The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 241, titled:
The Yavanajataka: Greek Astrology in Sanskrit?
With Chris Brennan and guest Kenneth Miller
Episode originally released on January 31, 2020
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released February 1, 2023
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CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. In this episode I’m joined by Kenneth Miller who is the president of Kepler College, and we’re going to be talking about the relationship between ancient Greek astrology and ancient Sanskrit astrology from India; in other words, the relationship between ancient Western astrology and ancient Indian astrology or Jyotish. Hey, Kenneth, thanks for joining me today.
KENNETH MILLER: Thanks for having me on.
CB: And I usually get the date. So it’s Monday, January 27, 2020, starting at 4:06 PM in Denver, Colorado. Not sure what episode of the show. I think it’s 240-something.
CB: Yeah. So you’ve been off and on—I don’t know how many appearances you’ve made on the podcast, but you have appeared…
KM: A couple of times, yeah.
CB: …throughout its history at different points.
CB: All right, well, thanks for joining me for this. This is a big episode and a big discussion topic ‘cause it’s something that comes up relatively frequently in contemporary debates. There’s a debate over whether there was a relationship and specifically a transmission of ancient Greek astrology 2,000 years ago and whether a text on ancient Greek astrology went over to India where it was translated into Sanskrit and then somehow influenced—or some people go so far as to say ‘created’ the practice of natal astrology in India at that time. And sometimes it becomes a very heated debate. We’re gonna try to approach it from different standpoints over the course of the next hour or two and do our best to be sensitive and present both sides of the argument.
KM: Sure, that’s what we’re gonna do.
CB: That’s what we’re gonna try to do.
KM: That’s our job, yeah.
CB: All right, so part of the basis of this is one of the observations that I made in my book that I thought was interesting and funny was that it seems like in the ancient world, in the Western tradition, there were often these debates and these contests between especially the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians about whose astrology was oldest. And you see these reports by ancient historians about, “Well, the Mesopotamians say that their tradition is 10,000 years old,” and the same author will say, “Well, the Egyptians claim that their tradition is twice as old,” and nobody really knows what’s going on. So it seems like sometimes in the ancient astrological tradition this was a point of contention about whose tradition was oldest, and people had almost like ‘ego’ contests about that for some reason.
KM: Well, because being older was better. You know, we live on the flipside of that now, where there’s this sort of unconscious ‘the more modern, the better’. Maybe science will invent a solution to our climate change problems and stuff life. So, wow, we have such better technology than we had in the ‘50s. So we sort of flipped that with the modern. But when you go back to what we consider ancient cultures, yeah, the further back you went in history, the more, you know, ‘street cred’ you had in terms of, you know, being the first or being the oldest. I guess maybe when we used to revere our elders, you know, it’s the extreme form of that with regards to ideas.
CB: Sure. And when it comes to ancient wisdom traditions, just placing emphasis on that.
CB: Or we can see a version of that recently in Western astrology where there’s been some groups of Western astrologers who are going back and translating ancient texts…
KM: That’s right.
CB: …and making arguments that the older astrology is better or putting more emphasis on the importance of ancient astrology or what have you. Anyway, there’s a modern version of that debate though that’s sort of happening now or sort of developed in recent decades where some Western scholars argued that there was a transmission of Greek astrology to India around the 1st or 2nd century and that this somehow informed or influenced Indian astrology and the state that it is in even now 2,000 years later. And in recent times, sometimes when this comes up in discussions amongst astrologers, there can be really strong feelings, where especially Indian astrologers will sometimes push back and say, “No, our tradition is thousands and thousands of years old and is the older one. And if anything our tradition influenced the Western tradition and that’s where they got their astrology from.” So, to me, it’s almost like an exact analogy of some of the ancient debates that happened amongst the Egyptians and Mesopotamians.
KM: Yeah. And I think what complicates it is in India Jyotish or Indian astrology is really dialed into the religion, it has a religious component to it, and I think a religious pride attached to it that, you know, further sort of complicates the issue.
CB: Sure. That’s a really good point. And I should introduce you for those that might be seeing you for the first time, even though you’ve had many appearances on the podcast. So part of the reason I’m talking to you today is—not only because you’re the president of Kepler College—but also because you have a background in Indian astrology as your primary practice, right?
CB: Okay. But you also have familiarity with Western astrology and have studied both traditions.
KM: Correct, yes.
KM: Studied Hellenistic, Medieval, modern, but I practice Indian.
CB: And Indian is your primary thing. And you’ve been studying Indian for a few decades now?
KM: Yes. Let’s see, yes.
KM: I think I started in like ‘95, so yeah.
CB: Okay, got it. So going back to what we were just talking about there’s pushback on that idea, and that’s a good point that part of it is because in Indian astrology has become much more integrated into the religion and into the culture, especially in the context of Hinduism. But there’s also other issues surrounding colonialism that are part of the basis for some of the pushback as well, right?
KM: Right. So just to give a thumbnail sketch of the history for the listeners that aren’t familiar with it, astrology in India—unlike its history in the West—was completely dialed into the culture and dialed into the religious fabric and the social fabric of the times, to where even this day, when I’ve traveled in India, almost every village will have an astrologer; you know, the astrologer of the village that people consult. So it’s something that is more believed in than not and sort of the opposite of the way we experience astrology here in the modern West. I think—wait, what was your original question before I go off on a tangent?
CB: That there’s other cultural reasons, especially having to do with colonialism and the British. The way the British treated Indian culture, that is part of the reason why there’s some sensitivity surrounding this when you start discussing the possibility that foreign astrology influenced the foundations of Indian astrology.
KM: Yeah, I mean, you just have notions, kind of a track record of notions that have not given India its due, and there’s like a long legacy of Indian contributions to science and art not being given its due, you know; for example, the number zero. People don’t realize how long and hard the West fought against that concept and really it was only dialed into our mathematics a few hundred years ago; whereas India never had a problem with that, didn’t have a problem with infinity. In fact, our numbers come from the Sanskrit numbers. If you look at our ‘Roman numerals’ and you compare them to, you know, the Sanskrit numbers, you can see that they’re derived from each other. So there’s just a lot of I think bad feeling. And I don’t want to speak for Indians or India as a country, butI think there’s just a long history of, “Hey, you’re not taking our achievements seriously. You’re not giving us our due. You’re not showing us to be the innovators that we have been.”
CB: Sure. And even potentially during the period of British colonialism, when the British were in control of India suppressing some aspects of the culture.
CB: Okay. Is that true? Can you expand?
KM: That’s a good question. That’s not my area of expertise.
KM: But certainly my understanding is with a lot of the British Empire there was this notion of the British, you know, “We’re gonna kinda parent these people that aren’t as sophisticated as us.” Although that ran into trouble because what they quickly found out was there was all this sophisticated religious philosophy and ideas. And there was a period in the 19th century where there was, I would say, romanticization of India and you find all this praise of Indian ideas, and you start seeing people making claims that everything did arise, you know, from India and spread out. But I think what we’ll find as we go through—especially when it comes to horoscopic stuff—is that, you know, there were clearly some forms of indigenous astrology. I mean, no one is questioning the antiquity of the nakshatras and certain other features. What we’re really dialing specifically on is the notion of a horoscope—casting a chart for the moment someone was born for their particular life—and I guess that’s what we’re gonna get into as we go on here.
CB: Yeah, so let’s set the stage for that. So part of it is that in the West, over the past century, some academics, some small groups of academics got interested in studying the history of astrology and reconstructing it within the context of the history of science, and they started initially working on the Western tradition in the late 19th and early 20th century by going around Europe and collecting all of the surviving astrological manuscripts and then editing them and comparing them and then publishing some of them in modern printed editions and then eventually translating some of them. And this led to modern academic scholarship being able to reconstruct roughly, as best they could, based on the surviving evidence the history and chronology of Western astrology starting in Mesopotamia and Egypt and then having its development in the Hellenistic period under the Roman Empire where it got really popular.
Then the Roman Empire fell and it was transmitted to the Islamic Empire and the Arabic-speaking world in the Middle Ages, then eventually transmitted back to Europe in Latin texts where it flourished during the Renaissance before falling out of favor during the Enlightenment, and then coming back in the 20th century in modern times. So it’s like Western scholars spent a lot of time reconstructing the history of astrology within the context of just it being an important development in terms of history. But then there were some scholars who also started doing the same thing in trying to work on the history of Indian astrology, and one of these was a famous scholar named David Pingree; he was kind of like a—not a polymath—but he was like a polyglot who knew a bunch of different languages.
CB: And his thing was especially ancient languages. He knew Sanskrit and Greek and Latin and Akkadian. He knew all the modern Romance languages like French and Spanish and English as well, but he knew a ton of ancient languages. So for his PhD dissertation, he went back and he published what he claimed was the oldest text in Sanskrit that he could find on Indian natal astrology, like the concept of casting birth charts and some of the things that come along with that—like the use of the 12 houses and aspects and house rulership and other things like that—and he published this text in 1978. And the argument that he made was that this text had a bunch of Greek loanwords—where there had been Greek words that had been transliterated into Sanskrit—and this showed that the foundations of natal astrology in India, around the 1st or 2nd century CE, were a result of a synthesis of Greek astrology and the indigenous astrology of India up to that point. And that was basically the core I think of his argument, right?
KM: Right, that was the core of his argument.
CB: So it depends on how you frame that argument. I mean, one of the things I want to point is that that wasn’t a fully unique argument of Pingree’s because I’ve actually seen scholarship from like a century or two ago in some old astronomical scientific journals where a guy was pointing out like “Why are all these Greek terms being used in Sanskrit?” And it was kind of this mystery of was there some sort of connection between ancient Greek astronomy and astrology and ancient Indian astronomy and astrology, but Pingree was the first guy to really bring it together through translating this one text, which is called the Yavanajataka, and publishing it and then trying to demonstrate some of the parallels between the techniques used in that text and some of the techniques that were used in Western astrology in Greek and Latin at the time. Would you say that’s an accurate summary up to this point?
KM: Yeah, that’s an accurate summary of what he was trying to do and the claims he was making.
KM: And we should also say that in a later article,you have it right there, From Astral Omens—what is the actual name of that?
CB: So it was his 1997 book titled From Astral Omens to Astrology from Babylon to Bikaner.
KM: So in the introduction to that he does say that he found the concept of astrology so strange, you know. He uses some derogatory terms I can’t remember but it’s like, you know, “This is so weird that it would be crazy for more than one culture to have developed this concept. And so, therefore one culture must have done it and everyone else must have jumped on and imitated it.” Now whether that’s right or wrong, you know, I’m not gonna debate. But what I am gonna debate is that when that’s your attitude, your attitude then is there’s a one-way transmission and everything you do and everything you look at is passing through the filter of that.
And this is important because if you ever study or you ever take a class in qualitative analysis these kinds of questions and frames can affect the way you perceive data and organize data and what is important to you. It’s just like if you were to go through two books and look for everything that was the same, you’d get a list of all the things that were the same and that’d be really cool. But if you ask the question, “Well, where are they different?” you come up with a different list and you might come up with a different kind of conclusion too. So I’d just like to point out that he was really adamant about that—and I think later scholars have softened—and I’m gonna try to present what I call a ‘softer’ view of that. But he seemed to be, you know, really wanting to draw the line down. I mean, he actually thought the text was a translation from an actual Greek original.
CB: Yeah. Well, he thought there was a Greek text that was written in Alexandria, Egypt sometime around the 1st century CE in Greek, and he thought that that text was taken on like a trading ship or something from Greek-speaking Egypt over to the western coast of India…
CB: …where there were these Greek trading colonies that were set up. Because sometime around the 1st century sailors found that they could use the monsoon winds from India during certain seasons in order to sail directly back and forth from Egypt to India; and then trade increased in the 1st and 2nd centuries back and forth between the Roman Empire and India basically at this point. And he thought one of the things that went over was this Greek text written in the 1st century. He thought it was translated into Sanskrit in the 2nd century but that original translation didn’t survive; and instead what we have is a later version of that text, when a later author, he thought, versified the text and put it into the form of a poem, which was a more common way to put scientific texts in order to make them easy to memorize.
CB: Let me read the actual quote of what you were saying from him. ‘Cause in this book like one chapter is about the transmission of what he argued was Greek astrology to India, but then the entire book actually tries to document all of the different transmissions of astrology in different cultures from Mesopotamia to Greece. And then he talks about it going from the Roman Empire to the Persian and Arabic-speaking world, and then he talks about it going from the Arabic-speaking world to the Latin world in Europe in the 12th century and just this bouncing back and forth and this passing back and forth of astrology over the centuries.
What he says though—and this is the statement that some astrologers sometimes take issue with—is that “The evidence that each of these transmissions was a historical reality rests on three foundations: the direct statements by the recipients concerning the source of their knowledge, the use of transliterated technical terms, and the improbability that complex theories, which as I would hope all my readers will agree are invalid as explanations of the world, would be constructed independently in different cultures. The same general considerations provide the evidence for similar transmissions of astronomy.” So not just astrology but also technical concepts in astronomy as well. But you take issue with that statement because he was proceeding with the viewpoint that some of these techniques are so crazy and that astrology itself, he doesn’t view as a legitimate phenomenon. So his argument is that two cultures could not have come up with the same crazy concept independently, therefore it must have come up in one place and then been transmitted to another. And you take issue with that premise?
KM: Well, I’m just exposing that premise because, again, it will just filter your understanding. But to show how easy some of these concepts can be transmitted, I’ve actually remembered my introduction to astrology. When I was a child, all I knew was Sun sign astrology that was in the newspaper, it’s what my Mom read. And one day when I was 12-years-old, you know, I was getting a slurpee at 7-11, and I saw in the magazine rack this astrology magazine, and I opened it up and for the first time saw a chart. And I was like, “Ah! Of course you would use all the planets and not just the Sun. Like that is so obvious. Like why didn’t I think of it?”
And I think any culture in India was one, for sure, that was constantly looking at the sky, and was already attributing meaning to star positions and planetary configurations. Whatever culture hadn’t thought of doing a horoscope you really almost just need one sentence to say, “Hey, have you thought about actually doing a little map for when someone was born?” You know, it just was like, “Ah! Yeah, that’s just a natural extension of what we’ve all been doing.” So the fact that it caught on like wildfire and thrived in the two cultures that would have a reason for it to thrive—the Hellenistic Empire and the Indian Empire—you know, makes sense to me. You know, it’d be very easy for that transmission to happen.
CB: Sure. But then that being said I feel like his point is still reasonable. Even though I believe in astrology as a legitimate phenomenon I think it’s valid for the most part to argue that when it comes to highly-specific technical concepts there are some really complex techniques that are sometimes developed in different cultures. Different cultures don’t develop that same exact technique independently.
KM: That’s true.
CB: But usually when it shows up in two cultures there was some sort of connection between them because it’s so highly specific and highly complex.
KM: So getting back to—I mean, I don’t want to leave the religious angle yet. And again, we should probably have an Indian on the show, but my understanding is part of the pushback from Indians is their great myths—not great myths—their great stories, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, both have references to horoscopic things in them, and the dates of those stories due predate, way predate the Yavanajataka, and modern scholars would say, “Well, when you analyze the language of those things the astrology part was added in later.” But I think part of where it comes from of wanting to push these things so far back is that they do have in their national stories these astrology elements. Like many Christians consider the Bible like one thing, you know, and Western scholars were like, “No, actually there’s all these different layers of Hebrew that at some point was compiled.” You know, the believing person is like, “Nah, it’s just God’s word, it is what it is,” and, you know, scholarship reveals a different truth.
CB: Yeah. I mean, something that nobody and definitely Pingree didn’t dispute and was an understanding as a baseline is that there was an indigenous form of astrology in India that goes back thousands of years and is just as old as any of the other ancient astrological traditions—like the ones from Mesopotamia or from Egypt—however that is based on the nakshatras, which is like a 27 or 28 sign lunar zodiac. And that seems to be the indigenous astrology of India where each of those 28 mansions of the Moon or 28 signs is connected with a specific fixed star.
CB: And there are references to that that go back to whatever it is, like 1,000 or 2,000 BCE, depending on who you’re talking to at the very least.
KM: At the very least, yeah.
CB: Okay, so there’s that. But one of the issues you do run into is that there are not a lot of advanced, complicated references to astrology in the Vedas, which is the indigenous religious text of Hinduism. There may be some passing references to certain things that might sound like that, but there’s not really complicated discussions about astrology in those ancient religious texts.
KM: So this is where a lot of astrologers—a lot of even my contemporary, American-born, Indian astrologers—kind of get confused on this. And why I always call it ‘Indian astrology’—anyone who’s followed me for any length of time knows that I prefer the term ‘Indian astrology’ than ‘Vedic astrology’ because to me that would be like calling Western astrology ‘Biblical astrology’. Can you find some astrology in the Bible? Absolutely. Can you learn how to read a chart from the Bible? No. And as you say, it’s the same in the Vedas. You know, there’s references but you couldn’t, you know, at all practice astrology. But where I think it gets confusing on the Indian side is you do have what they call ‘limb of the Vedas’. You know, Jyotish is considered one of the limbs of the Vedas, and one of the earliest texts that even predates the Yavanajataka is the Jyotish Vedanga. Again, that text, to your point, is not a horoscopic astrology text; it is a text that talks about different timing relationships and how to calculate those things so you can perform your rituals properly. So you’re looking at lunar days, you’re looking at Sun-Moon angles, you’re looking at the nakshatra location, the Moon; you know, you’re looking at a bunch of things. But again, that was considered essential learning; the sky lore was essential learning because you needed it to be able to time the religious rituals, but it is not horoscopic astrology. And I think that confuses some people because they’ve either never looked at the Jyotish Vedanga, or, like me, they were just taught that, “Oh, it goes back like that.” Until I actually looked at the text myself I just assumed it had horoscope stuff in it but it doesn’t.
CB: Yeah. I mean, to give an example, one of the things that’s cited very frequently is a reference in one of the Vedas to a wheel with 12 spokes and the question of whether that’s a reference to the zodiac in one of the older religious texts. But one of the points is that even if it is, and it’s not like a later insertion or something or a reference to something that’s not the zodiac, it doesn’t demonstrate the use of complex concepts like dasha periods or aspects or the 12 houses or any of that other complex stuff.
KM: Yeah. And we’re gonna get into this in a little bit, the transmission. But while you brought it up I’ll just say I do think this is one area where you can make a decent—it’s beyond the scope I think of our hour—but I think the notion that dividing the sky into 12 segments, that concept may have originated in India and gone up into Mesopotamia; that you can, I think, make a case for. But again, we already know they were dividing the sky into 27 or 28. Why not divide the sky into 12? I was just reading the other day that the ancient Jain cosmology also talked about the sky as a wheel with 12 spokes. So, I mean, it’s like that notion was popular, for lack of a better word, in ancient India.
CB: Sure. But that being said…
KM: But that is different than the notion of, “Oh, someone was born at a particular time. Let’s get an Ascendant. Let’s draw up a chart.”
CB: I mean, that being said, the current scholarly consensus about the origins of the 12-sign zodiac is that it was a concept that was developed in Mesopotamia originally in connection with a bunch of constellations that fall along the ecliptic, and then eventually it got narrowed down to 12 or standardized to 12 signs of 30° each around the 5th century BCE. And at least in terms of the documented evidence that’s the usual scholarly consensus.
KM: Correct. But even in that scholarly evidence, if you peer into it, the scholars themselves do mention that it is kind of out of nowhere, you know. Because the Mesopotamians had a very different way of looking at the sky, thinking about it, and measuring planets as they moved along. And then ‘all of a sudden’ this frame of the circle of 12 comes up; it’s actually seeing those lines in the scholarly stuff. And I think I sent you—or I referenced it actually in my UAC talk. You know, once I read that it came out of nowhere, I’m like, “Well, is it so far-fetched that a culture that was constantly looking at the sky as a wheel, that that would have been transmitted up there?” I mean, we know there was trade going way back between Mesopotamia and India, Egypt and India, the Hellenistic Empire and Rome and India; I mean, we know that the trade lines go back before all of this. So I think that’s like an area where, you know, future evidence may shape up to support that concept that the ‘circle and 12’ might have come up from India. But again, that’s different from horoscopic astrology.
CB: And we discussed this point in the pre-show chat when we were warming up and figuring out how to approach this whole topic. But one of the things that we talked about was that in terms of Western academic scholarship, one of the basic premises is that we have to attempt to the best of our abilities to look at the available evidence and then reconstruct the history and draw conclusions just based on what the available evidence says, and as much as we can try to avoid making inferences or assumptions based on lack of evidence or when we’re missing evidence to support a certain conclusion.
CB: And that then becomes one of the primary bases that scholars like Pingree are proceeding upon, which is what texts survive, what do they say, and then what can we document about the history or reconstruct about the history based on that.
KM: Right. And the sky notion of 12 is one of the few places where you can point to an ancient text having mentioned it that predates the Mesopoatian notion.
CB: Well, yeah, possibly. It’s just that in the Mesopotamian tradition we do have documented evidence of 2,000 years of development through the survival of those cuneiform tablets and through them talking about and documenting in lots of texts the development of the zodiac. So I’m not sure if it’s fully accurate to say that it came out of nowhere or that that’s usually the perspective of most academic scholars.
KM: Well, I mean, the guy who did his PhD thesis—let me just reach down. I mean, I’m not making this stuff up. I mean, if it wasn’t the scholars themselves saying, “Hey, the zodiac seems to be an odd insertion here,” or, you know, “dividing the sky into 12.”
CB: Yeah. But, I mean, I’m talking about guys like Pingree who read Akkadian and was translating those texts, or like Erica Reiner or other people like that.
KM: Yeah, because what they’re doing is that’s what they’re reading; they’re reading Akkadian. They weren’t reading the Rig Veda. They weren’t looking for any ancient references.
CB: Pingree was ‘cause Pingree’s first ancient language was Sanskrit.
KM: Well, then he missed it. You know, one of the things that I thought was, “Well, wait a minute, is this wheel, 12 spokes, blah, blah, blah—is this a metaphor for something else?” But then you have a later Veda commenting that it’s specifically talking about the sky and there’s no ambiguity in that. And that reference I can give you ‘cause I have it on my screen here. But anyway, I mean, I don’t want to get bogged down on this little point, but this is one little point that I think it’s not just circumstantial evidence; there’s textual evidence that at a minimum it was co-present. So maybe the argument would be the notion of dividing the sky into 12 independently did arise in two places. But I think if push came to shove India edges out on the timeline in terms of mentioning this.
CB: I mean, I don’t know what the dating is of that text or what the firm timeline is, so I’m not willing to concede that we definitely know that the zodiac is older in India. ‘Cause as far as most of the scholars are concerned that’s usually pretty solidly agreed on as a Mesopotamian development. Like I’m not even claiming that as a Western development, I’m just saying that culture is usually attributed that in academic scholarship; and there’s less evidence for it in Indian tradition, whereas there’s tons of evidence for the nakshatras in the Indian tradition. So that seems very clearly the indigenous astrology of India that would be not contestable at all in any way and doesn’t rely on speculation as much.
KM: Yeah, it is weird how the nakshatras have kind of held out against any attack and held to the test of time. But also, you know, Pingree was a ‘history of science’ guy; he wasn’t a ‘religious studies’ guy. The reason why there’s this evidence in Mesopotamia, as you say, they wrote on clay tablets. Unfortunately, there is an absence of material from India because they wrote on materials that did not survive the ravages of time. So I’m not making an argument that because it doesn’t exist, it must exist, but what we have is this notion of this wheel in the sky. The fact that even astronomy involved the notion of a wheel with the polar longitude—which is how they used to do Indian astrology where you’d draw a line from the North Pole to the planet to the ecliptic itself—it goes way back in the religious literature. Did Pingree spend as much time as he should have with that? Does anyone look at that? You know, it’s really only relatively recently that I think these passages have been decoded. Like I said, it’s the Atharva Veda that then actually specifically says this relates to time.
CB: Sure. I mean, in terms of the chronology of let’s just say the established academic, Western chronology, we know that there are birth charts in Mesopotamia that used the 12-sign zodiac starting in the 5th century BCE, going through till like the 1st century CE. And then when it comes to the Greek texts, we don’t start seeing texts on natal astrology and horoscopic astrology—which we’ll have to define at some point—until the 1st century BCE. So we don’t think that that concept where astrologers were using birth charts with houses, planets, signs, and aspects wasn’t until the 1st century BCE in the West and then we have Western astrologers with datable texts and horoscopes during that time period. And then the question becomes, when are the earliest datable Indian texts on astrology that are written in Sanskrit, that are also doing natal astrology? And then the issue becomes that according to Pingree and some of those scholars, we don’t have texts like that until, at the earliest, the 2nd century through the 7th century and so on.
CB: So that creates a sort of chronology there in terms of at least what they think they know in terms of datable material on the surviving texts that we have to base our conclusions on.
KM: Right. But all that is separate from the talk about do we divide the sky into 12 equal segments. But, yes, that is the Western scholarship assessment.
CB: Starting to move more into the discussion about what the stuff that we have available—evidence for us to talk about vs. what are things that we…
KM: Yeah, got it.
CB: Okay. So if that’s true one of the other problems that we then run into when we start talking about dating Indian texts and one of the objections that’s sometimes raised is there are certain texts in the Indian astrological tradition—like Parashara—that were written under the premise that they were revealed by an ancient sage thousands and thousands of years ago. And because it’s tied in with religious traditions sometimes that’s taken very literally and very seriously as if this is actually a text that was revealed to an ancient sage, you know 5-or-10,000 years ago or whatever.
CB: When it comes to somebody like Pingree, he tried to narrow down and date that text to sometime between the 5th and the 7th century or the 5th and the 8th century or something like that. Is that more or less correct?
KM: Yeah, yeah.
CB: Based on the oldest surviving manuscripts and based on what other authors had mentioned and when they lived so that you can kind of indirectly try to date the texts based on those references or based on the context.
KM: And to approach this from another angle, I read an essay from someone that I consider a believer; when I mean ‘believer’ I mean someone who is gonna say Indian astrology goes back 10,000 years or, you know, whatever you want to do. But even from that point of view the book we have today that’s called Parashara is not the Parashara that Varahamihira was saying was a lost work when he was writing. You know, so it’s like what we have now has the same name and author. The versions that are circulating now—and there are several versions that are circulating—some have chapters that others don’t have and blah, blah, blah; you can clearly see that it’s been added to and modified over time. So yeah, there is that notion where it seemed to be more with late 20th and now early 21st century, Indian astrologers, or at least the American Indian astrologers, will just take something and be like, “Oh, this is thousands of years old.” Just like Western astrologers will say, “Oh, astrology is based on thousands of years of empirical evidence.”
KM: You know, we’re taught things from teachers and then we just assume that’s the case because we’re not historians; we don’t know what we don’t know.
CB: Yeah. So that complicates things ‘cause it’s like we have Indian astrologer Varahamihira who—because he was a famous astronomer and astrologer—made references and astronomical observations and other things, we can date him really securely to the 6th century.
KM: Yeah, 550. Yeah, about 550.
CB: 550. But then when it comes to other texts like Parashara, while scholars like Pingree will use the same techniques to date him and to put that around that time period, or not long after that, because it says that it was revealed to an ancient sage thousands of years ago some astrologers will take that very literally and say that this text is like 10,000 years old.
CB: Which then complicates discussions about trying to say how old are different traditions and when did different traditions start and things like that.
KM: And this is of course a worldwide issue because there are certainly works attributed to Aristotle that weren’t written by Aristotle. I mean, this notion of attributing your work to an ancient author goes back to the older I can make it, you know, the more well-received it was. ‘Cause Varahamihira mentions a lot of texts that don’t survive, but like I say, what he, you know, had heard about and what we have as Parashara appear to be two different things I would argue; you know, definitely later.
CB: Okay. So it’s like, yeah, we have the same problem in the Western tradition. If you go back and read ancient authors like Vettius Valens, he’s drawing on an earlier text that was written by somebody probably around the 1st century BCE in Egypt; but the author of the text, instead of putting their own name on it, they attributed it to an ancient Egyptian pharaoh named Nechepso. So you have a guy who’s like a century or two later, like Valens, who actually believed that ascription and thought he was drawing on a text that was written by an ancient Egyptian wise pharaoh who was really into astrology. But we, today, like 2,000 years later, generally don’t take that as seriously or take that ascription as literally that the Nechepso and Petosiris text was definitely written by this ancient Egyptian pharaoh. So that’s one of the complications that sort of comes up in this discussion I feel because of some of those ascriptions.
CB: Okay. So what it really comes down to though—let’s get into the actual text of the Yavanajataka. What it comes down to is that Pingree did publish this translation of the text in 1978; it’s available to read. And if astrologers are really curious about this question then the best thing that they can do is try to get a copy of the Yavanajataka or try to check it out from a library or whatever and actually read through this text. And what you’ll see is what Pingree did is he wrote in the first volume—it’s two volumes—it’s just all his reconstruction of the Sanskrit text where he took all the surviving manuscripts that he could find and then he tried to reconstruct the archetype of what he thought the original text was. Then in volume two, the first half of it, he translates the entire Sanskrit text into English, and then in the second part of volume two, he does a whole English commentary where he’ll go, line-by-line, through the text and he’ll talk about what the text is saying in Sanskrit and then he’ll compare it to what Western astrologers were doing around the same time period in Greek and Latin and Arabic.
KM: And let me just add at this point—because I won’t really be able to show you an example of this ‘cause I just realized I didn’t prepare for that piece. ButI’m not the first to notice this either, and that is that when you have a non-astrologer drawing these parallels, they do sometimes equate things that an astrologer would not equate. So I have noticed sometimes he’ll be like, “Oh, this is just like what we see in Paulus, blah, blah, blah.” And then I’ll pull Paulus off the shelf and I’ll read it and I’ll be like, “Wait a minute. I mean, they’re sort of talking about transits, but there approach is totally different.” So it pays if you also have access to the Ben Dykes’ translations and some of the other Project Hindsight translations so you can actually see was Pingree right. You know, sometimes he is, but sometimes he’s seeing a connection there that an astrologer wouldn’t because we know the techne of our craft more so than he did.
CB: Sure. Yeah, that’s one of the things that’s unfortunate about his commentary. ‘Cause on the one hand, his commentary is really useful and sometimes he explicates what the Sanskrit is saying ‘cause the Sanskrit is sometimes very concise and it’s packing a lot of information into a very short sometimes somewhat cryptic line because the original text was written in the form of a poem or a verse.
CB: So sometimes he’ll expand on it and explain what it means, which is actually helpful, and then he’ll start talking about what Western astrologers did and he’ll point out instances where they were doing the same thing, or he’ll point out instances where they were completely doing a different thing. Unfortunately, one of the things that makes Pingree’s commentary not super useful is that when he would quote the Western astrologers, he would quote them in their original language instead of translating it into English.
KM: Right, yeah.
CB: What you end up with then is like a long quote written in ancient Greek from Vettius Valens, or he’ll say, “And Firmicus Maternus did something similar,” and then he’ll quote Firmicus Maternus in Latin, or then he’ll say, “This doctrine shows up in Abu Ma’shar,” and then he’ll quote Abu Ma’shar in Arabic. So it’s like unless you know ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic, and maybe Sanskrit his commentary does not become as useful as it might be or as effective as it might be in either demonstrating the similarities or the differences in the two astrologies.
KM: Thankfully, those texts that he’s quoting from are available in English now. At least he does give you the passage to look at, you know, so you can track it down.
KM: It would have been nicer if we didn’t have to go through that extra step and have it self-contained; but yeah, we need to do that. I think in Ben Dykes’ introduction to Dorotheus, he also noticed this in the commentary. Because Pingree wasn’t a practicing astrologer, you know, what he thought was the same and what he thought was different doesn’t always match up with what we would think.
CB: Sure. So let’s talk about this and let’s talk about the text and let’s talk about some of the similarities and some of the differences and get into that. Because what it comes down to is when you’re reading through the Yavanajataka, one of the questions—there’s a few questions—but one of them is does this text demonstrate in any way that there’s some sort of Western, and specifically Greek influence that’s coming in as a foreign influence into this Indian text that was written in Sanskrit?
CB: And one of the ways that that comes up that Pingree argued—that I thought somewhat persuasively in the instances where it does come up—is he points out that there’s sometimes Greek words that are actually embedded in the Sanskrit text. The Sanskrit text of the Yavanajataka will just be talking in Sanskrit using normal Sanskrit words and then it will stop and say, “And the Yavanas use this concept, which they call ‘this’ in their language,” and then there will be a Greek word that’s been transliterated into Sanskrit. What’s a good way to define transliteration? Is there a good analogy to use of what a transliterated term is like?
KM: I’m trying to think of one we commonly might use.
CB: Right, ‘cause there’s different alphabets. So how do we establish that? First, there’s different alphabets. In English, we use the Roman alphabet.
KM: I mean, if you’ve ever seen a mantra written in English that’s transliterated from Sanskrit, you’re not seeing it in the Sanskrit letters, you’re seeing it, you know, in English, giving you an approximate pronunciation because Sanskrit has like 50 letters and we only have like 26 or whatever in English.
CB: Right. Or Greek—Greek has its own alphabet.
CB: And then that alphabet makes certain sounds and sometimes you can take those letters and then pick out the letter in let’s say English, in our alphabet, that makes approximately the same sound. So, for example, the letter ω (omega) in Greek, which looks almost like a ‘w’, makes an ‘o’ sound and is sometimes transliterated into English as a long ‘o’.
KM: Yeah, that’s good, that’s good.
CB: That’s a best attempt to define transliteration. What we have is the same thing. Sometimes in some of these instances where there’s a Greek word that must have been originally written in the Greek language, in Sanskrit they tried to make a similar-sounding word using their alphabet, or at least that’s Pingree’s argument, which I feel like is pretty non-disputable; although sometimes this point is disputed and people question whether they really are transliterations.
KM: Yes, and there are also a bunch of analogue words. Because there is somewhere in ancient history a connection between Greek and Sanskrit, there are words that sound the same in both languages and it may point to this earlier root. Also, in the history of astrologers, we stick to astrology books and we don’t read a bunch of other things like the history of mathematics and the history of this, that, and the other thing, and sometimes some of these word mysteries become fleshed out when you approach it more specifically. But I think before we actually jump into the text, I just want to frame it as, you know, Pingree’s notion was, like we said earlier, that this was a Greek text probably written in Alexandria, brought into India, and then translated in India.
KM: Later scholarship, Bill Mak in the last few years has made an argument that this is probably an indigenous book; that the Yavanajataka was probably written originally in India and India was filled with Indo-Greek city-states at the time that we believe this was allegedly written. So you had Greeks bringing their culture and knowledge and stuff and they were intermarrying and they were in India and they eventually got totally absorbed into India. But the modern take, as we’ll see as we go through it, I mean, it’s so Indianized it makes sense that it would have been written in India. Then the question is, you know, how much Greek astrology is in it and how much Indian astrology, and how much did the Indians learn from the Greeks. I guess that’s what we’re gonna go onto now.
CB: Yeah. And Bill Mak’s new scholarship over the past decade is really important ‘cause now he’s a Sanskrit scholar like Pingree was, but he’s critically examining some of Pingree’s conclusions and in some instances challenging some of them and others he still upholds to some extent. So people can find his work ‘cause he’s written like two or three really important papers on this, but one of the most important ones is titled “The Date and Nature of Sphujidhvaja’s Yavanajātaka Reconsidered in the Light of Some Newly Discovered Materials.” So that may not come up with a great result because of people trying to spell what I just attempted to pronounce—it’s not gonna be very successful, but his website is BillMak(M-A-K).com. And then on his blog from January 2015, he has a blog post titled “Update on my work on the Yavanajataka,” that has the titles of some of the papers and stuff he’s done in this area which are important to check out.
CB: So the main thing though that he said was Pingree thought there were two texts, that there was originally the translation of a Greek text into Sanskrit—which happened around the 2nd century—and then he thought a century later that there was a second author who versified the text and that the versified form of the text is what we have today. And he thought that in that interim period of a century between those two texts that the second author who versified it took some additional liberties to ‘Indianize’ the text and insert some indigenous concepts, or something like that was what he assumed.
CB: Bill Mak has argued that Pingree’s dating was potentially wrong in that the dating for the text is much wider, anywhere from as early as 22 CE to as late as the 7th century I think he said—6th or 7th century CE—and that what we have is actually the original text; that there was no earlier text, but instead this was the first one that was written. There was only a single author who was the author of this text I think is part of his argument.
KM: And I brought up the Indo-Greeks so it would make sense. Like why would this even be called the Yavanajataka? And that’s because the Yavanas were like, we might say, African-American or, you know, Irish-American or whatever. You know, Yavanas is a word used all throughout Indian history and it means all different kinds of things. But according to The Greeks in India by George Woodcock and other such things, at this particular time it was a word referencing the Indo-Greeks; so that would be the Greek people living in India and assimilating into India, as you can tell from this text.
CB: Right. So there were Greek people living in India that adopted Indian culture and Indian religion, that adopted Hinduism. So even though Bill Mak challenged some of Pingree’s conclusions, he still thought that the text represented a synthesis of some Greek astrology or some Hellenistic astrology and some indigenous Indian astrology and created a unique synthesis or a unique byproduct.
CB: Okay, so one of the things, before we move on, that I want to touch on is just giving some examples of some of the specific transliterations. Because even though we’ve spent a little time torturously attempting to explain that concept, you really have to have it in front of you in order to understand what that actually means.
CB: So let me see if I can share my screen where I’ve written down some of the transliterations that Pingree gave, and this is from his book From Astral Omens to Astrology; this is also documented in the Yavanajataka and in his commentary. So to give some examples of some of the transliterations one of the Sanskrit terms that’s used at one point in the Yavanajataka is anaphora in Sanskrit, which he says is a transliteration of a Greek term which is pronounced anaphora. Yeah, anaphora in Greek astrology is for a succedent house; it’s like the technical term used to refer to a succedent house. Elsewhere he points out that in Sanskrit the term apoklima is used, and this is the same term that’s used in Greek, apoklima, to refer to a cadent house: the 3rd house, 6th house, 9th house, or 12th house. And is that term still used in India astrology to this day, apoklima?
KM: No. I mean, conceptually, not really ‘cause in modern Indian astrology, we think of angles, but we then think of trinal houses.
CB: But for some of the houses there’s still use of kendra.
KM: Yeah. You know, I’m reading Indian English, so I don’t know what the Hindi term would be. But that concept of angularity being important, that definitely carries over. But sort of the ‘strength’ notion that I was taught in Hellenistic astrology with those three things doesn’t seem to have survived, or it’s just thought of differently in Indian astrology.
CB: Yeah, well, I mean it’s 2,000 years later.
KM: Right, exactly.
CB: So I’m sure there’s been some changes. But just in terms of the Yavanajataka itself, other transliterations, in Sanskrit it uses the word kendra to refer to the four angular houses, and this is a transliteration Pingree says of the Greek term kentron. See, it’s like the same but it’s subtly different.
KM: Kendra/kentron, right. Yeah, that’s a good example of a transliteration where you’re taking a Greek word and then moving it so that it now kind of obeys the rules of Sanskrit and has an ‘a’ sound at the end.
CB: Right. But sometime in the process it changes slightly, but you can still tell how it’s essentially the same word.
KM: In your rereading of the first chapter when it mentioned that, did it say what the significance of it was, or was it just labeling different categories of things?
CB: It said it referred to the four angular houses.
KM: Oh, yeah, yeah, actually I’ve just found it.
CB: What page is that on?
KM: So I’m looking at page 8, sentence 94, where it’s referring to the parts of life actually.
CB: Okay. So what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna share—I think it might have been referred to earlier. Because I want this to be tied in with the actual text and based on a discussion of the actual text as much as possible as we move into this section, I’m gonna share, for the video version, just a screen with some of the lines that we’re actually reading from Pingree’s translation. And I think that’s okay because this is for the purpose of education. We’re gonna use only 1% of the overall text and still encourage people to go out and read the text and get it yourself, whether it’s checking it out from the library or what have you. Yeah, let’s find the passage because what it does is the text opens with a discussion about the signs of the zodiac and some of their qualities, their assignment to body parts, and their assignment to different areas.
CB: So eventually once it gets through that it does introduce the concept of the rulers of the zodiac, the planets that rule certain signs of the zodiac where it gives the exact same scheme as the Western tradition. I should point out, actually in the previous section, at the beginning where it goes through the signs of the zodiac, it also gives the assignment of the body parts in a way that is exactly the same in the Western tradition. So it says you start with Aries is the head and then you move your way down and then Taurus is the neck and Gemini is the arms, all the way till you get to Pisces, and that’s the feet.
KM: The cosmic human being or the cosmic being embodied in the sky is a common motif in different cultures. Definitely it was present I believe in Mesopotamian culture. It was present in Indian culture. I just want to clarify that because I can feel the Indians saying, “Wait a minute. We can push that belief back way, way, way back.” And, yes, they can push it way, way back, but it’s a common cultural motif.
CB: I mean, there’s different ideas of the ‘universal man’ or what have you and that shows up in Western tradition as well. But specifically here, as a technical concept in astrology, what we’re seeing here is a parallel in terms of assigning Aries to the head and Taurus to the neck and going through. At the very least we have to say, even if we’re not even making any arguments about who got that from where at this stage, we would just have to note that in this text—let’s just say hypothetically it’s from the 2nd century in Sanskrit—they have this concept in Indian astrology, and then we know also in Vettius Valens, for example, he talks about the same concept in Greek roughly contemporaneously at the same time.
CB: Okay, so we have that then it does talk about the rulers of the signs of the zodiac. It’s actually a really interesting section.
KM: Wait, what number are you at?
CB: So chapter 1, passage 28, which is on page 3.
KM: Okay, got it, got it. I’m right there. I’m right there.
CB: Let me zoom in on that. So it says, 28, “For those who are authorities say that this world of the immovable and the movable has its essence in the Sun and the Moon. In them are seen its coming into being and its passing away. Even in the circle of the constellations does it have its essence in them.” So in the next line, line 29, it says, “The solar half—and then Pingree puts in parentheses—(of the zodiac) begins with Magha—and Pingree notes in parentheses that this is (the first nakshatra in Leo).”
CB: And then it says, “The other half, the lunar, with Sarpa—which Pingree says is (the last nakshatra in Cancer). The Sun gives the zodiacal signs to the planets in order and the lunar signs are assigned in reverse order.” So here what it’s saying is it’s doing that division between Leo and Cancer, and then it’s saying that the Moon gets assigned to Cancer and the Sun gets assigned to Leo, and then the rest of the planets are assigned either flanking out from the Sun in zodiacal order or flanking out from the Moon in reverse zodiacal order on the other side.
CB: Okay. Oh, yeah, so it goes on and it says—I’m gonna skip over. Well, no, I’ll not skip over, I’ll read the rest. It says in line 30, “Others, however, state that every odd sign is solar and every even sign is lunar. Each solar sign is masculine and hard and each lunar sign is feminine and soft.” This is really interesting to me because this was a debate in the Western astrological tradition as well, which is that therewere two traditions about assigning sect to the signs of the zodiac, and in one tradition you divide the zodiac in half, and I believe Hephaistio mentions this tradition. Starting with the Sun and going forward to the next six signs—five or six signs—you have the solar half of the zodiac, and then starting with Cancer and then going over to Aquarius, you have the lunar side of the zodiac. But then there were other astrologers that assigned it based on the masculine and feminine signs so that all the odd signs were seen as solar or as diurnal and all of the even signs were seen as feminine or nocturnal. So here, again, we have a parallel in doctrines where the assignment of sect, of day and night to the signs of the zodiac, is coming up and being discussed in the same way in both traditions, right?
CB: So kind of interesting. I don’t know. Something going on, maybe, maybe not. Maybe some connection. Okay, so then it keeps going in line 32 and it says, “As the Sun takes Leo because of its qualities, and the Moon Cancer, so they give the remaining signs from their own lordships to those of the planets indirect in reverse order respectively. In order, these planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Therefore, they are said to be each the lord of two houses, one lunar and one solar.” Okay, so I know this is taking a while, but it’s important ‘cause what we have there is the introduction of the basic premise of the rulership of the different signs of the zodiac using the traditional rulership scheme, and this is the same as the traditional rulership scheme in the Western tradition. So again, we have like a parallel where they’re using the exact same rulership scheme and we can kind of establish that, all other factors about transmission aside. For some reason, in both the Greek and the Sanskrit tradition they’re using the same scheme and the same quasi-rationale for that scheme at the same time, right?
CB: Okay. So then it goes on and then it starts talking about dividing the signs into different subcategories. One of the subcategories that it talks about really early on is dividing the signs into thirds, which it calls in Sanskrit drēkanas. And Pingree notes that this seems to be a transliteration of the Greek term δεκανοί, which is where our term ‘decan’ comes from. So basically it’s the term for the decans and it’s just been transliterated from Greek into Sanskrit as drēkana. Okay, still with me?
KM: Still with you.
CB: All right, so then it keeps going and it talks about other subdivisions of the signs. It refers to dvādaśāmśas. I don’t know if that’s more arguable, but Pingree says that that’s a transliteration or translation maybe of the Greek term dodecatemoria, which means ‘twelfth-part’.
KM: I think that is a bit pushing. I mean, you’d have to argue that they didn’t have a word for ‘twelve’.
KM: Some of these are a little weaker than others, and I think he just got carried away and every time he saw a parallel he pulled it up. I mean, twelfth division, that is Sanskrit. I mena, you’d have to say, “Oh, they didn’t have a word for ‘twelve’.”
CB: Sure. And to be fair, in that instance he may just be noting that that’s the parallel concept in Western…
KM: Oh, good point.
CB: Instead of saying that that’s a transliteration.
CB: But it’s tricky because he’s using the same way to note it each time.
CB: Okay, so he just keeps going through subdivisions, and I don’t want to get stuck on this.
KM: But we should say that right away it goes the divisions of two, seven, nine, twelve, sixty.
CB: So let’s note the ones where there’s a crossover and the ones where there’s not. So the twelfth-parts of course definitely famously in Hellenistic astrology supposedly go back to the Mesopotamian tradition. ‘Cause apparently there’s some cuneiform tablets that have the 12 signs of the zodiac since the 5th century BCE, and then somewhere in those texts they also start subdividing the signs into twelve equal subdivisions of 2.5° as well. So that could have, you know, come from the Mesopotamian tradition and then also gets passed off to Sanskrit from Greek and doesn’t necessarily have to be a Greek concept sent directly to Sanskrit. But other subdivisions in this text, it uses, as we talked about, the decans, or the drēkanas, which are a division of the signs into three parts; so that at least conceptually is similar or the same. What are the other subdivisions that use this?
KM: Seventh, what we call saptamsas, the ninth division, navamsas, the twelfth.
CB: It also has the horās, which is a division of the signs into two.
KM: Yeah, the horā.
CB: I think Hephaistio does mention that, though. I think Hephaistio has a division into two.
KM: But other than him, is that utilized anywhere in the Greek tradition?
CB: I don’t know. But he’s usually drawing on earlier sources like Dorotheus, so it’s not something that he invented in the 5th century necessarily; he’s probably drawing on earlier Greek tradition. So the two that are traditionally said to be—I think Pingree says in his commentary we don’t have a Western equivalent for. He does mention the trimsamsas, which he says is the equivalent of the terms ‘cause it’s a division of the signs into five. And that is common in the Hellenistic tradition where they have the so-called ‘terms’ or ‘bounds’. But the two subdivisions that usually are thought to be unique here are the navamsas, which is the division of the sign into nine parts, and then the saptamsas, which is the division into seven parts.
KM: And the terms are standardized, which I found very interesting when I first read this book. So it’s a pattern that repeats.
CB: Right. Yeah, so it’s not any term system. It’s not like the Egyptian terms, even if conceptually it’s an uneven division of the signs and the five parts.
KM: But it’s that same uneven, yeah.
CB: Right. And, I mean, that comes up a lot here in this text where there’s something that’s conceptually similar—like an uneven division of the sign into five parts—but then the actual specifics are different; like there’s been a change. That’s a recurrent theme throughout this text and I don’t in some instances know how to explain that. And that’s one of the great mysteries of this text. Why is there this weird overlap of some conceptual similarity, but then the actual specifics are somewhat different?
KM: Right. Well, you know, that could be pointing to some indigenous work. It could be pointing to the argument I make where I think there was an early, early transmission, you know, from Mesoopotamia straight down to India. I mean, if we had a time machine the answer is probably there’s an amalgam of ideas circulating and influencing each other. I mean, even Pingree in the introduction to volume one of this book, which is the Sanskrit text, he goes that no doubt ideas were whipping back and forth and pinging off each other. But yeah, there are some odd things in here like that.
CB: Okay, so is that good for subdivisions?
KM: Yeah, I think that’s good.
CB: Okay, so let’s move on. Eventually, a few passages later, after it gets done with this section, it introduces for the first time the concept of the houses or the ‘twelve places’. So here it says in chapter one, passage 48, or sentence 48, “The ascendant, which is the first sign they call horā, the fourth from it hipaka; one also find it called rasātala, the place of water, the place of the house, and the place of increase.” So all through this, Pingree’s putting in parentheses that when “they call it horā,” he points out that this is a transliteration of the Greek term which is literally spelled and pronounced the same way, hora, which is ὥρα (omega, rho, alpha).
KM: Now this is another word that there is a Sanskrit word for called—ah, geez, I thought I had it on a slide so I could actually pull it up, but as I was scrolling through it’s not—but that may also be a weak case. There’s a Sanskrit word that’s very similar to hora; it’s almost like hora is an abbreviation of it. Or maybe because an abbreviation of it resembled the Greek, they used it, but that may not be the best case of a borrowed word. But anyway, go on.
CB: It might not be within the context of all of the other transliterations it uses for the other houses, which are more clearly arguably Greek.
CB: But anyway, the term hora in Greek means ‘hour’, and it’s sometimes used in Greek texts, like Valens, as an abbreviation for the full term for the 1st house and the full term for the Ascendent, which is ‘hour-marker’, which is horoscopos. So the first part of that is hora, which means ‘hour’, and then scopos means ‘marker’. One of the things that’s interesting to me, from my perspective, about this is that it very quickly defines the houses in terms of the signs; and so using whole sign houses like right from the start is a really interesting point here. It says the Ascendant is the first sign.
CB: That’s not controversial in India astrology; that’s not blowing anybody away who’s an Indian astrologer. But from a Western perspective, where we still sometimes have these stupid debates about whole sign houses and how old it is or how far back it goes or whether texts are taking it for granted or whether they should be defining it—here at least in this text it’s pretty straightforward in defining the 1st house as the first sign.
CB: All right.
KM: Yeah, no ambiguity, and there really hasn’t been any ambiguity in the Indian tradition.
CB: Where they’ve been using whole sign houses as the primary system for the past 2,000 years.
CB: Okay, so that’s the 1st house. Then it says the 4th house, “the fourth from it,” so the fourth sign from the first sign, it calls hipaka. And then Pingree puts in parentheses that this is some sort of transliteration of the Greek term hypogeion, which means ‘subterraneous’ or ‘under the earth’. Which is interesting because then the Yavanajataka itself goes on and it says, “One also find it called rasātala,” which Pingree says in parenthesis means ‘hell’. Which is interesting because that’s the underworld and that’s probably part of where they’re getting that from. The 4th house was called the ‘subterraneous place’ in Hellenistic astrology, but then, you know, maybe there was some other underlying concept of the underworld. Anyway, it goes on and it says it’s “the place of water, the place of the house, and the place of increase.” So we all know that the 4th house is commonly associated with the home and the living situation in Western astrology, so we have an interesting parallel right there.
KM: Mm-hmm. What about water? Does that show up in the Western tradition?
CB: I don’t know. I was trying to figure out if there was any parallel. So the next line goes on, it says, “The seventh place from the ascendent, the descendent, is called jāmitra,” which Pingree is saying must be a transliteration of the Greek term diametros, which is the term for an opposition. It’s a diameter or an opposition, and that would be because the 7th house opposes the Ascendant. But what’s interesting is it says, “The seventh place from the ascendent, the descendent, is called jāmitra in the language of the Greeks.”
KM: So let’s pause right here. So whenever I see ‘Greeks’, in my mind I’m thinking, “Oh, he’s translating Yavana, and this might mean ‘Indo-Greeks’.” And it may be referring to dialect, not necessarily some formal Greek. Could be formal Greek, but again, there’s a difference, in my mind, between Yavana and ‘Greek’.
CB: Yeah, ‘cause the text is called the Yavanajataka. So it’s Yavana, whatever we’re defining that as, and then jataka, which means ‘natal astrology’. Pingree sometimes uses the condensed term ‘horoscopy’ for that term, but jataka is basically ‘natal astrology’ or ‘birth chart astrology’. But the term Yavana means ‘foreigner’, and it has a specific context depending on when it’s used and where, where sometimes it can refer to specific foreigners; which Pingree is basically saying in this context clearly means Greeks or people that are using the Greek language.
KM: And I would argue that it’s the Indo-Greeks who are using the Greek language in India, but let’s continue.
CB: That would be fine. I mean, I don’t care which Greek is using it. But the point is it’s not just saying that this is a foreign concept, it’s saying in the language of the Yavanas; it’s actually in the text itself using transliterations that are clearly coming from Greek. And that’s where Pingree has a good argument, that the text is clearly saying this is coming from somebody, but then the technical terms that are used are sometimes Greek.
KM: Yeah. And I don’t think anyone is arguing that point. It’s just what gets left off the argument is the word jataka. In other words, this book only makes sense as a category if there were other jatakas. And this appears to be the earliest surviving text we have, so I can’t take the argument further than that, but it implies that, “Oh, yes, you want to read about the Yavanajataka, here’s this. You want to read about ‘blah-bitty-blah-jataka’, there’s this over here.” In other words, to me, even just calling the book this indicated that there were other things to compare it to. Go on.
CB: Okay. So Pingree translates the title as ‘Horoscopy’ or ‘Natal Astrology of the Greeks’, Yavanajataka. All right, so let me go back to the passage where it’s introducing basically the concept of the houses and it’s starting with the four angular houses. So introduced the 7th house, and then it goes on and it says, “The tenth from the ascendent, the mid-heaven, they say, is the mesūrana.” And Pingree puts in parentheses that the Greek term for this is mesouranema, which means literally ‘midheaven’ or ‘middle of the sky’; ‘middle of the heavens’. And so, he’s pointing out, again, that they’re using a transliterated term where mesouranema in Greek becomes mesūrana in Sanskrit. All right, so then it keeps going, it says, “Those who are experts in horoscopy call these the caturlagna,” which Pingree puts in parenthesis, means ‘four-fold ascendant’, “or the lagnacatustaya,” which Pingree says means ‘square of the ascendant’. “One finds that the place of the Moon and its square are called menyaiva among the Greeks.” And Pingree puts in parentheses that menyaiva seems to be a transliteration of the Greek term meniaios, which means ‘lunar’ or ‘connected with the Moon’ or something like that.
Okay, so continuing on, it says in passage 51, “The fourth (place) from the first they call the quartile, the eighth death; one finds that the fifth is the simple trine.” And Pingree says in Sanskrit that the term for trine here is trikona, which he says is a transliteration of what he thinks is the Greek term trigonon, which means just ‘trine’ or ‘triangle’. And then the text goes on and says, “The ninth [is] the trine of the trine.” So one of the things that’s really interesting to me here in the text at this point is it’s defining the houses when it first introduces them. It introduces the angular houses first, which is common, ‘cause that’s also the foundation in the Western tradition of the 12 houses, the four angles. But then it’s defining a lot of the houses in terms of the aspects that the house has to the Ascendant, which is interesting because that’s also what authors like Firmicus Maternus were doing. When they introduce the houses, they say that the 7th house opposes the 1st house, or the 10th and the 4th house square to the 1st house, or the 5th and the 9th house are seen as positive houses because they have trines with the 1st house, and so on and so forth. And we see a similar sort of logic kind of happening here, would you agree?
KM: I’m not sure. I’m not sure if we’re reading more into the description than is actually there. Because what first strikes me is that it’s just drawing relations. And this is the way we think in Indian astrology; we think of how things are related to other things. So the fourth place from the first is called the quartile and that could mean the fourth place from any place, otherwise you’re repeating the definition from above; and you can count four places from any place and you’re gonna call that a quartile.
CB: And quartile also is Pingree’s translation. It’s like an older term for square.
KM: But then to kind of counteract my point here, it then says “the eighth death.” Well, the 8th house, we’re taught is the ‘house of life’, therefore the ‘house of death’. “One finds that the fifth is the simple trine.” Yeah, ‘cause it’s a trine from the 1st. And the 9th is the fifth from the fifth. This is the way Indians think. So really, even in this very early text you have this sort of compound derivative, house-style thinking being taught.
CB: Sure. So let’s see, it goes on in line 52, it says that “They say that the sixth, which gives evil, is the satkona,” and Pingree says ‘sextile’, which I actually don’t understand why he would be associating the 6th with the sextile. “The third [is] the duścikya.” Do you know that term?
KM: It’s a mild dusthana house, but I’d have to look that up in my Sanskrit dictionary. Maybe it’s connected with that.
CB: Then it goes on, it says, “They call the eleventh the auspicious in every way, [and] the twelfth the place of motion.”
KM: Is that similar to Greek astrology? Is the 12th the ‘place of motion’?
CB: I mean, calling the 11th house auspicious is definitely similar to the Greek tradition ‘cause the 11th is treated as a very positive house that’s like the joy of Jupiter. But calling the 12th the ‘place of motion’ I don’t fully understand. The only way I could maybe understand that is that the 12th is sometimes treated as a place that has to do with travel and foreign places, as all of the cadent houses are, because it’s moving away from the stability of the Ascendant.
CB: And the planets in the 12th are literally traveling away from the angles.
CB: All right, so it goes on and it says, “They say that a caturvilagna-sign,” which Pingree puts in parentheses, it means ‘cardine’ or ‘angle’, “is a kendra,” and then he puts in parentheses just transliterating the Greek term kendra on here. “The next group [is a] panaphara,” and Pingree puts in parentheses that this is just a transliteration of the Greek term epanaphora, which is the Greek term for a succedent house. It means ‘post-ascension’ or ‘succedent’, that which follows after something; ‘cause the succedent houses follow after the angular houses. And then the text, the Yavanajataka, goes on and it says, “The third [category is] apoklima,” which Pingree points out is just a straight transliteration of the Greek term apoklima, which means ‘a declining’ or ‘a cadent place’. So that refers to the 3rd, 6th, 9th, or 12th because those houses are moving or falling or declining away from the angular houses. And then the text finishes that passage and says, “This is the three-fold designation of the ascendant.”
So what’s important here to me is, one, there’s a notable uptick in the text at this point of references to what they say, or what the Yavanas say about this doctrine, as well as a noticeable uptick in using transliterated terms. So it’s not just attributing these doctrines to somewhere else, it’s also using transliterated Greek terms that sometimes are not even that different, that haven’t transformed that much; like apoklima is still basically the same. Even kentron, for example, showing up as kendra is not that different. Or epanaphora showing up as panaphara is not that much of a transformation. Would you agree? Would you dispute that?
KM: Well, I just had this idea. If you handed this to someone that knew nothing about astrology, would they be able to follow this at all? ‘Cause one way you can read this is they say that this sign is a kendra because other people call it something else. It’s either telling you something for the first time, or it’s telling you, “Hey, this is what they call it, and you might know it by a different name.” And I was just wondering, does this read like something that would be clear to me if I didn’t even know what a chart was?
KM: Or does this sound like someone who might know things, but now it’s gonna be telling me, “Well, this is what the Greeks call it and how they defined things and the names they give it?” I don’t know. I just had never really thought of that before reading the text and it struck me now.
CB: I mean, for an ancient text—if we’re thinking about some of the more terse, Greek Hellenistic texts you run into sort of the same issue where they’re very, very concise in their introductions, and they just say, “This is this concept, this is what it’s called,” and then they move on. And you’re lucky if they give you—once they’ve established it—like one signification for what that even means before moving on. Yeah, so what’s interesting to me is immediately after this it starts introducing the significations of these houses, as well as the rest of the houses outside of the angles. And one of the things that’s interesting is it actually introduces them within the context of what we would call the ‘angular triads’ in the West. I mean, that was actually a term that Robert Schmidt came up with ‘cause we didn’t have a term for it, but it was a grouping of the houses around the four angles into four sets of three that was a commonly-used motif in Hellenistic astrology and seems to have been part of the original conceptual structure for how they came up with some of the significations for the houses.
So this is passage or sentence 54. It says, “Know that the ascendent,” and then Pingree puts into parentheses, “(the second, and the twelfth) (are significant).” It’s like Pingree’s inferring this because he knows that the significations are being given for these groups of three houses, but the text is using this extremely condensed language. Anyway, the text says, “Know that the ascendant,” and then in parentheses, “(the second, and the twelfth),” also in parentheses, “(are significant),” and then the text resumes, “with respect to property, body, thoughts, and so forth.”
KM: And so forth.
CB: And so forth. So this is a little weird because we have the question of what is being assigned to which. There’s two that are relatively common there. One of them is associating the Ascendant with the body; that would be pretty standard, and secondarily, associating property with the 2nd house, which is the house that follows after the 1st. The only one that’s a little weird is ‘thoughts’ and the question of whether that’s being assigned to the 1st or is that being assigned to the 12th. I could make some arguments about that, about the 12th and its association with the ‘bad spirit’ or the ‘bad daimon’ in Hellenistic astrology. Let’s skip that for now. It then moves onto the 4th house and it says, “The fourth,” and then Pingree put in parentheses, “(the third, and the fifth) indicate things relating to the parents and children.” So it’s only giving us two significations there, but right away we have two pretty straightforward ones that also give a parallel from the Western tradition, which is assigning the parents to the 4th house and assigning children to the 5th house.
Then it goes on, it says, “The descendent,” and Pingree puts in parentheses, “(the sixth, and the eighth) indicate things relating to the wife and to coming and going, and (are significant) with respect to injuries such as illnesses.” So here things get a little bit complicated, but we still see some pretty clear parallels where, in the Western tradition as well, the 7th house and the Descendant is associated with the wife or the marriage partner and relationships, and the 6th house is associated with injuries and illnesses. So the only one that’s a little bit unclear is it mentions ‘coming and going’. Although that could be relevant where the 7th, at least in the Western tradition, is sometimes associated with travel in some authors like Ptolemy.
KM: Yeah. And it’s sometimes associated with that in the Indian tradition. I mean, this is where, you know, if only poetry hadn’t been all the rage.
KM: Because I’m guessing the prose explanation would have been a little clearer because they do sometimes sacrifice to get the meter right in these poems.
CB: Yeah. And that’s unfortunately something that’s not conveyed in this translation.
CB: We run into similar issues in the attempts to translate some of the Western texts, like Manilius, that were written in the form of a poem. Translators will tend to translate them into not verse, but whatever the opposite is of verse, so that you’re not actually reading the translation and getting the full effect of what the original language sounds like, where they’re writing it in the form of a poem or a song which is tricky.
CB: All right, so then it goes on and it says, “Know that the mid-heaven,” and then in parentheses, “(the ninth, and the eleventh) indicate things relating to sovereignty and various successes, and (are significant) with respect to the treasury and the army. Know that a cardine is made auspicious by benefic planets, even if they are weak, and inauspicious by malefic planets. So in these (cardines) is bound up the mundane creation, both good and bad, with all its results; and so also in them (is bound up) the birth (of individuals).” So that one’s a little weird ‘cause it says ‘sovereignty success with respect to the treasury and the army’ when it’s talking about the 9th and the 11th and the Midheaven. Does that make sense to you?
KM: Well, if we’re gonna say that the 10th house is the ‘house of the king’. And now I feel like maybe there’s a bleed-through between royal horoscopy and ‘normal person’ horoscopy. Because obviously as a rank-and-file merchant, you know, you’re not gonna be caring about the army, so that is a bit puzzling.
CB: Sure. All right, so it goes and it says, “They say that the third, sixth, tenth, and eleventh signs from the ascendent or from the Moon”…
KM: Whoa, whoa, whoa, you missed the most interesting thing.
KM: Wait. No, no, never mind, never mind. Hold on, lost my place.
CB: You’re getting ahead of us.
KM: Okay, go on. 57. Yeah, yeah, yeah, 57.
CB: Okay. “They say that the third, sixth, tenth, and eleventh signs from the ascendent or from the Moon are upacaya,” which Pingree says in parentheses means “(“increasing”)”, the rest apacaya,” which means “(“decreasing”).” So this is one of those unique things that doesn’t actually, as far as I know, have a real parallel in the Hellenistic tradition, but became a pretty standard and important doctrine in the Indian tradition, right?
KM: To this day, yeah. At least the first half. So everyone learns the upacaya houses are the ones said in this paragraph. But then the rest are decreasing—that is not a concept that is taught.
CB: Oh, so that dropped out of the tradition?
KM: That dropped out of the tradition.
KM: Or was never part of it, if you want to argue that India had its own tradition. Or at least I’ve never encountered it. Because when we say ‘increasing’, the way I was taught and the way the modern books teach it is they’re houses that improve with time. So like, you know, it starts off as a seed and eventually it will sprout, and if you have the patience and the time, those houses improve. If they look bad when you’re younger, they tend to improve as you get older. The flipside of that concept—well, maybe that is the case, right? Your body, the older you get, it does decrease, if you look at it from the point of view of you’re on your way to the end. And your career—well, I don’t know, the body’s maybe the best example of something that would decrease after a certain point.
CB: Sure. So this is a good example to point out one of those things where up to this point we’ve seen parallels, especially when we started talking about the houses where there’s a really close parallel between the Western tradition, the Greek tradition and the Sanskrit tradition. But then all of a sudden it’s talking about the houses, but then there’s a concept that comes out of nowhere that we have no real parallel for as far as I know. Unless somebody wants to make an argument about that, that it might be connected to chrematistikos or something like that, but I don’t really think so; there seems to be a unique concept here. And then we have the question of, where did that come from? Like where did this unique concept connected with the houses come from? And then it becomes so important in the Indian tradition from this point forward. So where did it come from? Do you know? Can you fill me in?
KM: Where this concept came from?
CB: We’ve established we don’t know conceptually, but I guess the point I’m getting at is just that this is one of many instances where there may have been unique developments, even if this text represents a synthesis, even if we say just some portions of Hellenistic astrology and some portions of the indigenous astrology of India formed into a new system.
KM: This is already representative of that other stream; assuming that everything we find, that we can account for in the Western thing, originates in India. And it backs up my notion that there would have been other jatakas. You know, if this is called the Yavanajataka, there were probably other traditions afoot. And this text definitely represents kind of a unification of indigenous and imported.
CB: Yeah. And I would just say that instances like that where there’s already a unique development may just represent unique developments that took place in however long the period was before this text was written down, but after there was a synthesis of Hellenistic and Indian astrology. ‘Cause one of the things is we don’t know exactly when this text was written, and we don’t know how long ago prior to that, prior to this text being written down, that Hellenistic astrology was imported into India and created some sort of synthesis. What we could be seeing here in this text is a synthesis of those two traditions of astrology that had been in development and had sloshing around for like a century or two, or even like three, before it was actually written down in this text, so that it’s a much more thorough synthesis of some elements that are familiar from Greek astrology and some elements that were new developments in the Indian tradition after that point.
KM: You know, I don’t think I mentioned this point at the beginning, but we should say that later authors, like Varamihira, writing in about 550, when he’s praising the ancient astrology texts and things that are lost and stuff like that, he mentions that the Yavanas had a good astrology tradition. So there was definitely mutual respect, and there wasn’t this sense of either/or, or, you know, one’s better than the other; at least that doesn’t come across to me in any of his writings. Sadly, it’s more of an issue we have contemporaneously. I mean, you don’t know how many people come up to me when they find out I do Indian astrology and the very first question they ask me is, “Is Indian astrology better?” And I’m like, “Uh, I don’t know. Is oriental medicine better than Ayurvedic medicine?” I mean, it’s a weird question. Maybe that’s something that we just do in the West, that we’re always like, “Well, there must be one best thing. That’s the thing I want to do.”
CB: Right. Yeah, I mean, it’s just tricky because it gets tied up with things like that. While astrologers have that side to them, where they can sometimes get like territorial or it gets tied in with their ego or wanting to have the older or the better system, or ideas of age and how old a system is being linked with how good it is perceived, there’s another side to astrologers which is just very practical, which I feel like shows up in different areas in history. Anytime you put two astrologers in the same room together for long enough, they start talking to each other and they start comparing systems, and they start reading each other’s charts in those two systems. And eventually, over a long enough timeframe, their views start rubbing off on each other, even if they don’t agree with each other, or even if they get annoyed with each other.
KM: And that can happen in an hour. I mean, I’ve seen it happen in an hour. I was in a room with—who we both know—fellow Master’s graduate Marie Mateus, and she was working out some solar return stuff, you know, based on recent translations, and I said, “Oh, well, let me tell you what we do in Indian astrology.” And I remember I said a couple of lines and it totally illuminated what she had been struggling with. It’s just that we had been doing it in our tradition and it was now being reclaimed in the West; and that was like a 10-minute conversation. You know, I’m a big advocate of it doesn’t take much to spark the creativity and understanding of astrologers probably regardless of where they are in the timestream.
CB: Right. Yeah, so that’s probably part of what this text represents, just putting two astrologers together. Imagine doing that over the course of like a century or two or three. And then instead of it being really clear what the separate parts of the astrology are, you start seeing much more overlap, and there was much more of a melding of the foreign Greek elements and then whatever the indigenous Indian elements were as well.
CB: All right, so that sort of concludes its initial treatment of the houses. Although one thing that’s really interesting that I was realizing as I read through this—again for the first time in a few years—the other day in preparation for this is its first treatment of the houses, but it actually comes back to the houses again a few pages later and reintroduces them, and I actually think I know why. But before we get there let’s point out that after it’s done with its initial treatment of the houses, it next introduces the concept of the exaltations. So in passage 58, it says, “One finds that Aries, Taurus, Cancer, Libra, Pisces, Virgo, and Capricorn are the signs of exaltation of the Sun, the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mercury, and Mars in that order.”
So there we have, again, another parallel concept where the concept of the exaltations is exactly the same as it is in the Western tradition. So far we’ve had the domiciles or the sign rulers introduced, now we have the exaltation rulers introduced. And it even goes into the degrees of exaltation, which it turns out are largely the same except for two major discrepancies. So it says, “(The exaltation) of the Sun is in the tenth degree, of the Moon in the third, and of Juipter in the fifth; one finds (that) of Saturn in the twentieth, of Venus in the twenty-seventh, and Mercury in the fifteenth.” Oh, and, “The entrance of Mars (into its exaltation) takes place in the twenty-eighth degree in the sign of its exaltation. They say that the sign opposite the exaltation and the degree having the same number (in that sign as the exaltation has in its sign) is the dejection.”
So this is important because pretty much most of these are the same as the exaltation degrees that show up in the Hellenistic tradition, in the Greek tradition, except for two small variations, but two really notable ones. The two main notable discrepancies are the Sun. here, it says is exalted in the 10° of Aries, but in the Hellenistic tradition it’s the 19° of Aries, I believe, and then here it says that Jupiter is exalted in 5° of Cancer, whereas in the Hellenistic tradition it’s the 15°. And one of the things that’s interesting in the commentary is that Pingree points hout how all the rest of the exaltation degrees are the same as the Greek tradition except for those two. And he thought that what happened was that there was just a typo or an error in the manuscript where if one numeral basically dropped out of the manuscript from the original Greek text then you would get what you have here in this text.
KM: So I hear what you’re saying, but wouldn’t the Greek text have had a bunch of X’s, V’s, and ones? I mean, we’re thinking in terms of our modern numerical notation. Does that actually make sense in Greek numerical notation? Don’t they look quite different, or do they look the same?
CB: Well, in Greek they used the letters of the alphabet as numbers.
CB: So it’s like iota, theta, or like omega, alpha with each letter of the alphabet representing a specific numeral.
CB: Keep an eye on what page this is. I’m gonna try to pull up—what passage number was that, again?
KM: It’s 59.
CB: 59. ‘Cause I want to pull this up in the commentary because actually seeing it, he makes what seems like kind of a compelling point.
KM: I mean, I’ve heard this argument before that there was a typo, but the counter-argument would be someone fixed it, you know, fixed it from the Greek tradition.
CB: Maybe. So here’s his commentary—so I’m sharing this for the video—and this is what his commentary looks like; so this is the first time I’ve shown it. So he has the passage number 58-60, and then Pingree says, “The points of exaltation for the planets as listed by Sphujidhvaja are,” Sun at Aries 10°, Moon at Taurus 3°, Saturn at Libra 20°, Jupiter exalted at Cancer 5°, Mars at Capricorn 28°, Venus at Pisces 27°, and Mercury at Virgo 15°; so he’s just listing in tabular form what we just read in the text. Then he goes into the Western tradition, and he says, “The origin of the hypsomata,” which is the Greek term for ‘exaltation’, “is unfortunately obscure; Firmicus implies that it was Babylonian, and this is confirmed by [Earnest] Weidner,” and then he cites a text where the modern academic scholarship thinks that the exaltations came from the Mesopotamian tradition in some cuneiform tablets.
And then he says, “A standard Greek arrangement would be very close to that of the Yavanajataka.” And then he lists the exaltation degrees from the Greek authors, like Valens, and he says in the Greek tradition, the Sun is exalted at Aries 19°, the Moon at Taurus 3°, Saturn in Libra at 20°, Jupiter in Cancer at 15°, Mars in Capricorn at 28°, Venus in Pisces at 27°, and Mercury in Virgo at 15°. Then he lists the variants, and I’ll skip that. Here’s the important point, he says, “The two deviations in the Yavanajataka, then, are Aries 10° for 19° [in the Western tradition] and Cancer 5° for 15° [in the Western tradition]. Then he says, “It is possible that these represent purely scribal errors, [where] a theta [in Greek] being omitted from an iota-theta.” So he’s basically saying a nine being omitted so that all that’s left is a ten, an iota; so if literally one letter had dropped out then it would change a 19 to a 10.
CB: And then he says, “An iota for iota-epsilon in the manuscript translated by Yavanesvara.” So then he says the second one for Jupiter, where it’s 15° in the Western tradition, in the Greek texts, if one letter dropped out then it would just turn into 5°. I mean, to me, that’s plausible as a possible explanation for why the exaltation degrees are so close in almost every instance, except for those two instances where he may be showing the reason why this change was just an error in the text or the transmission of it or something.
KM: It’s possible. But again, it seems like that’s a fairly big mistake to not be caught, I would think. And it seems like you would catch that, like any astrologer looking at the manuscript, if there was something there. But, you know, it certainly could be that, that is plausible. It could be that there was simply a different tradition, or that someone’s school had an argument for varying it for whatever reason.
KM: Yeah, who knows.
CB: But in terms of textual tradition, we do know in texts stuff gets changed, stuff gets messed up all the time in the era prior to the printing press where people were literally copying these texts over by hand, or sometimes were doing it auditorily. Sometimes in the Middle Ages, you would have one guy that was reading the text and saying the words out loud and another guy who’s writing down the text. And then sometimes the modern editors have had to struggle with that ‘cause sometimes the guy writing it down would mishear a letter and would write something down wrong.
CB: Who knows, but that’s one of the interesting things. One of the reasons why this is fun and I wanted to do this—and I hope it’s not too boring and whatever for the listeners—is that this part of what goes into all of this academic scholarship that’s been done on the history of astrology. Sometimes you have these related side disciplines that you have to utilize, like paleography, which is the reading of ancient texts and how to read a handwritten manuscript and sometimes understand when an author’s made an error, or sometimes noting variations in the text and things like that.
CB: All right, what page were we on?
KM: We were on page 5. But I’m noticing we’re hitting the two-hour mark, so it’s gonna tak a long time to go through the whole book, verse-by-verse.
KM: I didn’t know if you wanted to move onto pulling it all together.
CB: Yeah, let’s go through just a few more passages ‘cause there’s only a few more important ones, and then we can wrap it up and bring it all together.
CB: Okay, let’s just skim basically the next few passages. So it introduces the exaltations. As we said, it introduces the exaltation degrees. There’s a really interesting passage right here at 61 that I’ve puzzled about for a few years. There’s different ways that you can interpret it, but I think it might actually be describing the degrees of the angles using an equal house system, except one where it’s only mentioning the four angular degrees. So at passage 61, it says, “They say that the thirty degrees in (each of) the four cardines from the ascendent are called the spikes.” And then it actually changes the subject and the rest of the sentence, and I don’t think it’s related. It says, “In every sign the navamsa belonging to that sign is named by the Greeks the vargottama,” which Pingree says means ‘highest in rank’.
Yeah, but that passage where it says ‘the spikes’ is really interesting because in the commentary, Pingree says that the term for spikes—I forget what term he said it was in Sanskrit—but that it was probably a translation of the Greek term kentron, which also means ‘a spike’ or ‘a goad’; like a cattle prod that excites something into action. And that was part of the original conceptual structure underlying the four angular houses and especially the angular degrees; they’re like poking or exciting the planets into action. But I thought that was interesting in terms of the house division debate. One way of reading that passage is it could be referring to the four angular degrees relative to the rising degree.
KM: “Thirty degrees in (each of) the four cardines from the ascendent are called the spikes.”
KM: So one way to read that would be the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th house are the ‘spike houses’.
CB: Yeah. And that’s the way I always used to read it. I just thought it was weird because it’s already introduced the kentron houses and called them the kendra houses—the four angular whole sign houses—and said that they’re called kendras. So maybe it is just reiterating that and that’s the way I always used to read it. But then one day I was wondering if the fact that it actually specifically says 30°, if it’s talking about measuring it from the degree of the Ascendant.
KM: You know, I actually have a note from the first time I read this, where I wrote, “Check Sanskrit?” ‘cause I wanted to dive into it. I mean, it almost seems like there’s something missing, or there’s some things thrown together.
CB: You might be right that it’s just referring to the signs. Because what it did before, when it used the term kendra, is it was transliterating the Greek term kentron into kendra, which didn’t then mean anything at that point in Sanskrit; whereas here in this passage, it’s actually translating the term kentron into its equivalent Sanskrit term, which here means ‘spike’ basically, which essentially what the Greek term meant. Which is interesting because Ben Dykes has spent a lot of time over the past few years talking about how the Arabic astrologers translated the Greek term kentron into Arabic as watad, which he says means ‘stakes’. So it’s like you get the same conceptual term of stakes, spikes, kentrons, a goad, and so on and so forth.
CB: All right, sorry, we’re getting stuck on that. It’s just like every passage you go through there’s really interesting stuff. Let’s see, other passages. Skipping through the rising times. Oh, yeah, here it is, it returns back to the significations of the houses a few passages later, at passage 70.
CB: So it had this whole interim digression about all this other stuff, and then for some reason it returns back to the houses, and here it starts giving a new set of significations. So it says, “One finds that the ascendent or the sign occupied by the Moon is the body, the second place the family; the third they say is the brother, and the fourth relations. The fifth place is called sons, the sixth they name the place of enemies; the seventh is the wife, and wise men say that the eighth is the place of death. One establishes the ninth as the place of righteousness, and they say the tenth is work; the eleventh is the gaining of wealth, the twelfth is loss.” So right away that’s really important ‘cause we’ve suddenly then returned back to the houses and suddenly get a much more straightforward and pretty closely-paralleled treatment of the primary significations of the 12 houses that are largely exactly the same as in the Hellenistic tradition around that same time period.
KM: And it’s immediately telling you to look at it from both the Ascendant and the Moon.
CB: Yeah, you know what’s really interesting about the parallel—well, there’s two parallels in the Western tradition. One, Rhetorius says the same thing when he gives delineations of the signs of the zodiac and which sign of the zodiac is rising. At the end of his work, he says that these delineations apply if you have your Ascendant there or if you have your Moon there.
CB: So there’s actually a parallel tradition in Rhetorius. There’s a secondary parallel, which is that one of the things that’s interesting that the Yavanajataka does here and that’s unique to the Indian tradition is it really puts a lot of emphasis on derived houses from the Moon as a secondary set of houses, in addition to just houses from the Ascendant.
CB: And that became a very common thing. The only parallel, aside from that Rhetorius passage, that’s actually very common in the Western tradition is that they commonly did derived houses from the Lot of Fortune.
CB: Valens and Manilius both describe this as being one of the primary purposes of the Lot of Fortune, that you use it as an alternate Ascendant, and you do an alternate set of whole sign houses from the sign that the Lot of Fortune is placed in. And what’s interesting about that is that the Lot of Fortune is supposed to be the lot that’s primarily associated with the Moon, whereas the Lot of Spirit is associated with the Sun, and the Lot of Eros is associated with Venus, and so on and so forth; but the Lot of Fortune is specifically supposed to be the lunar lot in those early treatments of the lots. And this is one of those instances where, again, I kind of wonder ‘cause the concept of lots doesn’t seem to show up in the Yavanajataka, it seems.
KM: I was just gonna bring that point up that lots are completely absent here, and yet, they are so fundamental it seems when you start getting into the Greek texts as we have them now. And so, again, just noting that there’s a stream of information that’s earlier than the surviving texts that we have might point to that.
CB: Well, what I was thinking here and one of my possible solutions for what I thought about this is what if they read the concept of lots and why that was important? The lunar lot, or the lot that’s derived from the Moon and you’re doing derived houses from that. The Indian author who gets the exposure to this Hellenistic tradition—and they’re taking some pieces from it that they like—but then they see this one piece where they’re doing these weird mathematical formulas and lots, and they’re like, “That’s crazy. I’m not gonna incorporate that. However, the Moon is very important, we think, in the astrological tradition, so doing a set of derivative houses directly from the Moon—instead of doing this other weird derivative mathematical concept—would make sense.” So maybe it’s another instance where they just conceptually were like, “Yeah, we agree with the idea that the Moon’s important, and you can do an alternate set of houses from it, but, to us, it makes more sense to do that directly from the Moon, instead of doing it from the Lot of Fortune, which is this weird mathematical point.”
KM: I would argue that it’s equally possible that you don’t even need exposure to the lots because what scholars and laypeople alike agree is that Indian astrology was watching the Moon change places and associating significance and meaning to those places, where certain activities were auspicious. So they already had this tradition of ‘from the Moon’ being important.
KM: And it may have just been as simple as, “Oh, there’s this Ascendant. Yeah, that’s important. As is the Moon, which we’ve been, you know, using the whole time.”
CB: Right. Yeah, I guess I was just trying to rationalize why there was a parallel, but the closest parallel in the Western tradition was derived houses from the Lot of Fortune, which happens to be associated with the Moon. And so, there’s some weird overlap there obviously though it’s slightly different.
KM: Yep. They were like, “Well, we can’t take your Indian tradition. We’ll have to make it a little more complicated.”
CB: Right. So with the significations of the houses all of these are pretty standard significations, both East and West. The only one that’s weird—there’s only one or two that are weird from a Western perspective. And I don’t know if this is standard in Indian astrology or if it’s a typo or what, but it says, “The second place the family.” So that’s kind of weird. Does that show up?
KM: Yes, it can mean immediate family in Indian astrology.
KM: It can mean the immediate household. Although the 4th house is also the home and family. But yeah, I mean, I think I could even pull down Light on Life, you know, Hart Defouw; you can find it even in the modern books.
CB: Okay. Well, that’s one that, at least as far as I know, there’s no Western parallel for. And the only other one that was a little iffy was “the 9th as the place of righteousness,” but I could easily see that in connection with the Western tradition because the 9th is the place of religion and religious observance and things like that.
KM: Yeah, I mean, that would make perfect sense as the place of righteousness. That would make sense in the Indian tradition for sure.
CB: So one of the points I wanted to make—that I was thinking about the other day with the house thing—one of the questions is why does it introduce the houses twice, two separate times, and give two separate sets of significations? And then, also, note that the first time it introduces them, it introduces them primarily within the context of the angular triads, which is the grouping of the signs into four sets of three, based around the four angles. It’s like 12th house, 1st house, 2nd house as one set, then 3rd house, 4th house, 5th house as another set, and so on and so forth, so that it’s providing the conceptual structure for the houses in that list of significations. And the interesting answer that actually may be connected with the Western tradition in this instance is that we see the early Western Greek authors doing the same thing, like Thrasyllus and Antiochus, because they had two separate origin source texts for their early sets of significations of the houses, and one of them was from Hermes, or was attributed to Hermes, and one of them was attributed to Asclepius. And they both gave similar, but slightly different sets of significations of the houses because they were coming at it from slightly different conceptual standpoints.
CB: But in the Asclepius one, the second one, it gives more family members and assigns them to the 12 houses, just like the second set does. And so, I would actually bet you that that’s the reason why in this text we’re seeing these two different sets of significations in two different areas is because whatever the Greek source text is that they’re drawing on probably also had these two traditions for the houses coming from Hermes and Asclepius as well, just like in Thrasyllus and Antiochus.
CB: What do you think about that?
KM: That could be.
KM: Imean, that’s a plausible argument. Some of the chapter, this section in particular, or this page as printed in this edition, also feels like it’s mushed together, and I’m wondering if some stuff is actually missing or something. I mean, it’s just sort of weird to have a “Let’s just throw out the concept of vargottama right after we’ve explained the angles. And now we’re gonna tell you about mulatrikonas.” I mean, it’s just a whole bunch of miscellanea that my modern mind would say, “Well, shouldn’t we be throwing this at the end and stick to our little coherent presentation?”
KM: But I don’t know.
CB: Yeah, it’s tough. We don’t know what the state of the text was or if there were things that have dropped out or added.
KM: You know, I do want to tell people, you know, if you’ve made it this far in the show…
CB: There’s like two listeners left.
KM: It is a fascinating book, and it does actually have some practical things that you can, you know, test out in your own life. But one helpful piece that we should have probably said at the beginning of the show is you have to read the last sentence of each chapter to find out what the chapter is about; that was like a Sanskrit norm where you would go like, “Here’s the chapter.” We always put the title of the chapter at the beginning, and they always put it at the end. So it kind of pays to read that to kind of orient your mind about what this chapter’s gonna be about.
KM: ‘Cause we’ve just been reading the nature of the signs and planets, and yet, it has so much more in it, as your theme.
CB: Yeah, that’s a good point. The first chapter’s really long, and it’s mainly introducing basic concepts. But then most of the rest of the book is actually delineation material, where it will go through planets placed in signs and planets placed in houses and tell you what that means; and that’s actually the majority of the rest of the text.
KM: Yeah, all 79 chapters.
CB: Yeah. So one last thing to mention here, just skip ahead a bunch of passages to passage 83.
CB: Page 7. It says, “Saturn, Jupiter, and the Sun are strong in the day-time, Mars, Venus, and the Moon at night; Mercury is strong either by day or at night;” yeah, that’s the basic part. So I thought this was interesting ‘cause this is basically the doctrine of sect that is exactly the same in the Western tradition; it’s a major concept in Hellenistic astrology.
KM: Yeah. And it doesn’t make it, “Oh, pass this text,” as far as I can tell. Even when we get into planetary strength, planetary strength combinations and it does divide the planets strong day or night, it’s a different allotment. This is really a pure rendering of the Hellenistic sect doctrine, but it does not make it into Jyotish as practiced later, by the rest of the country, and the way it’s practiced now.
CB: Right. That’s really interesting and important to me because it was such a major concept that’s mentioned by every major Hellenistic author. And, to me, that’s evidence that this was like an early text where it’s introducing some foreign concepts, but some of the concepts just didn’t take off and didn’t become as popular in the later tradition for whatever reason.
KM: Yeah. What about the second part of that same sentence? The benefics are strong in the waxing phase of the month and the others, the malefics, are strong in the waning phase. Is there an analogue to that in the Hellenistic tradition?
CB: I mean, there’s some stuff about what phase the Moon is in and different planets working better or worse based on that, where the sect doctrine gets a little bit more complicated in certain authors. I had a student at one point who did a lot of work on that that was interesting, but I never fully got into it, so I can’t tell you an exact parallel.
KM: Next show.
CB: Yeah, next show.
KM: Next show will be ‘the exact parallels’ show.
CB: Right. So I think those are all of the major things that I meant to mention in terms of interesting passages and just establishing some clear connections. Especially if you are already familiar with ancient Hellenistic astrology, you can start to see some of the parallels here pretty quickly, I think, right?
KM: Yeah. And also, the differences in Indian culture. We didn’t really cover any of the passages on, you know, caste and cultural things, but it’s dialed in. I mean, it’s definitely a marriage of the traditions.
CB: Yeah, like one of the things I’m showing here is that it introduces the concept of ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’.
CB: So it says, “Jupiter is the friend of the Sun, [and] the rest are its enemies; all except Mars are…friends of Jupiter; all except the Sun are…friends of Mercury,” and it just keeps going on. And that becomes a major doctrine in Indian astrology, but has no parallel in the Western tradition, right?
CB: I think Dennis Harness, one of my early Vedic teachers, tried to say that it might be connected with the religious connections of which gods were said to get along or not get along. Is that true, or is this just a purely astrological concept?
KM: Well, this is where we get into—and the Indian listeners may disagree with me—but my understanding from the historian point of view is pretty much all of the planetary mythology from India came after the astrology.
KM: So they all end up being teaching stories. It’s not like in the West where, “Oh, we have this Aphrodite tradition, we’re gonna take the star of Ishtar and call it Aphrodite, and we’re gonna map all those myths onto it,” It wasn’t like that. It seems like the attrology came and then a whole bunch of mythology was created. Yes, when you hear the mythology, it does make sense of the friends and enemies, but it makes sense of a lot of different things because they’re elements of teaching, you know.
CB: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. So the rest of the passage or the rest of the chapter goes through other stuff. It starts integrating unique Indian concepts from Ayurveda, like here in passage 114. It says, “Jupiter, Mars, and the Sun are of excellence (sattva), Venus and the Moon of passion (rajas), and Saturn of ignorance (tamas); Mercury accepts the other characteristics depending on which planet it is in conjunction with.” So that’s incorporating things from the indigenous medical tradition of India with Ayurveda, right?
KM: Yes. Also, one of the popular philosophical schools, the Samkhya philosophy, one of the ways it divided the cosmos up was in these three principles; so now it’s attributing planets to these different principles.
KM: But yeah, now we’re getting into the marriage of definitely Indian philosophical concepts and the astrology.
KM: But that made sense ‘cause one of the interesting features of the Indo-Greeks was their rapid assimilation of Indian religious and philosophical concepts.
CB: Right. So these are people that speak or can read Greek, but they’re adopting Hinduism and Indian culture and customs.
KM: Yeah, yeah.
CB: And philosophy. So that becomes important in and of itself. Astrology in any era always inevitably, to some extent, the way it’s practiced ends up becoming part of—not an outgrowth—but a reflection of the cultural context in which it’s practiced. Because if you’re gonna sit down and read a chart for somebody, you have to apply it to their life, whatever their life is about.
CB: And part of that sometimes is the astrologers will also tend to want to practice it within the context of whatever the prevailing scientific and medical and philosophical concepts are in their time.
CB: And it’s sort of no different here where it’s being adapted to the culture of India. Even if there’s some kind of foreign influence coming in, it’s being molded and changed, and changed in some instances by, you know, some of those philosophical or metaphysical considerations.
CB: All right, the only other thing to mention here really quickly, since we’re on this page, is it introduces benefic and malefic, but its breakdown is actually really interesting. In 109, it says, “Saturn, Mars, and the Sun are always malefic, Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon benefic. Mercury is benefic when it is not mixed with the other (planets) or their vargas; (when it is so mixed), it takes on a nature similar to theirs. The malefic planets are hot, the benefic cold, and Mercury has a mixed nature.” So that’s really interesting to me because on the one hand that’s similar to the Western tradition in the breakdown of Saturn and Mars being malefic and Jupiter and Venus being benefic. But then it’s interesting that it makes the Sun malefic and the Moon benefic based on this conceptual structure of hot and cold.
KM: Yep, where the hot was more dangerous in India than perhaps—well, no. Alexandria’s in the desert. I don’t know. That’s interesting. But the way we’re taught in modern Jyotish is that the Sun is mildly malefic because it is hot and burns things.
CB: Right. And in the Hellenistic tradition, you had a similar idea that the Sun could sometimes be functionally malefic ‘cause if a planet falls under the beams, it would be hurt or debilitated.
CB: But otherwise, for the most part I think they just classify Saturn and Mars as malefic and Jupiter and Venus as benefic. So there we see, again, like an overlap or a similarity, but then also a slight difference of some other element here.
CB: All right, so that’s pretty much it. The only other thing is at the bottom of that page it mentions the genders of the planets, which is kind of interesting in terms of other discussions I’ve had on the podcast. In number 115, it says, “Jupiter, Mars, and the Sun are masculine, Venus and the Moon [are] feminine; Saturn and Mercury are neuter, their sex depending on their situation.” So I thought that was really interesting just because there has been some debate in the Hellenistic tradition. There’s a reference in the Arabic version of Dorotheus about Saturn being feminine and a question of whether that was a typo or whether there was some variation of early Hellenistic astrology that treated Saturn as feminine. And while we don’t have that fully here in this tradition, we do have an interesting variant where they’re not treating Saturn as masculine, but instead they’re treating it as neutral.
CB: Yeah, so I thought that was interesting.
KM: It is interesting. But again, we don’t know if that was part of the indigenous tradition being folded in or represents a variant of the Hellenistic tradition being presented here. But that concept of Saturn and Mercury is present in the modern texts; that category has survived the ages.
CB: Got it, okay. All right, so that is basically just a handful of passages of this very long, long book, and most of the rest of it is delineations of different situations. Yeah, why don’t we bring this around, bring this full circle and wrap this up. Where did we get to after going through all of that? We’ve seen that there’s some parallels, but we’ve seen that there’s also some major differences.
KM: And one could argue that astrology has always had a knack for adapting itself, you know, to whatever culture or whatever place it finds itself.
KM: And especially in the West, when it’s gone through so many different language changes and cultural changes and religious oversight changes, and yet, survived the scientific revolution. And, yay, Freud gave us the first psychological model and then Jung and then you have modern astrology going all over the place. I think when we look at 20th century astrology and all the changes and innovations that happened there, it’s not impossible to think that at any period in history when people could communicate to each other there would be some, you know, innovation and development.
CB: Yeah. I mean, there have been exchanges in later traditions. That’s still happening today, right? We have both Western astrologers adopting and sometimes incorporating Indian concepts into their astrology. One example could be the triplicity rulership theme, I think, like the decanates that are used by some modern Western astrologers. What are some other Indian concepts that modern Western astrologers have adopted or been influenced by?
KM: Well, thanks to the software integrating some Vedic principles, I hear a lot of people check their dashas. You know, they’re tropical astrologers, but they’ll run their Vimshottari dasha. I mean, probably one of the most common things I get is Western astrologers saying, “Yeah, those really work. You know, I pay attention to that.” There are bits and pieces of Indian astrology that can be easily integrated into Western astrology that don’t require a total change of the zodiac.
CB: What is the baseline conclusion that we can come to, if any, here? I mean, to me, I feel like the baseline is that there was some kind of influence of Greek astrology on early Sanskrit astrology that we see traces of in this text, so that somebody could say that there was some sort of transmission and influence of Hellenistic astrology on early Indian astrology. However, it would not be correct to take that too far and make the claim that all of Indian astrology comes from Hellenistic astrology or something like that. That would be way overstating or way overextending the point because obviously there’s a lot of unique stuff that is in this text.
KM: And the bedrock of the problem is we’re not talking about isolated societies, we’re talking about people that were literally in bed with each other, you know. So you’ve got some recent archaeological evidence, you know, showing what might be a small community of Indians in Alexandria during this time, you have the Indo-Greek kingdoms, so everyone’s talking to each other all the time. The trade routes are connecting the great civilizations even before the Hellenistic Empire, so I’m guessing there was a lot of back-and-forth, and everyone was looking at the sky, you know, because it was so important. And I think what the Yavanajataka shows is very interesting, and this thing that India I think excels at is being able to take ideas and dial them in, you know. What we call ‘modern’ Hinduism would kind of be unrecognizable if you went back 2,000 years ago, but it borrowed from Jainism, it borrowed from Buddhism, and it changed itself. And so, whatever the indigenous astrology was, maybe one day we will find one of these early texts that are talked about but no one’s ever seen and we will get a better idea of that, but I think this is a nice marriage of East and West in the Yavanajataka.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And there have been other points of interaction and overlap over the past 2,000 years where other concepts have been transmitted back and forth.
CB: Like in Abu Ma’shar, for example, we see the concept of the navamsas being taken from Indian astrology and from Sanskrit and then transliterated from Sanskrit into Arabic or into Latin or what have you, so that you see the reverse transmission happening as well.
CB: Or in the episode I just did on the Picatrix, they were adopting the nakshatras and the mansions of the Moon from Sanskrit texts and incorporating them into their astrological magic, and so on and so forth.
CB: So it’s certainly not a one-way street where it’s only ever been the West influencing India. But certainly India has had a major influence, sending astrology, or portions of their astrology back West and influencing Western astrology just as much in some instances.
CB: All right, well, thanks for doing this with me. Thanks for sticking it out for a two-and-a-half-hour episode, so bringing this in about the same length as my episode with Christopher Warnock. So I guess there’s something good about that.
KM: I will be shocked if we get the same amount of viewers as the Picatrix. But yeah, this was a real pleasure. And who else is gonna talk about stuff like this than you and me, so I appreciate that.
CB: Yeah, well, I hope it generates some interest and some discussion ’cause obviously there’s still a lot of work to be done. And one of the things I’d like to encourage people to do is we need more people with ancient language skills who can sit down and read some of these texts and do translations or make critical editions, and who can do what Pingree did, and sit down and do some of these comparisons to help us reconstruct the history of all ancient astrologies and to help sort some of this stuff out by being able to read those texts.
CB: So if this is interesting to you there’s different ways to get into that. I mean, I definitely encourage people, if they have the means or the ability, to try to study astrology or the history of astrology in the context of a university setting. And there’s different universities you can go to to learn, you know, Sanskrit or to learn ancient Greek or what have you. There’s also schools that you can go to to learn astrology, and you happen to be in charge of one of those.
KM: Yeah, Kepler College is one of those options. KeplerCollege.org. We’re starting our fall term, but there are classes that start throughout. I mean, the winter term, excuse me, but there are classes that start throughout. So whenever you hear this, do check out that. We’re constantly adding new offerings. And if you’re listening to this in a timely manner—when is this gonna be published?
CB: Sometime in the next few days, before the end of January.
KM: So I’m starting my crash course on Indian astrology through Kepler College. It’s a five-week overview where I take you from zero to being able to kind of begin to read a chart using Indian principles. And it’s really designed to give you enough to know whether this is something you want to study long term and give you the resources to be able to differentiate what’s gonna be good for you and what’s not.
CB: Brilliant. What’s the website for Kepler?
KM: KeplerCollege.org. O-R-G. Kepler with a ‘K’.
CB: And you guys are also organizing a webinar event for International Astrology Day that you do every year, right?
KM: Yes, correct. That was a fundraiser. Everyone who’s involved in that is volunteering. All the money goes into our scholarship fund for people that can’t afford tuition. That’ll be on International Astrology Day, and we’re just putting together the slate of speakers now. We’re gonna be talking about issues around fate, free will, character, destiny, these kind of things. But get on the Kepler mailing list and you’ll be kept apprised of that. And very lastly, you can find me at CelestialIntelligencer.net or KennethDMiller.com. My website’s finally back up. Needs a little polish, but it has some stuff on there, as well as a link to the class.
CB: Brilliant. Awesome. Well, yeah, I think people should definitely check out your work. Thanks a lot for joining me for this.
KM: Thanks for having me.
CB: Yeah, I hope it sparks some interest in people doing these sorts of studies and further work that needs to be done on this text, as well as some others.
KM: So much work.
CB: Yeah, but it’s exciting. It’s a great time to be alive as an astrologer ‘cause we have access to all of this stuff, and we can do these sorts of cross-cultural comparisons, and then some, you know, merging or some influencing of the different traditions on each other, hopefully in positive ways.
CB: Cool. All right, well, thanks for joining me today.
KM: Thank you.
CB: Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast, and we will see you again next time.
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