Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Enigma or Confusion

Years ago, through a kind Jyotish lover and friend, I was introduced to astrology and discovered a lot of kindred spirits. Some were into Jyotish, others were writers and poets and many more who were and still are just wonderful human beings. Over the years some of them shared their joys and sorrows, their successes and occasional failures too. Much changes in our lives over time and even our perception changes.To me, Jyotish has been a very interesting experience which recently I tried to capture in something I posted on one of my favorite internet mystic haunts! I share it with a wider and different readership here:Suddenly the teenager vagabonding about (now called 'chilling' I believe?) halted in his tracks! It was like very very early in the morning, brahma muhurta which his pureitanical parents had tried to impress upon him and inculcate into him the good habit of being up and about if he were to ever amount to anything, spiritually speaking, that is! Like most teenagers that really go for it with what serves their needs and strikes their fancy, this one too took that as the signal. He just overdid a bit. In order to be there at this “brahma muhurta party”, he stayed up all night, just in case! Teenage-souls can do that you know! Like learning Jyotish by themselves and successfully.
Now mind you, this TRUE tale comes from safer times when streets even at those early hours were truly safe and the bad elements just did not exist because there was a VERY SERIOUS and SINCERE chowkidar who kept patroling on his Hercules cycle painted deep green and sounding the human siren every so often, "Jaagtey RAHO!". Most villagers thought of Mishrajee as just a big nuiscence! “Now who in their right mind would ever come and rob us poor people? We barely have adequate barley, to speak of!”

Grumble and whine they did but no one dared to speak up to Misirjee, the Sipaheeji! Especially on the weekend, only SUNDAY back then and not the saturday-sunday that soft developed nation city dwellers now enjoy and would die for if it were to be taken away from them! Anyway, when Misir jee was seen waxing his Hercules mobile every so often, diligently going inch by inch over its deep green steely sheen and once in a while passing his waxy fingers (no protective gloves used in those days, folks!) over his symbol of manliness, his huge moustache which over the years was turning more grey than shiny perhaps due to the carnuba wax which though great on steel may not be equally forgiving upon human hair! ANYWAY the point was that at that point NO ONE dared to speak to him and passed by him with bowed heads and truly 'feigned' deference. Even the teenager who was just minutes ago tossing little rocks at the guava trees in Phalbaag. Even Misrajee knew all that and emitted an almost inaudible 'humph!' grunt and kept polishing his chariot of steel!

His reverie broken, the teenager's thoughts moved from useless reflections about Misir jee and the village folks and sleeplessness (The last one being not really a big problem!) to the mysterious, hazy bag that he could see from a distance. The bag was moving and seemed to be alive! Wonderstruck and afraid, the teenager stalled! His eyes growing wider and his young heart missing a beat or two, and not for the same reason as it did earlier when he saw his new lady teacher who would be teaching them math (!), but finally his youthful curiosity overpowered his fear. Gingerly, and carefully (whatever that word means to a teenager!) he proceeded, his heart racing wildly now! "Where is that blasted Misirjee when you really need him?", he thought for a fleeting juvenile scared moment! "Probably waxing his ...!". Teenagers can be so rude and wild when they let their imaginations run! JESUS!!

As he inched closer, the amorphous grey cloud of a bag became clearer even in the dim ethereal pre-dawn of brahma muhurta! Teenagers have such clearer visions even when it is dark! Don't you just hate that? They have so much going in their favor, so much vitality, so much promise, so much of everything, including longevity!

The 'bag' groaned! The teenager could now see that it was a very old woman. Her hair disheveled, body wrapped in a cocoon of old rags, newspapers and all kinds of insulating filth. If he was not so insensitive to smells (ever wonder how teenagers can dab so much perfume and deodorants and not swoon from it all?), he would probably have detected the distinct rot of death and decay. "How may I help you, grandma?" the kind at heart, well-raised youth asked. She smiled and said, "Beta, you shall carry me through your soul, always!". Suddenly, the youth realized that there was no one around, no bags no old woman. But there was this sense of heaviness within his inner self, not a burden-like heaviness but this sense of knowledge, or knowing what will happen next! And he was right! For within seconds he heard the shrill monotone, "Jaagtey raho!"

REALITY as he had always known was back. But was it really back?

MA GIVE ME eyes to see, a mind to understand what the eyes see, and a heart to keep the eyes and mind alive and engaged in serving YOU FOREVER.

The above signature line that I use when I post something on serious and sincere Jyotish forums, has always been a prayer of mine to the Mother Goddess of attainment and Mercy. When Jupiter moved into Sagittarius from Scorpio few months ago, I had written about the old Brahmin as he moved through a gandanta as the junction of water signs and fire signs have been called by some. Gandantas are way up in the FEAR scale with Kalsarpa yoga, sade sati of Saturn, badhakas, balarishtas, mangal dosha and mrityu bhaga. So much fear has been introduced into the great unwashed, in certain human minds and cultures that when the things get even slightly tough, the tough stop trying and get praying!

Recently we have witnessed an onslaught of yet another return to fundamentalist ways and thinking, puritanical views and almost a return to superstition that has been witnessed globally. Some of it has been the contribution of some decades of increasing cult-like mentality even when it pertains to Jyotish through their magical remedies and poojas and what not about which I have written again and again. Truth be told there has never really been in the last several decades, maybe longer any quality control in Jyotish. The recently in news Maharshi Mahesh Yogi (popularly referred to as MMY) and his camp had been vocally concerned about this and therefore over the decades past had proceeded to ‘Brand’ some of the Indian cultural items and learnings. Thus we hear of Maharshi Ayurveda and Maharshi TM (meditation) and also Maharshi Jyotish, all trademarked products and brand names!


The Maharshi’s simple message had always been: Live in Nature, Obey Natural Laws!

What could be more simple and wonderful, touching every sane heart and soul!

When MMY arrived in the West and recalled the prevailing confusion not only in his homeland but then amongst the youths that we now call “Flower Children”, it is easy to see why he would like to do a bit of a quality control exercise and reduce the overpowering confusion.

Jyotish has also had its confusion (according to some) and its rich cultural framework (according to others) which has included ancient Vedic, Arabic, some say also Babylonian (Hand et al) and perhaps other influences, some undoubtedly brought in during the many invasions that have fenestrated and arguably (according to Hindu scholars) enriched India’s cultural and religious mosaic over the centuries recent.

Lately, time and again, I hear about some factions in Jyotish trying to utilize MMY’s approach of simplifying things and creating “PURE” Jyotish. And, this has lead to the thinking that somehow there are distinct STREAMS of rules in Jyotish: The biggest black and white divide in the already beautifully integrated and already optimally functional Jyotish being the systems attributed to Parashara and Jaimini!

Parashara and Jaimini were perhaps two ancient Rishis whose actual eras are not known as also their mutual order of succession! Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra and Upadesha Sutram (also known as Jaimini Sutras, the title chosen by Sastri and earlier translators) are the two main bodies of work in Jyotish, the former written in straight forward Sanskrit language (as used in Satya Yuga perhaps?) whereas the latter is written in the Katapayadi style which utilizes a degree of encryption as it has been noted and characterized by contemporary students of Jyotish.

Interestingly, neither Parashara not Jaimini mention one another. Parashara does mention other Rishis and ancient seers so it was not as if he had any issues with mentioning earlier Sages. I do not believe, to the best of my recollection, if Jaimini attributed or mentioned any of his predecessors. Not that attribution was an absolute requirement or norm lest someone misinterpret the last statement.

Parashara’s system includes rashis, nakshatras and is a fairly nicely organized body of fundamentals that have enabled many to learn and successfully practice astrology. Jamini’s system is a distinct and very rashi based sub-set and utilizes special karkas and has certainly an inimitable flavour as well as being very effective and useful in a pragmatic sense, similar to the system described by Parashara! Now, here lies the crunch! In BPHS, Parashara’s Magnum opus, Jaimini’s rashi, chara, pada system is included and does not seem like something that was “grafted” even though some would insist that it was so and publicly state so!

BPHS is a body of knowledge that is known to be available in several versions (all of which contain the “Jaimini” system though not attributed to any Jaimini or similar sounding Rishi). An obvious example of this would be the two popular translations by Santhanam and Sharma. Sharma’s version has more chapters and information and some would argue that Santhanam was working with a ‘culled’ or sanitized version while others would insist that Sharma’s version had material inserted into the original BPHS! Who really knows (or cares!)? Well some apparently do, it seems because recently I was informed by someone that there is a Jyotish group that has strong views about the black and white in Jyotish (an exploratory visit confirmed this!). Part of their welcome message includes the following paraphrased thinking:

Parashara and Jaimini are two distinct systems even if the divide between them is not always clear. Some have attributed to Prof. P. S. Sastri, author of Jaimini Sutram (English translation), as having stated that much of what we now know of Jaimini System has been inserted into BPHS and mixing up the two systems will lead to confusion in the minds of the ‘student’ .

Speaking of Prof. Sastri, he is known to be a jyotish scholar of gigantic proportions even extolled by none other than the illustrious iconoclast, the revered Shri KN Rao who wrote the foreword to Sastri’s UttarKalamrita. Uttarkalamrita, written by a South Indian named Kalidasa (quoting Sastri) tried in places in his text to ‘imply’ that he belonged to the court of Vikramaditya. Sastri states that the author or Uttarkalamrita was not really the Great Kalidasa who penned the great Indian love story and other poems. Anyway, Uttarkalamrita has some very unusual and unique rules and information about Jyotish not found elsewhere and obviously of a much recent vintage than Parashara and Jaimini, he included both systems in his writings. Whether he attributed both by names, I am not sure. Sincere students and researchers may wish to delve deeper.

What surprises and amazes me is this tendency on part of certain “jyotishis” to separate Parashara from Jaimini for reasons of “purity”! I can understand why individuals will want to distance Jyotish away from the Arabic-Tajic system or features of the Krishnamurthy Paddhati (which uses distinctly different western Placidus cusps at the beginning of a house, very non-traditional) or the magical-tantrik horary systems and so on, but separating Parashara and Jaimini reveals or perhaps *creates* an interesting anomaly, a puzzling display of schizophrenic behaviour of the planets!

It is almost like saying that in a chart of a male born on 12 January 1917, at 07:18 AM, IST, Jabalpur, Madhya Bharat, India the sun could only wear his Parashari hat of being the 8th lord placed in the 12th house (Vipareeta Raja Yoga, exemplified by a non-Brahmin rising to the ranks of a World Class Religious Leader of unmatched achievements in the spiritual field) while not also fulfilling the so called Jaimini role of Atmakaraka placed in the 12th house of Moksha and renounciation, willingly giving up worldly bonds and bindings while placed with rahu (darakaraka representing those one comes in contact with and influences -- other cultures and nations far away from one’s birth land) and venus the gnatikaraka and the dragon of luxuries and worldliness that shall always cloud the individual by association if not by proven infractions. Gnatikaraka has the flavour of enemies and one or more individuals who have venus (and rahu) prominent in their charts will be at loggerheads with the individual. But let us not go there at this time!

I personally think that such divisive and discriminatory mentalities that motivate some astrologers in positions of power and influence to introduce doubts that try to separate roles of the same planet into this or that portfolios and “never shall the twain meet” attitudes are unfortunately destructive at the worst and misleading at the very least. As in religion, Jyotish which had been heavily influenced by religious fervour, and for no good or useful reason, shall see such separatism and will create confusion and misrepresentation.

On a positive note, it is almost ironical that this in essence will make sure that Jyotish remains preserved and does not fall in the wrong hands, something that Varahamihira agonized over a lot (Attributes of an astrologer, etc.)! I have always firmly believed that Jyotish (or anything like it that has survived so long despite many ferocious attempts to bull-doze it!) has a built-in self-protecting mechanism. It will always be judged by the outcome. And the outcome simply is: Does it predict and help in the field or not? If it does not, due to a variety of reasons, then it will surely find its place in the mausoleum of history! I just hope that it does not turn out to be a premature death! That would be a shame and a big loss. But then again, weren’t the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Tibetan Book of Dead lost for a long time but just couldn’t remain lost forever! The Lord, as some *devotees* would say, moves in mysterious ways!!


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