Puruṣārtha – The Four Pillars

Shree Yantra

The term classical astrology is often used in a rather narrow way. The fact is that we are really discovering the convergence of different cultures, from the Hellenist to Persian and both to Indian. Babylonian and Egyptian. There is no absolute boundary between one and another. This is not to say that there are no significant differences., but on many occasions, the commonalities are hiding in plain sight Zodiacal Releasing, Firdaria and Dashas are Time Lord systems with very similar intent and comparable methodology and indeed expression.

This is part of a series on Jyotish in relation to western traditional astrology. It has long been my contention that we understand best when we understand how things came to be and how wisdom was transmitted through what was then the known world. Indian, Persian and Hellenistic astrology clearly have common roots. It is my view that by studying elements of Indian or other schools of astrology and philosophies that we enrich our understanding of our own.

Puruṣārtha is an element of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) that can easily be applied in Traditional Western astrology as well as to Jyotish. Puruṣārtha might be profitably employed by a range of systems, certainly even beyond astrology itself. At the core of all traditional astrology, there are various forms of creation myths, which are quite similar. To understand that is to get to the root of authentic astrology.

The number four is referred to extensively in astrology, as in innumerable other contexts and most. cultures. The most obvious of these are the four seasons, the four elements, the four directions, the four winds and the four humours.

Hinduism created or recognized a four-part guide to live, including all dimensions of life in the Puruṣārtha. These have both personal and universal dimensions and can be expressed quite well by reference to the divisions of the horoscope.

As in many elements of Santana Dharma, there is no consensus about whether these pillars should be considered hierarchically, but they do constitute a complete system. They give us four elements of the circle of life, existing in four sets of trigons. This is the same as the Western House System to that extent. Both Hellenistic Astrology and Jyotish both use the Whole Sign system, bring us closer together.

However, the progressive element is not so widely understood in the West. We see how the fourth house of Moksha Houses proceeds to Death in the 8th and to Moksha. in the 12th. All three phases are required and work with the other Puruṣārtha. They also impart significance to the houses of the horoscope. In Hellenistic Astrology, there are two fortunate houses, the 11th and. the 5th along with two evil houses. 12 and 6. This is a simplification but serves to se5t the scene. The Second House is the Gates to Hades and the House at the other end of the axis, is the House of Death. Indian astrology is similar but not identical. I believe the origin of assigning such caution to the 2nd house is due to a concern for materialism that is rarely seen in most parts of the modern West but is still central to Indian thought. Asceticism is celebrated in the lives of Saints. Clearly, from this point of view, attachment to the material world is considered deleterious.

Houses 1, 5 & 9  are the Dharma Houses and the element of fire, marked in red.. The Artha houses, 2,, 6 & 10 are Earth and marked in saffron. 3,11 & 7 are air and the Moksha houses are 4.8 and 12, and associated with the water signs..

Dharma

For Hindus and Buddhists, dharma is the moral order of the universe and a code of living ethically that embodies the fundamental principles of law, religion, and duty that governs the social structure and indeed all rares of human life. The Hindu worldview asserts that by following one’s dharma, a person can eventually achieve liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara) Difficulties grasping an exact definition of what dharma means in Hinduism arise because there are so many uses of the word in stories and scriptures. Bot the essence of living an ethical life us shared by all. Hinduism is the religion of one god with a million faces. There are dualistic schools and non-dualistic schools. In the final analysis, understanding is very much the same.

But mostly it’s equated with principles such as duty, honour, justice, good works, character, and virtue. In many stories of Hinduism, when a person is in trouble, they turn to dharma to find their way out of a difficult situation.

Artha

The astrological houses of Artha are 2, 6 & 10, as you might expect. These are concerned with what one possesses, of work and the hope of recognized achievement or eminence. Artha (Sanskrit: अर्थ) is one of the four aims of human life in Indian philosophy. The word is translated as “meaning, sense, goal, purpose or essence” depending on the context in which it is used. This includes aspirations and attainment.

Plucking Tea in Assam, India.

Kama

Best understood as aesthetics, the definition of Kama involves sensual gratification, sexual fulfilment, the pleasure of the senses, love, and the ordinary enjoyments of life regarded as one of the four ends of man (purusharthas). This would naturally be closely related to the associations we have of Venus in Traditional Western astrology. Kāma (Sanskrit, Pali) means desire, wish, longing, but it would be a great mistake to think of this as trivial. I(n Hinduism, it is understood that without desire there would be nothing.at all In the time before time and creation, Vishnu dreams the Universe reclining on the coils of the serpent Shesha, accompanied by his consort Lakshmi, as he “dreams the universe into reality” It is Lakshmi who stimulates the Universal dream by her touch.

page from the kama sutra

So, in fact, the Universe was born of desire. The astrological houses are 2, 5 & 9.  This will seem somewhat alien to the western astrologer, but that is because we tend to want to separate pleasure from wisdom. The pleasures of Kama include the pleasures of the higher mind. If our pleasures lead us astray, then Dharma is there to reset the balance.

Moksha

Moksha is understood as liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth known as samsara.

Vivekachudamani, a popular text on Moksha, defines it as the following:

Beyond caste, creed, family or lineage,
That which is without name and form, beyond merit and demerit,
That which is beyond space, time and sense-objects,
You are that, God himself; Meditate this within yourself.

-Vivekachudamani, 8th Century AD

The first house in the natal chart is always the ‘Udaya Lagna’ or the Ascendant, the sign that is rising on the eastern horizon at the time of birth.  his is the same in Hellenistic astrology. The other houses follow the zodiacal sequence and the trigons each deal with an aspect of human life. Here we have the water trigon – the three stages of enlightenment. It is crucial to remember that the entire system is required and that difficulties in one house can easily affect the other signs in the trigons.

The fourth house in Jyotish is about roots, including Ancestry. Everything that refers to strong ties to your native place comes under the dominion of this house. But chiefly, it’s about roots. Without roots, there can be no blossoms.

It will be seen that Indian concepts and techniques may be gainfully introduced into virtually any form of astrology, without detracting from the form currently being used. This actually has intriguing similarities to Hellenistic astrology Both systems have at their root the will to be better and to further the good. The works of Plotinus and Philo remind one of Hindu metaphysics. In other words, they are both centred in an ethical framework.

Shri Vishnu Lakshmi

Iran & the Aries Ingress Chart

I’m not a fan of using several charts to determine the nature of an event or whether it will occur at all. Here, I draw exclusively on the Chart of the Year as calculated for Tehran at the Spring Equinox and Nouruz. The general query is to assess the position of Iran at a time when once again, The Islamic Republic of Iran is being threatened with more than sanctions and covert attacks. It seems almost an absurdity to ask if Iran will be at war. It has been on a war footing since 1979 and many times prior to that. This is more of an examination than a prediction.

Predicting wars is a very bad habit. Assessing relative strengths, what’s at play and the nature of the subject is much wiser, because wars can be prevented. I’m a firm believer in studying what Tibetan Buddhists refer to as “causes and conditions.” These can be so powerful that it seems they cannot be resisted. The fact is, we do not live in a purely deterministic realm and, if we did, there would no point in talking about it.

This is a fascinating chart. The Lord of the Year is the Sun and here we see him setting in the Sign of his Exaltation. He is also the Hyleg. The Seventh House of open enemies is disposited by a strong, exalted and angular Mars, conjunct Saturn. So both malefics are involved in the matter of that house, both are in a square relationship to Sun, Venus and Mercury.

Tens of thousands gathered across Iran Wednesday in a massive show of strength for the country’s Islamic rulers after days of deadly unrest, with state television showing vast crowds marching…

Venus is in her detriment but is the Lady of the Ascendant, which is most appropriate for the Islamic Republic. Venus is the chart Almuten and is the planet of Islam. An examination of the Ascendant is a means to evaluate the relative strength of a native, which in this case is a nation. In relation to Aries, Libra is the weaker partner. The detrimental status of Venus only diminishes strength further.  Venus also disposits the Moon, in her exaltation but in the Eighth House of Death.

The Moon represents the common people as does the Sixth House, disposited by the Geater Benefic and in the sign of Venus’ Exaltation. However, Jupiter is retrograde and disposited by Mars.  The Moon in Venusian Taurus is Lady of the MC.

The Twelfth House of (among other things) self-undoing and secret enemies is the unfortunate position of the Part of Fortune.

The chart speaks strongly of a regime change and Iran cannot protect herself form open and secret enemies in a region that has seen the destruction of several countries, at least by herself. I do not see open warfare with Iran in the next while, but the regime change has been working its way forward for quite some time. The last thing Iran needs is more aggression from Israel, Saudi Arabia, the US or NATO wholes motivations have precious little to do with nuclear deals and everything to do with maintaining global hegemony and petrodollars.

Iran sentences woman to two years in jail for removing veil

Of course, Iran has its own internal struggles. She is a rich and ancient culture and is ill-suited to a dictatorial theocracy that features a specialized police force to enforce not only the wearing of veils but limits the colours that can be worn. There have been the well publicised anti hijab and ongoing human rights protests as well as the mostly unpublicised resurgence of the ancient Persian religion, Zoroastrianism among Kurds and ethnic Persians.  There have also been counter-protest and many believe the anti-hijab movement was instigated by foreigners.

Iran is clearly ripe for change.

Spring Equinox – Nowruz 2018

Aries Ingress 2018-03-20 G 16:15:25 UT Greenwich, United Kingdom 000° e 00′ 51° n 29′ Asc: 00°00′ Virgo, Moon: 08°36′ Taurus – showing Hermetic Lots

The Ingress of the Sun into zero degrees Aries marks the Spring Equinox and Nowruz. In some respects, this astrological event is the most important in the yearly cycle because it marks the astrological New Year and the chart provides us with insights into the entire year. Most importantly, we can derive the identity of the Lord or Lady of the Year – an influence which will be felt throughout.

This year the Moon exalted in Taurus in the Ninth House is the Lady of the  Year. The Sun is Exalted in Aries and we find Mars in his Exaltation with Saturn in his Domicile in the Fifth House. The planetary Day is Mars and the Planetary Hour belongs to Mercury. The Almuten of the charts is also Mars. Venus is in her Fall and Mercury is not strong in Aries. Both are Under the Beams – invisible due to the light of the Sun.

The Hyleg according to Ptolemy is the Moon. Much of this chart is a balancing act between the natures of Mars and Moon, but the Lady carries the day in the third Lunar Mansion. According to Cornelius Agrippa, this Mansion is called  Aldebram or Aldelamen: eye or head of Taurus. 8°34’17” Taurus.  destruction and hinderances of buildings, fountains, wells and gold mines, the flight of reptiles and creates discord revenge, separation, enmity & ill will  A soldier on a horse, holding a serpent in his right hand. However, Ibn Arabi suggests the Mansion is Universal Substance, prima materia – the last Divine Attribute. For those of you who have an interest in the Mansions, I recommend studying the principal stars of each one.

Illustration from the Divan of Hafez 1585 miniature. Iranians of all faiths – Muslims, Baha’is, and Zoroastrians turn to Hafiz on Nowruz, the Persian New Year, for guidance about the year to come. According to my friend in Afghanistan, the Divan is used as a kind of divination where the book is opened at a random page to read what it says.

I don’t go into great detail on the charts for the four Equinox/Solstices unless it is part of a specific prediction for two reasons. First of all, the chart will be significantly different for various locations.  The Equinox chart for Tehran, for example, has a Libra  Ascendant and the Moon in the Eighth house. More importantly, I think, these events are primarily a time of celebration and reflection. The Aries Ingress is the New Year and in Iran and other countries with a Persian diaspora, it is a time of cleansing and renewal in other spiritual and religious traditions also. The seasons resonate with us all.

The writer at http://www.mihanam.com tells us thatNowruz ceremonies are symbolic representations of two ancient concepts – the End and Rebirth. About 3000 years ago Persian’s major religion was Zoroastrianism, named in honor of its founder Zoroaster, and arguably the world’s first monotheistic religion. Zoroastrians had a festival called “Farvardgan” which lasted ten days and took place at the end of the solar year. It appears that this was a festival of sorrow and mourning, signifying the end of life while the festival of Nowruz, is at the beginning of spring signified rebirth, and was a time of great joy and celebration. Nowruz was officially acknowledged and named “Nowruz” by mythical Persian emperor, Shah Jamshid, from Achaemenid Dynasty (500 BC).”

Persian woman playing the traditional Kamancheh at Nowruz celebration.

For Nowruz,  each household will display symbolic items on a table, called a haft seen. On the haft seen, there is a minimum of  seven items, the names of which begin with the Iranian letter that looks like an “s.” Each and every item carries a meaning –  coins are for wealth, hyacinth flowers for rebirth, apples for health and beauty and germinated wheat or barley seeds for fertility. It’s a celebration of renewed life and the waxing light force. Comparable celebrations occur around the world, including Easter. The latter is timed using the Lunar Calendar, which is why it’s a  moveable feast. The theme remains new life, resurrection, and fertility.

Canadian Iranian Foundation – Nowruz-Gala 2006

 

Songs from the Gathas – Removing Spells & Illness

A Persian Zoroastrian King and his young son, Salmân al-Fârisî, enter a fire temple administered by three priests,

This is another of those topics which deserve a lengthy article, but for now a blog entry will have to suffice as an introduction to a highly complex topic. The video, shown below, was made available on YouTube by a Zoroastrian gentleman who has an extraordinary channel at Fereydoun Rasti Zoroastrianism & Iran If this material interests you, I heartily recommend looking through the extensive archives of videos. 

I posted this rather lengthy video because it uses the Zoroastrian scriptures known as the Gathas. The similarity to the Vedic word Gita (song) is no accident: Maneckji Nusservanji Dhalla states that “It is an uncontested fact that there is a marked closeness between the grammar,metre, and style of the Rig Veda and the Gathas.” (History of Zoroastrianism p11).. The power of words is emphasized in both and the verses are meant to be sung, as the title suggests.

Zoroastrianism posits, quite sensibly in my estimation, that this world is in a battle between good and evil. There are no specific scriptural comments on astrology per se in the Gatha period at least, but astrology certainly became an important element of Persian beliefs. It was already ubiquitous. Zoroastrianism is not known as a superstitious religion. It is widely believed that Zoroaster was a priest and a prophet, associated with the Magi. He is considered a magician in the true sense.

The creator, Ahura Mazda, has always affected human reasoning and therefore actions. The aim is to reveal to humanity their innate connection to the source of light and consciousness. It should come as no surprise that Zoroastrianism was the impetus and source of Mahayana Buddhism.

There is also an angelology – the idea of celestial forces that could be called upon.  Ahura Mazda is ineffable.  The point for our immediate concerns are that the Gathas were sung for devotional reasons and also used to mitigate or cast out what were considered evil forces, including common illnesses. This cosmology lends itself very well to an astrological framework, but not one in which the planets or angels had a will of their own, as it were. We come back to the to the question as to whether the stars impel or compel us. The creed of Zoroastrianism comes down to “good thoughts, good speech, and good action..” With this thing in mind the practise of singing the Gathas, we find that this is more a practical application of divine principles than superstition.

The counterpart to Ahura Mazda is Angra Mainyu also known as the “evil spirit.” This dark manifestation is ultimately set to be destroyed according to Zoroastrian eschatology  In the meantime, the kinds of practises described in the video presentation are regarded as wise and efficacious, much in the way a Hindu or Buddhist might consider a mantra. We don’t consider the practise of such things as being indicative of superstitious minds and certainly neither do those employing these remedies. This is the source of confusion for many when being introduced to the Good Religion, as it is frequently called. A Monotheistic faith that recognizes dual forces of light and darkness within that wholeness is actually a fair and apt description of life.

 

The study of ancient and classical astrology inevitably including spending a great deal of time on the history, culture and particularly the religion of ancient Persia. There are several reasons for this, but the primary one can be realized immediately by the strategic location of a land that once included most of what is now Afghanistan and beyond. She borders India and the Sik Road to China, promoting trade and the exchange of ideas. Moreover, she also bordered and later ruled Babylon, Assyria, and Sumeria.

The capturing of Babylon also include the liberation of the Jews by Darius, who went further and paid to gave the temple re-built. darius forbid the use of slaves.  Later on, Persia was conquered by Alexander the Great, whose teacher was no less than Aristotle, Alexander’s conquest of Asia was a bloody affair and many scholars and written material were lost forever when he set the torch to Persepolis, burning the city to the ground amongst an orgy of violence, in spite of the fact that the inhabitants have surrendered. That was one of the best cases that have ever been made against the excessive abuse of alcohol in decision making in all of history.

Even the most unjustly founded empires do in fact has some advantages and this is very much the case in the transmission of knowledge. The Hellenistic world united Greece with Egypt and  Persia with both. The School of Alexandria was among the greatest venues for shared knowledge, from Hindu astronomers and astrologers, Buddhists, Pythagorean, numerous Solar religions, Neo-Platonists, devotees of Isis, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians. This place of extraordinary learning was to meet its own demise under the Muslim invasions.

It’s a Persian, Indian and Greek alchemy that produced what we now call Hellenistic astrology. But that is only the beginning.