Category Archives: vedic

Aries and the Active Expression of Virtue.

“The active expression of virtue gives rise to the keenest intelligence.” – Sri Yukteswar  (1855-1936)



Swami Sri Yukteswar, a self realized yogi and astrologer.

The above quote by the yogi Swami Sri Yukteswar is ripe with spiritual and astrological truth.  When we act virtuously, we start to see things more clearly and intelligently.  Likewise, when we really know something our actions tend to demonstrate that knowledge in a natural fashion.  This can be attractive and appealing to see someone like this.  It is possibly for this reason that saints and mystics often seem so attractive or magnetizing to spiritual seekers, because they have gone through a great range of experience and their actions naturally demonstrate such experience in a spontaneous way.  Also in the opposite sense, when we think we know something but really do not, our actions can be a clear give away of our lack of knowledge.  There is a clear relationship that can be seen here when we look at the zodiac, between our “active expression of virtue” and the development of intelligence within us.

To fully see this relationship, lets clear up a few things about intelligence in the context of an astrological chart.  When I am speaking about intelligence, I mean specifically the ability to arrive at the correct conclusion, to arrive at truth.  And in life we see that different methods can be used to arrive at the same correct conclusion.  Some people use logic to figure something out, others use feeling and emotions to figure the same thing out and get the same conclusion.  In the same way, each planet has a unique type of intelligence that it expresses.  For example, Mars would be the intelligence of logic.  Venus is the intelligence of poetry, the ability to grasp the meaning behind the words, the real heart of the message.  This post will not go into each planets intelligence, which would require an entire post in itself.

With this having been said, all the grahas give intelligence but the main one that Astrologers tend to emphasize is Mercury, as he rules the “buddhi”, the Intellect.  But when we read the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, the Sage Parashara gives the descriptions of the different planets.  In this, he does not describe Mercury as being intelligent necessarily.   He does start off, however, by saying that the Sun is intelligent.  This is very interesting.  He gives many complements to Mercury as well as the other grahas but does not assign intelligence to Mercury, and instead gives it to the Sun.  So the implication is that the Sun is the real planet that thinks through situations and arrives at truth.  (In case you were wondering, he describes the Moon as “All knowing”, which is similar to how many western astrologers attribute the Moon to a pyschic, right brain type of ability to arrive at truth)

I have noticed in studying charts that when Mercury is joined the Sun, which is happening 1/3 of the time anyway, then Mercury gives intelligence yes.  This is also called a Budha Aditya Yoga, which is said to give intelligence amongst other things.  When not connected to the Sun however, I do not necessarily see Mercury giving intelligence in the sense of arriving at truth.  (I can hear the astrologers gasping while reading this…bear with me)  Now if strong, this person’s Mercury will still be able to cognize quite well, and of course still be able to memorize and organize data very well.  This person may speak very fast and sharply and come off as very smart and intelligent.  They may have lots of information to articulate and be multi-talented and skillful.  But that is where we get mistaken.  Those qualities are not intelligence.  One can organize information extremely well, regardless of whether it is true or untrue information.  One can be very multi talented and know a lot of things but still miss the truth of life, and the truth of any given situation.  These days we sometimes seem to mistake having information about something with having intelligence, or knowledge of that thing.  These are different words and have different meanings.  Nowadays people consider having googled something to equate to having “knowledge” of that thing.  They are mistaken.  When you read old books the word “knowledge” did not mean “information” and was never used in that context.  It meant experience and the direct knowing of something that one gets from experiencing it for themselves.  For example, you know that you are you, and you don’t have to look that up or ask anyone else to convince you of being yourself, because you know this from experience.  This would be “knowledge”, as opposed to “information”.

So while Mercury gives the intellect, that intellect can see things a million different ways and until one is Self-Realized there is no promise that Mercury will give the intelligence to see the real truth in life.  That is the “keenest intelligence” that Sri Yukteswar is referring to, and that, as Parashara states, emanates from the Sun.

How we see this in the Zodiac  

We can see how and why the Sun would give this intelligence by examining the mechanics of the zodiac itself.  Aries is the sign of virtue, action, inspiration and nobility.  Thus, Aries is the sign of the “active expression of virtue” that Sri Yukteswar mentions. The Sun gets exalted here, meaning it is the strongest it can possibly be.  So the highest or “keenest intelligence” (The strongest the Sun can be) is brought about by developing the qualities of Aries, the “active expression of virtue”.  Pretty cool huh?

Also from the sign of Aries, the Sun rules the 5th house from there, Leo.  The 5th house is said to be the house of the mind, and the intelligence we use to manage our lives.  So when we act virtuously in order to manage our lives more effectively, that is like the Aries, putting the 5th lord, the Sun, in the first house, of one’s action and expression, and in this case the sign of the same things, Aries.  And what does that do?  That makes the Sun exalted, as strong as it can be.  And when the Solar force is strongest the innate intelligence we have is strongest, and we can be “King” of our life.  This is the logic and mechanics behind this great quote from Sri Yukteswar.  He was also an advanced Jyotishi, so perhaps he was aware of this connection in the zodiac as well as in his real life experience.

This is the Astrological reason why, at least on planet Earth, we can have all kinds of ideas or information, and we may think it to be true or not true…But until we apply it in our lives and act from it, and see the result, we do not really know if that information or idea is true or not. Remember that real intelligence is brought about by virtuous actions.  The results of this truth are very evident in the spiritual growth world nowadays.  Many people  can absorb spiritual ideas quickly, and can read spiritual texts and understand them very well, but don’t apply the truths in day to day life nearly enough, and then wonder why they haven’t experienced authentic spiritual growth.  The people who shine with spiritual happiness are the people who have applied spiritual truths in their lives, and in their day to day actions, and have expressed these virtues in real time, not just on the internet or in their minds.  We have to apply what we learn or we get a sort of “mental indigestion”. This happens when we just go about reading one after another metaphysical, or spiritual self help book, but never implement it into daily life.  For this we need the strength of the Sun and Mars, the two warrior caste/fire element planets to give us the courage to act virtuously.  This is also where a jyotish reading can help someone, because if we see that they are a spiritual seeker, but the Sun and Mars are afflicted, they probably have difficulties with actively expressing virtues. In this case we can advise certain mantras, gemstones, meditations, behavior adjustments, and other remedial measures to combat this negative karma and make the best of the situation at hand.  In this way we can see why Jyotish was such a beloved tool of Yogis seeking Self-Realization, as it reveals the obstacles that are in the way of experiencing the goal of our incarnation.







Jupiter Aka Guru

converted PNM fileOne of the names of Jupiter in the ancient Sanskrit texts is Guru.  This name is fitting for Jupiter as he is the planet that is said to be the most wise and proficient in all branches of knowledge, and that is what we think of as a Guru.  Someone who can teach us how to do what we want to do.  But what does the word Guru really mean?  It is normally defined as the person who removes the darkness from you and puts you into the light.  This is because the syllable “gu” means darkness or ignorance, and the syllable “ru” means destroyer, so the one that destroys your darkness is the common definition.  But when you look up the word Guru as a single word in the sanskrit dictionary, it comes out different.  It means “heavy“.  And of course like all Sanskrit words it has many layers of meaning.  A Guru is someone who is “heavier” in knowledge and experience of something than you are.  In this way anyone can be a guru to anyone else.  For example, I may have more experience and knowledge of Astrology than you, which would make me a guru to you for Astrology, but you may have more knowledge than me of Ayurveda, or in woodworking. This would make you a Guru to me for Ayurveda, or woodworking because you are heavier in that wisdom.  This way of understanding the word also reveals that wisdom and knowledge are the true measure of the weight and value of a person on this Earth.  In the same way Jupiter if strongly influencing the chart, makes one a valuable person to society.

It is also interesting that the ancient Seers of India gave the name of “heavy” to Jupiter, because Jupiter is the heaviest planet in the Solar System.  Jupiter is even said to slightly affect the Sun’s movement which is not at all the case for the other planets.  And of course this name is at least 2-3,000 years old if not much older, so there was no NASA information to rely upon when naming it.  It is quite an amazing thing to think about how they may have known that this particular light in the night sky had the most mass of any of the others!

What is Taurus all about?

At the time of this writing, it is May 4th, 2015, and the Sun is making its regular pass through the second sign of the zodiac, Taurus.  With this in mind, I would like to share some general information about the zodiac with particular emphasis on the meaning and symbolism of this second sign and how it relates to human life on earth.

The time the Sun passes through the zodiacal sign of Taurus is between April 20th and May 20th, and it is this same time every year, as the course of the Sun is completely fixed and has not altered in any observable way in the past.  The Sun’s apparent movement through the sky is what creates the seasons and the environments on life as we know them to be.  Each sign’s duration is exactly 30 degrees, or days long, and the Sun moves through each of these regularly and consistently.  In this way, the zodiac is created and begins on March 20th (same time as the moment spring begins, its the same thing) with Aries the ram, and then on April 20th moves to Taurus, followed by Gemini beginning on May 20th, and so on.  In this way the course of the Sun throughout the year is permanently fixed and consistent, and this is why the Sun rules Kings, constancy, commitment, as well as being steadfast in one’s purpose (Dharma in sanskrit).

The first sign Aries is ruled by Mars, because it is the moment that the days begin to get longer, and there is more daylight on Earth than darkness.  Thus it makes sense to have this sign ruled by the warrior of the zodiac, Mars, as he is the one who cuts away the darkness and brings in the light of inspiration and courage to welcome spring.  Spring is not usually in full swing by this time however, but everything in nature is bursting forth from the ground and eager to receive more light.  It is not until around the time of April 20th- May 20th that most of the landmass on Earth has warmed up sufficiently to have flowers blooming, and for the average human to be able to enjoy spending time in nature.  This is essentially what the sign (or rasi, in sanskrit) of Taurus is all about, being able to enjoy life as well as being productive and providing something to life in return.  Taurus is ruled by Venus, the planet that is about enjoying life on earth, the planet that also gives us divine love, artistic inspiration and appreciation (but not skill, that is Mercury’s job), poetry, beauty, flowers, the ability to make decisions that lead to the highest fulfillment… These are all things that relate to and are ruled by Venus in all branches of Astrology.  Now we can see why this time would be ruled by Venus, because its the first time in about half a year that most people on the Earth can even enjoy spending any time in nature without having to deal with the harshness of the elements, be it snow, wind or just extreme cold.  At this time the elements are more harmonious in general for most of the people on Earth, and Venus rules harmony in Astrology.

Each sign of the zodiac also relates to a part of the body as well.  Aries represents the forehead and top of the head, where the higher brain and crown chakra reside.  Aries is the sign of ideas, inspirations, and intuition.  In occult philosophy and yogic philosophy, the higher brain centers along with the crown chakra are where our higher intuitions come from, and the more developed this region is through meditation, the more effortlessly those inspirations come through. Along with this, the Sun which rules the Soul and the higher self (Atma in Sanskrit) is exalted in this sign.  No wonder the “King” of the zodiac (Sun) is exalted, or most strong, in the sign that relates to the “crown” chakra.

Taurus rules the section of the body from the eyes down to the rest of the face.  This fits with Venus as this is the part of our body that we enjoy life from, and Venus again is the planet that is about enjoying life.  This is the part of the body that we eat from, speak from, and kiss from.  Its a part of the body that matters to us whether it is beautiful or not.  No one looks at the knees and makes a judgement about beauty, because Venus does not rule the knees. The knees are ruled by Saturn, and its not important for him to be beautiful in order to fulfill his cosmic role.  The sign of Taurus also represents the food we eat, and our wealth capacity, both things that help us enjoy life.  We may also note that for most parts of the world, this is the first time that there is any available food that is fresh and enjoyable to eat, which was probably much more appreciated back in the days when most people’s winter reserves were running quite low by April.  Again we can see the grace of Venus being felt quite naturally in our consciousness at this time.

Hopefully one can now have a better feel for what this time of Taurus is all about.  It is a time to be enjoying life on earth, as well as finding ways to provide for ourselves and loved ones in a healthy and holistic way.

The First and Ninth House and Your Teachers


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.


Why is it called “Vedic Astrology”?

The sanskrit word for astrology and astronomy is “Jyotish”. “Jyoti” means “light” and “ish” means “God” or “the supreme spirit”.  This ancient Indian word gets right to the core of the matter by saying that astrology/astronomy is the study and classification of God’s Light and its influence on life.  So this is a great term, but there is already too many confusing foreign terms for the average astrological client in the west, and so the more common name of “Vedic Astrology” will suffice for now.

Vedic Astrology is the main term currently being used for the system of astrological philosophy and methodology that originated in the vedic philosophical tradition of ancient India.  It is also sometimes called Hindu Astrology or Yogic Astrology, or Siddha Astrology.  The term “vedic” seems to fit the best, in my opinion, for several reasons:

1) The word “Veda” or “Vedic” roughly means “the accurately revealed knowledge” but it also means  “that knowledge which is eternal and true”. The culture of India and the Religion of Hinduism (also called Sanatan Dharma, a more accurate term), is based on the holy teachings of the “Vedas”,  ancient scriptures which contain the eternal truth of life.  So the aim of the religious Hindu is to “know the Veda” or “know the eternal truth of life”. So essentially the word Veda means “the truth”, or “the Knowledge”.

So to call astrology “Vedic Astrology”, means that one is practicing an astrology based on revealed Truth, or “Veda”.  Truth is truth, and is not confined to one particular culture or time period…. Not even the Vedic culture!  Some may not like me saying this, but Vedic Astrology can be practiced by anyone anywhere, regardless of whether they have any knowledge of Sanatan Dharma, or Hinduism, as it is commonly called.  The knowledge is within us all and can be accessed by anyone.

2) The word “vedic” can also mean “science” as science is a way to gain accurate knowledge that can be replicated and is relatively consistent. Jyotish, or Vedic Astrology, has the potential to be a “super science”, in that it can help one gain information on any other department of life.  Eventually it will get back to that place of prominence, but at its current state, Jyotish is just beginning to re-emerge out of the dark ages, when the knowledge was almost entirely lost.  It will take time and much more research before it can rightly be considered a science, but it is scientific in its nature.  As time goes on we will not have to rely as much upon intuition, and will more and more have a methodical and scientific framework to use along with intuition.