Greetings from the 5th International Ayurveda Conference “Where Science Meets Consciousness,” the theme for this conference being “Exploring the Interconnectedness of Man and Nature,” where I will be teaching daily with Dr. Claudia Welch.
Ayurveda and Jyotisha are both based in the Indian philosophy known as Sankhya, and were for many centuries used together to help individuals prevent and overcome ill health. More recently however with the rise of “rationalism” Jyotisha has begun to be perceived as “superstition” rather than as a not-limited-to-the-material-world model of reality and human experience. The organizers and presenters at this conference hope that it will serve as a first step toward returning Jyotisha to its proper place at Ayurveda’s side, for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Jyotisha can be described as the Indian system of divination, if we take ‘divination” to indicate communion with the divine. Note that the words divine and diurnal, as also the Greek word Zeus, the Latin word deus, and the Sanskrit words dyaus and deva, are derived from the Indo-European root “dyeu” meaning “to gleam, to shine”. This permits us to reasonably conclude that divination comprises attempts to garner information about life on Mother Earth via “that which shines”, including the luminaries, planets and stars, which are lights that illuminate the Sky-Father (dyaus-pita, “Ju-piter”), as well as those luminous ethereal beings known as deities.
Classical Jyotisha pays close attention to the five visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), the two luminaries (Sun and Moon), and Rahu and Ketu, the so-called north and south nodes of the moon (the points in the sky where eclipses occur), or more precisely to the nine deities that are associated with these celestial bodies. When activated in our lives these Nava Grahas, or “Nine Grabbers” (graha translates literally as “grasper” or “seizer”) grip us in their clutches and induce us to display some of their characteristics, by altering the way we perceive reality, and how we think, speak and act as a consequence of that perception.
Or at least that is how we talk about what is going on; the reality is more complex, being based on prana, the life force, which circulates everywhere in the cosmos. Prana seeks always to facilitate the expression of awareness, both within the individual human microcosm and outside each human in the macrososm that surrounds us. Everything within both microcosm and macrocosm exists in a state of incessant action, driven by prana to find expression. Every action is a karma, and every karma engenders a reaction, often equal and opposite. Today’s conditions are the results of yesterday’s karmas, and today’s actions give birth to our tomorrows.
Each of us emerges from the womb with a certain potential for good or ill health that can be mapped according to the grahas that most influence us. Some health-related patterns are strong and ingrained; others are more malleable. A natal horoscope is a map of an individual’s prarabdha, that portion of the native’s karmas that have led him or her to be born under the influence of a specific pattern of grahas in a particular location at a particular moment. Someone skilled in Jyotisha can extract information from this karmic map that can offer meaningful perspectives on that individual’s condition, and can potentially suggest methods by which our circumstances can be improved. This makes Jyotisha a particularly valuable addition to Ayurveda, for the purpose of understanding how the organism is likely to respond to stimuli. When we learn to live appropriately according to our personal attributes, we set out on the road to health.