Any symbolism of Astrology in Dhamma?

(What suttas has connection with Astrology that you see possible)

I can’t quite remember the passage but there is a point in the Pali Canon, I think, where the Buddha says that fortune telling (including astrology I assume) is not to be taken stock in and that it’s not a living in line with the Dhamma. But as with all Buddhist approaches to these actions I think it’s a “do at your own risk” kind of thing–the Dhamma as spoken by the Buddha has a stance on it, it’s up to you to see if taking it on is conducive to awakening.

I might be wrong though or misremembering the connection to the Pali Canon so if anyone has corrections please feel free to do so.

1 Like

I’m more interested if they used symbolism of Astrology in Pali Canon. I didn’t clarify enough

1 Like

Similar things are said many times, but I believe generally in the context of monastic life.

E.g. “astrology—an unworthy branch of knowledge, a wrong livelihood” - SN28.10

My reading of it is less that the Buddha disbelieves in fortune telling, or even if he does, that he cares, but rather that he doesn’t want the monastic community to degrade into cheap wizards-for-hire, as has happened repeatedly. Monks are supposed to “earn” their keep through practice and teaching the dhamma. Anything else they do, whether it’s running errands or wizardry, threatens to erode this relationship. But he goes into much more detail much more frequently about wizardry instead of errands because of a natural human tendency to associate wise persons like monks and nuns with wizardry (etymologically wiz=wise, ard=person, ry = stuff such a person does).

In line with this, I do not believe that the Buddha ever uses the symbolism of astrology in the canon. There are some other portents he does employ, such as those surrounding his birth, and some related to preternatural phenomenon he directly witnesses (e.g. he says the placement of war tents is a sign of where Devas reside). I also may have just not noticed the use of scientifically-verified portents, like signs that the weather is about to change (e.g. green skies take warning).


What about the gods? Aren’t they maybe symbolism for astrology. Even the Buddha. What if the whole story is astrological? Things like Buddha itself with two main disciples might have symbolism in it. Even the other disciples

For one to be sure one needs to know Indian Astrology.

Oh lol. That one I have no idea, now I wonder the same thing.

Thanks for the reference! I knew it was somewhere there.

Although yeah I’m a little…confused with both Theravada and Mahayana temples having fortune-telling shrines, although not all temples have it, of course.

Think about it. Buddha is the Kinsmen of the Sun. That’s symbolism already. And at the end of a conversion the Sangha put that he drove away darkness. :thinking:


“The moon is the best of celestial bodies, because [the months] are designated by it, as when it is said, “Today is Kattikā, today is Rohiṇī,” and because it gives off light, and because of its gentleness. The sun the best of things that shine, because it is foremost of shining things.”

Excerpt From
The Suttanipata

This material may be protected by copyright.

Pali Canon names the Father of Buddha. The Sun. The sun mostly refers to the center of the human body. The solar plexus.

Of previous Buddha is said

There’s no other star in the world
that is higher than you, O Sage.

Aren’t these just metaphors about months and planets–I was under the assumption that stars and constellations would be more at play, although I don’t know much about Vedic Astrology.

Yes. But it fall under astrology when you know about that

The wheel of the zodiac is divided into three groups of four signs each (3 X 4= 12), and these four signs each represent one of the four elements, fire, earth, air, water in that order. The three groups show a progression beginning> maturity> decline, so the wheel of astrology both western and Chinese is a more defined description of the cycle of impermanence.

In Sri Lanka the following is mentioned which refers to right effort, connected with AN 4.13:

  1. Effort required to begin a particular action (arambha dhatu viriya)
  2. Effort required to sustain an action in spite of obstacles (nikkama dhatu viriya)
  3. Effort required to continue till the completion of an action (parakkama dhatu viriya)

This refers to the same sequence as the function of the three divisions of the zodiac, Aries> Cancer, beginning-gestation, not yet self-reliant, Leo>Scorpio, individual identity emergence and development, Saggittarius>Pisces, maturity, philosophical development, decline, death.

This shows how the path deals skillfully with conditioned phenomena.


It’s an interesting question, and one that I don’t believe has been properly studied.

In mythology, we often find that astrology has hidden inflences of correlates that are not at all obvious. For example, in the Greek story of Jason and the Argonauts, each stage of their journey connects to a particular constellation. The story as a whole then tells of the changing of the seasons.

One of the modern insights into the Gospels is that the form of the Gospel narrative mirrors the events of the Jewish calendar. These events, marked in the stars, are a pattern for the events in the life of Jesus. Mithraism has a similar pattern, the central myth of slaying a bull relates to the ascension of a certain constellation.

A similar idea is found in the stories of Australian Aborigines. They tell stories that relate to certain landmarks, but also to constellations and the procession of astrological events. This is one way to mark time, to retain knowledge of the changes in seasons and events.

Given that astrology was well-known in the time of the Buddha, there is every chance that similar influences might be found. It was by observing the procession of the stars that people would keep track of time. When such and such star is in such and such relation, that is when we celebrate such and such an event. For example, the dates of the Buddha’s life and the key events might be synchronized with astrological phenomena.

To understand this would take a detailed knowledge of ancient Indian astrology—which can by no means be assumed to be identical with modern astrology—and an equally detailed knowledge of the EBTs. I’m not ware of anyone who’s done this work.

One of the really lovely things about this dimension of story-telling is that it is so subtle, yet so timeless. Leaving aside the slow drift in the stars’ positions, you can go outside today and see the same stories etched there that have been told by people all over the world for thousands of years.


Wow. Bhante wrote like you can write a book about it. Thanks for the reply. :pray:t4:

I think the Buddha thought Astrology was a distraction from the spiritual life and forbade monastics to practice it:

Astrology: the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. - Oxford English Dictionary

There are some ascetics and brahmins who, while enjoying food given in faith, still earn a living by unworthy branches of knowledge, by wrong livelihood.

This includes making predictions that there will be an eclipse of the moon, or sun, or stars; that the sun, moon, and stars will be in conjunction or in opposition; that there will be a meteor shower, a fiery sky, an earthquake, thunder; that there will be a rising, a setting, a darkening, a brightening of the moon, sun, and stars. And it also includes making predictions about the results of all such phenomena. - SuttaCentral

So arguably any Astrology in the texts should not be taken to have any ‘dhammic’ value.

That’s about making this

This includes making predictions that there will be an eclipse of the moon

It’s not directly saying they couldn’t practice what is going to happen in the sky.

Neither does the Pāḷi language. But it may give one better insight into the imagery and metaphors of the Pāḷi Canon, so it is still useful to study.

This may be related to concept of Naksathra - lunar mansion.
There are 28 stars (constellations?) that regularly hidden by the moon. One of them is Kattika (Kartika).

This progression of taking turn being hidden by the moon happen throughout one year cycle, so it is one astronomy parameter to determine season and months.
Kartika month is derived from kartika naksatra

Also, this is not in Pali canon. But in Lalitavistara Sutra, every time major happening will happen, one of the constellation is mentioned. Entering the womb, birth, giving ornament, and leaving palace.
“On 15th day of waxing moon, in conjunction with constellation Pusya, Bodhisattva will be conceived in the womb of the mother who is observing posadha fast”