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Astrology… Rooted in Culture and Beliefs March 3, 2009

Posted by Neelam in Articles.
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This is my conversation from one of the astro lists.

Agriculture having been the mainstay of our economy for centuries, the lives of more than half of Indians are closely linked to the swings of agricultural activity that much of the traditions, beliefs and celebrations that are still actively pursued in today’s urban centres have their origins in rituals surrounding agricultural practices.

Even now in most households, the grains are sown in a clay pot (my mother would always insist on a kalash shape only) before the actual the sowing in the fields started and the lady of the house would be proud to have a good harvest at home, after which she is confident of abundance and prosperity coming from a good yield from the produce in the fields. This clay pot is installed in the centre/garbha of the female deity drawn on the earth with flour and other symbolic items are placed around her. Many Mithila paintings carry the symbols of this form which is basically mother earth.

India is vast and exhibits significant geographical, climatic and soil-type diversities, but the one common feature of Indian agriculture is its dependence on the most unpredictable of nature’s elements: the rains!

There is either the autumn crop called kharif or the winter crop called rabi. The kharif crop predominantly uses the moisture from the monsoon rains. With the pre-monsoon showers, farmers perk up. They get the land ready and await monsoons to sow their kharif crop. The time is around June-early July. There are three distinct methods of cultivation, viz.. by transplantation, by sowing broadcast, or by previous germination. The adityas are worshipped and invoked to impregnate and prepare mother earth for a good crop. Urvashi is symbolic of fertility and prosperity. Her sighting is very important thus. The story is better understood in this light.

The rabi crop is sown in November and harvested in April-May. The new year is celebrated in most parts of India in mid April. It begins with freshly harvested grain. This is the time when many festivals are celebrated throughout the country and the ceremonial thanksgiving to Mother Earth is seen all over.

In the context of story mentioned by John, I would say that firstly, the story is not from Srimad Bhagvatam. Secondly, the Vishnu Puran version is very different and it is distorted beyond recognition in this internet version.  We are aware how certain elements have been attacking our ancient heritage to distort or erode the huge knowledgebase and legacy that has been enriching and nurturing us since time immemorial. Most of the versions being circulated on the internet in the garb of vedic texts are not authentic. For any serious work we should only use the originals and authentic translations (sadly missing!). Even when translations are available, English has no equivalents for most of the phrases and words and implied meaning is very different. We can see how ‘vigour’ and ‘vitality’ have been misconstrued. Internet is becoming the biggest supplier of scrap and junk with an alarming speed in recycling and replication. All we get to see is cemeteries and junkyards!!

//KN Rao and Sanjay Rath have encourage their students to read the vedic literature to find some encoded messages that could relate to astrological principles. I personally have taken seminars from these respected jyotishis.// some asks.

It is true that most of our ancient literature is encoded. They are not mere stories, but carry certain messages which are applicable both at mundane and esoteric levels. There are many layers hiding various truths and peeling these layers, one by one, going deeper and deeper into each little couplet would reveal the hidden mysteries. Bhagvad Gita e.g contains whole of Vedas encapsulated. The hidden meanings can be revealed only by a real Guru (this is important as internet gurudom will not work) or by self realization after many years of contemplation.

KN Rao and Sanjay Rath have rightly advocated reading of vedic literature, but they must’ve also warned against the many wrong interpretations available, specially on the internet. I have never been associated with Shri Sanjay Rath, so I cannot say anything about him, but Sh KN Rao always insists on reading from the originals and at the most from Hindi versions which is the closest one can get to it. He had even started free Sanskrit classes for the benefit of students who wanted to study the ancient texts. English interpretations are never encouraged as the basis of original research.

//Your interpretation could very well be right. Do you have the source of your translation and from what vedic text was it taken from?//
I cannot give you the source as we’ve literally grown up on these stories and originals are the best source. The recitals of these texts, and their interpretation thereafter, is a routine activity in India. Srimad Bhagwad recitals are arranged in houses as well as temples and most of the children are exposed to them. Knowing a little of Sankrit, I have always preferred to check with the original.

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