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Introduction to Tibetan Astrology

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Tibetan Astrology” is the consolidated form of indigenous ‘Ancient Tibetan Astrology’, ‘rGya-rTsis’ from China and ‘dKar-rTsis’ from India. It depicts the motions of the celestial bodies like the Sun, the Moon, the Planets and the constellations; and the consequential external change of the weather and the cycle of the four seasons. And subsequently on this basis, it clearly reveals the internal content – the sentient beings – with wisdoms of embracing happiness and averting suffering. It is also an inseparable element of traditional Tibetan Medicine and thus, an important feature of the traditional Tibetan Science of Healing. This science illustrates how both the Universe of the celestial bodies, and this human body, come into existence by the assembly of the five elements. And with regard to this, it demonstrates their interdependence as how the external change affects the internal flow of energy — on as minute a scale as a breath (time) and a particle (position). The Tibetan fields of science can flexibly be differentiated into the ten fields of studies, out of which ‘Astrology’ is one of the five minor studies. However ‘Tibetan Astrology’ in its real essence is a part of the Kālacakra Tantra, which remains one of the most revered texts of Non-dual Tantra — the third of the three aspects of Anuttara Yoga — and thus it is not just a study, but a way of living and a path of practice of the Buddha Dharma.

 Introduction to Tibetan Astrology.

Tibetan Astro Science can be classified into four main category, Ancient Experiential Astrology, Elemental Astrology, Kalachakra system and Arising Vowels.

    Ancient Experiential Astrology: In the course of time, different civilizations have adapted to its own environment, thoughts and believe. During ancient time in Tibet, like other civilizations, farming is their main livelihood and people generally tend to have very close bonding with nature. Our ancestral examined the star, movement of cloud, wind, birds etc to get some clue about the "time" and "nature's phenomena". After many years of research and experience, they come to certain conclusion which we call is Ancient Experimental Astrology. Just to jot down few examples; since they completely depend on farming, whether forecast is indispensable for their survival. To know the changes of whether, they study the migration of birds. For instance; birds like duck, eagle normally migrate to Nepal and India when winter started in Tibet. And arrival of these birds to Tibet shows the beginning of heat. Like that, there are 88 "specific points" of duration in summer and 87 points in winter. In summery, all the activities like irrigation, farming and harvest are done by studying the birds, cloud and many more nature developments. It was around 200 BC there was an old woman in Lhokha District in Tibet, who we believe lied the foundation of first ever lunar calendar. She stated that after first 7 days i.e on 8th day of waxing moon, the moon can reached only the half way of the sky at the morning. Then after 7 days i.e 15th day, moon travel whole sky and will be seen in western end of the sky. Then after 7 days i.e. 22nd day, waning moon is at the middle of sky by morning and then after 7 days is "No Moon". This whole process is call month and first 3 months will see onset of heat waves,(spring) Next 3 months will see rainfall and greenery(summer) and next 3 months will see flower and fruit grows(autumn) and last three month will have cold waves(winter). In this way she taught the four season of the calendar base on motion of moon. Therefore, these are the basic foundation on which Tibetan Astro Science has grown with age.

    The Elemental Astrology (Byung-rTs): Elemental astrology is a subject which deals mainly with prediction based on elements in conjunction with 12 animal signs, 9 magic square and 8 parkhas. It is believe to be taught by Lords Manjushree in the year 837 BC at the place called Wu Tai Shan in China. Thus, it is very identical to Chinese system. Though Tibetan people have their own elemental knowledge long before Chinese influence but it was during 7th century (654 AD) when Tibetan King Songtsen who took Chinese princess Gyasa for his wife during which Astrology started to flourish to great extend in Tibet. Princess Gyasa is known to be expert in Elemental Astrology and she brought many scared scripture of Chinese astrology and medicine. So, in this way elemental Astrology come into complete shape.

    The idea behind this art of prediction is that when the function of the element are well balance, one will enjoy good health and happiness in the life but when it is disturb then one will become sick and may even leads to death. The very simple example for this is that people normally tend to get illness when arrived in new place and environment. Because the body elements and elements of the environment sometimes get imbalance and causes illness if not careful. Therefore, the elemental astrology is very helpful to know the influence of these elements on our body and mind.

    So to know these influences, one must know the relationship between the elements, which are in the form of mother, son, friend and foe in connection with factors like time, mewa, pharkha and planets. Based on these factors Tibetan astrologer makes prediction.

    Uses of this astrology is mainly for the service of people to guide them in the right direction by avoiding some obvious obstacles in life. Base on this knowledge we make detailed personal horoscope, compatibility chart, medical chart, one year prediction, dead chart etc.

    The Kalachakra system (sKar-rTsis): This system is mainly based on Kalachakra Tantra which is taught by lord Buddha in year 881 BC on request by the first Dharma King of Shambala Suchandra, at the place called Amrawati in southern state of Andra in India. Then the emanation of Vajrapani, King Suchandra compiled the basic kalachakra tantra and miraculously left to Shambala where he widely preach kalachakra tantra to the maximum audiences for many years. The root kalachakra tantra also called Mulatantra has twelve thousand verses. He later wrote sixty thousand verse commentary called Explanatory Tantra. Later, 8th king of Shambala, Manjushri-Yashas composed the Abridged Kalachakra Tantra or Kalachakra Laghutantr. This was further explained and elaborate in the Stainless Light Commentary, Vimalaprabha written by Shambhala King Pundarika. These texts are the primary references for Kalachakra practitioner and Buddhist astro. Science.

    Kalachakra tantra is said to be the highest level of Tantra in Buddhist philosophy, which consist of five chapters. The first and second chapter emphasize mainly on outer and inner prospect of entity whereas last three chapter deals with alternative prospect.(other then above two)

    Thus, whole concept of kalachakra text can be classified into three category; Outer, Inner and Alternative Kalachakra.

        Outer kalachakra focus mainly on the external world of environment like formation of universe, moment of planets and star and other cosmological factors. Since the name "kalachakra" itself is mean for "cycle of time", construction of accurate calendar is unique feature of this system. Unlike western calendar, which is primarily set at the cost of human convenience, kalachakra calendar is relate with the reality of nature, in accordance with inner body mechanism. Based on these knowledge, Tibetan Astro-Science has develop and flourish.

        Inner kalachakra emphasize more on the living being that dwell on this universe. It explains inner body formation like chakras, channels, elements, and movements of the wind energy within. In this way, we can related our inner body with outer force. This theory of relationship between inner body mechanism and the outside influence is very fascinating which scientist are yet to explore! Tibetan medicine also can be categorized under this chapter.

        Alternative kalachakra is mainly a spiritual practice like initiation, meditation and visualization of personal deity for the purification of our soul which ultimately lead us to buddhahood. Yet, outer and inner Kalachakras are the process or path, which helps us to understand the synchronizations of microcosmic world of human body with macrocosmic world of universe. Thus, the expression "as outside, so inside" is quite popular view in kalachakra system.

    Importance and use of this system is that one can study cosmology in correspond with human body which ultimately lead to Buddha hood or enlightenment. Scientist pays more attention towards cosmology outside where as the kalachakra practitioners emphasis more in the inner self. When scientist managed to send rocket to the space, yogi can understand the phenomena of space merely by visualizing and knowing inner self. Isn't it surprising that the revolution circle of mercury and Venus were predicted at 87.97 day and 224.7 day respectively in kalachakra system.

    We produce almanac every year based on kalachakra system. Almanac is like an ephemeris in which exact position of moon, planets and star are calculate. This is very important for Tibetan people since they tend to relate their daily activities according to the almanac. More importantly, the almanac is indispensable for Yogi for their religious propose. It also have detailed about solar and lunar eclipses.

    Arising Vowels (dYangs-char): This is one art of prediction where the different vowels are assigns to planetary position of each day or month to know its effect on individual and nations at large. The system is based on text called Shiva Sarodhaya which was preached by the lord shiva in manifestation of Avalokiteshvara and Tara, as Shiva and Paravati respectively, in order to perform pacifying, enriching, subjugating and wrathful activities. It was formally translated into Tibetan in 12th century by Lo-tsa-wa Rinchen Sangpo.. It gets its name as such that the 16 vowels, are all concluded in the essence of the elements and then they arise in various astrological computations in the form of different ‘chakaras’ for different purposes. It was first preached in the realm of Gods in the form of question-answer between Shiva and his consort Paravati. This system can be applied for gambling or some wrathful activities, which however are strictly avoided and buried by many religious scholars in the past.

 Tibetan Elemental Astrology, 'Byung-rTsis, is based on the five elements, the twelve-year cycle, eight par-kha or trigrams, and nine sme-wa or magic square numbers. Tibetan astrologers use these to calculate horoscopes along with four major themes: one's life span, physical condition, economic and political power, and overall luck in business and work.
The Tibetan system of Astronomy, sKar-rTsis, draws from the Shri Kalachakra Tantra and the Arising Vowel System, dByangs-'Char, which assigns a different vowel in each day of the month, and calculates its effect on individuals and nations.

There are parallels between Tibetan and Vedic astrology in their calculation of calendars and planetary movement. Although the Tibetan and Indian calendars start the year on different dates, they are similar in their use of the twelve zodiac houses and the five planets of Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. (The outer planets are not recognised, as they had not been discovered at the time the ancient texts were written.) Like Vedic astrology, Tibetan astrology recognizes the shadowy planets of Rahu and Ketu, which are important for the prediction of eclipses, well being of the people, and nation.

The role of the Tibetan Astrologer

The Tibetan astrologer plays an important and active role in the Tibetan community, especially during times of births, deaths, marriages and prolonged illnesses. When a child is born, Tibetan parents often consult an astrologer to learn about the child's future. The astrologer constructs a birth chart, which includes predictions about the child's health, education, likely occupation, prosperity etc. If the birth chart predictions are unfavourable, an antidote, often in the form of a prayer, is prescribed. In other situations, the parents may be asked to give something for a charity. If the life of the child is in danger, a preventative measure can be taken by saving the life of an animal that is about to be slaughtered.

Before marrying, the parents of either the bride or groom may approach an astrologer to draw up a marriage chart (Which parents approach the astrologer depends on which household the couple will live in after marriage). The marriage chart includes predictions based on the couple's lasting of relations, standard of living, health, the quality and number of children the mother will bear, which partner will be more influential over the another, and their over all luck. In the case when any of these predictions are unfavourable, the astrologer will prepare an amulet for either partner, or, in exceptional circumstances, for both partners. Alternatively, the couple may be asked to recite prayers depending upon the nature and seriousness of the problem.

In a situation where a disease is considered to be karmic - i.e. the result of harmful spirits or negative karma - an antidote may be drawn either by an astrologer or lama. The astrologer determines which spirit is afflicting the patient, the type of disease it has produced, and the prayer that is needed to appease the spirit. Alternatively, the astrologer may aid the patient by determining which doctor and system of medicine is most appropriate to treat the ailment.

An astrologer also plays an important role in the community near the time of death. At this point, an astrologer is often called on to determine whether the dying person has any life left in his/her body. To avoid bad spirits after the person's death, the astrologer draws a death chart based on both the birth and death details of the deceased. It determines who can and cannot touch the body, particular objects or belongings that may need to be removed out of the house, on which day the body should be moved, and the necessary prayers that the deceased family should make.

The astrologer may also be called on at other times, such as when a person is moving house or beginning an important journey or project in his/her life. In this way, Tibetan astrologers continue to occupy an important role in the Tibetan community in much the same way they have for thousands of years.