Karmic Astrology—a Study

by Sunita Anant Chavan | 2017 | 68,707 words

This page relates ‘Kinds Of Correlation’ 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.

[Full title: Central Theme and Hypothesis (2): Kinds of Correlation]

The interaction of Karma and Jyotiḥśāstra occurs in five types in the overall literature.

i) Predictions regarding Future from Cosmic Actions (Divinations)

Interpretation of human and cosmic future with Śakuna as a means occur in all phases of the literature though their importance appear to be declined in the final phase. Infering future from spontaneous cosmic actions was the form in the early stages whereas predicting future became more organized with induced divinatio

ii) Rectificatory Actions and Jyotiṣa

Śānti rites performed for counteracting omens occur very early in the literature. These were performed for happiness, to avoid mishappenings, the means being prayers to Gods, Nakṣatras, Grahas (Atharvaveda 19.9). These rites were especially believed to be effective to negate the mistakes committed during the sacrifices. In the post Vedic period Navagrahaśānti came to be performed prior to all Saṃskāras. All such actions were performed on auspicious times and were presumed to appease and reverse the evil aspects.[1]

iii) Actions performed on Muhūrtas

Ritual actions necessitated auspicious times for their performance. Sacrificial actions as Darśapūrṇamāsayajña were prevalent since pre-Vedic times which were based on the positions of Sun and Moon, the concept of specific times for sacrificial actions an accepted dogma in the period of the Brāhmaṇas, whereas till the Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa, Jyotiḥśāstra was established as “the science of determining times for the purpose of sacrifices”.[2] Sacrifices were arranged on the orderly succession of times, the ‘knowledge of sacrifices’ being closely knit with the ‘knowledge of times’ with reference to the Sun, Moon and the Nakṣatras.

In the post-Vedic, the Saṃskāras were to be performed on specific times, therefore the correlation existed in the form of Muhūrtas for the performance of Saṃskāras and in later times to compute Pañcāṅgas for Dharmaśāstra purpose. The Gaṇita branch worked exclusively for these causes.

iv) Vision of Past Actions

In the Upaniṣads where the individual Soul (Jīva) and his destiny became one of the chief topics of consideration, various means were employed for reading the impressions of past actions on Jīva with the aid of Jyotiṣa. Present birth itself being a Karmavipāka (fruition of past actions), the concept of future in the present birth essentially came in a restricted sense as being fated due to the effects of the past actions as an emblem on the Jīva in the chain of the former births.

Reading of the Prārabdha by means of the Rāśi of birth by the system of Horoscopy and computing the position of planets for the casting of horoscope for the same was a development after 2nd c. AD.3 Śakuna came to be considered as a means of reading of past actions in the period of Garga, Yavana, Vṛddhayavana, Varāha and Kalyāṇavarman and often both spontaneous as well as induced means of divinations were prevalent to read the effects of past actions for which the entire cosmos served as a screen.[3]

Tracing the path of transmigration of the soul after death of the present body on account of past actions, and locating the stations of the soul from death to rebirth, with the aid of motion of cosmic light bodies was also a topic of consideration of the correlation.

v) Non-Action and Jyotiṣa

The unity of the Individual Soul with the cosmic one being the final note of the Vedic philosophy, the correlation shows signs of development to this extent. On part of the Doctrine of Karma, the Upaniṣads and the later philosophy markedly distinguished action from non-action, action being the chief aspect of this world whereas non-action the very base of Brahman and its counterpart, Ātman. Bifurcation as to the visible light forms serving as the symbols of Brahman for its identification being the basic form of Jyotiṣa, demarcating the qualityful from the qualityless, for practical application and efforts to excavate the cosmos for such a purpose also appears to be a trait of Jyotiṣa. Desire, being a factor for such a division is an early expression[4] though in a different terminology. Prajāpati the singularized cosmic form of desire is declared to be mortal as well as immortal and sacrificial actions on his joints for immortality is a regular practice in the Brāhmaṇas. In the Upaniṣads, with morality as their base, the philosophy progressed towards exclusive human orientation, a desireless state of mind being a prerequisite for the purpose of release. Though this development laid a solid foundation for the doctrine of Karma with its moral aspects, its correlation with Jyotiṣa, the cosmic counterpart here after appears in a somewhat severed fashion. Subsequently the principal Philosophical Systems, the Sāṃkhya, Nyāya and Vedānta and later the Bhagawadgītā give consideration to the cosmic angle for the purpose of unity thereby the correlation seem to possess some undeciphered quarters to this extent.

Footnotes and references:


Rectificatory actions are chiefly Śāntis and Prāyaścittas. Śānti is derived from śam ‘to be appeased’. The word ‘śam’ in conjoined form occur in many places in Ṛgveda-saṃhitā (I.93.7,III.18.4, IV.12.5,VI.50.7, VIII. 39.4,X.182.1-3) portraying ‘happiness’ and ‘welfare’ and repeatedly occurs in ṚV. VII. 35 and Atharvaveda IX. 10. The word ‘śami’ in some passages of ṚV means ‘karman’ History of Dharmaśāstra Vol. V, part II, p.723. Vrata in the sense of Prāyaścitta occur in Yājñavalkya Smṛti III. 251, 252.


JV (ṚV) 36.


[...] 23.1., Bṛhat-saṃhitā of Varāhamihira 98.14.


Ṛgveda-saṃhitā X. 129.

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