Updated: May 4
This is a continuation of my previous post, where I attempted to harness the different limbs of Yoga to live a more holistic lifestyle, and introduced the world of breatharianism or Pranic Living. One of the limbs is Pratyahara, i.e. Withdrawing from food. This is usually interpreted as fasting from physical food, though I believe that what is actually called for, is withdrawing from feeding any sense organ (not just the sense of taste). Here in this sequel, I hope to link Vedic Astrology with fasting, speak about the Elements and Planets involved with fasting and the kinds of detoxification that you can expect from fasting (based on your natal chart).
Fasting is prescribed across all major religions of the world. Hindus usually fast on ekadashi (the 11th day after a New Moon or Full Moon), Muslims fast on Ramadan, Christians fast during the season of Lent, Buddhist monks are asked to refrain from eating after noon, Jains fast on special days such as birthdays, anniversaries, and during festivals such as Paryushan in the monsoon season and so on. So it appears to be common among people of different of faiths.
In the Mahabharata (Book 13 Section 106), Vyasa provides a detailed account of the benefits of fasting, in the form of a dialogue between Bhishma and Yudhishtira. At one stage, he mentions that fasting for one meal every day during a lunar month acquires boons according to the month in which the fast is undertaken. For example, if fasting is done in the month of Margashirsha, then the person is said to "acquire great wealth and corn", while fasting the month of Kartikai bestows "heroism, many spouses, and great fame".
The Elements and fasting
The Zodiacal Signs can be characterized into the 4 elements - Fire, Earth, Air and Water. Spicy foods (chili, peppers, garlic, etc.) are ruled by the Fire Element, foods that are grown underground (carrots, beetroots, radishes, etc.) are ruled by Earth, foods from the tree (avocado, bananas, berries, nuts, etc.) are ruled by Air and foods grown in water or with a high water content (rice, celery, tomatoes, melons, etc.) come under the Water Element.
Generally, it is recommended to eat food of the Elements you lack, thereby making up for the deficiency. However, for fasting from food, it is better to start with the Element that you have an excess of. So for instance, if Fire is the predominant element in your chart, then you could start by refraining from chili, peppers, garlic, and so on. Since the Fire element is already quite strong in your chart, and that Element could be cut back a bit.
But "how do we determine the predominant element in a chart?" In Chapter 76 of Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, Maharishi Parashara mentions the following:
The native will have temperament, according to the greater strength of the Planet at the time of birth. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus and Mercury will, respectively, give spacial (etheral), airy (windy), fiery, watery and earthy temperament. If all of them, or many of these Planets have equal strength, the temperament will be of a mixed character. (Shloka 3-4) All the Planets in course of their Dasa endow the native with bodily lustre, relating to their elements (Shloka 5) The sage said. O Brahmin! The effects of the elements, which I have described above, will be realized in full, if the Planets concerned are endowed with adequate strength. If they are weak, the effects will be reduced in proportion to their weakness. (Shloka 16) If the Planet concerned is in his debilitation Rasi, or be placed in an inauspicious House, the elemental effects will be adverse, that is, opposite to the effects, described above. If a Planet is without strength, his elemental effects will be experienced only in imagination. (Shloka 17) Source: http://www.reliableastrology.com/mphs.htm
In other words, the shadbala of the planets will help in determining the predominant element in the chart. Look for the planet with the highest shadbala, and that planet's Element will dominate your personality. Another frequently used approach, is to count the number of planets in each Element. The predominant Element will be the one with the most planets. If you need help in deciphering the above, reach out to me.
The role of the Planets
Fasting is often used as a remedy to strengthen planets that are weak in Shadbala. It is usually prescribed for days ruled by the planet concerned, i.e. Sunday for the Sun, Monday for the Moon, Tuesday for Mars, Wednesday for Mercury, Thursday for Jupiter, Friday for Venus and Saturday for Saturn. This is said to strengthen the planet and, thereby the areas of life that it governs. For instance, Jaimini astrologers prescribe fasting on the day of the Upapada for alleviating trouble in relationships. Fasting on the day connected with the Yoga Karaka (lord of a Kendra and a Kona) is another approach that is often used. Note that there is no weekday associated with Rahu and Ketu, though they both deserve a special mention in the case of addictions. As follows.
In the mythological story of the Churning of the Ocean (from the Srimad Bhagavatam), one of the asuras (a.k.a. Demon, dragon) tries to deceive Vishnu to get some of the Amrut (or the nectar of everlasting life). When Vishnu realizes this deception, He uses His Sudarshan Chakra to chop the head off. The head flies in one direction, and the body in the other.
The head represents Rahu (the Dragons Head), and the body represents Ketu (or the Dragons Tail). The head contains all the sense organs (the eyes, the ears, nose, tongue and skin), all of which want to experience life to the fullest. And whatever the senses take in (represented by Rahu), needs to be discarded as waste, else the body will suffer (represented by Ketu).
Rahu is the body-less head, that is flying in the sky and searching for his body down below, while Ketu is the headless-body, that is searching for the head above. Hence, Rahu represents the world of material and sensual pleasures, and the materialistic life, while Ketu represents the aspiration for something above, the act of letting go, or the spiritual life. Note that traits get modified from chart to chart, depending on the Signs and the Nakshatras they are placed in, as well as the positions of the their dispositors.
So our desire to eat, and our addictions to food can be associated with Rahu - the drives to taste different kinds of food, the addictions we have for certain food, the need to find security in food, along with all the illusions that conventional food appears to provide. I’m coming to believe that the source of all nutrition and energy for the body is Prana, and not really from food. We have been conditioned to believe that we need food to get energy, but this may only be an illusion created by Rahu.
Copy-pasting from my previous blog:
All the energy and nutrition that the body needs is given by the Sun, the sole creator, nourisher and protector in our Solar System. This energy is stored in different amounts in plants and animals, which the body extracts in the process of digestion. But digestion itself is an energy intensive process - the body uses energy in order to extract energy! So if can we give the body what it actually needs, directly and in its purest form, straight from the Source (a.k.a. the Sun), that would be more energy efficient, as it will save the body the time and energy to chew, digest, extract energy and discard the food. The energy it saves in the process becomes available for use elsewhere, to make nutrients for instance, or to fight disease. So is it possible to get energy directly from the Sun? It was initially difficult for me to accept this, but slowly I have been sensing this 'other' form of food that supports, nurtures and nourishes the body. This is a journey on its own, and may take months, if not years to de-condition the body and mind, and re-learn a new way of living.
Remedy for Rahu
So to come out of the grips of Rahu, we need to remedy Rahu. There are a few remedies, including and not limited to pausing before we give in to the desires, and taking stock of what we already have. In the case of food and eating, many cultures value a few moments of silence before beginning a meal, and using this time to give thanks, or to say a short prayer, or to dedicate the food to the divine, and so on. All these small acts create a pause between the drive to eat, and the actual act of eating. Slowly, this pause can be extended, till such a time when we are not in the grips of the drive to eat.
Another remedy is Vishnu Himself, who in the story, uses the Sudarshan Chakra to chop the head off. So Vishnu can help destroy any illusions we may have about food, and help us see food for what it truly is a.k.a. A drug, that we have become addicted to. So connecting to Vishnu is any form or manner can help in alleviating the effects of Rahu. This can be chanting or listening to the Vishnu Sahasranama (the 1000 Names of Vishnu), visualizing the image of Vishnu and Lakshmi resting on Shesha Naga in the Ocean of Milk, and so on.
The process of detoxification
As you embark on fasting, viz. Withholding from feeding any sense organ, you will start the process of detoxification, of ridding yourself of poisons and toxins from the past. This detox will take place, simultaneously, at each Elemental level - at the physical (Earth), mental (Air), emotional (Water) and spiritual (Fire) level.
At the physical level, there can be pain and aches in the body, loss of weight, headaches, dizziness, weakness, dehydration and hunger pangs. At the emotional level, emotions will rise to the surface - including and limited to fear, anger, irritability, sadness and even joy - and these will need to be processed and addressed. At the mental level, doubts about this path will likely arise, and make you question whether this is the right way to go. You may also come across people, blogs, books and articles that will try to get you to give up. At the spiritual level, starting out with fasting will likely mess up your daily routine, and could also unsettle and unbalance you. You will need to find your rhythm again, and find new meditations, chants and affirmations that better suit you.
As you embark on this journey, or any other for that matter, there will surely be things that will try to prevent you from reaching your goal. There may be a 100 obstacles, or even 14 armies that stand in your way, but all that you need are 5 traits - righteousness, skill, strength, intelligence and wisdom - along with a surrender to the Voice within, in order to overcome these multiple hurdles and claim what is rightfully yours.
Don't hesitate to reach out. Vedic Astrology can help you identify your strengths and use them to reach your goals. And please be kind to yourself. We have been conditioned to eat from birth, so abstaining from food will need some getting-used-to. Know for a fact, that fasting in any measure or form is good for the body, mind and soul, and you will be rewarded in all fronts for any effort that you put in this direction.
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