What is Hora Shastra?
The word hora means a unit of time equivalent to an hour and in all likelihood has been the root of the same word. It is derived from two words “aho” & “ratra” meaning “day” & “night” respectively. Thus hora also means the most primary two-fold division of time on the basis of the day & night. This takes into account not only the time frames but also the quality of time like the day is dominated or ruled by the Sun and the night by the Moon. This word also forms the first sub-division of the signs into two Hora’s ruled by the Sun & Moon. Thus, the word HORA broadly describes the quantity and quality of time.
- The word shastra means “science”.
- Thus hora shastra is traslated as “the scientific study of the quality of time”.
Maharishi Parasara was the first to use this term in his monumental classic “Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra” (BPHS) showing that this scientific basis of Astrology was at different stages of development and that the rules and principles had not been fully revealed. We find works like Lomas Sutra or Garga Hora which are dated to have preceded BPHS wherein different sets of rules and methods have developed. Going further back, we find the host of Brighu’s with their Nadi’s as well as the other Nadi works like those of Maharishi Agastya where the quality ranges from a good database of horoscopes and life events to revealation of some principles of transits and other methods of timing of events. Going even further back in time we arrive at the most rudimentary form of astrology in the Manu Smriti where equivalents of planetary motions and the lives of creatures have been drawn. Statements like a “a day in the life of the Deva’s (Graha’s ruled by the Sun also called Deva from the root Diva) is equal to a year in the life of humans” show the extent of development of this scientific study. However, the time was not ripe for the complete revelation and this happened gradually till the time for the appearance of Sri Krishna drew near and then Maharishi Parasara, the father of Maharishi VedaVyasa compiled the BPHS.
The BPHS in its present form seems to be very disjointed with every new version coming out with a few more chapters and additions showing that somewhere down the line, the oral tradition was broken and that the entire BPHS was hidden or lost to our civilization. Maharishi Jaimini the ardent disciple of Maharishi VedaVyasa has given a most secret work titled “UPADESA SUTRA” or “Advisory Stanza’s”. Vedavyasa was the contemporary of Sri Krishna and hence, his disciple Jaimini was born or lived in the beginning of Kali Yuga. Realizing the falling standards of the quality of time with the advent of Kali Yuga Jaimini must have decided to couch the secret passages that were to be transmitted by the oral tradition into very short stanza’s (easier to remember) composed of a few words each and yet, pregnant with meaning.
We may conclude that BPHS is the high watermark of Vedic Astrology and the begining of the tradition of the scientific study of astrology.
Tradition & scientific temper
The Sri Jagannath Center aims at reviving this scientific temper along with the respect for the tradition. Unless there is a harmonic balance between the two, the truth will continue to delude us. We must realize that the complete revelation of this knowledge is dependent on the quality of time and that we must approach this subject with pure minds and sincerity in our search for this truth. This has been explained in the Rig Veda III.62
Tradition is traced from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is regarded as Sri Krishna of our times, having revealed the path of devotion and sincerity called Bhakti for Sri Jagannatha. Sri Achyuta dasa was his disciple given the task of reviving the jyotish tradition. Jyotish being a Vedanga (limb or specifically, the eyes of the Veda) Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left this to one of his disciples while pursuing the goal of revealing the truth of the Veda’s and Vedanta itself. There are various interpretations of these wonderful works of Sri Achyuta Dasa.
The importance of Hora Shastra or Jyotish (as it is popularly known as) is seen in the words of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ” JAGANNATHA SWAMI NAYANA PATHAGAMI BHAVATU ME” wherein He prays to Lord Jagannatha (form of Sri Krishna/Vishnu as the Teacher) to guide His sight towards enlightenment. And, we already know that Jyotish is the EYE of the VEDA’s. Thus Jyotish is a very important shastra as it provides the much needed “eyes” for any human being to progress towards his goals (Narayana). This is the third eye of the mystics wherein spiritual knowledge and the future is revealed.
Opening the third eye for Jyotish
This opening of the eyes is symbolically done by the transmission of the mantra from the Guru (Teacher) to the Sishya (Student) in the tradition of passing of the knowledge. This ability also implies sight of the happenings of the past, present and the future. In the Mahabharat we have the two cases of Sanjaya and Arjuna getting this divine sight from the blessings of Maharishi Vedavyasa and Sri Krishna respectively. Thus, by worshipping Maharishi Vedavyasa and Sri Krishna (in the form of Jagannatha as revealed by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) our third eye can be activated. There are various mantra for this purpose and two Bijakshara mantra are given here as an example. While the mantra for VedaVyasa needs to be checked for suitability, Krishna Mantra’s are the only exceptions where no suitability check need be done. It maybe noted that this is the only exception in the books of Mantra Shastra.
Advised mantra for beginners (Choose any one and stick to it)
By the definition given above, Hora shastra has a very wide scope and includes every branch of study that tries to identify the quality of time to predict the happenings of the future on the basis of certain predefined hypothesis and rules. A diagram of this vast scope is linked here.