Astrology is a science which deals with influence of heavenly bodies upon the lives of human beings. It is the correspondences existing between signs and planets on the one hand, and the principle which constitutes man on the other that give a sound basis to Astrology. The heavenly influence of which Astrology has taken note is sure and can therefore form the basis of scientific calculation. Astrology analyses the cycle of one individual life on earth. It shows the powers and also the weaknesses brought by the human entity in this life and the results of his past existence as well. It also shows the possibility and opportunities which will help the individuals concerned to bring the future into present. Astrology is definitely linked with Yoga. The relationship between Astrology and Yoga seems to be only slightly appreciated. Shri Kumarswamiji shows the relationship between the two in the following article. This relationship merits much greater study than it has hitherto enjoyed.
In India Astrology is called Jyotirvidya. It means the knowledge of the cosmic light which penetrates into the cosmos and reveals the nature of material objects. The cosmic light of illimitable rays has given birth to this vast universe with all its multiplicity and complexity of names and forms. A thing or a man has his origin in the cosmic light and in his composition there is a certain amount of rays with their quality and arrangement. This arrangement differs from different persons and this difference constitutes the distinction in individuals. The cosmic rays are of two kinds – visible and invisible. They have produced everything tangible by condensation. Even the seven planets are the condensed forms of the cosmos rays or colours. Among the myriads of rays and radiation streaming towards the earth and bombarding it on all sides from the depths of limitless space, the seven principal cosmic rays have been singled out as constituting the physical manifestation of the universe. These seven cosmic rays are the seven visible colours of the spectrum known as the VIGBYOR.
The Earth The Sun The Moon The Nine Planets
Image courtesy — http://mercury.nineplanets.org
Indian Astrology mentions only nine planets – they are the Sun, Moon, Mars,Mercury,Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and the two nodes namely Rahu and Ketu. Of these the first seven are material bodies and can be seen with naked eye, whereas the remaining two are imaginary points formed by the intersection of the paths of the earth and the moon. There are certain other planets in the sky namely the Uranus, Neptune and Pluto but they do not seem to find any place in Indian Astrology. The reason might be that they were not discovered at the time of Parashar, the father of Indian Astrology or the planets are too far away from the earth to exert any tangible influence upon human beings. The sun and other planets, owing to the relative distance from the earth, are exerting a specific influence on human destiny.
The heavenly influence of which Astrology has taken note is sure and can therefore form the basis of scientific calculation. But it is to act through the medium of the earthly environments in which a subject is placed and these environments are mostly varying in nature; it is therefore hardly possible to draw any universal conclusion about them. The uniformity of the planetary influence on human life is the basis of scientific Astrology, whereas the varying nature of our environments through which the planets are to act, sets its limitations upon them.
Astrology is a science which deals with influence of heavenly bodies upon the lives of human beings. The zodiac might be compared to a vast clock, on which move at various speeds many hands marking different times. It is the correspondences existing between signs and planets on the one hand, and the principle which constitutes man on the other that give a sound basis to Astrology. Astrology is a science which has been deteriorated because of the personal and material character it has taken and because its fundamental cosmic nature is not adequately understood. Astrology analyses the cycle of one individual life on earth. It shows the powers and also the weaknesses brought by the human entity in this life and the results of his past existence as well. It also shows the possibility and opportunities which will help the individuals concerned to bring the future into present.
The question puzzles people as to why persons born at the same time and place are affected differently though the position of the heavenly bodies be almost the same. This can be explained by the fact that one of the most important varying factors is the constitution of the person himself. The constitution of one person differs from that of another in various respects, that is why two persons born at the same time and at the same place practically under the same position of heavenly bodies are affected differently. There are many examples in the Science of organic chemistry of having the same composition but different constitutions being affected differently by the same reagents under identical conditions of experiments. For example, ethyl alcohol, and methyl ether have both the same chemical composition namely C2H6O. that is each of the molecules consists of two atoms of carbon, six atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen and yet there are two quite different substances because the atoms within the molecule are arranged differently in each case. Having the same composition but different constitution the action of reagents on them is also different. Similarly, in the case of two individuals born at the same time and place should expect the influences on both of them to be different, for the two individuals would be different not only in their constitution but also in their composition.
It is a mistake to suppose that Indian Astrology teaches fatalism, on the contrary it points out a way man to tide over the difficulties. Shakespeare unwittingly expresses a great Indian Astrological truth when he said, “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves.” The fault is the physical, mental and vital defects, which exist, in every human constitution. The yogic Astrology is an attempt to correct, control and guard against these defects. While an individual cannot control planet’s positions and movements, their effects upon him can be controlled. This is the message of Indian Astrology. In delivering this message, it corrects the misconception that Astrology profound an undiluted pre-destination. It studies a man’s inborn predilections and inherited dispositions, but goes further to say that a man is not captive of these predilections and predispositions. Rather it indicates the ways and the methods of breaking this prison and securing his own liberation. The planets work and have their effect on time and space but yogic Astrology teaches man how to overcome the obstacles and rise above time and space by requisite spiritual training. A yogi who has risen above the plane of space and time is above planetary influence; such a yogi is beyond prediction by Astrology. No Astrologer can predict his future because he is in tune with the Infinite which is itself the master of the planets.
Indian philosophy has long ago recognized the law of correspondence. Whatever is in the universe is in the individual as well. The microcosm is the exact miniature of macrocosm. Whatever is in the solar system is also in the atomic structure. The planets in the sky and the firmament are transfigured in the human body. Within the body as the vyoma or the firmament manifold functions are fulfilled by the different physiological organs and systems as planets in the sky. In the Shaktananda “Tarangini there is a following description of the positions of the planets in the body. The sun is in the Nadachakra, the moon is in the heart, Jupiter is in the stomach, venus is in the seminal sperm, Saturn is in the solar plexus, Rahu is in the mouth and Ketu is in the legs. The physiological centers can be properly manipulated and trained to correct adverse influences of any of these planets on the life of the individuals.”
The predominant figures in the solar system are the sun and the moon. The yoga shastra (science) finds the parallel of the sum and the moon in the human body in the two nerve currents which are called ida and pingala. Ida or the Bindu chakra represents the moon and pingala or the Nada chakra represents the sun. It is said that these two planets whose currents are reflected in ida and pingala are the source of duality which is the cause of suffering both physical and mental. If their movement could be regulated then the effects of the duality caused by these two planets would be overcome. For this purpose Hath-Yoga recommends the practice of the pranayama, the purpose of which is to regulate the breathing process.
The Sun The Moon
The word Hatha is composed of two syllables, Ha and Tha. The breath that rises from the heart and goes out of the body is called prana and is denoted by the syllable ‘Ha'; since it is warm, it is called the sun. The breath that is taken in is apana and is denoted by the syllable ‘Tha'; since it is cool; it is called the moon. A right regulation of the action of sun and moon, of prana and apana is Hathyoga. Hathyoga has four limbs namely Asana, Pranayam, Bandha and Nadanusandhan. Pranayam is an exercise of the respiratory system. The respiratory act is under the control of the vagus nerve which has two sets of fibres, afferent and efferent; stimulation of the first stops exhalation and produces inhalation and stimulation of the second does the reverse. These fibres are excited to action by the alternative collapse and distension of the air vesicles of the lungs where the vagus terminations are situated. Pranayama is in fact, a process of regulating the two movements of breath, ida and pingala. While man cannot control the Sun and the Moon in the sky, he can control the currents of ida and pingala which represent the sun and the moon. By controlling both the currents, he can overcome the influence of the sun and the moon and can get over the adverse effects of the dualities.
The seat of the Mars is in the two eyes in the human body. The eyes represent the planet mars Astrologically. The mars as a planet is regarded as strong and resolute both as an aggressor and as a protector. It shines red in the sky and is regarded as a fiery planet. The eyes are the fire balls of the body. The yoga advises many exercises for the control of the eyes and correction of the vision but the foremost among these is Trataka or Gazing practice. Crystal gazing is in vogue since a long time. All eyes need a lens to give meaning and accuracy to the light sensation. The construction of the lens is a part of the necessary disciplines that lead to an accurate perfection of the inner vision. The use of crystal gazing helps to develop the organ of inner vision. The crystal ball provides a focal point for the accumulation of material in the aura which tends to develop the astral vision. When the astral vision is developed the effect of mars is controlled.
The planet Mercury in Astrology represents fluidity and therefore mind in the human body with its seat in the heart. Mind is often compared to mercury, because it is as restless as the latter. The nature of mind and mercury is unsteady or fluctuation. If they are bound are made firm, success in any sphere of life will be easy. Mercury is made inactive by certain processes and is reduced to the form of a pill which cures diseases and makes the body strong and handsome. Similarly, when prana is stopped in the cerebrum by kumbhaka the mind becomes calm and steady. There are Bandhas which play an important role in pranayama. They are Mulabandha, Jalandharbandha and Uddiyanabandha. Of these three, the uddiyanabandha is the foremost. After prolonged exhalation this bandha is performed; here navel is drawn upwards with the expansion of the lower part of the thorax till the abdomen is completely flattened. By the virtue of this bandha prana flies upwards and gets stationed in Brahmarandhra or the cerebrum. When prana is made to stand firm in the brain then the mind becomes calm, collected and well balanced. It is in this wide calm of mind that true knowledge dawns.
The Jupiter in Astrology represents the principle of comprehensive knowledge. If it is massive as a planet, it is equally massive in its calm serenity. In the human system, its seat is represented by the stomach, suggesting the principle of nourishment, growth and accumulation. The ears and other apertures of the body are its outer circumferences. In yoga the sanmukhimudra is especially advised to control the influence the Jupiter. The technique of sanmukhimudra is as follows; in this mudra all external impressions, which are carried by nine apertures in the body to the brain are stopped by the fingers and heels. These nine apertures are the two each of the eyes, ears and nose and one each of the mouth, urethra and anus. It is impossible to breath when the nose and mouth are closed. It is therefore advised that the opening of the mouth should be only partially closed by protruding the lips forward like the break of a crow. In this mudra, pranayama is performed with the intake of prana through the opening of the mouth; thereby an afferent impulse through the gustatory nerve is carried to the vagal center in an upward direction. This stimulates the center to produce an efferent impulse, which descends down for a short distance and is immediately met by the afferent impulse. The meeting of the two impulses again stimulates the vagal center reflex through the spinal chord. In this mudra, the vagus nerve is stimulated at the very center. This control of the vagus nerve is accompanied by the power to counteract the influence of the Jupiter.
Venus as a planet in Astrology represents the principle of fecundity. In the human body it exerts its influence on the seminal protoplasm. Its influence can be counteracted by observing celibacy and by having sex sublimation. The yoga advises to practice two asanas namely shirshasan and sarvangasana for achieving sex sublimation. In the shirshasana the whole body is made to stand on the head. This asana helps the brain to draw plenty of blood and prana because it acts against the force of gravity and therefore draws an abundance of blood from heart. Breathing becomes automatically slow and rhythmic. It acts as a tonic and promotes good blood circulation. It is beneficial for the heart because less effort is required in pumping up the venous blood. It stimulates the endocrine glands situated in the cavity of the head. Along with the Shirshasana, sarvangasana should be practiced. In this asana, the thyroid gland is nourished properly which plays a prominent part in the metabolism of the body. Healthy thyroid means healthy function of the circulatory, respiratory, alimentary and nervous system. It checks wet dreams and enables one to achieve sex sublimation.
The Saturn is a heavy planet, it is remote and obscure. A decisive termination of things is its objective, be it death or destruction, be it self-realization or renunciation. In the human system, it represents the principle of movement and locomotion and respiratory system is controlled by its seat in the solar plexus. Saturn acts as a limiting power; it acts as the law of karma which selects in the whole of the consciousness of causal body, the special causes to be used in one special incarnation of the ego taking only a fraction of its contents. In the physical body, the influence of Saturn flows down circulation; emotionally, it limits the affective power and the number of friends. Mentally, it helps concentration and by the very act of that concentration it temporarily limits the field of thought to that of a chosen object. In alchemy Saturn is lead(lower mind) and it can only be transmuted into gold(the metal of the sun) through the agency of mercury(Buddhi).
Man is not free from the fetters of the karma or the influence of Saturn until he transforms his human nature into the divine nature. Transformation is a fact not a fiction. In nature all work is done through the transformation of one kind of energy into another. Take for example, an unripe fruit; so long as it is unripe, it is bitter, astringent and unwholesome to eat. When the same fruit has been longer exposed to the sun and air, it becomes sweet, luscious and wholesome to eat. The astringent qualities are neither lost nor destroyed but are transformed and got enriched. This transformation is the main cause of its sweetness. Likewise passion without which there is no life to begin with, should be transformed into peace without which there is no life to end with. When passion tends to pass over into the love of the Infinite, then peace flames forth unchecked by any limitation.
Rahu as a planet represents wrath and violence. It has the power to grasp and release; it has the capacity to eclipse luminaries and also to liberate them. The seat of Rahu in the body is in the mouth. Curiously enough medulla oblongata is called the mouth of God in occultism. Medulla oblongata is the hindermost part of the brain at the top end of the spinal cord. The medulla oblongata is much more important than its small size might suggest. It contains the nervous centers governing such vital functions as the heart beat and automatic process of breathing. It connects the brain with the spinal cord. It rests on the occipital bone to guard the body against the dangers. It opens into the first part of the spinal canal. It is in the spinal canal that the spinal cord or sushumnanadi is embedded. The importance of this nadi lies in the fact that through it, by certain practices, one can put a stop to the flight of time by drawing prana or vitality from ida and pingala. By consciously controlling the incessant working of these two sympathetic cords, it is possible to put a stop to the catabolic activity of the body. This conscious control over them which could be only achieved through the sushumnanadi, suspends the general wear and tear of the tissues of the vital organs and helps in the prolongation of life. The sun and the moon represented by ida and pingala are attempted to be united in one axis in such a harmony as to defeat the vagaries of rahu. In other words, when the ida and pingala are thus devitalized by the sushumna, then the closed mouth opens and it devours rahu.
Ketu as a planet means the mark and badge on things; it means the standard bearer. While rahu is ascending node of the moon, ketu is its descending node. The function of ketu is to obstruct and hinder. Its seat in the human body is in the legs. To control the effect of ketu, yoga advises the concentration on the tip of the toes. In the Aitareya Upanishad, it has been said that prana enters man from the fore part of his feet; then it proceeds higher up the thigh, stomach, heart and head ramifying into sight, hearing, speech, mind and vital breaths. By the concentration on the tip of the toe it is possible to establish control over prana at its source. To do this is to neutralize the ill effects of ketu.
This is how Astrology is linked with Yoga. The relationship between Astrology and Yoga seems to be only slightly appreciated. It merits much greater study than it has hitherto enjoyed. There are many aspects of this relationship in which there is enormous scope for further research.
- OM SHANTI | OM SHANTI | OM SHANTIHI -
This article ‘Astrology and Yoga’ is taken from H.H.Mahatapasvi Shri Kumarswamiji’s book, ‘Towards the Spiritual Nisus’.