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Volume 1

“All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.”

Alexander Pope

Destiny and Free Will - Can They Be Seen in a Chart?

The life of man is a complex dance between destiny and free will. Modern man may resist this notion that there is any kind of predetermination but common sense will reveal that despite our best efforts, there are things we cannot change. For example, I cannot change the fact that I was born in the US. I can immigrate, but that won't change my country of origin. Likewise, we cannot change our biological parents whose DNA is operating in every cell in our body affecting our very thoughts and emotions through the subtle chemical environment linked to hereditary balances and imbalances.

Yet, it is also true that unlike other life forms, we are blessed with the capacity for self reflection which gives rise to choice. The extent to which we operate on the basis of that choice versus a more programmed trajectory is a central issue to be addressed in the reading of a chart in this tradition.

A simple analogy might illuminate the central dichotomy of fate versus free will. If a physicist was to observe an archer in the process of pulling back an arrow on a bow with the intention of reaching a target, it is theoretically possible that by knowing the thickness of the string, the length of the arrow, the distance to the target etc. the physicist could calculate the flight of the arrow and determine where it will land. However, if a wind came up that blew the arrow off course, the ultimate destination could be quite different than the calculated projection. We can consider the calculated trajectory to represent destiny and the wind is our free will.

Analysis of a particular area of life through the lens of a Jyotisha chart can reveal repetitive patterns that point strongly to the operation of fate in that arena. Another area of life may have far less confluent patterns suggesting that the person can easily direct that theme of life with their intensions and decisions. In either case, that knowledge can be a powerful tool to begin a process of self examination which ultimately leads to a state of maturity in one's relationship to one's own life.

The Astronomy of Autumn

The autumnal equinox falls this year on September 22nd at 11:44 AM EDT. The autumnal equinox represents one of the two intersection points of the ecliptic (the orbital plane or apparent path of the Sun as seen from planet earth) with the celestial equator (earth's equator projected out into space). Because of the tilt of the earth's axis of approximately 23 ½ degrees (axial tilt), the celestial equator and the ecliptic are also set off from each other by the same 23 ½ degrees and the two points of intersection of their planes are known as the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

Without this axial tilt, we would not have our seasons. For half the year beginning around March 21st, the Northern Hemisphere tips towards the Sun with the maximum tilt occurring around June 21st. This gives spring and summer to this half of the globe and the opposite is true of the Southern Hemisphere.

Although it is generally thought that day and night are exactly equal on the equinox, it is not technically true for every location. It varies with the time zone, daylight time, the speed of the earth, atmospheric refraction and other technical considerations. However, what is true is that the Sun rises and sets in TRUE east and TRUE west respectively on the day of the equinox thus setting the cardinal points in a locality. It is also the time when the center of the disc of the Sun is observed to be directly above the earth's equator.

I hope all of you got a chance to view Jupiter as it dominated the night sky all through this summer. Due to its proximity to the earth (retrogression cycle), it was visible as a dazzling bright "star" at the mid-heaven in Sagittarius. When the Moon was likewise in Sagittarius, the two created quite a show. Though Jupiter is not quite as bright now, it will still be very visible this fall and Venus who already is evident as the evening star will climb higher into the night sky ultimately joining Jupiter. Some viewing dates of note are: October 6th, the first quarter Moon will be lovely with Jupiter right next to it; November 2nd, the crescent Moon will have Venus on one side and Jupiter on the other in the southwestern sky right after sunset; December 1st; another grouping of Jupiter, Venus and a crescent Moon in the southwest right after sunset.

The Grace of Jyotisha: an Inspirational Story

Upon receiving the following article from a good friend who is the Jyotishi referred to in the story, I requested permission to revise and use this article so that you too might be inspired. In Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, sage Parashara opens with a prayer to Lord Ganesha signaling that Jyotisha is a way to help relieve the suffering of man. This is certainly an instance that reflects this high calling.

Recently I received an emergency call from a gentleman from Bangalore to whom I had given a reading a few years ago. He was greatly concerned over the upcoming birth of his first grandchild. The child was in danger and an emergency Cesarean section was planned for the following week. The doctors had told the family that there was only a 50 percent chance of survival for the child, and that if she did live, then there would be definite life long complications resulting from an in utero deformation. The grandfather asked if I would check the planned time of delivery.

The scheduled time of birth gave an incredibly difficult chart. It promised a life long pattern of compromised health directly relating to the condition already diagnosed by the doctors. It also did not bode well for the child's education, subsequent career or marriage. Unfortunately, as the doctors would not consider an alternative day, I had to find a cooperative lagna (rising sign) for the appointed day. Thankfully, just two hours later there was a satisfactory lagna that allowed for both a successful delivery and the promise of quickly outgrowing the congenital defect.

When I spoke with the grandfather, I offered him that window of time and he said the family would approach the doctors. As I knew the expectant mother and father had grown away from their own traditions and did not believe in Jyotisha, I checked their charts and made some small predictions. The grandfather was amazed by the accuracy of these comments and quickly passed them on to his son.

That afternoon, the son gave me a call and quite candidly told me that while he and his wife did not believe at all in Jyotisha, he was amazed at the insights I had offered and agreed to speak with the doctors as he was very concerned about the birth of his daughter.

Later that day I received a call from the grandfather. The family had spoken with their team of doctors, explaining their custom and belief in following Jyotisha. The doctors responded in a very supportive and understanding manner. The birth had to be relocated to a different hospital to accommodate the request, but it was done. The team of doctors still alerted the family to the dangers of this birth. It did not look like it would be easy and the family was very nervous.

That afternoon at the appointed hour of birth, the ashram prayed for the family as the grandfather had requested and an hour later, we received the call. The baby was born, and there were no complications. In the subsequent days, the grandfather kept in touch sending photos of the baby and updates. She was fine and it looks like she will not suffer from the in utero complications. He also shared with me that the entire family was inspired to recommit to their own tradition. They truly believe that God guided them to contact an astrologer who was able to help them select the most auspicious time of birth for ensuring the health and well being of their new born daughter.

This is the beauty of Sanatana Dharma. Even if we feel lost to it, it is never lost to us. The Paramatma is always offering us ways to plug into that current which is Brahman. Jyotisha is but one of those many ways and this family was deeply reminded of the importance of a tradition which has successfully guided so many for so long.

The Media Corner - The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry

No bedside table is complete without this lovely anthology edited by Stephen Mitchell and published by Harper Perennial. The wise always say to be mindful of your last thoughts before you sleep as well as before your final sleep. Keeping inspirational books by you at night for a quiet and contemplative end of the day is a wonderful practice in and of itself.

The Enlightened Heart is a thoughtful selection of poetry from an amazingly wide cross section of culture and history. The organizing principle is an understanding of the "center of the circle". All of the great traditions - Jewish, Christian, Moslem, Buddhist, Vedic etc. - are well represented in short, meaningful and digestible morsels. There are beautiful pieces from some of the most cherished and renowned poets of the Western tradition as well but all in the context of uplifting the heart and spirit and bringing light into the realms of dark but sweet sleep.