Nakshatra Series – Shravana
Shravana, the apex of lunar energy, is represented in the celestial firmament by three bright stars in the constellation known as Aquila (the Eagle). In modern astronomy these stars are known as Alpha-Aquilae (Altair), Beta-Aquilae (Alshain) & Gamma-Aquilae (Tarazed). These three stars can be seen huddled together on top of the constellation of Capricorn. Altair, having a visual magnitude of 0.93, is one of the brightest objects in the night sky making Shravana a very easily visible asterism. According to the puranic legends, these stars correspond to the three steps taken by Vishnu in his Vaamana-avatar.
“Shravana” translates into two very unrelated terms- “hearing” and “the one who limps”. The limping meaning is in obvious reference to Vishnu’s three steps (please refer to the story below in the Esoteric Section); while “hearing” as we shall discover, forms the crux of what this asterism is all about. Its alternative name is “Ashvattha”, a term used for the sacred Pipal tree (Ficus Religiosa). In vedic texts, this tree is always given extraordinary significance. It is worthwhile to mention that Buddha received enlightenment meditating under this tree.
There are three main symbols for this Nakshatra. One is a ‘row of three uneven footsteps’, which as we can see from the Nakshatra’s image, are represented by its constituent stars. These three steps were supposed to be taken by Vishnu in one of his incarnations, the purpose of which was to establish order in the universe through the restoration of the heaven to the gods and earth to the human beings. We will discuss this story in more detail when we discuss the esoteric aspect of this asterism. These three steps can be seen as the threefold law through which the cosmic intelligence maintains order in the universe. Nature, as we know, operates in three modes and this threefold law relates to the three interactions between these modes.
A ‘trident’ is the alternative symbol of this asterism, which once again reiterates this asterism’s connection to the number ‘3’. Most numerologists know that ‘3’ is the number of communication and is the energy responsible for establishing order in the universe. This is why all ancient cultures had three main deities responsible for overlooking universal affairs.
An ‘ear’ is a commonly used symbol for this asterism, which we can see is derived directly from its name. The communication aspect of this asterism is therefore more focused on listening than speaking. Listening is the one and only way one can learn anything. To emphasize this aspect, some wise men assigned three ears as its symbol. In the ancient Indian Vedic tradition, knowledge was orally transmitted and so (shruti), the power of listening, automatically became the most important quality an individual could possess. It is because of these oral transmissions that Vedic knowledge is available today in its pristine state. From this we can conjure that this asterism has a lot to do with preservation, in keeping with the nature of the sign it falls in. When a native has a strong Shravana influence in their horoscope, the astrologer can safely advise that person to learn to listen more to others, or pay attention to one’s inner voice in order to grow or progress in life.
Vishnu, the preserver among the Trinity, is the main presiding deity of this asterism. His relationship with this Nakshatra is already established from the symbolism and mythology associated with this Nakshatra. It is because of this strong relationship with Vishnu that this Nakshatra gets its strong organizational ability, which is normally associated with the sign Capricorn. In keeping with
Vishnu’s nature, this Nakshatra likes to bring order through tact and cleverness and in many a case, through any which way possible. It allows one to be able to listen, assimilate and contemplate on a problem to arrive at the solution. Like Vishnu, this asterism does not believe in hurrying with things and is ready to sit and wait until the time is ripe.
Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, is also strongly associated with this Nakshatra, even though very few scholars acknowledge this fact. This Nakshatra is no tall about listening. It is also related to speech and the ability to put learning into words. Someone has to speak for someone to listen this relationship with Sarasvati connects this Nakshatra to the use and study of languages, music and a fascination for all media connected with education.
Nature and Functioning:
Ona positive level Shravana is an amicable Nakshatra, which tries to be reasonable and keep its peace with its surroundings. It is calculative, but in its higher expression this calculativeness does not have selfish motivations. Even its stubborn, unyielding nature is directed towards a higher cause in its positive aspect. It is a persevering Nakshatra which doesn’t like to leave things in the middle or undone. This is probably the reason why it is said that any activity started in this Nakshatra always reach its completion.
In its negative aspect, all its qualities like perseverance, shrewdness and knowledge are used for purely selfish means. Its power to listen, learn and teach meaningful things is usually lost in gossip, backbiting and manipulation. Since it is a very goal oriented Nakshatra, it becomes dangerous when its goals are unwholesome and unethical. Narrow-mindedness is one of the strong traits to emerge out of the negative functioning’s of this Nakshatra. This Nakshatra requires toning down of the ego, as listening without preconceptions is the only way to learn. There is always a danger with this Nakshatra that a person under its influence may not always learn the right things. A person born under a strong influence of this asterism should always be very careful of the company they keep. There is always some foolhardiness attached with Shravana. The native can easily fall prey to deception and bad advice.
In its highest level of functioning, this asterism relates to acquiring universal knowledge and applying it to bring about order in the material world. It usually bestows very strong powers of erudition and sagacity. Oratory and other forms of lecturing come naturally and effortlessly to such natives. In the present times, much of the organizational ability of this Nakshatra has been used for destructive and degenerative ends. This asterism is connected to all forms of media and in today’s world most of the media is used for propagating falsehood, lies and devoluting influences.
Shravana is a socially active Nakshatra which revels in public dealings. It has a very business-like approach to things, even though maintaining cordiality is its primary objective. If this Nakshatra is rising on the Ascendant, the person is likely to be mature in their approach, cunning, well-mannered and receptive with an alert look. The appearance is a mix of Moony softness and saturnine rigidity. Such people are usually clever in conversation and are skilled at putting others at ease quickly. In the present day and age, most of them can be seen spending a whole lot of time on the telephone! Whether a native under the influence of this Nakshatra will listen more or speak more, depends upon the planet positioned in this asterism. For example, if Saturn is posited in this Nakshatra one will tend to listen more and may find speaking difficult, while a person who has Mars placed in this Nakshatra can be quite a chatter box, but may not be well-versed in the art of listening.
Philosophical and religious attitudes which rely heavily upon phrases like “word is God” and “In the beginning, there was the word, from which arose everything else” corresponds to this Nakshatra’s line of thinking. It is true that “om” (or Aum) was the first sound at the beginning of creation, but it is important to remember that the seed of the universe laying a silent state before that. The “word” is not “god”, but just one of the many expressions of the ultimate causative principle, commonly known as “god”.
The downfall of this Nakshatra usually lies in excessive generosity which leads to debts and poverty. It can also make enemies through bigotry narrow mindedness or extreme ethical stances. This Nakshatra is not favourable for having and raising children. This seems to hold true in charts where this asterism falls in the fifth house. When Ascendant or Moon is placed in this asterism, or it is placed in the fifth house, or the fifth lord is placed in this asterism, it usually denotes few children and the native derives little happiness from them. On the contrary they are always a source of anxiety for them.
In the universal scheme of things, Shravana relates to ‘apradhrishya Shakti’ – the power to give permanent victory. Its symbolism has achievable goals above, and the strength to achieve those goals below. This imagery is self-explanatory. The only thing worth mentioning is that this strength is not personal strength, but the collective strength, which comes about due to an alliance with the higher forces of good, when one is wholeheartedly and unselfishly trying to establish righteousness over unrighteousness.