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Namah Journal

Integral Health

Apropos astrology and health

Dr. Soumitra Basu

If programmes and advertisements blurted out through the idiot box are any indication, interest in astrology never seems to wane. People are not only interested to know what calamity can befall them in the future but also what could be the astro-therapies that would guarantee sound health!

An existential vacuum

It seems that as the world progresses, the human being is at a loss to cope both with personal events and with global insecurities. At the personal level, there has been a steady disruption of inter-personal harmony, while at the global level there are insecurities at multiple fronts. Puzzled, the contemporary mindset looks either to modernist science or to traditionalist religion for guidance but neither suffice.

Paul Brunton (1898-1981), a British theosophist known for his explorative forays into Indian spirituality as well as Western esotericism, explains that astrology is sought after in this existential vacuum where the religious world-view is intellectually inadequate and the scientific world-view is emotionally inadequate. Astrology fulfils the gap because every time a prediction clicks there are three important implications:

a. ‘there is a higher power guiding the destinies of mankind’;
b. ‘life survives after death’; and
c. ‘there is a rough justice in life’ (1).

The problems of intuitive knowledge

Brunton admits that as a body of knowledge astrology is incomplete and imperfect, resulting in superstitious beliefs, charlatanic practices and exploitative fields. However, these drawbacks do not demean the transmitted essence of karma and rebirth which necessitate a contemporary re-appraisal of ancient pearls of wisdom(2). Indeed, without getting lost in the mass of absurd nuances propagated by the commercial zealots of astrology, one could focus on the true value of karma where the soul grows through experience and seeks ever-new avenues for further growth. One could also focus on the essence of rebirth where the soul-essence retains the most memorable and conscious moments of a lifetime while other useless information gets dissipated.

It would be naive to debunk a whole discipline like astrology merely because it does not conform to the standards of ratiocination. Every theory represents a partial truth that needs to be decoded in some way or the other. The main problem for astrological knowledge is that as it is derived from intuitive insights, it gets diluted at the level of ordinary cognition. Intuition belongs to an overhead plane above our usual thinking mind and when intuitive revelations descend to the level of the mind, they invariably get mixed up with ordinary thoughts that are coloured with egoistic twists, idiosyncrasies, prejudices and falsehood. As a result, if some predictions are exceptionally brilliant, some other predictions turn out to be miserably untrue.

Moreover, horoscopes are best regarded as ”indicator of circumstances (3)” rather than determinants of the future. The Mother explains:

“The stars have no decisive influence. It is only if one does not believe in the Divine that one unnecessarily suffers by believing that they determine one’s life.

“I have known many astrologers both in Europe and India. So far, nobody has been able to read the future correctly. There are three reasons for the failure. First, the astrologers do not know how to read the future properly. Secondly, the horoscope is always incorrectly made — unless a man is a mathematical genius. And even for such a person it is very difficult to make a correct horoscope. Thirdly, when people say that the stars in this or that house at the time of birth rule your life, they are quite wrong. The stars under which you are born are only ‘tape-recorders’ of physical conditions. They do not rule the future of the soul. There is something beyond, which rules the stars themselves and everything else. The soul belongs to this Supreme Being. And if it is doing Yoga, then all the more it should never believe in the power of the stars or in any other power. ...

“Only a great Yogi can tell you your future correctly. But even then there is the Supreme Will which alone controls and decides everything (4).”

It has been a traditional belief that the moment one opts for a spiritual life, a creative inner life, the conventional astrological prototypes do not match. Brunton narrates what the Buddha told aspirants of his path:

“I forbid you, O Bhikshus, to employ any spells or supplication, for they are useless, since the law of karma governs all things. That mendicant does right to whom omens, meteors, dreams and signs are things abolished; he is free from all their evils (5).”

The issue of karma

A pertinent query arises as to whether it is possible to negate the disharmonious effects of past karmas through astrological remedies. Indian spirituality in its deepest quest never had faith in such easy solutions. It actually advocated the concept of mukti or liberation from the bondage of the world through renunciation of the ego and desire. Such a liberation alone would free one from bondage and karma. However, this equation might not be as straightforward as it seems. In an excellent deliberation on the Ishavasyopanishad between the guru and the student, Sri Aurobindo suggests that liberation or mukti prevents future deeds from creating bondage but does not guarantee relief from past karmas that have already created bondage. Causes created “while in the illusion of bondage... must be allowed to work out its effects, otherwise the chain of causation is snapped and the whole economy of nature is disturbed and thrown into chaos (6).”

However, Indian spirituality has also assured that the Divine Grace can pull out one from the fetters of bondage if one can fully surrender to the Truth and the Light.

The issue of rebirth

In the Aurobindonian paradigm, the outer being or surface personality is “that passing experimental and structural self which has been made for us by an interaction between our being and the pressure of a lower cosmic Nature (7).” The Psychic Being, which is the evolving poise of the Self, carries the essence of the deepest experiences as memory traces that outlive the life span and act as templates for future lives. The surface personality changes with the change in cultural, social, temporal and historical denouements. The onus here is to constantly outgrow the past. In such a world-view, a tackling of past karmas does not ensure a hassle-free future. The future has to be constantly sought after through elements in one’s consciousness and there is always a space for the Unborn and Unforeseen to manifest. Astrological remedies for past karmas as well as astrological predictions for the future have a limited role in such a world-view where rebirth is understood not as a repetition of the surface personality but indicates a rebirth in terms of consciousness.

The integral aspirant

The aspirant for an integral life and integral health should preferably take up the journey of life as an adventure that leads to the Divine but not through macadamized and customary pathways. Rather one has to follow an innovative trajectory where one creatively charts one’s own way in consonance with the truth of one’s inner being that would be unique for each individual. An adventure loses its joy and thrill if the outcome is predicted beforehand. One has to proceed with full trust and faith in the Divine regardless of the predicaments on the way. If astrological warnings predict obstacles and setbacks, they may not be dismissed but accepted with detachment and equipoise along with aspiration and invocation to dissolve any negative formation. What is most important is to work and progress through one’s consciousness to outgrow the pulls of karma and to integrate the myriad strands of the being around the central principle — an endeavour that alone can ensure a rebirth in terms of consciousness.


1. Brunton P. Essays on the Quest. London: Rider; 1984, p. 85.

2. Ibid., pp. 85-6.

3. Ibid., p.86.

4. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 15. Cent.ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1980, pp. 37-8.

5. Brunton P. Essays on the Quest, p. 86.

6. Sri Aurobindo. Birth Centenary Library, Volume 12. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1971, p. 462.

7. Sri Aurobindo. SABCL, Volume 20. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1970, p. 262.

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