Essays & Facts on Vedic Astrology

The Veda as the instruction manual of the universe The three in one structure of consciousness Jyotish in Rigveda The holographic structure of the universe Free will and predestination Qualities and characteristics of the 27 nakshatras
in terms of personality traits Keywords for rashis: the twelve signs of the zodiac Keywords for grahas: the nine planets Keywords for bhavas: the twelve houses Keywords for the nakshatras - the 27 lunar mansions A model description of our solar system/universe home

Three-in-one Structure of Consciousness

All that Vedic Science wants to bring home to man, is that the one indivisible wholeness of consciousness is the source of all multiplicity of Creation, and that this one unbounded ocean of consciousness is our own consciousness. 

Consciousness is that element in nature that is aware of itself. It has three aspects to it - it is the perceiving subject, it is its own object of perception, and it is itself the relationship between subject and object, or in other words, it is itself the process of observation. 

Rishi, Devata, and Chandas

When we say "I know myself," then the three-in-one structure of our consciousness becomes already obvious. In the language of the Veda, these three aspects of awareness are called: Rishi, Devata and Chandas. Rishi is the knower, Devata is the knowing and Chandas is the known. 

Since everything in creation is the expression of consciousness, everything must have these three aspects of consciousness inherent in it. As we know from our case, our identity consists of pure subjectivity, the witnessing aspect of our consciousness. As an expression of that, we have the mind, containing all thoughts, feelings, desires, emotions and perceptions, etc., and thirdly, we have a body, the outer expression of our personality. We can relate these three aspects of the wholeness of our nature - soul, mind and body - to the three aspects of the wholeness of our consciousness, Rishi, Devata and Chandas. 

Like that, the essence, the ultimate identity of every creature is pure consciousness. Furthermore, every creature has a mind, which forms a lively link between its inner pure subjectivity and its outer objectivity, the body. Since the whole universe is the expression of consciousness, we can attribute these three values to the whole of creation. And although we are aware that every item in creation has these three aspects in it, we can still distinguish different aspects of creation, which are mainly representing the Rishi value of existence, or mainly representing the Devata value of existence, or mainly representing the Chandas value of existence.

Samhita of Rishi, Devata and Chandas

In Rik Veda, the Rishi, Devata and Chandas values are present in a unified state. This is called the Samhita of Rishi, Devata and Chandas. Every expression of Rik Veda is the integrated expression of these three values. Rik Veda is composed of suktas, and the text of Rik Veda mentions at the start of each sukta, what the Rishi (seer) value of that sukta is, what its Devata (impulse of Creative Intelligence) value is, and what its Chandas (metre) value is. The sukta or hymn as a whole is a particular blend of these three basic ingredients. As we saw already, the Vedas are the source of creation, which implies these three aspects of the structuring dynamics of consciousness lie at the basis of all manifestations in the universe. and as such they can be located everywhere, throughout creation. 

Stars, planets and areas of life

In Vedic astrology there are three ingredients that make up a Janma Kundali or birth chart. These, just as in Western astrology, are the stars, represented by the signs of the Kalapurusha or zodiac, the planets, including the Sun, Moon and the two lunar nodes, and thirdly the houses, which represent the twelve areas of life. In Maharishi Jyotish, these three ingredients of the birth chart are called respectively rashis, grahas and bhavas.

Rashis represent the Rishi Value

The twelve rashis constitute what is known in Vedic Science the Kalapurusha, the origin of what Western astrology calls the zodiac. The term Purusha stems from the Samkhya philosophy, one of the six Upangas, mentioned earlier. Purusha is introduced as a concept for the universal soul, the witness of all that is, was,  and will be. Kala means time, a concept designed to measure eternity. So the Kalapurusha stands for the "Timesoul," the eternal witness of all relative cycles of time. Thus it is clear that the Kalapurusha, consisting of the twelve groups of stars, represent the Rishi value of creation. 

The stars, grouped in the form of the twelve rashis, indicate the innermost nature of a person, one's temperament, one's specific mode of consciousness that one will display throughout life. The Rashi that is rising on the eastern horizon, as seen from the time and place of birth, forms the main indicator of the inborn nature, the character, the basic personality traits that the individual will exhibit in life. Also seen from this angle, it is clear that the rashis relate to the Rishi value of life.

It is interesting to see that, in Vedic Astrology rashis are possessed of a "Drishti" (look) in a certain direction. Maharshi Parashara, one of the founding fathers of Vedic Astrology, mentions this Drishti, or looking nature of the rashis in his Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra long before he mentions the more commonly known Drishti values that the planets possess.

The stars form the "silent witnesses" of all the dynamism that takes place within the cosmic arena that they constitute. As such, they can be compared to the all-witnessing nature of our unbounded and eternal soul. Our soul is the silent witness of everything that goes on inside our mind,  body and environment.

Cosmologically speaking, the stars are known to be the origin of all life forms. All the atoms that form our human body, and also those of the air that we breathe, and the food that we eat,  have been produced inside the centre of giant stars that constituted a previous generation of stars, the parents of the present stars. Without the large scale production of all the 103 elements of nature, no "gross" material life form could ever have developed in the universe. 

Similarly, in Maharishi's Veda Lila -  a kind of Vedic opera which illustrates, through theatre, the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness in a dramatised form - the Rishi value is shown to be the origin of the dynamic values of Devata and of all the objective values of Chandas. The above parallels between the rashis and the Rishi value of consciousness, make clear that the stars represent the Rishi value of creation.

Grahas Represent the Devata Value

The planets, in Vedic Astrology called grahas, represent the dynamical values in life. Maharishi points out that the term Graha refers to its ability to uphold the life of the individual. As such, they are the material expressions - the point values - of abstract universal Laws of Nature, responsible for the evolution of every single item in creation. In Vedic Science, they are regarded as Devatas, impulses of Creative Intelligence or embodiments of certain Laws of Nature, which are responsible for creating, maintaining, and dissolving all life forms in the universe.

The nine grahas taken together represent all the Laws of Nature contained in the Constitution of the Universe, the Rik Veda. Each Graha represents a particular set of Laws of Nature, responsible for the evolution of certain aspects of life. These nine categories of Laws of Nature conduct the evolution of all life forms in this universe. The grahas themselves are localised in time and space, but their essential value, their Rishi value, constitutes eternal, omnipresent, and universal Laws of Nature which all together form the nine basic structuring dynamics of the Unified Field of all the Laws of Nature - the Unified Field of consciousness.

In Jyotish, Chandra or the Moon is considered the most important of the Navagrahas (nine grahas). In an individual's kundali or birth chart, Chandra represents the mind of the native. The position of the Moon at birth determines the starting point of the sequential  evolutionary process that makes up the dynamism in the life of the individual. From these, and similar considerations, it is clear that the grahas predominantly represent the Devata aspect of consciousness.

Bhavas represent the Chandas Value

The infinite complexity of life, with which we  as individuals are confronted, has been classified by the ancient Vedic Rishis, or seers, into twelve categories, forming the twelve basic areas of life. These twelve areas of life are called bhavas or houses and have the same function and meaning as houses in Western astrology. They encompass all possible experiences that we as human beings go through in our daily experiences from morning till night, and in our development from birth till death, as well as in our spiritual evolution, the growth from ignorance to enlightenment . 

Thanks to this classification that the Vedic Rishis have bestowed on mankind, we are in a position to discover the relationship between one experience and another, and in general, we can begin to see the cosmic order existing amidst the infinite diversity of life experiences.

It is in the bhavas, that the evolutionary dynamism of the grahas is displayed. Technically speaking, the bhavas are fixed to the earth as directions in space seen from our place of birth. They form the fixed framework for the kaleidoscopic, ever-changing arrangement of the Sun,  Moon,  and the planets, and the silently revolving background of the stars.

The bhavas relate to the relative, or, in other words, the objective values of life, such as our body, our finances, our homes, our spouse, our children, our parents,  our profession, etc. The specific nature of these areas of life are determined by the nature of both the planets and the stars that occupy them. And, as the nature of the mind and the nature of the soul determine the experiences that the body undergoes, so the planets and the stars determine the nature of the activity that takes place in each of the twelve bhavas, the concrete areas of life. 

The subjective values of mind and soul can only express themselves in the concrete areas of life - the field of all relative life experiences - e.g., the body, the field of our profession, the field of our relationships, our financial situation, etc. Likewise, the qualities of the rashis and grahas in a person's birth chart  can only express themselves in the context provided by the twelve bhavas.

Just as the Chandas value relates to the objective aspect of consciousness, the bhavas relate to the objective side of our existence. The word "Chandas" is derived from the Sanskrit root "chhand" which means "to hide, to cover." This term refers to the special effect that the objective values of existence have in hiding the mental and spiritual values of existence, the Devata and Rishi qualities of consciousness.

In a similar way, the twelve concrete areas of life have the effect of overshadowing and hiding the nature of our subjectivity, namely the mental values and especially the unbounded and eternal nature of our soul. This makes it clear that the bhavas represent predominantly the Chandas aspect of consciousness.

Looking at these three aspects of consciousness together, we see how the Devata value forms the connecting link between pure subjectivity (Rishi) and the objective values of existence (Chandas). In the field of Jyotish, the grahas provide a connection between the rashis with the bhavas. Each of the nine grahas is the owner of one or two rashis. As such, each Graha represents one or two rashis. The evolutionary dynamism of the grahas can only manifest itself in the context of the fixed bhavas. Thus, the grahas create a lively connection between the rashis and the bhavas.

So it is in the grahas, that the rashis and the bhavas find a common meeting ground. In a similar way, the soul and the body find a common meeting ground in the mind. It is the mind that creates  a lively connection between the soul and the body. The mind is able to do so because of its ability to reflect both subjective and objective values of existence.

This division of the reality in these three aspects of creation, provided by Rik Veda, has its parallel in another Vedic triad, commonly referred to in the Upanishads as Adhyatma, Adhidaiva, Adhibhuta. 

Multiples of three

The integrated state of functioning of the Rishi, Devata, and Chandas value of the Veda, the Samhita level of consciousness represents the level of wholeness of consciousness, from which the whole creation emerges.
It is for this reason that Jyotish deals with three basic ingredients - rashis, grahas, and bhavas. The interaction of these three basic values of existence gives further rise to an infinite number of combinations and permutations, which, from the Vedic standpoint, all consist of multiples of three. Thus, we find that Jyotish makes use of  3 x 3 =  9 grahas, 4 x 3 = 12 rashis, 4 x 3 = 12 bhavas. Apart from these which we have dealt with above, Jyotish makes use of many other subdivisions of the Kalapurusha, of which the Nakshatras, Drekkanas and Navamshas are very important. The Nakshatras are  9 x 3 = 27 in number. The Drekkanas are 12 x 3 = 36 in number, while the Navamshas count 12 x 9 = 108 in number.

[Note for Advanced Students of Vedic Astrology: All the 16 subdivisions of the Kalapurusha defined by Maharshi Parashara as the "Shodashavargas," because they are subdivisions of the twelve rashis, consist naturally of multiples of three.]

And finally, while these three basic ingredients keep on interacting with themselves all over the ever expanding universe, they are integratedly available in our individual lives.

Man -  A Miniature Universe

Maharishi has always said that the human being is the embodiment of all the Laws of Nature. We are the embodiment of the Veda, the Constitution of the Universe.

This fact is beautifully demonstrated by Jyotish. Jyotish is not geocentric in its orientation nor is it heliocentric in its orientation but "Jiva-centric" (Jiva=individual soul). Therefore here the universe is viewed from the time and place of birth of any Jiva or individualised consciousness. In Jyotish every single individual is regarded as the centre of the universe! This "Jiva-centric" nature of Jyotish is clearly illustrated in an individual's birth chart. The Janma Kundali, or horoscope, represents an actual picture of the structure of the universe at the time of birth of a person, seen through the eyes of that new-born person. It shows - in a schematic way - the arrangement of Sun, Moon and planets, including the two lunar nodes, set against the background of the constellations forming the Kalapurusha. 

The Jyotishi, or expert in Vedic Astrology, knows that this structure of the universe, this arrangement of Sun, Moon, stars and planets indicates the structure of the cosmic, all-comprehensive nature of the Jiva. Jyotish demonstrates that every single individual born on this planet is actually of a cosmic nature. In reading an individual's birth chart, the Jyotishi actually demonstrates that the individual is made up out of these cosmic forces. Thus, Jyotish provides a practical demonstration of the abstract principle propounded by the Upanishads and the Vedanta philosophy that says: "Jivo Brahmaiva naparah" - "The individual soul is Brahman, the Totality, and nothing else."

The individual's birth chart is constructed out of three basic ingredients. These three ingredients are formed by the stars, the planets, and the houses, and are blended harmoniously into the all-comprehensive structure of the birth chart. In Vedic Astrology, the horoscope is designed in a square form. The square and triangular boxes of the chart represent the twelve bhavas, which are an expression of the Chandas value of existence and as stated above, they refer to the concrete areas of life and living. The letters in the boxes of the chart represent the nine grahas, the nine basic impulses of Creative Intelligence that give rise to the sequential developments in our life, which thus are an expression of the Devata value of existence. The numbers inside the boxes represent the twelve groups of stars, the rashis, representing the twelve basic modes of consciousness and thus are an expression of the Rishi value of existence.

All these twelve, nine and twelve ingredients are blended together in an integrated fashion, and the collectedness of them all forms what we can call "the constitution of the individual."  Just as the Constitution of the Universe contains all the ingredients and Laws of Nature that structure the dynamics of the universe, so the individual's birth chart contains all the ingredients and Laws of Nature that structure the dynamics of the individual's life. 

Chart Rishi Devata Chhandas, rashis, grahas, bhavas

The beauty of this overview is, that all the ingredients that are shown to structure the life of the individual, are derived from the visible universe (Vishva), while all the ingredients that form the visible universe, are shown to be derived from the Veda, the Samhita of Rishi, Devata and Chandas.

This consciousness-centred perspective demonstrates that the individual is indeed an expression of all the Laws of Nature, or as Maharishi puts it: "The the human being is the embodiment of all the Laws of Nature." In other words, the human being is the embodiment of the Veda, the home of all the Laws of Nature, the Constitution of the Universe. Thus the chart illustrates the ultimate Vedic principle which the Upanishads recommend every individual to directly experience: "Aham Brahmasmi" - "I am Brahman, I am the totality, really I am everything."

This cosmic perspective on the individual,  this cosmic perspective on our own life can be said to be the essence of all Vedic Knowledge. It is the central theme of all 40 branches of Vedic Science. All 40 aspects of Vedic Science have only one common purpose:  to bring home to each and every individual born on earth, that we are in essence one with the universe. The Vedas and Vedic Literature indicate that it is the birthright of every human being to live this experience through all the thick and thin of life. 

The entire structure of the human nervous system is designed to give rise to this cosmic experience. The absence of this experience is defined as dis-ease. In other words, the absence of this experience is responsible for the all-round suffering that human life has gone through so far. This simply demonstrates that mankind has not lived up to its individual and collective potential. 

What means Health?

Health means wholeness. Mankind is not experiencing a normal state of health. See: The discovery of the Veda and Vedic Literature in the Human Physiology. (Nader, 1993)

This intimate relationship between the human body and the universe forms a major topic of the most holistic system of health care, Ayurveda.  Summarized in one of its textbooks: "All material and spiritual phenomena of the universe are present in the individual. Similarly, all those present in the individual are also contained in the universe. This is how the wise desire to perceive." (Charaka Samhita IV). A few paragraphs earlier, in this same passage Charaka in the words of Lord Atreya states: 

"Purushyo'yam loka sannidah"
 "Man is a miniature universe" 

(Charaka Samhita IV).

This quote from Charaka Samhita illustrates how beautifully Ayurveda and Jyotish supplement and support each other. Indeed, all the branches of Vedic Science support and supplement each other. They constitute the different aspects of one holistic science, the science of consciousness, Brahma vidya, the science of the Totality.  Every individual branch of Vedic Science is simply an elaboration as well as a further explanation and a commentary on the basic truths of life as contained in Rik Veda, the encyclopaedia of all knowledge, the Constitution of the Universe. 



Copyright © 1998. Drs. Frans Langenkamp, Ph.D. All rights reserved.