Light. Enlightenment. Nirvana or Brahman. The Dao. Great Spirit, God or Allah. Higher Consciousness. Call your goal what you will, the path you tread to get there provides the same pitfalls and opportunities for one and all. At a fundamental level there is really only one path and one destination.
Jyotish (or Vedic Astrology) offers a great model for the path and yoga (of all persuasions—Hindu, Tibetan, Daoist) offers a fabulous tool to scoot along that path. Taken together, Jyotish and these three great yogic traditions brew up a terrific blend of insight and practical skill for the spiritual journey.
In essence, Jyotish provides the map and Yoga provides the tools for the spiritual journey to Light. What is not well understood is that Jyotish can also be used to inform and direct yogic practice. For instance, beyond just having an astrologer say that Surya (the Sun) needs to be strengthened and leaving the yogi to figure out how to do that, it's possible to map Jyotish archetypes directly to the energy channels and chakras of the body so that yoga practice becomes incredibly more informed and begins to rival modern energy medicine for clarity and effectiveness.
Continuing the example: Surya is exalted in Mesha (Aries at 19°) which translates to a location on one of the meridians of the upper arm near the elbow. This acupuncture point corresponds to an exalted Surya and can be used to strengthen solar qualities in a person's many energy bodies. Thus one gets a way to harmonize karma, and other influences, that actually works!
Lagna — The second hurdle to light
Once you have started to clear out from the clutches of environmental conditioning (family, tribe, culture, the world itself), what next? Why, continue the work of transformation but now directed upon your own personality and intellect ... but of course. In a birth chart, this location, called the lagna (or ascendant), gives a snapshot of an individual's key traits such as physical health and vitality; personality and character; intellect; strengths and weaknesses; and, joys and sorrows in one's life. The rest of the birth chart simply sketches out more details about these features but in no way can substitute for them. Thus the lagna owns the limelight and garners such top billing that any serious attempt at fixing problems or improving circumstances must begin with harmonizing this vital spot. So, where's the lagna?
Balancing the Lagna
In the above two charts, AS (ascendant) represents the lagna. Several things become apparent from these wheels. First, as you probably know, twelve constellations (groups of stars) surround us in the night sky. Imagine a circle around the earth (it's called the ecliptic). Dividing this into twelve equal parts, gives a location for each set of stars.
The top chart uses a number to indicate which constellation (rāśi) maps where and the bottom chart uses an abbreviation of the rāśi name. You can see that AS gets labeled as "1" and "Ari." These refer to the constellation, Aries (Meṣa). The important idea to grasp here is that Meṣa signifies a reference point for the entire world (and everybody in it) called the natural zodiac. Rather like a personal horoscope for the entire world, the natural zodiac always arranges constellations so that Aries starts at 1.
In contrast, most people will have a different number (constellation) at the location shown for AS in the above two charts. This follows because the lagna indicates where the eastern horizon was at a person's time of birth. Just as the Sun rises on the eastern horizon each day bringing light, warmth and energy to all, your soul also incarnates into this world bringing with it all your gifts, wisdom and values to be shared with all. The lagna signifies BOTH these things. So, it's the key spot in the chart and offers a snapshot of your being and what you have brought to share with the world.
To balance this chief location, certain principles and tools need to be employed. For such an endeavor, the smart money should be on invoking all the help and goodness one can as soon and as thoroughly as one can. In terms of Jyotish, this equates to harmonizing the planet, Jupiter (Guru), which, as the Indian name for it suggests, is all about wisdom, health, blessing and good fortune. Vedic astrology covers a lot of ground. One branch, called medical astrology, deals with how to diagnose and help treat medical conditions. This branch of the art clearly states that the single best remedy for any and all ills is Guru (Jupiter) in the lagna. So, let's find out how to use this sage advice.