercise to define the passage of days in the month. Indian sages and astrologers saw that the Sun and the Moon would pass around the earth through 360 degrees. When the longitudes of the Sun and Moon were coterminous, it was a No-Moon and they fixed this Tithi as Amavasya ( noting that the difference in the longitudes was zero). When the longitudes of the Sun and the Moon placed them at 180 degrees apart, it was Full-Moon and they called the Tithi Purnima ( noting that the difference in longitudes was 180 degrees). They also noted that in between the two there would be 15 segments of 12 degrees on either side, each constituting a Tithi. Thus after Amavasya as the Moon’s longitude moved 12 degrees away from the Sun’s, the first Tithi  of Shukla Paksh ( ascendant phase of Moon) would commence and last till the Moon moved another 12 degrees further out. Of course meantime the Sun’s longitude would also have moved, though at a much slower pace. The second Tithi would commence when the Moon’s longitude was another 12 degrees away from where the Sun’s longitude had now moved to. Thus they devised the formula of subtracting the actual longitudinal positions of the Sun and the Moon and dividing the balance by 12 to arrive at the Tithi in either of the two phases. Furthermore, the Moon generally takes 2 hour to move a degree and it generally traverses 12 degrees in 24 hours, which is also the approximate time taken from one Sunrise to another, therefore an appropriate formula to measure the passing of days.

 

EKADASHI ( Eleventh  Tithi )

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Credit: drikpanchang.com

The most popular fasts are those falling on Ekadahsis, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The legend goes that he was in a slumber in a cave after a furious battle with a demon. The demon pursued him there and sought to slay him as he slept. A glorious power in the form of a goddess then arose from the slumbering Vishnu’s being and slayed the impertinent evil force. That goddess is worshiped on Ekadashis as the benign force that removes all obstacles. The fast is undertaken to purify the mind, strengthen faith, remove obstacles. The demon represents our negativity which accost us as we ‘slumber’ unaware that we are becoming subject to temptations. Thus the Putrada Ekadashi fast helps in bringing forth male progeny, the Papkusha Ekadashi fast requires one to remain silent, cleansing the mind and washing away sins, the Kamada Ekadashi fast ends all sorrows and so on – different Ekadashis for different gains arrive once each month.

TRIYODASHI  ( Thireenth Tithi )

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Credit: Trishul Das’ – vedicgoddess.weebly.com

The other common and recurring fasts are called Pradosh (ending afflictions), falling on Triyodashis dedicated to Lord Shiva. The fast is observed after an early morning bath with prayers to Lord Shiva and recitation of mantras and ritualistic placement of lamps in eight directions. Triyodashis falling on Saturdays are observed for the birth of a son, Mondays for relief from debt, Fridays for gaining wealth, fortune and a good spouse, Sundays for a long life. According to legend on Triyodashis the gods assemble at Mount Kailash the abode of Lord Shiva. Sarasvati the goddess of learning and fine arts plays on a Veena, Brahma the creator of the world plays on the cymbols, Vishnu the sustainer on a Mridangam and a galaxy of gods join Lord Shiva the god of gods in a dance. Theircombined blessings fall upon the fasting devotee.Those engaging in a fast, if poor are blessed with riches, if ignorant gain knowledge, if without issue with a son, wives do not get widowed, widows become spiritually enlightened and longevity is ensured.

2DHANTERAS KE MAUKA SE  BARTAN KI DOOKAN SAZIThe fast of Dhanteras (Wealth – Thirteenth) also falls on a Triodashi in the month of Kartik (October-November), waning-half, is dedicated to Yamaraj, Lord of death. On this day every Hindu housewife fervently goes shopping to bring home a metal utensil. Shopkeepers have a field day displaying pots ans pans and all manner of kithen utensils, shining bright on stands right into the streets. What is actually recommended is to bring home a silver utensil but the token purchase of a metal one is accepted. download (1)At the entrance of the home grain should be placed in a container as an offering to Lord Yama with a lamp facing south, his direction, to the recitation of Mantras. A dip in the Yamuna river is also highly recommended since Yamuna is the sister of the dark lord. The story (Katha) goes that once Yama asked his attendants what they disliked most about their job. Prompt came the protests that they felt deep remorse at snatching away souls of the young, particularly of one newly wed who had hardly a chance to taste the pleasures that mortal life had to offer. They pleaded with him to be told how such premature deaths could be averted. Lord Yama then proclaimed that those who fasted and lit a lamp in his honour on Dhanteras would not suffer such a plight. however most people just buy the utensil in the belief that this would bless them with riches but the real purport of the fast is to ensure that there are no premature deaths in the family.

CHATURTHI  (Fourth Tithi)

7175971_f496Yet another popular and recurring fast is the Chaturthi. Its lord is Ganesh, the elephant headed deity, remover of all afflictions and obstacles. according to scriptures the Chaturthi is in fact the mother of all Tithis. The Panchangs (calendar and almanac) show the precise time each month for fasting on chaturthis, depending on the rising of the Moon. women fast to ensure long life for their husbands. the principle Chaturthi falls in the month of Bhadrapad( August/September) commemorating the ‘birth’ of Ganesh. On this Chaturthi looking at the Moon is prohibited as it brings bad luck in the shape of false allegations. The legend goes that the Moon once burst out laughing on seeing the elephant headed God and had to suffer grave consequences for his misplaced merriment.

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Credit: jagranjunction.com

Another important Chaturthi, popularly known as Karvachauth falls in the month of Kartik ( October/November) this is the years most important observance undertaken by wives to ensure a long life for their husbandsa and their unflagging love. They pledge fidelity and dress in their bridal finery fasting without water or food from dawn till the siting of the Moon. They look at the Moon through a grain strainer and then at their husbands transferring the Moon’s radiance to them. The fast strengthens marital bonds reminding both partners of their obligations towards one another. The fast and the rituals are observed with unwavering resolve across the land. women gather together, sing and perform rituals as they fast.

cow-and-krishnaThe Bahula Chaturthi in the month of August is devoted to revering the cow as the best-loved animal of Lord Krishna and one that gives freely of milk, like nector from the gods. On this day of fasting no milk or milk products are consumed as the cow’s milk must go to its calf alone. This fast is undertaken by both men and women for the protection and wellbeing of their progeny.

 

TRITYA  ( Third Tithi )

The Akshya Tritiya, also called Akha Teej in local parlance falls during the month of Vaishakha (April/May -spring) dedicated to the loving consort of Lord Shiva – Gauri. Akha Teej means the indestructible Teej. All sacrifices made on this day whether in charity, penance, ritual prayers and baths in the Ganges have an enduring quality in conferring results on devotees. this is a day most auspicious for marriages and mass marriages are performed to reduce costs for those of humble means.628x471

Other popular Teejs occur during the month of Shravan ( July/August – onset of Monsoons) when women swing and sing, apply Henna on their hands and visit their parents, receive gifts and pray to Lord Shiva’s consort. the Gangor festiavl is also celebrated on a Teej falling in the month of Chaitra  ( April) when again women worship Gauri the daughter of the mountains and consort of Shiva, to ensure long life for their husbands and marital bliss and progeny.

POORNIMA  ( Full-Moon – Fifteenth Tithi, ascendant phase)

Poornimas are also good for fasting as they help to make one temperate, particularly as the Moon is believed to arouse carnal passions. the most auspicious Poornima occurs in October and is called Sharad Poornima. On this day it is believed that the Moon is in its most empowered state in the year and its rays are like nectar. It is therefore ethe practice to pray to the Moon when it is  high and to leave a rice pudding in a salver throughout the night in moonlight to absorb its rays. It is then eaten the next day by the family assuring health and good fortune.

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The Poornima in the month of Phalgun is celebrated with the burning of Holika fires symbolically destroying the evil aunt who took the boy devotee Prahlad in her lap with hypocritical love in the hope that he would be destroyed but perished in the attempt on account of divine grace. the day after India rocks with the festival of Holi.

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In the month of Chaitra (April) the Poornima marks the ‘birth’ of the mythical monkey faced Lord Hanuman of the Ramayana. He is considered the epitome of faith and devotion, the one who when asked where is your Rama, tore open his chest and showed the questioner his beloved Rama there. Hanuman is one of the most popular of gods. It is said that he was blessed by Rama with perpetual spiritual presence on the mortal plane and therefore devotees feel he is more accessible to them.

In the month of Vaishaka (April/May) the Poornima marks the birth of the Buddha. The Poornima in the month of Jaisht marks the birth of the great saint Kabir and the Poornima in Kartik the birth of the Sikh Guru Nanak. In the month of Ashad the Poornima is dedicated to all sages and mentors, called Guru Purnima. On this day one is expected to respect and serve ones Gurus and conduct oneself with devotion, simplicity, cleanliness,gentility, discipline and restraint It is also an occasion to receive blessings from elders and teachers.

AMAVASYA   ( No-Moon – fifteenth tithi – descending phase )

Amavasya fasts are essentially for helping ancestors in the after life. we are not aware what trials they may be undergoing in the intermediate worlds, depending on their Karmas, before reincarnating. the descriptions in the Garud Purana are intimidating to say the least and a close approximation to Dante’s nether worlds. thus fasting and setting aside token foods and offerings go directly to them and help them through their trials. During the fortnight of the Shrads beginning in the month of Ashwin after Poornima till the following Amavasya ( September ), the focus is entirely on fasting for the release (Moksha) of the Pitr – ones forbears. Other Amavasyas falling during each month are also devoted to helping ancestors.

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The Vat-Savitri amavasya falling in the month of Jyestha has a particular and romantic significance linked to the popular myth of the extraordinary princess Savitri 9radiant with the light of the sun). Savitri fell in love with Satyavan, a prince. Unfortunately his natal chart ominously pointed to an early and premature death.The king tried to dissuade his daughter from marrying Satyavan but she remained adament. satyavan’s parents had also become dispossessed of their kingdom and sought refuge in a forest. To add to their woes they ahd also beocme blind and helpless. she joined them in their humble forest dwelling under a Banyan tree and served them with utmost devotion. One day Satyavan went out to cut wood. Knowing that his days were numbered she accompanied him. He was suddenly afflicted with pain in the head and descending the tree put his head in her lap and died. Then there appeared before Savitri the Lord Yama, god of death riding his buffalo with attendants, come to claim Satyavan’s soul. Satyavan’s soul was led away but Savitri followed the terrible lord of death unafraid. He commanded her to return but she vowed to follow her husband to the ends of time. No one had ever followed the fearsome lord and Yama was impressed with her courage and determination and granted her a boon. She asked for the restoration of the sight of her husband’s parents. Grnating it, Yama proceeded on with Satyavan’s soul in tow. But Savitri still followed. then exasperated, Yama granted her a second boon. She demended the return of their kingdom. Again this was granted. But she still purdued the terrible lord. Impressed with her perseverance he granted her one final boon provided she did not ask that he be brought back to life. Now Savitri asked that she be allowed to bear Satyavan a hundred sons. at this point Yama released the soul of Satyavan without which the boon could not be effective. Satyavan thus came alive in her lap under the Banyan tree.

On this Amavasya, married women pray for the long life of their husbands and for marital happiness. It is the custom to place two baskets under a Banyan tree, one with five types of grain and the figures of Lord Brahma and his consort the goddess Savitri and in the other images of the lovers Savitri and Satyavan. After ritual prayers to the baskets , Lord Yama and the Banyan tree, women circumambulate the Banyan chanting Mantras and listen to the legend of Savitri and Satyavan, thus ensuring marital bliss for themselves. The significance of the Banyan regarded as a divine tree, is that it is said to embody Brahma the creative force of the material world in its roots, Vishnu the sustaining force in its trunk and Shiva the annihilating force at its crown.

 

PANCHMI  (Fifth Tithi)

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Panchmis are dedicated to the divine serpents whose lord is Sheshnag, the hydra headed cosmic serpent over whose coils the great lord Vishnu reclines, perpetually meditating on sustaining creation, while the great serpent’s hood forms a crescent-shaped umbrella over his head. Sheshnag and other serpents are worshipped on this day. Serpents are drawn on either side of ones home  and legends of serpents are heard through ritual prayer. This ensures that the house shall never want in food. the most important Panchmi is Nag-Panchmi falling in the month of Shravan ( waning half0 and is celebrated throughout India with fervour and devotion.

The Panchmi falling in the month of Magh (waxing phase) however is dedicated to the goddess of learning, knowledge and fine arts. Sarasvati. It is also the harbinger of spring and is called Basant (spring) Panchmi. On this day infants are taught their first alphabets and it is auspicious to begin an academic course.

DOOJ  ( second Tithi)

Another popular fast and festival is Bhaidooj (the Dooj for brothers). In the month of Kartik the second Tithi flling in the waxing half of the month is dedicated to strenthening amity between brothers and sisters. The legend goes that on this day Yama, the lord of death ate at the house of his sister Yamuna, symbolized now as the river that flows by the national capital delhi. On this day one finds brothers hastening to their sisters’ homesto feast on a meal specially prepared by them. It is said that he who on this day is fed by his sister, the epitome of kindness, shall be blessed with wealth, honour, long life and spiritual evolution.

OTHER FASTS

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Lord Rama Credit; whoa.in

Fasts are also rigorously observed on particular festivals to commemorate the ‘birth’ of Avatars Ram and Krishna and the unmanifest Universal consciousness, Shiva on Shivratri. We have seen in the previous post that Ram’s ‘birth’ is celebrated on Ramnavmi, the Navmi (Ninth Tithi) that falls in the month of , Chaitra (waxing half) which is the first month of the Hindu New Year, after Navratra, the first nine nights. while there is no historical record of the birth of the Avatar that has captivated the imagination of the entire land, his influence is so great that every other town and village bears the imprint of his name or that of persons in the story of his life, the epic Ramayana. Millions also carry his name in some form or other. There is even a natal chart of the great Avatar which shows the Zodiac signs of his birth and even the placement of planets and Nakshatra ( asterism) in which the Moon was at the time of his birth. Whether one can deduce the historical time when the planets and Zodiac Signs were so configured, is a matter which should be an interesting subject of research. For Hindus, he is more real than any historical event. Indeed if we were successful in a fixing a historical time for his birth, it would only devalue his legendary status. It is perhaps better to leave his persona in the mists of legend and myth.

Likewise Krishna, the other great Avatar that followed him, has also a natal chart, equally precise supporting the patterns of his earthly life. the existence of these natal charts, handed down by tradition from remote antiquity is astonishing. How were precise horoscopes drawn up for legendary Avatars of whose birth no historical records exist? After all horoscopes are based on the Panchang ephemeries and the hair splitting calculations of Tithis, and coordinates of planets at any time can be said to be more significant than historical dates in the Gregorian calendar.

The fast commences on the first day of the month and concludes on the Ninth Tithi, Navmi thus called RamNavmi. It includes chanting of Mantras, reading of the Ramayana, respecting elders, speaking the truth only, showing love for members of the family, avoiding quarrels, abstaining from sex and engaging in prayer. The observance of the fast results in the fulfillment of all worthy wishes, sins are absolved, the soul briefly liberated.

The Navmi of the following month of Vaishakhi is dedicated to Rama’s wife Sita, the epitome of feminine purity, virtue and sacrifice, the archetype of Indian womenhood. Her father the great wise king Janak, failing to have an issue prayed for one. While tilling the earth in a royal ritual to appease the rain god his plough struck a golden casket embedded in the earth which upon being opened revealed a beautiful baby girl. Thus she was named Vasundhara, daughter of mother earth. The observance of the fast is believed to equal acts of charity like gifting of land to the poor. the fast helps in cleansing the vehicle of the soul.

Krishna’s ‘birth’ is celebrated on the Ashtmi (Eighth Tithi) in the waning half of the month of Bhadrapad. worshipers fast during the day and stay up till midnight, the hour of the birth of the celestial Avatar in the prison of his maternal uncle the demon king Kansa who had been told that his sister would bear his nemesis. Accordingly he confined his sister and brother-in-law in the dungeons and on every birth dashed the child to the earth with laughter – but at the birth of the ninth child,  the Avatar, the prison keepers fell asleep, the prison doors flew open and Krishna’s father carried him to safety leaving him in the foster care of friends. The event is celebrated across the land in temples and homes as JanamAshtami or Ashtmi of birth. 

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Krishna and Radha Credit: taringa.net

The following Ashtami of the waning half of the month of Bhadrapad celebrates the birth of Krishna’s beloved but unwed consort, Radha, the epitome of the female romantic. In all temples Krishna is shown with playing the flute with Radha amorously standing beside him. According to most traditions they must be worshiped together. Worshiping Krishna alone is not auspicious. There is a mystical tradition according to which fasting on her birth day and chanting her name is equal to making all the major pilgrimages and results in acquiring great knowledge and prosperity. Fasts in honour of Radha bring happiness, honour, wealth and admirable qualities in the worshipers.

The Ashtami in the waning half of the month of Ashwin provides for a fast called the Jeevatputrika and is observed for the well being and long life of progeny and grandchildren.

The unique significance of stellar events in the life of a Hindu is further highlighted by the fact that the occurrence of festivals on different Tithis have enhanced results when the Moon is in certain Nakshatras ( the 27 Asterisms conjoining with the Zodiac Signs). Thus while the festival of Ramnavmi always falls on the Ninth Tithi of the waxing half of the month of Chaitra, if at that time the Moon is in the Nakshatra Punarvasu ( viewed from earth ) then that Ramnavmi becomes specially auspicious. This is because it would replicate the stellar configuration of the ‘actual’ time of Rama’s birth.This configuration is referred to in the ancient treatise the Agastyasamhita attributed to the great sage Agastya in whose hermitage Rama spent time during his exile. The configuration shows the Moon in Punarvasu, while the Sun is in the Sign Aries and the ‘birth’ takes place with the zodiac Sign Cancer  rising above the horizon, becoming Rama’s ascendant Sign. All planets are so placed that they cast benign aspects on the ascendant Sign to herald the birth of the Almighty Spirit on the mortal plane as an Avatar. This reminds one of the Star rising over Bethlehem  portending the birth of Christ the saviour. Likewise the other Avatar Krishna’s birth Tithi becomes doubly auspicious if on that Ashtami the Moon is in the Nakshatra Rohini.

Care has to be taken not to fast or commence prayers during a festival when it falls on a ‘mixed’ Tithi i.e. the same solar day. Thus prayers and fasts may have to be postponed at the commencement of the Hindu New Year  if the First Tithi, the Pratipada, for instance, happens to be joined to the preceding Amavasya ( No-Moon) on that day, which is the commencement also of the Navratra or nine auspicious nights of empowering prayer top the goddesses. Commencement of prayers and the ritual setting up of the altar on a mixed Tithi under the mistaken impression that the this is the day, can invite grave misfortune. In the religious texts the Goddess makes clear that she does not forgive those who commence such prayers at an inauspicious time. The importance for householders to possess the Panchang calendar therefore cannot be overemphasized. It clearly gives from day-to-day the type of Tithi on that solar day of the Gregorian calendar, the precise time of beginning and completion of aq Tithi on a certain day, down to the minute, the precise time of the entry of the Moon into a certain Nakshatra and time of exit and therefore the correct time of commencement of prayers.. You simply cannot assume that the New Year celebration and prayers of Navratra will commence at past midnight or the dawning of the day. The Panchang will tell you at what moment of the night or day the New Year will commence and it remains most advisable to take a good look at the Panchang for precise timings or then consult a Pundit in advance.

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Demon Ravana in prayer for empowerment Credit: srinistuff.com

Fasts are a form of sacrifice. As one makes sacrificial offerings to ritual fires, to lord Agni ( god of fire) or other deities so too with fasts of abstention, sacrifices are offered. This act of sacrifice leads to empowerment. In Hindu myths and legends a recurring theme is that of demonic forces undertaking fasts to oblige the gods to grant them boons. when a severe penance is undertaken the spiritual forces are left with no option but to grant boons. Demons then ask for boons of invincibility and immortality and thus empowered let loose a regime of terror on the pious. Ravana the adversary of Lord Rama was one such, a great devotee of Lord Shiva who through penance and prayer acquired powers superior even to the demi-gods. Thus the belief exists that fasts will inevitably produce rewards.

The Hindu calendar we see is full of fasts and festive occasions as the Christian calendar is of saints. We cannot possibly mention them all here. The broad categories and important fasts which are universally observed and some lesser known ones of interest have however been covered in this post.

 

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According to Hindu astrology the effects of stellar phenomena can be divided into two categories. The first is general, applicable broadly to all people universally and the second is particular, affecting only the individual.  The particular effects are determined on the basis of the individual’s horoscope ( more on this in a later post). The general effects for the entire populace are determined by the ascending and descending phases of the Moon, the nature of the Lunar Day ( Tithi ), the movement of the Sun on its northern and southern journeys, the movement of certain planets in certain constellations, the presence of the Moon in certain Asterisms ( Nakshatras ) on a particular day of the week, the passage of the eight sections of a day ( Chaughadias ) each of an hour and forty minutes duration, with different auspicious and inauspicious characteristics and effects.

SindhiTipno20121-248x300The general effects are annually made available in a traditional calendar ( Panchamg ) , which declares the effects for each day of the year.These effects also determine festivals, prohibitions and fasts and auspicious timings to undertake social, economic and personal activity and times and periods when certain activities are to be avoided.

Thus for instance the full-moon is auspicious, the no-moon is not. The Moon’s ascending phase is more auspicious than its descending phase. Certain Tithis ( days of the Lunar month ) are auspicious, others are not. Most of the months on the Sun’s northern journey are favourable whereas many months on its southern journey are not. The movement of certain planets in certain constellations are favourable while other movements are not. The presence of the Moon in certain Asterisms on certain days are auspicious while its presence in others are not. Some sections of the day are favourable for certain activities while others are not and so on.

Let us first look at one of the most important of the general effects which determine the festivals, which gladden the heart of the poorest and the richest equally throughout the year and become the heart, soul and inspiration for Indian culture, religious observances and joyous celebration, ones very raison d’etre.

HINDU DEVOTEES CROWD AROUND CHARIOTS IN PURI

juggannath festival for Krishna, Puri – Orissa

India is a land of numerous festivals – it is a wonder that any work ever gets done – if you are not careful more often than not you would arrive at a bank on a festive holiday about which you had no clue. There are festivals of colour, festivals of light, of prayers and processions, pilgrimages, holy dips and fasts. By and large this is a pious land immersed in faith. Processions of the goddess astride a lion slaying a demon in the east at Kolkata, of giant images of the elephant headed god Ganesh in the west at Mumbai, blessing the congregations as they are carried to the sea for immersion, of Shiva and Shakti ( creative force and its energy ), symbols of fertility at the Gangor festival as they are carried in palanquins preceded by musical bands and dancing worshippers in the north at Rajasthan and the great chariots of Krishna at Jaggannath ( from which the English word juggernaut is derived), lord of the universe, pulled by thousands of devotees at Puri in the east, to name only a few. Celebrations of the birth of Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Ganesh ( deemed astrologically rather than historically), Buddha, Mahavir (Jainism), Nanak (Sikhism) and a host of lessor known deities and saints fill the calendar with festivities and fasts. But behind this apparent diversity of celebrations is the unerring hidden pattern which is again determined by stellar configuration on the one hand and earthly seasons on the other. the two combine to provide relevance to seemingly unrelated celebrations of succeeding festivals. It is the lunar almanac that determines the day on which the festival arrives.

One of the most important festivals is the Navratra, the nine nights ( currently in progress). These ‘nine nights’ occur twice during the year. Basant Navratra, the nine nights of spring and Shardi Navratra, the nine nights of winter. It happens that every year as we look at the Gregorian calendar, unlike christmas arriving regularly on 25 december, Navratra commences on different days of the solar year as the timing is fixed from the lunar calendar on the basis of Tithis, lunar days. The lunar year commences on the first day of the lunar month of Chaitra, in the Shukla Paksh, the ascendant phase of the Moon. The month of Chaitra occurs in April. The month is named after the Asterism in which the Moon is located on Full Moon in any month.  In April on full moon day the Moon is located in the Asterism ( Nakshatra) Chitra and the month is christened Chaitra. Other months also likewise derive their names from the Asterisms. During that month the Hindu New Year begins on the first day after No-Moon or Amavasya, when the moon begins its journey of empowerment till the following full Moon. That first day , the New Year’s day is also the first day of Navratra, the nine nights of spring. This New Year Day celebrates the onset of spring and the empowerment of good through the worship of the nine goddesses of the nine nights. the devout engage in fasts. During his current official visit to the USA Prime minister Modi of India appears to be observing precisely such a fast.

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When President Obama invited him to a private dinner at the White House, Modi accepted only hot water, enjoining all present to enjoy their dinner in his honour! Modi was observing the Navratra fast.President Obama however in deference to his Indian guest also chose not to eat.

The Navratra festival signifies the onset of the New Year, not just prayers to the goddesses. it is not surprising that the Government of India’s financial year begins not on the first of January but on the first of April, conforming to the arrival of the harvest and the commencement of the Indian lunar Year.

On the ninth day, furthermore, a major festival is celebrated, the astrologically determined birth of Lord Rama, Ram Navmi. The empowerment of the goodnesses bears fruit with an event which connects the spiritual world with the mortal one through the incarnation of the Formless Absolute ( Nirakar) into a mortal being, one with form ( Akar), in the person of one of India’s most popular spiritual personages, Rama, the human incarnation, the Avatar, the ideal man, the perfect husband, the exemplary King, the archetype of selflessness, sacrifice and morality and no less a god, visible and incarnate in flesh. Thus the lunar year begins with nine nights of empowerment of the forces of good culminating in the commemoration of the birth of the divine spirit into our imperfect world, the birth of Rama. Indeed an auspicious way to begin the year.

The second Navratra arrives after the passage of six months on the first day of the ascendant phase of the month of Ashwin called the Ashwin Shukla Pratipada, generally falling in September/October and culminating on the tenth day in the great festival of Dussehra, commemorating the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king of Sri Lanka, Ravana. Ravana is the archetype of vanity, hauteur, egotism, hedonism, arrogance, indiscretion, lust, immorality and disregard for righteousness. Rama’s ultimate victory and slaying of Ravana becomes the victory of good over evil. Ravana had abducted Rama’s consort Sita  confining her in Sri Lanka, enamoured by her beauty. Here again the process of empowerment of the forces of good through prayers and fasts to the nine goddesses culminates in the burning of giant effigies of Ravana and his two brothers amid much rejoicing the length and breadth of India. The Prime Minister of india stands by at a public celebration at  the Ramlila grounds in Delhi as Rama’s symbolic arrow is released by him piercing the giant image of Ravana which goes up in flames and fire crackers to general rejoicing. Astrology, mythology, spirituality and the seasons come together to define yet another landmark in India’s lunar calendar and national life.

1376755521-devotees-immerse-an-idol-of-goddess-durga-in-the-buriganga-river_1545636During Navratra in West Bengal, numerous prayer enclosures called Pandals are erected in cities, villages, hamlets and homes to worship the goddess Durga. Clay images of great artistry, clothed in brochades and adorned with ornaments show her riding a lion and slaying the demon Mahisasur ( the buffalo demon  who emerges from the head of a buffalo) a form assumed to dupe her. She holds a spear in one of her numerous hands carrying all manner of weapons and thrusts it into his muscular chest as her lion steed sinks its teeth into his buffalo form. Her face radiates extraordinary beauty and firm resolve to rid the world of evil. virtually every street and quarter vies with the other to erect a more magnificent tableau of the goddess. Every night worshippers congregate and make offerings amidst chanting, wafting incense and lighting lamps. The Shakti cult is strong here, the cult of pure female energy personified by the goddess, the active principle of the Universal absolute.

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immersion of the goddess

After nine days of intense worship during the ascendant phase of the Moon, on the ninth, the tableaus of the goddess are carried to the Ganges for immersion in great processions. In the North in Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat and elsewhere likewise the goddess assumes great significance and daily prayers are performed in every home and temple.

b_id_417315_ganeshIn the west particularly in Mumbai, the Lord Ganesh who has a beatific, charming and endearing elephant head, is the principal deity and during the month of Bhadrapad on the fourth Tithi of the ascendant phase of the Moon, generally falling in September, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated. Here again giant clay images with numerous others in all sizes are carried to the ocean for immersion. it is interesting that the festival is celebrated on a Chaturthi ( fourth Tithi ) which happens to be ‘Rikt’ or ’empty’ Tithi and therefore most inauspicious. however, being the lord of all things auspicious, his celebration on such a day is quite appropriate because he helps to dispel the negativity of the empty Tithi with his august presence.

Diwali-diyasThen arrives the festival of lights, Divali when Indian homes stir with a myriad earthen lamps lining wall after wall from mud huts to princely mansions and the night awakens with fire crackers which sound like guns and mortars being fired during a war throughout the night. If one did not know better one might think that war had been declared. That is the visible part of the festival. What is not so visible is the alter at the heart of every home, the hallowed temple corner. Laxmi the goddess of wealth and prosperity sits enthroned amidst flowers and incense, bejewelled and resplendent. This is the most holy of nights, a celebration which combines the spirit of Christmas and Thanksgiving all rolled into one. but strangely on this night the Moon is not auspicious at all being absent. Dipavali the festival of lights falls on an Amavasya. Generally Amavasyas ( No-Moon) are reserved for thoughts of departed ancestors and is a time when dark spirits are believed to roam the pitch black night. Why have the premier celebration of the year on such a night? Well, it is not because lighting lamps and flooding the place with lights would look good on a night that is really dark. Again one could argue that like Ganesh, the goddess Laxmi would dispel all dark forces with her enormous resources of positive energy. But that again is not the reason for the paradox.

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Lord Rama sita and Laxman in exile

It is explained that this is because it commemorates the return of Lord Rama from exile, to his kingdom of Ayodhya, after slaying the demon king Ravana and gaining victory over the forces of darkness. But why should Rama decide to return at such an inauspicious time like No-Moon? The answer is simple. His first duty was to his deceased father who died of grief in his absence during his years in exile. An exile to which king Dashrath himself had sent his son, with anguish. It happened at the time when Rama was to be anointed heir to the throne and the kingdom and palace were preparing for the joyous event. The night before the grand ceremony for which the waters of all of India’s sacred rivers had been collected for the annointment, Manthara the evil maid of Dashrath’s youngest of three queens, Kaikeye  told her that she was being naive in showering so much love on Rama ( the son of the queen-mother Kaushalya and eldest son of Dashrath) and giving support to his succession, which she should try to wrest for her own son Bharat. This produced a change of heart and she finally sought the fulfilment of two boons  promised her by Dashrath in the past after she saved his life during a battle. The first boon was that Rama be exiled to the forests for fourteen years. The second that Bharat be declared the heir.  Incidentally this evil turning of the mind of the righteous and favourite  step-mother of Rama, on whom she had always doted, was not of her own doing but providentially ordained to unfold the legend of the Ramayana for the benefit of mankind. Dashrath was distraught, unable to retract his promises to his wife and unable to countenance the exile of his most beloved son. Rama refused any suggestion of opposing the unwarranted punishment and  to honour his father’s word prepared for exile shedding his princely robes for that of a monk and prepared to leave armed with a bow. The tragedy was compounded when Sita his bride, despite much persuasion, insisted on accompanying him barefooted into the forest. Sita, who had always enjoyed the comforts of a princess was ready to sacrifice all wordly comforts to be with her beloved spouse. To add to the gloom, Rama’s inseparable step-brother Laxman, always impetuous, furious with his father, decided to join the exile. The great tragedy of the Ramayana had begun.

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Credit: india-forums.com Dashrath inadvertently kills Shravan Kumar the ideal son

After their departure, Dashrath pined away for his son repeating the word Rama from morning to evening and hating himself for having sent his saintly son into exile. Ministers were later despatched  to trace them and enjoin them to return but Rama refused to dishonour his father’s word to Kaikeye. Dashrath died of grief and too late Kaykeye realized her fatal folly. Dahshrath’s death in fact fulfilled a curse placed upon him in his youth by an aggrieved blind sage. Then, on a hunting expedition he let fly an arrow towards a movement in the bush. Alas, it was no animal but a boy fetching water from a pond for his thirsty blind parents. In dying the boy Shravan Kumar ( an ideal son) reproached  the King and asked him to carry the water to his parents. When the boy’s father learnt of the tragedy he cursed Dashrath that he too would suffer separation from his son and die in anguish.

bharat-and-paduka1Bharat was away during these tragic developments, on return was anguished by what his mother had done, refused the throne and set off to find his brother and bring him back, adding ‘had Bharat never been born”. But Rama refused to return before the passage of the stipulated fourteen years of exile and Bharat returned to administer the kingdom carrying Rama’s footwear clasped to his breast and placed them on the throne of Ayodhya.

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Rama slays the demon Ravana

It is to such an Ayodhya that Rama returned after the exile and slaying of Ravana on the No-Moon night, grieving over his father’s torment and wishing first and foremost to pray for his soul. This is the explanation for Divali occurring on an Amavasya, when prayers are offered for the dear departed. However, his return from exile and victory over Ravana is a cause for much celebration and India rejoices with lamps fire-works crackers and prayers.

The paradox is thus explained. Once again we have mythology, lunar configurations, religious ritual and festive celebration joining together in the formulation of a festival, holding multiple meanings and having many depths. and yes, Divali arrives every year precisely on the night of the No-Moon of the month of Kartik, generally in the month of November. Very precise timings are indicated for commencement of prayers to the goddess of wealth. Tradesmen open their new ledgers for the ensuing year. In many parts Divali also marks the commencement of the New Year for trade and commerce among traditional merchant communities. Prayers are held not only in homes but also at shops and factories where the picture of goddess Laxmi hang near the safe and at counters for receiving payments.

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Credit: sanatansociety.com LAXMI goddess of wealth

Things are never precisely what they seem in India. The goddess Laxmi is not merely the consort of Lord Vishnu, the maintainer of the universe but has a link to Lord Rama too. We must not forget that Lord Rama is in fact an incarnation ( Avatar ) of Lord Vishnu and Laxmi his consort is incarnated as his spouse, Sita. Many levels, many worlds, many meanings enrich the fabric of the celebrations. All these diverse impressions, stellar, mythological, religious, transcendental, ritualistic, commercial, sociocultural, stir constantly in the Indian psyche, whether rustic or elite, naive or sophisticated, traditional or modern, with equal viguor.

holi3_2518539kAnother seasonal festival is Holi. This festival of colour is celebrated at the end of March on the day after the full moon, the first day of the month of Chaitra. At Holi people dance in the streets throwing colour at one another, drink spicy milk laced with Marijuana and throw all inhibitions to the winds. You may well encounter rowdy youths moving around town in open trucks and wagons totally smeared in colour, dripping wet, occasionally stark nude and fully inebriated.

Holi-revelry-via-fotopedia.com_ Disguised in vivid colours, groups of revellers lustily embrace all and sundry in anonymity.

No one really minds being thoroughly wet, coloured and high as they have the sanction of the festive season. At this time the winter harvest has been collected and there is time and reason for merriment.

A day before Holi at every street corner Holika fires are lit and residents circumambulate them placing ears of green corn and barley fresh from the harvest against the smouldering embers. The legend goes that the demonic king Harinyakashyap weary of his son Prahlad’s unrelenting devotion for Lord Vishnu, sought to destroy him. His sister Holika had the boon of being impervious to fire and so he asked Prahlad to sit in her lap in a ritual fire in the hope that Prahlad would perish – such was his hatred for his god fearing son. Prahlad an exemplary Bhakt ( loving devotee) in Hindu lore, remained untouched by the flames by divine grace whereas the aunt despite her boon, perished on account of her evil intentions. The ashes of Holika fires symbolize the purity of faith and are considered holy ( no pun intended).

teejprocession-4_080311042944With these ashes, prayers for the festival of Gangor commence. This is the worship of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati also known as Gan – Gor, the male and female creative principle, icons of productivity and fertility, conferring progeny on worshippers. The prayers conclude about a fortnight later on Chaitra Shukla Tritiya ( third Tithi of the month of Chaitra’s ascendant phase).  This is a festival mainly observed in Rajasthan with great processions of Shiv and his consort. In Jaipur capital of Rajasthan the procession carries a magnificent image of the goddess in a palanquin through the streets to the delight of tourists. Women fast to create love in the hearts of their husbands and to ensure that widowhood never befalls them, while unmarried girls fast to find the perfect spouse, much like Gauri’s spouse Lord Shiva.

These are some of India’s famous festivals in the North, though there are numerous other festivals the length and breadth of this holy land. If you are a tourist you would not want to miss joining in the amazing spirit and spectacle of the festivals.

 

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Credit: artoflegendindia.com

 

 

ketu - alberthalljaipur.gov.inKetu is the lower severed half of the demon who sought immortality ( see previous post on Rahu). In astrological terms he is the southern Lunar Node, or the descending Node. While he is sometimes portrayed with a serpent’s head generally in keeping with myth and legend he is shown as headless with a serpent or fish-dragon body. The portrayal in ancient European texts also depicts the northern Node as having a serpent’s head. If uninfluenced by other planets he displays the qualities of Mars for the horoscope.

Like Rahu it too is inherently a malefic, yet it is paradoxically a significator of liberation, which can have multiple implications. It can signify liberation, through death, the liberation of ‘Moksha’, the enlightened stage reaches by the soul force, after which it does not need to reincarnate. Thus it is the antithesis of Rahu, which impelled the soul force to incarnate and materialize. It signifies the return of the soul force into the spiritual world. Thus it is an indicator of spiritual development and the desire for spiritual evolution. Likewise it is also the significator of the occult, magic and witchcraft, the non material realms of reality. Ketu is also the repository of ones Karma – a force for transformation which gets magnified during eclipses – then Ketu impels the transformation of the ego, creating awareness of the conscious Self within. While in India most traditionalists dread the eclipse as a harbinger of evil, the more erudite look upon it as an opportunity and astrologers and Pundits devise special occult ritual prayers for the spiritual evolution of their clients to be performed during an eclipse. Certain Brahmanical orders trace their lineage to Ketu.

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Credit: rudraksha-ratna.com

If Rahu is the factor for separation ( see previous post), Ketu represents obstruction and impediments. At the psychological level he may induce manic depression, pessimism, addictions and violence. Sudden death from accidents are also attributed to Ketu effects. Other effects include sexual perversion. Yet when beneficial for a chart it enhances the spiritual and mystical potential of the subject to the extent of conferring extra-sensory perception ( ESP) and even supernatural abilities. It confers special powers of spiritual healing through Tantrik practices.However the manner in which it is likely to create spiritual awareness and detachment is through material adversity, sorrow, pain and loss. Ketu governs magicians, astrologers and the medical profession. 

ketu1Ketu is also associated with being bitten by snakes, reptiles and dogs, in life threatening circumstances. In my first post on Stellar India I referred to the popular practice to have ear lobes of infants of both sexed pierced ( and adorned with ear rings) to ward off such Ketu effects. The piercing replicates the snake bite and therefore fulfills the astrological prophecy in advance, like a prophylactic. Prayers and incantations to Ketu are believed to cure those who have become poisoned by snake bites or otherwise. A favourable Ketu indicates luxury, wisdom and intuition. there are several temples in India dedicated to Ketu.

Ketu is exalted in Sagittarius and Scorpio and debilitated in Gemini and Taurus. It is friendly to Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Rahu, neutral to Jupiter and inimical to the Sun, Moon and Mars. Its gemstone is the Cat’s Eye and metal, Mica. His steed is the vulture.

 

 

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Cats Eye

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Credit: vedichealing.com

Mars – Mangal is both feared and admired. his name in Hindi and Sanskrit is synonymous with the auspicious and blissful happiness. A common blessing is ‘ be ‘Mangalmaya’ or blessed with good fortune. Equally there is the Mangal-Dosh or Mars affliction which has to be warded off and guarded against, particularly in the selection of a suitable spouse.

Mars is pictured as being youthful, virile and muscular, amber eyed and martial, with a fiery and violent temperament, a flushed countenance and wearing red garments. He is also large hearted, generous and courageous and is the commander-in-chief of the planets. He is also the god of war and celibate. He is also referred to as Angarika ( one who is red and Bhauma ( son of Bhumi, the Earth). He likes meticulous organization. His steed or vehicle is the Ram.

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Lord Shiva – God of gods

The legend goes that Lord Shiva, ‘Devadidev’ – God of gods, wiping his brow cast beads of perspiration upon the Earth, thus creating the persona of a child. The Earth, Prithvi (Also Bhumi as terra) troubled by upheavals caused by quakes on account of demonic activity sought Shiva’s help to restore tranquillity. He then gave her the child arisen from his brow to rear and bring up, as a means of gaining equanimity and peace. When the child had grown to fine maturity under her maternal love and care she brought him back to Lord Shiva. Shiva then named the child Mangal, the auspicious one, and told her that she would now have to separate from him as her work was done and that his place was in the Zodiac from where his sterling qualities would help mankind in its evolution. He consoled Prithvi that she must not be anguished as Mangal would always be in the Zodiac visible to her. Shiva then commanded him to assume his place in the Mangal Lok or Martian world in the Zodiac which was even superior to the Shukra Lok the Venetian World.

Mars in Jyotish astrology is considered a malefic of the first order. But like other planets it is in fact an agent of ones Karma for ones ultimate spiritual evolution. The malefic effects are meant to cleanse us of our accumulated negativities. We are taught lessons through adversity. It is a paradox that we are apprehensive of an entity whose name signifies the auspicious. What is probably feared is what is due from ones accumulated Karma and wrong doing.

mars - sanatansociety.org

Artist: Pieter Weltevrede Credit: sanatancociety.com

Mars is significator of strength, energy, siblings younger to oneself and things that emerge from the earth like property in the shape of buildings. He is also the significator of  war, battle, soldiers, weapons, enemies, arguments and debates, athletics, beasts of prey, scientific, technical and mechanical abilities.The qualities he represents are strong will, unscrupulousness, self confidence, determination, brashness, enthusiasm, heroism, organizational skills, strong administrative abilities and an independent spirit, a passionate nature and generosity. Physically he represents virility, testicles, blood, bone marrow, muscles and the head.

What marriage councellers in India are particularly on the look out for is the placement of Mars in the horoscope. If it is in the first , fourth, seventh, eighth or twelfth House of the Moon chart ( called the Janma Kundli  – the Sign at birth is called the Lagna Kundli – to clarify the two,  the birth chart shows the Zodiac Signs at birth in the 12 Houses of fortune – the Moon chart places the Sign in which the Moon occurs at birth in the first house and then rearranges the succeeding signs accordingly in the 12 houses – quite complcated  – different charts are used for different aspects of ones life for a more focussed assessment) it is indicative of premature death of the spouse, divorce or an incompatible marriage, unless the spouse in question too is a ‘Manglik’ with Mars in one of those stigmatized Houses. This has high priority among Hindus and is one of the most frequent reasons for consulting astrologers and Pundits and for refusing offers of marriage which otherwise appear suitable on all counts. In all arranged marriages, and the majority in India are arranged, on account of Caste and class considerations, an exchange of horoscopes is mandatory to see if the charts are compatible or  incompatible, particularly the issue of the placement of Mars. Some ‘Manglik’ girls remain unmarried because they cannot find a suitable spouse with compatible charts.

imagesMars is exalted in Capricorn and debilitated in Cancer. the Sun Moon and Jupiter are considered friendly to Mars for a Horoscope, Mercury is inimical and Venus and Saturn are neutral. The metal associated with Mars is brass, the gemstone is the red coral ( called Mangal among indian jewellers, in high demand and frequently worn to balance adverse Mars in the horoscopes ) , his element is fire, his direction is the south and his season is summer.

 

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Mangal Yantra

 

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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.

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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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