The question arises as to what exactly the science of jyotish, Indian astrology, is able to calculate and incorporate. Looking at the line of karma, the antecedents, direction and trajectory of energy in a particular stream, it can help to determine the life-path and major challenges facing an individual. Yet the individual is not totally separate and independent of the rest of the creation. This implies that there is an interaction that may impinge upon, modify or change the line of results that would be calculated for the individual in a vacuum. To the extent that some of these interacting factors can be accounted for, the astrological calculation can provide more details. Yet, with the complexity of the universal creation, it is clear that such calculations cannot foresee, address and incorporate every possible line of development. For instance, material forces may lead to an unexpected earthquake, tornado, cyclone, tsunami, lightning strike, or some such other event that can disrupt the line of action of an individual who happens to be in the way of the event that comes from outside the line of energy of that individual. If the astrological chart of the dinosaurs had been created, there is no doubt that the meteorite strike that led to massive decimation of dinosaurs and other life on the planet would likely not have been foreseen!

Similarly, in some cases unanticipated events on the vital or mental or spiritual levels may intervene. Sometimes an individual is following a very clear path of development, which appears to be predestined. Then some event occurs, possibly a near death experience, a major illness, a failure in some field, but also possibly the awakening of a spiritual impulse that was unseen previously, which totally changes the life-direction and focus of the individual.

There is a tradition in certain paths of spiritual development that the awakened guru can take on and resolve karmic bonds of an individual, thus helping him achieve realisation. This has the implicit assumption that, indeed, karma can be changed through individual action, in this case, through interaction with another individual who is able to successfully shift the burden of the karma or modify it for the individual so that needed progress can occur.

If it is possible for such an instance to occur, then it is also possible for the individual himself to overcome karmic influences. This implies that the astrological chart that provides the broad lines of development of an individual does not control the fate of the individual, but simply maps out the framework within which the individual application of free will can redirect or even eliminate the trend line of the karmic development and set new lines of karma in motion.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “In Indian astrology which considers all life-circumstances to be Karma, mostly predetermined or indicated in the graph of the stars, there is still provision made for the energy and force of the being which can change or cancel part or much of what is so written or even all but the most imperative and powerful bindings of Karma. This is a reasonable account of the balance: but there is also to be added to the computation the fact that destiny is not simple but complex; the destiny which binds our physical being, binds it so long or in so far as a greater law does not intervene. Action belongs to the physical part of us, it is the physical outcome of our being; but behind our surface is a freer Life-power, a freer Mind-power which has another energy and can create another destiny and bring it in to modify the primary plan, and when the soul and self emerges, when we become consciously spiritual beings, that change can cancel or wholly remodel the graph of our physical fate. Karma, the, — or at least any mechanical law of Karma, — cannot be accepted as the sole determinant of circumstances and the whole machinery of rebirth and of our future evolution.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 1 Life Through the Eyes of the Yogin, pg. 15

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 20 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
YouTube Channel
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at