Vedic astrology is one of the oldest forms of astrology. It evolved over 5,000 years ago and is based on a body of knowledge known as the ‘Vedas,’ which translates to ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom,’ and is referred to as Jyotish, — the ‘light of the heavenly bodies’. Today, Vedic astrology is acknowledged as one of the most powerful forms of astrology in practice and is followed by millions around the world.
While Western astrology is known for its emphasis on the psychological nature and personality of the individual, Vedic astrology’s primary focus is on predicting cycles and events of the future, putting more emphasis on understanding when certain events are likely to take place. Vedic astrology gives a better view of: a person’s karmic tendencies and when such tendencies are likely to manifest for that person through a unique system of planetary time cycles, called ‘dashas,’ for which there is no corresponding method in Western astrology. One of the aphorisms offered by this body of knowledge is: ‘
- The planets in Vedic astrology are referred to as ‘grahas’ and ancient scriptures refer to them as the lords of karma and destiny. It is believed that the birth chart of an individual is based on their past karma, which is bestowed upon them by the nine planets. However, it is not Vedic astrology’s purpose to replace an individual’s responsibility to decide what is best for them. The role of astrology is to make one aware of the presence or absence of certain tendencies, and should be used as a tool for making better decisions. Ultimately, the purpose of astrology is self-knowledge, self-awareness and improvement.
- Vedic astrology follows the same combinations of the houses, signs and planets as those in Western astrology. But for those of us familiar with the Western birth chart, there will be many differences. The Vedic birth chart is square, instead of the round chart wheel of Western astrology. The houses, signs and planets also take on different meaning under Vedic astrology. The more recently discovered outer planets — Neptune, Pluto and Uranus are not considered in Vedic astrology for the purposes of interpreting a chart, however, the Lunar Nodes are. The North Node is known as Rahu and the South Node as Ketu.
Each planet is also given rulership over a particular sign of the zodiac and it is referred to as its lord. The ruling planet transfers a large part of its influence upon the sign it rules and planet ruler ships play a very important part in Vedic science.
Another major difference between the two is that Western astrology uses the Tropical Zodiac, which is based on the equinoxes. The beginning of the Tropical Zodiac or its first degree of Aries is always with the spring or vernal Equinox. Vedic astrology uses the Sidereal Zodiac, which tracks planetary movements against the actual movement of the stars, and the first degree of Aries or the start of the Sidereal Zodiac starts approximately 24 degrees ahead of that of the Tropical Zodiac. So unless you were born between the 15th or 20th of any month, you will find that your Western Sun sign and ascendant, as well as some of the planets are moved back by one sign in your Vedic chart.
Western astrology considers the Sun as the center of our universe, and therefore the most significant influence in our lives. Vedic astrology, on the other hand, uses the 27 constellations of the Moon — called the Lunar Mansions or Nakshatras — as the primary source of predictive techniques. The Sun represents one’s soul while the Moon represents one’s mind. Both are important, and both have a significant place in astrology.
There is a great debate going on between Sidereal (Eastern) and Tropical (Western) astrologers, the two largest groups of horoscope- zodiac astrology.
One group says that astrology in the West, the Tropical system, is unscientific, New Age or Hippy or for those who are superstitious or eccentric and generally not accepted by rational logical thinkers like astronomers and scientists.
The other group uses the Vedic astrology of the East, the Sidereal system, which is scientifically accurate and true to the actual, measurable, observable positions of the planets in their orbits according to present day astronomers and scientists. It is also called Jyotish, the ancient astrology of India, where it is held in high esteem by many scientific, astronomically minded people and the public at large.
This is the reason why a growing number of Western, Medieval and Hellenistic astrologers are now choosing to use Sidereal rather than Tropical charts.
Tropical Moving star astrology in the West, is based on a system that is symbolic rather than factually accurate. It is based on the Sun passing into the first degree of Aries at the Spring Equinox, when in fact this is now in error by more than 24 degrees and this gap between the two systems is growing larger each year
Some astrologers make the observation that as there are several major systems of astrology in the world, why choose a method of astrology that has little to do with the actual position of the planets, why not choose a method that has everything to do with physical accuracy, according to modern astronomy?
Does it matter to the over all result or reading? Many say that it doesn’t matter which system you use, as it is the skill of the astrologer and their intuition that is the most important factor.
A good astrologer knows that to simply look at one aspect of a chart such as a Sun sign, will giving you only a glimpse of one aspect of the person. To look more comprehensively, each planet must be considered along with the whole chart synthesized and analyzed. At some point, a good astrologer goes beyond his or her tools and calculations, using their right and left-brain together, as well as their intuitive and psychic ability, to tap into aura or cosmic energy for more guidance. Astrology is a spiritual science.
Regardless of the competency of the method, or the analytical analysis of the astrologer, it is their interpretation, which is the most important for the client along with their ability to guide you in a non-judgment compassionate manner.
However, given that we have a choice, most use a system of chart generation, that uses accurate placement of planets, a sidereal chart.
At best a 80% accuracy can be expected of even the Vedic Astrological system, because there is always the factor of free will that cannot be computed.
Sidereal astrology is known as Fixed star astrology and is fixed by the observable, measurable phenomena of the position of the Sun going into the first degree of Aries against a backdrop of fixed stars (constellations) that remain constant and have nothing to do with seasons.
A sidereal chart will contain accurate placements of all points in the chart as recognised by modern astronomy or an astronomical ephemeras.
Tropical Astrology is known as the Moving star system and is a symbolic system based on the Sun Earth relationship and its seasons. The tropical system is based on the precession of the equinoxes and moves backwards by 50.3 seconds per year, or 1 degree every 72 years. In 283 AD the two systems were in unison, as the precession of the equinoxes had completed a cycle and had come back to the actual or sidereal placement. A complete cycle of the precession of the equinoxes takes approximately 25,000 years. At present the Tropical system is 24 degrees away from the sidereal system and is continuing to move away each year.
By 11,200 years time approximately, the Sun will go into the 1st degree Libra at the Spring equinox, which means that the Tropical system will have moved approximately 180 degrees away and will be opposite Aries, the place at which it started at the beginning of the cycle.
What is the difference between Vedic astrology and Western astrology?
Vedic astrology is Sidereal astrology, which is also known as Fixed star astrology. Western astrology is Tropical astrology or the Moving star system, which is governed by the precession of the equinoxes.
Around 283 AD the two systems were in unison, but since then the Tropical system has gradually moved away from the Fixed star system, due to the precession of the equinoxes, by over 23 degrees if you were born in the 1950’s and 24 degrees if you are born now. The Tropical System continues to move out further each year and will continue this motion for the next 11,000 years or so before it starts to move back again.
This means that a birth chart drawn up in the two systems can vary by more than 23-24 degrees. For example, if you consider yourself an Aquarian (Sun in Aquarius) in the Western system, it might be the case that your Sun is actually in Capricorn. In many cases this means that your chart will change significantly from the Western Tropical moving star system to the Vedic Sidereal Fixed star system.
However, the Vedic chart is scientifically accurate and will give significant accurate information about a person in terms of psychology, practical and spiritual areas of life, as well as pinpointing significant periods of destiny and change.
Vedic astrology has many extra tools to use for chart interpretation starting with the natal chart and transits as in Western astrology and also up to 60 divisional or harmonic charts. Each one for a different aspect of life eg marriage, successes, children or siblings and so on. Varshaphal -annual charts, Dashas- planetary periods (this is not transits), Shad bala, strength of planets and many more. In addition the interpretation is often different from the Western perspective.
It is important to understand the origins of Vedic astrology (Sidereal fixed star). Vedic astrology is Ancient Indian astrology that has been passed down to the present from a largely oral tradition going back in the mists of time in the Indus valley of India, with some historic manuscripts dating its origins to more than 5,000 years BC. Vedic astrology along with Ayurveda and Yoga come from the Vedas. Vedic astrology is the foremost of the 6 Vedangus and Ayurveda is the foremost of the 4 Upavedas.
The Vedas come from a yogic perception of reality and also contain many spiritual teachings such as the Rig Veda which is probably the oldest book in the world and the most fundamental of the 4 Vedas.
Vedic astrology is known as Jyotish and is known as the Eye of the Vedas, as it is said to be the “Study of Light” or Jyotirveda the “Science of Light.” In short it can shine a light on your life with the purpose of guiding you to your highest potential.
Earthly existence takes on many aspects and we must master them all Dharma, Materiality, Desires and Spirituality, if we are to reach liberation. In the West, there is often a great deal of conflict and confusion around materiality, wealth, and spirituality. In the Vedic tradition it is much clearer.
In fact you can’t avoid mastering your material existence or relationships, responsibilities and desires, if you are to go onto the final stages of liberation. Coming to know yourself through this system can be a great help to you in practical matters, relationships, compatibility for marriage, fertility cycles, psychological and emotional understanding and personal or spiritual development. It can help to relieve a great deal of suffering. Through coming to know yourself, you can reach a state where you can live in Light, Bliss and Love and merge with universal Oneness. Vedic astrology was a gift from the Gods to us, to help us deal with the complexities of life and help us live in harmony with ourselves, in our relationships, and our environment.
Vedic Astrology has many tools to help with analysis. It divides part of analysis using mathematic relationships and the accuracy is 100% with use of computers, the rest is dependent on the astrologers competence.
One powerful tool is the Natal (birth) chart and up to 60 harmonic or Divisional charts and a unique system of planetary periods called Dashas that have nothing to do with transits or solar or lunar returns.
In addition, we have Transits, Nakshatras- Lunar Mansions, Yogas- planetary combinations, Shad Bala- strength of planets, Murhurta –timing of events, Ashtakavarga and more.