Vedic remedies (upāyas) in astrology
In Vedic astrology and wider Indian spirituality remedies and spiritual practices are called ‘upāyas‘. This Sanskrit word is also translated as a ‘mean’, ‘way’ or ‘process'For translations of ‘upāya‘ see Online Sanskrit Dictionary and in Buddhism it is used in similar terms though the accent lies more on remedies being a false mean to get to the truth.. In this article I pay attention to how our inner attitude can transform these these upāyas into profound spiritual practices (sādhana).
In essence Vedic astrology is a spiritual teaching. To walk this path it is helpful to understand a bit of the background of these ancient remedies.
Most upāyas were originally meant to alleviate ourselves from karmic shackles we have created for ourselves. There exist many ways and concepts to explain and understand karma. In this article I share a few that I found helpful to conduct these Vedic remedies in the most uplifting way.
Three gunas and types of Vedic remedies in astrology
In Indian spirituality the creations is often seen as a continuous flow. In our individual lives we cannot escape from continuous actions that create effects. As these effects bounce back we creates our own future circumstances. This is commonly known as karma.
It can be helpful to increase our insights of the effects of our actions. The concept of the three ‘gunas’ or ‘attributes’ is a useful tool for this. According to many Indian traditions all energies in life can be categorized into three types of gunas: tamasic, rajasic and sattvic.
Tamasic is an inert type of energy which represents for example deep rest or stagnancy. In human life it can manifest as depression, inertness and merely craving for sense pleasures.
Rajasic is it’s active counterpart which represents activity and change, but in extremes it can become restless and chaotic.
Sattvic is a calm but alert state of consciousness in which the divine qualities of life shine forth most easily.
According to many Indian spiritual worldviews all of the manifestation comprise of these three attributes. These ‘gunas’ are in a sense cuasing a continuous process of creation on karmic level.
In Vedic astrology we study someone’s karmic legacy. All that we see in a chart are the tendencies that spring forth from the previous actions of an individual. This karma can also be categorized by these three gunas.
Harmful actions caused by ignorance bring forth more tamasic tendencies.
Rajasic tendencies are created when one takes advantage of others with mere selfish motives.
Actions with pure motives can create sattva guna.
Most humans are aware that they are searching for some kind of happiness and freedom. And also most of us search this within the realm of these three gunas. However, eventually we have to transcend all these gunas to make a final leap towards final liberationhttp://vedavyasacenter.org/teachers/freedom-cole/opening-lecture/. Our true essence lies beyond these gunas into a realm of pure consciousness-bliss. The experience of our beyondness is more easily realized in sattva guna. Therefore the aim of most spiritual practices is to enhance this guna.
How do these Vedic Astrology remedies work?
It is very common that some undesirable tendencies (like depresion, greed, selfishness) persists even though we try to overcome them by will power. Deeply-rooted tendencies are called vāsanās in the Indian tradition. They manifest not only in our own behavior but also in the people and situations we attract in life.
Many people keep on seeing their lives going through very similar cycles of experiences again and again. For example. some may go through the same issues in work situations, others within their families and others get physically or mentally sick again and again.
What is causing these cycles of experiences? Karma? Yes that is the easy answer, but how does it work in practice and how are similar circumstances created again and again?
Many people agree that we attract that whatever corresponds with the energies that we carry deep within ourselves. This attraction often happens on an unconscious level and therefore this process is not always easily counteracted by a few positive thoughts or affirmations.
Though I have seen people benefiting a lot from positive affirmations, I have also seen that it doesn’t work in all cases. This is because not all affirmations reach our subconscious levels immediately while our behaviour and personality is affected by this level for a large extent.
Vedic astrology gives very profound guidance in how to balance these deeper-rooted unconscious vibrations within ourselves.
For example, with mantras these vibrations can be literally shaked out. With meditations, we start to observe inner and external situations with more clarity. In the light of such pure witnessing negativity cannot persist. Moreover, donations or volunteer work can initiate another flow of energy in the world and will return to us in one way or another.
Though any meditation or mantra can give benefits, the power of Vedic astrology lies in prescribing practices that are aimed to treat the specific tendencies that arise for an individual. It is important to keep in mind that the remedies need not be focussed only on negativities, but that the upāyas can also aim at unfolding one’s positive qualities.
Remedies in Vedic astrology can be divided into three types of remedies based on the gunas. However, the actual effect of a Vedic remedy always depends on the attitude of the individual.
Therefore the categorization given below is only meant as a framework to understand the opportunities of the different types of remedies. How these Vedic remedies work differently depending on our inner attitude is explained in these sections as well.
Mantras, rituals and meditations as sattvic Vedic remedies
Mantras to shake off karmic imprints
Mantras, rituals and meditations are usually described as the most sattvic and longest lasting remedies. They have the potential to install sattva guna and therewith counterbalance rajasic and tamasic tendencies.
Mantra sounds can literally shake strong tendencies out of our system. Sounds are ~ of course ~ in the first place vibrations and therefore counteract other subtle vibrations within ourselves (like desires, expectations, depression etc.).
All planets, signs and constellations are connected to particular sounds and mantras. These have the power to re-align the energies that the planets represent.
For example, if one has problems with planet Mars, a mantra for Hanuman, Bagalamukhi or Skanda helps to counteract these produced effects. Mantra means ‘that which protects’ in Sanskrit and these sounds protect our true self from other influences.
There are many different ways to use mantras. They can be chanting loudly or silently, sung in devotional songs, offered one by one to a deity or be part of a wider ritual.
By chanting mantras a certain number of times they eventually reach and alter our unconscious mind where these deep rooted vāsanās are stored.
Yagyas and pujas: ancient Vedic rituals as remedies
Specific rituals calles yagyas or pujas can also be prescribed by astrologers. Most of the ancient vedas contain detailed descriptions of these rituals that used to take many days and even months to complete.
Nowadays many shorter variations are available. These are also called ‘pujas’ and homas (fire rituals) and can be dedicated to certain planets or deities. Usually a brahmin or pujari (temple priest) performs these rituals that consist out of offerings of fire, food items, specific woods and so forth. An essential part of these rituals is the chanting of specific mantras.
It is often the question whether one has to be actually present while the ritual is performed. I can only say that I have experienced the power of participating in pujas, but that there is also a power about it without being physically present.
When one cannot be there physically usually the facilitators makes sure that the priest reads your name and birth start (nakshatra). In this way the priest’s consciousness sees your name, and a divine personal resolve (sankalpa) is included in the puja.
It is common that one gives a donation for a ritual to be performed. This money is supposed to be used for charity and the daily upkeep of the temple. In this sense, this type of remedy also has a donation part (see below).
Meditations to clear the mind
There exist an enormous variety of meditations. Generally meditation helps us to direct our attention to either outward objects, to our breath or to inner visualisations.
On a deeper level, mediations can also help our attention to sink into the source of ourselves (this is often called Self inquiry or jnana vichara or ātma vichār).
Breathing exercises are often advised if windy planets like Saturn and Rahu are causing afflictions. Meditations on deities can be easily connected to all planets and signs. Devotional meditations can help with problems of watery planets like Moon or Venus. However, it is important to tune any type of practice with the nature of the individual (religion, culture, temperament etc.).
Donations as rajasic Vedic remedies
If we have created a strong disbalance in our exchange with society or nature, donations can be a very fruitful remedy.
All planetary energies also correspond to certain foods or other items (for example, Saturn to sesame seeds and steel). Moreover, all planets are also connected to certain groups of people, like for example Jupiter to priests and the Sun to leaders and government.
In this line, making certain donations to specific people can help restoring this balance of exchange. Similarly, feeding certain animals can propitiate planets as well (like feeding fishes for Moon or Rahu).
12th house in Vedic astrology: why donations and service as remedies?
If one has planets in the 12th house, donations and selfless service can help a lot in overcoming certain life problems. The 12th house is the final house of the chart and known as a house of loss.
It is important to understand this ‘loss’ in wider perspective though. Loss can mean loss of wealth, health, status, personality etc.
It is often stated that to reach ultimate liberation within ourselves, one has to go beyond attachments to these areas of life. Hence, the 12th house is also the house of final liberation (enlightenment). Therefore, letting go of certain things in life can bring us closer to the goal of life and its eternal bliss.
In every horoscope the 12th house looks a bit different in terms of placements of related planet. By dedicating the 12th house themes selflessly to society or nature we in a sense proceed the process of loss.
By doing this voluntarily and out of our initiative we create a smoother flow than when we wait for karmic processes to force this ‘loss’ or ‘letting go’ upon us.
If the 12th house is somehow afflicted it is strongly advised to give donations and internally renounce ideas and positions related to this house. If we keep on holding on to that what we have in our 12th house, life tends to create less comfortable forms of losses.
And in their turn these losses can trigger inner reactions of resentment, victimhood or depression and keep us going through another cycle of craving, achieving and losing.
These outer circumstances of desire, achieving and losing are not the problem in itself, but subtle attachments to the things we are ought to let go off can create this inner turmoil.
Jyotish can prescribe remedial measures that focus very much on the sensitive points of these imbalances, but it is always up to us to really share from the heart without any expectation for results.
If we expect certain results in return, the giving and sharing is in essence selfish and thereby creating more rajas. Nevertheless, because it is still an exchange of energy the results can proof to be beneficial for society and oneself.
Giving and sharing without expectations for returns
If we truly share from the heart without expecting anything in return, the actions and results become more sattvic. This is also called ‘seva’, or ‘selfless action’.
In this line, giving and sharing becomes a very subtle form of spiritual practice. The more selfless we share, the more sattvic the results.
However it cannot be stressed enough that the subtlety of this practice lies in not focussing on the results at all. In this way giving and sharing becomes a humble offering to existence, whereby we remain de-attached to any reward for it (like someone saying ‘thanks’ or getting a favour or pay in return).
As the rajasic plane of existence is always subject to change, one has to keep in mind that giving donations with selfish motives is not a permanent problem to deep-rooted karma. The time-span of the effects of these remedies is always temporary. Hence, we may, for example, experience relieve of certain life problems for about three months only.
Nevertheless, I would always fully encourage to share and give, even if we have to admit that we still hold subtle selfish motives. This is natural and common these days. By acknowledging some selfish trashes, we become aware of them and so we can go beyond them in a natural way. In this line, giving helps us to become more selfless in our sharing.
Some say that this kind of sharing is only possible when one lives in abundance. Though I feel a truth of this statement, I also feel that de-attachment plays a major role and that it is very much the question what kind of an abundance is focussed on? Love, energy, food, money, attention, skills?
Because the time-span of the effects of donations is limited it is important to try to give regularly and for longer periods of time. Without this, the remedies are not likely to make a permanent imprint on someone’s life.
This power of a continuous flow of charity is not something new or unknown: in many cultures it has been a common practice to share a certain percentage of an income with the poor and needy.
If we tap into the joy of giving and sharing all these practices can uplift our spirit in many ways. Is this joy then not selfish as well some might ask?
Well, if enjoyment comes naturally, why not let it be there? There is no harm in that. The problems lies in the craving for satisfaction as a results of our actions. These results are always uncertain and dependent on circumstances beyond our control.
Next to donations there also exist a large variety of remedial measures that focus on other exchanges of energy. This can be dropping certain items in rivers, burying particular items under ground, keeping items in your room etc.
These are also based on exchanges of energy on some levels but often less focussed on beneficial exchanges. These actions by themselves do not remove the tendencies by the very root (within ourselves).
As these remedies are based more on outer circumstances, they are often described as more rajasic remedies (though also here someone’s inner attitude can make a difference).
Gemstones as tamasic remedies
Wearing gemstones is another type of populair Vedic astrological remedy. These stones carry an energetic vibration and the sunlight’s reflection through them amplifies these energies. In this way, wearing gemstones can increase the strength of the particular planetary energy.
The gemstones relate to the body and the body is matter which is tamas guna. Therefore gemstones are considered tamasic remedies. However, by initiating the gemstones with proper mantras, the stones themselves start representing the energetic powers of the planets (which are deities and hence representations of the divine power on earth). In this sense, these gemstone remedies do have a potential to become more sattvic and lasting in nature.
As in every individual horoscope all planets play different roles, it takes a bit of deliberation to choose the right gemstones. For example, it is often advised not to wear stones of the planets that rule the sixth and eighth house of a horoscope. These are houses of disease, enemies and karma and can strengthen these areas of life.
It is important to remember that wearing a gemstone on its own does not help us to transcend the essential planetary energies. They rather use one particular energy to create more favourable circumstances for us to overcome other issues in life. This can still work very as a very powerful stepping stone in life.
Because the stones do not automatically take up our dharma of transcending our life lessons, these are called tamasic remedies. By combining them with sattvic remedies like mantras and meditations, the gemstone remedies still hold a sattvic potential to help transcending one’s life challenges.
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~ May all beings be happy ~