The horoscope or birth chart is a simple map of the heavens based on one’s time, date and place of birth. It is a diagram of 12 houses, the 12 signs of the zodiac and the 9 planets – Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. We can see that Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are not included in this list.
These houses, signs and planets represent archetypal universal energies. Every birth is sacred, and the precise moment of birth determines how these universal energies will interplay with one another in forming an individual’s character and destiny.
The birthchart can be called the ‘map of one’s karma’ and reveals the past, present and future. Karma is simply the universal law “as ye sow, so shall ye reap.” In the west the view of karma usually does not extend beyond one’s present life. In Vedic culture it is common knowledge that the soul undergoes repeated cycles of births and deaths.
Karma arises due to one’s thoughts, actions and deeds. Each moment we are creating new karmas for ourselves and simultaneously experiencing the karmas that originated in our past.
The Vedas list 4 different types of karma that humans are subject to through the cycles of birth and death. These are:-
Sanchita – The sum total of all the past karmas.
Prarabdha – Those among the past karmas which have matured enough to be experienced in the current life. (Not all our past karmas from previous lives can be experienced in a single lifetime)
Kriyamana- The present karmas which affect either the Prarabdha karma or the future. For example if a person has a disease, which is a result of Prarabdha, and they cure the disease, they will be performing Kriyamana.
Agama – Our thought patterns and desires which effect the karmas for the future.
The birthchart reveals the inner tendencies of a person along with the conditions and experiences that are likely to arise in one’s present life due to the karmas created by the past. One can see from the above definitions of karma that only a portion of one’s karmic burden is experienced in a single lifetime. How one responds to their difficult or favourable karmas, and how one creates better or worse karmas for themselves, determines one’s fate in future lives.
Not all “bad” karmas in the present life are a result of negative actions from the past. Sometimes “bad” karma is meant to trigger deeper spiritual qualities in an individual or allow one to work off their karmic debts more quickly. In the same way not all “good” karmas are a result of purely positive actions from the past. Sometimes one is presented with fortunate conditions in the present life, in order to face certain complex challenges.
The advantage of understanding the birthchart is that it allows one to consciously develop their constructive potential and approach conditions that arise in life in the most positive way.
Without self-awareness one tends to move through life in a haphazard manner becoming entangled in deeper webs of karma along with negative conditions arising from thoughtless actions, negative emotions and wrong turns. Astrology therefore is like a compass which helps the traveller navigate a safe passage through life and accomplish one’s goals with least resistance.