23 October, 2016

Navaratri and Navagraha

The Annapurna Post asked me to contribute an article this Dashain. And since it was a day or so away from Navami, I decided to write this article. 


Navaratri is dedicated to nine forms of Goddess Durga, consort of Lord Shiva. She appears in different forms: as Shailaputri or daughter of the Himalayas on the first day of ghatasthapana; as virginal Brahmacharini on the second day; as Chandraghanta, wearing a crown made of the moon in the shape of a bell on her head on the third; as Kusmanda, the one who embodies the universe, on the fourth; as Skandamata, mother of Kartikya who slays demon Tarkasur, on the fifth day; as Katyayani, who slays the demon Mahisasur, on the sixth; as Kaalratri, who reminds us of the inevitability of time and death, on the seventh;  as Mahagauri, who removes all sins, on the eighth; and as Siddhidatri, or the one who bestows 26 forms of siddhi powers to her devotees, on the ninth. 

Siddhi powers are suprahuman powers acquired after sadhana, including meditation and yoga. According to the Bhagvata Purana, the five siddhis are: knowing the past, present and future; tolerance of heat, cold and other dualities; knowing the minds of others; being able to resist the influence of fire, poison, water etc; and remaining unconquered. Other secondary siddhis include: hearing things from far away; seeing things from far away; moving the body to a desired place; taking any form desired; entering the body of others; dying when one desires; and perfect accomplishment of one’s determination. 

 For modern Hindus whose practice of yoga takes place during an hour in the gym, and whose practice of meditation is confined to 10 days of vipassana with work colleagues in fancy locations, these siddhi powers can appear absurd, perhaps even juvenile.

The myths of Durga can also feel difficult to relate to, and without a clear connection to everyday life.  A theme does run through the nine stories—the Goddess doesn’t like those who oppress and torment, and she is ever ready to go out on her lion and tiger and bull to slay demons with her multiple arms. But how do we relate these fantastic events to our everyday lives, and how are her exploits relevant to this contemporary age and time?

Hindu texts and mantras, but most importantly ritual practice, give multiple answers. Just as worship of the Goddess can take different forms, from elementary daily puja, to advanced sadhana in which devotees chant complex mantras to transmute goddess energy into their own bodies, so to the meanings behind these various practices.

 For the jyotish amongst us (I happen to be a scholarly one), Navaratri is also associated with Navagrahas, or the nine astrological planets. Each Navaratri night, people worship one planet. So the puja may also propitiate Mars or Saturn, and not just awaken the Durgas or the chakras, as another bhakta, yogi or sadhak might be doing in another location.

As I walked through my neighborhood and noticed a young man polishing his sword outside the Dakshinkali Temple, it occurred to me the literal meanings—ritually slaughtering a goat to represent slaughter of demons—could obscure higher forms of practice. I admit meat, which I love, has become less palatable to me in recent days. Perhaps it’s antibiotics pumped into industrial factory animal carcasses, or perhaps it’s the hormones, but lately each time I eat meat I get horrific nightmares. This moving away from the gore-laden and stomach oriented aspect of Dashain has also forced me to think about what inner processes the slaughter could represent.

The most important process, I would guess, is the “killing” of negative qualities. Working outward from my jyotish knowledge, I correlate that each Navaratri night is associated with their own planetary negative qualities, and the Goddess would surely help to slay each one. When malefic, Mars stands for anger and violence, Saturn stands for breaking of niyama (because it is Saturn who helps with discipline, when well disposed), Jupiter can stand for both greed and wastefulness (because he is generosity personified when benefic), Mercury represents ignorance, Venus could mean excessive zeal and fanaticism towards ideology (when well disposed, Venus helps with devotion and bhakti), Sun could denote pride and ego, Moon could denote excessive attachment, Rahu is obsessiveness and insatiable ambition, and Ketu represents darker, underhand sides of life.

As a modern Hindu living in a globalized city like Kathmandu, I tend to think this reading of the Nine Nights makes the most sense to me: that we evoke the Goddess on each of these days and ask her to help slay these imbalances and bring our mind into equilibrium. Admittedly, my reading is colored by my Buddhist practice, where the balance of the mind is of primary importance. But in the absence of literal demons, perhaps this might be a good way to understand Navaratri, and the inner wars we have to go through with ourselves in life.

The descriptions of siddhi is from Wikipedia. You can read more here:

*Joshi is an Anthropologist and Writer

12 October, 2016

Post election jyotish reading, via the children of the Presidential candidates

Although I am not a professional astrologer, in my daily life in Nepal I am often asked to do readings for people, in my role as community jyotish. Many times, people do not know their exact times and dates of birth (They were born at home in poor families without formal education and their births were not recorded, or else they are refugees without paperwork, or else they lost their cheena), which means we have to look around for alternate strategies to read their charts. One way is to do it via a relative, who happens to have a documented birth place and time.

So I thought that this would be an interesting way to take a look at the results of the US elections, which is about 26 days away. While browsing the Net, I came upon one of those helpful articles which offered me the time of birth of Tiffany Trump. Time of birth helps tremendously in reading jyotish charts, because it pinpoints the exact ascendent of the native, giving a lagna chart. Jyotish astrology says the lagna chart is the one that determines a person’s life to its greatest extent.

Tiffany is Donald Trump’s daughter, so the key is to look at the position of her Sun, which represents father, and see where it is at this precise time. We also look at the 9th House (The House of Destiny and also the House of the Father) and the 10th House, which is also thought to show the influence of the father. We also look at her dasha timeline to see how the planets treat her around November 8th and afterwards.

Then I cast Chelsea Clinton’s chart as well, to see how she gets affected by the planets during November. In her case, we are looking at the effect of Venus, which represents the mother, as well as the Fourth House, or Matri Bhava (The House of the Mother.)

Chelsea Clinton
Chelsea Clinton was born on February 27 at Little Rock, Arkansas. I don’t have her time of birth, so this is the reading for the Moon chart.

The constellation she was born under is Pushya. Her Moon, also a karaka for mother, is in Cancer, in its own house, where it is most comfortable. So the planet representing the Mother has great strength, besides being the ruler of her rashi. Venus, which also represents Mother, is exalted in Pisces in the Ninth House of Destiny.

Venus gets a direct 7th house aspect from retrograde Saturn in 3rd House. The Third House is the house of communications, and this may mean that communications between mother and daughter is not that wonderful, despite their outward harmony. 

In her Navamsa or destiny chart, Venus is again exalted in Pisces. When a planet is in the same dispositor in both rashi and navamsa charts, this makes it super strong in its dasha period. This condition is known as “vargottama.” So a jyotish would first of all look for a Venus period in Chelsea’s vimosottari dasha cycle, and sure enough, Chelsea happens to be running her Venus dasha at the moment.

In Second House of Wealth she has Jupiter, Mars and Rahu. This is oodles of wealth—but like Trump’s, her Jupiter is retrograde (as is her Mars, incidentally), meaning either she has massive amounts of wealth, or the wealth was acquired through “retrograde” means.

Her Sun, with Ketu, is in Eighth House of sex, subterranean hidden secrets and humiliation—note that Sun represents father, and Ketu separates. Mercury and Sun are conjunct, so there is a budhaaditya yoga of intelligence in the Eighth House, but because its in the eighth, Mercury or the psychological stability of the mind is also harmed by being in a malefic house. The Sun, however, is vargottama: it is in Aquarius in both rashi and navamsa, making it exceptionally strong.

Chelsea has a classic Kal Sarpa yoga—except for Saturn, all of her planets are between the nodes Rahu and Ketu. Kal Sarpa yoga takes people to high places, but not without difficulties. It also shows a life of rise and fall (incidentally, Donald Trump has one of these, as well.)

Chelsea has a rather good navamsa or destiny chart: the Moon is in Libra, another sign ruled by Venus, and which is the sign of Saturn’s exaltation. Libra is often thought of as the sign which takes people farthest in the material world, because Saturn the obstructor confers the most benefic results to this sign.

Venus is exalted in Pisces, in Sixth House of enemies, lawsuits, as well as social work. Venus exalted in rashi and navamsa makes it “vargottama,” or exceptionally strong.

Mars and Jupiter are in 10th House of Profession. This is considered to be an exceptionally good yoga in the 10th House of work, making the person truth-loving and also able to earn through their own hard work. Mars is in Cancer here, which gives it a debilitated but neechbhanga status, making it very strong. Both planets are also retrograde.

Saturn, the karaka or significator of political power, is in its own house Capricorn in Fourth House of the Mother. Saturn matures at 36, which is the age that Chelsea is right now.

A retrograde Mercury is in its own house Gemini in 9th House of Destiny. The Sun, or sign for father, is in Fifth House of Love in the inner chart, meaning that any outward difficulties that Chelsea has with her father is erased by her inner love for him. Sun does rest in enemy house Saturn, meaning residual grief from father will accrue, despite the love.

Chelsea has an exceptional number of retrograde planets: Four planets out of seven are retrograde. Counting the two shadow planets Rahu and Ketu, which are always retrograde, this would make six out of her total nine navagrahas retrograde. Individuals with high numbers of retrogrades are thought to see delays in the fields in which the retrogrades are placed. In my personal experience, I find the retrograde planets can make them super-strong: sometimes to the point of being malefic, and giving the opposite results.

Chelsea’s retrograde planets are: Saturn, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury.

But as I’ve written before, a retrograde Saturn is often the sign of those who rise to the top of their fields. In Chelsea’s case, Saturn is placed in the Third House of Communications and individual action in moon chart, and in Fourth House of the Mother in navamsa. So this is an exceptionally strong Saturn, indicating a mother with extreme political power and authority.

Incidentally, Donald Trump also has a number of strong retrogrades, including his Jupiter in 2nd House of wealth, and Mars in 10th House of Profession.

Vimosottari dasha
Till November 19, 2016, Chelsea is going through the Venus-Sun-Jupiter dasha. As we can tell from her chart, Venus is exceptionally strong, the Sun is in a position of weakness (in the house of Saturn, its enemy, in both rashi and navamsa), and Jupiter is retrograde in Second House in Leo, with Rahu.

Rahu incidentally is at present transiting Leo, her Second House of birth family, again, meaning there’s a “nodal return” for Chelsea (this is never a coincidence, folks!) Rahu can bring overblown and illusory power, and also cause great distress. Rahu’s overblown amplification of her wealth, birth family, and childhood is going to come into special focus into the realm of the media and the public. Rahu makes people tremendously dissatisfied, and its transit through her Second House of birth family could mean this is a special time for her to reevaluate her family. Rahu, of course, also brings political power through its association with the masses.

After November 11, 2016, she is in the Venus-Sun-Saturn dasha till January 16, 2017. Venus will show exceptional results; the Sun (which also represents fame) is obviously not that great for her; and Saturn, which is transiting her House of Children in moon chart, and Second House of birth family in navamsa, could affect her relationships to her husband’s as well as birth family.

Saturn is transiting Scorpio at present. In the navamsa, Scorpio is the house of her birth family, which happens to have Ketu, the separator, in it. Saturn conjunct Ketu, I have found, shows real anguish and separation. Meaning that behind her chirpy support for her mother, she could be seeing real coldness and disengagement as she tries struggles to reconcile the sudden public humiliations and scandals of her birth family with her married life. Privately, there may be more distance between the elder and younger Clinton than appears to the eye.

Tiffany Trump
Tiffany Trump was born on October 13, 1993 in West Palm Beach, Florida, a “little before 1pm”.

Her ascendent is Sagittarius. Sagittarius ruled natives tend to be interested in truth and wisdom. Interestingly, as with Chelsea’s, her Saturn is retrograde in Third House. In Tiffany’s case, this could also mean a difficult relationship with her younger sibling, as well as with peers. Ketu in Sixth House leaves her with no enemies or diseases.

Tenth House shows Moon, Venus and Sun in Virgo—Moon and Venus together usually shows an artist, and in Virgo, the sign of discrimination and healing, this could also be someone interested in health and healing. Jupiter, Mars and Mercury in 11th House of elder siblings shows she will gain from intelligent and dynamic elder siblings, and Rahu in 12th shows a love of travels, retreats, sanctuaries and pilgrimage to foreign places.

From her Moon chart, Jupiter, Mars and Mercury get placed in the Second House of wealth, signifying a comfortable level of wealth from her birth family.

Ketu in 9th from Moon shows distance from father and father’s family. It could also mean a destiny as a spiritual practitioner or guru when she reaches age 48-54.

In navamsa, Tiffany has Cancer as ascendent. Her Sun, or sign for the father, is in Leo, its own home, in Second House of wealth and birth family. This is a good position for the Sun, where it is strongest. Fourth House of Mother (and Motherland) shows a retrograde Saturn, Rahu and Jupiter. Again, this is a mother with political power, but together with Rahu this is also seen as a difficult yoga. Jupiter saves the day by conjuncting these difficult planets, but home life will probably always have a sense of torture to it. The mother, or Moon, is a partner in Seventh House, and incidentally, also shows a loving marriage. Venus is in Eigth, where you’d expect her to be ill-disposed. But not so, says jyotish scholars—apparently Venus in 8th House can show a greatly luxurious life. Mars is in 9th in Pisces, which is a friendly house. Mars in 9th in navamsa shows she’s destined to be energetic and dynamic with issues related to 9th House, including dharma (religion), philosophy, higher education, etc.

Mercury and Ketu in 10th House shows someone who’s interested in spirituality and may make that her life’s work—Ketu is a sign of spirituality, and together with Mercury can often be a good combination for spiritual learning (although in Hillary Clinton’s chart his became the unfortunate karaka for loss of responsibility towards communications, via her irresponsible private usage of public email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.) 

From navamsa moon, Sun, the karaka for father, falls in the Eigth House of humiliation, sex, secrets, subterranean upheavals, etc. This is the exact same placement as Chelsea’s Sun, except in different charts. For Tiffany, the humiliation and embarrassment she feels from her dad is more internal.

A retrograde and exalted Saturn, conjunct Rahu and Jupiter, falls in her 10th House in navamsa moon chart. The 10th House also represents the father. In this chart, we are seeing a father with a great deal of authoritative and political power, with a dash of wisdom also thrown into the mix.

In her case, having retrograde Saturn shows a very old father—one who’s Rahuvian behavior of breaching boundaries could become torturous, except that its saved in the nick of time by Jupiter, which is also in this stellium. Incidentally, this could also show a career in politics for Tiffany around age 36-42.

Vimosottari dasha
Tiffany is going through her Rahu dasha at the moment. Till November 17, 2016, she will go through her Rahu-Rahu-Venus dasha. After 17th of November, she will enter Rahu-Rahu-Sun.

According to her chart, the Sun is a benefic planet, and Rahu is malefic.

Rahu shows political power, of course, especially the one connected to the masses. And Sun is the father.

Tiffany’s Ketu is transiting Aquarius, which is Second from her navamsa moon, so there could be a bit of a distance from the birth family, including the mother (similar to Chelsea).

Rahu is at present transiting Leo, where her Sun is placed—Sun conjunct Rahu, as I’ve said before, is a yoga of leadership and political power. So this is a double Sun-Rahu effect: not only is she going through Rahu-Rahu-Sun, but also her Rahu is transiting over her natal Sun.

Both Chelsea Clinton and Tiffany Trump are living through very strong and powerful planetary periods regarding their mother and father, respectively. This is to be expected—both of their parents are running to be presidents of the United States!

In reading these charts, I would guess that the precise win or lose energy will be decided by these factors:
  1. Saturn: Saturn is strong for both Chelsea and Tiffany. While Chelsea’s navamsa Saturn is in Capricorn in its own house, in Tiffany’s navamsa it is exalted in Libra. I recently read that a planet in own house in navamsa is stronger than that in exaltation, although this seems counterintuitive. In part, who wins will be decided by the strength of Saturn. 

  1. The Sun: Chelsea’s Sun is vargottama in Aquarius in both rashi and navamsa. Ketu is transiting Aquarius at the moment, and the Sun-Ketu conjunction is commonly ascribed to be a yoga for leadership. Sun is the government. Ketu, however, is also a separator. Tiffany’s Sun, with Moon in Virgo, is getting the blessings of a 12 year return from Jupiter, and in navamsa it is in own house Leo and getting a nodal return from Rahu. Again, Rahu and Sun conjunction is thought to be a great yoga for political leadership!

  1. Rahu: Rahu is a big benchmark of political power. It is currently transiting Leo, which is Chelsea’s Second House of the birth family, and which also hosts her Mars and Jupiter, both of which are retrograde. In Tiffany’s chart, is is transiting over her navamsa Sun, which is in own house Leo.

Looking at all these signs, I’d say that Tiffany has a bit more help from Rahu, which is the more unpredictable, illusory force which can raise people to great heights, then make them fall again. Whereas Chelsea seems more strongly supported by Saturn and Sun, the traditional, grinding, routine workers behind political power.

 Ultimately, it will probably come down to Saturn, which is transiting Scorpio at the moment. Stay tuned for 8th November!