vishnu2 In the Bhagavat Gita, Kṛṣṇa reveals His universal form (Viśvarūpa) to Arjuna which was so formidable for the great hero to even behold. Therefore, before jumping to worship Viśvarūpa, we need to see the teachings in the Śrīmad Bhagavataṁ. Bear in mind that the Viṣṇu avatāra are sustainer of things based on their specific forms.

There are at least three parts to the Nārāyaṇa Kavacha. The three principal parts are the

  1. aṣṭākṣarī mantra ॐ नमो नारायणाय (om namo nārāyaṇāya). Aṣṭākṣarī means aṣṭa (eight) akṣara (syllable)
  2. dvādasākṣarī mantra ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय (om namo bhagavate vāsudevāya). Dvādasa means twelve and akṣara means syllables, hence dvādasākṣarī mantra refers to the famous twelve syllable mantra of Viṣṇu.
  3. ṣaḍākṣarī mantra ॐ विष्णवे नमः (om viṣṇave namaḥ). ṣaḍ means six and akṣara means syllable.
  4. Specific protection based on situation

Part-1: Aṣṭākṣarī Kavacha

Śrīmad Bhagavataṁ 6.8.4-6

श्रीविश्वरूप उवाच
धौताङ्घ्रिपाणिराचम्य सपवित्र उदङ्मुखः
कृतस्वाङ्गकरन्यासो मन्त्राभ्यां वाग्यतः शुचिः
नारायणपरं वर्म सन्नह्येद्भय आगते
पादयोर्जानुनोरूर्वोरुदरे हृद्यथोरसि
मुखे शिरस्यानुपूर्व्यादोंकारादीनि विन्यसेत्
ओं नमो नारायणायेति विपर्ययमथापि वा
śrīviśvarūpa uvāca
dhautāṅghripāṇirācamya sapavitra udaṅmukhaḥ
kṛtasvāṅgakaranyāso mantrābhyāṁ vāgyataḥ śuciḥ
nārāyaṇaparaṁ varma sannahyedbhaya āgate
pādayorjānunorūrvorudare hṛdyathorasi
mukhe śirasyānupūrvyādoṁkārādīni vinyaset
oṁ namo nārāyaṇāyeti viparyayamathāpi vā

Translation: Śrī Viśvarūpa teaches that when there is any sort of fear, then one must adorn the armour called Nārāyaṇa Kavacha. To do so, first cleanse the limbs and perform ācamana. Thereafter the mantra “oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya” is recited in the direct and reverse order while touching eight parts of the body from feet to head and back.

Let us do this in simple steps.
Step 1: First, wash hands and legs properly and wear some clean clothes.
Step 2: Recite the following ācamana prayer for cleansing yourself.

ॐ अपवित्रः पवित्रो वा सर्ववस्थाम् गतोऽपि वा।
यः स्मरेत् पुण्डरिकाक्षम् स बाह्यभ्यन्तरः सुचिः॥
om apavitraḥ pavitro vā sarvavasthām gato’pi vā|
yaḥ smaret puṇḍarikākṣam sa bāhyabhyantaraḥ suciḥ||

Take some water in your cupped right hand palm and sip it thrice while reciting

श्री विष्णु श्री विष्णु श्री विष्णु
śrī viṣṇu śrī viṣṇu śrī viṣṇu

Step 3: Recite each of the syllables of the eight syllable Nārāyaṇa mantra while touching the eight body parts with your fingers. This is called sṛṣṭi nyāsa (creation process) – also known as utpatti nyāsa. What we are doing is energizing the eight vital junctions of the body to ensure proper flow of fluids and energy in the system. By this the body gets the power to heal itself and create new cells and repair parts.

Nyāsa is always done with nyāsa mantra which have to be extricated from the main mantra which is going to be recited. Śrī Viśvarūpa has advised that nyāsa has to be done on eight specific body parts with each of the syllables of the aṣṭākṣarī (eight syllable) Nārāyaṇa mantra. Each of these syllables is recited after ‘om’ and then the name of the body part is recited followed by nāmaḥ.

Akṣara Placed on Nyāsa Mantra
om pādayoḥ Feet ॐ ॐ पादये नमः om om pādaye namaḥ
na jānunoḥ Knees ॐ नं जानुने नमः om naṁ jānune namaḥ
मो mo ūrvo Thighs ॐ मों उर्वये नमः om moṁ urvaye namaḥ
ना udara Abdomen ॐ नां उदराय नमः om nāṁ udarāya namaḥ
रा hṛd Heart ॐ रां हृदयाय नमः om rāṁ hṛdayāya namaḥ
ya urasi Chest ॐ यं उरसे नमः om yaṁ urase namaḥ
णा ṇā mukha Mouth ॐ णां मुखये नमः om ṇāṁ mukhaye namaḥ
ya śiras Head ॐ यं शिरसे नमः om yaṁ śirase namaḥ

Step 4: Recite each of the syllables of the eight syllable Nārāyaṇa mantra in the reverse while touching the eight body parts in the reverse order, with your fingers. This is called saṁhāra nyāsa (dissolution process). What we are doing is energizing the eight vital junctions of the body to ensure proper removal of toxins and dead cells. By this the body gets the power to heal itself as the sins are removed.

Akṣara Placed on Nyāsa Mantra
ya śiras Head ॐ यं शिरसे नमः om yaṁ śirase namaḥ
णा ṇā mukha Mouth ॐ णं मुखये नमः om ṇaṁ mukhaye namaḥ
ya urasi Chest ॐ यं उरसे नमः om yaṁ urase namaḥ
रा hṛd Heart ॐ रां हृदयाय नमः om rāṁ hṛdayāya namaḥ
ना udara Abdomen ॐ नां उदराय नमः om nāṁ udarāya namaḥ
मो mo ūrvo Thighs ॐ मों उर्वये नमः om moṁ urvaye namaḥ
na jānunoḥ Knees ॐ नं जानुने नमः om naṁ jānune namaḥ
om pādayoḥ Feet ॐ ॐ पादये नमः om om pādaye namaḥ

Step 5: Recite the aṣṭākṣarī mantra ॐ नमो नारायणाय (om namo nārāyaṇāya) 108 times or multiples thereof to reinforce the kavacha and protect from all diseases and evils.

Remaining three parts are to be taught in the Mantra Foundation Course

The five Mahāpuruṣa of Orissa are the initiators of the lineages. Our lineage of Vedic astrology comes from the holy feet of Sri Achyutananda.

अच्युताय नमस्तुभ्यं गुरवे परमात्मने।
सर्वतन्त्रस्वतन्त्राय चिद्घनानन्दमूर्तये॥
acyutāya namastubhyaṁ gurave paramātmane |
sarvatantrasvatantrāya cidghanānandamūrtaye ||

Pancha Mahapurusha of Orissa …

Pancha means five and sakha means friends – it is noteworthy that just like Sri Krishna referred to Arjuna as a friend, so also did Chaitanya Mahaprabhu refer to these five Maha Purusha (great men) disciples of his as Pancha Sakha or five friends. Under this page you will find links to their various works related to Jyotish and dharma.
Astrology has a lot to draw from parallels in history. One such parallel is that every time the Guru-Shisya parampara (literally master/teacher & student/disciple relationship in an unbroken chain or lineage/tradition) is to be revived or revitalized, the Guru (Bhagavan as the ultimate teacher) establishes Dharma along with FIVE disciples. This is observed in the panch-pyare (five dear ones) of Sri Guru Gobind Singhji or the Pancha Sakha of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. These five Mahapurusha disciples were Yashwanta Das, Ananta Das, Achyuta Das, Balram Das & Jagannath Das. Sri Chaitanya has commented that these five are like His five atma-tatwa and are in no way lesser than some of the avatars of Vishnu.

ତୁମ୍ଭ ପଂଚ ସଖାଂକୁ ମୋ ଜନ୍ମେ ଜନ୍ମେ ଆସ‌
ତୁମ୍ଭ ପାଇ ଅବତାର ଲୀଲା ଅଭିଲାସ. [ଶୂନ୍ଯ ସଂହିତା]
tumbha panca sakhanku mo janme janme asha
tumbhapae avatara lila abhilasha|
[sunya samhita, oriya

Amshavatar Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had five Mahapurusha (great men) disciples in Orissa called his Panca sakha (five friends or witnesses of His activities and teachings). These five Mahapurusha (disciples) were Yashovanta Dasa, Acyuta Dasa, Ananta Dasa, Jagannath Dasa and Balaram Dasa. Sri Caitanya explains that the avatara lila (by Him) is due to the desire of the sakha.

ଆଗମ୍ଯଭାବ ଜାଣେ ଜଶୋବନ୍ତ
ଗାରକଟ୍ଟା ଯନ୍ତ୍ର ଜାଣେ ଅନନ୍ତ
ଆଗତ ନାଗତ ଅଚ୍ଯୁତ ଭଣେ
ବଲରାମ ଦାସ ତତ୍ତ୍ବ ବଖଣେ
ଭକତିର ଭାବ ଜାଣେ ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ
ପଂଚ ସଖା ଏ ଓଡିଆ ମାହାନ୍ତ
agamya bhava jane yashovanta
gara katta yantra jana ananta|
agata nagata acyuta bhane
Balaram dasa tatva bakhane|
bhaktira bhava jane Jagannath
panca sakha e odia mahanta
|[sunya samhita, oriya]

Sri Jagannath Das was the foremost having understood the teachings related to bhakti bhava. Sri Balaram Das understood the tatva. Sri Ananta Das was adept at mantra shastra and understood the complete knowledge associated with yantra. Sri Yashovanta Das had complete knowledge of the rituals, procedures etc, associated with purity. Sri Acyuta Das was blessed to know about the past, present and future events as a part of destiny (Jyotisha).

ତୁମେ ମୋର ପଂଚ ଆତ୍ମା ଅଟ୍ଟ ପଂଚଜଣ‌
ଅବତାର ଶ୍ରେଣୀ ତୁମ୍ଭପାଈ ପୁନହଃ
tumbhe mora panca atma atta pancajana|
avatara shreni jete tumbha paen puna||
[sunya samhita

Sri Caitanya has commented that these five are like His panca atma (five atma-tatva) and deserve the status like that of an avatara. Sri Achyuta was the youngest of the panca sakha. …

This article is in continuation of a series on Das Avatara. Please read (1) Avatāra and (2) Dasa avatāra Overview before this article to get a complete picture.

We have shown the wisdom of our tradition in explaining that there is no real controversy about the list of dasa-avatāra and that each of the lists are meant for a specific purpose like Parāśara list of Iṣṭa devatā, Jayadeva modification for the Bhakti path and Jagannāth list for Dharma devatā. The wisdom does not end there but expands to very subtle and sensitive levels of the individual consciousness which allows for subtle modifications of the lists to meet the individual need.

Hṛṣikeśa replaces Paraśurāma

Lakshmi Narayana

As an illustration, in the Parāśara list of Iṣṭa devatā or Jagannāth list of dharma devatā we have Bhārgava[i]Paraśurāma who annihilated 21 generations of Kṣatriya and it would be most foolish for any Jyotiṣa to ask a Kṣatriya or Kāyastha to worship Bhārgava Paraśurāma as he would shudder at the mention of the very name, what to talk of developing Bhakti! Instead the worship of Hṛṣikeśa the form in which Lakṣmī worships Viṣṇu is advised as Lakṣmī is naturally indicated by Venus. This is in lines with the teachings of Śrīmad Bhagavataṁ.
Sri Bhakti Vedānta Swami Prabhupada writes “Accompanied during the daytime by the sons of the Prajāpati [the predominating deities of the days] and accompanied at night by his daughters [the deities of the nights], Lakṣmī devī worships the Lord during the period known as the Saṁvatsara in His most merciful form as Kāmadeva (Hṛṣikeśa). Fully absorbed in devotional service, she chants the following mantras. SB 5.18.17
Hṛṣikeśa (Kāmadeva) SB 5.18.18
ॐ ह्रां ह्रीं ह्रूं ॐ नमो भगवते हृषीकेशाय सर्वगुणविशेषैर् विलक्षितात्मने आकूतीनां चित्तीनां चेतसां विशेषाणां चाधिपतये षोडशकलाय च्चन्दोमयायान्नमयायामृतमयाय सर्वमयाय सहसे ओजसे बलाय कान्ताय कामाय नमस् ते उभयत्र भूयात्।
om hrāṁ hrīṁ hrūṁ om namo bhagavate hṛṣīkeśāya sarvaguṇaviśeṣair vilakṣitātmane ākūtīnāṁ cittīnāṁ cetasāṁ viśeṣāṇāṁ cādhipataye ṣoḍaśakalāya ccandomayāyānnamayāyāmṛtamayāya sarvamayāya sahase ojase balāya kāntāya kāmāya namas te ubhayatra bhūyāt|

Hṛṣikeśa (Kāmadeva) Iṣṭa mantra

ॐ नमो भगवते हृषीकेशाय
om namo bhagavate hṛṣīkeśāya

Mahāpuruṣa Yoga

Puruṣottama Śrī Jagannāth
Mahāpuruṣa or greatness in human beings is due to the predominance of one of the five tattva. Lord Śiva alone is a perfect siddha with all the pañca tattva i.e. He alone can manifest with the pañca mahāpuruṣa characteristics. This is taught in the Mahabharata when Draupadi asks a boon to have a husband like Śiva with all the five qualities, Śiva blesses her to have five husbands who are the five Pāṇḍava mahāpuruṣa brothers as no jīvātmā can incarnate with all five tattva in dominance. For more information, please read my paper on Mahāpuruṣa yoga (SJC Annual Conference, Puri).
We know that the nine syllables of the Moon are the semivowels and they form the best sounds for protection of the mana (mind) which is ruled by the Moon. These are given in Table 5. Meditation of the syllables strengthens the particular element or pacifies the mind or purifies the soul. These elemental sounds are repeated thrice as a prefix and suffix to the Gāyatri mantra for maximum benefit.
Kalyāṇavarmā (Sārāvalī) teaches that the Mahāpuruṣa yoga become defunct in the absence of strong luminaries and it becomes necessary to strengthen them by purifying the soul and making the mind resolved with the element akṣara in addition to strengthening the dominant element of the mahāpuruṣa yoga itself.
Table 5: Chandra (Manas) akṣara

Sanskrit क्ष
Trans ya ra la va śa ṣa sa ha kṣa
Element vāyu air agni fire pṛthvi earth jala water manas mind ākāśa ether ātma soul
Graha Saturn Mars Mercury Venus Ketu Rāhu Moon Jupiter Sun
Devatā Śiva Āditya Gaṇeśa Devī Cāmuṇḍā Durgā Gourī Viṣṇu Sūrya

Śiva’s prayer (Mahāpuruṣa dhyāna & mantra SB 5.17.16-18)
भजे भजन्यारणपादपण्कजं
भगस्य कृत्स्नस्य परं परायणम्
भक्तेष्वलं भावितभूतभावनं
भवापहं त्वा भवभावम् ईश्वरम्
bhaje bhajanyāraṇapādapaṇkajaṁ
bhagasya kṛtsnasya paraṁ parāyaṇam
bhakteṣvalaṁ bhāvitabhūtabhāvanaṁ
bhavāpahaṁ tvā bhavabhāvam īśvaram

Mantra
ॐ नमो भगवते महापुरुषाय सर्वगुणसण्ख्यानायानन्तायाव्यक्ताय नम
om namo bhagavate mahāpuruṣāya sarvaguṇasaṇkhyānāyānantāyāvyaktāya nama

Bhagavata (13-syllable) mantra
Note: syllables of the elements and the luminaries can be added to the mantra after the praṇava or suffixed for fruits of saṁsāra.
ॐ नमो भगवते महापुरुषाय
om namo bhagavate mahāpuruṣāya

Jñāna Yoga

Para-Vāsudeva

There is no substitute for learning other than the holy feet of parama guru Śrī Veda Vyāsa. Jñāna yoga of all kinds must lead to the pure truth force of knowledge and this truth force is symbolized by Vāsudeva, the father of Kṛṣṇa avatāra who was forever truthful and the fruit of his perfect truthfulness resulted in the birth of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as his eighth child. Knowledge and children are seen from the same fifth house which is also the mantra bhāva. All knowledge, both Para and Apara vidyā, should lead to enlightenment as its principal goal. The vasu means light and refers to enlightenment and deva refers to divinity as giving enlightenment. Thus, Vāsudeva means pure enlightenment from learning the truth. In the dhyāna mentioned below, this is specifically indicated as the impeller of the intelligence ‘satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi’. Vāsudeva refers to Kṛṣṇa as the son of Vāsudeva and the giver of this true knowledge that leads to enlightenment.
This mantra should be recommended for all Jñāna yogis like scientists, academicians and philosophers. Jyotiṣa should not dare a step into the vast ocean of horā śāstra without the armour of this dvādasākṣarī mantra.
Vyāsa prayer (Vāsudeva dhyāna SB 1.1.1)
जन्माद्य् अस्य यतो अन्वयाद् इतरतश् चार्थेष्व् अभिज्ञः स्वराट्
तेने ब्रह्म हृदा य आदिकवये मुह्यन्ति यत् सूरयः
तेजोवारिमृदां यथा विनिमयो यत्र त्रिसर्गो अमृषा
धाम्ना स्वेन सदा निरस्तकुहकं सत्यं परं धीमहि
janmādy asya yato anvayād itarataś cārtheṣv abhijñaḥ svarāṭ
tene brahma hṛdā ya ādikavaye muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ
tejovārimṛdāṁ yathā vinimayo yatra trisargo amṛṣā
dhāmnā svena sadā nirastakuhakaṁ satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi
Mantra
ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
om namo bhagavate vāsudevāya

Saṅnyāsa Yoga

Yogeśvara Nārāyaṇa

Renunciation of worldly life and pursuit of the highest truth are vital aspects of this yoga wherein perfect brahmacārya (celibacy) is practiced along with other yama and niyama (rules and regulations). Devarṣi Nārada is the only perfect one who could maintain perfect celibacy throughout His existence and hence is among the 22 avatāra of Viṣṇu.
These days we see the other extreme and hitherto unheard of activities have come to light about happenings in churches and spiritual institutions where homosexuality, rape, marriage after the celibacy vow of saṅnyāsa and all sorts of terrible happenings are reported in the press. We are perplexed and wonder as to why did these people go to the church/spiritual institution in the first place? Why did they not lead the normal life of a house holder? If at some point of time they were motivated to renounce the material world for heavenly peace in this life itself, then why did they forsake it? What weakness in their minds causes this to happen and how is this corrected? The answer lies in following the path of Nārada, the one who maintains these vows perfectly and in worshipping Badri-Nārāyaṇa (Yogeśvara Kṛṣṇa) with the dhyāna and mantra that Nārada used as given in the Śrimad Bhagavataṁ.
Nārada’s prayer to Yogeśvara Badrinath
Nara-Nārāyaṇa dhyāna SB 5.19.11-12)
कर्तास्य सर्गादिषु यो न बध्यते
न हन्यते देहगतो अपि दैहिकैः
द्रष्टुर् न दृग् यस्य गुणैर् विदूष्यते
तस्मै नमो असक्तविविक्तसाक्षिणे
kartāsya sargādiṣu yo na badhyate
na hanyate dehagato api daihikaiḥ
draṣṭur na dṛg yasya guṇair vidūṣyate
tasmai namo asaktaviviktasākṣiṇe
mantra
ॐ नमो भगवते उपशमशीलायोपरतानात्म्याय नमो अकिचनवित्ताय ऋषिऋषभाय नरनारायणाय परमहंसपरमगुरवे आत्मारामाधिपतये नमो नम
om namo bhagavate upaśamaśīlāyoparatānātmyāya namo akicanavittāya ṛṣiṛṣabhāya naranārāyaṇāya paramahaṁsaparamagurave ātmārāmādhipataye namo nama

Dharmakarmādhipati Yoga

Kodaṇḍa Rāma

Whenever we end up in various actions (karma) which is not according to the dharma (sanction of scriptures), we end up adding to our sins. In addition we also need to direct the mind to performing karma for good purposes so that we add to our spiritual karma balances and move towards mokṣa. The mantra of dharmarāja Yama is considered most auspicious and appropriate for this in addition to the Dharma Gāyatri of the Ṛk veda.
Dharmaraja’s prayer (dharma deva mantra SB 5.18.2)
ॐ नमो भगवते धर्मायात्मविशोधनाय नम।
om namo bhagavate dharmāyātmaviśodhanāya nama

Upadeśa

There can be no guide book or substitute to reading the Srimad Bhagavatam and the Viṣṇu Purāṇa to understand these subtle individual applications and forms of the avatāra. Whereas the Srimad Bhagavatam speaks in detail about Viṣṇu incarnations, the Viṣṇu Purāṇa teaches all about Kṛṣṇa avatāra. The Bhagavat Gītā is the high watermark of the philosophy. Jyotiṣa must read these texts and be sensitive to individual needs and consciousness to be able to give the right advise.


[i] Belonging to the lineage of Brighu (Venus).

Dasa avatāra or ten incarnations

Any list of ten incarnations can be made from the lists of various avatāra of Viṣṇu indicated above. However for identifying the ten principal avatāra of Viṣṇu symbolizing the highest potentate of the ten variables of Jyotiṣa (navagraha and lagna), we need to ensure that they belong to principal list of 22 incarnations or find mention in the Bhagavat Purāṇa. Other factors to consider include-

Guṇa avatāra are not to be selected as they are much above the navagraha and lagna which are in the three modes of sattva, rajas and tamas. For example, Jupiter is strongly sattva guṇa and this does not exclude the presence of the other guṇa. Thus even at its highest potency, Jupiter cannot represent the guṇa avatāra.

Prabhava (mighty, potentate) forms must have a dominance over vaibhava avatāra and here again, permanent potency gets a natural choice over temporal potency as the navagraha symbolize permanency and exist over a long period of time through the kalpa whereas temporal  potency forms exist for short durations during the kalpa (life of creation).

For example, Mohini and Haṁsa avatāra exist for a short duration in every kalpa and cannot represent the potency of the graha. Similarly, Dhanvantari, Rsabha, Vyāsa, Dattātreya and Kapila are very specific purpose manifestations and cannot be symbolized by any one graha.

Among the vaibhava-prakāṣa forms are Kūrma, Matsya, Nara-Nārāyaṇa, Varāha, Hayagriva, Pṛṣnigarbha, and Balarāma, The manvantara avatāra Yajña, Vibhu, Satyasena, Hari, Vaikuntha, Ajita, Vāmana, Sarvabhauma, Rsabha, Visvaksena, Dharmasetu, Sudhama, Yogeśvara and Bṛhadbhānu.

List of eleven avatāra: Accordingly our list of twenty-two avatāra is reduced to eleven: (1) Catuḥsana, (2) Varāha, (3) Nārada, (4) Nara-Nārāyaṇa, (5) Kardami Kapila, (6) Dattātreya, (7) Yajña, (8) Rsabha, (9) Prthu, (10) Matsya, (11) Kūrma, (12) Dhanvantari, (13) Mohini, (14) Nṛsiṁha, (15) Vāmana, (16) Paraśurāma, (17) Vyāsa, (18) Rāmacandra (19) Balarāma, (20) Kṛṣṇa, (21) Buddha and (22) Kalki. There are three principal lists which take these avatāra into account – (1) Parāśara Dasa avatāra (2) Jayadeva Dasa avatāra stotra [Bengal School] and (3) Jagannāth temple [Orissa School].

Parāśara Dasa avatāra

Mahāṛṣi Parāśara speaks of the dasa avatāra at the beginning of the work Bṛhat Parāśara Horā Śāstra and dedicated a whole chapter titled avatārakathana adhyāyaḥ [Chapter 2] to the study of the incarnations (avatāra) of Viṣṇu. Of the list of eleven avatāra, Parāśara omits Balarāma as, strictly speaking, Balarāma is an incarnation of Vāsuki, the divine serpent guardian of Viṣṇu.

Table 2: Parāśara dasa avatāra

Graha Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter
Avatāra Rāmacandra Kṛṣṇa Nṛsiṁha Buddha Vāmana
Graha Venus Saturn Rāhu Ketu Lagna
Avatāra Paraśurāma Kūrma Varāha Matsya Kalki

Jayadeva dasa avatāra stotra

Gita Govinda Dasavatara

Fig: Dasa avatāra (Depiction-Gīta Govinda) Śrī Kṛṣṇa at the centre surrounded by twelve gopi-jana (six male and six female indicating the alternating male and female signs of the zodiac).

Jayadeva was the court poet of King Lakshmanasena of Bengal and was not only adept at the Sanskrit language but also in poetry and prose, Gandharva Veda (music) and nṛtya śāstra (dance). His Gīta Govinda in 12 canto, is an all-time classic that has inspired themes for oḍisi dance. In the very first chapter (aṣṭa padi) he signs the glory of the dasa avatāra.

Of the eleven avatāra mentioned in Para 1.2, Jayadeva excludes Kṛṣṇa as he considers the remaining as avatāra of Kṛṣṇa. While this is fine from the bhakti viewpoint, it does not do justice to exclude Kṛṣṇa from any list of avatāra for the purpose of defining the highest potency of the graha as Kṛṣṇa alone is the highest potency of the Moon and His babyhood days show the greatest potency of the Moon.

Table 3:Jayadeva dasa avatāra (Bengal)

Graha Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter
Avatāra Rāmacandra Buddha Nṛsiṁha Balarāma Vāmana
Graha Venus Saturn Rāhu Ketu Lagna
Avatāra Paraśurāma Kūrma Varāha Matsya Kalki

Jyadeva shows the way for the Bhakti path where once the Iṣta devatā has been chosen then the avatāra rises to the top and goes beyond the list of eleven while the remaining ten avatāra are used for worship of the graha and karma. This process has also been supported by Mahindara in the classic Mantra mahodadhiḥ wherein Mahindhara speaks of the avatāra of Nṛsiṁha where Nṛsiṁha is the iṣta devatā. Similarly, Tulasidas saw all of them as avatāra of Rāmachandra as Rāma was his Iṣṭa devatā.

This process of evolution of the individual in the spiritual path of Bhakti should be understood to appreciate the lists of dasa avatāra of Parāśara and Jayadeva and the reasons for their difference. Parāśara list is the most primary or fundamental list in determining the Iṣṭa devatā while Jayadeva would show the next stage where the bakti leads the individual to place the iṣṭa devatā at a very high pedestal, above everybody and everything.

Jagannāth & Tirupati temples

At the entrance of the Jagannāth temple at Puri (the foremost of pilgrimages of the Hindu) as well as inside we find the dasa avatāra depicted. A copy of the painting on a wall of the temple is at Fig.2.  and we find that from the dasa avatāra list of Parāśara, Buddha has been replaced by Balarāma.

Figure 3: Dasa avatāra Jagannāth temple

Table 4: Jagannāth temple dasa avatāra

Graha Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter
Avatāra Rāmachandra Kṛṣṇa Nṛsiṁha Balarāma Vāmana
Graha Venus Saturn Rāhu Ketu Lagna
Avatāra Paraśurāma Kūrma Varāha Matsya Kalki

Mercury has various attributes including learning ability and perfect non-violence (ahimsa) which are seen in Gautama Buddha and his teaching of ahimsa was so strong that he caused a whole generation of people to become vegetarians including taming and transforming the violent king ‘chanḍa’  Ashoka to ‘dhamma’  Ashoka or stopping a mad elephant in its tracks and making it completely peaceful or converting a serial killer like Anguli-mala (who wore a garland of the fingers chopped off his victims) into a peaceful sage. Parāśara has aptly chosen Buddha as the Mercury avatāra of Viṣṇu for Iṣṭa devatā reckoning.

Figure 4: Dasa avatāra Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh

However, Balarāma transformed the agricultural economy by designing the plough and using draught animals in fields. He is depicted with the Plough and the exaltation of Mercury is in Virgo, the granary of the world. The Brahmins of the Jagannāth temple are also justified in depicting Balarāma as the Mercury avatāra of Viṣṇu.

The reason for omitting Buddha is that Buddha caused the people to go away from the Vedas and cannot be depicted as a Dharma avatāra.  Even though in doing so, Buddha actually got the people closer to the essence of the Vedas by teaching them the value of non-violent sacrifice.

Thus the list of dasa avatāra in the Jagannāth temple is for the dharma devatā and not for the Iṣṭa devatā. This list of dasa avatāra is also supported by the Veṇkaṭeśvara Balaji temple at Tirupati (another important vaiṣṇava shrine, see fig.3).

To Do

Prepare a write-up about each of the Parāśara dasvatāra and list their attributes and a picture.

Make the nine Bengal (Jayadeva) school list of dasa avatāra for the bhakti path.

List the mantras of each of the dasa avatāra (both Parāśara & jagannāth Schools)- Purāṇic, Vedic, Dvādasākṣari and vija (seed).

List the dasa avatāra mantra for the bhakti path (Jayadeva school).

List the 72 forms of Nṛsiṁha and 9 forms of Nṛsiṁha. Although Mars is the chief planet, can you assign other planets to these forms? Please make lists of Nṛsiṁha forms and planetary combinations.

List all forms of (a) Rāma, (b) Kṛṣṇa, (c) Vāmana, (d) Varāha and planetary combinations that can indicate these forms. Can you list the mantras for these forms also?

Avatara

Avatāra

The Sanskrit word avatāraḥ is derived from ava meaning ‘down’ or descent and tarati  meaning ‘crossing over or tiding over’ and refers to the deliberate descent of a deity, immortal being or the Supreme Being from heaven (normally Viṣṇu) for specific purpose(s). As a noun, avatar also means a new personification of a familiar, idea[i] like an embodiment[ii] or a temporary manifestation[iii].
God is one in Hinduism, to which there is no doubt and is represented by the sacred syllable om (ॐ).

Types of avatāra

There are six primary types of Viṣṇu avatāra or incarnations –
(1)   Puruṣa avatāra: avatāra of Viṣṇu descending for the sake of upholding dharma
(2)   Lilā avatāra: Viṣṇu avatāra (descending) for various ‘lila; (play, Rāma of pastimes) and include (1) Catuḥsana, (2) Nārada, (3) Varāha, (4) Matsya, (5) Yajña, (6) Nara- Nārāyaṇa, (7) Kardami Kapila, (8) Dattātreya, (9) Hayasirsa, (10) Haṁsa, (11) Dhruvapriya, or Prsnigarbha, (12) Rsabha, (13) Pṛthu, (14) Nṛsiṁha, (15) Kūrma, (16) Dhanvantari, (17) Mohini, (18) Vāmana, (19) Paraśurāma, (20) Raghavendra, (21) Vyāsa, (22) Balarāma, (23) Kṛṣṇa, (24) Buddha and (25) Kalki as given in the Bhagavata Purāṇa.
Of these, 22 incarnations are considered most crucial and protect the 22 steps (baisi pahacha) of the Jagannāth temple symbolizing the steps one has to take to achieve yoga with Jagannāth. These are (1) Catuḥsana, (2) Varāha, (3) Nārada, (4) Nara-Nārāyaṇa, (5) Kardami Kapila, (6) Dattātreya, (7) Yajña, (8) Rsabha, (9) Prthu, (10) Matsya, (11) Kūrma, (12) Dhanvantari, (13) Mohini, (14) Nṛsiṁha, (15)  Vāmana, (16) Bhargava Paraśurāma, (17) Vyāsa, (18) Rāmachandra, (19) Balarāma, (20) Kṛṣṇa, (21) Buddha and (22) Kalki.
(3)   Guṇa avatāra: based on the three modes of rajas, satva and tamas these are Brahma, Viṣṇu  and Śiva and reside within the material creation in these modes.
(4)   Yuga avatāra: viṣṇu avatāra heralding the closing of a yuga (time cycle) and ensuring the continuity of the next. In every mahayuga there are four yuga – Satya, Treta, Dvāpara and Kali bearing the primary colors white, red, black and yellow respectively[iv].
(5)   Manvantāra – avatāra: Also called Manu, they are the progenitors of manuśya (human beings) at the beginning of every kalpa (day of Brahma or the beginning of creation).
(6)   Saktyavesa – avatāra: jīvātmā (souls) empowered by Viṣṇu [for a short duration] during their continued existence. They are normally teachers and provide knowledge that helps to sustain mankind like Dhanvantari a jīva tattva śaktyavesa avatar Who taught ayurveda (medicine) and medicinal plants. Lord Buddha, Kapila, Ṛṣabhadeva and Nara-Nārāyaṇa are also saktyavesa avatāra as they were primarily great teachers. Recent theorists have added Jesus Christ and Hazrat Muhammad as well as Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupada to this list as they were also great spiritual teachers. However others have attempted to add all deities Brahma and Śiva to this list and are quite wrong in doing so as they are to be exclusively listed under guṇa avatāra.


(Footnotes)
[i] WordNet, Princeton University
[ii] An embodiment, as of a quality or concept; an archetype: ‘the very avatar of cunning’. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition; Dictionary.com
[iii] A temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity: ‘occultism in its present avatar’. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition;  Dictionary.com
[iv] Bhagavata Purāṇa 10.8.13; Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada;
By Adi Sankaracharya Bhagavatpada
भजे व्रजैकमण्डनं समस्तपापखण्डनं
स्वभक्तचित्तरंजनं सदैव नन्दनन्दनम्‌।
सुपिच्छगुच्छमस्तकं सुनादवेणुहस्तकं
अनंगरंगसागरं नमामि कृष्णनागरम्‌॥ १॥
bhaje vrajaikamaṇḍanaṁ samastapāpakhaṇḍanaṁ
svabhaktacittaraṁjanaṁ sadaiva nandanandanam |
supicchagucchamastakaṁ sunādaveṇuhastakaṁ
anaṁgaraṁgasāgaraṁ namāmi kṛṣṇanāgaram || 1||

मनोजगर्वमोचनं विशाललोललोचनं
विधूतगोपशोचनं नमामि पद्मलोचनम्‌।
करारविन्दभूधरं स्मितावलोकसुन्दरं
महेन्द्रमानदारणं नमामि कृष्णावारणम्‌॥ २॥
manojagarvamocanaṁ viśālalolalocanaṁ
vidhūtagopaśocanaṁ namāmi padmalocanam |
karāravindabhūdharaṁ smitāvalokasundaraṁ
mahendramānadāraṇaṁ namāmi kṛṣṇāvāraṇam || 2||

कदम्बसूनकुण्डलं सुचारुगण्डमण्डलं
व्रजांगनैकवल्लभं नमामि कृष्णदुर्लभम्‌।
यशोदया समोदया सगोपया सनन्दया
युतं सुखैकदायकं नमामि गोपनायकम्‌॥ ३।
kadambasūnakuṇḍalaṁ sucārugaṇḍamaṇḍalaṁ
vrajāṁganaikavallabhaṁ namāmi kṛṣṇadurlabham |
yaśodayā samodayā sagopayā sanandayā
yutaṁ sukhaikadāyakaṁ namāmi gopanāyakam || 3|

सदैव पादपंकजं मदीय मानसे निजं
दधानमुक्तमालकं नमामि नन्दबालकम्‌।
समस्तदोषशोषणं समस्तलोकपोषणं
समस्तगोपमानसं नमामि नन्दलालसम्‌॥ ४॥
sadaiva pādapaṁkajaṁ madīya mānase nijaṁ
dadhānamuktamālakaṁ namāmi nandabālakam |
samastadoṣaśoṣaṇaṁ samastalokapoṣaṇaṁ
samastagopamānasaṁ namāmi nandalālasam || 4||

भुवो भरावतारकं भवाब्धिकर्णधारकं
यशोमतीकिशोरकं नमामि चित्तचोरकम्‌।
दृगन्तकान्तभंगिनं सदा सदालिसंगिनं
दिने दिने नवं नवं नमामि नन्दसम्भवम्‌॥ ५॥
bhuvo bharāvatārakaṁ bhavābdhikarṇadhārakaṁ
yaśomatīkiśorakaṁ namāmi cittacorakam |
dṛgantakāntabhaṁginaṁ sadā sadālisaṁginaṁ
dine dine navaṁ navaṁ namāmi nandasambhavam || 5||

गुणाकरं सुखाकरं कृपाकरं कृपापरं
सुरद्विषन्निकन्दनं नमामि गोपनन्दनम्‌।
नवीनगोपनागरं नवीनकेलिलम्पटं
नमामि मेघसुन्दरं तडित्प्रभालसत्पटम्‌॥ ६॥
guṇākaraṁ sukhākaraṁ kṛpākaraṁ kṛpāparaṁ
suradviṣannikandanaṁ namāmi gopanandanam |
navīnagopanāgaraṁ navīnakelilampaṭaṁ
namāmi meghasundaraṁ taḍitprabhālasatpaṭam || 6||

समस्तगोपनन्दनं हृदम्बुजैकमोदनं
नमामि कुंजमध्यगं प्रसन्नभानुशोभनम्‌।
निकामकामदायकं दृगन्तचारुसायकं
रसालवेणुगायकं नमामि कुंजनायकम्‌॥ ७॥
samastagopanandanaṁ hṛdambujaikamodanaṁ
namāmi kuṁjamadhyagaṁ prasannabhānuśobhanam |
nikāmakāmadāyakaṁ dṛgantacārusāyakaṁ
rasālaveṇugāyakaṁ namāmi kuṁjanāyakam || 7||

विदग्धगोपिकामनोमनोज्ञतल्पशायिनं
नमामि कुंजकानने प्रव्रद्धवन्हिपायिनम्‌।
किशोरकान्तिरंजितं दृगंजनं सुशोभितं
गजेन्द्रमोक्षकारिणं नमामि श्रीविहारिणम्‌॥ ८॥
vidagdhagopikāmanomanojñatalpaśāyinaṁ
namāmi kuṁjakānane pravraddhavanhipāyinam |
kiśorakāntiraṁjitaṁ dṛagaṁjanaṁ suśobhitaṁ
gajendramokṣakāriṇaṁ namāmi śrīvihāriṇam || 8||

यदा तदा यथा तथा तथैव कृष्णसत्कथा
मया सदैव गीयतां तथा कृपा विधीयताम्‌।
प्रमाणिकाष्टकद्वयं जपत्यधीत्य यः पुमान
भवेत्स नन्दनन्दने भवे भवे सुभक्तिमान॥ ९॥
yadā tadā yathā tathā tathaiva kṛṣṇasatkathā
mayā sadaiva gīyatāṁ tathā kṛpā vidhīyatām |
pramāṇikāṣṭakadvayaṁ japatyadhītya yaḥ pumāna
bhavetsa nandanandane bhave bhave subhaktimāna || 9||

इति श्रीमच्छंकराचार्यकृतं श्रीकृष्णाष्टकं सम्पूर्णम्‌॥
iti śrīmacchaṁkarācāryakṛtaṁ śrīkṛṣṇāṣṭakaṁ sampūrṇam ||

Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, is a famous Hindu temple located in the hill town Tirumala, near Tirupati in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Tirumala is a hill town in Chittoor district in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. Tirumala, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is one of the most popular centers of today’s Hindu/Vedha Religion.

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Contributed by Sarbani Rath

Ekākṣarādi Mantra

Tārkṣa

सनकाद्या मुनयो हनूमन्तं पप्रच्छुः।
आञ्जनेय महाबल तारकब्रह्मणो रामचन्द्रस्य
मन्त्रग्रामं नो ब्रूहीति।
sanakādyā munayo hanūmantaṁ papracchuḥ |
āñjaneya mahābala tārakabrahmaṇo rāmacandrasya
mantragrāmaṁ no brūhīti |

Translation: The saints headed by Sanaka again asked Hanūman: “Son of Āñjani of greatest strength, please speak the collection of Mantras for Tāraka-Brahmaṇa Rāmachandra.

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Viniyoga:
ॐ अस्य श्री गोपाल मन्त्रस्य नारद ऋषि विराट् छन्दस् गोपाल-कृष्ण देवत काम बीज स्वाहा शक्ति ममाभीष्ट सिद्धये जपे विनियोगः
om asya śrī gopāla mantrasya nārada ṛṣi virāṭ chandas gopāla-kṛṣṇa devata kāma bīja svāhā śakti mamābhīṣṭa siddhaye jape viniyogaḥ

Mantra:
गोपिजनवल्लभाय स्वाहा
gopijanavallabhāya svāhā

Lupta bīja: Hidden i.e. to be recited silently in deep meditation on Kṛṣṇa standing near a cow.

क्लीं
klīṁ

Continued from Ātmakāraka I

Bhagavat Gītā: A few years ago when we were asked about the standard books for studying Jyotisa, the Bhagavat Gītā, Bṛhat Parāśara horā śāstra and Maharṣi Jaimini’s upadeśa sutra were recommended as the foundation. Today we shall explore the teachings of the Gītā to understand creation, the spirit soul and the chara kāraka scheme(s).

Creation, elements & kāraka

Bhagavat Gītā (7-2)
ज्ञानं तेऽहं सविज्ञानमिदं वक्ष्याम्यशेषतः।
यज्ज्ञात्वा नेह भूयोऽन्यज्ज्ञातव्यमवशिष्यते॥ ७-२॥
jñānaṁ te’haṁ savijñānamidaṁ vakṣyāmyaśeṣataḥ |
yajjñātvā neha bhūyo’nyajjñātavyamavaśiṣyate || 7-2||

Prabhupada’s translation: I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge, both phenomenal and numinous. This being known, nothing further shall remain for you to know.

Jyotisa Commentary

The entire knowledge of creation of this manifested universe, both phenomenal (physical creation) and the spirit being which was handed down by Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna as this is the transcendental knowledge forming the basis of Jyotisa. Both jnānam (knowledge of the gross material creation and dissolution process) and vijnānam (knowledge of the superior creation and existence of the spirit being) are being described, and these are different. This is the vedānta knowing which nothing more shall remain to be known or hidden. Jyotisa in its highest level is the vedānta where the astrologer has risen to the level of a ‘trikālajnāni’.

Bhagavat Gītā (7-4)
भूमिरापोऽनलो वायुः खं मनो बुद्धिरेव च।
अहंकार इतीयं मे भिन्ना प्रकृतिरष्टधा॥ ७-४॥
bhūmirāpo’nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhireva ca |
ahaṁkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtiraṣṭadhā || 7-4||

Prabhupada’s translation: Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.

Jyotisa Commentary
The five states of physical existence of all creation are symbolized by

  1. Earth called bhūmi or pṛthvi tattva, solid state: Mercury,
  2. Water called āpa or jala tattva, liquid state: Venus,
  3. Fire called anala or agni tattva, energy state: Mars,
  4. Air called vāyu tattva, gaseous state: Saturn and,
  5. Ether called khaṁ or ākāśa tattva, vacuum: Jupiter

At the gross level these are the pañca bhūta and at the subtle level they are known as the pañca tattva. Thus, every physical creation shall have these five elements in varying proportions that shall define its physical constitution.

The manas is the ‘mind’ of the universe as well as the individual and indicates the class, group or family identifying the created being or object and is represented in astrology by the Moon. Any created material object belongs to a class of objects created with a certain shape (definable for solids with a predominant pṛthvi tattva), having a certain constitution (based on the proportion of the constituent tattva). These define the class or family to which it belongs.

Buddhi refers to the intelligence or body of knowledge related to the object. This defines its purpose of creation and existence and the effects of the various laws of nature on it called its Dharma. The laws of nature that the created body must obey are seen from the ascendant called Lagna and this is the seat of the dharma trikoṇa which includes the fifth & ninth houses. Lagna represents prajāpati, the creator.

Ahaṁkāra refers to its independent identity and is the false ego (not Freud’s ego). This is false because the identity is not permanent and it is an ego as it helps to identify the object and differentiate it from the other bodies/creatures of its class or family. This is represented by the Sun in astrology.

Example 1: Arabian sea

Let us consider the Arabian sea as an example. This has a predominance of liquid in its body as compared to other states of solids and gases. Thus the body has a predominance of jala tattva. The water is in constant motion due to various currents created by the rotation of the earth. This movement is due to energy in the water showing that it possesses agni tattva. It is contained by a basin which is the crust of the earth and this is the dharma (buddhi) associated with it as one of the laws of nature that a liquid does not have any particular shape and takes the shape of the container. The water in the sea displaces a certain volume of air or vacuum and this volume indicates the presence of ākāśa tattva that keeps the waters together within the containing crust of the earth. There are so many similar large water bodies that separate continents and they are all known as ‘sea’. This is the family or class of created bodies to which it belongs and is the manas. However, we are aware that this particular body that touches the west coast of India is different from the water body in the east coast of India and other parts of the world and have named it the “Arabian Sea”. This particular name “Arabian” is its ahaṁkāra that helps to identify it in particular and differentiates it from other seas.

These are the eight primary variables that go into the creation of all bodies, both animate and inanimate. It is evident that we do not need any more variables than the lagna and seven planets from Sun to Saturn to define the physical (material creation). These planets are the seven Chara kāraka that are used in mundane astrology and all such horoscopy of material bodies that cannot procreate.

Bhagavat Gītā (7-5)
अपरेयमितस्त्वन्यां प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम्‌।
जीवभूतां महाबाहो ययेदं धार्यते जगत्‌॥ ७-५॥
apareyamitastvanyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām |
jīvabhūtāṁ mahābāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat || 7-5||

Prabhupada’s translation: Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.

Jyotisa Commentary

Besides the material creation, living beings are also created in this universe, which are of a superior energy. These beings are different from the material beings in that they have the ‘jīva’ or ‘jivātma’ which is very much like the paramātma, yet is different from the latter. This jivātma causes the living beings to exercise a higher level of intelligence, some amount of ‘free-will’ (very much bounded – based on the upachaya) and get involved in the process of karma, sin and rebirth. The definitions of karma and sin vary from one class of living beings to another (manas variance) and also varies within the class (ahaṁkāra) based on the level of buddhi (intelligence). For example, sin is not incurred if a lion kills a cow for food, but a lot of sin is incurred if a human being kills a cow. Here the definition of sin based on dharma (natural laws governing) has been in variance due to the class of being differentiated as per the manas. Again, among human beings, the all knowing self-realized priest or brāhmaṇa incurs higher sin by killing a cow than a vaiśya whole knowledge is inferior. Here the definition of sin is more relaxed based on the level of knowledge (buddhi).

Since the primary differential between the quality of the sin is the mana, and since the Moon represents the manas, it is but natural to consider the nodes of the Moon as karmic control planets. Rāhu indicates the sins on account of past karma and those done with full knowledge of consequences while Ketu, in the negative, represents the mistakes made. In the positive Rāhu represents punishment and redemption while Ketu represents suffering and emancipation. As a group they are one, and represent the opposite points of bhoga & mokṣa.

The eight-variable scheme of the previous śloka needs to be modified to the ten-variable scheme that includes the lunar nodes Rāhu (ascending node) and Ketu (descending node) in addition to the lagna and seven planets from the Sun to Saturn. Further, since every living being that has been created has not got mokṣa, it is evident that in any spiritual scheme that must represent the individual jivātma and its interaction with the other ātma, room would have to be made for Rāhu (but must exclude Ketu). These seven planets from the Sun to Saturn, and Rāhu are the eight Chara kāraka that are used in horoscopy (jātaka) and all such charts of living bodies that can procreate.

Bhagavat Gītā (7-6)
एतद्योनीनि भूतानि सर्वाणीत्युपधारय।
अहं कृत्स्नस्य जगतः प्रभवः प्रलयस्तथा॥ ७-६॥
etadyonīni bhūtāni sarvāṇītyupadhāraya |
ahaṁ kṛtsnasya jagataḥ prabhavaḥ pralayastathā || 7-6||

Prabhupada’s translation: All created beings have their source in these two natures. Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both the origin and the dissolution.

Jyotisa Commentary

All created bodies fall into these two categories of animate (living) and inanimate (non-living). One of the methods of differentiation is in their nature of procreation (this will also form the basis of differentiation of the two schemes of chara kāraka). Further, the inanimate bodies do not have a jivātma and are not considered spirit beings or spiritual in that sense.

Conclusion

It is evident from the Bhagavat Gītā that there are separate schemes for the living and non-living world and that these schemes differ on the number of chara karaka due to the concept of sin associated with a certain amount of limited free-will and the presence of the jivātma (individual soul of the living being). The visible differentiation is their ability to procreate which is represented by the siva linga (phallic symbol of siva as Pasupati or the lord of all living beings).

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