Category Archives: For Western Astrologers

Articles for those familiar with Western astrology who want to gain an insight into Vedic Astrology (Jyotish). Information on the key differences between Western Astrology and Vedic Astrology.

Vedic Astrology – A Paradigm Shift.

Summary: This article examines the paradigm shift needed by Western Astrologers if they are going to stand any chance of understanding the fundamental concepts involved in the predictive and preventive Vedic Astrological system. (More in-depth articles about ‘Planetary Forces’ and Karma to follow).

Jyotish – A Major Paradigm Shift for Western Astologers

A fully Self–realized Vedic Master said this about Vedic astrology:‘The purpose of astrology is to take you to the ultimate truth that the entire universe is one organism. It’s one Being, one consciousness, one Self, that manifests itself into this varied universe’. [1]

For many centuries man thought that the Sun and planets revolved around the earth and that the earth was at the centre of the universe. These ideas were very deeply ingrained in our thinking and formed a conceptual framework which affected our whole outlook on life.  The learned scholars and establishment of the time (the Church) supported these ideas.

Irrefutable scientific evidence later emerged to suggest that what had previously been taken as ‘self-evident fact’ was merely a result of an earth-centred perspective and that, contrary to what we observe, the earth and planets do indeed revolve in orbits around the Sun.

Looking back from our present time it is hard to imagine the upset this change in perspective caused and why those who supported the new theories were branded as heretics.  It is also difficult to imagine why the established ideas had so much inertia.

The above is an example of what is known as a ‘paradigm shift’.  There have been other examples.  More recently the concept of ‘evolution of the species’ had to overthrow the entrenched ideas that God, at some time in the past, created life exactly as we see it now – and that there was no room in the divine plan for changes.

Yet another paradigm-shift occurred in the field of physics when the rules of motion as laid down by Isaac Newton were found to be inadequate at explaining all observed phenomena (e.g. those occurring close to the speed of light or at the minute atomic scale).  Einstein’s’ theory of relativity and the whole of quantum physics then emerged. However, the shift from one view point to another is never easy and takes considerable time to get established in the consciousness of the general public.

Now Western Astrologers are often considered as being reasonably flexible and adaptable to ‘new ideas’. One problem with Jyotish Astrology is that it is not a ‘new idea’ – it has been in existence for thousands of years.  Another problem is that in order to be able to fully grasp ‘where it is coming from’ a major paradigm shift is going to be needed by Astrologers born and bred into Western Astrological thinking patterns.

Here are some key concepts:

Planets do not affect people

The Jyotish Astrologer realises that planets do not affect people – it is people which affect people!  In the West it is very easy to take on an ‘Astrological Victim Consciousness’ mode of thought e.g. ‘I’m having a bad time at the moment because of my Saturn transit’ i.e. Saturn is the agent responsible for my condition.  Jyotish Astrology says this is nonsense.  Any condition or situation we find ourselves in at the present is solely due to our past thoughts, words or deeds.  Of course we could argue as follows, ‘I can’t remember doing anything which would give rise to what I am now experiencing.’

The answer to this, from a Jyotish viewpoint, is very simple.  It says that our memory does not extend far enough back.  In order to understand the present we might require a memory stretching back many lifetimes.  So Jyotish has built into its structure the concepts of re-incarnation and the fruits of past actions returning to the individual.

The mechanics of Jyotish, at a fundamental level, rely on the Vedic Model of Reality: the universe and all the beings in it is an interconnected single entity!

We were not born at a particular time in the past merely by chance

We were not born at some particular time, when the planets were arranged in a particular way, merely by chance.  Jyotish Astrology comes from a tradition which does not believe that the Creator plays dice!  It would be grossly unfair if some people were born into very rich families and others into families of beggars just by accident.

Jyotish implies that we were born at a particular time and place due to our past karmas and latent impressions (samskaras). The celestial arrangement of the 9 planets amongst the twelve houses and 27 constellations (Nakshatras) at our birth simply reflects how our lives will unfold as a result of our past deeds. The moment of our incarnation on this planet therefore reflects the karmic lessons we needed to learn to maximise our evolution – and Jyotish Astrology can detect the nature and timing of the benefits we receive and challenges we face.

Planets do not emit some kind of ‘force’ that affects people

Many Western Astrologers believe that the planets emit some type of force which, as yet, has not been discovered by science, and which influences our lives.  They therefore feel that Jyotish Astrology is in some way limited as it does not use the very slow moving planets Neptune, Uranus and Pluto and thus fails to take into account the ‘forces’ emitted by these planets.

The Western Astrological concept of a planet emitting a ‘force’ that affects human beings is very mechanistic and ‘Newtonian’. Vedic Astrology realises that it is just dealing with a field of information, not a physical, or even esoteric hidden force. The planetary arrangements present at the time of birth are a type of code that can be ‘read’ by skilled Vedic Astrologers and translated into predictions.

The lack of a physical force and the acceptance that planetary arrangements merely represent information is supported by the Jyotish axiom that the ‘effects’ of planets vary markedly with the individuals’ rising sign or ascendant.  There is no such parallel in Western Astrology.

In Jyotish the planet Mars is (generally) a very positive influence in the birth chart of someone with a Leo ascendant (sign rising on the horizon at birth).  It is also (generally) an extremely negative influence for a person with a Virgo ascendant.  So the same planet signals both positive effects for some individuals and negative for others. Clearly this is not due to any physical force emanating from the planet! This gives evidence to the fact that we are really dealing with an integrated field of information (or intelligence) where the individual is linked to the Cosmic Totality.

 Jyotish offers a range of remedial measures to modify returning karmic influences

Because we are part of an integrated whole, then by participating in certain vedic procedures , performing prescribed acts of charity, reciting certain sanskrit mantras  or wearing appropriate gemstones we can modify or deflect (to a large extent) returning karmas so that we do not have to suffer the consequences in this lifetime. So, Jyotish enables us to both detect and ‘deflect’ returning karmas! [2]

Footnotes:

 [1] HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: ‘The Daily Sutra’, 20 May 2003

[2] Vedic ceremonies such as yagnas, when performed correctly by enlightened pandits are said to modify returning karmas. Also, as the universe and the beings in it are viewed as an interconnected whole, then the wearing of certain gemstones associated with  specific planets in a birthchart are said to modify returning karmas associated with those planets. The sanskrit mantras are also seen as a  means of ‘upwardly managing’ the laws of nature to modify returning karmas.

Jyotish – Sidereal Zodiac

Summary: This article examines the differences in the zodiacs use by Vedic Astrology and Western Astrology.  It explains why Jyotish uses the fixed sidereal zodiac and not the movable tropical zodiac. It shows how sun signs, ascendants and all planetary positions can appear in different signs in the two systems.

Jyotish uses the fixed Sidereal Zodiac

    • Jyotish astrology uses a different zodiac from that used in western astrology
    • The zodiacs used in both Jyotish and Western Astrology are based on an imaginary sphere in the heavens. In both systems this is divided into 12 equal parts, each of 30 degrees, just like the segments in an orange. Both zodiacs use the same sign names e.g. Aries, Taurus, etc. for each of the segments. The sun takes about one month to apparently ‘move’ through each zodiac sign.
    • Jyotish uses the fixed or sidereal zodiac. ‘Sidereal’ means ‘with respect to the stars’. So the starting point of the sidereal zodiac is permanently fixed in one position using the background of non-moving stars in our own galaxy as a reference point [1]. So, in the sidereal zodiac, the sign divisions remain forever fixed against the background of the stellar constellations. So, the starting point of the first sign Aries is always fixed in Vedic Astrology.
    • Western Astrology uses the movable, tropical zodiac. The starting point of this zodiac actually moves relative to the background of the ‘fixed’ stars over a period of time according to the position of the equinox. This movement is caused by the astronomically observable ‘precession of the equinox’ phenomenon [2].
    • So, in Western astrology the position of what is known as the sign of ‘Aries’ actually moves through the sky against the background of the fixed stars. It is not linked to a particular stellar constellation at all! Many people, including students of Western Astrology, find this fact very, very surprising.
    • The angular difference between the two zodiacs is known as the ‘ayanamsa’ and this figure increases with time [3]. Although the starting point of both zodiacs coincided about 1700 years ago, the Western astrologer’s tropical zodiac has now moved away from this position.
    • At this point in time (2018) there is a difference of about 24 degrees between the two zodiacs. Therefore, if our Sun is at 29 degrees Virgo in the Western tropical zodiac it will now be located at 29 – 24 deg. = 5 deg. Virgo in the sidereal zodiac. Notice, still in Virgo in this case in both Jyotish and Western astrology.  However, if our sun lies between 0 deg. and 24 deg. in Virgo in the Western tropical zodiac it will now be in Leo in the sidereal zodiac used in Vedic astrology. It has moved backwards in the Vedic chart by the ayanamsa amount (about 24 degrees) and ends up in the previous sign [4]. So, in this case our sun sign will now be different: Virgo in Western astrology, Leo in Jyotish! The same principle applies to all other planetary positions in our chart and to our ascendant too. This difference can explain many anomalies in charts interpreted by modern Western astrologers.
    • Astronomers often criticise Western astrologers for using the movable tropical zodiac as the sign ‘Aries’ actually moves through the sky over a period of time. However, this objection cannot be levelled against Jyotish astrology as it uses a fixed and not a movable zodiac.
    • Jyotish regards the stellar constellations or Nakshatras as being of considerable importance in chart interpretation, compatibility analysis and in determining the best time for important actions (Muhurtha). Hence it is hardly surprising that Jyotish uses a zodiac which is permanently anchored relative to the fixed stars.

Footnotes

[1] The ‘fixed stars’ are so far away from earth that their angular motion relative to our sun is extremely small, even over many thousands of years. So we can legitimately use the term ‘fixed’ or ‘immovable’.

[2] The equinox point on the Earth’s orbit around the sun moves, relative to the background of the ‘fixed’ stars, due to what is called the ‘precession of the equinox’. This is a well-defined astronomical phenomenon which is due to a slight ‘wobble’ on the Earth’s axis of spin (a bit like a spinning top whose axis itself slowly moves, tracing out a conical shape). It takes around 26,000 years for the earth to complete one precessional cycle.

[3] As of 2018 the angular difference between the two zodiacs is now about 24 degrees. This figure (or one very close to it), derived by Lahiri, is accepted by Jyotish astrologers. Most astrological tables show Lahiri’s ayanamsa. The tropical zodiac, therefore, moves  relative to the sidereal (fixed) zodiac by about one degree every 71 years. (Although this movement seems small it was observed by ancient Egyptian astronomers thousands of years ago.) Over time it makes a big difference!

[4] The difference in planetary positions between the zodiacs is now around 24 degrees. If our sun was, say 14 degrees in Virgo in Western Astrology, it will be at 14 – 24 = – 10 degrees Virgo in the Vedic system! This simply means it has has moved backwards and changed sign into the position of 20 degrees in Leo in the Vedic system (as -10 + 30 = 20). However if our sun was at 28 degrees Virgo in the Tropical zodiacit will now be at 28 – 24 = 4 degrees Virgo in the sidereal zodiac. In this case it has not changed sign

Vedic and Western Astrology: Key Differences

Summary:  This article examines the key differences between Vedic Astrology and Western Astrology. The Vedic Astrological system differs dramatically from the Western Astrological system in its origins, paradigms and methodology.

Vedic Astrology’s Concepts and Paradigms

Jyotish is predictive. It is fundamentally involved with ‘karmic engineering’. It identifies possible obstacles in life and predicts both positive and more difficult periods in the future. It attempts to detect a person’s returning karmas and predicts when they are likely to manifest.

Jyotish is preventive. It uses a wide range of remedial measures deigned to influence an individual’s returning karma.

Jyotish astrology employs techniques for predicting the optimum time to commence major undertakings e.g. starting a business, getting married, building a house, etc.

Vedic Astrology comes from the same traditions as yoga. Unlike Western Astrology, which was developed by people over centuries, Jyotish was cognized. In Vedic cognition a great seer or rishi (in this case Maharishi Parashara) connected his individual consciousness to the ‘cosmic computer’ and ‘downloaded’ the whole of Vedic Astrology’s knowledge and techniques.

Because Vedic Astrology sees the universe and the beings in it as part of an interconnected whole – a field of energy, order and ‘intelligence’, it deals with coded information. Western astrology is more ‘Newtonian’ and mechanistic in that it suggests all planets emit some type of, as yet undiscovered, force that affects humans on Earth. So every time astronomers discover a new celestial object in our solar system Western Astrology adapts and devises astrological properties for the object. Jyotish regards this as unnecessary.

Vedic Astrology’s Methods

Jyotish Astrology uses only nine Grahas – roughly translated as the nine ‘planets’ – the seven visible ‘planets’ up to and including Saturn, plus the two nodes of the Moon. Unlike Western Astrology, it does not use the planets beyond Saturn. In Vedic Astrology, all the information needed for prediction is encoded in the arrangements of the nine planets at the time of birth. In Jyotish the planets do not emit some type of, as yet undiscovered, ‘ force’ that affects individuals. It is more a matter of coded information. It is not a mechanistic ‘Newtonian force’ type of concept!

Jyotish uses the totally unique mahadasha system of prediction to delineate time periods of major karmic influence. In common with Western Astrology it also uses transits, but their effect is usually of much less importance than the mahadashas.

In Vedic Astrology an individual’s ascendant (the sign that was rising on the eastern horizon at the time of birth) is of fundamental importance. The sun sign used by Western Astrology is of relatively little importance.

Although Jyotish uses the same twelve signs of the zodiac that the Western system uses, this zodiac is permanently referenced to the fixed stars. Jyotish uses the fixed or sidereal zodiac.

The starting point of the Western Astrologer’s zodiac is referenced to the movable equinox points, not the fixed stars. This Tropical zodiac moves slowly through the sky against the background of the fixed stars. This means that the part of the zodiac called ‘Aries’ in the Western system is not actually linked to a particular constellation and changes over a period of time.

Traditional Jyotish astrology always involves the equal house concept – every house occupies 30 degrees of the sky and houses correspond exactly with signs in the sidereal zodiac. The Western system frequently uses unequal angular house divisions.