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JOURNAL
Revelations of Zodiacal Signs
and Lunar Mansions:
A Sequel to Myths and Symbols
of Vedic Astrology
by Bepin Behari

Book Review

by Bruce Davis
BehariBookCover.png

Jyotisika, Bepin Behari

2/8/1925, 11:25 am
Chapra, Bihar, India

Introduction

Bepin Behari, the esteemed Jyotish practitioner and teacher, wrote his book Myths and Symbols of Vedic Astrology, in 1990. His purpose was to explore the meaning of the twelve astrological signs and the twenty-seven Nakshatras by undertaking a journey through myth and symbol with his readers. His interest was not to provide superficial explanations or facile tools for Jyotish practitioners, but rather to guide the reader toward profound and multi-layered understanding of the Vedic gods, planets, mythical beings and their complex narratives. He suggested that myths and symbols reveal their innermost value to students who’s consciousness is sufficiently developed to receive the subtle power and truth of their meaning. For Behari rational analysis is a lesser way of knowing the truth of myths and symbols than revelation through intuition. He indicates that the process of growth toward a deeper understanding of astrological charts and clients may involve teachers and guides, but above all it requires committed spiritual work and self-study on the part of those who aspire to deeper knowledge.

Behari’s Myths and Symbols was reviewed in the March issue of the CVA Journal. That groundbreaking book stands on its own as an important resource to students and teachers of Vedic astrology, especially in the understanding of how symbols impart their meaning and how they not only point to truth but actually participate in that truth.

Yet, after more than ten years of sharing the profound messages of the 1990 book, Behari was drawn to offer a further rendition of this same subject matter— but with new emphasis and intent. At first he spoke publicly about a fresh way for students of astrology to understand Vedic myths and symbols, especially as a vehicle to comprehend the evolution of consciousness. The CVA conference intensive that he led in 1997 (Fifth International Conference of the CVA in San Diego) was soon followed by his two-day seminar in Seattle in October of 1997, entitled “Mastering the Nakshatras.” I had the opportunity to study closely a recording of the Seattle seminar where Behari read from pages of unpublished manuscript text—which in time became part of his second book on myths and symbols. Revelations of Zodiacal Signs and Lunar MansionsA Sequel to Myths and Symbols of Vedic Astrology was finally published in India in 2002, twelve years after the original Myths and Symbols, as an addendum to his original work. For various reasons, especially difficulties with publication rights, this latter book has not yet found the wider readership among astrologers that Myths and Symbols did. In the Seattle seminar Behari indicates that the new “revelations” in the unpublished manuscript pages is key to understanding the full explication of his work. Hence, his use of the word “sequel” in the title of the 2002 volume.

A particular value added by Bepin Behari’s sequel is his application of myth and symbol, especially as they appear in the Nakshatras, to describe the subtle journey of the human soul from the beginning of its manifestation to its fulfillment in Self-realization. As Behari explores the nuances of this path in the evolution of human consciousness, he explains that he is simultaneously revealing the subtle evolution of the cosmos, as well.  Though many authors reference the growth of human potential, referring to the progression of both the Zodiacal signs and the lunar mansions, Behari portrays in detail the profound movements and lessons of consciousness that each step of the path provides—a path that leads ultimately from Source back to Source.

An understanding of the nature and significance of the constellations and their mystic relationships with human evolution… could unravel the affinity between man and his unknown creator…. Professor Carl G. Jung once remarked that Astrology is a primordial experience similar to alchemy. A proper study of Nakshatras in their wider perspective related with the evolutionary process of the inner man… could provide a glimpse of this primordial experience of mankind. (p. 1, Revelations)

The two books are organized quite differently, in accordance with Behari’s intentions. In Myths and Symbols the Zodiacal signs are considered independently from the Nakshatras; the reader follows the author first through the twelve signs and then through the 27 Nakshatras. In Revelations Behari begins by using the three Gunas as the organizing principles of his work, Rajas, Tamas and Sattva, representing the three phases of the evolution of matter from spirit and the involution of matter back to spirit. Following this cyclical pattern is the central intention for Behari in Revelations.

 

Behari demonstrates that Rajas characterizes the first impulses of manifestation. Tamas then creates desire for and attachment to that manifestation. In the end Sattva completes the cycle, being the breaking of attachments, the dissolution of dependence on the manifestation and the return of the soul to the unmanifest. The first section of Revelations brings together both the first four signs and the first nine Nakshatras, all reflecting the initial Rajasic phase of creation. He then describes the next four signs and the next nine Nakshatras as comprising the Tamasic phase of the cycle. Third, he brings the final four signs and final nine Nakshatras together in the Sattvic phase, in which the manifestation cycles back to non-moving pure consciousness. 

 

His description of the cycle of creation and dissolution appears to parallel the Sankya philosophy of ancient India. He tells of pure existence giving way, mysteriously and at the subtlest of levels, to Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha remains as the pure consciousness, but it is offset by Prakriti, which contains all of the potentials of manifestation within it. He speaks of a process of “triplication,” whereby Prakriti opens into the three essential qualities, the Gunas: Rajas, the force of activity, Tamas, the force of inertia, and Sattva, the force of ultimate harmony and righteousness. (p. 7, Revelations)

In rendering the description of this cycle of consciousness, Behari places primary importance on the symbols, myths, allegories, human heroes, planetary lords and deific figures that relate to each of the Lunar Mansions to characterize each subtle step. At the transition point between the groups of nine Nakshatras (Nakshatras 9, 18 and 27) he points out the Nakshatra lordship of Mercury, whom Behari sees as a key figure enabling the shift from one Guna to the next in the evolution and involution process. As the cycle comes to a close in Revati, Mercury becomes the planet who participates at subtle levels to sow the virtual seeds of the next cycle of creation—seeds that germinate (ever again) in the Rajasic energies of Ashwini.

Behari and the Soul’s Journey

The heart of this book is Behari’s in-depth treatment of the Nakshatras. It is amid the symbols of the lunar mansions that Behari most clearly explicates the soul’s journey. From gifts of grace to growth challenges for the sake of learning, the soul must wend a complex way forward. Failure of the soul to maintain headway in any given cycle is not out of the question for Behari, until critical lessons are fully mastered. On the cosmic scale Behari indicates that Nakshatra qualities both enhance and oppose the cycle’s progress.

 

Behari guides us on path from one lunar mansion to the next, each with its complex myths and symbols, and the reader’s own intuitive capacity is tested. The reward for the committed student/seeker according to Behari is to begin to apprehend the movements involved in each step toward the fullness of Self-realization. There is far more in Behari’s sequel than can fit in this review for the CVA Journal.  May it be enough to glimpse the potentials for the soul’s advancement that Behari perceives at each step of the Nakshatra cycle. (Please note that we have used Behari’s spelling of Sanskrit names.

1 Ashwini—We begin with the soul preparing for manifestation as it merges from the void of the previous evolutionary cycle. Creating “something from nothing” is the first Rajasic movement of the first group of nine Nakshatras.

It plays a momentous role in reawakening the egos lying dormant in their Manavantaric sleep. In their pristine nature they are free from all traces of materiality; the divine spark is wrapped in its ever invisible robes slumbering once again in the Shoreless Sea of Immutability… It serves as an important link between the eternal sleep and the necessary series of transformations needed for the purpose. (p. 33, Revelations)

2 Bharani—The second Nakshatra externalizes the first intentions of Ashwini.

Bharani represents the same consciousness [as in Ashwini] when it is outward turned and envisions the evolutionary design of the universe of sensuous experience. (p. 40, Revelations)

3 Krittika—The third Nakshatra begins to objectify the individuated consciousness, which remained primarily subjective in Ashwini and Bharani.

…Krittika begins to unfold its objectifying drama…. Kritika prepares the egos for their expression in the realm of objectivity…the material building blocks of the universe. (p. 46, Revelations)

4 Rohini—In the fourth Nakshatra the soul spark is given sustenance and nurture in the womb of Rohini.

The ego at the next phase of is evolutionary journey receives much intensive care under Rohini and it is made much more attuned to cosmic vibrations. (p. 60, Revelations)

5 Mrigashira—The yearning of the individuated consciousness for manifestation in the first four Nakshatras is fulfilled in Mrigashira with the concrete capacity for perception.

Mrigashira transforms the psychological thirst for sensuous experiences into their actual fulfillment…. The subjective urge can now be turned into physical cravings; the egos now acquire the specific sense organs to experience these sensations. (p. 66, Revelations)

6 Ardra—The ego becomes increasingly aware of its existence in Ardra, which leads to differentiation from other egos and concomitant conflict over desires and sensual intentions.

It [Ardra] induces psychic independence and intensification of self-centeredness…. The impact of attraction and repulsion inherent in all sensuous experiences is pronounced. (p. 77, Revelations)

7 Punarvasu—In Punarvasu there is a joining of intellect (Manas) and pure intelligence (Buddhi) at the level of awareness. 

Punarvasu forms a strong nexus between the Manasic or the intellectual impulses flowing through Gemini and the Buddhic impulses or pure intelligence descending through Cancer. Punarvasu represents the union between thought (Gemini) and Spirit (Cancer), together representing transformation of sense experiences into pure wisdom as well as reawakening the vision of one’s pristine nature. (p. 83, Revelations)

8 Pushya—The work of the spark of consciousness toward the manifestation of the senses and the union of intellect and pure intelligence into wisdom leads to a sense of fulfillment in Pushya. There is a sense of superconscious delight. It is not the end of the path, but it is a vision of the culmination of growth to full Self-realization.

Pushya releases tremendous creative energy. The egoic entry into it transports it to the acme of its physical and mental development. It enjoys a supreme sense of upliftment…. Such a fulfilment of destiny and attainment of the height of glory do not however indicate the end of the journey. They only suggest the approaching end of Rajasic impulses. (p. 94, Revelations)

9 Ashlesha—Here ends the first group of nine Nakshatras, and with it the Rajasic phase of the cycle of evolution comes to a close. A fundamentally new part of the soul’s journey is about to begin with the Tamasic Nakshatras.

It marks the finale of egoic immersion in matter. At the same time, it represents the highest wisdom possible for the ego in its present cyclic chain of evolution. Ashlesha…signifies the momentous experiences the ego has gained, arduous hurdles it has overcome, and heart wrenching trials it has undergone. On the other hand [it] stands at the crossroad from which a new horizon of future unfoldment is envisioned, a new dawn of luminous immensity of power and happiness is perceived, and the radiance of ultimate destiny beckons the individual. (p. 100, Revelations)

10 Magha—With the advent of the Tamasic group of nine Nakshatras, the quality of inertia rises, and in Magha the quality of “egotism” of the self continues to rise.

Magha heightens the isolation, intensifies the self-centeredness and accentuates the intonations of their inner core, the voice of the indwelling spirit…. The personalized consciousness with its past accumulations manifests as egotism; it arouses much pride in the individual. He becomes self-seeking; the veil of ignorance, Avidya, becomes intensified. (p. 112, Revelations)

11 Purva Phalguni—With Purva Phalguni there is further expansion of this self-serving intention, but there is a difference in the attitude or experience gained in the process of fulfilling one’s desires.

Both Magha and Phalgunis are concerned with the convenience and comforts of the egos but the gay abandon which the individual enjoys under Phalguni is different from  conscience-stricken pleasures under Magha. The word Phalguni itself signifies the attitude of being in a state of animation aroused by something ethereal. (p. 117, Revelations)

12 Uttara Phalguni—Similar to Purva Phalguni, the focus of the ego is on convenience, comfort and enjoyment. But the inner energy is greatly expanded, disturbing the wellbeing of the personality and arousing a strong desire to transcend materiality.

As the four quarters of the asterism are controlled by Jupiter and Saturn, the ego passing through it does not experience an easy life: its struggle is intensified and physical relationships with others become emotionally and mentally strained. All the planets acting on the asterism, either as a whole (Sun) or on its different quarters (namely Jupiter and Saturn) as well as the Vedic deity Aryamana presiding over it, [together] provide such powerful impetus flowing through the constellation that the life is much charged…. A kind of whirlwind rises in the individual’s mind. (p. 121, Revelations)

13 Hastha—At this point Hastha brings a wave of psychological support to calm the unsettledness of mind that arises in Uttara Phalguni.

The stellar forces concentrated at this stage receive the creative influx of solar effulgence, activate the mind-principle and direct the cosmic forces towards strengthening the self-confidence and self-reliance of the individual. All the inspirations at this stage are received from the psycho-mental maturity, which accentuates one’s faith in one’s innate power and assurance for one’s ultimate success. (p. 128, Revelations)

14 Chittra—Here the psychological state of the mind is further transformed, bringing a growth in the soul’s reliance on inner-being and indwelling spirit.

The asterism is ruled by Mars which bestows courage, fortitude and idealism; they provide the motive force to extricate oneself from the quagmire of materiality and the rigid grip of karmic accumulations. Mars also imparts the feeling of devotion and surrender to higher powers…. Almost blind faith in righteousness of the life process and in divine justice in nature begins to take hold of the traveler. (p. 131, Revelations)

15 Swati—The self-absorption in Chittra opens into a state where the ego perceives that the purpose of the outer world is to serve and aggrandize oneself.

The pleasure principle in the individual is greatly vivified. He is guided in his actions and relationships by personal considerations of likes and dislikes, attractions and repulsions, conveniences and aspirations. …They arise from the deep-rooted nucleus of I-ness from which every feeling, thought and the motivation of the individual originates…. The ego under its sway is unconcerned about the harm it might precipitate to others during the course of its pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification. (p. 141, Revelations)

16 Vishakha—At this point the Tamasic journey is beginning to come to an end. Preparations are being made in Vishakha for the soul to relinquish its attachment to the materiality of life that the Tamasic phase of the cycle generated. Though still in Tamas itself, Vishakha anticipates the Sattvic path ahead.

Vishakha destroys materiality of the ego before it ventures to undertake arduous penance for spiritualizing itself. Under this asterism the duality in man which had aroused animal passion and self-seeking intellect, isolating itself from the universal as well as from its group consciousness, begins to dissolve. (p. 146, Revelations)

17 Anauradha—The energy of the Kundalini, the Serpent Fire, has lain dormant through the Nakshatras of Tamas. Now there is a kindling of that fire, in anticipation of the spiritual phase of the journey that is ahead.

It is only with the support of Serpent Fire that one could hope to unify the individual consciousness with the universal life-essence. Those who succeed in activating this power and control it, they attain such powers as to control the creative manifestative process. But it is a very dangerous energy source; if it is not tackled with utmost purity of heart and altruism, it could be explosive…. Anauradha intervenes at this stage so that the egoic unfoldment is regulated with utmost safeguard without minimizing its might. (p. 157, Revelations)

18 Jyestha—Here the individual consciousness is in need of absolute clarity before taking the next step into the Sattvic group of Nakshatras that mark the spiritual aspect of the journey to Truth and Self.

Before the ego makes its final assault it needs much intelligence and awareness of his own nature, strength and weaknesses. Jyestha is the asterism which imparts this kind of knowledge and operates like a bridge where from the pilgrim enters into a new terrain of Truth and Harmony. The ego is now content with its life and its evolutionary efforts. It has now the assurance that life lived according to rules of spirituality, righteousness, wisdom and desirelessness must necessarily carry it to its final redemption. (p. 163, Revelations)

19 Moolam—Behari indicates that the word Moolam refers to “root” or “beginning.” Here is the first real step on the Sattvic path of the individuated consciousness’ realization of itself as Universal consciousness, unity consciousness and true Self. Intense purification is needed to move forward into this Sattvic journey.

The 19th asterism marks the beginning of Sattvic impulses which radically alter the direction of the soul’s evolutionary course and pushed it toward the course that ultimately takes it to Moksha, Liberation. Moolam provides the base for the harmonizing process. It is the root of the spiritual unfoldment, the beginning of the growth and unfoldment of one’s imprisoned splendor. This process operates on the background of very large karmic accumulations. The dissolution of these karmic sediments creates explosive situations. It is for this reason that Moolam is greatly dreaded. (p. 177, Revelations)

20 Purva Ashada—Some of the tumult that has arisen in the soul during Moolam, because of the purification and release of the ponderous karmic burden, lessens in Purva Ashada. The work of the Sattvic phase begins now in earnest.

Under Purva Ashada, the turbulence begins to subside and a more stable relationship is established between the outer and the inner, as well as between the individual and his immediate surrounding. The candidate under Moolam knocked at the door of self-knowledge and the portals of the outer courtyard are now opening, and the psychological conflicts are clearing away. But the individual has to consolidate his efforts and energy for the task ahead.  (p. 184, Revelations)

21 Uttara Ashada—The soul now undergoes a process of being tested for readiness to move ahead. With every test that is met, the readiness to move ahead on the path to enlightenment increases.

Uttara Ashada… represents the trial of the neophyte. The aspirant at this stage is tested for his preparedness for further spiritual advancement. It involves arousal of his good, bad and indifferent potentials…. The candidate is now making one-pointed, well concerted efforts for the unveiling of his pristine nature…. It sets into motion the forces which test the presence or the sediments of his past karmic accumulations, which could be burdensome during the course of his further training and development. (p. 191, Revelations)

22 Shravana—The word Shravana itself means “to listen,” according to Behari. In order to receive the subtle guidance to move into the deeper levels of his Being, the soul must open to the divine music that he can only apprehend by learning how to listen at a very subtle level.

The process by which this transformation is achieved makes the individual receptive to cosmic forces, but it requires that his physic-psychological sheaths are thoroughly cleansed…. It leads to complete cessation of the memory of the past, which in a way implies a kind of a new birth itself. (p. 199, Revelations)

23 Dhanistha—The inner realizations under Shravana now become outwardly realized in the life of the individual. Great delight is experienced as the subtle beauty of spirit begins to permeate the whole of life.

Following Shravana, Dhanistha is acclaimed to be the most fruitful asterism for one’s egoic unfoldment…. Under Dhanistha, the subjective realization under Shravana is externalized. The individual is thrilled with the ecstatic ascent. He thirsts to hold on to this subjective upliftment. With such an urge for Liberation, the individual enters the Dhanistha zone of influence, where his sense-experiences are dissolved and he begins to vibrate with the thrill of his inner ascent. (p. 206, Revelations)

24 Satbhisak—Experiencing the thrilling realization of divine bliss under Dhanistha, the soul must undergo further work and further testing, now at a very subtle level of its manifestation, before then being able to move ahead into the final Sattvic chapters of its journey.

But Self-realization is different from god-intoxification [under Dhanistha]. It requires complete eradication of Mayavic illusion, Avidya and unification with one’s inner core blended with the universal energy pervading throughout the manifestation. The inner glow, the effulgence of one’s soul, can shine forth when the darker influences surrounding the various layers of the individual are dispelled. Satbhisak does this…. The innumerable hurdles appearing in this task are…the psycho-spiritual tests and trials presented to the aspirant before he ascends to the higher levels of the evolutionary ladder. (p. 216, Revelations)

25 Purva Bhadrapada—Having attained to great heights in the realization of consciousness, the individual is at risk of being swayed by internal or external forces that might sabotage the continuing journey. Under Purva Bhadrapada the individual finds focused conviction and commitment to the fullness of Self-realization.

The possibility of getting swept away in the exuberance of divine delight or in the event of attacks from the lurking foes of darkness of vainglory or megalomania could hurl him down from the Olympian heights. The next phase of egoic development [under Purva Bhadrapada] takes the individual to one-pointed devotion to the divine creative mission, transcending every personal consideration. (p. 225, Revelations)

26 Uttara Bhadrapada—Under Purva Bhadrapada, the one-pointed devotion is developed that leads the individual to an almost divine height.

At this stage, the evolving entity…begins to cooperate with Nature’s finer forces. It becomes almost a part of Nature. The stage of Self-realization is achieved during the second half of…Uttara Bhadrapada. Uttara Bhadrapada signifies ‘a bull’ as well as ‘a fish.’ It represents the wisdom which produced leaders of men and gods, the creative agents who preserved and upheld Natural Laws and its harmony and power to guide the evolutionary impetus. (p. 239, Revelations)

27 Revati—The Sattvic journey, and the greater journey of the individual through the entire cycle of its evolution, is complete. In the end there is fulfillment in perfect stillness and serenity.

At Revati, the divine spark enters the realm of peace and tranquility. The influence of Revati is so powerful that all efforts to conceptualise it prove futile. Described as the infinite stretch of waters which contain within it all the souls which have concluded their Manavantaric journey and have ceased to have any separate existence, refers only to a tiny portion of this stupendous realm. This is the realm of everlasting bliss…. Representing the culmination of Sattvic impulsion, Revati contains within it all the potential and possibilities for providing the ultimate perfection of every quality. (p. 242, Revelations)

Microcosm/Macrocosm

As an individual holographic fragment reveals the image of the entire hologram, Behari suggests that the pattern of the human soul’s evolution and involution of individuated consciousness parallels the unfolding of universal consciousness. As silent and still as the individual soul may be in the fullness of Revati, Behari indicates  that there are within it dormant seeds of potential. Just so, lying within the silent and still pure consciousness at a macrocosmic level are dormant seeds of potential manifestation, allowing one completed cosmic cycle to open into the next.

 

Behari goes into this mysterious cosmic process at some length in his sequel. How can a Self-realized individual soul enter again the cycle of manifestation? How can a Self-realized cosmos emerge as a new creation?

Representing the culmination of Sattvic impulsion, Revati contains within it all the potential and possibilities for providing the ultimate perfection of every quality…. The link between the acme of Sattvic Impulsion and the initial phase of Rajasic movement [in Ashwini] remain veiled in deep mysteries. Often the subjectivity and latency during Revati is stated to be accompanied by intense activity in the inner nature of the dormant entity. The Great Deep where the evolutionary movement culminates is often called Chaos, which besides ‘infinite space’ also means ‘complete confusion’…. The complete cessation of all agitation, all activity and extremely heightened sensitivity [is] accompanied with highly significant ‘inner’ activity at the core of the nucleus…. Revati in her pristine nature was perpetual and infinite but for creative purpose and to be useful in the manifestative process, her divinity had to be veiled several times. Revati assumed limitations on her primordial powers in order to discharge her role as feminine generatrix, a creative channel. (p. 242-244, Revelations)

Behari’s purpose here is to reveal mechanisms within the mystery, so that his readers/students may begin to understand how the creative process can begin anew, rising from pure consciousness alone. Yet, as is Behari’s way, we are not spoon-fed in the process of his teaching. As is the way with myth and symbol, Behari’s rendition of Revati seems intent on veiling the truth as much as revealing it. As he states earlier, the spiritual growth process of the reader/student itself may allow the myths and symbols of the Nakshatras to open into a sense of greater clarity, wisdom and truth.

Conclusion

The reader may find Myths and Symbols to be more intelligible in some ways than Revelations. This may be in part due the skillful and knowledgable editing of the former book by Dr. David Frawley. That said, there is enormous value to be had in both books, and each has its particular genius. The reader may discover that delving into Behari, especially his second book, becomes more of a “study” than a “read.”

 

If Bepin Behari’s writing is sometimes heavy going in Myths and Symbols, in Revelations the reader may find passages that appear nearly opaque to their immediate understanding. In part this is the role of symbols and myths, rich with myriad levels of meaning, revealing as well as hiding what they represent. Based on Behari’s descriptions of the process of learning Jyotish in Myths and Symbols, it appears that he intends to provide a direction toward understanding, rather than to spoon-feed his reader with too-easy answers. Ultimately what a myth or symbol reveals to us is based in part on our own level of consciousness. Revelations brings to light many aspects of the mystery of consciousness and creation, yet it appears that Behari also intends to leave some of the mystery veiled, some of the questions unanswered.

 

I appreciate Behari’s ability to reach back into the Vedic tradition and scripture with a combination of rational analysis and intuition. It takes something of a modern seer to resonate with the allegories, stories and revelations of the ancients, in a way that we may encounter wisdom deriving from that ancient era. We owe Behari a debt of gratitude that he connects us to the very origins of our art and science of Jyotish.

Bruce Davis
Edmonds, WA
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