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Jyotish: the Astrology of India

Vedic Astrology--or Jyotish as it is known in India--belongs to the same ancient tradition as yoga. Jyotir means light, and Jyotish is the science of light, one of the six limbs of the Vedas, which tradition says need to be mastered before one can grasp the esoteric knowledge of the Vedas themselves.  When these six limbs are seen as parts of mahapurusha (universal man) Jyotish represents the eyes. Jyotish is thus the eye of the Vedas. Above all, Jyotish is a way of seeing, a seeing into the deep patterns of life--material as well as subtle--in order to gain insight into their structure and movement. So, just as yoga, Jyotish is a profound spiritual discipline.

Yoga and Jyotish complement each other, like two sides of a coin. Whereas Yoga aims for transcendence of time and space, Jyotish aims for greater understanding of their unfolding. Time and space form the dimensions of our existence in this manifestation. Yoga understands them as veils upon reality and aims to dissolve them. Jyotish understands our journey through time and space as meaningful and aims to illuminate it. The unbroken whole is our destiny--here, now, always--and this understanding is central to both traditions. Particular expressions of consciousness ultimately dissolve into universal consciousness, in that event called enlightenment. Whereas yoga cuts to the core through surrender to timelessness in the eternal now, Jyotish elucidates the meaning inherent in time, offering wise counsel for the journey and empowering the soul in its evolution with equanimity and trust.     

Reality in the manifestation forms a vast multidimensional web, and each event in it connects to everything else. “Pull a blade of grass and you shake the universe,” said one Tao master. This is the logic behind Jyotish. It is not that the planets control our lives. It is that everything in any moment is intimately interconnected. There is no happening that is not connected to every other happening in the universe. Universal consciousness governs this flow of life, and its truth can be read through deep observation of its structure. The orderly movement of the planets and stars mirrors the shifting energies of earth. “As above, so below.” Jyotish observes the patterns of the cosmos at a particular moment of time in order to gain insight into the nature of that moment. 

The planets and stars move with mathematical precision, forming unique configurations that can be measured and interpreted. Your Vedic chart is a model of specific cosmic phenomena at the moment of your birth: a portrait of the karma of your soul. It provides insight into who you are and why you have entered this earth plane. Just as your unique genetic constitution gets stamped at the moment of conception, so does your unique karmic constitution get stamped at birth: the moment of the first breath when the soul severs its connection to the mother’s body and enters this dimension of time and space.

Thus the road begins! Movement through time is what life is about, and Jyotish traces that movement.  Planetary energy is constantly shifting. The great Indian astrologer, Dr. Sankara Bhagavadpada, calls it “the mood of God”.  Understanding the mood that created your particular constitution, and navigating that constitution artfully through the shifting moods of time is what Jyotish is about. 

Though the birth chart is fixed, our destiny remains fluid.  This is where Jyotish has much to offer towards the art of conscious living.  This too is where the explanation becomes very difficult and subtle.  In an absolute sense what is going to happen has already happened, because time itself is relative. Indeed, past, present and future are all part of the linear illusion the mind creates--a truth that mystical traditions and modern physics alike acknowledge. Yet in a relative sense, what is going to happen depends upon what I do in the moment. Free-will is apparent, not actual, but it is through apparent free-will that happenings unfold, creating the phenomenon of time. 

As a study of time, Jyotish concerns itself with the relative. From this perspective, you do indeed participate in your destiny. And Jyotish can help you realise that destiny with greater wisdom, peace and abundance.

It does so first of all by answering that profound question: What is my dharma? So much misery occurs when the soul attempts to live out someone else’s dharma. So much peace comes from understanding your unique gifts. A birth chart reading can clarify your path and purpose through life. It sheds light upon all issues of worldly existence: career, money, relationships, family, children, education, creativity, health . . . everything!

Knowledge is power, and Jyotish can empower you with the knowledge you need to make wise choices. It helps you understand what is happening when life feels overwhelming, offering not just comfort and solace in difficulty, but real tools for weathering the storm.  Above all it offers insight into the highest purpose of life, assisting with spiritual growth and the evolution of the soul. 

Jyotir means light, and light represents highest truth.  For thousands of years, that understanding has echoed from this beautiful hymn of the Upanishads:
Asato Ma Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor-ma amritam Gamaya
 . . . Lead me from ignorance to wisdom, from darkness to light, from death to immortality. Jyotish, the science of light, illuminates the path to your highest destiny. 

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