Pleasing the Planets:
Alternatives to Vedic Astro Remedies
by Anindita Basu
Hinduism, I have often been told, is not a religion. It is a way of life. This statement used to puzzle me, until I realised that Hinduism is a thoroughly practical religion that incorporates everything for everyone, right from the toddler-equivalent to the evolved sage on the verge of Nirvana. The milieu that gave rise to this religion also gave rise to that branch of science referred to as Vedic Astrology. The underpinnings of this science are rooted in the deepest of knowledge; however, that knowledge also strives to make itself understood to the lesser-evolved souls like us who, instead of searching out the true mission of our lives as reflected in our horoscopes, would more often read our horoscopes in search of the material benefits that this life can give us. How high up in the ladder can I climb in my workplace, will I own just one house or several, will my daughter marry into a wealthy family, why am I faced with losses in business, why do I fail to make it through my studies, when will my bad period end? There are some of the questions that are asked generation after generation.
Vedic astrology, then, took note of this very natural and very materialistic leaning of the majority of the human race and tried to formulate some answers. The premise was that the nine planets used in the system have been assigned specific rulerships, and if one could, somehow, please a particular planet or strengthen it, it could be cajoled into giving more. If one wanted children, for example, one had to appease Jupiter, which rules creativity in all forms. Alternatively, one could beg an angry planet to be lenient and not be as troublesome as it could be. Saturn could be requested not to put too many delays in ones path, for example. Over a period of time, this whole business of pleasing the planets became ritualistic. Each planet was assigned a gem, a colour, a food, a metal, a caste, a day of the week, and prescriptions were made accordingly. To appease Mars, for example, one could (i) fast on Tuesdays (ii) wear a Ruby (iii) donate red lentils (iv) chant a mantra to his ruling god (v) donate copper (vi) wear red.
In this article, I will explore the other possibilities of appeasing the planets, possibilities that cannot be readily bought with money. And I will restrict myself to only the conventionally malefic ones, which are Saturn, Mars, the Nodes of the Moon and the Sun.
Saturn is lonely and feels unloved. Having grown up listening to jeers and taunts (because Saturn walks with a limp and is ugly to look at), he cries out in anguish, And if you prick us, do we not bleed? Nothing, therefore, would please him more than empathy. Saturn rules isolation, asceticism and old age. One could try to chip away at his crustiness by a voluntary visit to an old-age home every week (or every fortnight or every month, but at regular pre-determined intervals since Saturn loves discipline).
Rahu and Ketu, the ascending and descending nodes of the Moon, are next to Saturn in their perceived malevolence. They are shadow or illusory planets, being the reference points where the ecliptic intersects the Suns apparent motion in the sky. They are said to affect things that are non-physical. Rahu rules your mind, for example, and other peoples minds (public perception of you). Ketu rules your soul and can give you emancipation from the cycle of birth and death. They cause eclipses to the luminaries, but eclipses work both ways. Seen from this side, they seem to eclipse the light; from the other side, however, an eclipse is but a blocking out of the darkness. It is this area of operation of these shadow planets that one could benefit from immensely. Light dispels shadows and darkness. A wholehearted worship of the Light is what is called for. Ancient wisdom does have a prescription for this, but somewhere along the way this prescription the Surya Namaskar seems to have fallen somewhat out of favour. It is a set of 12 exercises, to be performed at daybreak, as an obeisance to the rising Sun. The Sun, according to Vedic astrology, is also a malefic, inasmuch as it burns and sucks out air. Sun, besides representing health and vigour, also stands for the father figure and other figures of authority (the government, for example). A daily morning walk, at daybreak, is another form of Sun worship that is slightly less strenuous than the Surya Namaskar. And then, there is this other thoroughly strenuous way of appeasing him try to not talk back to your father or argue with him. For one whole day a week at least. Sun will be mightily pleased.
What then for Mars, the focussed burning shaft of energy? Its fire is too hot to handle, and therefore, it causes strife wherever it goes. Mars was born of the Earth; therefore, respect to Earth and its minerals would appeal directly to him. Mars rules blood and vitality, so why not donate blood to a hospital once every quarter? God knows that clean, wholesome blood is hard to come by and Mars, being a brotherly planet (it also rules the arms and ones siblings), will surely be pleased by this.
These are just some examples of non-materialistic ways to please the traditionally malefic planets in Vedic astrology. Certainly many more methods could be devised by considering the principles the planets represent. Ultimately, use your creativity as this is sure to please Jupiter.