The Gospel of Grandpa [part three]
under the sacred peepal tree
Having been inspired to continue the tale of our astrological grandpa and his grandchildren who are becoming wise beyond their years, Ram Ramakrishnan has now brought us this exploration of the ways we relate to nature and how it can be explained with astrology. Grandpa, under the sacred peepal tree, takes a deeper look at the way that all things happen at their accorded time and the way that all creatures fit into the natural world.
An incident sparks interest. Interest, when sustained, tends to become a routine. Routine transforms to habit and habit to a ritual. Ritual, when institutionalized becomes a religion. And religion establishes a way of life.
The incident that spawned the spirit of enquiry in the children—Munni and Chotu—and grandpa's gentle maneuvering of their thoughts towards understanding existence in all its facets, placed this exercise in the third level of the above hierarchy. It had now become a fairly regular routine for the children to sit huddled together with their grandpa listening to his sometimes inspiring, some times depressing but always fascinating anecdotes and explanations.
Increasingly, their exchanges were becoming two-way and grandpa encouraged this trend. It was his belief that nothing should be accepted without being questioned. Unconditional and unquestioning acceptance may, can and does lead to fanaticism and superstition which is detrimental to and defeats the spirit of enquiry.
It was during one such exchange under the shade of the peepal tree in their garden, that grandpa spoke about the different levels at which the association between ourselves and representatives of the animal and plant kingdoms could be astrologically probed.
The first level he said was what he had explained on the very first day on which the exchanges began—that of the correspondence between celestial bodies and other conceptual entities where the children had prepared a list of animals for each celestial head. These correspondences were based on the idea of equating perceived attributes of these life forms to the celestial entities. Mercury for instance, being the fastest moving of all planets and also the smallest in terms of size, was identified with birds. And horses too. Saturn, the slow mover was associated with life forms that were perceived as slow movers themselves—like the elephant.
The second level of association, particularly in the context of emotional response of humans to their perception of animals and plants, grandpa continued, was centered around the complementary emotions of compassion and cruelty, and the innumerable shades in which they manifest. A current of warm air drifted through the pleasant afternoon raising little clouds of dust in its wake. The tender leaves of the peepal tree rustled in unison and seemed to be expressing their concurrence to grandpa's views.
Munni asked grandpa whether people could be explicitly divided into two groups—those that love animals and those that hate. Grandpa had his reservations. Strong ones too at that. He gave a number of examples to explain his point of view. He mentioned the case of a butcher in the neighborhood who cut up sheep and goat everyday and yet could be found at the local mosque feeding pigeons that roosted there in their hundreds and feed fish in the large tank nearby. There was gentleness in his eyes and kindness in his demeanor. To which group would he belong? There was this religious head that preached kindness to all life forms and yet had a tiger skin or a leopard skin that adorned his seat, and that was changed at least once a year. To which group would he belong? Every moment, we breathe in countless miniscule life forms. To live, we need other life forms to perish. To which group would we all belong to?
The breeze had ceased. It was as if everything around was seriously considering grandpa's questions and seeking possible answers. There was a sense of timelessness for a while. It was difficult to say how much of it had elapsed when the chirping of a little bird who had just flown in to this setting made everyone return to reality from their private reveries where each had attempted to fall back upon there experiences in quest of solutions. There didn't seem to be any.
Grandpa delved into his astrological learning and came up with certain correlations that at best provided yet another platform from which the whole matter could be considered. He said that the description of an entity in terms of how likeable or unlikeable it is, is totally dependent on the reference of consideration. An entity evokes a reaction in another based on the inherent equations between the two at the situational, environmental and emotional levels. This outlook is valid psychologically too. A person can be seen to be compassionate to a life form in one situation and cruel to it in another situation. The manifestations of these mutually contradicting expressions can be explained as a function of time.
It was now Chotu's turn to question grandpa. He asked, if a person's expression of emotions is amenable to prognosis then will situations that result in eliciting such an expression also be amenable to a similar exercise?
Grandpa thought deeply. This question had played on his mind also for many years and he had tried experimenting with it within the ambit of his astrological knowledge. The basis of this experiment was the premise that a chart expresses the perception of an entity of the world around it. If it were so, then the transits of celestials on certain sensitive points in the natal chart at different times should trigger perceptions commensurate with the combined expressions of all such transits.
Considering the example that Mercury is identified with birds, the transit of Mercury across a sensitive point of the chart should make the entity in question perceive a bird. The type of bird will depend upon the attributes of Mercury at that instant and its position relative to the other celestials in the sky. Perception is merely a means by which an emotion is triggered. A very similar emotion—if not the same—is activated whether a bird is perceived in the sky, in a book or in one's imagination. Perhaps, these situational differences too could be identified by the varied shades of Mercury's attributes. This then was the third level of association between humans and the denizens of the kingdoms of animals, birds, insects and plants.
Munni and Chotu stifled yawns. Though eager for more, too much of contemplation at this plane and at this intensity was a bit too tiring for their tender minds. Grandpa realized his folly of having letting this fact slip his mind. It was that part of the day when twilight chases sunlight into the horizon and it was time too to do the evening chores. The three explorers walked back towards the house hand in hand, silhouetted against the deep crimson evening sky crowned by a progressively darkening grayish blue.