Welcome to Vedic Vigor: A Yoga Lifestyle Podcast. Episode 2. I am Siddha Hari Das, your host for this show. Every week, we bring delicious bytes from the vast knowledge books of the East – the Vedas. We seek to make Vedic knowledge accessible and actionable for you. We hope that these bytes will empower you and the world.
In today’s show, Lokarama walks us through the birth chart of Gautama Buddha. There are so many markers that show him becoming an empowered leader. Deva shares an incident from his life about giving credit. I answer the question: Are the Vedas Lunatic? I discuss the intriguing relationship between the Moon and life on the Earth. Finally, Sundari walks us through a must-hear introduction to Ayurveda.
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The Chart of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha was born in what is now called Lumbini, Nepal, on April 14, 623 B.C. As a young man, he chose to renounce his royal upbringing and instead lead a humble life as a wandering ascetic. After years of traveling and undergoing many trials, Gautama finally arrived at Bodh Gaya, India, where he attained the stage of enlightenment through meditation. He instructed his followers in the Middle Path, a philosophy of life focusing on ethical conduct, kindness, and meditation, also known as the Noble Eightfold Path. Wandering across India, he eventually passed away in Kushinagar. According to the Bhagavata Purana, Buddha is regarded as an empowered incarnation of Lord Krishna. His teachings are said to be compiled in such texts as the Vinaya and the Sutta Piṭaka.
Now let’s get into the birth chart.
The Buddha’s chart shows cancer rising, with the Moon in Libra in the Fourth House, aspected by five planets from the Tenth House—Jupiter, the Sun, Saturn, Venus, and Mars. The result is that the Moon, the lord of the rising sign, is very strong.
When a chart shows a strong rising sign, it means that the native has a sense of direction in life. They have a lot of drive to pursue and realize their goals. We can see this in the life of the Buddha. Once he set his mind on achieving freedom from the four miseries of life—namely birth, death, disease, and old age—he did not relent until he achieved brahma-nirvana, or the stage of enlightenment.
The combined influence of the Moon, Jupiter, and Venus in the chart suggests that he must have been an attractive man with an impressive stature.
Another powerful feature of the chart is that the Sun is exalted in Aries in the Tenth House. This reveals a person of noble acts and great integrity. As the Sun is unwavering in its duty of rising each day to brighten and warm the earth, so also was the Buddha unwavering in the pursuit of truth, culminating in his revelation of the eightfold path of right perspective, right determination, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right absorption.
Mars is also positioned in the 10th House, in his own sign of Aries. Mars, bearing the fiery energy of youth, brings vigor and enthusiasm to his domain of influence. On the other hand, Saturn, too, is in the packed 10th House, bringing patience, and a philosophical outlook.
The resulting combination of planets contributed to the dynamic, adventurous life of Gautama Buddha, held together by his single-minded pursuit of spiritual freedom.
Looking at the chronology of the Buddha’s life, he entered his sixteen year Jupiter planetary period at the age of four. This means that all throughout his childhood and young adulthood, up until the age of twenty, he would have taken a particular interest in spirituality, ethics, and religion. Jupiter is the guru, or spiritual guide, of the planets. Jupiter blesses us in different ways, sometimes with wealth, or recognition, or healthy children. But his greatest blessing is wisdom. Thus, in his youth, the Buddha saw through the thin veneer of so-called happiness offered by sensual pleasures. The blessings of Jupiter served as a foundation that would support him his whole lifelong.
The overall planetary positions of the Buddha’s chart form many auspicious and beneficial yogas, or planetary combinations. In particular, Ketu in the Sixth House, and Venus and Saturn in the Tenth House form what’s called Tapasvi Yoga. This reveals a person who is capable of undergoing great austerity and self-sacrifice in order to reach their goals, which was practically demonstrated in the life of Gautama Buddha when he took up the lifestyle of a mendicant as part of his journey toward enlightenment.
Much, much more could be said about this chart, but these were just a few insights that reveal some of the special features of the Buddha’s personality.
Tune in next week for another discussion on a famous birth chart.
My colleague Elysse stood up with a big, proud smile and spoke the following – ‘I remember when Kyle and I first talked over the phone. He was nervous and uncertain but I had a good feeling…’
She went on to speak about how excited she was to see that one phone call had fructified into this exciting moment where Kyle was receiving an award
for making over 10k dollars in his first summer selling encyclopedias door to door. There was just one problem with all of this – “Kyle was MY GUY!?”
At least, this was the internal narrative screaming in my head as Elysse gave her congratulatory speech that conveniently centered her as the benevolent
force that had nudged him toward this achievement. Never mind all the work I’d done to connect with his parents, assuage his natural doubts leading into the summer business, or the countless hours I spent coaching him through the actual experience! She thought her one phone call was the real difference maker?!
As this was 15 years ago, I doubt Elysse was really that possessive or proud in her speech. I always respected her and found her genuinely helpful myself. Thankfully
I didn’t express my feelings of scorn to her, or Kyle, or anyone else. I didn’t try to counter the narrative either when it was my turn to appreciate him. Even back then I remember a feeling of gratitude toward the experience, because it revealed to me one of the cringey sides of my called so called service mood towards others.
Had all the help I’d offered Kyle been for him, or for my ego? Were his victories about growth and development for him, or my needs to be validated vicariously
through him and the others I was looking after.
A big part of being a good leader (parent, boss, manager, coach, pastor, teacher etc.) is allowing your people to feel like the things they’ve gotten from you came from themselves.
This gets them into a place of leadership sooner because their confidence in themselves grows, and from there they will also see just how much you were providing and earnestly offer the gratitude you may have been grubbing for.
Being possessive about credit for our contribution in other people’s lives betrays the pride underlying our efforts and objectifies those we claim to support. The Vedas warn that pride in the teacher will spoil the value of the lesson. The word used to describe this vanity is pratistha, meaning the need for excessive recognition and validation. It can be debilitating when someone see’s they’re a pawn in our pratistha schemes. Recognizing you’re a shill for someone else’s self esteem is often disempowering and can lead to self destructive behavior.
We’d rather be wrong on our own terms than do the right thing as somebody else’s minion. This is often why children rebel against parents who appear to be quote ‘good’ from the common viewpoint. If the parents are actually insecure and imposing their needs for excessive validation on their child the child will shirk from that and sabotage the situation to avoid being exploited.
This is true for organizations as well and especially religious communities. If members are met with persistent paternalism and belittled into thinking all the good they are or can be is just because of the institution, the result will be a disillusioned and disenfranchised mess.
A religious institution is ideally helping people establish their dependence in God. But it’s all too tempting to root that growing sense of dependence among its followers in itself. When the institution becomes a surrogate for my own sense of purpose and responsibility, the best my life can be is a contrivance of devotion to God.
This is the fruit I’m finding as I learn to let go of my own entitlement towards the credit of whatever good I’ve been a part of in people’s lives. The less I need that acknowledgement, the more I can appreciate how Krishna has used me as an instrument. It wasn’t coming from me – but He let it go through me, and he didn’t have to. It’s a privilege to serve, and the service itself is satisfying.
If the cash is in hand, no credit check required.
Are the Vedas Lunatic?
The term lunatic originates from the Latin word luna for moon. In the old world, there was a widespread belief that the moon’s phases could affect the minds of people and induce some to insanity temporarily. This belief came to be challenged and subdued in the 19th and 20th centuries. There was also the belief that the moon impacted crops, which too got pushed by enthusiastic modernists. Most psychologists and scientists threw the lunar-ideas out of the window. For the progressive scientist, these were victories against the orthodox cultures. Supposedly the victory of science over the myth. The Vedas speak abundantly about the Moon’s role in life on the Earth. Are these beliefs mythical? Are the Vedas lunatic? In today’s episode, I will discuss the most recent research on the effect of the moon. I will also discuss the Vedic Luni-solar calendar based on tithis. Finally, I will share some practical Vedic advice to gain benefit from the friendship between humanity and the moon.
Until a couple of decades ago, most of the research had been inconclusive about the impact of the moon on human health. Although it was accepted that the moon’s monthly cycle of 29.5 days mystically coincided with the female menstrual cycle, nothing satisfactory had been found. Whatever studies were done, they couldn’t satisfactorily measure the moon’s role. The 21st century brought large-scale empirical studies to us. This changed the game. One needs a large dataset to discern smaller effects in an empirical study. Recent large-scale studies have successfully and undoubtedly established the effect of the moon on human health.
Meyer et. all found the effect of lunar phases on suicides by studying over two thousand of them in northern Finland. Published in 2021.
Mittals et. all discovered a correlation between psychiatric admissions and moon in an Indian hospital over a year. Published in 2021
Wang et. al and chen et. all published a relationship between schizophrenia and bipolar disorders in men and lunar cycle in China. Published in 2020 and 2023.
In summary, these papers show that the moon plays a key role in mental health. These studies have been conducted in different parts of the world and with respect to various mental aspects. Can we continue to ignore the moon’s role in human psychology in the name of progressive thinking? All the above-mentioned papers can be found with full references in our blog post. FYI: We only share papers that are published in high-ranking journals. Since all the above references talk about insanity and the moon, what about the lunar effect in the sane man’s life? Cajochen et. all published a paper in 2014 arguing for the effect of the lunar cycle on human sleep, albeit not with a large dataset. In 2021, Prof. Casireghis from UWash fortuitously happened to discover a strong correlation between human sleep and lunar phases, even in urban environments. One may argue that the moon played a role until we had no artificial lighting. Prof. Caireghis’s team at UWash was surprised to see the lunar phase delay sleep by roughly 20 minutes, even for students living in top-notch dorms. They weren’t expecting such a strong effect!
Are humans the only beings affected by the moon? The Bhagavad Gita says that the moon is the source of deliciousness in herbs and fruits. What’s the role of the moon in plant growth? In many traditional agricultural systems, lunar phases are deeply integrated with seeding, watering and harvesting. Such systems are termed bio-dynamic agriculture. Some progressive agri-scientists have criticized the belief in the role of the moon in agricultural production as mythical (Olga et al, 2020). They have argued to delete any mention of lunar role in growing food in the literature. But! But! What does the most recent empirical research say? Since the agriculture field is heavily managed through the use of fertilizers and modern equipment, discerning the lunar component is not easy. Nevertheless, in 2010, Barlow et al found a direct relationship between lunar phase and tree-stem diameters. In 2016, Ben-attia et al studied cacti and found it’s blooming in sync with lunar phases. It is the pollinators that help many agri-production cycles. Without such pollination, the produce would not be there or would lack taste! Most important! Rydin’s team at Stockhom university published in 2015 the effect of the moon on plant growth and pollination. There is scope of further research in lunar-agri relationship, but fertilizers and machines make it difficult to measure. However, for those who wish to grow organic and sustainably for them, Moon is a critical friend!
Now let’s look at how Vedas recommends we live in harmony with the Moon. The Bhagavata Purana gives three names for the moon (SB 5.22.10). Manomaya – in charge of mental health. Annamaya – giver of life to food and Amrtamaya – source of pleasure for everyone. In recognition of the Moon’s role in life, the Vedas recommend a lunisolar calendar. How does it work? Today, in the modern calendar, it is the 23rd of January in New York City. The number 23 represents the 23rd rotation of the Earth. In the Vedic calendar, instead of 23, it is the 13th tithi. Tithi is based on the phase of the moon. There are 30 tithis in a lunisolar month. Every solar day is given a tithi based on the lunar phase. 14 tithis belong to the waning Moon, and 14 belong to the waxing moon. One tithi is for full moon, also known as Purnima, and another one is for no moon, also known as Amavasya. Moon’s phases are divided into 30 12-degree pockets. At Sunrise, whichever 12-degree pocket Moon is in that day comes to be called that tithi. Today, I am writing this article at 3 am and the moon is in the 12th pocket but the tithi is decided based on Moon’s position at Sunrise. The moon’s phase would have moved into the 13th pocket at Sunrise. Therefore, today 23rd January, the tithi is 13th. Sometimes, it so happens that a tithi can get skipped. For example, we may jump from the 6th tithi on one day to the 8th tithi the following day. You can find lunisolar calendars in all ancient cultures, but they have been discarded in favor of the simple solar calendar that makes global economics easy. Since the moon has such a crucial role to play in human health, I recommend that we integrate the lunisolar calendar into our lives and gain from our friendship with the Moon.
What one step can you take today to integrate the Moon into your life?
Follow the fasting days based on the Moon’s cycle. It is recommended in the Vedas to fast for four days in a month to rejuvenate our health. Full Moon, No Moon, and the two 11th tithis, also known as Ekadashi. You can search on Google to easily find out these upcoming dates for your location. Say, search the phrase: “next Ekadashi in NYC” to find out the next eleventh tithi for NYC. If you can’t fast these four days, the most important is the Ekadashi, the eleventh day. Fasting on Ekadashi can transform you on physical, mental, and spiritual levels. I speak from my personal experience. I have been following Ekadashi fast for over a decade. It gives me an opportunity to slow down, reflect, and show gratitude to Mother Nature.
In summary, no, the Vedas are not lunatic. Yes, please follow the moon to stay away from lunacy.
Thank you for tuning in.
Barlow, Peter W., Miroslav Mikulecký, and Jaroslav Střeštík. 2010. “Tree-Stem Diameter Fluctuates with the Lunar Tides and Perhaps with Geomagnetic Activity.” Protoplasma 247 (1): 25–43. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00709-010-0136-6.
Ben-Attia, Mossadok, Alain Reinberg, Michael H. Smolensky, Wafa Gadacha, Achraf Khedaier, Mamane Sani, Yvan Touitou, and Néziha Ghanem Boughamni. 2016. “Blooming Rhythms of Cactus Cereus Peruvianus with Nocturnal Peak at Full Moon during Seasons of Prolonged Daytime Photoperiod.” Chronobiology International 33 (4): 419–30. https://doi.org/10.3109/07420528.2016.1157082.
Casiraghi, Leandro, Ignacio Spiousas, Gideon P. Dunster, Kaitlyn McGlothlen, Eduardo Fernández-Duque, Claudia Valeggia, and Horacio O. de la Iglesia. 2021. “Moonstruck Sleep: Synchronization of Human Sleep with the Moon Cycle under Field Conditions.” Science Advances 7 (5): eabe0465. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe0465.
Chen, Xin-Li, Ran-Ran Wang, Meng-Qi Wang, Tian-Yu Qin, Wei-Feng Xiong, Shu-Wen Zhang, Juan He, and Zhi-Ren Wang. 2023. “Is There an Association between the Lunar Phases and Hospital Admission for Different Episode Types in Bipolar Disorder? A Retrospective Study in Northern China.” Chronobiology International 40 (4): 361–67. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2022.2164720.
Mayoral, Olga, Jordi Solbes, José Cantó, and Tatiana Pina. 2020. “What Has Been Thought and Taught on the Lunar Influence on Plants in Agriculture? Perspective from Physics and Biology.” Agronomy 10 (7): 955. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10070955.
Meyer-Rochow, Victor Benno, Tapani Hakko, Helinä Hakko, Pirkko Riipinen, and Markku Timonen. 2021. “Synodic Lunar Phases and Suicide: Based on 2605 Suicides over 23 Years, a Full Moon Peak Is Apparent in Premenopausal Women from Northern Finland.” Molecular Psychiatry 26 (9): 5071–78. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0768-7.
Mittal, Apurva, Swarna Buddha Nayok, Ravindra Neelakanathappa Munoli, Samir Kumar Praharaj, and Podila Sathya Venkata Narasimha Sharma. 2021. “Does Lunar Synodic Cycle Affect the Rates of Psychiatric Hospitalizations and Sentinel Events?” Chronobiology International 38 (3): 360–66. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2020.1849253.
Rydin, Catarina, and Kristina Bolinder. 2015. “Moonlight Pollination in the Gymnosperm Ephedra (Gnetales).” Biology Letters 11 (4): 20140993. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2014.0993.
Wang, Ran-Ran, Yu Hao, Hua Guo, Meng-Qi Wang, Ling Han, Ruo-Yun Zheng, Juan He, and Zhi-Ren Wang. 2020. “Lunar Cycle and Psychiatric Hospital Admissions for Schizophrenia: New Findings from Henan Province, China.” Chronobiology International 37 (3): 438–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2019.1625054.
Introduction to Ayurveda
Ayurveda, a holistic system of healing originating from ancient India, offers a profound understanding of health and well-being deeply rooted in the principles of nature. Derived from the Sanskrit words “Ayur” meaning life and “Veda” meaning knowledge, Ayurveda encapsulates a science-based approach to achieving balance and harmony within the body, mind, and spirit.
At the core of Ayurvedic philosophy lies the belief that each individual is a unique combination of the five fundamental elements found in nature: space (akash), air (vayu), fire (agni), water (jala), and earth (prithvi). These elements combine to form three primary life forces, or doshas, known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata represents the energy of movement and is composed of air and space; Pitta embodies the energy of transformation and is characterized by fire and water; Kapha embodies the energy of stability and structure, comprised of earth and water.
According to Ayurveda, health is the harmonious balance of these doshas, while disease arises from their imbalance. Factors such as diet, lifestyle, emotions, environment, and genetics can influence the doshic equilibrium within an individual. By understanding one’s unique constitution, or Prakriti, Ayurveda aims to tailor personalized approaches to promote health and prevent illness.
Ayurvedic healing encompasses various modalities to restore balance and vitality. Diet and nutrition play a fundamental role, with an emphasis on whole foods, herbs, spices, and seasonal eating to pacify specific doshic imbalances. Herbal remedies, derived from plants and minerals, are used to support the body’s innate healing capacity and address specific health concerns.
In addition to nutrition and herbal medicine, Ayurveda employs therapies such as massage (abhyanga), detoxification (panchakarma), yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breathwork) to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These practices not only address the symptoms of disease but also target the underlying imbalances to facilitate lasting healing and prevention.
Central to Ayurvedic principles is the concept of interconnectedness between the individual and the environment. By aligning with the rhythms of nature and living in harmony with the seasons and cycles, one can optimize health and vitality. Ayurveda recognizes the importance of daily routines (dinacharya) and seasonal rituals (ritucharya) to maintain balance and prevent disease.
While Ayurveda offers profound insights into health and healing, it also acknowledges the complexity of the human body and the dynamic nature of health. As such, Ayurvedic practitioners approach each individual holistically, taking into account their unique constitution, current imbalances, and individual needs.
In conclusion, Ayurveda provides a science-based framework for understanding health and well-being, rooted in the timeless wisdom of nature. By honoring the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit, Ayurveda offers personalized approaches to promote balance, vitality, and longevity. Through its holistic principles and therapeutic modalities, Ayurveda continues to inspire individuals worldwide on their journey towards optimal health and wellness.
Now let’s try to understand some of the basic terms of Ayurveda:
What is Prakrit and Vikriti?
Prakriti refers to an individual’s inherent constitution or natural state of being, determined at the moment of conception. It encompasses the unique combination of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—that are present in varying degrees within each person. Understanding one’s Prakriti is fundamental in Ayurveda, as it serves as a blueprint for optimal health and well-being. By recognizing their Prakriti, individuals can tailor their diet, lifestyle, and health practices to maintain balance and prevent imbalances that may lead to illness.
On the other hand, Vikriti refers to the current state of imbalance or deviation from one’s Prakriti. It reflects the doshic disturbances or fluctuations that occur due to factors such as diet, lifestyle, stress, and environmental influences. Identifying one’s Vikriti allows Ayurvedic practitioners to assess the root cause of health issues and develop personalized treatment plans to restore balance and promote healing. By addressing the Vikriti and realigning with their Prakriti, individuals can experience greater harmony, vitality, and overall well-being in accordance with Ayurvedic principles.
Pachana: Pachana refers to the process of digestion. In Ayurveda, proper digestion is considered crucial for good health. Just like a well-functioning machine, our bodies need to break down the food we eat efficiently to extract nutrients and energy. To support digestion, focus on eating mindfully, chewing your food thoroughly, and avoiding overeating. Incorporating warm, cooked foods and spices like ginger, cumin, and fennel can also aid digestion.
Ajirna: Ajirna, also known as Agnimandya, refers to weakened digestion or indigestion. When digestion is impaired, it can lead to a variety of symptoms such as bloating, gas, heaviness after meals, and fatigue. To address Ajirna, it’s important to identify and address the root cause, which could be related to diet, lifestyle, or stress. Simple remedies include consuming easily digestible foods like soups, steamed vegetables, and herbal teas. Avoiding heavy, greasy, and processed foods can also help alleviate symptoms of Ajirna.
AMA: In Ayurveda, AMA refers to toxins or undigested food waste that accumulates in the body when digestion is impaired. AMA is considered a root cause of many diseases and health imbalances. To prevent the accumulation of AMA, it’s essential to maintain strong digestion through proper diet, lifestyle, and cleansing practices. Drinking warm water throughout the day, incorporating detoxifying herbs like triphala, and following a balanced Ayurvedic diet can help eliminate AMA from the body.
Santarpana: Santarpana refers to nourishing or building up the body’s strength and tissues. In Ayurveda, this is particularly important during times of weakness, or when the body needs support to recover from illness or imbalance. Santarpana involves consuming nutrient-rich foods, herbal tonics, and rejuvenating practices to replenish energy and vitality. Foods like grains, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and healthy fats can help nourish the body and promote strength and immunity.
Atarpana: Atarpana is the opposite of Santarpana and refers to reducing or depleting excess bodily tissues or energies. This concept is often applied in cases of excess weight, congestion, or accumulation of AMA. Atarpana involves following a lighter diet, incorporating cleansing practices, and engaging in activities that promote detoxification and elimination. Fasting, eating light meals, and participating in activities like yoga, pranayama, and sweating therapies can support Atarpana.
Laghana: Laghana refers to lightening or reducing overburden on the entire digestive system, , particularly in cases of excess weight or congestion. Similar to Atarpana, Laghana focuses on promoting detoxification and elimination to restore balance in the body. This may involve following a cleansing diet based on individual Vikriti (current imbalances) , incorporating bitter and astringent foods, and engaging in activities that stimulate digestion and metabolism. Drinking warm water with lemon, consuming leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, and practicing intermittent fasting are examples of Laghana practices.
In a nutshell, Ayurveda explains the entirety of human physiology through the expression of elemental roots and the tri-doshas unique to each individual. It offers a highly sophisticated and individualized approach to health and wellness, deeply rooted within the encompassing embrace of Mother Nature. A robust, healthy self is considered a natural state, while diseases and health vulnerabilities are seen as imbalances resulting from a loss of connection to consciousness and nature. Ayurveda’s main essence lies in re-establishing the self to higher states of consciousness by guiding one to self-discovery and uncovering the wisdom that naturally leads to health and happiness, for true balance is happiness in Ayurveda. Stay tuned for more; in the next podcast, we’ll delve further into the significance of consciousness, exploring how our choices and ability to digest food, emotions, and feelings determine our overall health. Thank you.