Of all living creatures on earth man stands at the top of evolution and with the passage of centuries and epochs this truth is only confirmed by the scriptures as also by human experience. This is primarily due to the fact that man alone has intelligence by virtue of the use of his mental powers and he has, down the centuries, acquired a vast amount of literature and what is more, he has never been left without teachers who are ever eager to elevate him to higher and higher positions. With this triple gift, man is not only enriching his present existence on earth but storing up virtue for posterity. Of all the available literature, nothing is more useful as a guide to his life than the science of astrology, which has three main divisions: mathematics, horoscopy and "Saakha". The common name for these three divisions is "samhitaa". It is essential for every intelligent man to be familiar with this science. For in this field, the following eighteen great Rishis have laboured and left us a treasure house of wisdom, which no true lover of knowledge will ever allow to be neglected; the Sun-god, Brahma deva, Vyaasa, Vasishtha, Atri, Paraasara, Kasyapa, Naarada, Garga, Mareechi, Manu, Angiras, Roamasa, Paurugutsa, Chyavana, Yavana, Bhrigu and Saunaka.
Sri Varahamihiracharya is one of the few who have understood clearly the three branches of Astrology, as expounded by these great Rishis, and benefitted the modern world by his erudite, scholary works on the subject. Of the several volumes written, his "Brihat Samhita" stands foremost as the popular work on Astrology. In this samhitaa the eleven chapters, from the 85th to the 95th, deal with matters relating to omens; this book is written to familiarize the public with this important topic and hence translated from Sanskrit, along with the commentary on these chapters by Bhattotpalaacharya. The last chapter in this book dealing with "Sakunottaram" has an important topic, namely "Aksharakosam" given in a tabular form, which will enable an intelligent student to determine the name of a person or object one is in search of, and thus astonish any inquirer. That a thorough, careful study of this book helps one to answer with accuracy not only difficult questions but to point out the way to find out missing objects and persons, giving detailed descriptions, is a positive asset; and one may even wonder from the answers whether one is meeting a sage in the present day of materialistic trends.
It is a sad commentary of the times that such an ancient subject life astrology, which forms part of an occult traditions, should have fallen on evil days when it is derided, trifled with and even neglected. For this pathetic state of affairs, not only is the ignorant public to blame, but some of the practitioners of this science; for most of them are charlatans, whose main interest is to make quick money; they have done a lost of disservice to this hoary, venerable science.
Further, there are always doubting Thomases, who thinking fatalistically ask, where the need is for omens and forecasting of events, if they are to come inevitably and there is no preventing of their occurrence. There is a snag in their statement, for they forget that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. On a philosophic basis too, there is an argument for the validity of astrology. There are animate and inanimate things in the world; in Sanskrit they are called "chit" and "jada". But one has to realize that even inanimate things are activated by an inner, invisible centre of energy for all beings are united or linked together in a great hierarchical structure. From gods to men, from atoms to worlds, from the blazing Sun to the meanest will of the wisp of the glow-worm, the world is an immense chain, whose links may be invisible but nonetheless connected.
How then can we deny that the so-called inanimate things are only means or instruments to forewarn or forecast or even just indicate the onrun of coming events? The wise men of olden times, the sages and saints had studied this intimate relationship between all things and creatures in the world and given us hints and clues of this mutual connection in their books on astrology.
Another argument trotted forth is that it is only the Easterner who is obsessed with such belief in omens and predictions. Do we really know that the Westerner has also obsessions and faith in magic and, what is worse, witchcraft? Let not the kettle call the post black.
We have, therefore, no hesitation in translating in English this important ancient classic on forecasting which, like the weather may be changing but still is possible to predict, and therefore, an intricate but useful subject.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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