You can submit your article, report, announcement, ad etc. by mailing to

Is Astrology Useful in Krishna Consciousness? Part One – The Panchang

Saturday, 02 January 2010 / Published in Articles / 9,643 views

By Patita Pavana das Adhikary

The sacred teachings that Shrila Prabhupada called Krishna Consciousness are all transcendental to this material world. Shrila Prabhupada never gave material advice for those who would try to live comfortably here in this temporary world. Rather, His Divine Grace encouraged his disciples to employ whatever material things they have at their command in Krishna’s service. This, the pure devotee promised, would “spiritualize” or “Krishna-ize” whatever we “possessed”. Although today the Society owns thousands of vehicles, even big trucks, in the early days of ISKCON we did not even have a single automobile. Temples were storefronts and sankirtan parties would march out the front door, loop around town chanting and singing the mahamantra and return tired yet blissful many hours later.

Sometimes devotees would ask an “affluent” guest (described as a “car owner”) if they could borrow his or her vehicle to greet Shrila Prabhupada at the airport. Often this would be an old Volkswagen bug, as old photos testify. Thus, when the movement expanded to the point of vehicle purchase early in 1969, devotees sought Shrila Prabhupada’s advice on cars. Our Guru Maharaja sometimes instructed, “If you buy a used car, then you are purchasing another man’s headache.” To an ordinary karmi, this elementary guidance may appear like material advice. But the devotee recognizes that since a car or van will be used for sankirtan, the vehicle thereby becomes “spiritualized” as Krishna’s energy in the service of Krishna. Now only an illusioned disciple would mistake that because the pure devotee has given some general advice about vehicles, buying new rather than used, that the disciple has now become an authority on automobiles. A Vaishnava accepts whatever is useful to the service of Shri Guru and the Supreme Lord, and rejects all things that are useless. The devotee’s focus remains on Krishna.

Some years after Shrila Prabhupada had been preaching in the West, there was a pretender claiming himself “Bhagavan” who taught his own form of nirvishesha and shunyavada which was so shamelessly bent out of shape even other mayavadis of the day rejected him. Now this imitation “god” was a collector of Rolls-Royce automobiles, and his “disciples” (their “discipline” was extreme sensual indulgence) had bought him dozens and dozens of Rolls-Royces. Hence, press reporters often plied Shrila Prabhupada with questions about how many vehicles he owned. Often chuckling—and drawing out their mistaken intent—Prabhupada would oblige them with a straight-forward answer, which would run something like, “We have thirty centers and they all have five or ten vehicles, so he have minimally well over a hundred vehicles.” Then, if the reporter was receptive and not challenging, Shirla Prabhupada would explain the renunciate’s approach to owning vehicles or other material items. At times he even argued the opposite point of view: that everything should be utilized in Krishna’s service and thus all the other cars in the world were actually stolen property!

Now, this same simple principle can be applied to any material thing beginning from this body itself to those things that are extensions of the body. This world, the brahmanda, is Krishna’s property. Even Lord Brahma, the creator of the planetary systems, admits that he acts only under the jurisdiction of Lord Shri Krishna. As devotees, we are under orders to renounce all sense of false proprietorship and use everything in Krishna’s service. It was this principle that has attracted so many people in India to Krishna consciousness. When the Indians saw Shrila Prabhupada’s American and European disciples rejecting materialism to chant Hare Krishna in Bombay, Vrindavana and Mayapur, they also gradually became attracted. Thus Prabhupada showed that either by accepting material things or by rejecting them, Krishna’s service is the key.

The worth of any material item is not intrinsic in that thing because it is temporary; rather value is seen in its use. The Paramhamsa has even referred to gold, which all materialists crave with a passion, as “yellow stool”. Astrology, therefore, is no different. It is a mundane and material discipline which can certainly find a place in Krishna consciousness if correctly used, like a car or a computer or a printing press. Jyotish shastra, the most subtle of mundane sciences, can be spiritualized if utilized in Krishna’s service. True, there are many renounced devotees who could care less for stellar guidance, preferring to rely only on Krishna’s direction by the blessings of the spiritual master. It is undeniable that they are on the highest platform. How then can jyotish be useful for devotional service?

Although astrology may be useful in Krishna consciousness, one who overrates its importance—for example, by calling himself “astrologer” first and “devotee” second—is misguided. He could be compared to a fool who thinks that he has become an automobile expert because the guru has told him which car to buy. That astrology can be used in bhakti-yoga is simply an extension of the devotee’s underlying principle of service that “utility is the principle”.

An Introduction to the Panchanga or Panjika

Astrology is the basis for the calculation and timing of events, the branch of jyotish shastra which encompasses the science of the panchang. Shrila Prabhupada carried a panchanga—or panjika as they are known in Bengal—wherever he went, which he used for timing the observance of festivals. Panchanga means “five limbs” because a panchanga looks at every moment of every day through five different perspectives. Of these five the first three are most important, namely: (1.) tithi (lunar phases like ekadashi, etc.), (2.) Moon’s nakshatra (the twenty-eight constellations, and the source of the English word “star”) and (3.) vara (the week-day, such as Sunday as ruled by Sun, Monday by Moon, etc.). The panchang also determines movements of grahas or planets through the signs or rashis; grahans or eclipses, sankrantis or the beginning of solar months; the Sun’s northern or southern movements or ayanas, etc.

Solar months are calculated by the Sun’s movement through the twelve signs of the zodiac with the new solar year occurring when the Sun enters Aries or Mesha each year on March 14th or 15th. However, Vedic festivals are calculated by the lunar calendar. There are twelve lunar months in a lunar year, with an extra month or adhika–masa added every third year. Vedic festivals are timed according to particular lunar phases of each particular month, and a lunar month equals one waning and one waxing phase. As explained by Shrila Prabhupada in his Chaitanya Charitamrita commentary, the dark and light fortnights of the Moon are compared to the two wings of a bird. These wings are (1.) the waxing portion or shukla paksha (lit. “bright wing”) and (2.) the waning cycle or the krishna paksha (lit. “dark wing”) of a lunar month or masa. Shrila Prabhupada often pointed out, for example that Sunday came before Monday because, “first the Sun then the Moon” (meaning the Moon is farther from Earth than the Sun. Here is a chart of the Vedic weekdays, which is the origin of the modern concept:

Sunday Ravivara The Sun Surya or Ravi
Monday Somavara The Moon Soma or Chandra
Tuesday Mangalvara Mars Mangal
Wednesday Budhvara Mercury Budha
Thursday Guruvara Jupiter Guru or Brihaspati
Friday Shukravara Venus Shukra
Saturday Shanivara Saturn Shanideva

Specific masas (months) and tithis (days) have bearing on observances of fasts and festivities. The Moon circles the twelve rashis or signs of the zodiac in just under a month, while the Sun passes the twelve signs in a year. Thus a lunar month also means the Moon’s transit of twelve signs, while a solar month means the Sun’s transit of one sign. His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura named each Vedic month or masa corresponding to the placing of tilaka as seen hereunder:
1. Chaitra Vishnu
2. Vaishakha Madhusudana
3. Jyeshta Trivikrama
4. Ashadha Vamana
5. Shravana Shridhar
6. Bhadrapada Hrishikesh
7. Ashwin Padmanabha
8. Karitk Damodar
9. Margashirsha Keshava
10. Pausha Narayana
11. Magha Madhava
12. Phalguna Govinda

The Moon’s tithis are measured in increments of twelve degrees each, and the significance of these lunar days during the twelve lunar months is described in many places by Prabhupada in his writings. For every twelve degrees that the Moon moves one tithi is measured. When the Sun and Moon are conjunct, that is called the amavashya-tithi or the dark of the Moon. Then, when the faster Moon moves ahead of the Sun up to twelve degrees of a circle, it is called first day of the Moon or pratipada-tithi. As the Moon continues to wax or move ahead the Sun—from twelve to twenty-four degrees— the second day of the bright half of Moon or dwitiya-shukla tithi comes into effect. There are fifteen tithis of the waxing or shukla-paksha fortnight (including purnima or full Moon), and fifteen days in the waning fortnight (including amavashya). These are useful in observing the Vaishnava festivities during the correct lunar months throughout the year. Along with amavashya and purnima, there are a total of thirty tithis each lunar month as follows:
1st Pratipada
2nd Dwitiya Yama Dwitiya
3rd Tritiya Parashurama Tritiya, Akshaya Tritiya
4th Chaturthi Ganesh Chaturthi
5th Panchami Vasant Panchami, Nag Panchami
6th Shashti Skanda Shashti
7th Saptami Adwaita Saptami, Ganga Saptami
8th Ashtami Shri Janmashtami, Radhashtami, Gopashtami, Durgashtami
9th Navami Shri Rama Navami, Sita Navami, Prabhupada Navami
10th Dashami Ramachandra Vijaya Dashami
11th Ekadashi Jaya Ekadashi, Nirjala Ekadashi, Putrada Ekadashi
12th Dwadashi Vamana Dwadashi, Varaha Dwadashi, Rukmini Dwadashi
13th Trayodashi Nityananda Trayodashi
14th Chaturdashi Nrisimha Chaturdashi, Ananta Chatrudashi
Amavashya Shani Amavashya, Mauni Amavashya
Purnima Shri Gaur Purnima, Narada Purnima, Sharada Purnima

Both Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati made tremendous contributions to the Vaishnava calendars used in guiding the activities of ISKCON and all Gaudiyas today. It was Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur who pioneered the Gaudiya panchang by first pioneering the Chaitanya Era beginning from the Holy Appearance Day of Mahaprabhu. Shrila Siddhanta Saraswati was the innovator of the Nabadwip Panjika, the first to record in one place the yearly birthdays of many of our Gaudiya saints. As servants we do not seek to become learned pandits by simply knowing the Vaishnava calendar; rather knowledge of the workings of the panchang is a devotee’s duty. By following the fasts, functions and festivities according to the natural movements of the Moon, Vedic culture is assimilated as we move in harmony with the cycles of the Universe. Through understanding the panchang we appreciate better the Lord’s creation—and how we are affected by the natural measurement of time as Shri Krishna intended.

32 Responses to “Is Astrology Useful in Krishna Consciousness? Part One – The Panchang”

  1. SubaladasInd says :

    Thank you very much Respected Patita Pavana Prabhu for throwing light from right perspective on Astrology. I will be obliged for your kindly considering my following questions.

    Question#1 : How Astrology consider Divorce ? In Vedic ways, Marriage takes place with chanting of Mantras and taking pledge before Fire demigod ? How then, it can be broken by law (or Judge)? Does our Scriptures consider it Divorce/Seperation and further Re-marriage?

    Question#2 : In some cases, I have personally seen that Astrolger says this couple is bound to get Divorce and there is a Divorce. Is it mention in Janam Kundli about Divorce?

    Kindly reply to remove my lots of doubts.

    Hare Krsna.

  2. “Astrology, therefore, is no different. It is a mundane and material discipline which can certainly find a place in Krishna consciousness if correctly used, like a car or a computer or a printing press. ”

    Interesting. The same could be said for physics, engineering, medicine, political science, economics, psychology, urban planning, computer science, management, aeronautics, etc. All these mundane disciplines can and should be used in Krishna’s service.

    Is there something different about astrology that makes it a more suitable subject of study for a Hare Krishna devotee than, say, mathematics, philosophy or diesel engine repair?

    This is a practical question because college age devotees often wonder what to do with their lives, whether they should embark on this or that career path. If they become doctors and lawyers and engineers, the thinking goes, at least they may be able to get jobs and earn sufficient money.

    [Warning: Many lawyers, including yours truly, are not very satisfied with their occupation.]

    I guess one thing that is different is that Vedic Astrology, like Ayurvedic Medicine, is a technology that seems to belong to ancient Indian, Vedic culture (and still exists in modern Indian culture but competes with the modern scientific world view).

    Of course astrology is not an exclusively Indian science, but in Europe and elsewhere it seems to have been supplanted by the modern, empirical science ideology.

    [Whether it is a “science” at all may depend on one’s definition of “science”, because at least among modern scientists astrology is not regarded as science, and modern historians and philosophers of science will offer all kinds of explanations why the “occult arts” like astrology, alchemy and phrenology do not qualify as what they mean by “science”.]

    But aside from the semantic question about the meaning of the word “science,” there is a widespread view in the dominant modern culture that astrology is not really practical, that its claims are not true, and that it does not work.

    In Europe, Christianity had supplanted paganism and the Greco-Roman pantheon long before materialistic science supplanted the occult arts, so astrology was not as linked to the contemporary religion as it is in Hinduism. (Modern science may have even relieved a kind of creative tension between Christianity and pagan authorities that persisted through the Renaissance).

    [If I had it to do over again, I might like to study History…sigh]

  3. But one of the fascinating things about astrology for devotees is precisely that it is a “Vedic” form of traditional knowledge, which is connected to the Vedic pantheon of demigods and the Vedic (sankhya) analysis of material nature.

    [The European occult traditions also appealed to the sense that there were great ancient civilizations with vast knowledge. The Hermetic tradition located this civilization in Egypt. Often the knowledge was of the esoteric or mystical sort that could only be disclosed to a sincere and faithful disciple or acolyte, a sorcerer’s apprentice so to speak.]

    Veda in one sense means knowledge — any knowledge, wherever it comes from — but we devotees still cherish the historical perspective (which has been abandoned by European culture and modernity) that there was an ancient civilization with vastly superior knowledge than is available today, and that such knowledge is still prevalent among the superior denizens of higher planes of existence.

    And of course ultimately Krishna is the “veda-vit”, the knower of all knowledge. The ancient knowledge is never really lost, although it may be obscured in a given time or place.

    We also instinctively accept that acquiring certain insights (both material and spiritual) requires “attuning” ourselves through self control, observance of ritual, and submission and service to a master of the art. (Even the “martial arts” traditions popularized in movies demonstrate a recognition of this reality).

    So, if devotees can revive an appreciation for the wisdom of Vedic astrology, they can make inroads in the greater culture war between modernity and traditional (and by “traditional” I mean truly ancient) civilization.

    I guess the danger or downside is that if we do it poorly, we might play into the hands of atheistic materialists who would argue that, as their iron-age technology is better than anything we can show as Vedic technology (e.g., we cannot counteract their nuclear bombs the way Arjuna could counteract Asvattama’s brahmastra), similarly their impersonalistic and demonic philosophy that the world we see is just a product of chance interactions of matter according to impersonal laws of nature is superior to our Vaisnava theology.

    But I am sure our sincere devotees will do a good job of generating a worldwide appreciation for the traditions of Vedic astrology, medicine, etc., along with explaining how, to a certain extent, these arts have been partially lost in this age.

  4. Please forgive my foolish questions (I am completely uninformed):

    Who is “Mars” or “Mangal”? Is it Kartikeya, Skanda, Muragan? (I am just guessing because in the Olimpian pantheon Aries, Mars is the chief warrior, and of course in Bhagavad-Gita Krishna says that among generals He is Skanda).

    Who is Shukra? Is it Sukracarya, the guru of the Daityas? (In Bhagavad-Gita where Krishna says he is Usana among Kavis or great thinkers, and Srila Prabhupada explains that this is Sukracarya, guru of the demons, a very intelligent and far-seeing politician).

    Or is there some other Shukra? Shukracarya seems a far cry from the Olimpian goddess of love, Venus-Aphrodite, mother of Cupid-Eros. I know Shukra means semen, and Shukracarya is expert at instructing demons how to favor their own offspring at the expense of others. In matters of marriage he must be more concerned with making favorable alliances than with romantic love. Could he be the ruler of Venus?

    And Shanideva, who is so important in Vedic astrology, are there any lilas about him in the Puranas? I do not recall him showing up in the Bhagavatam (maybe I overlooked it). Who are his parents, brothers and sisters, children?

    Is Budha or Mercury the same as Lord Buddha the famous avatar and founder of Buddhism? (I suspect not.) When I hear about Hermes-Mercury in Homeric tales I always think of Narada Muni, the way he is so clever and always showing up at the opportune moment. (Of course, Hermes is not always bestowing pure devotional service the way Narada Muni does).

    Do all these demigods and great personalities actually live on and preside over their respective planets? I know Ravi and Chandra do, so I imagine it must be the same with the others. Is that right? Does Brhaspati, the guru of the demigods, reside on and preside over Jupiter?

    Surya and Candra are Ksatriyas, and I expect to see them as rulers of heavenly planets. Isn’t Brihaspati a brahmana? Is Jupiter a more brahminical planet, being ruled by a priest? Or do these kind of political things work very differently in heavenly planets than among the humans on earth?

    Please forgive my uninformed questions. I have read Srila Prabhupada’s books but not many other things about the Vedic demigods and how they live and what they do. I am curious about how it all fits together.

  5. kavicandraswami says :

    I read you article about the lunar eclipse. I heard it all before in a much more pleasing presentation:

    Songwriters: Fogerty, John
    Credence Clearwater Revival

    I see a bad moon a-rising.
    I see trouble on the way.
    I see earth quakes and lightnin’.
    I see bad times today.
    Don’t go ’round tonight
    It’s bound and take your life,
    There’s a bad moon on the rise.
    I hear hurricanes a-blowing,
    I know the end is coming soon.
    I fear rivers over flowing.
    I hear the voice of rage and ruin.
    Don’t go ’round tonight
    It’s bound and take your life,
    There’s a bad moon on the rise.
    Hope you got your things together.
    Hope you are quite prepared to die.
    Look’s like we’re in for nasty weather.
    One eye is taken for an eye.
    Don’t go ’round tonight
    It’s bound and take your life,
    There’s a bad moon on the rise.

    Was John an astrologer???

    I wonder if we could stick more to the aupiciousness of the Sankirtana movement and all good that it can bring about?

  6. WillemV says :

    “the twenty-eight constellations, and the source of the English word ‘star’”

    Although the pre 900 CE Middle and Old English “sterre” and “steorra” are akin to Old Norse “stjarna,” Goth “stairno,” Latin “stella,” Greek “astr,” and Sanskrit “str,” there is no evidence whatsoever that the Sanskrit version is the source of any of them.

    “Shrila Prabhupada often pointed out, for example that Sunday came before Monday because, ‘first the Sun then the Moon’ (meaning the Moon is farther from Earth than the Sun. Here is a chart of the Vedic weekdays, which is the origin of the modern concept:”

    Origin of the modern concept?

    In most European countries the week starts on Monday, not Sunday. There is no worldwide conclusion as to how exactly the names of weekdays have come about or where a week starts. For instance, ancient Celtic and Germanic cultures linked their weekdays to names of gods. The Romans used to have an 8 day week.

    There are theories that indicate that the weekdays are named in relation to the brightness of the planets as visible from the Earth with naked eyes and clear night skies, rather than their distance from the Earth. This, however, is not supported by facts. The days of the week go like Sun-Moon-Mars-Mercury-Jupiter-Venus-Saturn (if we take the American system, starting with Sunday). As far as brightness is concerned, the Sun (-26.8) and Moon (-12.7) are followed not by Mars (-2.8), but by Venus (-4.7) and Jupiter (-2.9), in this order. So you’d end up with a week like Sunday-Monday-Friday-Thursday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Saturday…

    Other theories link the appearance of planets to hours of the day and extrapolate the sequence of weekdays from the planet that occupies the first hour of the day. Again, there is no conclusive correlation between the order of weekday names and the distance of the planets from the Earth.

    And there is certainly no evidence of a “Vedic” system being the origin of the “modern” system.

  7. dhimana_krishna says :


    Nice comments, Your insight is helpful as your perspective is unique befitting a thoughtful Kumbha rashi

    Mars is Mangal. He is known as Bhauma because he is the son of Mother Bhumi, and his place of birth (marked by the Shri Mangalnath Mandir of Lord Shiva) is said to be is just beside the Shri Sandipani Muni Ashram at Ujjain. Why was Shri Krishna educated beside the birth place of the astrological Deity who represents war in astrology? Hmmm. The powers of Kartikeya, the demi-god of war , are seen through Mangal of the Nava-graha. Hence it is easy to confuse the two personalities.

    Shukra is Venus, the guru of the demons, yet himself very spiritual. He is celebrated in the Bhagavat in the marriage of his daughter Devayani and mentioned in the Gita as representing Krishna’s opulence. He is most famous for his advice to Bali Maharaja not to give anything to a certain dwarf brahmana. His Niti-shastra (Shukra Niti) is brilliant. Yes, shukra means”semen” because it is the demonic concept that “qualifiction is by birth.”

    Shani: Yes, there are lilas regarding him in the Puranas, but not in the crest jewel Bhagavat. However, this demigod’s effects are described in the fifth canto. In the Shani Mahatyam he claims that it was due to him that Dwarkanath Shri Krishna underwent the travails of the Shyamataka jewel episode. He claims that Shri Krishna was in His sade sati cycle at the time. Hence, when Shrila Prabhupada teaches that the Lord appeared “like an ordinary man to fool the demons and bless His devotees”, we can understand that this includes undergoing stellar transits even as a conditioned soul does. Krishna thinks of everything, but of course ‘Where there is Krishna there is victory”. If Krishna undergoes difficulties, it is just to give credit to His devotee Shanideva whose transits ordinary men fear (because of their own awakening of karma phal).

    Budha, or Mercury is described in the Bhagavat as the son of Lord Soma by the wife of Brihaspati Tara. No, he is not Lord Buddha the founder of modern shunyavada.

    Yes, they reside on their respective planets. In jyotish, Brihaspati (Jupiter) and Chandra are brahmana planets, but Surya does represent kings and leaders.

    Some misguided astrologers recommend chants to the nava-graha, but they are like the gardener whose plants died because he was watering the leaves. We water the root by chanting Hare Krishna. This is sufficient for us. -PPd

  8. dhimana_krishna says :

    Kavichandra Swami:

    You have given a nice quote from my old “neigbhor” John Fogarty of El Cerrito, Calif. “Bad Moon on the Rise” is one of the very few pop songs with any sort of intelligence. Here again, it offers no solution, but we have the solution.

    All the predictions in the eclipse article have come true, even though they are presented in a general way. However, I do not know why you suggest that it should have discussed the sankirtan movement, as the article did so in great detail as the great yagna for lifting the smokey clouds of Rahu in Kali Yuga. It was presented in the same way as your “Holy Places?” article which demonstrated both sides of the picture. As you know better than me, Shrila Prabhupada’s ISKCON movement is multi-faceted. It brings on the highest gains while defeating the worst evils, all by the grace of one yagna, sankirtan.

    Why not encourage more of your fellow GBC’s and sannyasis to write for Dandavats? We only hear from a few of you.

  9. dhimana_krishna says :

    Regarding Question # 1:

    Shrila Prabhupada preached very strongly against divorce and wanted his men to be responsible enough to care for their wives.

    Let us take the example of Shrila Prabhupada. His father Shri Gaur Mohan De (a pure devotee of Lord Shri Krishna and of Lord Jagannath) practically forced his beloved son Moti (“the pearl”) to marry a very nice young girl with whom the future Saviour of the Western World wanted nothing to do with. However, even though there was (assumably) no graha-maitri or lunar/nakshatra harmony, Prabhupada remained faithful.

    I attended many wedding performed by Shrila Prabhupada in the late 60’s on the East Coast. His Divine Grace always emphasized, “Do not make babies like cats and dogs.” Prabhupada would rail against the “bachelor daddies” (another brilliant phrase he made up). Guru Maharaj taught us to look upon those who marry for a few cheap thrills, then leave the woman with a child, as two-legged quadrupeds. That is why the second use for Vedic astrology is marital harmony as explained by Shrila Prabhupada in his Bhaktivedanta Purports.

    So astrology accepts the natural material desires of grihastas and therefore allows that even considering motivations, marriage can be properly dovetailed in a relationship that is at least compatible. Householder life is considered to be the muck at the bottom of the dark well, but if the man and wife are both devotees, are both willing to make great sacrifices for the cause of mutual harmony , then there is a chance of the struggle succeeding a little bit.

    In my opinion, if a candidate for marriage has a chart that demonstrates short term relationships, I say why force such a person on a young lady? Instead see if he is willing to remain celibate, either as a brahmachari or sannyasi, and thereby live a more healthful, happy, blessed and spiritually-progressive life. How many are willing to live like Shrila Prabhupada and remain faithful to a woman he did not like and a situation he loathed due to his dharma-based loyalty to culture and “The Example”. For His Divine Grace valued the pure example over lip service, unlike the storefront mayavadis of the day trying to make disciples in the 60’s. If some have have failed miserably in following Prabhupada’s example, I would suggest the pure devotee’s authoritative solution of Vedanga Jyotish as we will see in Part Two soon enough.
    Thank you fir your question!
    Patit Pavana das

  10. dhimana_krishna says :

    Thank you “Ask Jeeves ” Prabhu,

    …But our authority is the Bhagavat, not the Wikipedia. Sorry but as my regular readers know, when it comes to material science, I’m a Prabhupad man and I blindly and dumbly follow the convictions of my spiritual master.

    I have just spent several months in a circular valley that I came to call the Eye of Sankarshan. I chose that unusual name for the valley because of the great view looking heavenward with the naked eye. There the darshans of both the day and night skies were superb and the view clearly demonstrate the correctness of the fifth canto. For me, accepting the way Shrila Prabhupada put it to us is a no-brainer. The Moon is higher than the Sun and that is the end of it. From the Eye of Sankarshan the whole picture makes perfect sense.

    Located in Stagecoach, NV., the is beautiful yet rugged, wild valley is ringed with a circle of hills and mountains . Coyotes ran past me in the night as I chanted and observed. This Valley of the Eye of Sankarshan sits above the Carson River along the Pony Express Trail above legendary Highway 50, America’s oldest cross country two-laner. It has an unique combination of winds so much so that the dried lake bed, from which I fashioned tilaka, is a test area for wind-powered vehicles. There is no electricity at many areas around this valley, hence light pollution is minimal. I spent as many as twelve hours in a day spread between day and night tracing the planetary routes before the backdrop of the Great celestial Ganges in the form of the awe-inspiring Shishumara.

    During eclipses, I saw the attack of Rahu upon the Sun rendering the skies furious. I traced for months the uttarayana and dakshinayana movements of the Sun as days shorten and elongate. I invite any Prabhus who wish to edify their conviction in the Bhagavat’s absolute authenticity as the final authority on this delicate issue to contact another Prabhu who lives there and who shares my conviction about this valley as a point for celestial observation. Talk to Mother Anavadyangi on Facebook for a back-up opinion. Incidentally, there are a number of ranches, one of which self-generates its own power, going for dirt cheap there. A devotee community of ascetic transcendental astronomers could be easily created far away from the demonic influence of the American city; safe from the dangers that never sleep in an environment fraught with the modes of ignorance and passion.

    Patita Pavana da

  11. dhimana_krishna says :

    PS Kavi chandra Maharaja. I wonder if anyone noticed the earthquake in Haiti? And we were talking about the meaning of eclipses according to the verdict of the Bhagavat. Now in the aftermath of Eclipse Surpanakha and just two days from Eclipse Jagai,… the Haitians need to hear the sound of sankirtan more than ever before. May all devotees be protected.

  12. WillemV says :

    “Thank you ‘Ask Jeeves’ Prabhu,”

    No need to be condescending.

    “…But our authority is the Bhagavat, not the Wikipedia.”

    Neither the book Bhagavat, nor the person Bhagavat is concerned with the origin of the English word “star” or any supposed “Vedic” origin of modern week day naming.

    “I’m a Prabhupad man and I blindly and dumbly follow the convictions of my spiritual master.”

    Yes, that is clear.

    In Krishna’s creation there is a place for all though, regardless of whether they hover near the cognitive and rational end of the spectrum or the emotional and intuitive one — or anywhere in between for that matter. Regardless, we have a long way to go in fulfilling Prabhupada’s desire to reach the intelligent class of men if we keep dabbling in pseudo-astronomy and presenting a marginal version of jyotish, wrought with apocalyptic elements and claims of ancient origins that are nowhere to be found.

  13. I appreciate both Patita Pavana’s and Varnadi’s (WillemV’s) perspectives. I agree there is no need to get condescending or to take these internet tiffs too seriously. We are all on the same team, even if we have different methods and roles to play.

    I am always intrigued by Varnadi’s sharp intelligence and good communication skills. It is nice to know that there are devotees who display these qualities that are prized so highly in all societies. We do need devotees who are top-flight scientists and intellectuals in all fields.

    I am always eager to see the integration, for lack of a better word, between traditional devotees and leaders of the greater society. We may have a long way to go, but without the hard struggle there is no possibility of glories victory.

    And the most glorious victory for any of us is the integration of our own beings. In a recent class at ISV, H.H. Hrdayananda Maharaja said:

    “…It’s interesting that (in B.G. 6.21) Krishna describes that pleasure, that profit, as “buddhi grahyam”, which means “acceptable to intelligence”….

    “The symptom of buddhi, intelligence, in the mode of passion is that you cannot accurately understand things. One understands things inaccurately…

    “So there is a highest pleasure which is “buddhi grahyam”. It is “acceptable to our highest intelligence.” There’s no separation between the heart and the mind.

    “Like some people say, ‘I don’t like all that philosophy; I’m really just all about the heart.’

    “And it’s like, ‘Oh my God.’ [Laughter] Because actually, unless you have incredibly good intuition or something, you are going to have a lot of trouble in life. On the other hand we cannot just be cold, dry calculators.

    “Yoga, ‘linking’, among other things ‘linking’ means linking the intelligence and the heart. There cannot be any separation between your best intelligence and your most powerful feelings.

    “In a sense that’s our situation right now, and that’s why we’re practicing bhakti yoga. Because our best intelligence gives us a certain picture of reality: ‘I am spirit soul. I am part of Krishna.’ But sometimes we feel emotions (not only sometimes), that are ignorant, that are actually not consistent with what we know to be our best understanding of things.

    “And bhakti-yoga means closing this gap, until we get to this point where there’s no separation between our highest understanding, in our most lucid moment, and our deepest feelings. They’re identical.”

  14. One thing I liked very much about Patita Pavana’s original article on eclipses was the sense that something materially inauspicious may be actually favorable for achievement of the highest good, and then his artistic segue into discussion of how Lord Krishna actually appeared (recently) as Lord Caitanya in the form of a beautiful sannyasi.

    We have just finished our celebrations of the anniversary of Lord Caitanya’s taking sannyas, which also started with an eclipse 500 years ago. And of course there was also the earlier eclipse at the time of the Lord’s appearance.

    Normally sannyasis might seem inauspicious and scary to those who are interested in progressive material happiness. They remind us of the impermanence and futility of all our mundane endeavors. But our devotee sannyasis in ISKCON are full of hope and promise for a better civilization, full of singing and dancing and delicious prasadam. We need not renounce our enjoying propensity, just redirect it to its proper engagement in a higher, fully enlightened enjoyment.

    During a full solar eclipse there is a beautiful corolla.

    Srila Prabhupada wrote that some less-intelligent neophytes criticized him because he arranged for the marriage of some of his disciples. A sannyasi normally has no business in connection with weddings, but Srila Prabhupada even performed the ceremonies. What could he do? There was no one else to do it and his young disciples needed it.

    ISKCON started as a small, exclusive sect of highly committed disciples who were largely cut off from the outside world, but it is growing in numbers and in diversity and breadth. It is gradually making inroads into all spheres and professions of modern society.

    Purnat purnam udacyate. Isavasyam idam sarvam. The whole universe is fully equipped with everything it needs to be a perfect utopia. We just have to put everything to its proper use. Then it will be alright. Everything really belongs to Krishna, including all intelligence, knowledge, science, work, marriage, happiness, all planets and demigods. He resides in everything, and He has established a natural order of things, under the sun, moon and other stars and planets. To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose.

    It will be beautiful to see the integration of real knowledge of the futility of material activity and the superior knowledge of how all arts, sciences and technology should be used as far as possible in the service of Krishna.

  15. dhimana_krishna says :

    WHO ASKED ‘ASK JEEVES’? Any, errr, Ask Jeeves Prabhu, do you read the newpapers? Like, did you notice anything on Jan 12, two days before eclipse Jagai? Do the words Earthquake ring a bell?

  16. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    Patita Pavana Prabhu said:

    Sunday Ravivara The Sun Surya or Ravi
    Monday Somavara The Moon Soma or Chandra
    Tuesday Mangalvara Mars Mangal
    Wednesday Budhvara Mercury Budha
    Thursday Guruvara Jupiter Guru or Brihaspati
    Friday Shukravara Venus Shukra
    Saturday Shanivara Saturn Shanideva

    While it is true that the planets represent different demigods, indeed each planet has a huge portfolio of things it represents not just demigods; but Parasara Rishi in the 2nd chapter of Brhad Parasara Hora Sastra has pointed out that each graha is a manifestation of one of the avataras of the Lord. He explains as follows:

    Ram manifests as Surya/Sun
    Krsna Candra/Moon
    Narasimha Mangala/Mars
    Buddha Budha/Mercury
    Vamanadeva Guru/Jupiter
    Parasurama Sukra/Venus
    Kurma Sani/Saturn
    Varaha Rahu
    Matsya Ketu

    This relationship is useful for devising remedial measures by those who know how to properly prescribe remedies. In the case of Buddha since there is nothing in the Vaisnava Agama texts for worshipping Him via homa or puja one can substitute Narayana since Mercury is natural significator for Visnu tattva.

    Devotees have to be careful when they get into astrology because there are many accretions that have adhered to it over the course of millennia that are not consistent with Vaisnavism so one must be able to get to the core of the science and not be distracted by the other things. If the devotee practitioner is not careful he may become philosophically compromised.

    A d

  17. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    WillemV said:

    In Krishna’s creation there is a place for all though, regardless of whether they hover near the cognitive and rational end of the spectrum or the emotional and intuitive one — or anywhere in between for that matter. Regardless, we have a long way to go in fulfilling Prabhupada’s desire to reach the intelligent class of men if we keep dabbling in pseudo-astronomy and presenting a marginal version of jyotish, wrought with apocalyptic elements and claims of ancient origins that are nowhere to be found.

    Dear Prabhu,

    Hari Bol. I could not agree with you more. This is the reason that astrology has fallen into such disrepute. Computers have really lowered the bar in the world of astrology. Now anyone with a computer thinks he is an astrologer because he can input data and the computer does the rest. In the past one had to be a lot sharper, they had to know mathematics to be able to do the astronomy involved. Such mathematical ability gave razor sharp logic and analytical abilities which are required in jyotish which is called the “hetu sastra” — science of cause and effect. Thus only the top 5 percentile had the mental ability to do the mathematics required. And, because the astrologers were also yogis practicing tapas and japa they also had finely developed intuition and could get inspiration from the Lord. Such a combination of analytical rigor coupled with spiritual sensitivity and intuition meant that only a few rare souls would be adepts in the field and their predictions would seldom go wrong.

    But if you took the computers away from the present generation of so-called astrologers the vast majority would be lost. They are clueless to the point that they would not be able to detect if their computers were accurate or not what to speak of being able to calculate a horoscope from scratch. So is it any wonder that such vague thinkers give a tabloid presentation of jyotish that substitutes science with sensationalism and tangential, theosophical platitudes, what to speak of their “Pop” approach to historical research.

    I once read a book by the astrologer Steven Forrest who lamented that astrology was not taken seriously by scientists. But after reading his book which was written in a “Pop culture” style it was not difficult to understand why it was not taken seriously; because he himself did not present it seriously but was trying to cash in on the New Age market.


  18. I know astrology plays a lot of different important roles. It helps people understand how there is a giant universal order of things and that our smaller, human interactions are linked up to a greater plan.

    Maybe at times astrologers and oracles give specific advice about events, and we have heard of bandits whose soothsayers told them to plunder certain travelers who were carrying concealed wealth. I wonder if investors could use astrology to make a killing in the stock market?

    But often the advice is general, or phrased in ambiguous language, as in the famous case where the Delphic oracle told the Greeks, “If you attack Persia, a great empire will fall.” A great empire did fall, but it turned out to be the Greeks’ empire, not the Persians’. In this sense it can be more art than science.

    One role consulting with an astrologer seems to play is it provides a good framework or opportunity for analyzing one’s own life and personality and those of loved ones.

    In this sense it reminds me of the role that good psychoanalysts play in modern society. In each case there is an air of science and professionalism about it, but the consultation often has less to do with the science (whether of brain chemistry or planetary influence) and more to do with providing a useful and healthy framework for exploring one’s own motivations and emotional needs, which are also supposed to be part of the professional competence of a capable practitioner.

    Astrologers, psychiatrists, matchmakers, life coaches, and even financial advisors play roles that are akin to clergy in society, in that they are expected to be wise judges of human nature who can help those who consult with them pursue their true best interest.

    Of course, in Vedic or Hindu society, astrology is still connected with the overall religious explanation of the world, whereas Christianity seems to have shed its connection with “pagan” astrology centuries ago, and certain Christians now think of astrology as heathen, “idolatrous”, even satanic (but that did not stop Nancy Reagan and other prominent westerners and Christians from consulting astrologers).

    I wonder whether and to what extent astrologers will be successful in establishing professional licensing organizations to regulate the learning, skill and ethics of practitioners, as has been done with doctors, lawyers, realtors, contractors, stock brokers, engineers, etc. There may be challenges due to a lack of unified standards.

  19. The whole trend of modernism is to remove feelings and values from the realm of intellectual certainty into a realm of intersubjective preferences.

    Modern science removes “occult” qualities and personality from nature, focusing instead on properties that can be quantified and found to have regular mathematical relations with each other (like distance, time, mass, force, direction, electrical charge, magnetic force, etc.)

    Modern ethics has focused on subjective theories like emotivism, and formulations of utilitarianism in which each individual chooses his or her own “good”, without any overarching view of human perfection.

    Even in politics, “democracy” focuses on process, or on avoidance of tyranny and unfairness, not on the positive qualities of ideal government and its role in bringing about successful, virtuous lives of the citizens. Liberal political and economic theory focuses on creating a fair playing field in which individuals can pursue their own ideals, whatever they may be. It seems to acknowledge that questions about our highest and best aspirations are simply too difficult to answer, or are merely a matter of cultural preferences and “tastes.”

    So where are people to go for advice on what they should aspire to, what tastes they should cultivate and what tastes they should avoid, how they can determine and achieve their personal goals in life?

    Well, they can go to churches, temples, mosques, of their choice.

    They can also go to art critics, literary critics, food and wine critics, fashion critics, music critics, of their choice.

    They can join political movements that struggle for various ethical or national ideals.

    They can be athletes or sports fans.

    And they also go to various kinds of therapists and counselors who listen to their efforts to make sense of their lives and avoid harm and achieve success for themselves and their children and loved ones.

    It seems astrologers are most akin to therapists and counselors. In advising people about pitfalls to avoid and opportunities to be seized, they play a role in discussing and helping clients determine what it means to be successful in their lives, a role which has been abandoned by positivist scientists.

    The Vedas are so vast, there is not a single view of success. Veda vada ratas say there is nothing more than bhogaisvarya. But Vaisnavas have a specific view that Krishna prema is the goal of life. Vaisnava astrologers can help steer their clients toward this goal.

  20. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    Response to #18

    Akruranatha said:

    But often the advice is general, or phrased in ambiguous language, as in the famous case where the Delphic oracle told the Greeks, “If you attack Persia, a great empire will fall.” A great empire did fall, but it turned out to be the Greeks’ empire, not the Persians’. In this sense it can be more art than science.

    Dear Akruranatha Prabhu,

    Hari Bol. Don’t mind my saying this but it was not the Greeks but the Lydians. As Herodotus tells us King Croesus of Lydia was thinking to attack Cyrus (the Great) King of Persia and asked the Delphic Oracle what would be the result if he did so and was told that a kingdom would fall. He neglected to ask whose kingdom. Of course it was difficult for him to do so because he lived hundreds of miles from Delphi and had sent his emissaries to do so and he could not ask them to get more details (before the age of cell phones and email). Still in such critical issues he should have sent another delegation.

    A d

  21. Thank you Atmavidya Prabhu. I am glad to learn from my mistakes. I must have thought it was the Greeks because the oracle at Delphi was Greek.

    It was the Lydians, and not the Greeks. Of course. That makes sense, because the Greeks did survive as a civilization. Their “empire”, such as it was (really an on-again, off-again confederation of city states), did not fall.

    The Lydians’ empire was destroyed and nowadays there is no more Lydia. Even the Lydian language has completely died out.

    Everyone remembers the Lydian king Croesus for how rich he was, but they should also remember him for how fleeting material fortune is. One day you are “as rich as Croesus”, the next day Cyrus The Great comes along and takes everything.

    (As the old saying goes, one man’s Mede is another man’s Persian) ouch! ;-)

  22. WillemV says :

    Comment on #15:

    “…do you read the newpapers? Like, did you notice anything on Jan 12, two days before eclipse Jagai? Do the words Earthquake ring a bell?”

    It’s hard not to notice the Haiti earthquake in the media – much like the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia. However, the claim that this is the direct or indirect result of solar eclipse influence I consider unproven, wishful thinking at best. There were 36 earthquakes globally in 2009, of which 10 were stronger than the Haiti quake. 2009 saw 2 solar eclipses (1 annular and 1 total) and 4 lunar eclipses (3 penumbral and 1 partial). Only 1 of the 36 earthquakes was within a week of a solar eclipse and 2 were within a week of a lunar eclipse. The other 35 came nowhere near. Total death toll for the entire year: about 1,700.

    Every year sees between 30 and 50 earthquakes that are all fairly well spread throughout the year, without any kind of statistically provable correlation with solar or lunar eclipses (which follow a pattern). So it can’t be the timing that links the disaster with the eclipse. What is it then? The scale of death and destruction? Do Jagai, Madhai — or whatever you name them — eclipses forebode or cause/instigate only massive casualty and suffering in large disasters beforehand, during the eclipse, or afterwards?

    My research doesn’t indicate so. I looked at both solar and lunar eclipses, and major disasters (with a focus on those with a loss of life of over 50,000 in a single event), going back all the way to the late 1800s. So as to not overwhelm the thread, in the output here I ignore the hundreds of earthquakes, floods, famines and epidemics with casualties less than 50,000 (which also show no correlation with eclipses, by the way) and refer to solar eclipses only:

    1887 Two eclipses: February 22 and August 19.
    Yellow River floods in September and October, China: 900,000–2,000,000 dead.

    1908 Three eclipses: January 3, June 28, and December 23.
    12/28/1908 Earthquake, Italy: 82,000 dead.

    1911 Two eclipses: April and October.
    Yangtze River floods from May to August, China; 100,000 dead.

    1918/19 Two eclipses in each year.
    1918 to 1919 Spanish Flu, Worldwide: over 50,000,000 dead

    1920 Two eclipses: May 18 and November 10.
    12/16/1920 Earthquake, China (Haiyuan): 235,502 dead.

    1921/22 Two eclipses in each year.
    1921 to 1922 Russian famine, Ukraine: 5,000,000 dead.


  23. WillemV says :

    Comment on #15 continued…

    1923 Two eclipses: March 17 and September 10.
    09/01/1923 Earthquake, Japan (Kanto): 142,807 dead.

    1927 Three eclipses: January 3, June 29, and December 24.
    05/22/1927 Earthquake, China: 80,000 dead.

    1931 Eclipses in mid-April, mid-October and mid-September.
    Yangtze River floods from May to August, China: 145,000 dead.
    September to November floods combined: 3,700,000 dead.

    1932/33 Two eclipses in each year.
    1932 to 1933 Soviet famine: 5,000,000 dead.

    1935 Eclipses in early January, late October and late September.
    Yangtze River floods from May to August, China: 142,000 dead
    05/30/1935 Earthquake, Pakistan: 60,000 dead.

    1936 Two eclipses: June 19 and December 13.
    1936 Chinese Famine: 5,000,000 dead.

    1938 Two eclipses: May 29 and November 21.
    06/09/1938 Yellow River flood, China: over 500,000 dead.

    1948 Two eclipses: May 9 and November 1.
    10/05/1948 Earthquake, Iran: 110,000 dead.

    1970 Two eclipses: March 7 and August 31.
    11/13/1970 Bhola cyclone, Bangladesh: 500,000 dead.

    1975 Two eclipses: May 11 and November 3.
    08/08/1975 Banqiao Dam failure, China: 231,000 dead.

    1976 Two eclipses: April 29 and October 23.
    07/27/1976 Earthquake, China (Tangshan): 242,800 dead.

    1991 Two eclipses: January 15 and July 11.
    04/29/1991 Cyclone, Bangladesh: 138,000 dead, 10 million homeless.

    2004 Two eclipses: April 19 and October 14.
    12/26/2004 Earthquake caused tsunami, Indonesia: 297,200 dead.

    2005 Two eclipses: April 8 and October 3.
    10/08/2005 Earthquake, Pakistan (Kashmir): 87,351 dead.

    2008 Two eclipses: February 7 and August 1.
    05/12/2008 Earthquake, China (Sichuan): 88,287 dead.

    With all due respect, but my conclusion is that there are no discernable links between solar and lunar eclipses and major disasters with high casualty rates, other than those created in the minds of those who are either motivated to unleash proverbial sulfur and brimstone upon their audience, or those who simply have a need to believe.

  24. I learn from past predictions that I receive from my astrologer to be very specific in my inquiries, to remove as much ambiguity as possible, such as when exactly something going to happen, and where exactly it will it take place. What I find uncanny about this year’s chart for me, is that the predictions as to my current state of consciousness and karma are not for some time in the future, or for so time in the past, but instead in the here and now, and it’s accurate this time. It has forced me to pay attention and to be much more serious than in past readings. I used to laugh in the past when dire predictions were made for me that didn’t come to pass, but I am not laughing now. The main astrological prescription for me in this time, and perhaps that is the advantage of having an astrologer who is a devotee of the Lord, is to increases my sadhana and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books to decrease my suffering. I have often wondered though, if everything is predestined anyway, how do you change your karma, such as reducing your suffering, by engaging in pious acts? I am just trying to understand scientifically how the process works.

  25. To be fair, Varanadi, I don’t think Patita Pavana said every eclipse correlates with a nearly contemporaneous world disaster, nor did he remotely suggest that every disaster correlates with an eclipse.

    He made a prediction that involved two specific eclipses, taking into account other factors and planets, and it did turn out that a huge disaster occurred during the exact time frame he said it would occur. You have to admit at least that much. You might want to argue it was luck, coincidence, or whatever, but you should at least acknowledge that in this case his prediction did prove accurate.

    Now, whether or not astrology even claims that by running correlational studies of historic disasters would reveal patterns based on planetary alignments is an interesting question. I would be surprised if such studies have not been done. If they were done and they revealed any regular, statistically-significant patterns, I would be surprised if the results did not make a sensation and become well known.

    If such a study has not been done, it seems like a big opportunity for someone. It would be easy enough to program computers to look for patterns (not necessarily just eclipses) and it would be very rewarding if such patterns were found.

    I do not think astrology claims to work that way, though. It is not that kind of “science”.

    That seems to be a fruitful area of inquiry. Can astrologers program computers to explain significant patterns in the relationship of world events to planetary alignments? If not, why not? What is it about astrology and other “occult sciences” that make them function differently from more mechanistic, empirical, “ascending knowledge” sciences?

    Some time last year there was an internet hoax going around saying Mars was approaching its nearest distance from Earth in millenia, and would be huge in the night sky (the email I read said it would appear as big as the moon, and I knew that could not be true). I thought, “If Mars approaches so close, it must spell war and strife.” Then I found out it was a hoax. Mars did approach Earth very close recently, but not last year. It was in 2003, at the time the Iraq war started. Hmmm.

    But I think astrology serves more purposes than as a predictor of world events. It offers insights into qualities and values in nature. The practitioner is supposed to become more “in tune” with how the world works, almost more like an artist than a scientist.

  26. Sureshji,

    How karma causes us all to enjoy or suffer exactly the material happiness and distress due from our past deeds, no matter what material arrangements we may make to try to escape our fate, (and even though there are countless trillions of living entities interacting with one another), is truly inconceivable. How can anyone make everything work so intricately? This is another proof of Krishna’s supernatural, inconceivable power.

    I love that verse from Brahma-Samhita, “yas tv indragopam athavendram aho sva karma…” It is simply amazing how Krishna (through His various agents like Yamaraja) is awarding precisely the results of everyone’s fruitive actions for those who walk in the path of work, but even more amazing how He is burning up to their roots the karmic reactions of those who approach Him directly in devotional service.

    S.B. 10.14.8 (“tat te ‘nukampam su-sumiksamano…”) is a very important and famous verse. “bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam” means we are all enduring the fruits of our actions. Literally, we are eating what we previously started, when it becomes ripe or cooked. As the Bible says, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

    But devotees endure such suffering and happiness while earnestly awaiting the Lord’s mercy, continuing to follow the regulative principles and offering sincere obeisances to Krishna with heart, words and body. For them, freedom comes swiftly, just as one naturally inherits the estate of his father in due course.

    S.B. 1.518 (“tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido…”) comes to mind. Narada Muni is instructing Vyasa to compose the Bhagavatam. Elsewhere Vyasa encouraged people on the path of fruitive action for material happiness, but Narada is saying, people will get the happiness and distress that is due them anyway, without endeavor (they cannot escape it), so they should actually apply their energy in devotional service, to understand Krishna, the Absolute Truth, who is not to be found by wandering everywhere in the material universe.

    There is a verse in Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada’s “Namasthakam” which says that those who meditate on the impersonal absolute have to enjoy and suffer their prarabdha karma (that which is now fructifying), but that the Holy Name causes such karma to disappear at once!

    We can experience in kirtan that we become happy and fearless and all our worldly cares drop away. If only we could chant offenselessly, and without cessation. That brings real freedom.

  27. Among many people these days, the word “sin” is in bad repute. People associate the word with attempts by organized religion to manipulate them with guilt trips and so on. Sometimes people tell me, when I use that word, “I don’t believe in sin.”

    It seems odd to me that many of the same people, if approached a little differently, will say that they do believe in karma, or are at least willing to consider the idea.

    It is interesting how language works, that certain words like “sin” become radioactive, just for historic or social reasons.

    Of course if they believe in karma, that good and bad deeds produce future good and bad destinies, why should they object to the use of the term “sin” to refer to bad deeds? It is just that the word “sin” may have acquired connotations through its use (or misuse) by certain Christian or other preachers, that makes it more effective to avoid its use in some situations, to avoid being misunderstood or mistrusted.

    How karma really works is so inconceivable. It is a very complex system and a very tangled-up chain of actions and reactions involving millions of factors and actors.

    I have never heard it said, but I tend to believe that something like multiple intersecting possible worlds or dimensions must be at work. I just have to appreciate that how all the fates, pleasures and pains, debts and vengeances can be accounted for and meted out is beyond the capacity of my puny intelligence. There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in our “philosophy” (i.e., empirical scientific enquiry).

    This brings me back to the question of how astrology differs (if it differs) from empirical science. Does an astrologer, to be effective, have to imbibe a certain value system and acquire a certain cosmic sensitivity?

    Martial artists in some schools are supposed to take vows to not misuse the fighting abilities they cultivate. Does keeping that vow effect how really skilled they may become?

    Alchemists can turn common metals to gold through a mystical process. It cannot be duplicated by those who do not control mind and senses. (I have read it involves drinking mercury and then urinating a substance, but an ordinary man would die if he drank mercury).

    Is astrology something like that? A “cookbook” approach might produce certain results (just as there may be disobedient kung fu fighters), but an accomplished astrology adept has special soothsaying powers that cannot be duplicated by computers?

  28. I love Akruranath’s peacemaking mood, but I have to say that I find Varnadi’s (WillemV) arguments to be more compelling.

    In discussing vyavaharika reality (mundane, phenomenal reality) the pramanas of pratyaksha (sensory perception) and anuman (logic) – the two main pramanas of the scientific method, have their place. I don’t think that you can do away with them in favor of narrative only. Although, if you get to the same siddhanta, then Haribol! Each to his own…

  29. WillemV says :

    Comment on #25:


    I don’t think Patita Pavana said every eclipse correlates with a nearly contemporaneous world disaster, nor did he remotely suggest that every disaster correlates with an eclipse.

    Understood, and I never took it as such. Statistics spanning many decades show that disasters in general and natural disasters in specific tend to be repetitive and fairly well spread over the year. Solar and lunar eclipses follow specific patterns due to the orbits of their respective objects. Yet, timing doesn’t seem to link the two. I then wondered whether it could be the scale of the disaster, but could not find any discernable correlation.

    The significance here is not in whether Patita Pavana does or does not claim a one-on-one correlation between disasters and eclipses, but in his seemingly arbitrary linking of cherry-picked disasters with his predictions.

    He made a prediction that involved two specific eclipses, taking into account other factors and planets, and it did turn out that a huge disaster occurred during the exact time frame he said it would occur. You have to admit at least that much. You might want to argue it was luck, coincidence, or whatever, but you should at least acknowledge that in this case his prediction did prove accurate.

    I would do so if, in fact, what you state here was true. I can’t agree on that, so I would have to seriously stretch my imagination. Here’s why.

    For both eclipses Patita Pavana didn’t just make one prediction, he made many. Yet, none of these alluded to a massive earthquake at a specific time and location – which would have qualified as accurate in my book. He did not specify any “exact time frame” for his predictions, either. Rather, he’d include selected events occurring weeks before and after the eclipse that offered (even weak) support to his predictions.

    We can’t just take the predictions out of context by forgetting the details and generalizing them to the point of “he said something bad would happen somewhere around this time and something bad did happen.”


  30. WillemV says :

    Comment on #25 continued…

    This is what he really said about the December 31st lunar eclipse:

    “Since it occurs on New Year’s Eve, it is expected that there will be horror stories for revelers at parties-from-hell on January the first.” And “Expect a New Year’s Eve horror story to greet the ‘new year’.”

    New Year 2010 was wholly uneventful.

    “From the worldview, fighting and wars will be intensified in an atmosphere of increased hostility, and there might be an instance of air piracy or hijacking.”

    The obvious thing here is that merely observing an ongoing trend doesn’t require astrological knowledge or ecliptic influences. He does this several times.

    Also, “might be” is a safe bet. This time it worked out, although somewhat obscure and almost 2 weeks after the eclipse: on January 12 Chechen rebels hijacked a Russian jet flying from Turkey to Moscow. During the rescue mission 3 died and 100 were saved.

    “A big jet may go down. “

    “May” is another safe bet. This time it didn’t work out. A total of five air planes went down in January and two so far this month. None were big jets.

    “Armed conflicts will spark at higher altitudes, in mountainous regions, such as along the Hindu Kush ranges of Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

    Merely observing an ongoing trend. Armed conflicts have been going on there since 2001.

    “ Communication networks will be upset as the web goes down here and there.”

    Nothing noteworthy in the last two months.

    “Disastrous fires, explosions and freak accidents will grab the headlines.”

    Only few headlines of average, minor incidents in the last two months.

    “Incidents of savage ‘serial killers’ roaming the streets in American cities will increase along with gangland activities.”

    Nothing noteworthy in the last two months, and certainly not in the serial killers department.

    “Mob violence will rise from anarchy in places like Africa or Indonesia. Wind storms may strike at random. Conflicts involving armed “liberation” movements for places you’ve never heard of will spring to prominence for a short time.”

    Nothing noteworthy in the last two months.

    As far as predictions go, a marginal 1 out of 11 doesn’t rate very well.


  31. WillemV says :

    Comment on #25 continued…

    About the January 15th solar eclipse he said:

    “America and India are not the only places on earth that will suffer the ravages of Eclipse Jagai with Saturn stalled like a million-ton lead weight overhead.”

    I haven’t seen much that would qualify as “the ravages” in the US and India, other than a funky economy in the US. Maybe my expectations are too low. =)

    “Rioting mass movements that seek to topple third world governments in Africa and Asia will face harsh opposition.”

    No rioting mass movements so far. The rising trend seems to be quite opposite. Ivory Coast just established a unity government to accelerate their peace process. Sudanese main parties are working together. People in Niger are happy with the military takeover. South Africa is hosting the World Cup. No riots in much of Asia either.

    “Somalia will reach new levels of lawlessness as seen by the suicide bomber that killed three government ministers last week.”

    Merely observing an ongoing trend.

    “ India can look forward to tribal rebellions…”

    There have not been any major rebellions by India’s 50 Scheduled Tribes since the Kuki Uprising in Manipur in 1917. I am not counting the Naxalite Maoist rebellion that has been raging since 1969. What is the margin on the looking forward? If a rebellion occurs anywhere in this year or next year, are we then going to say: “See, he was right!”

    “…and the border areas will grow increasingly tense.”

    Merely observing an ongoing trend.

    “Tantric sadhus will perform black rites and terrorize villages.”

    Unverifiable, unless someone undertakes a lengthy study of these practices. India’s biggest problem is not destructive witchcraft, but bogus sadhus and yogis using trickery to cheat simple people out of their money. Thank God there is a rising movement of skeptics in India addressing this issue and exposing these practices.

    “Random acts of sabotage will again raise their ugly visage in the ‘free world’ and many police forces will be sent into high alert against clandestine plotters. Governments, informed about the terrible situations at hand will continue to sing soft lullabies to their subservient masses through their deputies in the news media, though the public is buying into their sanitized stories less and less.”

    How can anyone take this kind of vagueness serious?


  32. WillemV says :

    Comment on #25 continued…

    You see, Akruranathji? The predictions don’t really hold any merit on their own, and they are also not allotted merit just because an earthquake occurred 3 days before the annular solar eclipse. Today alone there were 77 earth quakes worldwide averaging 5.0 on the Richter scale (USGS website tracks them all). The 8.8 one in Chile made the headlines, and Hawaii is on high tsunami alert.

    The bottom line is really a numbers game. The number of bad things happening in an average year worldwide is so high that it provides a massive surplus for every day of the year on doomsday sayers’ calendars. If it weren’t for human nature’s leaning towards negative sensationalism, people could do the same with the surplus of good things that happen year round.

    This actually points to an important aspect of the whole discussion: time frames.

    How far forward and back in time does the alleged influence of an eclipse span? Is it different for lunar and solar eclipses? Is it different for the level of totality of the eclipse? Does the influence strengthen and wane before and after respectively?

    Mars did approach Earth very close recently, but not last year. It was in 2003, at the time the Iraq war started. Hmmm.

    Very funny, Akruranathaji, but even here the facts are slightly different. ;-)

    The war in Iraq started with Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 20, 2003. Mars’ close encounter with Earth wasn’t until 5 months later, on August 27. Not only that, Mars has a close encounter with Earth roughly every two years and two months and has done so for eons (it’s orbital…). As a matter of fact, today, January 27, is another such occasion.

    The war in Afghanistan started on October 7, 2001, when Mars was two and a half times further away from Earth than in 2003 (84,680,466 vs 34,646,414 miles). I am fairly sure that there is no correlation between Mars’ distance to Earth and wars, either.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.