I shy away from doing astrological readings for Vaiṣṇavas – those on the path of self-realization via the personal spirituality of bhakti-yoga. Why?
It is a question of adhikar. The word adhikar basically means “qualification.” Generally it is used in this sort of sense, “A two year old child is not qualified to take this medicine – it is only for children three years and older.” The child lacks the adhikar for the medicine.
When you go to an astrologer, you seek wisdom. Basically, you want to make the best choices – and to make good choices you need to be informed – you need wisdom. Well, you don’t have to go to an astrologer, you could go to your mom. She might give you wisdom. Or your best friend. Or your teacher, or therapist, or whomever, your priest, and so on.
Who will you go to for wisdom?
That depends on your śraddhā – where you put your confidence. And that is what adhikar is all about. Persons of different adhikar put their confidence in different places. People with low adhikar put their confidence in celebrities. “If you see it in a movie or on TV, it’s worth trying to imitate.” With a little higher adhikar people have confidence in newscasters, maybe newspapers. Still higher adhikar seeks wisdom from specialists – doctors, scientists, etc.
People with a certain high adhikar start to have confidence in God – and they seek wisdom from divine sources. Astrologers are one of the possible sources, but by no means are they the only source. Sacred texts are much more reliable than astrology. And a still more reliable (infinitely more reliable) source of wisdom are living sacred-people, sādhus, who personally apply and thus deeply comprehend the sacred texts.
Divine guidance can be about three broad subjects, karma, jñāna, or bhakti. The subject of karma concerns itself with how to enjoy the world nicely. The subject of jñāna, with how to untangle oneself from the problems inherent in the world. The subject of bhakti is concerned with the boundless bliss inherent in selfless divine love, without ulterior motivation.
Astrology concerns the motions of planets as they reveal the motions of the universe underneath – and indicate how karma will unfold. The subject of Astrology, therefore, is karma – your material destiny, resulting from your previous decisions, choices, and actions. The gamut of astrological wisdom, therefore, is fettered to the domain of karma. That is to say, astrology itself can only give you wisdom from a karmic point of view. Certainly an individual who practices astrology may be more than an astrologer, so he or she may be able to give you wisdom that is higher than karmic guidence – but let it be known that astrology itself provides wisdom pertaining to your karma.
So here we come to the first point of contention upon which I shy away from giving astrological readings to Vaiṣṇavas. The Vaiṣṇava has śraddha “kṛṣṇa-bhakti kaile sarva-karma krita haya” (I love Krishna [the All-Attractive Divine Being] – expressing my love for Krishna superseeds and subsumes all karmic affairs). This is the exalted adhikar of the Vaiṣṇava śraddhā. I don’t always enjoy discussing karma with the Vaiṣṇavas because I feel that I am selling them short. I would prefer to encourage them to maintain and strengthen the level of conviction and confidence in the divine that they have already set out to embark upon.
Wisdom can come from the stars – but is that wisdom relevant to the Vaiṣṇava? Not particularly, because the Vaiṣṇava is not particularly affected by karma. The Vaiṣṇava transcends karma because he or she is fixed in a life of divine love (bhakti). Causes and effects (karma) cannot affect divine love. Wisdom pertaining to causes and effects can come from the stars, but much higher wisdom can come from divine, sacred texts such as Bhagavad-Gītā, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and the many, many other beautiful poems and guidebooks that follow these. Since, by the grace of Krishna, I have a guru who kindly taught me these sacred texts, I would much prefer to supply wisdom to Vaiṣṇavas from this level. In other words, if they seek my advice, I would much prefer to advise them on the basis of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and Gīta, rather than advise them on the basis of a horoscope – because the former is a type of advice which will encourage the strengthening and further heightening of their adhikar and śraddhā, whereas the latter will threaten to diminish their adhikar and put their śraddhā into mundane karmic things like “astrological rings” and “pujas” and all that stuff, or just make them feel that focusing on their karma is the best way to deal with it.
It can be argued:
There are pure Vaiṣṇava’s and mixed Vaiṣṇavas – and only the pure Vaiṣṇavas have the adhikar I described above. Mixed Vaiṣṇavas still have some (misplaced) confidence that true happiness comes from deft manipulation of the word and the choices it presents us with – thus mixed Vaiṣṇavas should sometimes be advised from a karmic point of view, which can include astrology.
I don’t agree. My opinion is that a mixed Vaiṣṇava should seek the wisdom of pure Vaiṣṇavas, so that they can be encouraged to raise their adhikar higher, by developing deeper confidence that loving Krishna, the All-Attractive Supreme Personality, is the only true pleasure. I think the mixed Vaiṣṇava even more than the pure Vaiṣṇava needs to avoid falling down towards the idea that expert handling of the affairs of their life will bring good results. So I feel the most uninclined to discuss birth charts, daśās, transits, progressions, praśna and so on with mixed Vaiṣṇavas.
The truth is, I would rather deal with everyone by helping them on the basis of what I know from Bhāgavatam and Gītā. But not everyone is really qualified to comprehend and apply the sort of very high level, purified, selfless wisdom that comes from such exalted sacred texts. Therefore I feel that astrology is a viable, good option for offering my helpful services to the general mass of people.
It is meant for the masses, not for the Vaiṣṇava devotees on an advanced path of self-realization. I do not mind giving them my simple overview reports on their birth chart or their compatibility with another person – but to do detailed readings, I prefer not.
The conversation continues in another post: Astrology, Therapy… Karma and Vaiṣṇavas
Vraja Kishor dās