Chokoisky teaches Sanskrit and medical astrology in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and specializes in Vedic astrology. This is the astrology practiced in India, and there are some significant differences between Vedic and Western astrology (as well as some striking similarities). He writes about dharma from a viewpoint that’s informed by ancient Vedic texts, and converts it into material that’s understandable and accessible to modern Western readers.

People are familiar with the word “karma” – the rewards and debts a person brings from a past life or creates in the present. The word “dharma” is equally important but somewhat less familiar; it simply means “work.” Specifically, it’s the kind of work that a person has to do in their life for fulfilling the spiritual mandate with which they were born. Dharma isn’t as sexy as karma! However, the benefit of fulfilling dharma results in better karma, so it’s worth taking a look at Chokoisky’s book to find out how this is best accomplished.

The book begins with an overview of dharma and karma, and some easy tests to take. The five different kinds of dharma relate to the five elements: fire, water, air, earth, and spirit. Once the test questions are answered, the reader’s dharma type is easily determined. The author proceeds to give insights on the five different dharma types, their best ways to live and evolve as well as their potential pitfalls. Each dharma type section begins with a list of individuals who belong to that type. Beneficial and harmful practices of activities, mindsets, and diet and health activities are identified. The second part of the book delves more deeply into specific concerns of seasons, foods, money, profession, and health.

Chokoisky makes observations about the global culture and capitalism and the place of dharma types in the world as it is now. This is useful so the reader, of whatever dharma type, understands their role in the world and how to best function in it.

This is a well-written and well-organized book on an Eastern topic for Western readers. There isn’t much else on the shelves on this topic, so this is a welcome addition to the growing body of materials that gives access to ancient Vedic philosophy and wisdom. The book provides a very different perspective on self-understanding and personal evolution in a positive, fulfilling manner.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Author: Simon Chokoisky
Destiny Books, 2014
404 pg, $19.95 pb