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We’ve all heard the old adage, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and nowhere does this statement apply more than with Jyotish. For instance, if you would like to observe mood swings in beginning students of Jyotisha, simply introduce the concept of debilitated planets and then give them a computer print-out that shows that they’re running the dasha of one for the next ten years. I can nearly guarantee that this will induce an immediate state of depression.

In fact, this is one of the main criticisms leveled against Vedic astrology, both by our distant cousins who practice the Western system, as well as unsuspecting clients who get treated to a heavy dose of what could be dubbed "depressant astrology." No doubt, the colorful and oftentimes dramatic language traditionally used in Jyotish unwittingly contributes to this. Who wouldn’t be frightened by such choice phrases as “dire malefic,” “afflicted,” “debilitated,” “destroyed,” "burnt up," “great enemy,” “killers,” “evil houses,” “serpent decanates,” and the like. I’ve noticed how very uplifting it is for a woman to hear that she should forget ever having a shred of happiness in her personal life since her 7th house is “afflicted” six ways to Sunday! Now that's very helpful.

So what’s a poor astrologer to do? Short of keeping a supply of Prozac on hand, how can a Jyotishi practice his or her art without making the top-ten list for the leading causes of depression? It’s the astrologer’s dilemma. My teacher, K.N. Rao, says the answer is, “learn to see the light amidst the gloom.” I once heard him say, “no one can play the devil with a person’s mind like an astrologer.” This is all too true, especially if the astrologer makes bold pronouncements after only taking a superficial look at a horoscope. This is why Rao emphasizes the need to work hard on a birth chart and thereby come to understand it deeply. Before blithely pronouncing about indications in a birth chart, an astrologer needs to be able to see matters in a balanced way since every indication in a chart has both a positive and a negative side. 

reprinted with permission