Grahas, Archetypes and Character Profiles

Surya the Sun, is strong, splendid, bold, regal, warlike, victorious and energetic;
Chandra, the Moon, is inconstant, amorous, charming, imaginative, poetical, artistic;
Mangal is a politician, a soldier, crafty and ruse´, unscrupulous, unmerciful, tyrannical;
Budha is speculative, scientific, skilful, mercantile, eloquent, clever at all intellectual pursuits;
Brihaspati is religious, learned, a philosopher, a Yogin, master of occult sciences, wise, statesmanlike, fortunate, successful, invincible, noble in mind and disposition;
Shukra is self-willed, lustful, a master of statecraft, a poet, thinker,
philosopher;
Shani is cruel, vindictive, gloomy, immoral, criminal, unruly, destructive.
Rahou is violent, headstrong, frank, furious and rapacious.
Ketou is secret, meditative, unsocial, a silent doer of strong and selfish actions.
Each planet has a powerful influence on the man if it shares in the governance of the horoscope.

– Sri Aurobindo, ‘Early Cultural Writings’, Premises of Astrology, 762; The Planets, 763

With the perfect adjectival descriptions provided by Sri Aurobindo in the above extract, one could deduce, via certain combinations, the outlines of specific character types delved into by Sri Aurobindo himself. We could use the Moon (Chandra) as a base because in astrology the Moon normally represents the ‘Manas’ which is literally the ‘sense-mind’ but in a broader sense, the larger human mentality including emotional states. It’s poetic, inconstant, amorous, imaginative etc., makes for a perfect poet, sensitive and all. How does it work in combination with the other grahas (planets)?

Shukra’s lustful, poetic, sensual, hedonistic outlook combined with that of Chandra would possibly give rise to a Kalidasa who was perhaps the greatest embodiment and representative of a materialistic, hedonistic, sensual age, understood deeply the enigma that is a woman, took part in the high social life of his time with the requisite tact, was philosophical and even religious but within the standards of the age he lived in, crafty but not in a vile or base way.

Combine Chandra it with the political, soldierly, crafty, unscrupulous, merciless and tyrannous Mangal, it gives rise to a poet-king in the making…the likes of Napoleon and Alexander who were great men of action and unscrupulous and tyrannical in getting or achieving what they wanted but were yet led by grand, colossal, gigantic imaginations and visions…inconstancy was also a key feature especially with Alexander. And where the Chandra factor predominated and the Mangal was weaker, it led to failed poet-kings of whom there are examples aplenty (Nero etc).

Chandra in association with the regal Surya, leads to a combination of the poetic Chandra qualities with the splendid, bold, victorious, energetic and illuminating quality of Surya resulting in what Sri Aurobindo describes as a Seer-Poet (i.e. a Rishi). Adding the ‘regal’, ‘warlike’ quality one may even say a Rajarishi or a Karmayogi even. The likes of Vishwamitra may fall in this category and interestingly enough, it is he who composed one of the most beautiful Vedic mantras in the Gayatri Meter about the mighty Surya that has left a deep and lasting impression on the Indian spirituo-religious and cultural mind.

In association with Brihaspati, he may well become the sagacious Brahmarishi, calm, self-composed and yet vaster that the universe, possessing all, wise, great, majestic and magnanimous. He may be termed the perfect King-Sage. The likes of Vasishta could fall in this category and perhaps even Ved Vyasa and King Janaka, oozing with sagaciousness.

With Budha it may produce either the highly intellectual thinker on social, religious or philosophical matters. He may even think out intellectually all spiritual matters and explain in terms of reason the supra-rational. Chandra’s artistic intuition and imagination may reach something that pure intellectuals may not be able to reach and bring it down to the intellectual realm. If the analytic side of Budha dominates, then it may produce drier and keener intellects that those that expound the fascinating, profound, complex yet barren and abstract study of metaphysics. Adi Shankaraycharya may fall in this category reaching his conclusion via a combination of intellect and intuition and therefore absolute in his conviction (authority given by the source of intuition and the arrogance, self-will and ego of the intellect). His weapon of choice in dismantling and ousting Buddhism from its place of birth and sending it away on permanent exile was of course intellectual debate where intellectual arguments were used in a very dexterous fashion aided by imaginative metaphors and parables.

Buddha (aptly named) would also most likely fall in this category reaching Nirvana by extreme refinement and sublimation of reason to the point of its extinction and non-existence leaving merely a blank void or Shunya (Zero). It is, on a spiritual plane, comparable to the modern day conclusions of theoretical physics and cosmology with their concepts of black holes, absolute zero, big bang, big crunch and so on; abstract, metaphysical yet claiming monopoly and absoluteness). The entire trend in India since then, with its stark juxtaposition of Asceticism and Materialism could be attributed to this mental absoluteness and schism. It may also create the mercantile vaishya in an age of commercialism and plutocracy or if scientifically inclined, the likes of Aryabhatta. Sankhya, Nyaya, Charvak, Vaisheshika, the Brahmana texts, all of Vedanga (including philology and grammar) could all be classified under this group. This in turn draws the likes of Yaska, Panini, Sayana (Sanskrit grammarians), Charka (Father of Indian Medicine and Ayurveda) and even Patanjali (most renowned expounder of Raja Yoga) who contained intricate yogic practices and vast knowledge in small packets of stylistically condensed aphorisms.

One could argue that the sinister mastermind behind the rise of the Mauryan empire, Chanakya and the even more sinister king-maker and king-breaker behind the fall of the Kuru empire, Shankuni could also feature in the above grouping. However, the very fact that they both worked secretively, behind the scenes for large goals with strong yet selfish actions enacted through puppet-like kings and princes indicates a definite influence of Ketu. So despite a Budha factor playing a major role giving them their keen intellects, it is the Ketu element that reveals their true nature by giving their minds a very ‘Machiavellian’ twist. In Shakuni’s case more than Chanakya’s, Mangal’s rusé, craftiness, unscrupulousness and political turn seem to have had a significant influence in moulding character, thought process and moral standards.

The heady mixture of Chandra and his Arch nemesis Rahu of course produces the headstrong, arrogant and rapacious types which points to most Kshatriyas of the Mahabharata period and also those self-willed Kshatriyas that Parashuram slew. Of course Shishupal comes to mind. With his mother’s boon of a 100 pardons from Krishna and the prophecy that he could only be killed by Sri Krishna ensured that he slew, conquered, looted, plundered and ravaged. Blunt, disrespectful, arrogant, headstrong, he fits the bill. Perhaps if instead of Rahu there was a more positive planet, those qualities could have served a better purpose.

Needless to say, Duryodhana possibly falls in this category also. Headstrong because he was the son of the ruling King of Hastinapur, heir to the Kuruvansh, with Bhishma, Drona and Karna sworn to protect him, Shakuni to help him plot and kill the Pandavas through wretched means and a hundred brothers to protect him. And yet, with all this at his disposal, he still postponed full-scale war to the very end, content in scheming with his uncle and executing treacherous plots against his cousins (typical signs of a Rahu influence: obtaining honour, wealth and power by dishonest and dishonourable means, thieving, plundering, living off the work and achievements of others, etc).

All the qualities of Shani, ‘cruel, vindictive, gloomy, immoral, criminal, unruly, destructive’, can be found in abundance in most tyrants. One need look no further than Kansa, the uncle of Sri Krishna, to find the stereotypical tyrant. He had all the above mentioned qualities. He cruelly caused havoc on his own people, vindictively imprisoned his own sister based on a prophecy that predicted his death at the hands of his own nephew (unreasoning), immorally usurped the kingdom by imprisoning his own father, and criminally terrorised his subjects which proved to be extremely destructive. His close friend, ally and father-in-law, the King of Magadha, Jarasandh, was no different. he shared the exact same qualities. Wantonly cruel, he unjustly imprisoned several kings with an intention of offering them as human sacrifice to acquire more power, immoral in the sense that he did not follow the Dharmic practices of his day that kings were required to follow and unrelentingly destructive towards the Yadavas in seeking revenge for the death of Kansa on behalf of his two widowed daughters. If that doesn’t say Shani then I don’t know what does.

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Ganesh Varadharajan

Ganesh works in the financial services industry. Writing is his passion and he hopes to one day publish books in areas from epic fantasy, to poetry and philosophical and spiritual writings. He maintains blogs related to the writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother whom he considers his role models.


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