Vedic astrology is based on the principle of karma (the law of action and reaction) and on the reincarnation or transmigration of the soul. In other words, our lives today are the result of our past activities.
Presently, there are those who consider that it is society that exclusively judges and condemns individuals, while others feel that society judges and then the Supreme Being, without any intermediaries, determines what will happen to us after our deaths. The Vedas, on the other hand, describe a cosmic justice that is divine because it stems from the Supreme Being and is made up of his energies and agents. That justice works to ensure that everyone is treated according to his or her acts, good or bad. So, we can say that more than chastisements there are consequences; each action has a reaction. If we eat too much, our stomach will ache or bother us; if we touch an electric plug, we will be shocked, and so forth. These are just some simple examples of certain reactions that are immediate, however, in most cases; we experience the consequences or results of our acts in our following lives. If we mistreat others, we will be mistreated in the future; if we cause pain to others through acts of violence, we will suffer violent reactions; and if we do not use our lives for what they were intended, but waste them living like animals, then we run the risk of being degraded to inferior forms of life.
Our backgrounds and the cosmic judges’ verdict can be found in our astrological charts. It is our “case” in the universal archives. There, it is revealed the nature of our past activities, the state of our consciences when we left our former bodies and the futures that await us.
“Just as a lamp illumines objects in darkness, astrology reveals to us the effects of our previous Karma, good or bad. All the planets indicate clearly whether we are enjoying or suffering now as a result of our actions in our previo birth” -Prasna Marga 36-37
We experience happiness or grief not by chance, or because of good or bad luck, but due to our own actions, thanks to that perfect and implacable law called karma, which, like all universal laws, comes from the Supreme Being, who controls and supervises it. At the time of death, our desires and actions create a certain state of conscience that determines our next birth or even our liberation.
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail” -Bhagavad Gita 8-6
Can our karma change?
But what are the limits of astrological influences? What about free choice? Can our karma change? While it is true that what is astrologically predestined has an absolute value because the reactions (karma) are going to come to fruition sooner or later and produce their effects, this does not mean that we are subject to an unchangeable destiny. If everything were predetermined, why would Shri Krishna instruct us through the Vedas and other sacred writings? Why should we make an effort to follow the principles contained in those writings if everything has already been decided? The Vedas make it very clear that karmic law involves responsibility. Our free will, although limited, does allow us to make the right choices. It is for that reason that Vedic masters insist that we are responsible for forging our own destinies. Although our manifested karma (prarabdha karma) determines our happiness or sadness in this life, it is up to us to use our free choice appropriately to “burn” the material reactions by not generating any more karma.
”As the blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities” - Bhagavad Gita 4-37
About Free Will*
Once, an Indian political leader asked our spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada, “Why has the Lord granted such freedom to the jiva? Prabhupada told him, you are fighting for freedom. Don't you know the value of freedom? Devoid of freedom, the soul is only matter” Freedom offers us the alternative to do right or wrong. Once, Gandhi told the British authorities, “We want freedom. They replied: You are not fit to have self-government. When you are fit, we shall give it to you”. But finally, he told them: “We want the freedom to do wrong. " So, freedom does not guarantee only acting in the right way; freedom has its value independent of right and wrong.
Free will is only absolute with the Absolute Truth. Because we are finite, our free will is infinitesimal. The possibility of committing a mistake is there. Our first choice was to dominate, and so, gradually we have entered the world of domination.
* Narrated and commentated by B. R. Sridhara Maharaja
The eternal spiritual being -jiva-, because of his subordinate nature, is never fully independent, but is always under the influence of something. In the material world, the strict cosmic laws control him, forcing him to be born, get sick, become old and then die; but in Vaikuntha, the spiritual world, he is cocooned in the loving spiritual energy of the Supreme Being. The jiva is free to choose between the material and the spiritual energy. If he identifies with the material, his eternal relationship with Bhagavan (the Supreme Being) becomes covered. The Vedic spiritual process allows the jiva to remove that blanketing and to recover his lost identify. When that happens, he frees himself from the duality of matter and with a full knowledge of his true identity maintains his free choice, for the capacity to decide and independence are never lost; however, they will never be misused again.
Daniel Ghiotti - Vedic Astrologer and writer. Author of “Health and Vitality", the first book on Ayurveda in the Spanish language.