October 2003

A Conscious Evolution Newsletter

 

 

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The Community Co-op Opens This Month!

A New Approach to Chart Interpretation, Part 3

Vedic Star-way of Heaven, Part 3

One Plus One (fiction)

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Book Review: Tesla: Man Out of Time

October Star Watch

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October Interactive Calendar

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Metamorphosis Index of All Articles

Volume 2, No. 10

Opinions presented in Metamorphosis are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others associated with the newsletter.

 

Vedic Star-way of Heaven, Part 3

by Anindita Basu

 

Previous articles
in this series:
Part 1
Part 2

What’s your birth star? Where westerners tend to know their Sun signs even if they know little else about astrology, Indians usually know their birth stars if little else about Jyotish, or Vedic astrology. The ancient Vedic astrologers aligned their measurements of the heavens with the constellations the Moon passes through, day to day, on its monthly orbit of the Earth. People’s birth stars are determined by the Moon’s location, at their birth, in one of the 27 named constellations or Mansions of the Moon.

So far, we have covered the first 18 of the constellations that are reckoned by Vedic astrologers. In this part we shall cover the remaining nine. To find which of the 27 Mansions is your birth star, you will need to know the position the Moon was in at the time of your birth - as measured by the sidereal zodiac. For people born in our era, the sidereal position of their natal Moon will be roughly 24 degrees earlier in the wheel than in the western zodiac. For instance, a Moon at 25 degrees Leo in the western zodiac is at about 1 degree Leo in the sidereal. A western-measured Moon at 1 degree Leo would be at approximately 7 degrees Cancer (as every sign is 30 degrees). Most astrology software has a setting to change a chart to the sidereal system.

This series of articles has focused on the root symbolism of the 27 constellations, seeking the authentic Vedic underpinnings on which Jyotish interpretations are based. The final nine Mansions, as a group, are a little trickier to explain because quite a few of the Vedic gods that rule the constellations no longer appear much in today’s literature. The composition of the Vedas started more than 5,000 years ago, and some of the gods mentioned therein have, understandably, descended into obscurity with the passage of time. Consequently, some of the star descriptions are less exhaustive or certain than others. In some of these cases, language clues provide some sense of how the god was seen by the ancients.

To learn about your Vedic birth star, find your Moon’s sidereal location in the Star List below, or in the Star Lists of Parts 1 and 2 of the series. Clicking on the name of a star will take you to its description, with emphasis on the Vedic deities and planetary rulers associated with the constellation.

Star List

Constellation

Span

God

Planet

Moola

0° to 13°20' Sagittarius

Nirriti

Ketu*

Purva Ashadh

13°20' to 26°40' Sagittarius

Apah

Venus

Uttar Ashadh

26°40' Sag. to 10° Capricorn

Vishwadevas

Sun

Shravana

10° to 23°20' Capricorn

Vishnu

Moon

Dhanishtha

23°20' Cap.to 6°40'Aquarius

Vasu

Mars

Shatabhisha

6°40' to 20° Aquarius

Varun

Rahu**

PurvaBhadrapad

20° Aquarius to 3°20' Pisces

Ajaikapad

Jupiter

Uttar Bhadrapad

3°20' to 16°40' Pisces

Ahirbudhnya

Saturn

Revati

16°40' to 30° Pisces

Pushan

Mercury

* Ketu is South Node (Caput Dragonis).
** Rahu is North Node (Cauda Dragonis).

Moola

The name Moola literally means “the root.” Interestingly, this constellation is astronomically aligned with the exact galactic centre of the Milky Way. This area of the sky appears darker than the rest, possibly due to the black hole that some modern astronomers say exists at the centre of our galaxy. Did the seers of the Vedic period know this? Were they witness to some astronomical calamity that could have given rise to negative thoughts about Moola? One can only guess. But in any case, it is the goddess of destruction, Nirriti, who rules this constellation. In the Vedas Nirriti is a name that is used to denote the source of all evil forces. The word itself can be broken down into two parts: Nir, meaning “not,” and Rita, meaning “proper moral order.” Some others regard this term to be a synonym of the Earth. In any case, this goddess has been mentioned only a couple of times in the RigVedic texts, and there too in a negative sense, in pleas to Nirriti to keep herself away from those performing the Yajna. This has led to the belief that Nirriti is the universal force that represents the root cause of all evil and sin; sin being defined as any action physical, verbal or mental that knowingly or unknowingly is contrary to the laws of Truth.

The ruling planet is Ketu, the South Node or Descending Node of the Moon, the one that contracts and internalises. It is said to represent that which is hidden or alienated. This may bestow a tendency to investigate or delve deeply into things. Ketu is the one that has the power to obstruct the Sun; in this, it may be said to represent the antithesis of the solar characteristic of growth, which, along with Nirriti, may be said to represent a dissolution. Or a completely new beginning.

Keywords for Moola: root, dissolution, investigative ability, beginning

   Back to Star List  

Purva Ashadh

The constellation is ruled by Apah - the Waters. They are the goddesses that wash away sins, cleanse the body, invigorate the mind and make their worshippers pure. The sins of violence, cursing, lying or moral guilt are borne away. Many times, Apah are associated with honey, which, in the Vedas, often means life-sustaining energy that heals and renders one immortal.

Purva Ashadh is ruled by Venus, the morning star that shines brightly before the Sun rises. Venus is creative power that knows how to raise the dead. Venus is the only planetary energy seen as so pure in mind, body and spirit as to be able to create life and rise up to immortality.

Keywords for Purva Ashadh: invigoration, strength

   Back to Star List  

Uttar Ashadh

The ruling deity is Vishwadevas, a term used to collectively denote all gods. They are invoked at sacrifices and include gods with specific names (such as Agni) and those not specifically mentioned. The idea probably is to avoid excluding any god unintentionally from the fruits of sacrifice. The hymns to the Vishwadevas especially stress the qualities that are generally common to all gods and ask for boons that gods commonly bestow - a long and healthy life, riches and happiness, victory over inimical forces, peace and prosperity to all.

The ruling planet is the effusive and generous Sun, he who gives unhesitatingly, unstintingly and non-judgmentally anything that one may ask for - wealth, offspring, knowledge. He is the supreme giver - one just needs to ask.

Keywords for Uttar Ashadh: pure-hearted, beneficial

   Back to Star List  

Shravana

This constellation is ruled by Vishnu, the pervasive - he who dwells among all. Vishnu’s name is derived from the root Vis, meaning “active.” In the Vedas, Vishnu is regularly conceived of as an ever-moving entity who dwells in the highest of the three abodes that can be seen only when the pious open their inner eye. Vishnu stretched out the regions to create an abode for man. He is the one who uses the rolling wheel of the Sun as his tool to measure out the vastness with three paces, to create time within space.

The ruling planet is the sensitive and mutable Moon, the repository of the waters that give contentment and happiness in life. Moon rules the feeling mind. It is only with a quiet devotion that one can attain to the realm of Vishnu, the preserver of the universe.

Keyword for Shravana: perception

   Back to Star List  

Dhanishtha

Dhanishtha, meaning “wealthy,” is ruled by Vasu, the auspicious light. Not much is known about this god; however, in the texts that are much later than the Vedas, the Vasus are a collective group of eight gods who represent the solar energy that bestows abundance and light on the Earth.

The ruling planet is Mars, the focused fiery energy of which is essential to create a cycle of wealth and abundance out of formless material.

Keywords for Dhanishtha: wealth and abundance

   Back to Star List  

Shatabhisha

The ruling deity is Varun, the king who upholds the moral order and releases all bonds. Often spoken of as a regulator of the waters, he is the one who causes the rivers to surge, the rains to fall, the dew to wet the grass and the streams to flow with honey. In one allegorical passage, Varun is said to have knowledge of the flight of birds in the sky, the path of ships in the ocean and the course of the travelling winds; indeed, he is said to know of all such things that have been done and that will be done. He is regularly conceived as “wide,” an encompasser, a great king - a sage, thinker and hero who cuts through the bonds of falsehood. He removes the narrowness of vision and increases willpower in men so that they may aspire to attain the Infinite.

The ruling planet is Rahu, the North Node or Ascending Node that has a special affinity for obscuring the Moon. As such, it rules neurological matters and has the capacity to heighten the levels of astral sensitivity. At the lower levels, there is an apparent conflict between the unbounded quality of Varun and the obscuring nature of Rahu. At the higher levels however, Rahu is capable of loosening the bonds that tie a person’s spirit to his mind.

Keyword for Shatabhisha: healing

   Back to Star List  

Purva Bhadrapad

This constellation and the next, Uttar Bhadrapad, are among the faintest star-groups in the sky. Purva Bhadrapad has been assigned to the rulership of the somewhat obscure god called Ajaikapad. The literal meaning of this is “the one-footed goat.” In later texts, Ajaikapad is taken to be a form of Shiva, the destroyer god of the Hindu trinity. Some texts also mention this star to be the vehicle of Agni, the fire god.

The ruling planet is Jupiter, teacher of the gods, the spiritual and ethical planet that upholds law and morality. Jupiter is an expansive planet that is least bothered with constrictions and, coupled with the fire of Purva Bhadrapad, this may sometimes lead to an unstoppable urge to rise beyond all restrictions. The less enlightened flipside would be an aggressiveness that is concerned with materialism rather than spiritual attainments.

Keywords for Purva Bhadrapad: moving fire, auspicious

   Back to Star List  

Uttar Bhadrapad

The ruling deity is another obscure Vedic god called Ahirbudhnya. The term Ahi means “serpent,” and Budhnya is “bottom” or “below.” The name may therefore be taken to mean “the serpent of the nether regions.” It is seen as a benefic serpent. In the later texts, Ahirbudhnya is taken to be a form of Shiva. A serpent indicates hidden or untapped knowledge.

The ruling planet is Saturn - the lame, dark planet that seeks knowledge in isolation and contemplation. In a sense, the fire that is restless in Purva Bhadrapad, finds a structure and a direction here in Uttar Bhadrapad. This is perhaps the perfect complement to the coiled serpentine wisdom of Ahribudhnya, which, when invoked, results in insight that can be harnessed and raised to ascend to the godhead.

Keywords for Uttar Bhadrapad: controlled fire, auspicious

   Back to Star List  

Revati

The ruling deity is Pushan, the nourishing god. He is the god who knows the Paths and guards them, the one who watches over his worshippers as they traverse the Path of the Fathers. Pushan, the son of deliverance, is invoked to remove dangers - the wolf and the way-layer - from the Path. Owing to his familiarity with the Path that lies between Heaven and Earth, Pushan is the sure-footed all-knower and the guardian of knowledge, the one who can manifest things that are hidden and make them easier to find. Prayers to Pushan frequently ask him to bestow the wealth of light.

The ruling planet is Mercury, the planet of intellect and discrimination. It is that pervasive consciousness that breaks down artificial barriers between people and creates a common ground, so to speak. An evolved Mercury, with its ability to open up the channels of communication, coupled with Pushan, the guardian of the Path, makes Revati one of the most spiritual of all constellations.

With Venus exalted here, this is the constellation that has the inner motivation to create lasting benediction for mankind. Revati is a constellation that shares its inherent desire to acquire the knowledge of light.

Keywords for Revati: nurture, nourish, prosper

   Back to Star List  

The Missing Mansion

There is, actually, one more constellation - a 28th star called Abhijit - that finds mention in the ancient texts. Abhijit is the star Vega, which falls roughly between the stars Uttar Ashadh and Shravana mentioned above. This star was said to be ruled by Brahma, the creator. These days, however, this star is not reckoned at all while looking at natal charts because it falls outside the zodiac, although it still continues to be used in electional astrology.

It is a bit puzzling why this star should have been dropped from the list, but perhaps the slow expansion of the galaxy provides a possible explanation from modern science. At some time in the past, when the Earth was closer to the Sun than it is at present, it may be that the constellation Abhijit was also visible in the zodiac belt where the Moon traversed night after night. Subsequently, due to the slow expansion of our galaxy (and consequential distancing of the Earth from the Sun) Abhijit may have shifted to a point that was slightly beyond the zodiac and was, therefore, ignored by Vedic astrologers. While this is by no means a definitive explanation, it seems scientifically plausible.

Further readings:

The Rig Ved Samhita, English translation
The Taittiriya Brahmana, English translation
Vedic Mythology by A.A. MacDonnell