1 - Refutation of Shri Avtar Krishen Kaul’s ‘The Hoax called Vedic Rashichakra and Vedic Astrology!’
There was no time earlier to reply to Avtar Krishen Kaul’s (AKK hereinafter for brevity’s sake) recent paper, though we are all familiar with his basic premise: there are no symbols and signs of the zodiac (Rashis) in the Veda. Since these are widely found throughout the later texts such as the Puranas and works on Jyotish, his contention is that they are of Babylonian/Greek origin. They were then imported into India and widely adopted. This follows orthodox scholarship entirely and does not seek to probe deeper. In fact, no one really knows where and when these symbols arose. That the Rashis and their planetary rulers form the woof and warp of the entire Hindu Culture which we find preserved in myths, scriptures, and in temples across the land, to go by this orthodox non-conclusion would then appear to be a further proof of the loss of the earlier Vedic Knowledge in favour of an imported culture. But AKK has by no means furnished conclusive evidence of the precise origins of the Rashis. Therefore, his entire premise collapses since this is the pivotal argument sustaining his entire campaign against their use. How then can he be taken seriously? (In addition to the points I have made, please refer to the latest posting of Shri Jai Maharaj on the Forum, entitled ‘Astrology-Astronomy Origins’, dated 23.12.2006. what we learn from the evidence he presents further supports my objections to AKK’s statements.)
I would like to refute his long paper point by point, but firstly I am obliged to deal with his curious statements regarding the Supreme Master of our line of Knowledge, Sri Aurobindo. From what AKK writes one would have to believe that he has a profound understanding of Sri Aurobindo. Of course this is not so. Without any compunction he suggests that Sri Aurobindo is wrong in the translation of ‘mrigah’ as Lion in the Vishnu praises of Rig Veda I, 154. He mentions that ‘some astrologers’ interpret these epithets to be the Fixed Signs of the zodiac. To my knowledge no astrologer other than me has done so; this discovery is mine. However, it needs to be stated that a true astrologer, and I employ the title with reservations, cannot fail to grasp the meaning of these verses in which Mahavishnu is, precisely, measuring the universe. He is not engaged in some abstract exercise that we cannot follow. All we need to do is to accept what the Hymns themselves sustain, without any further ado. We need to use the same measuring rod Mahavishnu employed and which is made absolutely clear in the text – and that is the zodiac in use throughout the world in the Vedic Age until today, even in India. Moreover, these provide evidence that the Precession of the Equinoxes formed a solid part of Vedic Cosmology (see Jai Maharaj’s posting of 23.12.2006).
A competent astrologer, one who has earned this hallowed title, cannot fail to acknowledge that the astrological signs each ‘stride’ describes are precisely those of Vishnu’s own domain in that zodiac: the Fixed Signs which belong to the mode PRESERVATION. Anyone even minimally versed in the basics of Hinduism knows that this mode belongs to Vishnu of the sacred Trinity. Therefore, to deny bombastically, simply for the sake of denying, is not to refute my discovery at all. The members of the Hindu Calendar Forum may be taken in by this sort of ‘scholarship’, but the real savant is not. Who can shout the loudest will not do. AKK has not provided any evidence at all that my reading of the verses is inaccurate. Hence my discovery stands unchallenged to date.
Back to the question of mrigah. In his heated denials AKK does concede that Sayana has also translated mrigah as lion. In my library I have several translations other than Sri Aurobindo’s. The use of Lion is evenly divided between them; and since I know that the Rig Vedic path stood central to Sri Aurobindo’s own tapasya, I must state that his translation stems from depths that scholars, no matter how erudite, can never approach. If one is to truly follow the ancient Vedic way, then we must agree on one point: the Seer’s vision and perception stand above the scholar’s, whosoever he may be and regardless of the volumes he has penned to support his thesis, whatever that may be. The final word lies with the Sage of standing.
Having established the above, given the more or less even distribution of ‘Lion’ in the various interpretations, we have to concede that Sri Aurobindo’s choice was also academically correct and acceptable. In fact, in ancient times this seems to have been the accepted meaning of the word; Sayana’s translation would support this conclusion. Thus, Sri Aurobindo is not to be dismissed as an intruder; to do so simply reveals a mindset which reserves any right to interpret the Veda as the exclusive preserve of Sanskritists. Therefore, on this point too Avtar Krishen Kaul’s denials have been effectively countered and he should cease from disparaging a discovery which can only encourage the updating and spread of one of the most basic tenets of Hinduism, the Dasavatars of Sri Vishnu’s line. But, we realise, if he were to concede defeat on this one point, his entire tirade against the Rashichakra would fall flat.
What AKK does not realise is that Sri Aurobindo was an in-depth student of astrology. In unpublished documents which have surfaced after his departure, he is found to have written, ‘…I have faith in astrology – ten years experience confirmed. But also amongst a thousand [astrologers], nine hundred know nothing about it…’ The Sri Aurobindo Archives & Research editor adds to the above, ‘The letter is remarkable mainly for showing Sri Aurobindo’s interest in astrology, which, at this period of his life was profound. Around this time he went through and made notes on a large Sanskrit and Bengali astrological tome entitled Horabijan Rahasyam, by Narayan Chandra Jyotirbhusan Bhattacharya…’ (SA&R, Vol, 5, No.1, April 1981).
This was written in 1912 when Sri Aurobindo had settled in Pondicherry; it reveals that the Rashichakra was well known to him since that was the astrology widely in use then as now. It is also known that the Rig Veda constituted a central axis of his own tapasya. Furthermore, the Mother his co-worker, an advanced adept in occultism and the ancient paths of wisdom to no less a degree than Sri Aurobindo, designed a symbol for herself that precisely conveys the structure of the zodiac: 12 outer petals, 4 inner petals, enclosed by 3 concentric circles. I assume the members of this Forum are familiar enough with the basics of astrology and the threefold and fourfold division of the ecliptic to recognise what the Mother was conveying. Did she spell these out as Aries, Taurus, and so on? Of course not. That discovery was reserved for those disciples who understood and were able to penetrate these Mysteries more deeply. But she did transpose this entire structure to sacred architecture when she designed a chamber based on her Symbol and specifically stated that the twelve were ‘the months of the year’. (Visit www.matacom.com for further proof of the Mother’s credentials in this area.)
In like manner, as was the custom in those ancient times the Knowledge was passed on only after intense tapasya just as Sri Aurobindo himself underwent, the result of which can be gauged from his magnum opus, The Secret of the Veda. Ridiculing this traditional method for making oneself a vessel worthy of the Knowledge, as AKK does repeatedly, is certainly a terrible injustice and a disservice to the community he pretends to guide. In itself this attitude provides the proof we need to know that the real understanding of the Veda cannot arise in one who has not undergone the required tapasya.
Conclusions to Instalment 1
AKK provides no evidence
1) as to the true origins of the Rashichakra;
2) to sustain his rejection of Lion as an academically acceptable translation of mridah;
3) that Vishnu’s three strides cannot to be equated with his Fixed signs of Preservation Leo, Taurus and Aquarius.
Director, Aeon Centre of Cosmology
26 December 2006
(To be continued)
2 - Refutation of Shri Avtar Krishen Kaul’s ‘The Hoax called Vedic Rashichakra and Vedic Astrology!’
4 January 2007
Director, Aeon Centre of Cosmology
My original intention was to dedicate time to an in-depth refutation of Avtar Krishen Kaul’s long paper which sets about ridiculing anybody and anything that does not conform to his views, changeful as they have been demonstrated to be over the years. But in going through his text – along with Subash Kak’s ‘Babylonian and Indian Astronomy’, since Kak and I are AKK’s latest targets – I realise that this is not the way I am permitted to use my time. I find nothing but obscurity in AKK’s text; and by this I mean no enlightening clarity. His research and accompanying texts will never lead a person to that luminescence of old. In other words, this is just the opposite result of what a Vedic tapasya must bring. Here we find only a deepening labyrinthine confusion. There is page after page of a jumble of ideas, conclusions that always turn out to be non-conclusions, thoughts jumping helter-skelter like monkeys trapped in a cage – this is the state one is driven into when reading such texts. Subash Kak’s is closer to the quality we seek when dealing with matters Vedic, but his deductions also stem from a mental preparation and discipline that is far removed from the consciousness of the Rishi and the pathways that led to the formulations we discover in the Vedic texts.
However, there is one portion of Kak’s paper that I wish to comment on. This is on page 28, subtitled ‘On Observations in Indian Astronomy’. The point he makes is that there was ‘observational astronomy’ in the Vedic Age, contrary to ‘the falsity of the 19th century notion that India did not have observational astronomy’ and hence this has had ‘devastating consequences for the schoolbook histories of early astronomy’.
I am not surprised that there is some confusion regarding the methods the Rishis used for their discoveries, and that after the split between science and the sacred there should be attempts made to demonstrate that India did possess observational astronomy, contrary to the conclusions reached by historians. I have pointed out in a number of books and articles – more recently in ‘The Origins and Nature of Hindu Decline’ – that the realisation of the Rishi was an inner-dimensional one, and not extended outward. The whole universe was within the Seer’s consciousness. There was indeed no ‘observational astronomy’ involved because the method is through the ancient Vedic system of CORRESPONDENCES and EQUIVALENCES, for which astronomical calculations and observations are not required. Just the contrary. Those observations might constitute a dilution of the experience. I realise this may not be comprehensible to anyone who has not experienced the same path as followed in those ancient times; but when the seeker is guided to follow the ancient way, an entire body of knowledge is uncovered, but exclusively within the innermost universe of the soul. I am not making vacuous statements since I myself, through the same pathways, have formulated and documented an entirely new Body of Knowledge, an Indo-centric cosmology that would itself appear to be the outcome of external observations but which was entirely the fruit of an inner exploration.
Kak ends his paper with these prescient lines, ‘The observational protocols used in Indian astronomy has become an interesting question to be investigated further.’ But what if the evidence I am presenting here of a different direction (within not without) were taken into account as a part of that investigation by researchers? The conclusions reached would necessarily present an entirely different picture of the ancient methods; and the confusion would be cleared up by recognising that the wisdom we find in the Veda does not depend on external observation at all. Rather, those discoveries are the fruit of a rigorous tapasya which is fully described in the Vedic system itself.
AKK debunks any reference made to tapasya – but more unacceptable is the fact that in his paper he jumps to conclusions by equating tapasya with meditation. Nothing could be farther from the truth. But not having pursued the path as per the Veda, he can never know the difference. Thus his customary facetiousness drives him to make serious errors of judgement when he thrusts my yogic endeavour into a category where it does not belong. This endeavour has been fully reflected in my published works since 1972 to the present. In this Body of Knowledge there is not a trace of this confusion. Nor can I recommend that AKK read my work to prove this for himself because his mind cannot seem to rest and read what is written on the printed page. He would constantly impose his limitations on the text before him and these preconceptions would not allow any light they might contain to penetrate. And so, we can look forward to more and more confusion. Year after year AKK’s efforts have led farther away from the light. Since I have been strung up and quartered a number of times by him in what he has been writing over the past few years, it is certainly within my right, but above all my duty, as in dharma, to deal with what AKK misrepresents.
His (latest) tirade against my work is found on pages 29 and 30 of this text. In Part 1 of this refutation I have explained the basis for Sri Aurobindo’s selection of words such as Lion for mrigah and how it must be considered academically correct, even if one dismisses the yogic aspect as AKK would like to do. But his statements to debunk my work through these supremely important verses reveal his lack of a knowledge that was an initiatic language the Rishis of former times knew so well. Since the Harmony from where this vision sprang is still with us intact, it is reasonable to believe that if one were similarly initiated into the methods employed then the result would be the same Language. But AKK does not have this knowledge; and so he brushes aside any serious penetration into these mysteries as gibberish – simply because he is not an astrologer. For instance, he ridicules my references to the three, Lion, Bull, Friend, of Sri Aurobindo’s translation, as the three FIXED SIGNS of the zodiac. It is not clear what he actually debunks – nor am I going to attempt to fathom the unfathomable that is his mindset. I will simply give the particulars and readers can consider their worth.
The Veda usually refers to three elements that constitute the foundation of the wheel of time: 360 ‘bands’ (of the wheel) as in 12 parts, and ‘spokes’ of 360; but there are also three hubs.
One is the wheel; the bands are twelve;
three are the hubs – who can understand it?
Three hundred spokes and sixty in addition
have been hammered therein and firmly riveted. (AV X, 8)
Similar to these verses to Skambha in the Atharvaveda we find the same 12 and 360 elsewhere. The 360 divided into 12 is understandable, the three hubs are not. Since their meaning is not clear, they are usually set aside; only what is recognisable is dealt with, 360 and 12. And yet this triadic arrangement is the key that leads us to unravel the mystery of the Vishnu verses; and through them to understand the greatest revelation of all, the Dashavatars of Hinduism. These ‘hubs’ would represent Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable signs of astrological lore. They describe energy flows; hence they are reflected in the Hindu transcription as rajas, sattva, tamas; or in another expression as Creation, Preservation, Destruction. In other words, they apply to the trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. It is a mark of the confusion amidst a deepening darkness that set in to note that this simple and obvious correlation was somehow lost sight of; yet it is entirely obvious to a real astrologer. AKK is excluded from this fold by the many demonstrations he has given of his ignorance of the art.
The FIXED signs – Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, Scorpio/Eagle – are Vishnu’s ‘domain’; but this does not explain the full importance of the arrangement. The FIXED SIGNS point to the astrological ages when his emanations (the Line of Ten) will take birth, separated by 6480 years between each appearance. One of the Emanation’s tasks is to re-set the Cosmic Timepiece which, with the passage of 6000 years, is bound to have suffered what we see around us today: the tyranny of Phantom Ayanamshas. The Avatar of the Line of Ten does this by his own birth into our Earth time which becomes the lodestar, as it were, the philosopher’s stone that we can use to test our assumptions and deductions, and by which means we are led to the light. We are led out of the confusion and darkness that characterise any kaliyuga. This almost pitch darkness is the condition of a consciousness that approaches these mysteries in the pedestrian manner reflected in a text such as AKK’s. Nonetheless, when darkness is deepest the grace of Vishnu through his emanations has been revealed to be fully operative. Thus the cosmic harmonies are made new through the details of this descent, connected as they are to the former appearances – the 7th of the Age of Leo, and the 8th of the Age of Taurus (see The New Way, Aeon Books, 1981).
AKK again reveals his lack of astrological preparation when he laughs at the ‘pitcher’ (Aquarius, the Water Carrier) as having anything to do with the Friend. The Avatar’s appearance in our present Age of the Friend, just as the Vedic verses to Vishnu indicate, indeed bear out the tradition in no uncertain terms when we know that the Friend (all astrologer know that the 11th sign/house refers to friends primarily in a horoscope) is located in the Uttarayana quarter of the wheel divided into four parts, resting on the solstices and equinoxes. Uttarayana is not just one point on the wheel, the highest or the Midday Cosmic Sun. The solstice indicates ENTRY into that quarter which covers, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Of the three Aquarius is Vishnu’s sign/domain, and hence the Age in the precession of the equinoxes when his emanation will appear to re-set the Cosmic Clock.
If one is ignorant of these details than one can only scoff at any of the metaphors the Rishi has used for these three ‘strides’, and especially his references to a MOUNTAIN in the imagery. AKK exclaims, ‘There are no lions or bulls in the mountains!’, in his inimitable pedestrian manner. But in these verses the Rishi clearly places these strides as stages in a sequential progression that is represented as a mountain climb to the summit. And there we do find the Friend or Aquarius, our present Age. One who has not done the required tapasya (not meditation, please) can never understand the image of the Mountain as representing the successive stages along the way to the highest victory. AKK is ignorant of this Tradition, but sages of former times all concur in this symbolism, to the extent that it and it alone formed the basis of the sacred architecture of all Hindu temples. One need only approach any temple, large or small, to join the Rishi in his experience while standing before a Gopuram which in stone represents that very same Mountain. The summit is the 10th month/sign, the true sign of the Mountain. And this is Capricorn which begins at the December Solstice. Why do we wish to discard this wonderful tradition? Why do we waste our time arguing over where and when this tradition arose, or if it came into or went out from the subcontinent millennia ago, when all one needs to do is to explore the very same inner universe as the Rishi and make those very same discoveries today.
Having stated this, due credit must be given to Subash Kak because he has provided conclusive evidence in his article, ‘Babylonian and Indian Astronomy’, that the astronomy/ astrology of Vedic India was firmly in place long before the Mesopotamian and Greek traditions came into being. This evidence should have sufficed to silence AKK: his declaration that the Rashichakra was imported from Babylon and Greece into India is revealed to be entirely unsubstantiated.
To conclude with Kumbha, the friendly Water Carrier who dispenses the sacred waters from his pitcher throughout the universe, these are the inspirational rivers so often acclaimed in the Veda. They carry the seeker – and in this Aquarian Age the whole Earth – into the realm where the Cosmic Harmonies the Carrier embodies flow to the Earth since it is precisely the period when the last of Vishnu’s emanations of the Line of 10 will grace our planet (in this Line there is no place for the Buddha since Vishnu’s emanations can descend only in his FIXED periods, the signs of PRESERVATION like our own; the Buddha’s birth was 2000 years too early, though with the loss of the Knowledge he was erroneously added to the Line).
I could provide hundreds of examples of this sacred Language employed throughout the Veda; but I realise that these examples are meaningless to anyone who is not open to the Vedic Wisdom as it truly is. But allow me to close this refutation by referring to Indra in order to demonstrate the way a planet or a luminary’s ‘Exaltation’ has been conveyed or made use of in the Veda. It may not be explicitly called Exaltation, but the manner in which the Godhead is eulogised reveals this ‘exalted’ status; and as such we find this essence captured by the tradition of cosmic harmonies and preserved in astrological lore to this day. This clear and concise symbolism related to the Gods indicates that it was a system of Knowledge so thoroughly widespread and accepted that explanations of the sort we demand today were not required. Thus, Indra is often eulogised as the Bull, and sometimes though to a lesser degree as the Ram. His eyes are the Bright Eyes of swar, – one the Sun, the other the Moon. We know that the Sun is exalted in Aries the Ram of the zodiac, while the Moon is exalted in Taurus the Bull. There was no need to spell these connections out explicitly since the entire population in those ancient times knew the one Language, the divine Cosmic Harmony which is all light and no darkness. Whereas today that cosmos has become the preserve of astronomers, such as AKK aspires to become. The separation of astronomy from astrology is complete, and so it must stay because astrology demands the exploration of an INNER universe where these Divine Harmonies exist eternally and by which we can experience the Hermetic aphorism, ‘As above, so below’. It is not the reverse. We cannot explore the heavens and then seek to impose our findings on the inner universe of Light.