Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fear not the eclipse - Blame the astrologers, not astrology!

It seems the highlight of today’s lunar eclipse is

the ‘prediction’ of adverse effect on Raksha bhandan.

Astrologers have asked sisters to tie rakhis on their brothers’ hands

before 11 am today or face trouble.

The lunar eclipse will darken this year’s Rakhsha Bandhan

according to astrological predictions!!

News from Hyderabad says that according to city-based astrologers,

rakhis should be tied at least 12 hours before the eclipse begins

to prevent negativity from creeping into the sibling ties.

In my opinion,

the eclipse –predictions are unnecessarily hyped.

As per Vedic astrology, eclipses have been identified as

best times to offer daana and oblations to departed persons.

There is a verse in a Tamil sloka on ‘Vilakku’ – the lamp lit for God,

Kodi kaaram pasuvai kandrudanE kondu vanthu,

gombukku ponnam vaitthu, kulambukku velli katti,

Gangai karai thanilE, Grahana punya kaalatthil,

vaaluruvi anthanarkku maha-daanam seidha palan”

This means,

‘Lighting lamp for Mahalakshmi will yield the results of

giving daanam (gift) of a cow with calf with

golden cap for its horn and a sliver anklet for its feet,

given to a Brahmin

on the occasion of the ‘punya kaalam’ of an eclipse

at the banks of river Ganga.’

The eclipse has always been regarded as the best time to offer gifts

and get relieved of bad karma.

Every Brahmin household will get ready for the grahana – not as a bad time

but as time to offer oblations to departed ancestors

who are said to enter the earthy realms at the time of an eclipse.

A solar eclipse has been seen as a time to offer daanam of sorts

and also a time of leaving the earthy plane.

Yes, from the inscriptions found in Karnataka,

we come to know

that yogis prefer to die by self- immolation on solar eclipse

in the belief that that they will reach the immortal Surya loka.

It has been found inscribed in a stone

that it is said in Mahabharatha that

only two types of people can directly reach the domain of Sun, Surya loka.

The first is a war hero, killed in action. The second is a yogi”

It is because of this the heroic deeds of a warrior killed in action

were inscribed on stone at the time of solar eclipse.

Some yogis also built pyres and entered them at the time of solar eclipse.

For more details on this and on the numerous other inscriptions,

click the following link

This information makes us wonder

whether the recorded immolation of Kalyana (Calanus),

the Brahmin who served Alexander, the Greek king

was timed at an eclipse.

The information from Greek texts which detail this event

do not mention the eclipse.

But it is worth probing whether any eclipse was sighted on that occasion.

It has also been noticed from inscriptions in other places in South India that

many kings had made donations the time of eclipses.

If the eclipse is associated with the lining of many planets,

then it is all the more auspicious for making donations.

One such incident has been noted in an inscription involving

Devaraja Wodeyar of Mysore on Jan 6, 1665,

when 6 planets were in conjunction

with Ketu on a Solar eclipse.

This can be read in the detailed presentation of inscriptions given in the above mentioned link.

Other such instances can be read at

Since the eclipse time is connected with departed ancestors,

other auspicious events are avoided.

Such events are avoided not because they will give rise to bad results.

Since Vedic astrology is basically about identifying time for various events,

eclipse has been found to be giving maximum results for propitiatory,

or daana related ones and for remembering pithrus (departed ancestors).

This explains why the houses are washed after the eclipse is over.

The eclipse is the time of arrival of pithrus,

to accept the tarpaN (water oblations).

Once the eclipse is over, they are believed to be gone.

The place is washed as it is done after the departure of the dead person.

The recommendation of empty stomach also resembles

the way the inmates of a family keep a fast on the day of yearly oblations

(Divasam or yearly thithi),

till the pithrus are offered food.

I think this practice of not eating any food has connection to this only

and not to any other ‘ray’ from the eclipsed part.

The only practice that does not go with this pithru related activities at the time of eclipse

is the placing of a piece of darbha grass on perishable and liquid food items.

I think this alone has some connection with the light that is received from the eclipse.

This is not about the ray like x-rays or something.

It must be about the light.

The usual light that is received from sun or moon is altered at the time of eclipse.

Perhaps this accelerates the decay of food.

Experiments must be done on this aspect to know what exactly happens.

In an earlier experiment it was seen that darbha grass inhibits x-rays.

The practice to place darbha grass makes me think that some un-wanted light enters

the earth on an eclipse and darbha prevents some unwanted activity on food items.

Another issue connected with an eclipse is

the protection a pregnant woman is supposed to take up.

If some altered light particle of the eclipse can cause changes in food items,

it is reasonable to think that it will affect the fetus which is a ‘pinda’

-a mass of food, in growing phase.

Particularly in the 3 rd month of pregnancy when the sex organ is coming to being,

the rate of affliction must be the greatest.

It is at this time, a vedic event called ‘pumsavana’

which is capable of making the fetus a male is done.

The fetus seems to be highly susceptible at this stage.

Hence the precaution at eclipse.

This is another area demanding experimentation and research.

The science we know today also indicates that some factor goes into making

the fetus a male.

If that factor does not happen, the fetus grows into a female.

(perhaps some doctors can explain this in better scientific way)

That factor has not been identified until now .

The Pumsavana seems to have identified that and works at making it ‘work’

to make the fetus a male.

Since this time seems to be a vulnerable one,

the pregnant woman is not exposed to eclipse light at the first trimester.

Apart from this, in my opinion not much ado can be made about eclipses.

Though Varahamihira has given information on results of eclipses

based on the nature of formation of the eclipse,

such happenings are at national or global level,

not at the individual level.

Such happenings seem to happen very often in some part of the world nowadays.

To show that we need not worry too much about predictions,

I am giving here the predictions of Varahamihira on eclipses.

The susceptible ones anyway will get caught into the turbulence.

The age-old prescription is to remember ancestors and

give gifts to deserving ones.

These two will do.

From Brihat Samhita of Varahamihira:-

1. Savya (clock-wise): Partial eclipse of the southern side of the solar disc or the southeastern part of the lunar disc. Such an eclipse causes heavy rains and floods but the people are happy and fearless.

2. Apasavya (anti-clockwise): Partial eclipse of the northern side of the solar disc or the northwestern part of the lunar disc. Many deaths occur due to the tyranny of rulers and robbers alike.

3. Leha: (Licking) : This is a total eclipse where the tongues of darkness seem to lick the disc or enclose it like a ring. A very benevolent eclipse where there is sufficient rains and water and general happiness is assured.

4. Grasana: (Swallowing): This is a partial solar eclipse where the solar or lunar orb is swallowed (covered by a dark shadow). At least one powerful leader shall die and prosperity shall decline. Even the most powerful nation shall see the troubles of an economy under recession.

5. Nirodha: (Obstruction). This is a total eclipse where the central region/solar or lunar orb is completely dark and opaque. A benevolent omen promising well being and happiness in the region.

6. Avamardana: (Crushing) : This is a total eclipse that is long lasting (duration). It causes destruction of world leaders and nations and is considered very inauspicious.

7. Äroha: (Mounting): If after the eclipse, there follows a period where the luminary is again covered by a spell, however brief, of darkness. This is an evil omen and portents war, panic and a lot of fear.

8. Äghräta: (Smelting): The shadow is partially transparent and appears as a layer of dust over the luminary. This is a very good omen and promises good rains, crops and prosperity.

9. Madhyatamas: (Central darkness) : This is a clear annular eclipse where the dark central shadow is surrounded by a ring of light. This is an evil omen and will destroy people and afflict humanity with disease.

10. Tamontya: (Edge darkness): This is a total eclipse where the central region seems lighter as the outer part of the shadow is very dark. Food shortages, crop destruction and danger from thieves or great losses are indicated by this eclipse.

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