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Jyotish Potpourri

Jyotish Potpourri

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Published by Rohiniranjan

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Published by: Rohiniranjan on Mar 12, 2010
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05/14/2014

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THIS TIME – MYTHS IN JYOTISH INJECTED AND SUSTAINED BY JYOTISHIS!(and a potpourri of related thoughts)BYROHINIRANJAN [WCC#6247-31038]Several months ago, I wrote about myths regarding Jyotish that float around mostly westernastrological forums. Those were benign and innocent myths or even misunderstandings really, asI look back. There was not much reaction to that article from western astrologers (actually thetheme was dealt with in more than one article, if I recall). But, to what I am writing today, therecould be some reaction, but again I expected such reaction to my article on astrotreasures inwhich I questioned what was written in Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. That would be almostakin to questioning the Bible in a Church and perhaps the Talmud in a Synagogue. I better stopwith my analogies and examples before patience runs out in some sectors.Getting back to Jyotish, which I just happen to think got enveloped and enshrined in the skeins of an ancient religion and cultural milieu that Hinduism is because of its geographical and temporalsurroundings, there are some questions that bubble up but not asked out of fear, deference etc.Now, Hinduism is ONE religion and culture that will tolerate a lot of questions and while it willvibrate dangerously or rather its bearers would, there is an underlying stream of cool rationalityand pragmatism that runs deep that will make its people think more than react. The fact thatJyotish is now a worldwide phenomenon, capable of deciphering and helping people of allreligions, races, nationalities, cultural differences speaks to the universal applicability of Jyotish.Jyotish is increasingly being embraced by and carried forward by people who are rational, havereal lives for the most part as opposed to living in some spiritual stratosphere and meting outpronouncements to householders and housewives how to improve their love life while cockingan eye at the Dharma so that all levels of reality are respected and cared for.Let us begin! Is Jyotish something to be assumed by the saintly and holy alone or even by thenormal men and women? I am talking about the practitioners and not the nativities that seek theaid of Jyotish! If a rational and sane man or woman reads Jyotish classics, really – much of whatis covered is plain and simple building blocks dealing with planets, signs and activities done andsupposed to be done by ordinary people. Being born, studying, finding work, marrying, makingchildren, acquiring position, fame, accomplishments, feeling accomplished, passing wealth on tochildren, leaving worldliness and to more detachment and peace and finally looking towards finalpeace and leaving this world in hands that belong to one’s loved ones and hoping that what liesahead would be at least as fulfilling as the journey this far!Now every life-story is not all that Disney-like and hence the stock of astrology can only rise!Perhaps being born in the image of God, we all desire for perfect lives. But most of us do nothave those expectations! Most of us, therefore, look for worldly solutions. Some win the race.Others give up. A few neither win, nor give up but instead turn to magic. The magic could bedivinations or what has been somewhat cruelly termed as “chicken feet!”. This comes from therealm of voodoo black magic but really in this era of fear with the avian virus and chicken flu,
 
and the PANDEMIC, even chicken feet are anything but kosher! But now I am mixing religionsand metaphors thereof!As one wades through Jyotish classics and other pertinent writings, one continues to remainappreciative of the beautiful sense of aesthetics displayed by ancient writers. Nearly the entireclassical body of Jyotish is presented in the form of disciplined verse and not unruly prose! It isindeed a big feat to not only present factual and logical information but to also to do sobeautifully and in rhyme! A further boundary is imposed on the Jaimini sutras which arepresented in the katapayadi ‘encoding/style’ in which the words must not be taken literally butafter transliteration! Given these additional considerations, when someone applies mindlessly thesame rigour to some of these mystic writings as one would to a scientific research paper, the roadis fraught with danger. Imagine the entire body of science having to be written in poetry? Theadditional challenge is simply unimaginable for modern man!Jyotish writings that have trickled down the centuries to us must be given the benefit of a degreeof poetic license. While enjoying their beauty and veracity in general, one should not get hung uptoo rigidly on a figurative statement such as: Jupiter in lagna removes hundred doshas orblemishes! If a jyotishi then accepts this statement too literally and begins to justify and forcelogic on to something that was figuratively and perhaps a tad hyperbolically stated by an ancientpoet-jyotishi, this creates problems. All one needs is to view a few charts and soon the realitydawns upon one that the statement should be accompanied with qualifications and not taken tooliterally and by itself. Jupiter is not an unsullied, benefic and if that were the case there would beno reason for its shades of expression. Jupiter in lagna in the 12 signs would have differences,where the dispositor (lord of the sign hosting Jupiter) is placed would modify the Jovianexpression, planets aspecting Jupiter would exert their own modifying effects. The same story asis applicable with other planets and so on.It is incredible how beautiful and elegant the writing prowess of the ancient jyotishi-poets was.This was not some stream of consciousness, non-rhyming, free-form poetry but rigidlyconstructed poetry with its own grammar which expects one to be highly creative and capable.Very saturnine, in my opinion – the ancient expressions of Jyotish truths were, one would have toagree. But Saturn of very high purity and refined tastes, the Saturn that brings with it aheightened sense of responsibility and seriousness. Very obviously reflected in these ancientclassical writings on Jyotish.Let us also turn our attention to a highly volatile, somewhat emotion-charged aspect of Jyotish.Remedies! It is true that remedies have been described in many classical texts but in an extremelymatter of fact and somewhat secondary way, usually at the end of a book. The modern writershave glorified the remedies to a varying degree and practicing jyotishis often present theremedies as if it is a rigid and definite system, almost like reading the course of treatment of some illness from some pharmacopeia or formulary of medication. If you have this disease, takethis medication, if that symptom, then apply that ointment, etc. If this were the case theneveryone, or at least most jyotishis would agree on the remedy for a certain chart and nativity.Even in medical sciences there are variations, but few and far in between, in general. Mostdoctors would agree on the diagnosis and treatment of a given ordinary illness. However,
 
 jyotishis tend to come up with differences in interpretation, or the use of factors to reach aconclusion, and certainly vary a lot when it comes to prescribing remedies for the samechart/nativity/condition. This is troublesome and very confusing to the student and the sufferingnativity/consumer who runs from astrologer to astrologer, forum to forum asking for answers andthen getting bombarded by very different solutions. One recommends fasting on Wednesdays, theother five name other weekdays, one recommends a mantra or certain pooja, anotherrecommends a certain gemstone and just when ready to buy, an email comes telling him that inthe opinion of another Shri Shri 1008, that if he wears that gemstone, great harm would befallupon his daughter and so on. What is the poor astroconsumer to do? Other than start studyingastrology him/herself and to hell with all these other astrologers! Maybe Brahma wants exactlythat to happen (Or Lord Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh, … insert your favourite deity’s name here!). Theplatform modern Practical Jyotish stands on is full of planks of different kinds and in big needfor attentive repair or maybe even reconstruction!I find it very curious that obviously very intelligent people and quite pragmatic too whodemonstrate fairly sharp wits and an ability to critically think through things and even display ahealthy sceptic side of theirs suddenly break out in rapturous accounts about horoscopes of Ramaand Krishna and other Gods and Awatars. They make references to the way ancient people livedand their way and framework of thinking. Based on what? There are no historical accounts of those times available really! There are no diaries and personal journals of those times available tous or whatever forefathers used to have akin to our newspapers. Based on scriptures – which atbest were recommendations for the best possible way of living as the prevailing religionrecommended! If our religion were to be wiped out in a flash and all that remained to be foundwas a copy of the Bible, ten thousand years later, would the finder be right in making theassumption that in 2006 humanity lived in general in the spiritual purity that the Biblerepresents? Bible is only 2000 years old, so I use it as an example, but it could be some otherbook. On the other hand if all that remained after the apocalypse was a copy of Rajneesh’s ‘Fromsex to superconsciousness (sambhog se Samadhi tak)’ then the impression about us on the finderof the book 10000 years down the road would be different, but equally wrong and faulty as ageneralization as to how humans lived 10000 years ago! Let me not belabour my point with moreexamples!There seems to be a very strong devotional aura that surrounds Jyotish. When this ‘devotional’mode is activated, suddenly it becomes difficult if not impossible to challenge and debate aboutanything. Generally speaking, questioning so called classics is taboo, although there is really nodefinitive way of timing these texts written in beautiful verse, and the statements therein aretaken by some as gospel and beyond questioning. This creates problems because some of theproponents who display such a ‘hands-off’ demeanour in the next breath claim that Jyotish is theabsolute truth and even call it science. The primary requirement of science is that it must beconstantly questioned and refined. Such luxury is not afforded to Jyotish because of the mind-sets of people. Into this mix is also tossed in spirituality and morality. The pressure on the poorJyotish student is mammoth. He or she is expected to be highly spiritual, moral and with asuperior intellect. Any professional must be of a high moral fiber be they a jyotishi, dentist,lawyer, engineer, doctor or car mechanic! But technical prowess does not go hand in hand withmoral superiority. Likewise, having a fine intellect is great but if one examines the framework of 

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