Student: Before I studied astrology with you, I thought that it could never predict spiritual things since spiritual things transcend karma. But reading your descriptions of Prabhupada and Aindra’s horoscopes shows me this is not the case.
Vic: Yes, excellent question. It is important to have a clear and conclusive understanding of this topic. The question raises itself not only in relation to the charts of spiritualists like Aindra Ji and Prabhupada, but even more deeply in relation to the horoscopes of incarnations of Godhead such as Krsna, Rama, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Student: Yes yes! I told a devotee about your reading for Krishna‘s chart and they told me, “He shouldn’t do that.”
Vic: The vaishnava-shiromani (the jewel on the grown of devotional spiritualists) Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti told me the positions of the planets in Krsna’s horoscope, in his commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam. Am I to conclude he told me these because I should not consider them carefully? That would be silly, right? One who can understand Krsna better and explain about Krsna to others by examining those positions outlined by Vishvanatha should do so. That is Krsna Katha (discussion of Krsna, a major practice of devotional spiritualism), isn’t it?
Vic: Bhaktivinode Thakur gives the Horoscope of Sriman Mahaprabhu in his commentary on Caitanya Caritamrta. Should some relatively neophyte devotee say that it is improper to study the planetary positions of spiritual beings in the face of Vishvanath and Bhaktivinode doing so?
Vic: Vaishnav-aparadha (needlessly criticizing a devotee) is much worse that being ill informed or neophyte, so I should really watch my mouth and not offend any devotee who feels that astrology has no place in Krsna Consciousness. But I have explained the reasons why I myself would not accept that conclusion. Even in this I have offended Vaishnavas and so should be very careful to state clearly that I respect their devotional sentiment although I quietly and humbly hold to a different conclusion on this particular subject, and humbly request their consideration of my opinion.
Vic: Anyway, let me answer your question before class time runs out.
Vic: The question is answered from two angles. From one angle the answer pertains to when the influence of bahiranga-maya (the potency facilitating ignorance) ceases to have karmic influence over a spiritualist. From the second angle the answer pertains to how antaranga-maya (the potency facilitating the enlightened state) acts within the material sphere.
Student: I see.
Vic: Lets cover the first angle first.
Vic: Right from the very beginning of devotional spiritual practices (sadhana-bhakti) the effects of karma begin to dissipate. There are four stages of karma: unmanifest (aprarabdha), inclinations (kutam), actions (bijam) and manifest reactions (prarabdha).
When ones spiritual practices dawn on perfection one attains the level of bhakti-yoga termed bhava-bhakti. At this stage only manifest reactions remain (prarabdha). There is still karma acting even at the stage of Bhava-Bhakti, but it has no significant momentum. It is only the shell of the final reactions of a soul’s karma. Thus the bhakta at this level continues to exist in a body and in the material world – this is the extent of the prarabdha karma.
When pure love of godhead becomes absolutely integrated into the spiritual ego one attains the level of bhakti yoga termed prema-bhakti. At this point the bhakta is physically reborn into the activities of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as they are currently being manifest in one of the material universes. Certain experiences of separation from Krsna during that final transitional birth cause the last whiffs of the final shreds of prarabdha karma to disappear, and at that level one attain a fully transcendental existence, form, residence, etc.
Student: Awh yess, i seee.
Vic: So, to put it plainly, the extent that one is not yet in Krsna-lila – the extent to which one is not actually interacting in tangible reality with Krsna – that is the extent to which karma (and thus astrology) still holds potential sway over the person.
For practical purposes it can be said confidently that one at the level of bhava-bhakti is sufficiently freed of karma, and have no measurable need to care for its effects. Therefore they have no real need to concern themselves with astrology. Stretching it a bit further, we can extend this immunity to karma/astrology even to the spiritual practitioners who are beginning to acquire asakti (devotional addictions) and ruci (devotional enjoyments) as a result of performing their sadhana (practices) on the platform of nishta.
In short the degree to which one has attained realization of krsna-prema is exactly proportionate to the degree to which karma (and therefore astrology) becomes meaningless to one.
Student: I see.
Vic: There is no reason to limit this to Astrology. To the degree that one attains prema, in the equal degree one will have no need for material support in their spiritual efforts, whether from astrology, social institutions, or religious practices of particular varnas (social roles) and ashramas (spiritual roles).
That is the first angle on answering the question. Is that much clear so far?
Student: Yeah. It is so far.
Vic: The second angle on the question is that Krsna appears in this world, ya know? In it. That is why he comes through the agency of Ksirodakshayi Vishnu (the supreme lord of the material universe). And this is why karma of this world moves into a particular astrological alignment to make it possible to manifest krsna-lila (Krsna’s pastimes) here within the material sphere.
Vic: I mean, isn’t this exactly what Vishnu told Brahma when Brahma went with the demigods and Bhumi (the Earth Goddess) to ask for an incarnation to happen!? Vishnu told Brahma, “OK, I am going to incarnate in the Yadu dynasty. Now, all of you demigods make the preparations and take your places.”
Vic: The navagraha (Nine Planets) are demigods, you know. They too listened to this order from Vishnu and fulfilled it.
Vic: So the second angle on answering this question is that karma can act under the direction of yogamaya (the potency that facilitates not ignorance but the enlightened state). When Krsna appears in the world, yogamaya takes over the functions of universal karma to make it possible for spiritual reality to manifest within the material sphere.
Not just for Krsna but also for parama-siddhas like Srila Prabhupada, you can say that the karma in his chart is an orchestration of yogamaya to facilitate and manifest the lila (activities) that Krsna wanted and needed Prabhupada to manifest.
Student: I’m understanding now.
Vic: Great! That is my job, and my pleasure.