Newsletters

Volume 6

“ Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fulness. ”

Robert Browning

Divali: Festival of Inner and Outer Light

The fall season brings many significant holidays in the various Indian calendars and one of the most joyous of these is Divali. The name is said to come from the custom of lighting rows (avail) of lamps (dipa) to welcome the return of Rama, the King of Ayodhya back to his kingdom after 14 years in exile in which he defeated the demon Ravana. The lamps were to light their path to the city.

Divali is a holiday observed by diverse religious and cultural groups. It is celebrated at somewhat different times according to the different regional calendars and customs. Based on the lunar calendar, it falls in the autumn season during October or November. The date this year for the most widespread celebration is October 17

Although the return of Rama is one significant event associated with Divali, there is great diversity among the different cultures as to its significance and symbolism.

Perhaps the most unifying way to regard this festival is to use the symbolism of the dipa (the lamp) as an awareness of the light within, In the Vedic tradition, light is an omnipresent metaphor for the light of the absolute reality (Atma or Brahman) which when revealed dispels the darkness of ignorance. Indeed, the one who leads us to this realization is the guru whose very name means "destroyer of darkness".

Therefore, while the stories and celebrations of Divali may vary, the symbols of fire, lights, worship and sweets all point to the same universal essence of inner light and truth.

The Movement of the Giants

One of the most interesting astronomical features of this fall season is that all of the very slow grahas will change their constellations within a short time of each other. Indeed, the slowest of all, Saturn, has already shifted from the constellation of Leo where it spent the last two or so years to that of Virgo. This took place on September 9

The next slowest grahas, Rahu and Ketu, will complete their 18 month transit of Capricorn and Cancer respectively and enter the constellations of Sagittarius and Gemini on November 4th

To the delight of all, Jupiter will end its once every 12 year transit of Capricorn which is not a friendly place for it to traverse and enter the star field of Aquarius on December 20th

The actual implications of these transits depend on the context of a person's individual horoscope and the planetary cycles that are active at this time.

The Path Into Shastra Part Iii: Practice Makes Perfect

NOTE: Please refer to the last two newsletters for Part I and Part II

The second golden key to unlocking the wisdom of Shastra is known in Sanskrit as "abhyasa" which can be translated as practice or repetition.A very famous sutra in the immortal Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali states: "abhayasa vairagyabhyam tan nirodah" which basically means that through practice one gains the maturity to resolve the fluctuations of the mind.

Stating it succinctly as the second principle of exegesis, we could say that the value and importance of a principle is directly proportionate to its emphasis through the device of repetition

In Sanskrit there are no italics, punctuation or underlining.How do things get emphasized in such a situation?One of the most important devices is this principle of abhyasa.When a particular principle is repeated in several Shastras or within a single work, we must respect it as having great emphasis and importance.For example, in Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, a root work for jyotisha, the greatest number of chapters are devoted to dashas and bhuktis emphasizing that jytoisha is kala shastra - the shastra of time and that we must understand that the promise of a chart unfolds in time.There are also ten chapters on Yogas.This is the second greatest number of chapters devoted to a particular area in this work and the importance of yogas gets even more powerfully emphasized when you look across many Shastras and find that overall, the greatest number of shlokas deal with yogas.In Phaladeepika the number of verses dealing with yogas exceeds the number of verses in all the other chapters. Something is being communicated here that we must not miss.Yogas are preeminent and should be given their proper emphasis.

Now let's examine this principle with respect to the quality of a planet as a natural benefic or a natural malefic. If you examine how many shlokas recite the benefits or difficulties associated with the natural state as opposed to how many shlokas deal with thefunctional benefics and malefics, you might well question the emphasis seen in many contemporary books and lectures on the functional natureIt has its importance as it is in the Shastras but where is the emphasis?It is lost by not understanding these principles of exegesis.

Along these same lines, Parashara reminds us of the problems associated with the lords of the six, eighth and twelfth houses with many many shlokas detailing their effect in bhava analysis, dasha analysis, poverty, illness etc..These temporal malefics are given much more prominence through the device of abhyasa than the functional nature which again, seems to be an overemphasized principle in the way Jyotisha is currently taught.

In fact, if we combine the first two principles of exegesis discussed so far and understand that what comes close to the beginning of the work has more importance, we find the discussion of the qualities of the grahas, including which are natural benefics and which are natural malefics, come right after the invocation in Parashara.Where and how extensive is the discussion of functional benefics and malefics in Parashara?It starts somewhere around chapter 34 (depending on the edition) and extends for one chapter only.These are clear signals as to which constitutes a core principle and therefore a guideline for sound interpretation based on the priorities of the seers in this grand and sacred tradition.

The Media Corner: Powers of Io

If you enjoy traveling from the edge of the universe to the inner chamber of an atom, this short (nine minute) film will entrance you. Produced in 1968 by Ray and Charles Eames, the camera focuses on two people having a picnic in Chicago. It then starts to zoom out at a rate of one power of ten every 10 seconds so you can experience the unbelievable change in perspective.

When it reaches the boundaries of the observable universe, it zooms back in the other direction into the hand of the man, the cells, DNA and finally ends in the finest known particles - quarks - in the proton of a carbon atom.

>You can view the film on YouTube and if you enjoy it, you might want to google "Powers of 10" and find the games, sites and educational material that this film has generated. It was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.