Why and what do we study in jyotisha?

The word graha comes from “grahana” which means the eclipse. Therefore, any object which has power to eclipse or capture the mind is called graha. We can also use the word “Enchanter”. The grahas enchant us and put “magic spells” on us, which make us believe and do certain things. In other words, we are under the spells of grahas, which bind us and force us to think in a certain way, and do certain things. We believe that we are free, while actually we become “chipped” by grahas during the conception process, and each graha carries the chip of our own past karmas. Actually, we are forced to think in certain direction, and that is why these carriers or our own karma chips are called grahas, from the word Grahana or eclipse. This is the way that mighty God or Intelligence ruling this universe has made sure to allow all karmas to manifest, by assigning the tasks to its “ministers’ Grahas, as it is stated by the greatest sage Parashara. He said that Shri Vishnu incarnated into the Navagrahas to deliver their own good or bad karmas to all living beings. The word Grahana is not a positive word, and there is nothing positive about having no control. We are actually controlled by higher powers, and there is hardly any freedom in our life. We are like send particle carried by the winds of life, being forced to move in the wind direction.There are no other options, and we are in bondage of grahanas. Freedom from this bondage is called mukti or moksa, and the entire spirituality is focused on freedom from this bondage. Spirituality talks that we are free and must become free.There are different approaches to this freedom. One approach says to cut the bondage, but this is a hard path, and we need a lot of strength to do it. That is why people in India worship Lord Shiva, who is known as Balanama, or the one who gives strength and knowledge. As a matter of fact, there are two major approaches to all spirituality. One is strength, while another is purity (pavitra, shudha). The path of purity is the path of Lord Vishnu.We do not have strength to break the bondage, so we cling to God and pray. We are asking God to help us and break this bondage, assuming the role of His servant. These two main paths are the major study of Jyotisha. Since Parashara states that grahas are incarnations of Lord Vishnu, we will study grahas in two ways:

1.Strength and knowledge of Grahas (bala, or power of Lord Shiva)

2.Purity of Grahas (pavitra,or purity of Lord Vishnu)

Without purity, we cannot understand the long path to bondage break. Laws of the karmas are unfathomable to human mind, and it is not possible to understand grahas intellectually. For that reason we put grahas in decimal system. All numbers from 0 to 9 are assigned to nava or nine grahas + Lagna. Lagna or Ascending sign is always zero or Shunya. Therefore, the whole system is converted into a decimal system so that our brain can comprehend it. All grahas are grouped inside these 10 numbers, where 9 numbers have bodies, measurable quantity. However, shunya or zero, cannot be measured. That is why Lagna does not have a body. Rahu and Ketu also do not have a physical body, as well as Upagrahas. However, they have another body which is astral and not physical. All grahas naturally have strength (Shiva) and purity (Vishnu). They have it inherently, but we have to be able to judge their strength and purity in our chart. In this way, we will be able to understand strength and purity of our own karmas. That is why in the very beginning we study graha gunas. Guna is the quality which contains both strength and purity. If a person is extremely pure, he will not exhibit his strength. If a person is extremely strong, he will not exhibit purity. There are three gunas:

1.Satva, shows very high level of purity, and will not exhibit strength (Vishnu)

2.Rajas is mixture of both purity and strength (Brahma)

3.Tamas is very impure, but likes to exhibit strength (Shiva)

That is why at a very beginning we study position of planets in their signs, as well as their planetary motions. For example, exalted planets are like VIshnu. They are very pure and do not like to exhibit their strength. However, debilitated planets are very impure, and they like to exibit their strength. They are full of tamas, These are extreme positions in a sign, and there are different positions in between. Regarding movement, retrograde planets are very strong. If Guru is retrograde (Satva), he is very pure and likes to exhibit purity not strength. If Budha and Shukra are retrograde (Rajas), it becomes mixed situation, while if Shani and Mangal are retrograde, they are impure and like to exhibit strength. The real strength lies in a mind, because it is the mind which is eclipsed by grahas. The mind gives definitions of good and bad,  pain and happiness. If the mind is balanced, at the right vibration, a person can escape the bondages of grahas. Therefore, regarding strength, it is more important that the mind is strong. Purity of body and a mind are totally different things. Many people keep body pure (clean) and healthy, however, the mind is dirty, and vice versa. Purity of mind is the real condition for proper spiritual growth. Therefore, for a body strength is important (Shiva), while for the mind the purity is important (Vishnu). For the soul (Atma) both are important. All jyotish is centered around the study of Vishnu, Shiva and Devi, in the guna and tattva symbolism. For example, we study grahas and naksatras on the night sky. Why? Why don’t we study other points from the universe? The answer is simple, all knowledge comes from the light. The light is the source of visible and invisible knowledge. Even in the obvious world, we cannot see any object unless the ray of the sunlight falls on it and reveals the shape and structure of the object. Therefore, the only light we can see in the skys are grahas (planets) and fixed stars or naksatras. Grahas are moving (rajas) and Naskatras or fixed stars are stationary (relatively) or tamas. Therefore, the light comes from satva, movement from Rajas and stationary from tamas. All the principles in jyotish are related to satva, rajas and tamas or three gunas. Also, the whole universe is based, on created elements, which are known as panchatatvas. These elements are ruled and governed by certain laws of nature and in Vedic tradition they are given names of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. And ultimately, grahas are just symbolic of these forces of nature, which we study by analogy, by casting the birth chart. And what is the birth chart? It is the moment of time, where time is needed to manifest karmas. Otherwise, karmas need time to Manifest, and without the time, there would be no “when” and “where” to the whole creation…