Category Archives: planets

Why is Saturn Related to Brahma?

“Vahni (Fire), Ambu (Water), Shikhija (Skanda), Vishnu, Vidauja (Indra), Sachi, and Ka (Brahma), O’ Twice Born, from the Sun and the other Grahas in their order are known the Devas.” – Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra Chapter 3:18

This quote is from a foundation text of Vedic Astrology, the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, on the allotment of different deities to the Grahas (The Sanskrit word for the planets).  These are not the only associations that the Grahas have to different deities, however.  It should be remembered that all the many deities of Hinduism are considered to act through the agency of the different Grahas for their purposes and responsibilities as custodians of the various forces of nature on Planet Earth.  So while this list is not meant to be the only correlation of Deities to Grahas, it is a very insightful list to consider, shedding much valuable information on the nature of the different energies of the Planets.  In this post, for brevity’s sake, we will just be focusing on Saturn’s correlation to Brahma as it is quite interesting to contemplate.

This relation of Saturn to Brahma is very confusing and hard to understand for most.  If you study Jyotish you are probably already wondering where I am going with this, but lets first make sure we understand a little about Saturn.  He is in many ways the toughest planet to understand… Saturn rules death, lack, loss, negative karma, disease, depression, sorrow, and those things we must do that we are not good at doing.  When well placed in the birth chart, He is the planet that does the hardest jobs that no one else cares to do.  He does it without concern for himself and just for the sake of others. When Saturn is weak one is not able to do the hard things they know they must do for success and therefore usually are not very successful in the world, as most successful people in the world didn’t get that way by avoiding or not wanting to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.  Saturn is the one who does that. Jaimini says that if Saturn is in the 10th from the swamsha (atmakaraka in navamsa) the person will live a life of “accomplished deeds”.  Meaning this person gets things done in the world.

Mythological image of Brahma.  Depicted with four heads, each continually reciting one of the four vedas.  Even his mythological image seems much more busy at work like Saturn, when compared to Vishnu and Shiva who are both mythologically seen lounging on a coiled serpent, or sitting in blissful samadhi.

Mythological image of Brahma. Depicted with four heads, each continually reciting one of the four vedas. Even his mythological image seems much more busy at work like Saturn, when compared to Vishnu and Shiva who are both mythologically seen lounging on a coiled serpent, or sitting in blissful samadhi.

The word for the absolute God without attributes is Brahman in Hinduism.  The names of the threefold aspect of God as Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva respectively.  This correlates to Christianity and its holy trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, actually.  Brahma is the God of creation, he creates but does not get involved with creation and does not destroy or transform it, those are Vishnu and Shiva’s roles… Everybody knows that, so what is my point?  Well Saturn is not the planet of creativity, so you would think Jupiter or Sun would be related to the creative aspect of God (Brahma).  But they arent… Why is that?

I am not asserting to know exactly why that is, but here are some interesting ideas about why that may be the case:

Brahma is the force that releases just the right finite amount of God’s infinite potential of energy to create a galaxy and cause creation to occur.  Too much or too little of God’s infinite potentiality would cause tremendous imbalances in the grand scheme of the creation… So Brahma is that force which releases just the right amount of energy, but not too much.  In this way we can see that for creation to occur most perfectly from God’s standpoint, there needs to be a Saturnian element of restraint involved for the creation to be harmonious and properly balanced…If new worlds were constantly created before the old ones got destroyed then everything would be off and their would be less purpose to creation.  In a smaller way this is why I think the yogic guidelines Patanjali gave in the Yoga Sutras called one of the Yamas “Brahmacharya”.  In plain english, this is one of the 10 do’s and dont’s of Raja/Kriya Yoga and it is normally translated as “celibacy”.  This is a bad job of translating though.  Brahma means God’s creative energy, and Charya means “going, driving”.  So it simply means “going the way that God goes”.  And God doesn’t waste It’s creative energy in frivolous sexual pursuits.  So Brahmacharya really means to use one’s creative energy wisely and like God would, so as not to waste the spiritual force generated from Yoga practice.  Its true that sexual over-indulgence is the fastest way to waste that force for most people and so this is why it has slowly come to mean that, though it really means much more.  Talking excessively, being on social media unnecessarily, and eating bad foods that take too much energy to digest are just as obvious and popular ways of wasting one’s spiritual force in this modern age as sexual indulgence is.  And in the same way but on a smaller level, when Saturn is strong in a birth chart that individual will usually be much more focused on important works and not be as easily distracted or waste its energy on over-socializing, overeating, or overstimulation in general.  And so from the perspective of God it may be more that creation is not real, it is an illusion, but it is Brahma/Saturn’s job to continue this illusion for the purpose of individuals to grow beyond whatever separates them from God and to eventually unite with God.  So in this sense creation is very much an “Accomplished Deed” and thus related to Saturn.  Also we must remember that we dont incarnate unless there is some Karmic debt (Saturn) that must be worked out.  Even having too much good karma can cause a need to reincarnate and live an awesome life, which happens often for Saints and Yogis.  Even this is still a karmic debt that must be spent before the positive and negative karmic-balancing scale can go back to zero and one can finally become liberated.  Its like a bank account balance, it has to be zero to close out (get liberated), so a positive balance must be spent in an incarnation, and a negative balance must be worked off in an incarnation.  So when we see that Creation is actually just this path we must navigate to get beyond our lack and separation, and to merge back with God, we can see how similar it is to Saturn’s astrological role.

Here is another way to see how creation is related to Saturn, and this is basically paraphrasing what Ernst Wilhelm has written in his book Graha Sutras, so all credit goes to him on this perspective:  In order to have creation, the Absolute God must hide himself and be “veiled” in order to make creation seem real and separate from himself.  The veil is called “maya” in sanskrit and is created by each person’s “Avidya”- the ignorance of their soul nature as pure Spirit.  Saturn is responsible for each person’s ignorance and so this is how we can see his connection to creation from the perspective of having to create illusion/separation/lack from our real Self.  Ernst even goes so far as to say that Saturn rules the flow of life force into the nerves, making us sense things as cold/hot, fast/slow, dark/bright, etc. and not as God essentially.  So in this way Brahma requires and uses Saturn to create the world and the ignorance of our soul nature that so often accompanies our incarnation.

Another interesting factor is that Brahma is the most neglected of the trinity by far, as there are very few temples to Him and He is hardly mentioned compared to Vishnu and Shiva.  Saturn is similarly always the most neglected planet as well!  This is really because Saturn is misunderstood, and gets blamed for being the worst planet, but it is really because He has the most enemies from the standpoint of the lajjitaadi avasthas, and so therefore on average will be the weakest and most afflicted planet.  So then when his dasa or transits occur, we experience those weaknesses and difficulties.  But this is not because Saturn wants to wreck our life, it is because our Saturn is often not strong enough to deal with all the negative karma that we have and so during his periods there are difficulties.

The First and Ninth House and Your Teachers

sage_ved_vyasa

Sage Vyasa, compiler of the Vedas and father of Parasara, sitting with Ganesh

There are so many different types of people living in this world, with different temperaments and constitutions.  It seems fitting that there would also be so many different types of spiritual paths, philosophies, or religions that are pursued.  The horoscope of an individual can reveal many of the innate tendencies one may have towards spirituality.

In astrology, there are five elements, Ether (space), Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.  When it comes to the mechanics of the zodiac signs however, there are only four elements, with Ether being left out.  I feel this is because in the context of earthly existence, space is always there, containing and holding all other elements.  It therefore may not be as relevant as the other four when it comes to environments and places we go to, which is what the zodiac signs symbolize.  Ether is the most spiritual element, being closest to the source, and the zodiac is the unconscious manifestation of Vishnu, keyword being “unconscious”.  The signs therefore are not the conscious aspects of God, this is given to the planets.  That is why the planets are deified and described as conscious beings. The signs are given the opposite distinctions, as animal signs, symbolizing the unconscious aspect of Maha Vishnu (God).  It logically follows that the most conscious element (ether or akash) would be left out in the field of the “unconscious limbs of Vishnu” (the zodiac).

With that understood, it is important to see that each of the four elements of the zodiac signs has a certain nature, and is best able to approach truth in a certain particular way, which is most fitting to its own element.  The different spiritual paths all tend to overlap the more they are practiced, but initially one will make the most progress by focusing on the mastery of the one that is most natural to them.

The air and earth signs are both more connected to the senses, and with actual manifested things.  Because of this, they are inclined towards spiritual paths that help one see and realize God in the world, and not as some ideal or principle in life.  The air signs often do well with a bhakti yoga (devotion) or karma yoga (selfless service) approach.  The Earth signs do well with karma yoga, because they naturally want to be of service.  If Mercury is strong and other intelligence yogas are present, then a jnana, or knowledge based path may work out also.  The fire and water signs have more to do with ideas (fire) and feelings (water), which are more invisible things.  These therefore, have more of an affinity for finding God as God really is, as a transcending-worldly-life experience, and not so much as a thing in the world.  The fire element does well with paths that emphasize self control, such as raja yoga or kriya yoga, and also jnana yoga potentially.  The water element does well with a jnana yoga path also as well as a bhakti path.  The water signs are said to be the most spiritually developed, being Satya yuga rasis, and often they will be utilizing all or more than one of these paths, from what I have noticed.

As an example, a Leo has a fiery nature, and because of this, they are meant to act. The fire signs are the warrior caste, or the kshatriyas (pronounced “shaw-tree-ya”), and are the people on earth who are naturally inclined to lead, to protect, and to preserve and uphold the universal order or “dharma”.  They do well with a raja yoga path, or a path that emphasizes purifying actions, discipline, and self control.  Some may (with the best of intentions) emphasize to a strong leo personality the need to surrender themselves to God, and to see everything as god and renounce worldly life and actions in favor of serving a guru; in other words to set them on an initial path of bhakti.  This can sometimes work out but many times it will initially go against the nature of a Leo and cause unnecessary confusion or aversion to the spiritual path… This is because for the Leo/Solar person, it is not the right time and place for that practice, and they don’t feel natural doing this. After doing a decade of raja yoga the Leo person may then be able to practice bhakti w great results, but initially this doesn’t appeal to a fiery nature, and it is better to get them on the right path quickly, to prevent any unneeded suffering.

It is important to follow the path of ones natural inspirations and inclinations.  When we do things out of inspiration (sattva) those are the things that we will do for the rest of our lives, and so that is the best way to approach a spiritual path as well.  If you want to make actual progress and not just have new ideas and terms in your mind to talk about, you need to find the path that is best for you and really anchors you to your destiny.  People who change spiritual paths or religions frequently usually do not make noticeable spiritual progress in that incarnation.  Paramahansa Yogananda said that it is better to dig one deep well when in search of water, than to dig several shallow wells.  It is the same way with self realization.

One thing that astrology has been used for since who knows how long, is helping one understand their path in life, their dharma.  Not everyone’s path will be like the typical “spiritual path” we may think of, but we all are on a path and in the greater context it all leads to the same goal, as all rivers flow towards the sea.  This is what Jyotish can be so helpful towards.  It can show us the path that is laid out for us, and help us see if we are being true to it or not.

Here is a simple technique to see begin to see how this works, but it does not show the full picture, and as such it should not be used as a stand alone technique, but in the context of the whole chart.  The first house represents the person, and the ninth house represents the outcome of walking there path, and therefore represents the gurus or teachers that help guide one along their path in life.  The first and ninth houses will always be the same element, and this shows us that each element has to approach their path and be guided along their path via a sign of the same element, their own nature, and not by another element.  So if you have an Aries lagna, they are a fire sign, and are naturally oriented towards action, discipline, and protecting or defending what is right.  The 9th sign from Aries is always Sagittarius, another fire sign.  This shows that for Aries, its purpose is to act with that fiery inspiration that comes innately to it.  Its gurus (the 9th house), Sagittarius, being fire signs themselves, will naturally encourage a spiritual path based on right actions, (such as a Raja yoga or Kriya yoga path) because that is what worked for them.  This will generally  work well for Aries, and to go and encourage a bhakti yoga path, or a path of detachment, is often “going against the grain” of  an Aries personality.  What is the point of being a warrior and defending what is good in life if even their Guru is telling them to surrender?  Well….there isn’t much point to it, because a ram is meant to ram things, and when the Aries uses these thoughts as fuel and inspiration, he burns out quickly.  That is not the path of an Aries.  Aries is a warrior and is meant to fight the spiritual battle, which is why it is a fire sign and its 9th sign (its gurus and philosophy) is a fire sign as well.  It is true that everything is God and that there is no real good or bad, from one perspective (and there will be other areas of this persons life that require that understanding).  But from the Aries perspective it is really better to have healthy concepts of what is right and what is wrong, and to act with a belief in the purpose of life, and in acting righteously.  When Aries follows its fiery dharma that is innate to it, it finds more fulfillment from walking its path in life.

Now lets take the opposite sign Libra, an air sign.  Air signs are based on intellect, which is using one’s own sense perceptions to gather intelligence.  This is different from Aries, which is a fire sign and based off of intuition.  Aries just “sees” how it is.  It just knows instantly, without the use of senses, which is the definition of intuition.  Libra is not like this, Libra, and all air signs, use intellect, or the senses, to understand life.  So each Libra will see an idea differently because of their own individual perspective in life, what their own senses have come to.  The 9th sign from Libra is Gemini, another air sign, showing that the outcome of the Libras path is based on one’s own personal sense based intellectual understanding.  This is why Libra does great with a path of detachment, or a path of bhakti (devotional surrender to God), because both of these approaches focus on purifying the intellectual perceptions until one begins to perceive God as manifested in everything.  So for Libra, it is great for it to see everything as God, to simply surrender to God, and to have a sense of even-mindedness and detachment around what happens in life, and how one understands life.  Libra is the 7th sign, the midway point of the zodiac, and as such, is the sign of karmic balancing.  This is symbolized by the scales.  The Libra is meant to weigh their experiences with detachment and understand that what is happening is what is being handed to them by life, to best balance out their karma.  They shouldn’t fight it (but Aries should, remember).  So the Libra does not have to “do” anything as much as an Aries does.  The Libra has already been “doing” in its previous lives (when it was an Aries for example) , and is now coming to the stage of “accepting” one might say.  Thus Parashara states that the best planets for Libra are Mercury and Saturn.  These are the planets that are the most helpful for us to have a sense of detachment, and accept life how it is, so that we may best serve life the way we are meant to.  And now we can see why a path of devotional surrender to the will of God (bhakti) or a path of detachment (jnana) are great avenues for the Libra to walk its spiritual path.  If the Libra was to only follow a Raja yoga path, and renounced the world to go live in a forest and meditate unceasingly, this would only serve to enlarge the Libra ego by giving it too much focus on itself, rather than focusing on purifying the heart through love and service to others, which is the natural path of the airy Libra.

Hopefully these examples will give some insight into the value of using Astrology to help one understand the path in life they are walking.  Each sign has its own particular path that is most suited to it in the rasi chart, the first varga, or divisional chart.  That’s just the beginning though. In Vedic Astrology, there are 15 other charts that are used, and so there are many other ascendant signs, for many other areas of life, all with different elements and different outcomes.  So different mental approaches will be better for different areas of life and for different people. The example given above is simple, but in actuality it can get quite complex when we start using all the other vargas, as well as the Atmakaraka.

 

Saturn And The Crow


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This post is about a very interesting talk that was given by Joshua Klein on Crows and their intelligence, on the TEDtalks website.  It has particularly fascinating information for Astrologers, as the crow has a symbolic association with the planet Saturn, and this video unintentionally demonstrates that affinity very well.

 

The nine planets in Jyotish are said to produce all the many things in the world and in nature by mixing and blending their influences.  Each planet is a “karaka”, or producer, of a particular concrete thing in someone’s life. For example, Saturn “produces” one’s servants.  So in ancient times, if a King wanted to know how his servants would be, and whether they would work honestly and dilligently, or whether they would be dishonest and lazy, the skilled astrologer would look to the condition of the planet Saturn.  The astrologer would look at other things too, but the producer of that correlating archetype in the physical world is very important.  For learning about the King’s soldiers or ministers, we would look to Mars and Venus, respectively.  There are many other factors the astrologer would look at, but this is perhaps the most important.  Another way to say it is that one has to look at the planetary archetype that matches the physical entity in one’s life and “as above, so below”.  So if there is a difficult Saturn “above” in the heavens at this king’s birth, then there will be difficult servants “below” in this person’s experience of an earthly incarnation. This is a foundational concept in the occult sciences in both the east and western cultures.  It can be a hard thing to comprehend, so if it is difficult to grasp, just imagine it for now.

If you study astrology, then you probably know that crows relate to the planet Saturn and should watch the video first and observe the similarities yourself.  If not, then you can read this list of congruencies and hopefully begin to appreciate this connection.

I will list some of the archetypal synchronizations I noticed below:

  •  To begin with, the speaker, Joshua Klein, has a simple, intelligent, and capable look to him. These are the qualities of a strongly placed saturn.  He wears a black t-shirt without a logo. Saturn is related to the color black, and is mythically said to have a black or dark complexion. He even tells a bit of a “dark” joke about the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds.  These traditions of Saturn relating to the color black is still evident in the Jewish tradition, where on the holy day, the Sabbath, they traditionally where black.  The Sabbath is Saturday, which is the day of the planet Saturn.  The spelling makes it obvious, but all the days of the week are actually related to the planets.
  •  He says that he began his interest and research in crows when a friend at a cocktail party tells him that they are useless and should be killed. His very saturnian response to it is that they could probably be trained or used in some way that is more helpful for human life.  This is very evident of a strong Saturn, while Joshua’s  friend displays the typical pessimism of a poorly placed Saturn, Joshua says “no”, and decides to think differently about the matter.  Saturn’s astrological role as a planet is to help that person become who they need to be so that they may do what they need to do to help the world the most.  So right away Joshua is looking at what could be viewed as an annoying pest, and seeing how it could potentially be turned into an animal that actually makes life more bearable and enjoyable.
  • At about 3 minutes into the video, he shows an amazing clip of a crow bending a metal wire into a hook to get a worm out of a tube in a science experiment, which the crow had never seen done before, showing great ingenuity and inventiveness.  At 4 minutes in, he states that the brain of a crow is in proportion to the brain of the chimpanzee.  Saturn is found well placed in the charts of Inventors and people who are somehow improving the quality of life for everyone.
  • The clip of the crow at the five minute mark, with its clever trick of letting the car crack the nut for it, demonstrates patience, a key attribute of Saturn. Taking 30 years to go through the zodiac, it is the slowest of the main planets, symbolizing patience and endurance.  A squirrel would never be able to wait that long.  Also, it is said that the difficult karma that Saturn brings out in a chart can tend to afflict one the longest, because of its slow movement through each sign over 2.5 years.  Sounds familiar to the story about the crows hassling the scientists, and remembering them even months and years later!
  • He makes a strong point overall about how crows seem to actually benefit from cleaning up our human societies messes and roadkill, and that when trained can actually help us clean up debris from events or find lost change.  Saturn’s role in the medical aspect of astrology is quite similar, ruling the immune system.  Saturn is the planet that is responsible for removing waste from the body, keeping off disease, and is said to rule our longevity. Here we see evidence that crows are cleaning the city streets in an analogous way.

Overall I think this video is fascinating even without respect to Jyotish, but for those with interest in astrology and mythological symbolism, you can see there is much to be appreciated between the Crow and the planet Saturn.  And by appreciating the symbolic value of our environment and the life around us, we can feel more like we are a part of something greater than our little self.  In this way, mythological symbolism can have therapeutic properties for our minds.

If you notice any other interesting astrological correlations between the behavior of crows and the symbolism of the planet Saturn, please share below in the comments section.

images

Photos: Mythological image of the graha Saturn, said to ride upon a crow or vulture.