Karmic Astrology—a Study

by Sunita Anant Chavan | 2017 | 68,707 words

This page relates ‘Survey of the Study’ of the study on Karmic Astrology and its presentation in Vedic and the later Sanskrit literature. Astrology (in Sanskrit: Jyotish-shastra) is based upon perceptive natural phenomenon of cosmic light forms while the Concept of Karman basically means “action according to Vedic injunction” such as the performance of meritorious sacrificial work.

Part 2 - Survey of the Study

In spite of the varied significance of the correlation of the earlier times, reading of the past actions and thereby the future of the obtained life by means of the planetary configurations in the sky charted in a Horoscope drawn from the time of the birth of an individual is where the two interact chiefly constituting the present form of the correlation.

In an effort to understand the disparities regarding life the theory of Karma postulates the idea of destiny (Daiva) which provides an explanation to the so-called predetermined course of events occurring in the life of a human. The impressions of past actions retain in a dormant state on the citta, the substratum in human structure connected with the storage of actions, and surface in the form of birth and the quality of life in an effort to achieve expression is also a fundament of the theory of which Jyotiḥśāstra of the present times provides a vision. Prior to this, the terms depicted different terminologies.

Daiva commonly occurring in the sense of accumulated actions of past lives of man (nirdiṣṭam daivakaśabdena karma yat paurvadehikam | Caraka Saṃhitā, (Śārīrasthāna) IV. 1.116.) seemingly is from div. 10.pp. ‘to suffer’. Etymologically it means that which pertains to the gods (devas) apparently derived from {Xd². I.4p. ‘to shine’. Mystically it is mentioned as deva-guhyāni (Mahābhārata. 3.32.33.) and appears as a cosmic law of cause and effect in accordance with which the actions of human are projected as the cause, the effect to which is labeled as the fruits received from the gods. (Śāṅkarabhāṣya on Vedānta Sūtra 3.2.41.) Daiva (mascu.) is also the science of omens and the divinations are the initial source to understand the intentions of the gods related to the future of man the interpretations to which already occur in the early Veda (Ṛgveda-saṃhitā II. 42, 43.). The will of the gods also find an expression in the cosmic order of light forms termed as Ṛta which exist as the physical as well as the moral law prevailing in nature, the order depicting the organized pattern of the actions of nature. The deities following Ṛta reached immortality is a belief and which is also achievable by human on following the cosmic discipline is a line of thought which is perhaps one of the basis of the connection of cosmic time with the sacrifices and which is evident in the statement of the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa (X. 1.5.4.) related to the performance of the Agnihotra. The physical as well as the moral aspect of the cosmos is also evident in the system of the Nakṣatras which represent the physical distribution of the cosmos as well as a moral one based on the study of the characteristics of the cosmic activity. The Nakṣatra system existed with a practical utility in the culture and was the basis of the ritual activities of the culture. Up to the Upaniṣads, the branches of Jyotiṣa as Daiva and Nakṣatravidyā existed as the streams of Knowledge to be studied. (Chāndogya Upaniṣad VII. 1.2.,7.1.). Though such internal textual evidences divulge the varied concern of the subject with respect to the cultural activities, the earliest extent text on Jyotiṣa itself clearly represents as a treatise on Astronomy. The text expresses Jyotiṣa as a Vedāṅga proposing it as the science of laying down proper times for sacrifices as also coins Jyotiṣa and Gaṇita as synonyms. (Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa (Ṛgveda-saṃhitā) verse 35, 36.). This purpose of calculation of proper times became associated with Saṃskāra rites which continue till date as also continues the form of Jyotiṣa understood as Astronomy identified chiefly on the basis of the Siddhāntas and the relevant texts.

The Kārmic Eschatology connected to the native theory of the rebirths of the soul was given a perceptible basis by means of Jyotiḥśāstra by the Astrologers Garga,Varāha and the others. Though, this development of the reading of Daiva from Horoscopes appears nearby to the Christian era and is evidently post-Vedic. Also the influence of Greek Astrology on Horoscopy is noticeable though Daiva appears with other connotations earlier which align more closely with the Indian setup of the Correlation.

If Jyotiḥśāstra from the above survey reveals on haphazard branching in all directions over the period of time theory of Karma appears to be in a linear and an organized fashion in the literature. The term Karman extends earlier from the exploits of the deities (Ṛgveda-saṃhitā I.22.19.) to the religious actions of men (Ṛgveda-saṃhitā VIII.36.7). It exclusively refers to Yajñakarma in the Brāhmaṇas (Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa I.1.2.1.) and with a extension as Knowledge (Vidyā) (Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad I.5.16.) reaches the moral sphere in the Upaniṣads (Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad IV.4.5.)also on account of which it shares an association with the theory of Transmigration. A further advancement in the term and which separates oceans apart the term Karman as action is evident in the concept of non-action as an essential ingredient in the unity of the soul with the supreme principle. Apart from the above linear growth systematic categorization of the quality of actions and defining the meritorious ones as prescribed ritual actions inclusive of physical as well as moral ones is a procedure evident throughout the literature

As to the present status of Jyotiṣa, it dwindles around Horoscopy and such concerning means to understand about individual future on one hand whereas on the other side representing Astronomy it computes Muhūrtas for Saṃskāra rites and rectificatory rites. The Pañcāṅgas meant for such computations vary regionally and also appear with basic differences on matters such as the beginning of the year the variance reflecting in serving their purpose concerned with Dharmaśāstra. Other affairs of Astronomy such as the ideology related to the Sāyana and Nirayana computations, the question about precession as also the configurations related to the planetary motions which is the very basis of the Siddhānta texts are either subjected to rectifications on want of accuracy or are declared to be with shared interests especially with the Greeks.

The emergence of Karman as a doctrine though is starkly evident with its moral counterpart, the moral nature of actions and the conduct of human with respect to the same is a subject of constant scrutiny forming the principle bulk of the doctrine.

The prevalent form of Karman is subjected to this idea and receives a status of privilege on account of the constant attention provided to the theory by scholars of the subject with works of massive amount, evident on the same equally is popular amongst the masses as a code of behavior and more so as a topic of discussion and preaching.

Research Work done so far

Individual works on Jyotiḥśāstra and the Concept of Karman exist in substantial amount. Also works connecting Jyoti a and Karma, especially on matters of rectifications for future and for the reading of Daiva exist in ample forms. Though, no work connecting the two providing an explanation regarding the mechanism of the making of future with the aid of the Correlation presently exists. The above situation clearly points to the requirement of a research.

Amongst the modern texts, the Census of Exact Sciences with its five volumns on the available material on Jyotiḥśāstra divulge works connected with actions of dāna, śāntis, vivāha, yātra, muhūrta and ample literature on Gaṇita. Computation of time (Kālanirṇaya) is also a topic sought by most of the authors for the purpose of rituals and other acts to which Pingree points out in his introduction to the fourth volume of the Census. Works on Jātaka originally by Varāha, Vṛddha Garga, Kalyāṇavarman and other authors with commentaries by Utpala and other commentators are presently available with commentaries and translations of modern scholars which reveal the form of correlation as providing a perception of the past actions of an individual by means of planets placed in his horoscope. Texts on the theory of Karma in its philosophical sense rarely refer to Jyotiḥśāstra one such reference occurs in the Doctrine of Karma, a collection of edited articles on the theory which possesses an article on Karma and Indian Astrology which deals with the above post-Vedic relation of past actions (Daiva) with Horoscopy. Dikshit in his treatise expounds texts and authors chiefly concerned with the Gaṇita branch with comparatively smaller sections on Saṃhitā and Jātaka branches. He mentions the importance of Gaṇita for Saṃhitā and Jātaka (p.11) which are the branches chiefly concerned with Karma. The systematic study of time was essential even in Vedic times for the purpose of sacrifices which were dependant on time thereby the purpose of calculations was essentially for the performance of ritual actions. This is being repeated by Histories on Vedic and Sanskrit literature and Weber (The History of Indian Literature, p. 263) mentions Astronomy springing out of Astrology. As a Vedāṅga, Jyotiṣa retains its identity as a subject of study necessary for proper sacrificial employment of the Veda (History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p.56.). The survey of the literature reveals a connection of Jyotiḥśāstra with the concept of action in various senses much apart from its present form and in a thorough need of a research.

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