[in a series of posts on the subject] I am going to explain my understanding of a very significant medieval book on astrology called phala-deepkia. As the title betrays, it’s written not in English but in Sanskrit. I’m referring to the English translation of the Sanskrit original done by Dr. G.S. Kapoor. The original author is Mantreshwara – a name which means, “The master of advisors.”
The title, phala-deepika, is very cool. It’s a compound of two words: phala and deepika. Deepika means “she who illuminates.” Phala means “fruit.” So the book’s title literally means, She Who Illuminates Fruit.
We’re not talking about shining flashlights in an orchard at night!
“Fruits” are results – the end result of trees. We commonly say, things like: will this effort bear fruit? or oh god, this seems so fruitless and futile! The planets, constellations, and houses are an astrological tree. When you look at a birth chart, you are looking at a specific tree. By sheer math and measurement you can know the exact shape, structure, and details of the tree. But it’s much more difficult to figure out what results that chart is going to produce. Calculating the chart is relatively easy (especially with modern instruments) but understanding the fruit of that chart is mysterious and complicated.
She Who Illuminates the Fruit proposes to shed light upon that subject.
Opening the Book
The most obvious thing that strikes me on cracking the book open might sound quite odd to you: This is not a book you are supposed to read.
She Who Illuminates the Fruit is not meant to be read, it is meant to be learned. It is a book written by a master of the science of astrology as a sort of syllabus or compendium of essential facts about the most effective practices of astrology. It’s a reference manual, not a paperback. You have to learn this book from someone who already has a relatively excellent and advanced grip on the practical operations of astrology. Otherwise you will open this thing up and be completely confused and not know how to make sense of the sheer downpour of facts.
The Most Important Lesson
As one would expect in Sanskrit literature, the opening verse of the book is immediately stunning.
May the Sun bless us with unlimited prosperity, fortune, opulence and goodness.
The book opens by requesting blessings. How many astrologers still do this? It is essential! Don’t miss the first lesson of the book!!! The first lesson on how to understand the results of a birth chart is: be humble! Ask for blessings. I dare say pray to the planets to reveal their secrets. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP if you really want to do astrology effectively!
Mantreshwara describes the Sun:
He alternates from the Northern hemisphere to the Southern. Shining for 6 straight months on the gods who live at the arctic poles; for 15 straight days on those who live on the Moon; and for 12 hours on we humans.
After poetically praising the Sun (it’s poetic in the original Sanskrit). Mantreshwara then humbly begs various beings for their blessings. He wants the benediction to be able to write a good, simple and clear book. He begs the following beings:
- The goddess of learning (Saraswati)
- His family deity
- His teachers (Gurus)
- The 9 planets themselves
- The patron god of astrology, Ganesha, and his father Shiva
There are different spiritual paths. Not every astrologer needs to follow the same specific path as Mantreshwara, who we historically know was an adept of Badarikashram and devotee of Lord Shiva. What’s important is to understand the rationale behind the beings Mantreshwara addresses. This is the gist of the list:
Saraswati is a highly important deity for astrology. Without her one can’t learn. If you prefer another manifestation of the goddess of learning, that’s fine.
The Family Deity
This is instructive because it gives the astrologer a hint that he or she should have some practical shrine or altar at home, used as a focal point for spiritual practices.
It’s hard, especially for modern intellectuals, to always be respectful to teachers. Some of us Saturnian types actually learn through the process of criticism and negation. But even if the entire world wants to put you on a higher platform than the people who taught you, you should never ascend that platform because doing so would cause a drought in your reservoir of spiritual insight and put cracks in the walls that contain it. Always pay respects to your teachers, old and new, if you wish to be truly blessed in astrology. And don’t get lazy about it, always remember who your teachers are. Be inclusive!
The Nine Planets
This is a concept lost to the majority of modern astrologers and fans of astrology. The planets of astrology don’t have moons and rings and get hit by comets or landed on by rockets. The planets of astrology are divine beings. The dots of light in the sky, or the globes we see in outer space with our telescopes and spaceships are just a very small reflection or representation of the godlike planetary beings who are the stewards and sentinels of the universal law of karma.
Familiarize yourself with the planets as god-beings. Use personal pronouns when referring to them, when appropriate. When you hear “Mars”, for example, don’t think immediatelyof a red planet with dust storms and huge volcanoes. Fist think of the god-being who controls the karma pertaining to human energy, ambition, and drive.
Never insult a god! They get pissed off. And it’s not because they actually feel insulted or something petty like that. They get insulted by the ignorance of the insulter, not the insult itself. Their resulting “anger” is not egoistic, it’s a benefic attempt to correct your ignorance. Personally, I always cringe to hear anyone describe any planet in a derogatory or unnecessarily negative way. If a student or client of mine ever does so, I make a rush to correct them. If you have any intention of being an astrologer or of seriously benefitting from astrology don’t ever, ever, ever belittle or criticize any planet! Instead, always speak about them in an appreciative attitude.
Ganesha & Shiva
As I mentioned, Mantreshwara was a devotee of Shiva. Ganesha is Shiva’s son. However, Sanskrit culture is highly logical and rational, and as expected Mantreshwara justifies his rationale for petitioning these two deities. Ganesha and Shiva are specifically renowned to possess something called tri-kala-jna: “knowledge of the triad of time: past, present and future.” Mantreshwara requests the favor of Ganesha and Shiva in helping him understand how the planets, constellations and houses affect (or indicate, to be more precise) the events which would unfold in the past present and future.
Ganesha’s connection to foreknowledge is probably a leading reason why he is so popular with Vedic astrologers to this day. Ganesha also removes obstacles to knowledge and places obstacles to ignorance – and that is very handy when you are trying to see into the future! You don’t specifically need to pray to Ganesha, but you do need to request divine blessings for access to knowledge of past, present and future.
Mantreshwara indicated his respectful and humble attitude towards the planets and deities in two verses. His book is several hundred verses long. In other words, he didn’t rattle on and on about it and make a huge fuss. I suppose it’s a pet peeve of mine but it does get on my nerves when I find myself or others making an overly big show of paying respects and being “humble.” We don’t need to take up 15 minutes of an hour long reading or class chanting mantras to ganesha and the nine planets, but we do need to have a very deep personal internal attitude of humility and respect for the fact that we are very small and in a lot of ignorance, yet we are presuming to work with astrology and knowledge of the past present and future.
One final point to mention from these opening verses is that Mantreshwara indicates that the source material of She Who Illuminates the Fruit comes from more ancient texts. He specifically mentions the sages Atri and Parashara as sources. He will make reference to works like Parashara’s Brihat Hora throughout.
– Vic DiCara