Sage Gautama’s Vidyashram by Shri Vamadeva Shastri

Shri Vamadeva Shastri img

Gautama Maharishi is one of the Saptarishis   of the current Manvantara (seventh). He was one of the Maharishis of Vedic times, known to have been the discoverer of Mantras — ‘Mantra-drashtaa’, in Sanskrit. The Rig Veda has several suktas (Sanskrit: ‘hymns’) that go with his name. He was the son of Rahugana, belonging to the line of Angiras. The Devi Bhagavatam says that the river Godavari is so named because of its association with Gautama. He had two sons by name Vamadeva and Nodhas, both themselves discoverers of Mantras. There is a hymn called Bhadra in the Sama Veda which again is ascribed to Gautama Maharishi.

Guru: Shri Vamadeva Shastri

Vamadeva (Dr. Frawley) is a unusual western born knowledge-holder in the Vedic tradition. He carries many special Vedic ways of knowledge (vidyas), which he passes on to students in India and in the West. In India, Vamadeva is recognized not only as a Vedacharya (Vedic teacher), but also as a Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor), Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer), Puranic (Vedic historian) and Yogi. He is a visiting professor for the Vivekananda Yoga Kendra in Bangalore, India, a government approved deemed university for yogic and Vedic studies and also a teacher with the Sringeri Shankaracharya Math, the most central of the traditional Vedantic centers in India. In America he is more known as a teacher and practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine and of Vedic astrology (Jyotish) and has done pioneering work on both these subjects in the West.

Q.1 Sir, how is one to use herbs and astrology exactly. It is said that our ancient rishis knew it but now nobody writes on this subject. In various texts we find mention that herbs are to be used for remedies but how exactly to be used is not known to us, pls guide – Question by Sanjeev Monga, Delhi.

Shri Vamadeva Shastri:

That is a big topic, with several levels of consideration, including how you are intending to use the herbs. First of all certain herbs correspond to planets at the level of occult remedies. These herbs may be worn, or the plants grown in the house or used in various rituals. In the case of the trees corresponding to the planets, their wood is offered in havans to the planets. One can easily get these Navagraha sticks at any store that sells puja and havan implements.

For astrological treatment of disease or other difficulties in life, such plants and herbs are used along with mantras, yantras, gems, and rituals, not so much to take internally as a medicine, rather to use as an offering or an external protection. We find many such types of combined remedies including herbs used in astrological Upayas throughout India, as well as in different Tantric practices overall.

Second the energetics of herbs corresponds to planets at a medical level. This follows somewhat the correlation between planets and the six tastes. For example, hot spicy herbs like black pepper or cayenne pepper arguably have a strong solar energy. If the Sun is weak in the chart, particularly relative to health factors, the use of such spicy herbs is a possible Upaya for the person. While there is adequate ground here for correlating astrology with Ayurvedic treatment and life-style recommendations, we don’t see this pursued very much in the existing literature, though I have done some research in this area.

One thing to remember is that correlations are general. For example, the six tastes do not exactly correspond to the planets but have their planetary correlations and mainly at the level of energetics. For example, sour taste is traditionally ascribed to Venus and there is a point to this, but Venus dominant people also like the sweet taste, sweet fragrances and flowers. In this regard I am including a short section from my book Ayurvedic Astrology 100-102:

“The Six Tastes and Their Correspondences


Sweet taste, such as occurs in sugars and starches, relates to Kapha planets, the Moon, Jupiter and Venus, which have an overall tissue-increasing effect upon the body. Classical Vedic astrology emphasizes the identification of Jupiter specifically with the sweet taste because it is the main planet creating weight and bulk in the body, which derive from this taste and its earth and water elements. However, Venus, the planet of love, a Kapha emotion, as is well known, is also fond of sweets.

          Salty taste mainly relates to the Moon, owing to its correspondence with the water element, the ocean and the plasma in our bodies, our internal ocean.

Sour taste is classically ascribed to Venus in several Vedic astrological texts because of its stimulating and attractive nature, as well as its Kapha increasing properties. Yet sour taste, which has a heating energy, can increase Mars energy, particularly that found in alcohol and other fermented items.

          Astringent taste, such as found in tannins, is mainly Vata in its properties, increasing dryness and lightness in the body. In this regard it is sometimes related to Saturn, which like the astringent taste causes our energy to contract and has stopping or inhibiting action on such processes as sweating, bleeding or elimination.

          Pungent or spicy taste, which has a heating and stimulating energy, relates mainly to Pitta planets, specifically to the Sun, but also to Mars. Spices like ginger, cayenne or black pepper are storehouses of solar energy.

Bitter taste reflects the qualities of Vata, being cold, dry, light and weight-reducing in its action. In this regard it resembles the planet Saturn which rules over Vata dosha in general, but reflects other Vata planets as well. Bitter taste can stimulate the mental activity of Mercury because it increases the air and ether elements operative in the mind. Classical Vedic astrology relates bitter taste to Mars because bitter is the most effective taste for controlling Mars energy, reducing the heat and toxicity associated with it, not because it is similar in nature or energy to Mars.

When Vata is too high – or when the influence of Vata (airy) planets like Saturn, Rahu and Mercury predominate in the body – the use of sweet, sour, salty and pungent tastes is recommended, including a nutritive diet of grains, beans, root vegetables, seeds, nuts and dairy products. Mild spices (like ginger, cinnamon and cardamom) and tonic herbs like ashwagandha and shatavari or the Ayurvedic formula Chyavan prash are the main herbal therapies.

When Kapha is too high – or when the influence of Kapha (watery) planets like the Moon, Jupiter and Venus predominate in the body – the use of pungent, astringent and bitter tastes is indicated, including a light diet that avoids sweet, salty, sour and oily foods, as well as dairy products. The use of hot spices (like ginger, pepper or cayenne or the Ayurvedic formula Trikatu), and bitters like gentian that aid in weight reduction are the main herbal therapies.

When Pitta is too high – or when the influence of Pitta (fiery) planets like the Sun, Mars and Ketu predominate in the body – the use of bitter, astringent and sweet herbs and foods is recommended, including less use of salt, spices and sour articles, and a cooler and blander diet with more raw food. Mild bitters are recommended like gotu kola (brahmi) or cooling spices like turmeric and coriander are important herbal therapies.

It is possible to more precisely equate individual foods and herbs with the planets and use astrology to aid in both dietary and herbal treatment, but this is a complex matter and is best left more for an advanced study of medical astrology, particularly for those who are trained in Ayurveda.”

          Based on this correlation, we can attribute a number of commonly used herbs to general planetary influences. This is from my own private research. Of course some herbs may have a relationship with more than one planet in their effects.


SUN—Black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, calamus root, sassafras, cloves, bay leaves, sage, thyme, juniper berries, eucalyptus, basil, bayberry, turmeric


MOON—Milk, comfrey root, slippery elm, marshmallow, wild mallow, licorice, solomon’s seal, kelp, Irish moss, chickweed, sandalwood, oyster shell (sea shells), psyllium, flaxseed


MARS—Onions, garlic, mustard, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, asafoetida, horseradish, nutmeg, marijuana, jimson weed, poppy, nightshade, damiana


MERCURY—Gotu kola, skullcap, basil, mint, camomile, valerian, wintergreen, betony, tea, alfalfa, lady’s slipper, yarrow, coriander, plantain, nettles, self‑heal, red root, hops, chia seeds, horehound, mullein, haritaki, castor oil


JUPITER—Clarified butter, almonds, walnuts, wheat, oats, barley, licorice, fennel, fenugreek, ginseng, siberian ginseng, astragalus, fo‑ti, ashwagandha, wild yam, kudzu (pueraria), vidari, bala


VENUS—Rose, aloe, myrrh, saffron, safflower, hibiscus, raspberry leaves, asparagus root, shatavari, amalaki, dang gui, rehmannia, sarsaparilla, jasmine, pennyroyal, false unicorn, parsley, wild carrot


SATURN—Gentian, golden seal, barberry, uva ursi, pau d’arco, white poplar, blue flag, chapparal, witch hazel, oak bark, cleavers, frankincense, rhubarb, senna, mandrake, cascara sagrada, echinacea, horsetail, katuka, neem, chiretta, phyllanthus

Third, preparation of medicines, including herbs, is traditionally done with concern with the Nakshatras. For example, Mrigashiras relates to Soma and herbs have a very powerful rejuvenative energy when the Moon is in this Nakshatra, particularly when waxing or near full. Certain plants and herbs correspond directly to the Nakshatras. I have seen Nakshatra gardens in South India with trees relating to each Nakshatra. Other Panchanga information is also helpful for preparing herbs and for timing of medical treatment.

Overall gems have a stronger place as an outer astrological remedial measure than do herbs, as the gems can hold and direct the planetary energy in a stronger manner.

Q.2 Vaar Pravesh – Generally Vaar Pravesh is used to deduce Kaal Hora. It is usually deduced w.r.t. the coordinates of Ujjain, India. Some people still insist it to be derived from Yam Koti, as described in Surya Siddhanta. In such a situation how to cope with the Latitude and Longitude of the Western USA (San Francisco) cities. If derived with reference to YamKoti/ or Ujjain, then even when there is say Tuesday afternoon or evening here, it would start Wednesday, as per Vaar Pravesh w.r.t. Yam Koti, or Ujjain. – Query by Adya Tripathi, USA

Shri Vamadeva Shastri:

For the Panchanga one must use the latitude and longitude of the location where one resides. That is why India based Panchangas can be inaccurate in the United States that is opposite the globe in terms of time zones. Even in India there are different Panchangas for different cities.

One’s own location is also used for Prashna. For one’s own annual chart, however, the place of birth is used, not the place where one is currently residing.

For political and national charts, the tendency in modern Vedic astrology is to cast a chart for each country at their capital city for Chaitra Shukla Pratipat, the exact new Moon in Pisces. There are of course other types of New Years used in India.

Unless for the determination of longer Yugas, I don’t see any need to use coordinates of Ujjain or Yama Koti. Astrology is based upon the timing where the person is.

Q.3 Will the results of Yogakaraka planet experienced by a native other than during its dasha/antar dasha or how ‘Exactly’ does the yogakaraka planet influences the native. Though this question is basic but we request you to give a profound explanation that you have gathered through your experience spanning 5 decades – Question by Venkat Ramana, ICAS Hyderabad

Shri Vamadeva Shastri:

—-All planets give some results all the time relative to their position in the birth chart.

Planets give increased results during their dashas/antardashas, during their transits (gochara) of major positions within the birth chart (particularly Moon and Lagna), during the dashas/antardashas of planets located in signs or Nakshatras ruled by them, during the dashas/antardashas of planets either aspecting them or aspected by them.

          Naturally positions from the Moon, the navamsha and other relevant divisional charts can come into play here. Their positions in the annual chart is another factor to look at. These factors relate to Yoga Karakas as well.


          Planets give some extra effects in the dasha/antar dasha of planets located in their signs. If Mars is in Taurus, then during Venus periods, something of a Mars influence may also be there. The same can be said of planets located in their Nakshatra. For example, if Saturn is in Swati in the birth chart, a Nakshatra ruled by Rahu, some of the results of Rahu may be increased during the Saturn dashas/antar dashas.

Planets will give increased results during the dasha/antardasha of planets that they aspect or which aspect them. For example, if Jupiter in Gemini is aspecting Moon in Aquarius, the Moon dasha/ antardasha will carry some influence of Jupiter. If Jupiter in Gemini is aspected by Mars in Pisces, then during Jupiter periods, the influence of Mars may be increased. The same principle holds true of planetary conjunctions.


          Relative to Yoga Karakas specifically, they will give stronger results while transiting angles and trines, particularly the tenth house, though only if these houses are not afflicted and best if the ruling signs contain a higher number of bindus in the Sarvashtaka. The position of the Yoga Karaka in the annual chart can help us as well.


          We note a curious difference in the length of the Dashas of prime Yogakaraka planets. For Cancer and Leo, the main Yoga Karaka is Mars, whose Dasha is only 7 years. For Taurus and Libra, it is Saturn whose Dasha is 19 years, and for Capricorn and Aquarius it is Venus whose Dasha is 20 years. Some lagnas have stronger Yoga Karaka planets. However, in spite of this we find many powerful people, particularly politicians, with Cancer and Leo ascendants, probably more so than Capricorn and Aquarius Ascendants.


          Generally if the overall birth chart is strong, even Dashas of difficult planets by natural or temporal status may not give bad results. If the overall birth chart is weak, even Dashas of Yoga karakas may not give very good results. The Dasha of the Lagna lord is crucial. If the chart is strong it will elevate the person almost like a Yoga Karaka. If the chart is weak, the Dasha of the lagna lord may bring disease and other personal loses, much like the period of a malefic.


          As a personal note, I have found that good malefics in upachaya houses can raise a person almost as effectively as a Yoga karaka planet, though more struggle and effort may be required for success.


          One must also look at the Yogas. When the ninth and tenth lords exchange for example the period of either one can give great advancement for the person, even if the planet involved is not entirely friendly to the Lagna lord (like an exchange of Mars in Libra and Venus in Scorpio) for Aquarius Ascendant. Mars in such a position will likely increase the Raja Yoga during its dashas, even though it is usually an inimical planet for the lagna.

Q.4 Is there something called Tantric Astrology, if so can you recommend some books on it. If there are no books available now, can you pls demonstrate some basics of it and some other points as food for thought. –  Query by Andy Lee, HongKong

Shri Vamadeva Shastri:

—Most of the Upayas or remedial measures used in Vedic astrology in India today are Tantric. This includes the types of pujas and yajnas used at astrological temples to propitiate the planets. It includes the recommendations of mantras, yantras, herbs, and gems given to individuals for planetary afflictions. In addition, most of the temple worship in India, particularly in South India, East India and the Himalayas is largely Tantric, especially for deities like Shiva and Kali, and beings in Vedic astrology.

Traditional Tantric texts often contain sections on worship of planetary deities, worship of deities with respect to astrological timing, astrological timing of prescription of mantras, and so on. Different forms of the Goddess may be related to different planets. Even Tantric philosophical and yogic texts, bring in astrology relative to the timing or subtle energies of various Yoga and Pranayama practices and through Svara Yoga or timing through reading the breath and which nostril it is flowing in. Astrological knowledge is there in Sri Vidya or Sri Chakra or esoteric Tantric practices, relating the chakras, Prana and the breath with the Sun, planets and Rashis.

We have 21,600 breaths per day in yogic thought, about one breath every four seconds, which is equated with the movement of the Sun, 360 breaths every 24 minutes or 1/60 of a day. Each Rashi governs around two hours or five 24 minute sections, in which the breath relates to different aspects of the five elements. This internal zodiac is more commonly examined in yogic and Tantric texts.

What one must remember is that the term Tantra in India mainly refers to the use of mantras, yantras, rituals etc. along with the propitiation of deities (mainly forms of Shiva and Devi) for either the ordinary goals of life or for Yogic practices. The term has another meaning in the West, mainly concerning sexual practices.

Throughout India, but particularly in Bengal, people commonly resort to Tantra, mantra, yantra and deity worship for both personal and spiritual goals. There are many such Tantric gurus, many of which are astrologers as well, who offer these Tantric methods to help people make money, get a better job, have better progeny, defeat their enemies or control other people. There can be a fair amount of exploitation and even charlatans of this type, which has given Tantra a bad name in India. Some Tantrics employ ghosts to gain knowledge about other people or to be able to make accurate astrological predictions. Many of them claim to give you instant results and to be able to change your karma for you. Indian politicians have been known to employ such Tantrics, going back to Indira Gandhi and Chandraswamy. Yet good and honest Tantrics, though perhaps harder to find, do exist.


          Generally, what might be called ‘Tantric astrology’ relates to books on Vedic astrology promoting remedial measures that are Tantric in nature, not a special line of astrology relative to calculation or interpretation that would be called Tantric. In addition, in Sanskrit literature, the term Tantra means a technical text. Technical texts in medieval science and mathematics were also called Tantras for this reason. In modern Sanskrit, Tantra is sometimes used as indicating ‘technology’.

Q.5 How to read the dictate of karmas (Sanchit, Prarabdha etc) in horoscopy?– Question by Vijay Kumar, Bangalore

 Shri Vamadeva Shastri:

—That is also a very big question. The Vedic astrology chart is all about karma. I like to call the birth chart your Karmic DNA or the ‘Karmic Code of the Soul’. Just as your genetic code reveals the underlying pattern behind your physical existence, your Karmic Code or Samskaric Code through the birth chart allows you to read the underlying pattern of your spiritual existence. That is why the Vedic birth chart is probably the most important document you have in your entire life, though like the genetic code requires the proper interpretation and decipherment. Astrology is a science of karma. The astrological chart allows us to ascertain both our karma and the way it is likely to unfold in life through the dashas.


  1. Prarabdha, the karma that forms and dominates and is activated in the present life, is indicated mainly by the Rashi chart and its prime positions.
  2. The Navamsha can indicate our ability to handle or transform our karma, including the karmas we are setting in motion in this life (the Kriyamana karma).
  3. The Dwadashamsha can reflect Past Life Karmic influences.


Generally Saturn is more a point of karmic limitation and Jupiter an area of karmic opportunity. The Moon also reflects the Samskaras in the mind, while the Sun shows our ability to make new and independent decisions. Rahu and Ketu also show deep seated karmic connections and collective influences.

The Sanchit karma or the total karma of a soul is difficult to judge astrologically as it is the karmic reserve that is not currently active, though some astrologers have theories about how to read it. Determination of Prarabdha is the main thing in the birth chart. How to optimize and transcend our karmas is the main purpose of astrological remedial measures. We may think that we see something karmic in the birth chart, but verifying it over time in the life of a person is necessary to prove the accuracy of our predictions. It is important that the astrologer does not use the specter of karma to scare, intimidate or control clients. We must remember that karma refers to the results of our actions, not to any outside destiny that is imposed upon us. So we have the freedom in the present moment to change the course of our karmas for the future. Finally, karma belongs to body and mind but not to Atma, which transcends time, space and action. But our karma shows us how likely we may be to be able to realize that Atma.