Other Considerations

(The Natal Chart of Siddhänta Sarasvaté)

Last of a Two-Part Series

by Kailäsa Candra däsa

“A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind.”
Caitanya-caritämåta, Adi, 2.117, purport

Part Two of this series may, upon a superficial reading, be considered a bit controversial. It may spawn inimical energy directed at the person of your author. Nevertheless, as aforementioned (at the end of Part One), His Divine Grace Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Gosvämé Maharaj Prabhupäda did not shy away from controversy. He made many enemies in India, and he would have had made almost none of them if he had avoided confronting and taking action on a variety of controversial subjects.

All Emphases Added for Your Edification and Realization

With this series dedicated to him, we shall follow in his footsteps and take up the ayanäàça controversy, along with some ideas connected to it. We shall not discuss this controversy academically, but, instead, we shall propose a solution to the contending conceptions. If you are able to follow the logic thus presented, it will not only strengthen your mind, but it will also strengthen your buddhi and even stimulate your higher intelligence.

The Siddhäntic Method

“There is an astrological system. . . So, through the çästra, by right calculation, we can understand.” Bhagavad-gétä, platform lecture, 3-24-74

As briefly mentioned previously, in the West, the final position of planets is calculated by first ascertaining any given planet’s tropical position. Then there is the deduction of the ayanäàça of choice from that position. This is not the siddhäntic method of planetary calculation, however. In that method, the ahargaëa for a given day must first be ascertained. His Divine Grace Siddhänta Sarasvaté, in his Bengali translation and commentary of Sürya-siddhänta, has given the ahargaëa for a specific date in the Gregorian calendar. The ahargaëa must be more than merely accurate; it must be exact.

The ahargaëa is the accumulation of days from the beginning of Kali-yuga to the day completed just previous to the date and time of birth being calculated. The next stage is to factor in the increment of time that has passed from the end of the ahargaëa to the moment of birth. Western astrologers are well aware of how this works, although they compute it differently than as per the siddhäntic method. Ultimately, there is no controversy here.

Via the siddhäntic method, the cycles of the planets are then calculated. This gives the mean position of the planet, which, for the seven major planets, is not where that planet actually was at the time and place of the event. That is ascertained by the method of epi-cycles, and, although there is little or no disagreement as to the cycles of the nine planets of sidereal astrology, there is disagreement (amongst the pundits using the siddhäntic method) as to the measurements of the planetary epi-cycles.

You have to be quite proficient at trigonometry in order to calculate the epi-cycles so as to adjust the mean position accordingly, thus coming to the true position of the planet at the moment and place. Your author has no such proficiency but only basic mathematical ability. As such, we have never been able to employ the siddhäntic method through to its final stage.

Over and above this, in order to ascertain the true positions of the planets (using each planet’s epi-cyle), you need to know each planetary measurement of epi-cyle perfectly. The disagreements concerning the measurements of the epi-cycles thus come into play here. For devotees in our line, we can and should only accept the epi-cycles revealed by His Divine Grace Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté in his Sürya-siddhänta translation and commentary.

The Western method, although it certainly has its own complications, is simpler than the siddhäntic method. You cannot get exact sidereal positions for the seven major planets using the Western method (of deducting the ayanäàça), but you can get very, very close. That should suffice. What was most interesting to your author (during the time that he was researching all of this) is the fact that the mathematical formulae used by Western astronomers (to denote the planets according to the tropical zodiac) is almost exactly the same as the mathematical formulae presented in the siddhäntas. As such, before an accurate ayanäàça is secured, the angular relationships of the planets in the tropical sky are, for all practical purposes, already very accurate and thus functional.

The big difference is the deduction of the ayanäàça, but, even when deducted, that does not influence the angular relationships of the planets whatsoever. We could go into much greater detail here, but such a digression would not necessarily be conducive to increased understanding. If you are proficient at trigonometry, and if you can procure a bona fide copy of Siddhänta Sarasvaté’s translation and commentary of Sürya-siddhänta (under the name Bimal Prasad Datta), and if you can translate the Appendix from the Bengali to English (not nearly as difficult as you may think), you can take a crack at calculating your planets exactly. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

In the meantime, securing a first-class sidereal software program with the User Defined feature should suffice, as you will get accurate placements, although they will not be perfect. They cannot be perfect, because any one ayanäàça does not apply perfectly to all nine of the planets; this is a bit difficult to comprehend. Everything can be understood in due course of time, but it requires faith, patience, and the tenacity of a bulldog. It also requires mathematical acumen, up to and including proficiency in trigonometry. Actually, acquiring the aforementioned copy of Sürya-siddhänta as the starting point is the very first challenge, since it is not easy to procure.

The siddhäntic method is superior, but it is cumbersome and much more complicated. Securing usable sidereal software and programming into it an accurate ayanäàça gives good results much more quickly, but you should at least be aware that these different methods exist. You should also be aware that the Vedic or siddhäntic method is the original, bona fide, and completely authorized method for right calculation.

Mean Rähu is True Rähu

“In astrology also, the moment is calculated like that. If the exact moment is there, by mathematical calculation, he can give you the exact history of your whole life. This is standard, all standard.”
Q & A after Çrémad-Bhägavatam, platform lecture, 8-3-74

During the course of your author’s working with the Sürya-siddhänta of Siddhänta Sarasvaté, there was the discovery of an unanticipated bonus. Indirectly, it affected the calculation of the ayanäàça. You do not need much mathematical acumen to verify it, although you do need the ahargaëa. You also need knowledge of the planetary cycles, but you only need one.

The reason for this is the astro-fact that Rähu has no epi-cycles, i.e., his mean position is his true position. This is standard knowledge. Over-intelligent Western astrologers sometimes dispute this, but Sürya-siddhänta makes it clear. The doubt may be raised as to what this has to do with ascertaining the ayanäàça, as per its accurate measurement. The answer to this query is much more simple than you may think: It is based on comparison.

For example, let us say that you employ sidereal software that uses the Lahiri ayanäàça as its default. It does not have the User Defined feature, so you plug in the basic data required, and your chart is delivered to you. All the placements are as per the Lahiri ayanäàça, i.e., all of them are too far back in the sidereal zodiac from where they should be positioned.

Now, via the siddhäntic method, if you are able to calculate Rähu for your moment of birth (it does require great mathematical skill), you will readily see that the mean position of Rähu is further up in the zodiac than the position (for Rähu) attained via the deduction of the Lahiri ayanäàça from his tropical position. You can calculate this difference, and then you can apply that difference to all the planets placed via Lahiri. Mean Rähu is true Rähu, and this method verifies that an accurate ayanäàça must be shorter.

Your author discovered this in his own chart. In it, Lahiri put Rähu at the tail end of one sign, but the mean position of Rähu, which was calculated without any need of trigonometry, put the Dragon’s Head at the beginning of the next sign. This had important astrological implications, in no small part because the signs are non-different from the houses in sidereal astrology.

In Western astrology, Rähu is referred to as the North Node of the Moon; Westerner’s consider him to be only a point in the sky and not a planet. It does not matter. All sidereal programs will calculate Rähu, and most tropical programs will calculate the North Node. Either way, subtract an accurate ayanäàça, and then you know where he is. You can use this knowledge in other advantageous ways, obviously.

Let the Sunshine In

Prabhupäda: Astrology is simply based on mathematics. Exactly.
Svarüpa Dämodara: To calculate the planetary . . .
Prabhupäda: Astronomy, yes. Astrology is part of astronomy. . . So our astrology is calculated by the position of the stars. By astronomy, you calculate the position of the star, and they know, “If the star is in such and such position, the result will be like this.”
That is astrology. Morning walk, 12-29-73

That the precession of the equinoxes and the ayanäàça is little understood in the West is a given. There are many misconceptions connected to just what these two are, how they are interrelated, what the length of the ayanäàça is, how it is determined and how it functions. The precession of the equinoxes is acknowledged by all siderealists and tropical astrologers, but there is a major misconception about how it relates to the zodiac.

We all remember that famous song of the Sixties, sung by the Fifth Dimension, their one-hit wonder. Although uplifting in its own limited sphere of influence and more or less helpful for its time, there are no less than two major misconceptions imbedded in its lyrics and even in the name of the group. There is a fourth dimension, the spiritual world. There is no dimension beyond that. Goloka is the highest realm of turéya. The brahmajyoti is not the fifth dimension; it is the lowest region of the fourth dimension (turéya).

The other example of mistaken knowledge, however, has bearing on the chief topic being considered here, viz., the ayanäàça. There is no such thing as an Age of Aquarius. It is a myth. It is a gandharva-nägara based upon the misconception that the precession of the equinoxes eventually leaves the sign of Pisces. New Agers believe that it then reaches the tail end of Aquarius, thus inaugurating the so-called Age of Aquarius. It does no such thing, at least not according to the revealed knowledge of Sürya-siddhänta.

New Agers and many (if not almost all) tropical astrologers believe that the precession of the equinoxes—the measurement of which constitutes the ayanäàça—is cyclical. It is not. It is a libration. It never reaches Aquarius as it moves backwards in the zodiac, and it never reaches Taurus when it is moving forward in the zodiac. Picture a pendulum.

There is no such thing as an Age of Aquarius, an Age of Capricorn, an Age of Sagittarius, an Age of Scorpio, an Age of Libra, an Age of Virgo, an Age of Leo, an Age of Cancer, an Age of Gemini, or an Age of Taurus. If you want to conceptualize it as such, there can be said to be an Age of Pisces and an Age of Aries. That is because the precession of the equinoxes proceeds as a libration, going back and forth between these two signs only, with zero degrees Aries as the mid-point, i.e., the ayanäàça is not cyclical.

As a final consideration (not integral to what is being considered here but still a bit interesting), all this banter about the great Age of Aquarius (which will never take place) is based upon another misconception. It is this: The so-called entrance of the precession into the sign of Saturn (Aquarius) could never augur in an age superior to what is experienced while the precession is in the sign of Jupiter (Pisces). Jupiter is, generically, the greatest of all the benefics, and Saturn is, generically, the worst of all the malefics (amongst the seven major planets). Another thing: The movement of the precession does not determine ages—not according to the Vedic revelation. It is a Western concoction, introduced by the Theosophists, who form the root of the New Age.

Much Too Fat and a Little Too Long

“Everything is there. That is Vedic knowledge. They have got already everything written there. The astronomy, everything is written there; simply you have to calculate. Astrology, we say simply mathematical calculation.”
Room conversation, 5-4-72

Picture a pendulum traversing its arc, and this will allow you to get a mental image that assists in understanding the ayanäàça. Like the pendulum image itself, it cannot remain at any one place (within its sidereal arc) for more than a brief period. If the pendulum were still and not moving at all, that position would, analogously, be the same as zero degrees Aries, i.e., the tropical zodiac would then match the sidereal zodiac.

Such, however, is not the case now, and it has not been the case for many hundreds of years. In reading a chart via the North Indian diagram (the style preferred by most Western siderealists) and placing Aries as the sign of the seventh house, you look at the arc as making a swing in Aries towards Taurus to the right. When it swings right, it means the tropical year is longer than the sidereal year. Visualizing the arc making its swing into Pisces (to the left), the current situation is denoted.

The sidereal year references a solar relation to the constellations, the stars. The tropical year, wherein the Sun moves north and south of the equator and then returns to his previous location at the vernal equinox (after one full passage), is shorter than the sidereal year. The sidereal year, on the other hand, means that the Sun returns to his exact location in relation to a fixed star. Sidereal astrologers often refer to the nakñatras (constellations or asterisms). This difference, often referred to in the West as the precession of the equinoxes, is what creates the ayanäàça.

It changes only a certain number of sidereal seconds (not minutes—and certainly not degrees) of arc each year, but that change becomes incremental, it accumulates. The annual change, which only creates a small addition in and of itself, also has a very slight variation from year to year, but there is no need to get hung up on this. Returning to the pendulum analogy, it is moving at different speeds throughout its overall swing, but, in any limited sector of that arc, the difference of speed from one point to the next will be more or less negligible. In terms of the ayanäàça, it is the accumulation that is really important, not the rate of increase or decrease per year. Most siderealists now accept it to be fifty-four seconds of sidereal arc, approximately.

There’s no pressing need to completely understand this change of the rate of its movement per year; assimilating the meaning and use of the ayanäàça is what is actually important. Remember that the sign position (and sub-divisions of the sign) that tropical astrologers assign for the planets are considerably off; they are off by the amount of the ayanäàça, by the cumulative amount of sidereal degrees, minutes, and seconds representing the precession.

We shall present that aggregate (for a given year) subsequently in the Ten-Year Reference Chart. Within each entry there, you will find the amount that is to be subtracted from the tropical position, and your sidereal software automatically computes this–as long as you have (and have utilized) a User Defined feature to accurately program your software.

From zero degrees Aries, the greatest increment of ayanäàça would be twenty-seven degrees of sidereal arc, but we are not currently at this point, i.e., we certainly will not reach that maximum precession during our lifetimes. There are fifty-four degrees of sidereal arc traversed throughout the complete cycle of the ayanäàça, twenty-seven to each half. As the years roll by, the ayanäàça (which must be subtracted—at this time) will get longer. However, as your author has mentioned elsewhere, every currently popular ayanäàça is too long. These basics can be a bit difficult to comprehend, but once the internal light bulb goes on and you catch the drift, the result is rewarding.

“My Räçi is Mithuna”

“Regarding your question about my birth, I was born September 1, 1896, Tuesday, at about 4:00 in the afternoon. My räçi is Mithuna.”
Letter to Jaya Krishna Öhäkura, 12-6-75

When His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda dictated this part of his brief reply (to his secretary and referenced “my räçi,”) he was referring to the sign in which the Moon was situated at the time of his birth . When he clearly stated that the lunar orb was in the sign of Mithuna, that means he was in Gemini. Now, if we apply either the Lahiri ayanäàça to Prabhupäda’s birth data or the Raman ayanäàça, both of them put the Moon at the end of the previous sign, Taurus. Similarly, all the other (less popular) ayanäàças—such as Yukteshvara’s, Bhasin’s, Krishnamurti’s, and Fagan’s—also place the Moon in Vrishabha on that date at that time, when the final position is determined by the deduction from his tropical position. However, the Moon was not in Taurus at the time of Prabhupäda’s birth; he was in Gemini.

Somewhat surprisingly, this is generally not accepted. On the fringe of what goes today by the name of ISKCON, a number of astrologers can be found. Aside from the faithlessness inherent in the rejection (of Prabhupäda’s Moon being in Gemini, where he clearly said it was), almost all of the above-mentioned Western wise men concur—falsely agree–that Prabhupäda’s Moon must have been in Taurus (”exalted” in Taurus). Actually, the Moon is not exalted at the end of Taurus, but that is a bit tangential here. The vast majority of those learned fellows—perhaps, even the totality—employ the Lahiri ayanäàça, which places the Moon at the end of Taurus.

These people were initiated while Prabhupäda was still physically manifest; they are supposed to be his disciples. Many, if not most, of them make a living (either partially or completely) as astrological consultants. However, by their use of an inaccurate ayanäàça—one that places the planets in a sidereal position that is not actually close enough to the reality of where they were situated—such post-modern quasi-astrologers are liable to be misleading those who take both their advice and direction.

When your author first revealed this knowledge (of the logic inherent in the letter to Jaya Kåñëa Öhäkura), it drew either complete dismissal or an ad hominem, vitriolic reaction from the above-mentioned section. We experienced some relative setbacks as a result but did not allow those to either depress or oppress us. The fact of the matter is that you can be very confident in the knowledge herein presented to you because, at 4:10 p.m. on September 1, 1896 in Calcutta, India, only a shorter ayanäàça (than Lahiri’s) places Prabhupäda’s Moon in Gemini—just where he said it was.

If you foolishly think that Prabhupäda did not know the astrological science and therefore blundered in stating that his Moon was in Gemini (allegedly because of what he had been told by some pundit in Calcutta), then you are faithless. You do not understand—or worse, do not accept—the powers and realization of an uttama-adhikäré. If you foolishly think that he simply repeated illusory facts based upon something he heard long ago from some smärta brahmin, then you are a mental speculator. If you disregard his unambiguous statement as to the location of the Moon in the sidereal zodiac at the time of his birth, then you do not understand the great personality, the çaktyäveça-avatära, you falsely claim to be your guru mahäräj.

Knowing the past and the future is one of the twenty-three mystic powers; it is one of the five minor ones. Prabhupäda easily had it, as he had all of them in full. Anyone who is Paramätmä realized has all of the mystic powers at his beck and call; Prabhupäda was far beyond that status of realization. He knew where his Moon was, and he told Jaya Krishna Öhäkura where it was. He had no reason to mislead the inquirer, and he did not do so.

Having been raised in a brahminical, Vaiñëava family that was full of Vedic knowledge and realization, Çréla Prabhupäda would have been aware of his sidereal birth-chart. It must have been prepared not long after his birth, and, almost certainly, it was calculated via the siddhäntic method, in which the ayanäàça is not deducted from tropical positions. Consulting that chart, he would have been aware of his lagna, lunar räçi and lunar nakñatra; it is offensive to think otherwise, indicative of weak faith. Most astronomical data in Bengal at that time was based on Sürya-siddhänta. Its astronomical placements were considered authoritative by those pundits. Prabhupäda said his Moon was in Gemini, and that should be good enough for all of us.

What is most helpful in this connection is that, indirectly but nevertheless conclusively, it clarifies the ayanäàça controversy. An accurate ayanäàça, when deducted from the tropical positions (around 4 p.m. in Calcutta on the date of Prabhupäda’s birth) would have to be shorter than all of the popular ayanäàças now in vogue; they all place his Moon, at that time, at the end of Taurus. Some would say that this explanation is merely evidence, but, even if you consider it as such, it constitutes strong evidence. The science is known as astro-logical, and logic here dictates an ayanäàça shorter than those of Lahiri and Raman, et. al. Your author does not consider this particular section of our two-part series to be merely evidence; we instead accept it as conclusive.

The Five Charts Argument

There is a town in north Ontario,
With dream, comfort, memory, despair,
In my mind I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.
CSN&Y, “Helpless”

At the beginning of Part Two (what you are now reading), we acknowledged that controversial claims would be confronted. Here is one of them. It is anecdotal, but cults tend to feast on these kinds of stories. Often, their alleged legitimacy is based upon spurious beliefs and/or “facts,” and, in this way, opinion tends to morph into cult reality. This anecdotal tale took place during the final days at Våndävana, India, 1977, when His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda was approaching what turned out to be his imminent departure from the manifest world. Your author was not present to witness what went down, as only a handful of devotees were present in his room when it transpired. As such, it’s a story for the vast majority of the readers.

Your author has heard—and we did not do so first-hand or even second-hand—that five different sidereal natal charts of His Divine Grace were brought from New Delhi in the final days. A personal servant of one of the prominent sannyäsés there at the K. B. mandir had been sent to well-known astrologers in New Delhi in order to gain some insight as to when Prabhupäda, according to astrological dashas, would possibly depart the mortal world. Now, as the story goes, these five charts had some different lagnas, and it is not at all unlikely that they had different lunar placements, as well. Only one of these charts (or none of them) could have been bona fide, but all of them were thought to possibly assist in shedding light on upcoming hard times.

Actually, the room conversations or recordings during this period (October and November of 1977) give plenty of evidence that astrological factors were being discussed and considered. For the purposes of this section, there is no need to delve into any of those details here. What should concern us is the fact that at least one prominent devotee astrologer uses this anecdote to establish what he considers to be the legitimacy of the Lahiri ayanäàça.

Now, these five charts and their predictions were presented to Prabhupäda, as the story goes. Interestingly enough, it is not the dangerous dashas that the New Delhi pundits delineated which is controversial here. Indeed, it is not the discussion itself that is of importance; it is its immediate aftermath. What becomes important (and more than a bit laughable) is how these five different natal charts were interpreted and handled immediately after the readings and predictions were presented to His Divine Grace.

Although it is certain that there were more than two devotees in the room when the astrological predictions of the New Delhi astrologers were read, we are only concerned with two of them. These are the aforementioned sannyäsé and one of his (female) personal secretaries, who may or may not have been actually present. At any rate, the five charts are said to have been folded up into separate scrolls after the readings, and, as the story goes, they were then first handed to the sannyäsé. Now, whether he asks a final question in relation to them or not, the key event—if it even took place—is that Prabhupäda is said to have pointed to one of them and indicated that it was the bona fide chart.

If that aforementioned secretary was present, she was given all five at that time; if not, then they were brought to her. If they were carried to her and she was not in the room, it further adds to the dubious status of the conclusion drawn from this series of unfortunate events. Once given to her, she was instructed to put a special kind of ribbon (or marking) on the one that Prabhupäda had allegedly said was the right one.

Briefly jumping to current times, that aforementioned devotee astrologer uses this story in order to establish his conclusions concerning Prabhupäda’s chart. He claims that the female secretary, when he visited her in Våndävana, showed him which chart was (allegedly) the right one (supposedly pointed to as such by Prabhupäda), and it has a Sagittarius lagna with Moon in Taurus. It just so happens that this devotee astrologer, who also happens to now back the rittvik apa-siddhänta (as does the aforementioned sannyäsé), produced his astrological book some decades ago. In it, he added a chapter (or an appendix) presenting what he believed was the natal chart of His Divine Grace. Yes indeed, it has a Sajj lagna with Moon in the sign of Venus.

This fellow uses the anecdote to establish that he is right and everyone who disagrees with him is wrong—because Prabhupäda pointed out his chart! Your author completely disagrees with the fellow, as His Divine Grace was clearly a Capricorn lagna with Moon in Gemini. What we need to deliberate upon here is not only the veracity of the tale as a whole, but also the history of the key people involved in it, and especially the many ways that whatever Prabhupäda did or didn’t do at that time could have morphed over time.

Consider the factors. Consider the absurdity of five charts in the first place. Five charts! That could indicate perhaps three different lagnas. Is that even possible? Maybe, but it casts doubt on the whole anecdote. Now, consider the memory of Prabhupäda, after the reading, pointing to one chart in particular. Memory is notorious for becoming faulty over time. Did he actually do that? If he actually pointed to one of them, was the scroll he pointed to the one that was deemed to be the one that eventually got the ribbon or marking? After all, he was in very difficult shape on the physical plane, i.e., the perception of his pointing could have been misapprehended.

If the sannyäsé handed it immediately to his personal secretary in the room, that’s one thing. However, women weren’t allowed much access to Prabhupäda’s room in the final days; it is more likely that the passage of the five batons took place somewhere else on the ISKCON campus. Now, as it so happens, your author spent about six months in close contact with this former sannyäsé (he has not been one for decades) less than two years after this pointing incident. He never once mentioned this story during that time, although he knew well our interest in astrology (indeed, he gave me a valuable astrological book during that period). Over and above that, he knew virtually nothing of the science. It is doubtful he even knew the lords of the signs or the names and symbols of the twelve signs themselves.

At the time of the alleged pointing, did he perceive the right chart? Or did he get it mixed up with another one from the other four? Did he hand “the right one” to his secretary later in the day? If so, did she get it mixed up later on? The permutations of what might have transpired are not endless, but they are many. The most important point is that he did not know enough about the science to be able to verify anything at that time or this time.

And there’s another big factor in this, isn’t there? It is the elephant in the room! Yes, indeed: The vested interest of the aforementioned devotee astrologer. After all, he had the temerity to claim, as a so-called authority, that Prabhupäda had Sagittarius as his ascendant with the Moon in Taurus. Now, he latches upon this (tall?) tale as proof positive that he was right. He’s wrong, and the anecdote—if it is even legitimate—is so shot through with holes that nobody in his or her right mind would ever consider it anything more than interesting but exceptionally weak evidence.

Consider also that the former sannyäsé has been an advocate of major change to the bhakti-siddhänta–since he has, for decades, vehemently pushed rittvik. Consider that the popular fringe astrologer also fully backs rittvik—and has been advocating it for quite some time, as well. Consider that there is no tape recording of this anecdotal, private reading and conversation in Prabhupäda’s room. Even if there was, there is no video record of His Divine Grace pointing to something. The whole thing amounts to nothing more than a colorful story that ultimately proves absolutely nothing.

The Calendar Argument

“‘Everything is Väsudeva.’ So, Väsudeva will give him all knowledge about science, about politics, about philosophy, about astrology, astronomy. Everything will come out. . . Kåñëa devotee, he knows everything, all department of knowledge.”
Bhagavad-gétä platform lecture, 10-28-75

There are astrological considerations, and, separately from these, there are institutional considerations. To draw conclusions from (so-called) evidence in one in order to come to conclusions concerning the other—is to mix apples and oranges. Such conclusions cannot be drawn, but the infantile mentality of those bamboozled by institutional structures does not allow this realization to take place within their brains. Thus, they cannot be helped by what is presented in this section of our two-part series, but you can understand it.

Let us not forget that the ayanäàça cannot be called solely an astronomical calculation; it is much more than that. Indeed, if it is considered merely to be that, then any discussion about it amounts to nothing more than academic banter. An accurate ayanäàça is attained through deductive reasoning that is implicitly linked to astrological considerations.

Astrology is astronomy applied for purposeful realization and action. An accurate ayanäàça assists greatly in this, but an ayanäàça attained by inductive reasoning—and that’s just what is offered when the institution and its calendar allegedly infers it—will not necessarily be accurate. Although it may be accurate enough to construct a workable Vaiñëava calendar (for the cult accepting it), such an ayanäàça will not nearly suffice to give real meaning and usable results to any specific natal or election chart.

This section of our article is a bit complicated, and, because of that, it may be puzzling for a number of reasons. In order to understand it fully, you would have to have more or less complete knowledge of how the various Vaiñëava calendars are calculated, especially in India. We are certainly not going to give any in-depth instruction on that here. Secondly, a comprehensive and comparative knowledge of all the various Vaiñëava calendars would be necessary in order to dig into this topic in a thread-bare way. That is also not going to be offered. Finally, and most importantly, an overview of how His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda operated, in terms of his decisions connected to the Vaiñëava calendar (that his devotees were to observe), becomes the final piece of the puzzle. This will be discussed and explained, but it may be considered controversial by a certain sector.

Now, for simplicity’s sake, let us call all the factions of what was and is left of Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta’s movement (Gauòéya Mutt, the Gauòéya Mission, the Keçava-ji Mutt, etc.) one name, Gauòéya Mutt. After all, His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda did this in the purports of his books, which will have the most lasting spiritual value. Obviously, the Gauòéya Mutt had and has a Vaiñëava calendar, and there can be no doubt that His Divine Grace observed it while in India and the West. There are many practical reasons for his doing so, but that does not give us any conclusive knowledge concerning the ayanäàça, although we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves here.

In other words, Prabhupäda maintained a superficial kind of unity with the Gauòéya Mutt by not indicating any disagreement with its almanac, calendar, and Vaiñëava observance days. Is that at all astounding? Of course not! He was already considered unauthorized by the Mutt’s leaders, who never recognized him, made propaganda against his movement, and swayed numerous devotees to reject his authority. It was not in his interest to open up another front nor did he train any of his disciples in siddhäntic calculations.

For argument’s sake, let us theoretically accept that the Mutt uses the Lahiri ayanäàça in its calculations of the Sun’s ingress into the next sidereal sign. Actually, the Sun enters that sign many hours previous to when Lahiri would calculate his entry, but, if the Mutt uses the method of ayanäàça deduction (we have read that it does just that), then it would use Lahiri. After all, the Gauòéya Mutt is mostly centered in North India, and, as many of you know, the Lahiri ayanäàça holds almost complete sway over North India.

The Vaiñëava calendars throughout India have their differences, but we are entirely concerned here with the Gauòéya almanac and calendar. A difference in ayanäàça will never affect the main factor of the calendar, the tithi, as the difference in sidereal arc between the Sun and the Moon is unaffected by whatever ayanäàça is employed. It will however, very infrequently, affect the starting point of a Vaiñëava month of the Gauòéya calendar, which is pürëimä-based, because Lord Caitanya’s birth is the commencement date of that calendar. It could also affect the adhika-mäsa, of course.

Here’s where the realization of apples and oranges becomes crucial. Some Mutt pundit creates the almanac and then assigns the dates for various ceremonial observances in that cult of Vaiñëavism. This is done by whoever is given this power in the Gauòéya Mutt. During Prabhupäda’s manifest appearance, his movement simply followed suit and observed those same days. This was not an astronomical issue or a zodiacal issue; it was an institutional issue. It was done for convenience, simplicity, and it was done in order to maintain some kind of concord with the concept of universal Vaiñëavism.

Let us also not forget that, after Prabhupäda left, the rump element of his movement entered into a controversy with the Gauòéya Mutt over what solar year constituted the celebration of five hundred years after Lord Caitanya’s appearance, i.e., each of these cults observed the event during different years. This shows that there has never been any real allegiance to the astronomical calculations and/or observations of the Gauòéya Mutt.

What you must be able to see here is that Prabhupäda’s Moon, being in Gemini at his birth, is an astrological consideration. Rähu, when calculated according to the Sürya-siddhänta via his cycle—and thus found to be forward from where the Lahiri ayanäàça places him in the zodiac—is an astrological consideration. The calculation of observance days by Vaiñëava institutions is an institutional consideration. It cannot, in and of itself, establish anything in terms of which ayanäàça is most bona fide or more accurate. Some Gaudéya pundit makes the call, the institutional followers fall in line, and, if any other institution accepts that calendar, so be it. Inductive reasoning has its limitations.

It is all based upon institutional considerations. If the Gauòéya Mutt has rejected making its calendar calculations via the epi-cycles contained in the Appendix of Siddhänta Sarasvaté’s translation and commentary, who is going to research or question that? How many devotees are even going to know that such is the case? Or when it became the case? After Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta departed, who knows how the calendar was calculated and/or which disciples were put in charge of it? What we do know is that, once the decision comes down, everyone in the institution simply accepts. This is how cults operate. It is what it is, but, when apples and oranges get mixed as to its inductive ramifications, then there is a great deal wrong with it.

Let us also remember that His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda was not at all rigid when it came to observing fixed dates for various Vaiñëava celebrations and/or vratas. For example, he allowed Rathayätra to take place on many different dates throughout the world. Everyone knows this. The only thing that these different dates had in common was the fact that they all took place during summer. Similarly, when it came to ekädaçé, if any temple or devotee missed the date on the Vaiñëava calendar (when it was supposed to be observed), Prabhupada allowed it to be observed the next day. That was controversial, and his godbrothers opposed his liberality in so many ways.

The bottom line is this: Do not allow the calendar argument to bewilder you. Before even entering into it, you require substantial knowledge about all the parameters that are integral to the argument. The only point of actual contention here is the Sun’s ingress into his next sidereal sign, i.e., when a pürëimä takes place between two differing calculations. This happens far less often than you may think. It is not rare, per se, but it is very infrequent. To blow that all out of proportion in order to, through induction, come up with a rationalization for the Lahiri ayanäàça is to simply engage in but another form of institutional oppression, this time in the guise of astronomical authority.

Accuracy Not Exactitude

“The astronomy means the astral influence upon us. And according to the astral influence, we act. Therefore, horoscope is made. At the time of birth, a person’s situation according to different astral influence, and then the astrology science can make his horoscope, his future activities, his future hopes.”
Bhagavad-gétä platform lecture, 6-7-74

As we have stated repeatedly, the ayanäàça affords a short-cut method for calculating the positions of the nine planets of sidereal astrology, along with the lagna (ascendant), for any given time, date, and place. It is convenient, but it is not designed for exactitude. If you are intent upon absolute exactitude of placement, then we have also spoken about the way that you can attain it. That will not be easy, and you will have to pay the price.

In order to interpret a horoscope rightly, you must have the lagna and all the planets correctly placed as per sign. Since sign and house are non-different in classic Vedic astrology, attaining the lagna and signs automatically places all the planets in their correct houses. There is a substantial difference between and amongst the various ayanäàças; this must be recognized, as well as the astro-fact that these differences are not at all inconsequential.

The longest ayanäàça is Fagan’s. Lahiri’s is the next longest. The shortest ayanäàça is what you are being provided here. If one of the long ayanäàças is employed for calculation–and, comparatively speaking, the same chart is calculated using the ayanäàça that is presented in this article—there will be discrepancies. As a matter of fact, it will not infrequently mean that one or two planets are placed in different signs. Truly, that is a kind of hell, at least if you want to engage in self-realization by utilizing sidereal astrology.

Now, one inimical person practicing astrology in the southwest United States—and, as per the devotee grapevine, making a lucrative business of it—has adamantly opined that you cannot employ the User Defined feature and be a bona fide siderealist. According to him, you must use one of the “authorized” ayanäàças in order to stake any such claim. The glaring contradiction of this pedantic assertion is mind-boggling!

According to this idea, if you accept Lahiri, then you are bona fide. If you accept Raman’s ayanäàça, then you are also bona fide. In other words, Lahiri is accepted throughout North India, and Raman is considered the sidereal authority in South India, or, at least, throughout much of it.

However, you will sometimes get different lagnas by employing either of these ayanäàças, and that will not be a rare event. You will sometimes place planets in different signs, and that will also not be a rare event. So, according to the man’s ludicrous assertion, two charts (with any of these differences) are both completely bona fide, because two well-known siderealists represent the conflicting yet authorized(!) ayanäàças. Anyone who buys into this particular rationalization is a fool, but the fringe cult astrologers, on a regular basis, make a living by feeding off the ignorance of such unfortunates.

You want to get your sub-divisional placements correct, what to speak of getting the planets in the natal chart in their proper signs and houses. You need to get the natal lagna correct. In order to do this, you need an accurate ayanäàça, because there is no such thing as a perfect or exact ayanäàça. The ayanäàça shortcut does not provide exactitude or perfection, but it does provide—if you get an accurate one—enough to come to proper conclusions concerning the astrological factors present in any given chart.

Herein is provided a ten-year list of accurate ayanäàças. You should have enough mathematical acumen to figure out how to adjust the calculation for years previous and subsequent to the Fifties. However, even if you do not, simply plug one line of this data into your User Defined feature, and that will automatically make the necessary calculation. To reiterate, the ayanäàça moves at approximately fifty-four seconds of sidereal arc per decade, i.e., it moves nine sidereal minutes every ten years. The ayanäàça for 1950 is twenty-one degrees, sixteen minutes of sidereal arc. The years 1958-59 have been arbitrarily selected as the repeaters, since an accurate ayanäàça does not require fine-tuning to the nearest second of sidereal arc.

1950: 21-16
1951: 21-17
1952: 21-18
1953: 21-19
1954: 21-20
1955: 21-21
1956: 21-22
1957: 21-23
1958: 21-24
1959: 21-24

Concluding Remarks

“Modern scientific calculations are subject to one change after another, and therefore they are uncertain. We have to accept the calculations of the Vedic literature. These Vedic calculations are steady; the astronomical calculations made long ago and recorded in the Vedic literature are correct even now. Whether the Vedic calculations or modern ones are better may remain a mystery for others, but as far as we are concerned, we accept the Vedic calculations to be correct.”
Çrémad-Bhägavatam, 5.22.8, purport

We require perspective. You will also hear bandied about, especially by the proponents of the Lahiri ayanäàça, the mistaken view that the positions of the planets in the firmament change quite often, that measurements must be regularly taken by observatories in order to discover this, and that calculations must thus be tweaked. This misconception is symptomatic of the modern and post-modern so-called scientific mentality. The positions of the planets are determined by mathematical formulae, not by allegedly discovering their so-called new positions through a telescope. It is a ludicrous proposition for many reasons, but we have no obligation to explain all of that here.

Sometimes you will also read, in conjunction with what has just been discussed, that the Sürya-siddhänta contains a verse that says the planetary positions have to be periodically adjusted. There is a verse that can be translated in that way, but what is it in reference to, i.e., what are the time-frames to which this reference applies? The idea that it can or does apply to every decade or two is preposterous and right up the Western alley of constant change, wherein nothing in the universe is regular, dependable, or steady.

In all likelihood, it references a change of the epi-cycles at the turn of the yugas or it could reference them at the turn of a catur-yuga. It is unclear what the time-frame is, but we can be sure that it is not applicable to any limited time-frame. In other words, the epi-cycles given to us by His Divine Grace Siddhänta Sarasvaté (only a little over one hundred years ago) are still cent-per-cent accurate, cent-per-cent applicable, cent-per-cent bona fide.

These upstarts, some of whom fancy themselves as initiated disciples in the line (Even sannyäsés! Even gurus!)–but who, in fact, have no genuine connection via initiation from a bona fide spiritual master on the manifest plane—set themselves up as authorities in everything, including astrology. Thus, they meddle in that which they do not actually understand, and they go with the flow (they accept Lahiri, because all of their comrades do). Then they push the nescience that periodic adjustments to the positions of the planets means that Lahiri has it right now, because there has been a recent change in the heavens. They don’t directly say this, of course, but that’s where they are coming from. It runs completely counter to the purport referenced above.

We certainly question some modern astronomical conceptions, although, as mentioned previously, their formulae used to create the Western ephemerides (for ascertaining the position of the planets at any given time) are almost identical to what is presented in Sürya-siddhänta. The idea that these formulae are subject to one change after another after another creates an uncertainty which puzzles those who do not understand the nature of the game being played by the mental speculators. The planetary positions are not uncertain, and an accurate ayanäàça will closely tally with where the cycles and epi-cycles of Siddhänta Sarasvaté placed the planets. This truth remain so, i.e., it continues to place them accurately to this very day.

We have to accept those calculations, since anything produced by an uttama-adhikäré is always in accord with Vedic literature. These Vedic calculations are steady, and it was not that long ago that they were bestowed. They remain correct even now, and, as such, we reject the post-modern planetary and sidereal positions created by ayanäàças that are much too long, such as Lahiri’s. Thus, we do not allow ourselves to be covered over by the fog of fringe Vaiñëava astrologers, who continue to feed off the dim-witted section, still bamboozled by its dangerous connection to the dogmatic cult of ever-diminishing returns.


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1 comment

1 mayapurchandra das { 01.14.23 at 19:30 }

Haribol, i must say, very interesting reading. many good points.

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