Karma and Vedic Astrology

Author :     Yildiz Sethi
Published : Aug 2002  Issue 43 Living Now

Much of Indian Mysticism has filtered into the Western consciousness during the last two decades. Such concepts as reincarnation, and the acceptance of such practices as Yoga and Meditation into our daily lives and the use of such primordial sounds such as “Ohm,” to conclude meditation sessions in an appropriate manner, are now in common use to help us unite our mind, body and soul. Also, the idea of “what goes around comes around” in terms of karma has now become generally accepted. It is surprising, then, that one of the great Indian traditions central to Indian Mysticism, Vedic astrology (Jyotish), has made so very little inroads into Western consciousness generally, (with the exception of America, where there are now several serious study centres.)

Jyotish is Indian astrology as it came down from the Vedic era approximately 10,000-5,000 years BC. It is the astrology from which Western astrology branched, way back in the mists of time. Vedic astrology incorporates a holistic view of the practical and mundane elements of the human condition as well as the spiritual and emotional components. It is an integral part of Indian mysticism, which is part of Vedic science.

Vedic science developed into vast areas of knowledge including great spiritual realisations and teachings, as well as Yoga, Ayurvedic medicine and Jyotish.

Ayurvedic medicine is the traditional medicine of India, which includes herbalism and specialised diets for the different body types (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) as well as a wealth of knowledge about the energy centres of the body, the chakra system. Overlapping this knowledge is that of the Yogi and the practice that can help to strengthen both the body and mind, and enhance spiritual progress. Jyotish too, is an important part of this tradition in being able to identify the constitution and psychological make up of the individual, as well as provide valuable information on dharma (life path), relationships, capabilities and collective past life karma. As Ayurvedic medicine’s purpose is to cure and reduce the symptoms of diseases, so Jyotish’s purpose is to predict the types of illnesses, both physical and emotional that the person will be susceptible to, due to karma. In fact, the whole astrological chart is karmic in that it clearly shows the areas of a person’s life that is influenced favorably or not so favorably by karmic factors. To many, particularly in the West, this aspect of the Indian philosophy of karma is troublesome, as it indicates that we are not in total charge of our destiny. From the Indian tradition there are three types of karma that work through our lives and can be identified through the Vedic astrology system. There is fixed (strong) karma, not-so-fixed medium-strong karma and the karma you are making right now through your thoughts and actions, which is directly under your present control.

The fact that you came into this incarnation into a particular family group and have the physical and emotional characteristics that you have, is “fixed karma”. This may be positive or negative, or a mixture of both for most people. In addition, you may have some fixed karma in one or several areas of your life, such as in children, relationships or career. This may mean for example that you will have very good fixed karma regarding children. This might show itself in your ease to have children and maintain good relationships with them. Alternatively, it might show in bad karma, in problems with children.

How do we know if such problems are “fixed”, or “medium-strong” or “present day” karma?

In Vedic astrology, the Birth chart for an individual is the exact position of the planets over the place of their birth, at the moment of their birth. This is done using a Sidereal (fixed star) system, which will produce a chart that is 23 degrees different from the Western “Tropical” system. In addition, the Vedic system considers Dasa or planetary periods (extending for the whole of life), which can be used to interpret events and the favorable and not-so-favorable periods of life. These work in conjunction with transiting planets, which trigger off situations at particular times in life. The Vedic system has further subdivisions of each horoscope sign, which are called Nakshatras or Lunar Mansions. Knowing which Nakshatra your ascendant is in, is significant in predicting your personal qualities as well as the events you are likely to experience.

The arrangement of planets in the Vedic Birth chart gives the collective karma from previous incarnations in all spheres of life. This will include such things as, relationships in general (parents, children, romantic/spouse and social), as well as work and career-related issues, fortune and spiritual progress, to be experienced this lifetime. From the Birth chart there are many further sub-charts or Divisional charts. If bad karma is found, let’s say for children, in the Natal chart and it is repeated consistently in all of the appropriate Divisional charts as well, then it would be safe to say that this karma is fixed and probably cannot be changed in this life. A more positive way of looking at this situation, is that this person has to experience this difficulty in their life as part of this life’s experience and subsequently their spiritual development. It is not necessarily to be viewed as a vengeful or punishing situation. It might simply be a way of making the person turn to other areas of life for fulfillment. Of course, it may still be very painful for the person concerned and they may have trouble coming to terms with this aspect of their life.

If however, the bad karma seen in the Birth chart is not shown in all of the appropriate Divisional charts consistently, then it is probably a less strong karma. This might result in delays in having children or the need for help from a doctor to fix a physical problem, or the person may experience some problems in relationships with their children. The nature of how it will be played out will be different in every chart, according to the subtle differences in the positions of the planets for each person.

From the Vedic astrology point of view, there is karma involved in relationships and the people we bring into our lives. Sometimes this might be to complete “unfinished business” from a previous incarnation and when this is done the relationship breaks up, other times it is to experience relationships in order to learn more about ourselves through them.

Jyotish is very good at predicting the timing of such events as marriage or having children or choosing dates for particular events using the Dasa or Planetary system and Transits with the birth chart. In short, each of us is going through planetary periods for the whole of our lives. The position of the planet in our chart for our present planetary period, will give the flavour of that period of our life and also cause us to focus on particular areas of life during that time. For example, if you are going through a Jupiter period now, it will persist for a set number of years. If this is a good planet for you and is situated in a favorable house in your birth chart, then the “significations” of the house and planet will blossom during that time. However, if Jupiter is not a good planet for you and is in an unfavorable house, then you might find this period oppressive and unfortunate.

People may ask: “what is the point of knowing that you are going through a bad time?”

From my point of view being forewarned is being forearmed. You might be having to suffer some bad karma at this time, but it might not be “fixed”. You might, with effort, be able to turn it around. It might also be useful to know that the business you may want to start up now, might be better left till a more favorable period, which might not be too far away. This time might be better spent in planning or saving or researching instead. The karmic chart or Vedic astrology chart can be of great help in understanding yourself and your life path and purpose and guiding you through your karmic journey. Even if you happen to be going through a difficult period now, the way you approach it or handle it is very important for making your Karma for the next incarnation. It is in this area that you have the most personal power.

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