By Andrew Foss, Ph.D
Maharishi Parashara can be looked on as the head of the lineage of Jyotish teaching as the oldest text that we have is his. However the tradition is that this knowledge was taught by the creator Brahma to his son Narada who taught it to Rishi Saunaka who taught Maharishi Parashara. Parashara’s son and disciple was Veda Vyasa. Maharishi Jaimini was the disciple of Veda Vyasa, thus Jaimini’s guru’s guru was Parashara. By titling his work the ‘Upadesha’ sutras, he clearly indicates that they are explanatory of the teachings received from his guru, and so from Parashara. Indeed, without Jaimini’s sutras, what other text gives such deep insight into Parashara’s teachings? There are many teachings of Parashara that have been largely ignored for lack of knowledge of how to apply them. Early in BPHS, for example, Parashara tells us to use the Rashi Drishtis (sign aspects), long before the Graha Drishtis (planetary aspects) are introduced. However, especially in the North of India, these Drishtis are seldom checked or their implications for the structure of cosmic energy understood.
500 years ago in 1510, Swami Achutyananda took birth. He became one of the PanchaSakha or five friends of the great Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Swamiji was of exceptional brilliance in the Vedic arts and sciences and became the astrologer to the king of Puri, Orissa. He authored hundreds of books and established schools of astrology and other Vedic sciences in Orissa and beyond. The lineage of Pdt. Sanjay Rath traces directly from Swami Achutyananda, the teaching being passed down within the Brahmin families unbroken over this vast stretch of time.
Those wishing to benefit from the wealth of knowledge of this lineage and become a part of it should understand that the Rishis are watching and hold us to high account. Holding this knowledge is a great responsibility. Each graduate Scholar should train at least one other suitable person while protecting the integrity of the knowledge. Sattva must be cultivated in life, and the nature of the knowledge is such that it greatly facilitates this. Knowledge of Devanagari (Sanskrit script) is a great advantage and those who have not studied this should plan to master it. This is easier than it might at first appear. An interest in learning something of Sanskrit vocabulary is also highly desirable. A good knowledge of basic Jyotish and, of course, a keen interest in it is also necessary.
The Jaimini Scholar program is a four part course taught over five years. It contains a great deal of advanced material not available anywhere else. This is the teaching of an ancient tradition and its wisdom could not be figured out by anyone just from the texts, however intelligent. This is the first era when this knowledge has been taught outside of a few Brahmin families. Many key teachings on remedial measures are included. This course is entirely unlike those courses where material is covered but many secrets are withheld.
Each part of the course is based on a Chapter of Jaimini’s Upadesha Sutras and is related to one of the four Vedas. Each is taught as a separate module. Successful participants can obtain certification from the Devaguru Brihaspati Centre (DBC) so that they can teach the program. The DBC and the course leader will determine when a student has reached a sufficient level for certification. The course is very detailed and has many lessons including recorded slides. For example, Year 1 involves 28 principal lessons and several subsidiary lessons.