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Howling Dog

The Gospel of Grandpa [part 19]
Dogs and Gods

In this latest installment of the Gospel of Grandpa, Ram Ramakrishnan, our astrological wizard in Hyderabad, shows the part played by the planetary Exaltations and Falls in the way the cosmic intent works itself out on our small planet.

Grandma was at her benignly vituperative best. That was her way of getting depression out of her system. Things appeared quite gloomy to her everywhere. The neighbour's aging dog had been sick for the past two weeks and had been piteously howling away all day (and night long). In the stillness of the night particularly, it fashioned an eerie and dismal ambiance. Two days ago, a place of worship that she used to regularly visit as a child in the city of Varanasi had been bombed by terrorists. Unseasonal rains had induced a nagging cough that seemed to sap her otherwise inexhaustible energy. Happenings in Iraq had been a constant source of irritation to her all along. To exacerbate matters, food had been laid on the table a long five minutes ago and no one heeded her call to sup.

"The world is going to dogs!" she exclaimed throwing a withering glance at grandpa and the children as they cowered in their study and as she went bustling away into the kitchen.

Grandpa had been a witness to and a victim of this state of affairs for a “donkey's number of years” in grandma's parlance (grandma had a role for each member of the animal and reptile kingdom for every station or situation in life—even the extinct ones!) and knew that this would soon pass and there will be sunshine again. But the children who had yet to see the world in its entirety found their grandma's depression very unsettling and it appeared to don the disposition of a contagion. However grandpa was at hand to soothe their apprehensions. And as always there was also a ready astrological anecdote up his sleeve to drive home the point and make the dialogue appear more like an interactive story.

"Every celestial body," began grandpa, "has two zodiacal signs (that are diagonally opposite to each other) associated with it—one in which it is assumed to be at its weakest and the other where it is said to be at its strongest. This strength or weakness is terrestrially manifested in happenings associated with the celestials. A celestial traverses these two zodiacal signs once during every apparent orbit around the earth."

Exaltation and Fall of Planets

Grandpa drew a representative picture of the zodiac and marked the exaltation and fall signs of the nine celestials that are used in Indian astrology. The inner most circle identified the twelve signs of the zodiac. The middle circle marked the signs of exaltation of the celestials while the outer circle marked fall signs. He added that there were different schools of thought about the signs of exaltation and fall of lunar nodes. He had marked them according to the norms that he followed and that which appeared to give him consistent results while analyzing charts.

It is a logical extension of thought to assume that when there are more than one celestial navigating a sign of a particular kind—say the sign of exaltation where they assume their maximum strength; then the nature of terrestrial happenings should be more zestful. Conversely, if there are more than one celestial negotiating signs of utmost weakness, then happenings on earth would be languid and listless or worse.

To make a dry subject more moisture-filled, grandpa called the traversing of a zodiacal sign of exaltation as 'god' and that of a sign of fall (or least strength) as 'dog'. In effect, said grandpa, the temperament of a given period of time will be determined by the number of gods and dogs in that period. More gods would signify happier times and more dogs would signify depressing times. To make matters still more interesting, grandpa opened his laptop and computed the number of gods and dogs in a year for a period spanning 5000 years. This tally was then transformed into a graph.

The Sun crosses its signs of exaltation and fall once every year. The Moon does so once every month. All other celestials take a longer time than the Sun to make one circuit around the earth. Therefore in a year, there will be at least two dogs and two gods. These are represented by the two bands in the graph—the brown for dogs and dark blue for gods. This level of 'good' or 'bad' will always be prevalent.

Dogs and Gods

Considering an eight-celestial astrological system, there can be a maximum of seven dogs or seven gods (but not both) in a given year. Obviously, if the initial arguments were to be correct then the year with seven dogs would really 'go to the dogs' and the one with seven gods would be heavenly.

"How often, do such extreme periods occur?" asked the children.

"Once in many, many lifetimes!" said grandpa. The children were also intrigued by grandpa's successive reduction in numbers—beginning with nine celestials used in the Indian system of astrology and ending with a maximum of seven dogs or gods in a year.

The first step down was because the two lunar nodes being always 180 degrees apart would simultaneously be in their respective signs of fall or exaltation. Hence only one of them was considered. The second step down is because Venus and Mercury cannot be together in their respective signs of fall or exaltation. This is due to the fact that when viewed from the earth both lie within two signs of the Sun—ahead or behind, due to their proximity to the Sun. In effect, the maximum distance between Mercury and Venus is five signs. The signs of their respective exaltations are six signs apart. This makes impossible the possibility of their being exalted or in fall together.

The graph had long sticks thrust upwards or downwards during the years where there had been six dogs or gods each. These weren't many and there wasn't even one year with seven occurrences of either extreme in the 5000 year period considered. Most years were more or less evenly balanced said grandpa, with the exceptions being few and far between. So one needn't be unduly worried about “the world going to dogs”! They can also go to the gods as occasionally—or as frequently—as one would like to perceive it! In fact from one perspective, we should welcome the dogs because the gods will not be far away and ahead. 'Doggy' years were harbingers of good times to come.

Grandpa then made a different looking graph from the same set of computed data. This seemed to express the volatility of 'wellness' or the fluctuating state of earthly affairs more clearly.

Dogs and Gods

Grandpa marked out the protruding 'dog' stick corresponding to the year 1937 in the graph. The Second World War followed immediately after the year in which five celestials occupied their respective fall signs together. This did not however mean that years with a number of dogs would always indicate wars. What they would indicate is a period of human misery to follow, whatever may be the cause of such misery.

At the present time (2006), despite many countries being in turmoil—Iraq, Sudan, Chechnya, to name a few and regardless of personal perspectives, a majority of humanity should be experiencing better times. If the indications on the basis of dogs and gods were to be correct, then in about 250 years from now, a period worse than what prevailed during the Second World War would ensue.

"How dependable are these indications?" asked the children. Grandpa said that there are many norms of identifying such troughs and peaks. By the sidereal norm, the years when they occur would be different from what is indicated by the tropical norm. There could be other norms as well not necessarily involving signs of exaltation and debilitation. What would be common to all of them however would be that they will show similar patterns of fluctuation. The one that accurately describes prevailing conditions would be the one to be accepted. Perhaps all of them would be correct in the context that each norm would identify a particular nature of earthly state and its vacillation with time.

And life would continue in its characteristically undulating fashion, now going to dogs, now to gods ............

Go Forward Here ends this chapter of a continuing story. Read more from

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The Gospel of Grandpa: part 1 | part 14 | part 15 | part 16 | part 17 | part 18 | part 19 | Life & Astrology

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This page was last modified on Tuesday, 15 December 2015