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Unveiling the Mystic: A New Look at Lahiri Mahasaya’s Horoscope (Pt 1)

Updated: Apr 26



This article presents scholarly research into the astrological birth chart of Lahiri Mahasaya, a figure pivotal in the spiritual path Kriya Yoga. Given the uncertainties and inconsistencies surrounding his birth information available online, this study seeks to offer a rigorous, academically grounded examination of his horoscope. The analysis herein is based on a careful synthesis of historical texts, verified astrological principles, and consultations with Vedic astrology experts. My goal is to provide a reliable and scholarly perspective that contributes meaningfully to the ongoing discussions about his life and spiritual legacy.


Lahiri Mahasaya was a great Yogi and self-realized saint from India, reverently credited by most as the reviver of the ancient meditative science of Kriya Yoga, as instructed to do so by his elusive Himalayan Guru, Mahavatar Babaji. An amazing record of his life story was recounted by Paramahansa Yogananda in the widely known spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi.


Birth records of his are questionable and scarce, and there are some debates as to their credibility. My aim in this article is to propose and outline a rectified birth horoscope and present a case study for public consumption.


This written attempt stems primarily from a conversation detailed between myself and my Vedic Astrology mentor, the esteemed scholar Visti Larsen, who has graciously permitted me to share segments of our discourse, and to whom I’m forever indebted to his research, knowledge and guidance. Vistiji has also documented Lahiri Mahasaya’s horoscope in his book “Jyotish Fundamentals: My Master’s Words”.


Preface: Limitations of a Birth Horoscope

Brahmaṇyādhāya karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā karoti yaḥ lipyate na sa pāpena padma-patram ivāmbhasā "One who performs all actions without attachment to the outcome, offering all they do into the ultimate reality of Brahman, is like a lotus leaf. They stand untouched above the mud of matter and do not generate future karmic reactions. -Bhagavad Gita (5, v10)

It is commonly acknowledged in the teachings and traditions of Kriya Yoga, as in the Bhagavad Gīta, that as one completely burns all Saṁchita karmas through Tapasya and surrenders themselves completely to the cosmic source through devoted Kriya practice, creation of karmas become like writing on water. By all accounts, Lahiri Mahasaya was not a normal incarnating Jīvātma, and this analysis should be treated with this understanding..


To this end, some fervently argue that measuring the karma of a saint of this magnitude is a futile exercise, and I would like to honor and respect that belief. My intention in attempting to rectify Lahiri Mahasaya’s birth information was to attempt to connect directly with him on a deeper level, as part of my own contemplative journey. I’m sharing this research and analysis mainly for academic interest, for discussion and deeper contemplation.


At only a superficial glance, the janma raśī may only provide hints pertaining to general attitudes, and inclinations of the person being born at this hour. We will also view some hints as to the Prārabdhakarma which played a causal role for incarnating into this life.


As this is likely the chart of a Yogāvatar who carried an immense spiritual legacy, enduring to present day, deeper esoteric aspects are left ignored for now. It suffices to say that, for now, the rectified horoscope should match all the general life events (his work and career accomplishments, children, marriage, etc.). For fortunes, destiny, and bhagya, we will also analyze the potential Navāṁśa options to narrow down the filed.


Furthermore, more rectification beyond that of Navāṁśa will be required to ascertain his birth time with a higher degree of confidence. My intention is to address this in a future article, with full blessings and consent from my teachers.


Additional Note: Some deeper astrological teachings, entrusted to me by my Astrology lineage, yield additional insights as to why the Navāṁśa rectification plays such a crucial role in outlining his path as a yogi, practicing the science of Kriya yoga. I acknowledge here that I am unable to share these insights within an article intended for public consumption. Therefore, my astrological insights shared herein will be limited to superficial chart analysis.


Examination of Documented Birth Records and Pañcāṅga

Firstly, there is the issue of a proper birth record. I’ve seen several opinions on this through internet sources, some believe he is a Scorpio Ascendant, others Libra, and some even have it calculated as Aries! Among the recorded sources I’ve investigated, here are the relevant segments:


  1. Autobiography of a Yogi, By Paramahansa Yogananda “It was into a pious Brahmin family of ancient lineage that Lahiri Mahasaya was born September 30, 1828. His birthplace was the village of Ghurni in the Nadia district near Krishnagar, Bengal.” (Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, Self-Realization Fellowship, 1998)

  2. Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya – A Biography, By Swami Satyananda Giri (Yogi Niketan) Paraphrasing his work, Swamiji openly acknowledges the disagreement of a birth time, as it was customary for Lahiri Mahasaya’s family lineage for the Astrological Charts to be cremated along with the body, thus removing the records from existence. However, later his grandson was able to provide evidence in the form of other records that he was born on the 16th day of the Ashwini Month, 1235 in the Bengali calendar. This date corresponds to September 30, 1828, in the Gregorian calendar, which was a Tuesday. The editor attached to this published work added a footnote that 1235 Bengali Calendar corresponds to 1829 in the Gregorian Calendar, however 1829 does not agree with the correct Pañcāṅga, (further outlined below). (Swami Satyananda Giri. (n.d.). Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya – A Biography (2015th ed.). Yoga Niketan. https://www.yoganiketan.net/reader/books/yogiraj-shyama-charan-lahiri-mahasaya.html)

  3. PURANA PURUSHA: YOGIRAJ SRI SHAMA CHURN LAHIREE (A Complete Biography), by Dr. Ashoke Kumar Chatterjee D.Litt. (Translator Joyati Kapur). This work states: “At the hour of 7 Danda 30 Pal (08 hours 27 minutes, 47 seconds IST) on the morning of Tuesday, the seventh day of the dark fortnight and 16th Aswin of the Bengali year 1235 (30th September 1828 A.D.), this Divine Child caused His Descent at village Ghurni”. (Chatterjee, A., & Kapur, J. (2017). Purana Purusha: Yogiraj Sri Shama Churn Lahiree: A Complete Biography.)


Understanding Traditional Time Measurements

In Vedic astrology, time is often recorded in traditional units such as Dandas and Ghatikas, which may not be immediately familiar to those accustomed to modern time units like hours and minutes. A Danda, used synonymously with a Ghati, represents a period equivalent to 24 minutes. Each Ghati is further divided into 60 Vighatis, and a single Vighati equals 24 seconds (6 prāṇa x 4 seconds, which reflects the amount of time for a single breath) These units reflect the ancient Indian method of timekeeping, which is closely linked to daily solar events such as sunrise and sunset. For the purpose of this analysis, we convert these traditional units into modern time measurements to accurately align Lahiri Mahasaya's birth time. This conversion is crucial for ensuring the precision of astrological calculations and interpretations based on his birth chart.


My calculations based on the Bengali time measurements provided in Purana Purusha are summarized as follows:

  • 7 Danda from sunrise = 7x24 minutes = 168 mins or 2hrs 48 mins.

  • 30 pal is a ½ ghatika or 12 mins.

  • Thus 2hrs 48mins+12mins = Precisely 3 hours after sunrise.

  • Sunrise in Gurni (Krishnagar) West Bengal on 09-30-1828 occurred at 5:51 + 3 hrs = 8:51 AM


While the account detailed in 'Purana Purusha' provides a valuable historical perspective, it's important to consider the possibility of discrepancies in time conversion from the time the book was originally translated (8:27:47 AM IST), or even record-keeping from that era (assuming the sunrise period was recorded correctly from astronomical almanacs), which may lead us to revisit these details with an open and respectful inquiry.


Confirming the details above from Purana Purusha in the Pañcāṅga (Vedic Calendar), for this date and time, we have:


  • Sunrise: 05:51

  • Amānta Month: Bhadrapada

  • Purnimānta Month: Ashwina

  • Weekday: Mangalavara (Tuesday)

  • Paksha: Krishna Paksha (Dark Fortnight)

  • Tithi: Saptami (7th day) up to 13:59


Thus, we can see that the actual Vedic calendar for this date reconciles to the record presented in Purana Purusha.

I hereby propose a birth time of at least no earlier than 8:51AM, as a result of the calculation above. I acknowledge that my mentor Visti Larsen also proposed a birth time of 8:59AM in his forementioned published work* as well, and the rationale for this will become clearer in the Navāṁśa reckoning, below. *(Jyotiṣa Fundamentals: My Master’s Words (2012th ed.). (n.d.). Rama.)

Lagna (Ascendant) and Rectified Horoscopy

On this day, between 6:58am and 9:13am, Libra was rising on the Eastern horizon of Krishnagar, West Bengal (approximately 26degLibra). This gives us the following birth chart containing Libra Rising as follows, which we can assume is reasonably correct, however still subject to some tweaking via rectification:



 

A few Basic Janma Raśī Observations


The Penultimate Yogi and Scholar

Lahiri Mahasaya was renowned for his profound intelligence and scholarly attainment, traits that were underpinned by his philosophical inquiries and spiritual teachings.


This intellectual depth is reflected astrologically by the conjunction of Jupiter, the lord of the 3rd and 6th houses (also acting as BK, denoting Guru Upadeśa), and Mercury, the lord of the 9th and 12th houses, positioned directly in the Ascendant. This denotes intelligence, selflessness, honorable and impulsive, well-educated and dharmic, potentially sickly, yet at the same time bringing deeper qualities of Mokṣa to the fore. This conjunction not only signifies a scholarly demeanor but also enhances his selfless and ethical nature, forming a Guru-Śiṣya yoga that positioned him as both a paramount teacher and an eternal student.


Courage and Expression

His expressive courage and the bold articulation of his spiritual insights marked him as a charismatic leader and teacher.


Astrologically, this is represented by Ātmakāraka Mars as 2nd and 7th lord, positioned in the 3rd house of courage and communication. Mars' placement here denotes his capacity to amass spiritual wealth and to communicate his teachings effectively. Being a natural malefic in an Upachaya house, Mars performs robustly, indicating a forthright and sometimes assertive nature. In this case, it forms Viparītā Argalā, showing one possesses a straightforward, fearless or assertive edge to gain what they need in life.


Spiritual Depth and Minimal Material Dependence

Despite his deep spiritual insights, Lahiri Mahasaya led a life marked by minimal material dependence, a reflection of his belief in the transient nature of worldly possessions.


This spiritual detachment is astrologically indicated by the strategic placements of Rāhu and Ketu in their Mūlatrikona signs, and the Sun in the 12th house, a position which diminishes the focus on material wealth and enhances humility, as well as his ability to help others overcome spiritual obstacles. Note that Sun in 12th, which is less than ideal as 11th lord, is a Maraṇa-Kāraka-Sthāna position where Sun acts like it is dying, and the houses it rules suffers (in this case, 11th house of gains). We can also see that any aspirations towards building a larger vehicle for his teachings (such as an organization, linked to 11th house), would likely be avoided out of personal preference. We also cannot ignore that for Libra rising individuals, Sun is also acting as Bhādakeśa (which acts like Rāhu), showing that when it goes to the 12th, obstacles can be removed, we can also say the native helps others by removing obstacles in their lives, through his humility and service.


Emotional Intelligence and Communicative Abilities

Emotionally intelligent and highly communicative, Lahiri Mahasaya was adept at using his insights to guide his teachings.


The Moon, situated in the 9th house in Gemini, underscores his emotional predisposition towards Dharma, higher philosophical and potential for spirituality. As the 10th lord, this brings up an aspect of supporting his life's work, performing positive karmas, and adhering to a dharmic lifestyle. In a Mercurial sign, one becomes emotionally predisposed towards understanding, communication, writing and learning. This placement supports his work and highlights his path of Dharma, with the Moon in Ārdrā Nakṣatra (with Rāhu, the natural kāraka of mantra, yantra and Prāṇayāma) reinforcing the significance of breath control techniques that are central to Kriya Yoga.


Career and Karmic Challenges

In his professional life, Lahiri Mahasaya evidently balanced his roles as a government servant and a spiritual guide with great finesse, leveraging his intellectual prowess in both arenas.


Venus, ruling the Lagna and 8th houses and situated in the 10th house, indicates his dynamic application of intelligence in his career, in the realm of managing finance (8th house can be equated with loans, or managing the financial assets of others). However, Venus’s placement in Gaṇḍānta in Aśleṣā Nakṣatra also may have brought about some karmic challenges, marking potential periods of upheaval and transformation that were pivotal to his spiritual evolution.


Endurance and Nature Affinity

Lastly, his enduring work ethic and affinity for nature were qualities that resonated through his life’s work.


Saturn, as Yogakāraka, forming a conjunction with Venus, creates a Lakṣmi-Nārāyaṇa Yoga in his chart, which facilitated his tireless dedication to spiritual teaching and his deep connection with the natural world. Ketu does not have any direct association with this yoga in the birth horoscope, and if it did, he may very well have become a renunciate due to Tapasvi Yoga (one can conclude that since Ketu is in Venus’s sign in the Navāṁśa, the inclination towards asceticism was destined, but only after marriage.


Confirming the Correct Navāṁśa

With a birth time of 8:51am, we get Taurus rising as part of the Navāṁśa lagna (this was the calculated Navāṁśa Lagna between 08:43:00 - 08:58:07AM). This places the Navāṁśa rising lord Venus in the 10th house, and Mulatrikona Lord Moon in a Maraṇa-Kāraka-Sthāna position conjunct Mars in the 8th house, showing either difficulty in married life or even getting married in the first place. 8th house shows karmic debt and potential for separation in marriage. Sun in the first house can show proficiency in rhythmical or stringed instruments, propensity towards government service, and even spirituality, but the Kārakāṁśa placement in 8th house of Sagittarius is suspect. Furthermore, with this placement, one may have anticipated some difficulties or even health problems. We can conclude, through this rationale, as well as other deeper insights, that this Navāṁśa does not seem to fit the figure.



This Navāṁśa with Taurus rising remains somewhat questionable in my mind.


At 8:58am – the Navāṁśa Lagna shifts to Gemini rising, and while Mars still remains in its Maraṇa-Kāraka-Sthāna position, thereby damaging some of the sattva of married life without any severe breakage (8th lord Saturn is now exalted, conjunct the 1st and 4th lord), several things now change under this timing, relating to his fortunes…Venus is exalted in 10th house, in Pisces, showing a potential for teaching of Asūras (worldly-minded folk) as a means for income. Sun is also in Maraṇa-Kāraka-Sthāna, which is less than ideal for marriage, but Mercury and Saturn are in the 5th house, showing strong skillset towards traditional knowledge, accounting, writing, and yoga. This seems to fit a bit better, based on the facts and historic details we know.



 

Life events (for future horoscopic mapping):

  • 1832 (Winter of 1833) - A flood killed his mother and destroyed their home. After this tragedy, the family moved to Varanasi, where he received education in philosophy, Sanskrit, and English.

  • 1846 - His father arranged for him to be married to Srimati Kashi Moni.

  • 1848 - Completed college education.

  • 1851 - At the age of 23, Lahiri Mahasaya took the post of accountant in the Military Engineering Department of the English government.

  • 1852-05-31 - Death of his father.

  • 1861-11-27 - He received initiation into Kriya Yoga during an excursion into the Himalayan Foothills (note the discrepancy with the year 1868 mentioned for a related event[1]***).

  • 1863 - His son, Tinkari Lahiri Mahasaya, was born.

  • 1864 - Purchased a house at Garureswar and started residing there.

  • 1864-03-24 - His Highness the Maharaja of Nepal appointed him as tutor for the fourth prince, Narendra Krishna Sha alias Khala.

  • 1865 - His son, Dukari Lahiri Mahasaya, was born.

  • 1866-03-04 - Her Highness, the Queen of Nepal, reappointed him as a tutor for the royal family of Nepal.

  • 1867-04-05 - Appointed as a private tutor for the son of Harashankar Prasad Singh, an affluent businessman of Kashi.

  • 1868 - His daughter, Harimati, was born.

  • 1870 - His daughter, Harikamini, was born.

  • 1873 - His daughter, Mahimohini, was born.

  • 1895-09-26, 5:25 PM IST - Mahasamadhi (passed away).

 

Next steps:


In a future article, if there is some academic support for this, I will endeavor to examine the Marga of his life through a more spiritual lens. This will include mapping life events to his Viṁśottarī Daśā and planetary transits, as provided above.

 


 

Footnotes:


[1] This date is provided by Yogi Niketan, and year is further corroborated by Yogananda, thereby increasing credibility from separate sources. However, Purana Purush states “On 23rd November 1868, Shama Churn received the order for His transfer to Ranikhet. Here He was promoted to the post of Head-clerk and His salary gained an increase to some extent. Leaving behind His wife, sons and daughters at Kashi and relinquishing the domestic comforts and pleasures, He set out for distant Ranikhet on November 27, 1868.” So there seems to be some discrepancy here, potentially stemming to the difference between Gregorian and Bengali calendars.

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