The sutras on Rasis from Jaimini Upadesha and Yavana Jataka reveal to us the key themes surrounding a Rasi. It is as if they are not just clues but a deliberate effort by their authors to direct the mind of the reader, by revealing just enough information, in a trajectory of thought where through contemplation, the meaning(s) becomes self-revelatory. The reader stumbles upon more than what is being said in flashes of insight. It seems to be a remembrance of what the Soul already knows.
I have attempted to write about the Rasis Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Capricorn in this essay by contemplating and reiterating the keywords/themes from Yavana Jataka and Jaimini Upadeshas, and thereof, utilizing the imagery that spontaneously arose in my awareness.
Jaimini says, Scorpio – demons, water, serpents/Vishnu and deprivation of that contained in the breast. - Jaimini Sutras as translated by Ernst Wilhelm
Yavana Jayaka says, the eighth has the shape of a scorpion in its hole; it is said to be the region of the penis and anus of the Lord. Its places are caves, pits, and holes, poisonous and stony areas, prisons, and the abodes of ants, worms, boa-constrictors, and snakes. In Scorpio are holes, snakes, ants, those who are destroyed by poison, stones, or weapons, those who arc maimed or struck down, and those who are reviled; crawling creatures, scorpions(vrishcika), mongooses (babhru), and lizards (godha) ; such things as serpents and other creatures which live in holes; murderers, those who are stamped on by the feet of their enemies, the corrupted, the poor, and those who obey other men’s wives but wrong their own wives; flesh, stomachs, and female and male sexual organs; and vessels, implements of war, and ashes. -Sphujidhwaja The poison bearing Scorpion infamous for its deadly sting is the animal symbol of the Vrishchika Rasi, widely associated with turmoil, death, destruction, and transformations, and rightly so, as when existence speaks from the unspoken aspects of itself, it is often seen that encounters of terrifying nature arise. The unarrival of freedom and happiness from trade, treasures, tyranny, and trivialities of human existence in the preceding signs, leaves one lost in the mists of the existential vacuum, and thereafter, in the sign of Scorpio, tumultuous times await but as always for a good reason. The pattern-driven ways of the universe, the ways of survival of the manas (the moon, the rhythmic pattern seeking mind) gets the soul stuck in a rut, fixed, rigid, stagnating, all that which leads to actions that sow seeds of suffering for a harvest of pain in the future. It is a fixed (steadfast and slow to change) and water element rasi associated with changes, the combination of attachment-ridden emotional landscapes of our mind do not gel well with the ever-changing nature of existence, and thus, the Karmas associated with this rasi are deep-rooted. To break away from such detrimental behavioral repetitions, catastrophic upheavals become a necessity, and with them arrive the dark night of the soul. This is when the seeming orderliness of the world slips into chaos and a realization of the nature of impermanence arises, thus, gradually bringing movement, changeability, cooperation, surrender, and qualities which lead to the evolution.
The animal Scorpion has not evolved much over 350 million years, it can go without food for more than a year, and its favorite food is other scorpions, from this, neither can the survivalistic mentality of this insect be over-emphasized nor that of its zodiac sign. This shows that extreme situations, spiritual practices, traumatic environments, urgent upheavals, brutal isolation, catastrophic events, is where this energy thrives.
When dark times arrive, the choice between what is easy and what is right must be confronted. Scorpio rules the West, after the Sun sets and the night takes over, the stars come out and inner-demons begin to shout. Master Kirpal Singh once said to his student James, “to rise to the highest heavens one must experience the lowest hells.” Maybe, the contrast makes the truth evident. A water sign, where emotions run deep like an ocean that is calm on the surface but is actually under great pressure at its depths. All the shame, guilt, fears, traumas, essentially all emotional vulnerabilities are stored in this rasi. It is the storehouse of all the experiences we become unconscious of over time, and for good reason, otherwise they’d completely paralyze the conscious mind, but when the time comes they are to be encountered and dealt with.
The sign of Scorpio is the symbol for Catabasis or katabasis, which is a journey to the underworld where the serpents dwell and the phoenix is burnt to ashes. It is the downward descent of Man until he hits rock bottom after which the only way is up. This is the Hero’s Journey. Be it Jonah and the Whale or Indra and Vritrasura, it all begins with the downward descent into chaos. As we will conclude later, it is only in the next sign, Sagittarius, that the phoenix rises from the ashes or Jonah returns safely or Indra restores order on Heaven and Earth. It is away from the comforts of the mother, the deprivation of the nourishment from her breasts that leads to such misery, depicting the emotional wounding, the wounds that eventually turn into wombs, a place from where growth and understanding is birthed.
Scorpio is the 8th Rasi, the number 8 which also happens to be the symbol for Infinity (∞), called the lemniscates. This represents the infinite nature of the universe, unfathomability of all of creation, the mysteriousness of the unknown, the limitlessness of it all. Scorpio is that eternal infinite darkness where even a glimpse of light seems like a flame. The closest man can get to understanding the infinite nature of reality is through the occult which ruled by Scorpio. Occult can be truth-revealing and immensely healing but when pursued with unfaithful forebearance, is not just dangerous but unforgiving. A Brahmin sign, Scorpio rasi is the past of a saint, and Sagittarius, the future of that sinner.
Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding. (The next sign of Sagittarius of all understanding)
-Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu
Scorpio rasi when functioning in all its resplendence is; sharp, smooth, secretive, poisonous, enduring, persevering, anti-dotal, mysterious, determined, intuitive, passionate, sensitive, forceful, manipulative, brutal, gruesome, destructive, revengeful, forgiving, penetrative, transformative, conflict-oriented, humanistic, sexual, death-like, deadly, sudden, emergent, cheating, lying, disintegrating, blasphemous, unscrupulous, traumatizing, healing, shamanic and eventually pure, pious, and purgative. No wonder it is said that the tallest trees have the deepest roots, this is how it is where the Scorpio rules. Jaimini says, In Sagittarius – while proceeding, a fall from a vehicle and a height. -Jaimini Sutras translated by Ernst Wilhelm Yavana Jataka says is a man carrying a bow, one whose rear half is that of a horse, (is the ninth sign); they say this is the thighs of the Maker of the world. Its places are level land, (places where there are) horses both singly and in herds, alcoholic drinks, weapon-bearers, sacrifices, chariots, and horses. In Sagittarius are horses, elephants, chariot-wheels, bows, armour, weapons, warriors, arms, and charmed arrows; the Vedas, kindling sticks, mantras, oblations, sacrificial instruments, gods, priests (ritvij), teachers, offerings, and Brahmanas; knowledge, instruction, sacred texts, those who are best in speech, poems, traditions, grammar, and auspicious materials; kingdoms, advisors (amitya), municipal councilors (puramantri), and townspeople; and Brahmanas who stand in water as well as those who stand in ant-hills. -Sphujidhwaja
“I believe” says the Sagittarius ruled by the magnificent and benevolent Jupiter. From glimpses of light in the darkness of Scorpio to outright flashes of inspiration and insight in the sign of Sagittarius, it is where the dark night of the soul culminates, the phoenix rises from the ashes, Indra restores order, dharma lays its foundations, scriptures are written, brahmins are fed, temples are constructed, travelers embark on new journeys, cultures come together to learn, teachers teach while students receive, authorship prevails, it is the rasi as parasara says, “made splendid by Brahma”.
The globalization of thought and localization of action, themes of such grandiosity, visions, a will to manifest the higher truth in this lower realm arises, and from this also arises the fear of falling from heights. In dream analysis falling from heights is often regarded as a fear of failure and megalomania, as often expressed by Carl G. Jung. When a person becomes engrained in personal philosophies and truths, the fine line between honest inquiry into the nature of knowledge and dogmatism/fanaticism tends to get dissolved, and thus, follows the ineluctable fall of dharma, a fall from height, and the consequent holy war fought in the name of peace.
In Sanskrit, Sagittarius is called Dhanu which means a bow. The symbol for this Rasi is a mounted archer. Mounted archery requires the rider to leave the reigns and this requires extreme equestrian skills. Horse archers are found in various cultures and have been an intrinsic part of armies throughout history. They were known to be quick, mobile, tactful, and considered to be a courageous and a noble pursuit, all the qualities of Sagittarius. Dhanu rasi is the bow that aims, but also the arrow that misses the target. It is an amalgamation of faith, courage, and intuition on the part of the archer that has him believe that he will not miss the target. He is based in this belief, with immensely focused awareness that this bow-wielding horseman gallops, takes aim, shoots the arrow, and hopes to hit the target.
Sagittarius is the long-awaited ray of hope, the silver lining of the darkest clouds, the much needed meaning for the suffering that preceded in the previous sign. As Viktor Frankl in his books, Man’s Search for Meaning, and Will to Meaning describes that those who have a reason for their suffering can go on without feeling the pain and can survive the greatest of turmoils, and this makes them more human than anything else. He quotes Nietzsche in both the books, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Sagittarius is the great teacher. The rasi which is source of all understanding which leads to the clarity of path, a realization of the universal truths, an opening up of a new way of thinking where distinctions and judgments are not made based on extrinsic qualities, it is where caste, creed, countries, religious truths, cultures, national borders disappear, and an underlying interconnectedness of all things is revealed. This is the third expansion or awakening of consciousness after Aries and Leo, forming the divine trine of the 1st, 5th, and 9th.
Virtues such as kindness, loyalty, generosity, authenticity, commitment, consideration, contentment, cooperation, determination, dignity, encouragement, enthusiasm, forgiveness, gratitude, hope, humility, integrity, idealism, justice, imaginativeness, modesty, orderliness, patience, perseverance, reliability, reverence, purposefulness, sincerity, tact, hunter, unity, tolerance, wisdom take deeper roots in this Rasi. All the learnings from the previous signs fit into the puzzle of grand scheme of the universe, and from this a new sense of purpose arises, and the life-path is, thereof, revealed.
Sagittarius as described in Yavana Jataka at the end of the Sutra points in the direction of taking a stance of righteousness in the face of all adversity, even if it entails a holy war, so be it, as the truth shall always prevail. The tale of Mahabharata, "the great tale of the Bhārata dynasty" describes this side/aspect of Sagittarius with immense profundity.
It is the power of faith, belief, and purpose that drives a person to pursue/seek their personal truth. The philosophies, ideas, and the need to create a purpose-driven life, seeking and searching for meaningful life in hopes of reduction in the pain from the inevitable sufferings of existence, but little does one know that many works and much efforts need to be put in before the beliefs can become a cause of relief, and hence, we arrive at the next Rasi, called Capricorn, or Nakra in Sanskrit.
Jaimini Says, aquatic animals, things moving in the air/planets/birds/demons, villages/kapha, itches, defects/guilt and tumors/joints – in Capricorn. – Jaimini Sutras translated by Ernst Wilhelm Yavana Jataka Says, the tenth is pointed out as being a sea-monster (makara) whose front is like a deer’s, but whose hind-end is like a fish’s; they say this is the region of the knees of the Creator. Its places are rivers, forests, woods, paths and so forth, marshes, and pits. In Capricorn are other animals, trees, and clove-trees ; the corrupted; crocodiles (makara) and serpents (uraga); lead (sisa), copper (loha), iron (ayasa), minerals, and nooses; poor grasses (kusasya), grain (dhanya), mines, low people, slaves, causeways, rafts, forests, and rivers; those who live by ships and water; killers of deer (mrga) and birds; and whatever inhabits the waters. -Sphujidhwaja
It is important that we understand that the Mythological symbols are always related to the collective unconscious of that culture, for instance, to the Greeks, the symbol for Sagittarius is a Centaur which is nowhere to be found in the Vedic scriptures similarly for Capricorn it is a sea-monster. These are often encountered in Greek (Yavana) mythology and therefore, are a deep-rooted part of the collective psyche of the people of that culture, but to those studying astrology from the ancient vedic and post-vedic texts it is a Crocodile (nakra) for the latter and a Bow or a mounted archer for the former, these are similar in their symbolic meaning but definitely not the same.
Capricorn or Makar rasi, symbolized by the Crocodile recognized as the sea-monster by the ancients of various cultures, is the spatial division that depicts the complete acceptance of the brutal nature of reality. This is where one conforms to the rules of the land and thereof, learns its ways and adapts accordingly. A sense of responsibility arises, nothing to be blamed for, survival of the fittest, blame would only lead to death. These are the places where the crocodiles have survived for millions and millions of years, learning to walk on the land when the food in the water was finished, catching hold of the birds when even that which walks on the land was unavailable, a threat to everything around itself, all for the sake of its own survival.
Capricorn is where one snaps out of the dreams and aspirations of Sagittarius and gets grounded into the struggles of the mundane. There is no war for the mounted archer, he has returned from the war with a purpose after thriving in the fortunate adventures in Sagittarius, but now it is time to find solid stable ground beneath his feet and create something that manifests those realizations into something concrete. An earth sign, thus concrete, Cara/Moveable in nature, therefore, adaptable, four-footed, and so, stable, Capricorn is the struggle of Saturn to find balance in the world. The dominance hierarchy, an effect of 350 million years of evolution, becomes evident in Capricorn. The riches of the rich and the poverty of the poor get starker as the capitalist thrives on the notion that the toughest deserves the most. Therefore, we arrive at themes such as, corruption, recognition, status-quo, reputation, law and order (to control), institutional hierarchies, executive leadership, punishments, consequences, ranks, regulations, positions, slaves, and things of such nature. When the collective ignorance of the masses come together, it is then, as expressed by Rishi Jaimini, there is guilt, corruption, defects, tumors, destabilization due to deformity and miscontrual on multiple levels. Social pressures work the hardest to move a person away from its soul’s calling. These are the marshy lands where those who had once risen to and fallen from a height, are now toiling to thrive, where slavery is prominent and brutality is dominant, where perseverance is key and expectations flee, where miners mine lead, coal, iron and copper, and after all that hardwork still live the life of a pauper, where the water are shallow and do not run deep, only the meaning once found in Sagittarius can make life sweet, where the local law prevails and the non-conformists generally fail, such is the realities of Capricorn these days.
On the bright side (as the 10th gives directional strength to Sun), Capricorn being the Exaltation of Mars, is a sign driven by logic, courage, and practicality. It reveals to us that this is where the real work happens; true practice takes place, real artists are born, great entrepreneurs take leadership, purpose-driven governments regulate the laws of the land, peaceful negotiations fructify, abundance follows, and new things manifest. The vigorous Mars cannot be constricted. Mars rebels and Saturn gets hurt. The laws are broken, and the soul breaks free from the possession of ideologies, ideas that limit individual freedom. To get out of a rut and do something truly creative becomes possible only when one detaches oneself from the expectation of the outcome and does the deed for the sake of doing. This is when "Meraki" (a word uttered by the Greeks), when the doer becomes one with the doing, is given its true practical meaning, the union of the subject and the object.
In the contrasting world of the Saturn-ruled Capricorn, where power-play is rampant, the pastures always seem greener, or in this case the swamps seem muddier on the other side. In conclusion, there are various clues that have been left by the Rishis on the Rashis, and not enough can be said about the dynamics of human struggles using symbolism, as we contemplate and articulate, a newfound clarity is experienced, it is to offer this clarity that Jyotish strives to bring forth.