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Nakshatras (Lunar Mansions)
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Therese Hamilton



Joined: 22 Feb 2011
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Location: California, USA

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:37 pm    Post subject: Nakshatras (Lunar Mansions) Reply with quote

The lunar mansions which have developed from the ancient nakshatras deserve a separate topic. Since the meanings of these lunar divisions appear to have been changed from ancient to modern times, I would ask anyone interested in this topic to read this article:
http://www.snowcrest.net/sunrise/AANakshatra%20History.htm
"Astrological Use of the 27 Mansions"

I would like to ask our Indian readers if there are any older texts in native Indian languges prior to Bepin Behari which discussed some of his interpretive additions to the mansions. Much of Behari's discussion of the mansions doesn't appear in prior English translations from the Sanskrit or other Indian languages.

I have been very curious about the origin of Behari's writing on the mansions. I will detail some of my questions in a future post.

Therese
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varuna2



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Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Mark
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Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Therese,

Bepin Behari a prolific author of astrology texts. Which specific book by Bepin Behari are you referring to where he discusses the Nakshatras?

I personally only possess a copy of his book Myths and Symbols of Vedic Astrology. This does have quite a detailed discussion of the planetary rulers, deities and myths associated with the Nakshatras in chaper IV of the book.

Mark
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Therese Hamilton



Joined: 22 Feb 2011
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Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
Quote:
Bepin Behari a prolific author of astrology texts. Which specific book by Bepin Behari are you referring to where he discusses the Nakshatras?

I personally only possess a copy of his book Myths and Symbols of Vedic Astrology. This does have quite a detailed discussion of the planetary rulers, deities and myths associated with the Nakshatras in chaper IV of the book.


I know all about Bepin Behari. I am not a fan. Yes, Myths and Symbols is the book with all the previously unknown attributes of the nakshatras. The author doesn't give a single reference, and some of his assignments make no sense. It's not a book I recommend for anyone who wants to learn about the naksatras/mansions.
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varuna2



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Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Varuna2 wrote:
Quote:
Therese, I saw you are not a fan of Behari based on the article. Why do you accept Trivedi but not Behari?

Varuna, I believe that I adequately explained my reservations about Behari in my article. Perhaps it's been a while since you read the article? Since Behari gave no information on his sources, we can speculate that he simply made up some of his material. For a review of the article:
http://www.snowcrest.net/sunrise/AANakshatra%20History.htm

It's true as you say, that India has its oral traditions, and since there are so many different languages, much may be hidden away in individual Indian dialects. However, my opinion is that Behari goes beyond these traditions into his own thoughts and perceptions. This has also happened in western writings on the tropical signs of the zodiac.

Quote:
India is a collection of many different peoples, many different teachings exist there, and many different schools of thought exist within that entity called India.

Yes, and I've always wondered why some sources say that India comes under Virgo, a sign associated with Mercury and precision. It seems to me that India belongs to Jupiter ruled Pisces, a sign of great variety (number 12), that tends to be all-inclusive of different philosophies and appoaches.

Quote:
When I watch these 'western' traditionalists discuss points, it is clear there are many different understandings in what people may classify as 'western traditional astrology,'

Actually as the western tradition is recorded, it is fairly stable and accurate. It's easy to determine when new concepts and ideas were introduced. It's all recorded in texts used by astrologers. The west doesn't have India's oral tradition. That tradition is most likely due to the many different languages, and the fact that (in earlier times) the populace was not generally literate. So a great amount of folklore grew up in individual parts of India.

I will have to review Trivedi's writing before further comment on 27 Celestial Portals.
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varuna2



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Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Varuna, I can understand why you would want to support one of your teachers. I have four of Behari's books which were sent to me by Passage Press for review in the 90s when I was publishing a Vedic newsletter. But your post reminded me that it would be a good idea to review Prash Trivedi's book, and I'll write a few words about that book in another post.

I also studied Theosophy when I was younger, but it has gone into the past in favor of India's more ancient teachings. I don't like to see Theosophy applied to astrology. That is my personal viewpoint, and others will have different opinions.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:45 am    Post subject: Prash Trivedi's 27 Celestial Portals Reply with quote

Prash Trivedi's 27 Celestial Portals is the most complete of contemporary books on India's nakshatras or 27 lunar mansions. In his 23 sections for each mansion Trivedi has included everything that can be associated with the mansions including the symbol, ruling deities, nature and functioning, caste, gender, etc. 27 Celestial Portals also includes colorful paintings of the symbolism of each mansion, a useful aid to learning.

The lunar mansions have caught the attention of a number of modern writers, for they are rich in myth and symbolism. Thus, many stories can be spun around India's mythology in relation to the mansions, a creative writer's dream.

Trivedi's book contains the aura of an old and traditional India. This kind of energy in a book cannot be imitated. Trivedi owes his attunement to the fact that he was born and raised in India, so from birth he was steeped in India's traditions. Something I very much like about this book is that Trivedi will question a traditional aspect of a mansion that puzzles him and contradicts a central meaning of the mansion. I have not seen this questioning in any other book on the nakshatras.

For example he says the traditional female gender of Mansion 21 makes no sense because the ruling deities are all male. Or with mansion 15 he asks why that mansion is said to belong to the butcher caste when it is classed as a Deva or godly mansion with the goddess of learning as a deity. In all cases Trivedi seeks to find an explanation for puzzling mismatches within a mansion. We can also ask if some of the mansion classifications are simply wrong and perhaps should be ignored.

As every other book on the nakshatras/mansions I have seen, the author has not checked a map of the sky in relation to the stars that are said to be in each mansion. The nakshatra stars go far back into antiquity, but in comparatively recent times the 28 individual stars and asterisms that identity the ancient nakshatras (which had no boundaries) have been incorporated into the 27 lunar mansion system.

These mansions are all exactly 13 degrees and 20 minutes in length. This displaces a number of the stars into mansions that are said to belong to another group of stars. Yet this text, like all the others, analyzes the mansions as if the displaced stars were actually located in that area of the sky.

How many of the characteristics of these displaced mansions are somehow correct (perhaps based on observation and folklore), even though stars in other areas of the sky are said to be he basis of the symbolism? This is a fertile area for research. We cannot trace the development of the traits of the modern mansions through the centuries, except as they are related to the ancient ruling deities of the nakshatras. Perhaps natives of India proficient in the various languages might offer clues, but western readers must rely on contemporary texts by Indian authors.
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J K Sharma



Joined: 23 Dec 2007
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Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:50 am    Post subject: Details about Nakshtra Reply with quote

There are lot of classical texts, also translated in English, which can be refered for discussion on Nakshtras. One of the most famous Text is "Briht Samhita", one can search Google and Scribd for that. Along with Briht Samhita, Brhit Jataka, Hora Ratnam, Phal Deepika, Briht Parashra Hora Shastra, Jataka Parijata etc are lot of classical Texts translted in English. Bipin Bihari is modern translator, he is good one. Also, one check Dr. BV Raman's books.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Details about Nakshtra Reply with quote

J K Sharma wrote:
There are lot of classical texts, also translated in English, which can be refered for discussion on Nakshtras. One of the most famous Text is "Briht Samhita", one can search Google and Scribd for that. Along with Briht Samhita, Brhit Jataka, Hora Ratnam, Phal Deepika, Briht Parashra Hora Shastra, Jataka Parijata etc are lot of classical Texts translted in English. Bipin Bihari is modern translator, he is good one. Also, one check Dr. BV Raman's books.


None of the older translations give the extensive interpretations of the nakshatras found in the modern texts. Mr. Sharma, you must live in India? If you have time, please read my review of the modern books on the nakshatras and tell us the origin of some of the modern concepts.
http://www.snowcrest.net/sunrise/AANakshatra%20History.htm

Especially Behari has introduced concepts that are never mentioned in books like Brihat Samhita and Brihat Jataka. Where did these concepts come from? Were they orally transmitted in different regions of India? In what century did they first appear? Do they appear in writings of one or more of India's many languages, and these writings have never been translated into English?

Since Theosophy is fairly modern, we know that Theosophical concepts grafted on to the nakshatras by Behari must have originated only with him. Some of these concepts are highly questionable in my opinion.
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J K Sharma



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Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
None of the older translations give the extensive interpretations of the nakshatras found in the modern texts. Mr. Sharma, you must live in India? If you have time, please read my review of the modern books on the nakshatras and tell us the origin of some of the modern concepts.
http://www.snowcrest.net/sunrise/AANakshatra%20History.htm


Yes, I am from India. You seem trying to compare the old and modern interpretations of nakshtras, which is, I think wrong method. There is first principle of Astrology is to keep in mind about "Country, Time (Kaal) & Conditions of that time period". All the presently available clssical texts were written minimum 500 years ago and also in Indian tradition.. these scared knowledges are being transfered from generation to generation by mouth to mouth under very strictly rules. With the course of time, this is tradition is almost lost. Still there are many such sources availble which are enough to throw light on Astrological concepts.
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bthapa



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Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:41 pm    Post subject: Ravana Samhita Reply with quote

Recently I got very interested in finding out what Nakshatras had to offer, for all planets not just the moon.

I got surprised to find out that the only traditional book that makes predictions based on planets in 4 Nakshatra padas was Ravana Samhita, thought to be written by Ravana himself. I read a few translated chapters for 6 Nakshatras and got very impressed. Some of them were spot on in my chart. Sadly, I found only these 6 nakshatra translations on the net.

Have the forum members read Ravana Samhita? Do you think it is value addition in jyotish?
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Kenneth Johnson



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Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For those who wonder about the origin of Bepin Behari's interpretations of the nakshatras, I was a conslutant to David Frawley for Myths and Symbols as well as the managing editor of Vols 1 and 2 of Behari's other work.

Bepin Behari came from a family with close connections to early Theosophists such as Olcott, Ledbetter, and Hodgson. His own personal teacher was Hodgson. He was aware of the fact that Dane Rudhyar also had a Theosophical background, and he had a respect for Western astrology which took him to Rudhyar as a source for some of his general philosophical ideas. All of this information was conveyed to me through personal correspondence with Mr. Behari during the time that I acted as his US editor. His interpretations of the nakshatras were far from traditional and based largely upon the contemporary esoteric writers and philosophies noted above.

The earliest clear mention of the nakshatras is Atharva Veda 19.7. All 28 nakhsatras are listed with their contemporary names -- Abhijit is on the list, and those who assert that Abhijit is a recent development related solely to muhurtha have clearly never seen the AV.

I have in my possession a work entitled Shardulakarnavadana. Because the text is largely Buddhist, it has been ignored by Hindu scholars. The love story that forms the bulk of the text was turned into a dance-drama by India's Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore; it is thanks to this fact that we have a critical edition in Sanskrit. These astrological portions of the book are clearly Hindu -- they seem at times to be a kind of manual for purohitam or "house priests." The astrological portions, originally Hindu, were simply inserted into the Buddhist text. Most of it is devoted to muhurtha, which is normal, as electional typically precedes natal astrology. Pingree dates the text to the beginning of the Christian era.

No zodiacal signs are mentioned. The whole book is "nakshatras only." There is, however, a section on "birth in the nakshatras," which is the earliest such chapter I have been able to locate. My own translation can be found on my website http://kennethjohnsonastrology.com. It is entitled "Legend of the Southern Cross," which is what Shardulakarnavadana actually means. Not only is Abhijit present, it is considered one of the most important nakshatras.

In the Mahabharata, it is said that Yudhisthira was born under Abhijit, again stressing its importance. Elsewhere, the Mahabharata states that the sister Abhijit became jealous of her sibling Rohini and retired to the forest to become an ascetic, abandoning the world of the sky.

The next earliest text on birth in the nakshatras is probably the Vrddha Yavanajataka by Minaraja. This text is over a thousand pages long in the Sanskrit original and has never been translated. Valerie Roebuck translated the chapter on nakshatras, however. Minaraja's interpretation of c. 325 CE bears little resemblance to the Shardulakarnavadana of some 300 years earlier, and by the time of Minaraja we have lost Abhijit altogether. Minaraja's interpretations are much closer to those of Varaha Mihira in the Brhat Jataka -- and VM may have been basing his own chapter on Minaraja. Interestingly enough, Minaraja has a separate chapter for women born under particular nakshatras, now being studied by Ms. Ronnie Gale Dreyer as part of her MA program in Eastern Studies at Columbia.

Finally we get to Varaha Mihira c. 550 CE. Everything after that seems to be based on his work. There is no chapter on "birth in the nakshatras" in Parasara, and I do not regard Parasara as a trustworthy source in any case, as the text was clearly tampered with rather badly in the mid-19th century.

So Behari's work should be considered unique unto itself, inspired as much by contemporary Western esoterica as it was by ancient sources.

If you really want to know about nakshatras, study muhurtha. The signs of the zodiac play only a minor role in this art; the nakshatras still take pride of place. If you are not in the mood to tackle the Kalaprakashika or Muhurtha Chintamani, you can easily acquire Ernst Wilhelm's book on classical muhurtha, which is as thorough, detailed, and clear as anyone could hope for.
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varuna2



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Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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