Precession of the Equinoxes
- the Ages of the Earth -
The precession of the equinoxes is what determines the movement of the Ages backwards through the constellations. It can be understood through the analogy of the Earth spinning like a top, with the Sun and Moon pulling on its equatorial bulge. This gravitational influence creates a wobble, resulting in the precession or the shifting of the equinoctial points with respect to the stars. The north celestial pole describes a small circle with a radius of 23.5 degrees around the north ecliptic pole, with a consequent westward drift of the equinoxes - the two points where the celestial equator crosses the ecliptic. This is not to be confused with the movement of the Earth respective to the ecliptic of the Sun that occurs every year around March 21st, a movement that ever recurs on that date. What is here spoken of is the greater circle upon which the "ayanamsha" or 'ascendant of the Earth' is traced, and which coincides with the annual equinoctial point every 25,920 years. Set against the backdrop of the Zodiac, it takes the Earth 25, 920 years to make a "Complete Round" of the 12 astrological signs and 2,160 years to complete one astrological Age.
The Precessional Cycle was described by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus, in the Second century BC. but it seems to have been known in the ancient Vedic culture as well. In past millennia, astrologer priests known as Rishis developed precise formulas for calculating the cosmic cycles, and wove their celestial equations into the fabric of their myths and legends. Principal among these cosmological parables was the "Line of Ten Avatars". According to tradition, Vishnu, one of the principle deities of the Hindu trinity takes birth at particular points in the cosmic cycle which correspond to the earth's passage through the 'Fixed' zodiacal ages. Vishnu appears every 6,480 years at the commencement of the signs of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. He appears at the behest of a suffering world and comes to destroy evil and injustice and reestablish the eternal truths of the Sanatana Dharma. The Bhagavad Gita, one of India's most sacred scriptures, reveals something of this cosmic process in Krishna's dialogue with Arjuna. Krishna tells his disciple:
"Whenever the world declineth in virtue and righteousness; and vice and injustice mount the throne, then cometh I, the Lord and revisit my world in visible form, and mingleth as a man with men, and by my influence and teachings do I destroy the evil and injustice and reestablish virtue and righteousness. Many times have I thus appeared, and many times hereafter shall I come again."
Modern civilization with its scientific bias may fine these ancient myths quaint and curious but to the seer, they are indispensable evolutionary symbols. They reveal where we are in Earth's developmental cycle and define the achievements which may be expected during any given age. Since every Age introduces a new archetypal element into the evolution, the symbols of that archetype allow the seer to 'rectify' the great procession of history in a way that sets each thing in its rightful place. With this "Gnostic Vision", one is able to move beyond the chaos of linear historical time into the integral vision of whole time in which our collective past becomes revealed as a 'Theophany'. Not in the general sense as the philosopher Hegel suggested, but in the specific order of things which reveals the timing, structure and purpose behind the Divine Will unfolding through the ages.
Critical to this Integral vision is the correct position of the "ayanamsha" or 'ascendant of the Earth in relation to the Zero degree Aries point. Significantly in our present century there are no less than five different estimates of the location of the Ayanamsha because Astronomers simply cannot agree on this most important measure. This dilemma is discussed in detail in the following excerpt of a letter from Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet to one of India's leading Astrologers*.
"...In discovering how the present ayanamsha got established I was struck by the fact that this most important of all measures, the seed from which the entire cosmological unfolding for centuries to come has issued, the root of all civilisational expressions of the Vedic peoples, was not determined by a yogi, a sage, a seer, but by an astronomer. To me this is indicative of something I had perceived long ago: 'science' has overwhelmed the Indian Spirit. Wisemen have lost the Measure. indeed they do not know what it is that must be measured In the first place.
In our last meeting I spoke of my deep sorrow that the Matrimandir (Temple) of the Mother's impeccable vision became so hopelessly mis-measured and distorted. I spoke of my near despair that all the 'high' knowledge I had come upon through the process of Yoga meant nothing in the drive to correct that Measure and Form. Indeed, as I have always known, the episode represented a microcosmic 'Process' rooted in cosmology of a special order in which the present and future of India could be disclosed and seen objectively, the reality that IS; and in the process provide us with the answers as to why this IS. I have utilized this microcosmic process in all my work and successfully foreseen the flow of events based on that process. What must be highlighted now, in the context of the present discussion, is the fact that once again 'science' won out - only in the case of the Matrimandir it was western architectural concepts and technology versus a well-established Vedic tradition of sacred architecture. Even more than that. The Matrimandir was (and is) a microcosm established for the purpose of providing a field, a laboratory for the Evolutionary Avatars (the 9th and 10th of the Line of Ten) to correct, to reinstate the lost Measure. Or in terms Sri Aurobindo has used, to divinise matter; or, as I often put it, to reaffirm the Divine Maya, or Measure.
This is no small happening when you realise that such a descent and accomplishment only comes once in over 6000 years - the last having been Sri Krishna. Each appearance of a member of this Line demands this refocussing of the Lens, as it were.
And why? Simply because that 0 Point cannot be determined with a telescope or on the basis of contemporary astronomical and mathematical processes, or a cosmology devoid of purpose. It can only be done yogically. Indeed, I would say that perhaps the most Important task of the Evolutionary Avatar is precisely to establish this 'new precision' for without it all is hit-and-miss as far as the predicative arts go, However, that is only one aspect of the re-establishment - a minor one at that. What is deeply Involved in the issue, central to the entire Coming, is, as we know, the re-establishment of the Dharma.
We know this is not religion. We know it stands far beyond that: the Law, the innermost truth of Being. But how does one come upon this 'law', this 'truth' so deeply within?
For the individual it Is a question of alignment. For the civilization it is equally a question of alignment In fact, we could say that all of the 64 Arts are only different displays of alignment. We could go further and state that all of Vedic spirituality is equally just a question of alignment. But alignment means something in relation to something else, one point to another, or 'this' to THAT, the soul with the Soul.
All of this is captured In the 'science of astrology'. However, very, very few know that this is the essence of the 'art'. As the enclosed article reveals, in India astrology is largely predictive, a question of forecasting. Gone are the days when you could come upon an astrologer who could offer the world a COMPLETE SYSTEM of Knowledge, serving not only the individual and society but the entire evolutionary, cosmological process. There is no astrologer alive today who can provide an astrological foundation as a basis for a system of Higher Knowledge, whole and complete, that instills a sense into the evolution of consciousness on this planet. Indeed, who can reveal objectively the planet's own purpose in the cosmic scheme.
And yet, at the symposium on Vastu, speaker after speaker referred to the connection between vastu and jyotisha, and how jyotisha was the very foundation of vastu. We know that. Tradition preserves this connection for us. We realise that in providing the mandala for a construction the exponent of Vastu is actually establishing a horoscope on the site. That is, the very same aligning process as when an astrologer draws up a chart.
Alignment is the key. It is the essence of that site mandala. All else is meaningless without that essential, correct alignment. And this is done according to the Earth's alignment or directions: north, south, east and west. It Is not sidereal or constelational. It is earth-bound, earth-rooted, Earthly meaningful.
But then 'time' steps in, the activator of the design, or is 'set in'. And this corresponds to the alignment of Lahiri. It is immediately sidereal and hence 'otherworldly', bearing little relation to the Earth's own divine Measure simply because Lahiri was not a seer. He was simply an astronomer seeking to measure the unmeasurable; or that which can be 'seen' only with the Inner Eye and when one's inner being is aligned in an identical fashion as the cosmic harmony, foundation of all astrology. This requires a profound application of yoga.
In going over this in these days I again realized what I have been avoiding to face: a distorted Temple as representative of Sri Aurobindo's coming and message could only take root in the soil of Bharat Mata because that Divine Measure was lost centuries ago. If not, this would never have happened. A western group of architects could never have gained control of a mahayogini's Vision to distort it beyond recognition. And this is reflected up and down the spectrum of society, in all civilisational expressions and In the evolution of the Dharma. It affects every one of the 64 arts, the limbs of the Knowledge, the cohesion or not of a people, that famous 'national integration' we go on about. But nowhere do we see the effects so glaringly as in astrology and vastu.
The sages have lost the understanding of what has to be measured, what we seek to measure, to align. We cannot blame the layman, the architect, the astronomer. They are simply filling a void, It was never their task to provide that divine Measure. Their duty was to execute, never to determine these sacredmost things. And yet we have a Matrimandir built entirely on the basis of that 'secular mindset'. And we have an astrology and cosmology totally rooted in an astronomer's 'measure'.
And yet it is so simple. We have made the issue complex and contorted and divisive. The individual's measure, or alignment is the Earth's divine' Maya, or alignment. This is fixed, unchanging, eternal It is the alignment of her poles and their relation to the ecliptic - her axis in other words. (The Axis is perhaps the most profound cosmic happening ever to come into being.)
And what Is the ecliptic? It is the plane extending from the central Sun, the Eye of Heaven, the light of Truth-consciousness. The ecliptic provides the horizontal field for the harmony of the Many and the One to evolve. Our planet's alignment with that plane describes her inner truth, her law, her own Dharma.- Usha, the soul of the Earth. Why in the Rigveda are so many hymns sung to her, to Agni, to that white Steed that she tides? Some of the most beautiful hymns are these. The entire Rigveda is a colossal paean to Alignment.
The movement of that foursquare axial alignment traces a circle. When the correct 0 Point is located of that greater Circle that the Earth's axial gyration traces, then the planet is whole and expressive of a divine Purpose in the comic scheme to the eye of the Seer. Then she can reveal her place in the evolutionary process and her many woes and ills can be healed. This is the task of the Evolutionary Avatar. Hence each one to come has first re-established the divine Maya. Because all the rest follows upon that sacred feat.
It is the tracing of the circle that is important. In other words, the Becoming. The 'exact' point in the constellations is non-existent as seen from Earth, an illusion, just as the 'pictures' we 'see' in the constellations which are supposed to indicate the sign's symbol are contrived and illusory. The contribution of our planet to the cosmic Harmony and the divine Manifestation is precisely. that tracing and that is the Divine Maya, root of all sacred Form.
One of the most pathetic results of the lost divine Maya is that everyone's guru today is an 'Avatar'. No one knows what that is and it cannot be defined objectively as it had always been done on the basis of cosmic credentials. Hence all are 'avatars'. Even the Buddha who provided the means to lose the Measure ! In other words, the very act that would make it impossible in the future to preserve and enhance the Dharma. Witness Bharatnatyam: every exponent at some point or another in her career performs the dance of the Ten Avatars. It has almost become a ritual. And invariably the Buddha is the 9th - when for a second ALL MOVEMENT IS ARRESTED). Movement, which is the essence of the dance. Indeed, there is no lie: the Buddha provided the escape from that Movement, the way out. That was precisely the time when the Measure was lost.
Another example. The enclosed article refers to the 'Book of Bhrigu'. We all know this tradition exists, that there are these 'horoscopes' handed down and which do trace the evolution of a soul across the centuries. We also know that there is no astrologer today, or even over the past several hundred years who can duplicate this feat. That is, astrologically. We do come. upon clairvoyants, practitioners of various predictive techniques who can somewhat expand their seeing to embrace other life times, past or future. But we have no astrologers today capable of these extraordinary displays of accuracy, where even undiscovered continents were somehow integrated in the seeing. This Is because it was possible to do so when precisely the two 0 points were 'aligned' that is, around 200 BC. Anywhere in the vicinity of that point in time would permit a person of Knowledge to see the evolution of the soul in question strung out in time as if on a single line. This alignment - which I have done - creates ORDER in one's destiny. It was possible for this school of astrologers to undertake the task because the cosmic and evolutionary Lens was 'focussed' the circles were contiguous, the directions were aligned. But one can do this at any point in time, not merely when there is the cosmic alignment. That is, there is a particular yoga where one does create this Innermost alignment, 'this' to THAT, and on this basis one's future is 'ordered', there is Cosmos created out of the Chaos. When, however, the alignment is cosmic as It was around 200 BC and the beginning of this 9th Manifestation, then there can be a global perception and the entire planet is incorporated in the Act of Seeing. just as the ancient Seers did. Barriers of time and space fade away since one is poised In the Zero or the perfect balancing of Time and Space.
I have gotten carried away by this immensely fascinating subject! I hope you have time to go over this and maybe we can discuss it when we next meet, though I realise that what I have written flies In the face of all that you cherish. But maybe it is not so distant from what you know. All I am doing is drawing attention to the spirit behind the letter, to the experience that gave birth to the astrology we know today and which has reached us from most ancient times. If we want the symbol to come alive, If we want the Shastra to resonate with essence and not be just an empty form, then we have to re-live the Act of Measuring as it was done in ages gone by and can be, must be done today. Otherwise these lofty subjects will degenerate further and perish with the passage of time."
*Letter from Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet to S.K. Ramachandra Rao republished with permission.