Sunday, August 09, 2015

Pressfield's Resistance and Vedic Astrology

Grahas (Planets) and their play-

In my work with horoscopes from around the world, I have consistently found that the archetypal planetary energies of Vedic astrology, giving play to the Karma that defines lives, are uniform. The only thing which then remains to be done is to apply their impact to people and their life paths, with astute awareness of the contours of a given culture, geographical character, history and social mores.

Pressfield’s Resistance-

One such planetary energy is that which often requires an elevation of the self to counter its operation. This is the energy of opposition, of setback, of challenge and impediment.
Steven Pressfield in his work, emanating from film and writing has called it Resistance. In Jyotiṣa or Vedic astrology, this is the work of planet Śani (Shani or Saturn).

[Karmic resistance as viewed in Vedic astrology is a wider metaphysical concept than Pressfield’s Resistance but there are benefits to be derived from examining the latter in the framework of the former, and this is the driving force behind this paper.]

Features of Pressfield’s Resistance-

Pressfield’s resistance has some standard features, and briefly encapsulated, these are that resistance is external and exists in direct proportion to the positive task sought to be accomplished. Whether this proportionality is indeed Kārmically correct or not, is irrelevant. What is of importance is to note that impediment as a quality in life, is a major force and it is prudent to recognise it for what it is.
The other facet of this quality which is put forward by Pressfield is that it is external. I find that this proposition is worthy of being studied in Jyotiṣa.

Is Kārmic Resistance External, like Pressfield’s Resistance?

I have stated that to impede and obstruct is the work of the planet Saturn. The Kāraka Bhāvas (Karaka Bhavas or the significator houses) of Shani (Śani) are the 6th and 8thhouses from the Lagna especially when we discuss resistance. Śani is also the Naisargika Kāraka for the 12th Bhāva from the Lagna but the 12th House does not necessarily obstruct.

The 6th House is definitely external to us and embodies inimical forces in Karma. Of course, these come to us as we are reborn and have done something in the past lives to receive this, but in the context of this very life, the 6th House is external. It is also symbolic of the general nuisances, distress in general, illness, financial troubles and adversaries. These are the hallmarks both of Pressfield’s resistance and of the Kārmic opposition that we endure in our actions, projects and endeavours.

The 8th House, though, cannot be taken to be external even in the context of this lifetime and is characterised by Nija Doṣa or own flaws. It is a manifestation of chronic issues and since the manifestation comes from within, we cannot characterise it as external in any manner. This is the reason that we use the 8thHouse as a primary determinant for gauging the impact of planetary curses. The 8thHouse is then another vortex of the self, the sinning self and ensures that the manifestation of adversity is felt by the individual and by none other. So the source and the destination are both centred in the self when it comes to the 8th House and this resistance is then not external.

Pressfield often relies on the essence he has derived from Judaism and in this paper we are both examining his ideas and imparting width to them with the massive Kārmic wisdom of Vedic astrology. We are in fact fleshing out the pragmatic thrust of the idea of resistance with the age-old wisdom of the Ṛṣis as it relates to ideas of adversity, impediment and torment in fulfilling objectives.

Resistance in Vedic Astrology-

We have seen that Pressfield’s resistance is stated as being external and at a behavioural level it is a valuable idea insofar as it asserts that it is something other than the self. Sometimes, when battered with incessant obstacles, a person might start identifying with the challenges and identity-issues might develop including those related to self-esteem. Pressfield is at pains to say that no matter how much resistance we experience, that resistance is not us. Now, we have seen that the 8th House and lord, for instance, do not represent external forces but they can be distinguished from the extant self indicated by the Lagna and the Lagna Lord. Even where the 8th Lord is the same planet as the Lagneśa, when it is acting as the 8th Lord it cannot act as the Lagneśa and vice versa as the Lagna cannot be harmed by the Lagneśa.

So, behaviourally, and at the level of the daily work that we do, we can well use the principle that our impediment is not the thinking self shown by the Lagna and the Lagna Lord, rather the impediment or resistance is being experienced by the Lagneśa and the existential space of the Lagna.            

Indicators of Karmic resistance in Vedic astrology-
  • Śani (Saturn)
  • The 6th and 8th Houses and lords in the Rāśi Chakra
  • The Bādhaka and the Bādhakeśa (Badhaka and Badhakesha)

Other planetary correlates of Pressfield’s Resistance-

Steven Pressfield goes on to say that according to him there are three problems entrepreneurs are likely to face (lawyers, writers, creative people, businessmen, and freelancers of all sorts- anyone wanting to do anything in life). He also says that this can be applied to anyone anywhere in life irrespective of what they are doing. We can have no metaphysical objection to this premise in Vedic astrology for who does not have Saturn or the 6th and 8th Houses and lords or the Bādhaka and Bādhakeśa in the Rāśi Chakra.

The first is resistance, the other is too much rationalising and the third is people around us, who either knowingly or unknowingly may deter us from our true goals.

In Jyotiṣa then if there is too much Vāyu Tattwa influence on the determinants of personality, we would be well-advised to mitigate this through remedies. The afflicted benefics Mercury (Budha) and Moon (Cañdra) can become malefic with inappropriate associations leading to friends and family acting in an adversarial manner at times.

Not just Saturn-

The question also arises that what happens when Śani is the Lagneśa in the Rāśi Chakra. The Lagneśa cannot impede itself.   In such cases the other determinants of the resistance will attain greater focus though much as the Yogakāraka Śani still causes the changes in the Sāḍe-Sātī for say Tulā Lagna, the Śani Lagnas Makara and Kumbha will have some natural obstruction interwoven in the very fabric of life.

Even in such cases, it could not be said with impunity that the Graha is causing it.
More on the nature of the working of the planet Saturn and the resistance it precipitates is explored in a tripartite article-

Pressfield’s Take-Away Solutions and Jyotiṣa-

Pressfield, at the behavioural level, recommends an absence of too much thinking, keeping at it and an element of faith.

The Jyotiṣa correlate of the absence of too much Vāyu is the presence of Sattwa Guṇa and doing in general. While Sattwa is usually confused with a beatific smile and doing nothing, it is not so. Sattwa is benevolent action. Rajas Guna is creative action. So, we must look to Sūrya (the Sun), Gurū (Guru or Jupiter) and Cañdra (the Moon or Chandra), and also Śukra (Shukra or Venus) and Budha as being the antidotes for too much debilitating thought.

Regularity of action and control of recurrence cannot come better than from the Sun, who rises for us unfailingly everyday.

Faith is the eternal wisdom of Gurū and this will bind us to our lives in the best possible ways. Gurū has moved to Leo recently, about which you can read here-


(Note- A Newsletter form of this article may be found at-

Just one quality of impediment or resistance has taken us deeper and we have simply touched upon the subject. For the contemporary person, Vedic astrology at this level can harness all the positives and the Karmic inclinations for a lifetime and enable us to reach our own apogee. Not just resistance then, but the recognition and affirmation of our selves not just at the overall level of the Rāśi Chakra but in all specific and distinct areas of life indicated by the Varga Cakras. The more things change, the more they remain the same and to address this paradox we can do well to benefit from the teachings of the Ṛṣis passed on by the Brahmins, even in the Kaliyuga-

Some of my more recent work may be accessed at the following links-

Anurag Sharma

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