"What is the purpose of our existence?" “How can we live a more purpose driven life”?
For these broader questions of life, we turn to the ninth house, Sagittarius (the natural ninth house in the zodiac) and Jupiter. These forces in the horoscope are primarily responsible for kindling our search for beliefs that give meaning and purpose to our life. When Dashas relating to these forces awaken in our horoscope we set sail in search for teachers and teachings that can expand our mind, broaden our knowledge and develop a belief system that will answer life’s bigger questions.
More than two decades ago, my Ninth house Jupiter journey began with a simple and short initiation ceremony to receive a mantra from, Amma. When it was my turn in the mantra line the attendant swami (monk) asked me to write down the form of the divine I believed in. Raised in a secular Indian family and very new to the “Guru scene”, I was already feeling nervous and out of place, so I looked incredulously at the swami and said. “I don’t know any form”, in my head I thought “God does not have a form, so I am not quite sure what they want me to say”. I remember that most people around me were quite comfortable with choosing a name and form. Some chose Krishna, Shiva or Shakti. Some chose Jesus or Mother Mary. Others settled on more universal principles such as Peace, Music, Freedom and Love.
“Formless, formless”, the swami told Amma’s attendant, as I was asked to kneel and then gently shoved closer to Amma – Amma was multitasking, hugging and initiating at the same time, as she so often does. With a family of four already in her motherly arms receiving a hug, she pulled me closer to her with her other arm and showered some flower petals on my head and then her voice boomed in my ear as she spoke the “formless” mantra three times. I was moved out quickly as there were many hundreds waiting their turn.
330 Million Belief Systems
In Hinduism everything in the universe emanates from the ONE ultimate reality, which is the genderless, formless, unknowable and indescribable principle called Brahman. As such, Hinduism is pantheistic, where God and the Universe are the same. But Hinduisms is also polytheistic with thousands and thousands of gods, goddesses and deities. Although no one has counted all of them, according to Wikipedia there may be as many as 330 million Gods and deities in Hinduism. All these have names and describable characteristics, many also have thousands of names within names re-counting each of their unique exalted traits.
Some deities represent forces of nature like mountains and rivers, others moral codes and some our impulses and desires. Some exalt courage others exalt compromise. Some symbolize an aspect of universal knowledge like music or mathematics. Some create the universe, others destroy, and some help sustain it. Sun, Moon, the planets, Rahu and Ketu and the Nakshatras are also represented by deities – invoking these deities through myths, ritual and mantras are used as karmic remedies in Vedic Astrology.
Although the polytheistic side of Hinduism is seen by many as primitive idol worship, this is the most profound and progressive expression of pluralism and tolerance in belief. The ability to choose to believe in the divine form that inspires you, is an ancient tradition in Hinduism and is referred to as your Ishta Devata or personal favorite deity. Traditionally, most practicing Hindu families also had their own family deity known as the Kula Devata, allowing people to worship their chosen form based on family tradition, community and regional practices. One of the reasons Hinduism is the only religion that does not have rituals or systems designed for conversion is because “Truth” or Brahman can be arrived at from millions of differently held beliefs. No religion, belief, philosophy, god or deity has the monopoly on the Truth.
More importantly, it is not just what you believe but “how” you believe.
To understand what and how we believe, we turn to the Vedic horoscope.
Ninth House – The house of our Beliefs, Fate and Fortune
The Dharma (belief) houses One, Five and Nine are considered the most auspicious in the horoscope because they are primarily responsible for producing our core beliefs and ultimately our destiny. The first house is our self-image, a well-disposed first house helps us believe in our self and our abilities. The fifth house shows our unique creative self-expression and inspirations – hence the Ishta Devata, or the form of the divine that inspires us can be seen here. The ninth house shows our self-hood in the greater social context. It shows our philosophies, principles, purpose and the spiritual and religious instincts we prescribe to. The Kula Devata, or the core beliefs of our family traditions can be seen here.
The ninth house is often referred to as the house of long distance journeys, the impulse of this house can prompt us to set sail on voyages of discovery to explore foreign cultures, in search for broader meaning and purpose than that offered by our own social circumstances. Our karma around gurus, teachers and mentors are seen here. People with a strong ninth house also make good teachers and inspirational leaders and attract people seeking mentorship. In today’s world this can also be achieved without physical travel by attending universities, lectures, classes, books and motivational events. Indeed, Google and internet can now serve as a long-distance journey, much like this article in your Inbox.
You can always spot a strong Ninth House person, they will philosophize, proselytize and give meaning to even in the most mundane of situations. One thing is for sure they will seek some cause, religion, or philosophy to belong to or stand for.
The Ninth House is not just the books we have read, the seminars we have attended or the knowledge we acquired in our head. Although these are part of the Ninth House journey, we have to be careful that our beliefs are integrated at the heart level and not just an intellectual exercise. Gathering information is the domain of the third house, which is opposite the Ninth. Too much third house knowledge and belief can obviate the search for deep and direct experiences, such as meditation or bringing our beliefs into real world experiences, that the Ninth House requires.
The Ninth house is called both the dharma (belief) and also bhagya (fate and fortune) house because of its potential for self-growth. Combining a more expansive mind with the pursuit of a purpose driven life, it becomes the house of good fortune. As such, the ninth house determines our fate and fortune more than any other house because what ultimately manifest in our life is what we believe to be the Truth in our deepest core - which is reflected in "how" we believe.
How We Believe Matters
The ninth house shows how we decide what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong. Affliction to the Ninth house, Jupiter or Sagittarius can lead to beliefs that are harmful and counterproductive to our own as well as society’s well being. Psychologist tell us that we learn to build beliefs faster from harmful experiences than positive ones. Getting caught in inaccurate perception and false beliefs is easy to do. These are not always the product of some external con man or cult leader. It is usually our own unconscious limiting belief patterns learnt in early childhood confirming themselves. Building on themselves harmful beliefs multiply to become misguided core beliefs. “This is how the world works", “this is the right and only way”, “they are either with us or against us”, "if I can just believe in this I will never get hurt again" are all examples of limiting beliefs that are fear driven. Securing these beliefs in place is not faith in our higher calling, but often fear that if we go against the belief, deep personal needs will be harmed.
Afflictions to the ninth house can also make our faith uncertain, impatient and extreme. When what we believe works only a little bit we are most at risk of fanaticism and imposing our beliefs on others. When we our solid and secure in our beliefs we have no need to convince others. Nor do we have the desire to convert or push our agenda on others. Too dominant a ninth house or Jupiter can also make us a slave to our beliefs. Here we run the risk of filling our mind with ideas and beliefs and confirmation bias that can make us closed minded even as we expand our mind. Many religious, political and spiritual groups exploit this human weakness to keep people enslaved to the group.
A well-disposed ninth house is one that is open minded, pluralistic and tolerant. It has faith and high ideals, but never gets boxed into just one way of thinking. It understands that there are countless paths to the divine Truth.
House of Father, Lineage and Hero Worship
The Ninth house is also considered the link between you and your paternal tribe and lineage. As the house of mentorship, it is often attributed to the father figure in your life, as well as the heroes we worship. It shows the type of ethical, spiritual, religious and philosophical mentorship we received from our elders.
My father is a Saturn man, self-made, pragmatic, ethical, hardworking and realistic. My ninth house follows in his footsteps by searching out teachings and traditions, which expose the pitfalls of unchallenged and unquestioned beliefs, even the most well-intentioned ones. Vedic Astrology has taught me that each horoscope is unique and there are countless ways in which human consciousness expresses itself and takes form. Vedic Astrology as a spiritual path offers a 360 degree view of life, not just vision and transcendence, like many other spiritual practices.
The story of my mantra initiation does have a twist though. After I received the formless mantra, I practiced it sincerely for many months. Until one day I discovered I did have a personal deity (Ishta Devata) that inspired me. It was clear as day when I knew the form that I wanted to worship - the divine essence in the selflessness and sacrifice of Motherhood. One pointed focus on Motherhood is the theme of my maternal lineage. Two years later I was initiated into my new mantra “mother love”, or Amma, which I have used for more than two decades.