Vedic Astrology and Religion

What does Vedic Astrology say about Religion? The Vedas are the ancient sciences of India. One of the ‘branches’ of the Vedas is the science of Astrology. There is also an art to the interpretation of this science. Although people may pose the question “why do you believe in Astrology?”, Vedic Astrology itself is not, strictly speaking, a religion.

Religion is about Belief, about Faith, and generally has some externalized form, a Deity (or more than one) to worship, pray to, propitiate, etc. Vedic Astrology comes from a religious culture, and although it uses the rich symbolism of the mythology of that culture extensively, the rules of chart interpretation are essentially rational and thus scientific in their application. The raw material, the positions of the planets relative to the Earth, is itself mathematically determined observable phenomena and thus also scientific.

The science of Astrology recognizes that there is a natural desire and tendency for humans to acquire a belief system. The part of the chart that primarily speaks to this is the 9th house of Dharma, a word meaning variously Path, Law, Religion, Truth, Destiny. Another indicator is the planet Jupiter. Certain of the astrological signs are as well strongly predisposed towards religion. But as always in chart interpretation, all factors have to be considered to come to a verifiable conclusion. For instance, even in a chart that looks ‘religious’, if the person has indications of a strong ego, the religion will be mainly self-serving; a religion of one’s self. A chart that has a great deal of emphasis on the 4th house indicates one needs a religion that espouses ‘family values’. A strong connection with the 12th house inclines one to a religion with charitable, humanitarian values.

Being a science, Vedic Astrology doesn’t take sides. The type and quality of the Belief System is the question that can be answered: one seeks God in the church, another in a beer can. In our currently polarized Western culture, we have religions of all kinds: some are devoted and pray to pop stars. If the chart shows the person is devoted and conventional, then socially acceptable set of beliefs with a devotional component is indicated. Another person may be inclined towards a ‘modern’ or a foreign religion: Rahu in the 9th house is one indicator of this. When the chart contains a retrograde Jupiter the person is more inclined towards a religion that promises personal experience of the Divine: Jupiter is the planet of belief, the retrograde condition makes the person look inward.

This last brings up the point of Religion vs. Spirituality. One can be spiritually inclined yet not be a subscriber to a particular organized religion. They are generally treated separately in Vedic Astrology, if we define spirituality as being more about rapture and personal experience of the Divine and religion as being more belief and faith. Vedic Astrology comes from a culture that has traditionally acknowledged both: the people praying in the temple as well as the yogi sitting in the cave. The ‘yogi in the cave’ part is usually found through emphasis on the 8th house of mystery and power while the 9th house is more ‘organized worship’…. But then we have a couple of houses which seem to apply to both camps: the 5th house of spiritual practices, and the 12th house which is simultaneously separation from society, as well as charity to those in need. Often the question is asked of the Astrologer: “what spiritual practices should I follow?” Again, there is no simple answer, but some indications can be found though the primary factors of Moon and Rising Sign. For example: if there’s an emphasis on Air signs, then there has to be an intellectual component, if an emphasis on Water, then a devotional component. The location of the 12th house ruler is also used: in the 2nd house of speech, one could try japa (repetition of sounds), if in the 6th, practice service to others, in the 7th, the spirituality of conjugal relationship.

As always, things get pretty muddied up by the various writings and interpretations that have been laid down over the centuries, and not much help comes from our current situation, which is complicated, to say the least. Used to be, you were either religious or not, a householder or an acetic. Now we have so many choices. Yet the human pattern of needing some guiding light still needs to be satisfied, and with the help of Vedic Astrology, we can get some insight into our personal path.

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