Question: It is generally known that we can’t fundamentally change the horoscope. According to our karma, we are awarded bodies. The law of karma is so subtle that every part of our body is shaped by the governing celestial bodies and associated personalities. A person’s destiny, therefore, can be ascertained by a knowledgeable astrologer from the time of their birth and the constellations and celestial bodies present at that time. What is the need of a horoscope? Is it really helpful to know our horoscope?
Answer: Destiny is a probability. It is not etched in stone. Our life runs on two wheels on karma, which means present action, and destiny from the past. Therefore, you can take some precautions if you know that something bad is destined. You may or may not be able to avert it, but at least you can try.
For example, if you are to fall sick due to bad luck, you can take precautions in advance so that you may avoid it. But if you still fall sick, you take medicine to cure it. The medicine may work and it may not, depending on how powerful your destiny is. It is like the prediction that in the rainy season there will be rain. We cannot stop the rain, but we can use an umbrella. Still, we may get wet.
Question: We hear that devotees are free from karma. So does astrology apply to them or not?
Answer: Freedom from karma can be understood in two ways. The first is that the past karma is wiped out and therefore one is no longer influenced at all by one’s past karma. The second is that past karma is not wiped out but one is no longer influenced by it. This is as good as being free from karma. In the case of devotees, both can be applicable. If someone has become a devotee in the true sense of the word, then such a person is not under the influence of karma anymore and it is understood that whatever is happening to such a person is being granted by Kṛṣṇa himself. However, to wipe out one’s karma completely Kṛṣṇa would have to adjust the karma of many other people whose karma was related to that particular devotees. Therefore, what Kṛṣṇa does is, instead of wiping out the karma, He creates the same situation that would have been created by karma. But now it is created by Him and not the law of karma. This will help the devotee advance spiritually, unlike a nondevotee, who remains implicated in karma.
This is why you hear two types of statements from great devotees; some say that whatever happens to them, good or bad, is all Kṛṣṇa’s grace. Others say that whatever good is happening is Kṛṣṇa’s grace and whatever bad is happening is their past karma. Considering these two meanings of freedom from karma, a devotee can still consult astrology and know about their future, while keeping in mind that even if these predictions come true, they are arranged by Kṛṣṇa Himself and not by past karma.
However, this is applicable only if a devotee has actually surrendered and is not just making an external change. If one does not surrender from one’s heart, they are still under the influence of karma. Kṛṣṇa clearly says that only those who surrender to Him can transcend His māyā (Gītā 7.14). He also instructs Arjuna to surrender to Him and then He will free him of all karma. (Gītā 18.66)
The questioner states: “The law of karma is so subtle that every part of our body is shaped by the governing celestial bodies and associated personalities.”
Isn’t “shaped” a serious misunderstanding? As far as I have understood, the truth is the revers: the planets and stars are a reflection of, not a cause of, our karma. We take birth in a manner, place, and time appropriate to our karma, and the cosmos at our birth is appropriate to our karma. Then, as Babaji notes in his answer, we may gain bhakti-samskaras as we live, in which one of two results will occur: either the old karmas will persist in some manner as agencies of Krishna’s blessings, or they may be nullified in our lives because of Krishna’s blessings. In any case, though, the celestial bodies are a record that reveals, not a cause that shapes.
Yes, “shaped” is a misunderstanding. Babaji also agrees to that.
It is worth mentioning that most, “astrologers” are simply businessmen that offer their services for exorbitant prices. As such, what is their power to predict beyond vague generalities? They may say, “I see a negative Saturn transit coming in the near future…” Ok, but when it comes to specific events, people, places, and things, they are hard pressed for details. So where to find a qualified astrologer? Not so easy I think.
The astrology of Varsha Mihira and the astrology of persons that don’t even follow basic sadachar are two completely different things, with two completely different outcomes.
Nice insights on Karma from Babaji Maharaj. Thank you.