[INDOLOGY] Indian criticisms of astrology?

Walter Slaje slaje at kabelmail.de
Sat Feb 4 10:21:45 UTC 2017

Dear Martin,

> The question that I am really after is this: would he then accept the
celestial mechanics studied and interpreted by astrologers as accurately
reflecting such *karma-phala*? But perhaps that is not a topic that comes
up in the MU.

This, I think, is absolutely correct. At least to my knowledge, there are
no such discussions.

> I suppose our author would agree that the person's actions from previous
lives will largely determine his present one.

I however hesitate to subscribe to that. From Vasiṣṭha’s many statements
made on *pauruṣa* scattered all over his work, and also from the thematic
focus dedicated to it in Book II, his viewpoint appears to be a different
one. One passage is particularly telling in this regard. From it, it
becomes clear that the two opposing forces (previous efforts (= “*karma*”)
vs. present efforts) are equal in their essence (as “efforts”), but
naturally different in their strength. Ideas of a predetermination in the
sense of “effort 1” (past) controlling “effort 2” (present) are lacking.

In consequence of that the result depends solely on the superior fighting
power in the hour of clashing interests. When it comes to that, the
stronger (*atibala*) of the two will succeed (√*ji*).

The example is that of two fighting rams, equal in their essence of their
being rams, but each of different individual strength:

*dvau huḍāv iva yudhyete puruṣārthau samāsamau*

*ātmīyaś cānyadīyaś ca* *jayaty atibalas tayoḥ* || (MU II.5.5)

*tayoḥ* [=] dvayoḥ puruṣārthayoḥ madhye | *atibalo jayati *| *huḍaḥ* [=]
śṛṅgasahito mṛgaviśeṣaḥ (MṬ); *huḍau* [=] meṣau (VTP).

Translation Steiner:

„Wie zwei Böcke bekämpfen sich zwei [Arten von] Tatkraft, [die ihrer Art
nach] gleich, [an Stärke aber jeweils] ungleich sind: die zu einem selbst
und die zu einem anderen gehörige [Tatkraft]. Von diesen beiden siegt die
[jeweils] stärkere [Tatkraft].” (MU II, p. 179).

That human effort is seen as the supreme precondition in the soteriology of
the *Vāsiṣṭhadarśana* (as Bhāskarakaṇṭha called it) emerges also from
Vasiṣṭha’s judgment pronounced on *bhakti* and *bhākta*s. As the latter,
too, would rather prefer to rely on salvific powers of gods instead of
making own efforts, he lashes the *vaiṣṇavī bhakti* politically incorrectly
as a concept developed for blockheads (*mūrkha*):

*śāstrayatnavicārebhyo mūrkhāṇāṃ prapalāyatām |*

*kalpitā vaiṣṇavī bhaktiḫ pravṛttyarthaṃ śubhasthitau* || MU V.43.20 ||

„Für die Toren, [die] vor dem [gedanklichen] Reflektieren unter den Mühen
des Lehrwerk[studiums] davonlaufen, [wurde] die Hingabe *(bhakti) *an Viṣṇu
ersonnen, damit [diese] sich in einen heilvollen Zustand begeben [können].“
(Der Weg zur Befreiung. Das Fünfte Buch. Das Buch über das Zurruhekommen.
Übersetzung von Roland Steiner. Wiesbaden 2015.)

Thus, Vasiṣṭha seems to be quite consistent in his thought.

Best wishes, Walter

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