Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Astrology

We turn to astrology because it gives us hope amidst an uncertain world.  It also affirms our identity and increases our self-esteem (“This is my sun-sign and that is why I am good at that“).  Unfortunately, it also reinforces our defeatist tendencies (“I am always going to have this problem according to my sun-sign“).    This raises the question “Do stars rule our destiny?”  According to Sri Aurobindo & The Mother, the stars are merely indicators of our future; they do not control our destiny.   Furthermore, those who take up the practice of Yoga (and by that, I mean more  than just breathing and postures) begin to actively shape their own destiny.  The practice of Yoga can alter our nature and change our Karma.   In such cases, the horoscope no longer remains a guide to the future.   The following are observations of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother on the general topic of astrology.

The Mother Mira Alfassa on astrology

The stars have no decisive influence.  It is only if one does not believe in the Divine that one unnecessarily suffers by believing that they determine one’s life.

I have known many astrologers both in Europe and India. So far, nobody has been able to read the future correctly. There are three reasons for the failure.

  1. First, the astrologers do not know how to read the future properly.
  2. Secondly, the horoscope is always incorrectly made − unless a man is a mathematical genius.  And even for such a person it is very difficult to make a correct horoscope.
  3. Thirdly, when people say that the stars in this or that house at the time of birth rule your life, they are quite wrong.   The stars under which you are born are only “tape-recorders” of physical conditions. They do not rule the future of the soul. There is something beyond, which rules the stars themselves and everything else. The soul belongs to this Supreme Being. And if it is doing Yoga, then all the more it should never believe in the power of the stars or in any other power.

An astrologer who predicts a catastrophe for you is like a joker. Many jokers say things like, “Today you will break your neck!” But in spite of the joke nothing happens.

Only a great Yogi can tell you your future correctly. But even then there is the Supreme Will which alone controls and decides everything.

The most important factor in a horoscope is the intuitive faculty of the astrologer.

Why do you believe in what the astrologers say? It is the belief that brings the trouble. (i.e. The astrologer may be right or wrong.  The prediction need not be ignored but one must not get obsessed by it either.)

Sri Aurobindo says that a man becomes what he thinks he is.

Horoscopes have no importance for those who take up yoga, because the influence that works through yoga is much more powerful than the influence of the stars.

Palmistry is a very interesting art, but it depends for its exactitude and truthfulness almost entirely upon the real ability of the one who practises it. Moreover, it relates only to the material destiny and this destiny can be altered by the intervention of the higher forces.

(Collected Works of the Mother,  Vol 15, Astrology)

There is a fairly widespread belief that stars have a special influence on the destiny of men, to the extent that an entire system of knowledge is founded on this and, according to the different positions of the stars in the sky, it makes quite complete predictions about what will happen in your lifetime.  At an elementary stage of thought, this is expressed by saying that the stars have an influence on our lives. It seems more logical and true to think that it is a sort of notation or recording of the destiny of an individual, for, in the universal unity, everything is interrelated and, if you know how to read the relations between the individual and the universal, you may find in the universal positions of the stars a kind of diagram representing symbolically the life of one individual or another.

Experience proves that this notation which is called in astrology a horoscope is not something absolute and that this destiny is not inevitable, for by taking up yoga and developing spiritually, one escapes from the absolute law of these horoscopes. This would be a kind of notation on the material plane of the relations between universal and individual life, and these relations can be altered by the introduction of a higher plane of consciousness into the material plane of consciousness.  All this is what might be called a half-knowledge, which is a kind of very primitive attempt to grasp the links of interdependence between universal and individual existence.   And all these things are much more like languages which enable us to fix a certain half-elaborated knowledge rather than absolute rules or the notation of indisputable facts. They are attempts, endeavours to understand things as they are, but very incomplete attempts – which have a certain attraction for some minds but which are after all only very rough approximations to the truth of things.

If we go deep enough into mental human knowledge, we realise that all this knowledge as we have it externally in the mental consciousness is scarcely anything more than a language – a fairly complicated one – making it possible for us to understand each other but corresponding only very remotely to the truth of things.

There is a direct approach by identity which is much more effective and, so to say, gives you the concrete key to the whole machinery of things, a direct key that needs no complicated science to express itself – something that corresponds to movements of consciousness and will, which would not need all the mental complications to express themselves. Then the universal reality in its totality becomes a symbol and can be directly perceived in its essence.

(Collected Works of the Mother,  Vol 9, 5 February 1958)

Sri Aurobindo on astrology

“Astrology? Many astrological predictions come true, quite a mass of them, if one takes all together. But it does not follow that the stars rule our destiny; the stars merely record a destiny that has been formed, they are a hieroglyph, not a Force, – or if their action constitutes a force, it is a transmitting energy, not an originating Power. Someone is there who has determined or something is there which is Fate, let us say; the stars are only indications. The astrologers themselves say that there are two forces, daiva and purusakara, fate and individual energy, and the individual energy can modify and even frustrate fate. Moreover, the stars often indicate several fate-possibilities; for example that one may die in mid-age, but that if that determination can be overcome, one can live to a predictable old age. Finally, cases are seen in which the predictions of the horoscope fulfil themselves with great accuracy up to a certain age, then apply no more. This often happens when the subject turns away from the ordinary to the spiritual life. If the turn is very radical, the cessation of predictability may be immediate; otherwise certain results may still last on for some time, but there is no longer the same inevitability. This would seem to show that there is or can be a higher power or higher plane or higher source of spiritual destiny which can, if its hour has come, override the lower power, lower plane or lower source of vital and material fate of which the stars are indicators. I say vital because character can also be indicated from the horoscope much more completely and satisfactorily than the events of the life

(Rishabchand, Sri Aurobindo His Life Unique, p 62)

Paramahansa Yogananda. 

“The deeper the self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux.” These words of Master’s often returned inspiringly to my mind.

Occasionally I told astrologers to select my worst periods, according to planetary indications, and I would still accomplish whatever task I set myself. It is true that my success at such times has been accompanied by extraordinary difficulties. But my conviction has always been justified: faith in the divine protection, and the right use of man’s God-given will, are forces formidable beyond any the “inverted bowl” can muster.

(Paramahansa Yogananda. Autobiography of a YogiChapter 16 Outwitting the stars)

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26 thoughts on “Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Astrology

  1. Sandeep Post author

    Sri Aurobindo relates his own experience with astrologers:

    “I may state my own experience in the matter in the belief, justified by many instances, that it is only typical of the experience of hundreds of others.

    My first accidental contact with an Indian astrologer was not encouraging. This gentleman was the most accomplished thought-reader I have ever seen; for he asked me to think my question without speaking it and not only successfully named the unspoken question I had fixed on, but three others which had crossed my mind, one of them only in the merest flash and without leaving any impression behind: this he pretended to do by mathematical calculation, an operation which I took leave to regard as humbug or professional parade. For when it came to his answers, I found that he was still doing thought-reading and not astrology; he simply echoed the hopes or thoughts in my mind and his predictions did not come within one hundred miles of the truth.

    Other practitioners I have found to belong, a few plainly to the class of mere flattering charlatans, but most to the inefficient who read by rule of thumb and have made no profound study of their science.

    On the other hand, with capable astrologers the results have been often of such a remarkable accuracy as to put quite aside any possibility of chance hit, mere coincidence, intelligent prevision or any of the current explanations. I may instance the father of a friend of mine, a deep student of the science but not a professional, who predicted accurately the exact year, month, day, hour and even minute of his own death. In my own case accuracy was hampered by the inability to fix the precise moment of my birth; still some of the results were extraordinary. Two may be mentioned, from one and the same astrologer, which related to my public career. One, given when I had not yet plunged into the political vortex and my then obscure personality was quite unknown to the astrologer, predicted as an inevitable certitude of the future a political struggle with powerful non-Indian adversaries during which for a time even my life would fall under the shadow of danger. The other, given at the time of my first prosecution in the Bande Mataram case, predicted three successive criminal trials in each of which the prosecution would fail. I may instance also two predictions by the book in which Slokas from Sanskrit astrological writings indicating the result of certain conjunctions or planetary positions were shown to be applicable to my horoscope. One foretold specific chronic illnesses for the body of which there was no sign at the time, but long afterwards they put in their unexpected appearance and persisted. Another indicated very precisely that one of my future activities would be to found a new spiritual philosophy and its discipline; at that time I had no knowledge of philosophy or Yoga and no turn or, inclination in my mind which could make the realisation of this prediction at all probable. These are only the most precise examples out of a number.”

    (Sri Aurobindo. Hour of God, SABCL vol. 17, p 288)

    Reply
  2. ipi

    Even if the prediction were accurate according to the horoscope it need not fulfill itself,because by entering the spiritual life one opens to a new force which can change one’s destiny.
    -Sri Aurobindo (On Himself)

    Reply
  3. ipi

    WONDERFUL LUCK

    Nolini brought a young visitor to the Mother during Pranam. He did not know English and could not answer when he was asked his age. Mother asked him to go to Dr. Nripendra (obviously for a medical check-up). Then while giving him flowers, she held his hand and looked at his palm for long. She remarked: “Wonderful luck. Wonderful luck.”
    Afterwards, while we were on the staircase, I told Mother: “I also have a wonderful luck.”
    Mother: “Let me see.” And she took hold of my palm. “There is no line. Hmm, hmm.”
    C: “But Mother, I have that luck. I see the result.”
    Mother: “Yes, it happens like that.” Then she added: “Let me see, let me see,” and saw my hand again. She pointed out the three lines, heart, mind and life, with the heart and mind lines joined unusually and said: “Very interesting, very interesting, very interesting. Generally we do not find lines like this.” And she kept looking at me for long.
    Lele too, on seeing these three lines, had said the same thing.

    (Champaklal. “Champaklal Speaks” Recollections And Diary Notes-6)

    Reply
  4. Sandeep Post author

    “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune,–often the surfeit of our own behavior,–we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!”
    – William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.2.132

    Reply
  5. Sandeep

    When Swami Vivekananda was a child, his father Vishwanath has his horoscope prepared. The father hid the horoscope from his son because the horoscope said the son would become a monk. As it turns out, Vivekananda met his Guru Sri Ramakrishna in 1882, his father died in 1884, and the prediction came true.

    The following paragraph appeared in the Memphis Appeal-Avalanche newspaper dated 21st January, 1894, when Vivekananda was touring the USA:

    “I was born,” he continued, in answer to a question, “in Bengal and become a monk and a celibate from choice. At my birth my father had a horoscope taken of my life, but would never tell me what it was. Some years ago when I visited my home, my father having died, I came across the chart among some papers in my mother’s possession and saw from it that I was destined to become a wanderer on the face of the earth.”

    Source: http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_7/conversations_and_dialogues/taa_xxxiii.htm

    Reply
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  9. Sandeep Post author

    Some remarks by Kodandarama Rao, a disciple, on Sri Aurobindo’s palm lines:

    “When explaining things Sri Aurobindo used to raise his palm and the lines in his palm which were prominent could be seen well. I was curious to know about the significance of these lines according to Western palmistry, I could see well separated the life line and the head line and the heart line which were all deep and well-marked in a royal palm as it were. Apart from these, the line of fate was well marked and could be seen rising from the wrist and going straight up the centre of the palm to the mount of Saturn. This line indicated success, fame and brilliance in the path chosen by the Master. The heart line was deep, clear and well-coloured. The line of head not too widely separated and one end of it commencing on the mount of Jupiter or with its main branch from the mount of Jupiter is one of the most brilliant marks of all according to Cheiro. A deep cut and fine head line could be seen which indicates a brilliant mind. Sri Aurobindo had artistic fine philosophic fingers with a firm thumb and bright shining nails. An elementary study of the lines mentioned above characterises the person possessing these as having a balanced head and heart and great will power, noble affection for others and being a man of des­tiny. If a great palmist had taken the palm impression of this mighty person he might have given more interesting details. I have mentioned what everybody could see easily when Sri Aurobindo raised his palm when talking to people.”

    (Kodandarama Rao. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as I saw them fifty years back, p 44)

    Basic info on palmistry available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmistry

    Reply
    1. Mohan

      “I could see well separated the life line and the head line…”
      This indicates that Sri Aurobindo has been independent from the very start of his life. It’s evident that he had to be as well, considering he was initially at boarding school then consequently sent to England.

      Reply
  10. Sandeep Post author

    Signs on the feet can also be significant. This method of divination is called podomancy or solistry. The following anecdote regarding Swami Vivekananda (aka Narendra) is from his biography by Dhar. Mahendranath Datta was Vivekananda’s brother.

    Mahendranath Datta tells us that once (some time in 1886-87) an astrologer who happened to see the soles of Narendra’s feet found that auspicious signs, viz., conchshell, discus, mace, and lotus, were on his toes. He predicted a great future for him. Many years later, once in America, Swamiji (Vivekananda) jokingly referred to the marks of discus (chakra, which means also a wheel) on the soles of his teet and said that it was because of these that he had become a wanderer on the surface of the earth.

    (source: S.N.Dhar. A comprehensive biography of Swami Vivekananda, Vivekananda Prakashan Kendra:1975 , vol. 2, p 1432).

    Reply
  11. mike

    l wonder what the Nadi’s leaves would say about SA and Mother.

    Vaitheswaren Koil, the centre for Nadi readers in South East India. The Nadi readers believe that palm leaves with ancient sanskrit written on them predict the past, present and future of every human being who has ever lived, is living and will live on planet Earth.

    They say if your time is right then you will find your palm leaf. The process of finding your leaf is simple. I gave the thumb print from my right hand and off they scurried to to do their research. There are 111 types of thumb print categories. Once your category is decided you are presented with a bunch of leaves and the reading begins. A number of questions are asked and if you answer “no” to any question then the leaf they are reading is discarded. Only when you answer “yes” to every question can they confirm they have found your leaf and your Nadi is then revealed”

    Reply
      1. Sandeep Post author

        I have had some positive astrological predictions along with a whole mass of negative results. I agree with Sri Aurobindo’s observation that astrology depends on the intuition of the astrologer. Most are charlatans.

        Reply
  12. MT

    It was my interest in a western traditional astrology technique called “primary directions” which brought me to discover the Mother and Sri Aurobindo when I found the Mother’s natal chart delineation in this blog post:
    http://starsandstones.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/mirra-alfassa-the-mother/

    I became intrigued and wanted to know more about this extraordinary woman, and eventually my initial interest in learning how to properly delineate a chart faded away.

    Although astrology had served me to gain insight into my life, now I think of it as just a means that lead me to de discovery of something much greater and spiritually fulfilling as integral yoga is.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Although astrology had served me to gain insight into my life, now I think of it as just a means that lead me to de discovery of something much greater and spiritually fulfilling as integral yoga is.

      The spiritual path often begins in this accidental fashion. Amal Kiran, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, came across an article on the Aurobindo Ashram on a newspaper wrapping in a shoeshop. That convinced him to travel to Pondicherry.

      The Mother relates the story of a young woman who came to India to repair her ruined face and ended up in the Ashram! The following passage is from Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 5, pp 1-4:

      “…She had put to me the question: “How did I happen to come here?” I told her that it was certainly not for reasons of the external consciousness, it was something in her inner being that had pushed her. Only the awakening was not strong enough to overcome all the rest and she returned to the ordinary life for very ordinary reasons of living.

      Outwardly, it was a funny thing that had made her come here. She was a young woman like others, she had been betrothed but not married; the man had broken off. She was very unhappy, had wept much and that had spoiled her pretty face, dug wrinkles there. And when the heavy grief had gone, she was no longer so pretty. So she was extremely vexed; she consulted people whose profession it is to make you look pretty. They advised her paraffin injections in the face: “After that, you don’t have wrinkles any longer!” She was injected with grease; and instead of the desired effect, she had greasy lumps here and there. She was in despair, for she was uglier than ever. Then she met a charlatan who told her that in England there was no means of restoring her pretty face: “Go to India, there are great Yogis there who will do it for you!” That is why she had come here. The very first thing she told me was: “You see how my face is ruined, can you restore my pretty looks?” I said no! Then she started putting me questions on Yoga and she was moved. That day she told me: “I came to India to get rid of my wrinkles; now what you tell me interests me. But then why did I come? This is not the true motive that made me come here.” I explained to her that there was something other than her external being and that it was her psychic being which had led her here. External motives are simply pretexts used by the psychic to realise itself.

      But she was quite a wonderful person! In the beginning she had taken an attitude of benevolence and goodwill towards everything and everybody, even the worst scamp; she saw only the good side. Then as she stayed on, her consciousness developed; after a time, she began to see people as they were. So, one day she told me: “Formerly, when I was unconscious, I thought that everybody was good, people seemed to be so nice! Why did you make me conscious?” I answered her: “Do not stop on the way. Go a little further.”

      Once one has begun Yoga, it is better to go to the end.”

      More recently, Francis Rothluebber, a Roman Catholic nun living in California, had a vision of a woman aboard a plane who simply said “I am Mira” and disappeared. She later discovered this woman was Mirra Alfassa after she came across a photograph of her. Subsequently, Francis helped to make a documentary on Auroville entitled “City of the Dawn“.

      In this video clip, the director Christopher Buhrman recounts the experience of his great-aunt Francis. :

      Reply
      1. RJ

        Yes, my journey to this path started when I “accidentally” found Satprem’s “Sri Aurobindo: the Adventure of Consciousness” in a library a few years ago. To be fair, I was looking for ‘spiritual’ books. But how did I ever pick that one, out of shelves and shelves of others? Sometimes I wonder. I probably read that book 4-5 times over the next few weeks, it was so mindblowing. It still took about a year before I was ready to start understanding SA’s work, though. It was interesting to later come across a few Agenda passages where the Mother talks about how special force was put behind that book to reach receptive elements in the West, and that the book’s impact would stretch out for a century. Indeed!

        Reply
        1. Sandeep Post author

          Welcome, RJ ! The “Adventures of Consciousness” has abiding appeal. Satprem once said Sri Aurobindo dictated the book to him. See this interview with one of the early disciples Tehmi (“…Satprem once told me that Sri Aurobindo dictated every word of Adventure of Consciousness through him and that he “just held the pen.””)

          In case you didn’t know, many of the other works are available online. Follow the links under Books

          Reply
          1. Tusar N. Mohapatra

            [In 1972 and 1973 he also wrote under the Mother's guidance the essay La Genèse du Surhomme (On the Way to Supermanhood), which she regarded very highly. This was published in 1974. From Wikipedia]

  13. mike

    Yes, the Adventure of Consciousness was the only book in my local library about SA and the The Mother, which l enjoyed. lt was there for years. Later Satprems book – Mother or The Divine Materialism found it’s way onto the shelves as well. l’ve never seen that anywhere else and eventually l bought it off them.
    Really, though, it was the Letters on Yoga that made the biggest impression on me.

    “External motives are simply pretexts used by the psychic to realise itself.”
    l really like that.

    Reply
  14. mike

    Here are quite a few of satprem’s books l haven’t read.
    I noticed one on amazon called ‘Notebooks of the Apocalypse’ in a few volumes.
    Anyone know what that book is about?

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      I haven’t read that one. Satprem’s other books have a lyrical style but they lack the revelatory quality present in the Adventures of Consciousness.

      Reply
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