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As above, so below

There’s always been a mystical connection between the heavens and the earth. We’ve known for a fact that moon affects life on our planet. The moon’s waxing and waning induces an ebb and flow in our emotions, pulls the ocean tides up and down, alters sap flow in plants, even controls the female human reproductive cycle. Most of us don’t attribute this kind of power to other celestial objects, except perhaps the sun. We seem to think it’s too much of a stretch to believe stars other than the sun can affect us. But is it?

Astronomer and researcher of astrology Dr Aditya Togi is convinced it’s not a stretch at all, but as clear as day and night that many celestial objects influence our lives. His tryst with the stars is not only esoteric but also scientific. He combines his studies in astrology with his research in astronomy to understand the way of the universe. In an exclusive conversation with Soulveda, Dr Togi explains how astronomy tells us what’s above, our earthly life shows us what’s below, and how astrology reveals the correlation between the two.

You’re an astronomer and a researcher of astrology. As a man of science, how did you take to astrology, which is considered a pseudoscience?

Science works with knowledge that can be tested and whose results are reproducible. From what I’ve found, there’s not been much research in the field of astrology to label it a pseudoscience. Moreover, the calculations used in astrology to derive the position, speed, and directional strengths of planets is the same as those in astronomy! But who knows about all this? So, there is a need for more statistical research in the field.

You’ve attempted to formally combine your research in astronomy with your studies in astrology. Why?

Astronomy is the study of physical properties of planets, stars, galaxies, and many other celestial bodies. Astrology is the study of (some of) these same celestial bodies, in terms of the effect they have on life on earth. To me, one without the other would be an incomplete view of the universe. Also, studying the physical properties of the stars through astronomy gives a larger scope for interpretations in astrology.

“Ancient Greeks divided the Sun’s ecliptic path into 12 zodiac signs and ancient Indians divided the same path into 27 nakshatras.”

In what ways can astrology help us?

Astrology is often only used as a predictive tool. But it can also help us understand ourselves better. It can reveal our strengths and weaknesses. Most use the zodiac sign system for this purpose. But zodiac signs only give very broad interpretations, while the vedic system of 27 nakshatras with four divisions each gives us more specific interpretations.

Could you explain what nakshatras are?

Astronomically speaking, a nakshatra is a group of stars. Sometimes, it can even be a single star. Ancient Greeks divided the Sun’s ecliptic path into 12 zodiac signs and ancient Indians divided the same path into 27 nakshatras. At some point, the two fused and what we study now in Vedic astrology is actually an Indo-Greek approach.

Astronomy studies the physical properties of these nakshatras, among other celestial objects, while astrology assigns certain energies to these nakshatras which are then interpreted by astrologers. For example, Swati nakshatra, scientifically known as Arcturus, is a single star. So are nakshatras Rohini (Aldebaran) and Ardra (Betelgeuse). In astrology, we interpret this quality of being single. We liken it with the natives of these nakshatras (those with their moon in these nakshatras in their birth chart) being very distinct from the crowd; they tend to stand out.

Vedic astrology places a lot of emphasis on nakshatras (asterisms). What role do they play in our lives?

Depending on which planet was passing through which nakshatra at the time of an individual’s birth, one can feel the presence of very specific kinds of energy in their life. So, when a planet is stationed at a certain nakshatra, it gives the individual the energy of the nakshatra through the energy of the planet (planets too have certain energies ascribed to them).

For example, let’s assume an individual has planet Jupiter in Anuradha nakshatra in their birth chart. Many energies are associated with one nakshatra, but let’s take the energy of devotion that comes with Anuradha and the energy of learning/teaching associated with Jupiter. Such a placement in the natal chart could make the individual a devoted student or a devoted teacher or both. So, if the individual is not aware of this potential within them, understanding their nakshatras can help them awaken this strength.

“If we view ourselves as souls that are here to learn and ascend, rather than just bodies meant to live and die, then astrology can help us understand why we have reincarnated and fulfill that soul purpose.”

As an astrologer, you believe in the concept ‘As above, so below’. How does the universe reflect in our earthly reality?

As an astronomer, I have observed that there is a fractal system in the universe. It’s like a cauliflower. You remove its florets and they too look like mini-cauliflowers. This is reflected in a birth chart too. So, if several planets are aligned in one particular asterism in space at some point of time, then an individual born at that time would probably have those planets conjunct in one/two houses (aspects of life) under that nakshatra in their birth chart as well. So, if there’s chaotic energy up there, then that chaotic energy will reflect in the individual’s life down here.

Does free will have any role to play even as stars affect our lives?

My philosophy teacher used to give me an example: Take a ball and apply two forces on it in perpendicular directions. The ball moves diagonally. But are you applying the force in that direction? No. The ball moves diagonally because it’s a resultant of the two perpendicular forces. The actions we do on this earth are just like the ball; they are a result of both free will and the stars.

Would you say that stars can reveal what’s predestined as well as what’s within our control?

Yes. Understanding nakshatras can reveal karmic life patterns, both in terms of past-life baggage as well as present-life deeds. And while we may not be able to change what is already written, we can use that knowledge and understanding to simply get us through life. It is like carrying an umbrella out in the rain; we can’t stop the rain, but we can use an umbrella.

What inspires you to use astrology as an esoteric tool rather than just a predictive tool?

When you use astrology as a predictive tool, it only reveals the karma of your present-life. If you use astrology as an esoteric tool, then there’s room for understanding your past-life karma as well. If we view ourselves as souls that are here to learn and ascend, rather than just bodies meant to live and die, then astrology can help us understand why we have reincarnated and fulfill that soul purpose. This is why I seek esoteric knowledge through astrology.

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    Dr Aditya Togi is currently an instructor of physics at St Mary's University, Texas, USA. Previously, he has worked as a project associate on the National Large Solar Telescope (NLST) project at Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru. As an astronomer, he specialises in the study of interstellar dust and gas properties in galaxies. As a researcher of astrology, he is interested in understanding and decoding concepts from Vedanga Jyotisha (a Vedic treatise on astronomy and astrology). He believes this attempt could help him get a glimpse of the esoteric and scientific knowledge Indian ancestors had.


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