Construct of rules – This article is the 2nd part of a 4 Part series. Please read the earlier article to get a better understanding of this essay.
This article is dedicated to Late Shri. Siddhayogi Sivadasan Ravi, who does not need any introduction in the world of Tamil Astrologer circles. He has extensively written about Brighu Nandi Nadi (BNN) in Tamil and has produced numerous scholars. I deeply regret not being able learn from him directly. Those of you interested to learn about astrology in general and Brighu Nandi Nadi in particular (in Tamil) are suggested to read his books.
This is an important essay in this series. This essay talks about the order in which astrological rules are constructed, from a data science perspective. This is a lengthy essay and the reader is requested to stay focused and understand the concepts before proceeding in a hurry.
Before getting into this essay, let’s understand how unique we all are, astrologically. We are all a minuscule part of the Sun. No two lives are born on this earth at the same time. The birth horoscope / Kundli represents the unique planetary position of the sun and other planets across 12 constellations, when someone is born. In Indian astrology, only the visible planets from the Sun to Saturn are taken into account (“Significant Predictors”) while creating a birth chart. If we look around earth from a geocentric perspective, we would be able to position the 7 planets in a 360 degree circle along with ecliptical points of Rahu and Ketu at different degrees.
Let us consider that we are taking into account the 6 planets from Sun (Note that the Sun is regarded as a planet from an astrological perspective) to Saturn, Moon, Rahu or Ketu and the point of Ascendance. We get 9 different markers. Each marker represents certain form of energy. The Rasi that is rising on the East horizon at the time of someone’s birth is referred as Asc or Lagna in a birth chart.
Let us assume that we are considering these 9 points at 1 degree of precision. If the clock starts moving, the position of earth and the planets will move in their respective orbits and hence the geocentric position of each of these markers will also keep changing at varying rates. If we do a permutation and combination at an increment of 1 degree level, the position of 9 moving points will yield us a whooping possible combination of 1,01,55,99,56,66,84,16,00,00,00,000 (i.e. 360 ^ 9 = 1.02.E + 23) when all 9 markers come back to same point, which might happen over a period of several thousand years (just theoretical feasibility).
In that way, no two people are born with same planetary positions. If we get into sub-degree precision, these combinations will approach infinity. Each planetary combination has a different level of underlying energy mix. If you consider this way, we will be able to appreciate that each one of us are indeed unique and we are nothing but the markers of a unique time and energy levels in our solar system!
Since each one of us are unique, if one start developing rules to explain life events of individual cases, one will be lost in an infinite set of rules! Therefore, it becomes imperative to come up with a minimum set of rules under a larger System construct to understand the life and times of people born at different times. This is what is being attempted through different astrological systems. Examples of astrological systems include Vedic Astrology (Pasarasa System, Jaimini System etc), KP System (Stellar), Brighu Nandi Nadi, Raaja Nadi, Chandra Nadi etc.
If you think of each of astrological system as a working model, you will be able to understand, approach and appreciate each of the systems without prejudice and fear. Depending on the completeness of constructs and closeness of prediction outcomes with reality, one will be able to appreciate the superiority of a specific astrological system.
1.Common Framework of Astrological Rules:
Let us understand this construct with an example. Imagine each one of us as a tree and a collection of us as a forest. Imagine that you are asking different people to describe this imaginative ‘forest’. In that case, each one would come up with different kind of descriptions about this forest. We can’t expect each one of us to come up with same description. However, all of them would surely highlight different types of trees, the general characteristics of them, their aggregation, uniqueness, usage etc. Independent of the person describing it, there would be some commonality in all descriptions.
Similar to this analogy, though each astrological system tries to interpret the universe differently, they all have certain common constructs in common. We can consider the constellations, Rasi’s, Stars, associated characteristics with each Rasi etc to belong to this type of construct. In majority of the systems, these constructs are very similar.
2. Structural rules:
Now let’s move on to the next level. Instead of describing, let’s assume that we are requesting the respondents to paint/draw a picture of forest in their imagination. Wouldn’t everyone paint a different picture of the forest? Depending on the artist’s drawing skills, the angle and perspective, a forest may be shown to us as a beautiful or terrifying place. Each one would draw the forest boundaries and composition differently. But in all their pictures, there would be collection of trees, a basic structure for each tree, branches and a leaves? These descriptions are more detailed and elaborate than orally describing a forest. We can consider this parable to structural rules.
At this level, each astrological system differs from others. Naadi based systems use simple and repeatable constructs to draw a bigger picture while the same picture is created with numerous elements and complex relationships in Vedic astrology. Same outcome is elaborated differently in different systems based on its perspective with varying levels of information density.
3.Essential and Ornamental Building Blocks:
Let us get into some more granularity now. In the above example, what if, if we asked the same artist to draw/paint a picture of a particular tree in the forest? Depending on the observational knowledge and painting skills of the painter, painting of a tree can be drawn with root, stem, branch, thorns, leaf, bud, flower, nut, fruit, seed etc. If these differentiation are not clear, the differences between different types of trees cannot be distinguished. Such detailed descriptions of individual trees can be compared with the essential rules of astrology.
Sometimes, if the painter gets the luxury of time and material, he might be able to portray even differences in bark, leaf structure, stem, and flower design etc of each tree more attractively. Such descriptions have aesthetic and ornamental purposes. These are ornamental building blocks and should be used sparingly. Used in isolation, they don’t add much value. Most of the one line rules/predictions that show up in social media of astrological groups today belong to this type 😊.
This type of one-line, many times untested rules are good enough to arouse interest, trigger curiosity and sometimes even kindle fear or satisfy someone’s ego and prejudices. For example: Planetary combinations for extra-marital affairs, Getting Moksha etc. Such ornamental rules, when stated in isolation neither help the native nor the society. They don’t offer any practical value.
If a painter clearly knows the boundaries of these minute details and applies them in right quantity and consummate proportion in a right perspective, then the tree would come to life in a painting. The same is applicable to astrology as well. Microscopic rules were invented to visualize more complex issues. They are common and unique patterns, affirmed through intense observation and experience.
They should only be applied in the right place, size, and based on need. Due care should be exercised before extending certain rule to far-fetched imaginations. One cannot draw coconuts all over a coconut tree just because he is good at drawing coconuts! Similarly, one should not consider a coconut as a decorative element and portray them on a Palmira tree! 😊.
Now, let us see how these rules of construction are implemented in different astrological systems. Since the common framework doesn’t change much between systems and the essential rules are too many in number in each systems and are not exactly comparable, I will restrict the focus of this discussion to structural rules only.
Three types of fundamental perspectives are followed in Indian astrological systems. Bhavam (Bhava or house), Bhava Athipathya (role of house lord) and Graha Athipathya (role of a planetary). In all astrological systems that are popular today, one can witness that one of these three dimensions is primarily used as the main perspective (Ref: Sivadasan Ravi). By analyzing one’s birth horoscope based on all these three dimensions, an astrologer can understand the basic characteristics of that native, her gifts and curses, her strengths and weaknesses.
When the fourth dimension of time (i.e. planetary transits) is added, an astrologer can predict the timing of events likely to take place in the respective period. Basic astrological systems differences emanate from this point on taking into account number of perspectives that are considered while drawing inferences and how simple, easy to understand and calculate are the underlying constructs, rules, and interactions.
Let us summarize what we have seen so far. Let us consider the example of painting tree and forest again. In this example, even though everyone is trying to depict a tree or forest through painting, what they are representing is just a metaphor. It is true that no one can draw a forest or even a single tree to closer to 100% of its details. All that is represented through a drawing is only a model. Superiority of a model is determined by how closely it represents a reality. This is very much applicable to astrology as well.
Rules are drawn from the universe. However, addition of all known rules still cannot fully describe a single constituent. This is the hallmark of our uniqueness. This is the underlying statistical principle behind astrological constructs.
Always remember this! Even the best of the astrologers will go wrong in their predictions. Such instances not only denote failure of individuals. They also denote the gaps in explained knowledge in the methods they follow. All individual astrological systems have their own limits. At the same time, when individual systems are effectively ensembled (also unadulterated) to analyze a horoscope, they can reduce gaps in understanding and improve the collective wisdom of an astrologer.
When you understand this basics tenet of astrology and data science, you will be able to understand and appreciate the other schools and systems of astrology. This understanding will also help you to approach and treat other astrologers and your valuable customers with more love, concern and compassion.
To be continued…