Makara Sankranti is celebration of the entry of the Sun into Capricorn. In India, it is the entry of the Sun, (Surya) into zodicac sign called Makara, hence, it is called Makara Sankranti. This festival marks the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. It is a day of celebration, the commencement of harvest, and special foods are prepared (pongal) and gifts are exchanged – sometimes, the gifting of idols to family and friends. It is important to feed people on this day, as the gifts of the Earth belong to all. Looking deeper into the divisional charts of vedic astrology on this occasion suggests a spiritual benefice is available to seekers.
Vedic Astrology has planets dispensing certain gifts, strengths, aspects of character. Planets are called dispositors (meaning they dispose or give), and in Vedic Astrology, the planet representing the Soul is Sol – the Sun. The planet in the birth chart with the highest degree is also a significator of the soul, and is called the Atmakaraka (atma=soul+karaka=disposer). The Atmakaraka is considered a most important planet, and some call this the King of the astrology chart. So wherever this planet is, is an important location and has strong influence on the life-path, which is set out by the soul contract.
Vedic Astrology also divides charts – called vargas – into many divisions, to show family influences, career strengths, the life partner (or spouse), education, health and mental strengths. One such chart, the 20th division, is the spiritual strengths chart, and is called Vimshamsha (means 20th division). Sagittarius is regarded as the the traditional 9th sign (and so traditionally, the 9th house), and is sometimes called the sign of spiritual attainments. Planets in this sign are regarded for their spiritual potentials. In this note, we look to several points: this is a festival of the Sun, hence, relevant to the soul journey. As this marks the end of the dark half of the year, there is a spiritual significance in the movement of the Sun into the bright half of the year. Spiritual benefits are possible (and it is said that one who passes away in the bright half of the year does not have to come back). There are other significant points in this note about the soul principle, the goals of life (called purusharthas) and how the planets aspect one another by way of the all important 5th sign relations, and that a deeper examination reveals spiritual benefits for seekers.
The Soul Principle (or atmakaraka) representative on this day at sunrise on Makara Sankranti is Mercury in the sign called Sagittarius. In the vimshamsa chart for sunrise on this day (7.05am) this places Mercury in the second house, the house of wealth. One might pursue spiritual wealth ably assisted by Jupiter, conjunct Rahu, in the 6th house, the house of community service. Jupiter conjunct Rahu may tend to largesse in form of activity, appetite and hubris. Community service is a suitable antidote to same. As both are movable signs, much karma may be commuted by service to those in need. Selfless service in the community is always narayana seva, service to the inner resident within the other. The Sun, as Lord Surya, is also Lord Suryanarayana, the inner resident within, the one who receives the selfless service in the heart of the other. When service offered free of the fruits of the action, karmas may well be commuted by the Lord of the Universe, Lord Suryanarayana.
On this day, we note another series of relations in the Vimshamsa chart (20th division), and that being Mars conjunct Saturn in Sagittarius aspecting Sun conjunct Venus in Aries and finally, aspecting the Moon in Leo. This set of relations is by way of 5th aspect, called trine. This is a powerful set of trines and for those who have any of Mars, Saturn, Sun, Venus or Moon as the planet representing their soul principle (or atmakaraka), so you will see that it is a powerful occasion. Mars conjunct Saturn produces spiritual effort with very strong discipline and self control. While some may say Sun and Venus in Aries might produce uncontrollable ardour for the object of one’s affections and attentions – lascivious at that – if we look to spirituality and the path of devotion and see this is in trine to Mars and Saturn, then strong devotion to one’s preferred form of divinity can be single pointed. This is the best form of devotion, single pointed focus.
We observe the Moon in the 9th house in trine to Mars/Saturn and Sun/Venus. The Moon is the presiding deity of the mind, hence, the Moon with aspect from Mars and Saturn can be directed and guided- with capacity for self-control, self-discipline and self-respect – to profitable ends. That is, the mind becomes the servant and not the master. The mind may be channelled toward spiritual affect, ardour, devotion and selflessness with detachment and discrimination. The Moon, representing the mind, is usually under affliction of one kind or another. For the moon to be receiving trine aspect from Mars and Saturn (normally a malefic combination) in the spiritual chart is fortune indeed. All things worthwhile in life are achieved with setting of goals, delayed gratification, and following the path with internal self control. In this instance, this is the gift of Mars conjunct Saturn aspecting Moon.
Venus in this trine set of relations between planets is guru (teacher) of apara vidya, (worldly knowledge). Worldly knowledge is good insofar as it is used in service of the achieving the goals of life. Lord Buddha urged his followers and monks to follow the middle path, not slavish in self-denial, abnegation or penitential disciplines, nor slavish immersion into the enjoyable, satisfying and exhilarating dimensions of life. Lord Buddha advocated a middle path between extremes of denial and immersion into satiety. Venus, guru of apara vidya, can bestow the same; cultivation of the good things in life, grace, beauty, art and splendour, but not being attached to same, as the trine aspect from Mars and Saturn advocate a depth of mastery of the senses and self discipline.
On this day, worship of the Sun – particularly at Sunrise – is taken up. Makara Sankranti is a festival of the Sun as deity by name of Lord Suryanarayana. This Makara Sankranti offers deeper spiritual gifts for those would would look within. The planets – grahas – that is to say, those that grasp us and raise us up (or pull us down as is their duty from time to time) are capable of delivering spiritual progress for those who would look deeper within and seek the goals of life.