Shri Ravi Mundkur said...
Your interpretation of exaggerations and hyperboles is right.There is too much of poetic imagination in it. What do you feel about the planetary positions and constellations described at the time of Rama's birth in thee epic?Could it also be a figment of poetic imagination?
Friend: My knowledge of Astrology is very limited. I have studied some astronomy (both Western and Indian) out of personal interest and found that by and large the calculations and calculation methods are accurate. Both the Western and Indian calculations tally with minor variations.
I felt that astrologers hijacked the astronomy ( khagola s`aastram ) to satisfy the whims and fancies of kings, governors and wealthy persons for making predictions of their children. Normally the court astrologers predited a great future for every prince and princess, particularly the Crown Prince. Predicting good things will yield rewards and ordinary or bad future will incur the wrath of kings. The future of the Prince or Princess will be known usually after about 10 years and at least these ten years the astrologers can live happily. Even if some misfortune befalls to the children during these ten years or even later, there is always "daivam = in the meaning of fate" to come to their rescue. Then there is the "fruits of sins carried forward from hundreds of previous births" (sancita karma) to explain unforeseen bad luck. There is a Sanskrit proverb which is very popular for courtiers:
"Satyam bruuyat, Priyam bruuyat, Na bruuyat Satyam apriyam" : Approx. translation: Speak truth, Speak what is dear to the listener, but do not speak an unpleasant truth.
Personally, I feel that method of drawing horoscopes, calculating "Das`a's", alloting characteristics like 1st house, 2nd house, 3rd house, etc., planets in ascendent etc. are unscientific. The basic weakness in such calculations is they assume Sun as Planet whereas it is a star; Moon as a Planet whereas it is a satellite; ignore the Planets Uranus, Neptune, Pluto which are Planets.
Hence, I shall try to present things to the best of my knowledge and ability, only from an astronomical point of view.
1. Valmiki Ramayana was said to have its final shape during the period of Gupta dynasty (3rd and 4th Century A.D.). The astronomical knowledge may belong either to Treta Yuga Period or Gupta Period. By the time Guptas ruled, we got Varahamihira's astronomyical treatise Brihat Samhita and Indian Astronomy was in full bloom.
2. Valmiki Ramayana gives great importance to "Nakshatras" and rarely mentions about "tithis (lunar phases 1 to 15)" . In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar solar calendar is followed and for them lunar phases are not much important except the Full Moon Day. (A general observation, which is not to be taken too seriously). We are fortunate in the verses under our study, there is a reference to the Nineth Day of the Moon.
3 It is said that Rama was born in the Lunar star "Punarvasu" (Castor). But there is no direction mention of that in Valmiki Ramayana. Star, having Aditi as Goddess = Punarvasu, I am searching for proof.
3. In Lunar calendar, on the first day of the month "Chaitra", the lunar star will be in Asvin (Alpha Aries). If Rama is born on the nineth day the lunar star should be As`leesha (Alpha Hydrae). Since lunar days are not equal to solar days, there may be minor variations - that means some part of the Nineth Lunar day may have Pollux (Pushyami star) or Makha (Alpha Regulus). As Punarvasu (Castor) is the seventh star in order, it must come on the seventh lunar day (Saptami), with minor variations this side and that side. Thus the nineth lunar day (Navami) or the Castor (Punarvasu) -- one of these two must be incorrect, because of the inconsistency. In 2007, what is the lunar star on Srirama Navami day (Shri Rama's birth day), I shall check up and come back to you.
For your information and convenience, I provide a link to a conversion chart of Hindu Nakshatras into Greek or the Western Star names.
ABOUT KARKATA (CANCER) LAGNA
To the best of my knowledge, "lagnam" is not linked to the movement of moon. It is more relevant to a solar day. Every day of 24 hours is divided into 12 constellations of zodiac (aries, taurus etc.). Each constellation gets 2 hours. The lagnam is the time when the constellation arises in the Eastern horizon.
Shri Rama's birth day usually falls in the month of April. On April 14th, the Sun will be in Aries. Implication: Sun and the constellation "Aries" arise simultaneously with Sun in the forefront and Aries in the background, approx. at 6.00 a.m. in India. At 8.00 A.M. Taurus (Vrishabha) approx. should rise, Gemini at 10.00 A.M. Cancer rises approx. at 12 noon. At 12.00 noon approx. the Karkat`aka lagnam should start. Then Rama's birth, we have to presume, as having taken place during the midday between 12.00 noon and 2.00 P.M.
TRANSLATION OF THE VERSES
After completion of the sacrifice, and after the expiry of six seasons (rutus: have 2 months each) and 12 months, on the Nineth day of Chaitra, when the Goddess of the Stars "Aditi" is at her zenith, and when the five Planets (Sun, moon, jupiter etc.) are at their zenith in the Constellation of Cancer, the ruler of the World and the receiver of obeisance from the entire world, Kausalya gave birth to Rama endowed with all auspicious signs.
It may be better if we accept astronomical positions, after reconciling the Castor - Nineth day Problem discussed above. We can ignore astrological predictions, if any.
BOOK 1, BOOKS OF CHILDREN, BALA KANDA (PR: BAALA KAAND`A), CHAPTER 18, VERSES 8 TO 11
1-18-8, 1-8-9, 1-8-10
Tato yagnee samaapte tu
Rituunaam shat` samatyayuhu
Tataha ca dvaadas`ee maasee
Chaitre Naavamike tithau 8
Nakshatree Aditi daivatye
Sva uccha sthaaneeshu panchasu
graheeshu Karkat`ee lagnee
Vyaakpataa Indunaa saha 9
Sarva looka namaskritam
Kausalyaa ajanayat Raamam
Sarva lakshan`a sa.myutam 10