Category Archives: Introduction to Jyotish

Introductory articles covering the main aims, applications and scope of Vedic Astrology – Jyotish

Introduction to Vedic Astrology – Jyotish

Summary: This article is a brief introduction to Vedic Astrology. It covers the links with yoga, and the basic aims and applications of the predictive and preventive Vedic Astrological System – also known as Jyotish or Yogic Astrology.

Links with Yoga

Jyotish is asister’ subject of Yoga and originated from the same ancient Vedic Tradition. Jyotish is also often referred to as ‘Yogic Astrology‘ or ‘Vedic Astrology’.

Jyotish is closely related to the other Yoga related sciences –  Ayurveda (a holistic Vedic Healthcare system) and Vastu (Vedic design of life-enhancing buildings and living spaces).

Jyotish Astrology, just like Ayurveda, was ‘revealed’ or ‘cognized’. It was not discovered – neither was it invented by mankind, nor developed by trial and error over a period of time.

The knowledge we get from Jyotish, when combined with our practice of Yoga, Meditation and Pranayama forms a key component of an ‘Integrated Vedic Lifestyle’ – making life happier, easier and more fulfilling.

Vedic Astrology’s Predictive Capabilities

The most widely used area of Vedic Astrology is called ‘Hora’ and deals with predicting an individual’s returning karmas, as decoded from the planetary arrangements in a person’s birth-chart. So, Jyotish is very much  ‘karmic astrology’.

Jyotish attempts to predict both the benefits and the obstacles we might experience in all areas of our lives [1] and, most importantly, when in our life [2] we might encounter those benefits or problems.

Vedic Astrology’s Preventive Capabilities

Apart from being just predictive, Jyotish aims to be ‘preventive’ too. It offers practical techniques to modify a person’s returning karmas. These are known as ‘Planetary Antidotes’ or ‘Remedial Measures’.  So Vedic Astrology provides the ultimate form of ‘karmic re-balancing’.

The capabilities of Jyotish enable the effects of potential problems in the future, caused by returning karmas (decoded from planetary positions in our birth-chart and expressed as ‘planetary imbalances’), to be first identified and then minimized, or even avoided completely. Similarly, very good periods in our lives can be predicted and the time used to full advantage.

Jyotish gives a whole range of ‘remedial measures’ in order to correct any planetary imbalances that occur in a horoscope.  This enables us to avert potential problems that might otherwise have arisen in the future. Remedial measures might involve the wearing of an appropriate gemstone in a prescribed manner, acts of charity, use of specific mantras, vedic ceremonies such as yagna or yajna.

Best Time for Every Action

The second area of Vedic Astrology is called ‘Muhurta’. It suggests the best possible times to begin an important action such as getting married, building a new house or starting a business. There is a phrase ‘well begun is half done’. Actions started at the times suggested by Muhurta have all the laws of nature supporting their successful outcome.

Higher Purpose of Vedic strology

The enlightened Vedic Master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, said:

“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”.

Published in Art of Living’s ‘Daily Sutra’, May 2003.


[1]  Jyotish deals with predictions involving the four key areas of life: Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha.

Artha covers ‘wealth’ (money and prosperity, ‘wealth’ of children, ‘wealth’ of knowledge, ‘wealth’ of food, ‘wealth’ of health, etc.). Dharma covers duty, character, actions that will be evolutionary and follow natural law (e.g. type of career), etc. Kama means desire, so it covers relationships, all types of desires, pleasures of the senses, etc. Moksha covers spiritual and personal growth towards Self-realization.

[2]   Jyotish identifies key periods called the ‘Maha Dasha Periods’ where returning Karmas, for better or worse, are delivered by the ‘Cosmic Postman’ via the nine planets. A planet’s inherent nature, where it is placed in a birth-chart, the houses it ‘rules’ and in which it is placed, and other planets nearby and aspecting it all affect the outcome.

Additional Information on Vedic Astrology


Vedic Astrology FAQs 1

Summary: Introductory FAQs on Jyotish (Yogic or Vedic Astrology) including its benefits and predictive capabilities, links with yoga, karmic implications and the many differences compared with Western Astrology

Q. What exactly is Vedic Astrology?

A. Vedic Astrology, also known as Jyotish or Yogic Astology, is a very ancient astrological system that is both ‘predictive and preventive’. It gives high probability [1] predictions about our returning karmas and their likely effects in this lifetime. It has unique methods for predicting when in our lifetime these karmic effects are likely to manifest.

Vedic astrology comes from a tradition that believes in maximising an individual’s evolution. It contains a range of remedial measures (‘Planetary Antidotes’) to counteract any returning negative karmas and rebalance the planetary forces that appear in our birth-chart. So, Vedic astrology is really the ultimate form of karmic engineering!

Q. Is Jyotish Astrology in any way linked to Yoga?

A. Yes – both subjects come from the same ancient Vedic Tradition. Both have withstood the long test of time, bringing benefits to generation after generation. Jyotish (Vedic Astology) is one of Yoga’s sister sciences, along with subjects such as Ayurveda (Yogic Healthcare), Vastu (Yogic designed living spaces) and Pranyama (Yogic breathing). All of these are important ‘Vedic Technologies’ for today’s stress filled world.

Q. What benefits could we expect from a Vedic astrological chart interpretation?

A. There are many levels of answer to this question. Firstly, there are practical benefits that we can experience on a day-to-day basis regarding our overall happiness and obstacle-free progress. Vedic astrology can clarify issues around health, happiness, career, relationships, family, children, finances, good fortune, spiritual growth, peace of mind and enlightenment. All of these areas can be seen from the Vedic birth-chart and they correspond with the Vedic concepts of Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha [2].

On another level, if we need answers to problems in specific life areas we often find a Vedic perspective useful – it tends to put things into a more cosmic and time limited framework.

Following a Vedic consultation a Jyotish Astrologer will usually recommend some remedial measures to help rebalance adverse planetary effects. By following these recommendations (e.g. the wearing of an appropriate gemstone – very different from the birthstone in Western astrology) many people often feel a burden has been lifted, obstacles removed and that life simply flows more easily.

On a higher level still, the ultimate purpose of Vedic astrology is to help us realise that we are not just an individual living alone in a vast universe, but that we are intimately connected to its very fabric. We are not only in the universe, the universe is in us!

Q. What are the main differences between Vedic Astrology and Western Astrology?

A. Both systems have their unique strengths. Western Astrology tends to focus more on psychological factors and the mind. Vedic Astrology tends to focus more on predicting returning karmas.

A Western birth-chart is a good starting point for counselling.  If we are seeking insights into our thoughts, feelings and psychological inner-self then Western Astrology has a lot to offer.

Vedic Astrology on the other hand, focuses more on karma and predicting what karmas will manifest in our lifetime and when those effects will occur. It also offers remedial measures to greatly lessen returning negative karmas. So, Vedic Astrology is both predictive and preventive.

Vedic Astrology differs greatly from Western astrology in its underlying concepts and methods. Unlike Western Astrology it uses the fixed or sidereal zodiac, it only uses the nine ‘planets’ up to Saturn, and has unique predictive methods (Mahadasas – far more important than ‘transits’) not found in the Western system. In Jyotish the ascendant is a key factor and unlike the Western system the sun sign is of much less importance.

We should also be aware that present problems or difficulties may be the result of our current environment or lifestyle and not due to returning karmas. The application of the other yoga related Vedic sciences of Vastu (Yogic designed living spaces) and Ayurveda (Yogic health care) can often help in these cases.

Q. How is it possible to make future, life-long predictions from just the planetary arrangements at the time of an individual’s birth?

A. We all know that an acorn will grow into an oak tree. It will not grow into a sycamore tree or a fir tree. Within the seed is contained all the information to structure the oak tree. We cannot say for sure how many branches it will have, or exactly how big it will grow because these things can be influenced by environmental factors. But, the structure and growth of the oak tree are encoded in its DNA within the acorn.

Similarly the probable effects of our returning karmas (which are governed by the sequential unfoldment of the laws of nature) are reflected in the ‘code’ contained within the planetary arrangements in our birth-chart. This implies we were not born at a random time by chance and reflects the Vedic view of the interconnectedness of all life and matter in the universe.

Q. What are the ‘remedial measures’ mentioned in Jyotish?

A. The Vedic tradition believes that people should live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. So Vedic Astrology contains a whole range of remedial measures that are designed to greatly reduce the influence of our returning negative karmas. These measures can help restore balance and harmony in our lives. Because we are part of an integrated whole, then by participating in certain vedic ceremonies (yagnas or yagyas) , performing prescribed acts of charity, reciting specific 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! For more details see article on ‘Planetary Antidotes (Upayes)’.

Q. Can we change our returning karmas without recourse to the remedial measure of Jyotish?

A. Yes, this is certainly possible. It is said that the grace of the Guru can greatly modify returning karmas. Anyone in a position to receive the grace of an enlightened spiritual master should consider themselves truly blessed!

Spiritual practices such as regular meditation can also modify karmas. Many Jyotish astrologers are amazed that the predictions they made from the birth-chart about returning negative karmas are greatly reduced in the lives of long-term meditators.

It is also said that acts of charity are valuable at modifying certain karmas. An enlightened Vedic scholar has said that we are more likely to hold on to our hard earned wealth if we give a small proportion (e.g. a few percent) of it away to charity every month! In addition, helping and serving others (the Indian concept of ‘Seva’) is extremely worthwhile.


[1] Some suggest ‘high probability’ means around the 70% accurate mark in the hands of a skilled Vedic astrologer

[2] Jyotish deals with predictions involving the four key areas of life: Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha. Artha covers ‘wealth’ (money and prosperity, ‘wealth’ of children, ‘wealth’ of knowledge, ‘wealth’ of food, ‘wealth’ of health, etc.). Dharma covers duty, character, actions that will be evolotuionary and follow natural law (e.g. type of career), etc. Kama means desire, so it covers relationships, all types of desires, pleasures of the senses, etc. Moksha covers spiritual and personal growth towards Self-realization.

Additional Information on Jyotish

Further information on Jyotish can be found in Vedic Astrology FAQs 2 and in the article  Introduction to Vedic Astrology

Vedic Astrology FAQs 2

Summary:  Vedic Astrology (Jyotish) basic FAQs – including its origins, use of the sidereal zodiac and only nine planets, and remedial measures to modify returning karmas

Q. What are the origins of Vedic Astrology?

A. Vedic Astrology was cognised over 5000 years ago by an ancient, fully enlightened sage called ‘Maharishi Parashara’ [1]. He is said to have ‘discovered’ mathematical and astronomical rules to predict the future and so avoid potential problems. This ancient but eternal wisdom has withstood the test of time. Long experience over many generations has proved the validity of its techniques.

Maharishi Parashara‘s work forms the central reference for to-days Vedic Astrologers.

Parashara was a highly evolved soul whose elevated consciousness was fully awake within itself, aware of its own structure and at the same time the dynamics of evolution.  To him, the cosmos was an intelligently organised, inter-connected whole; so that one event led into another event and that this unfoldment of life could be predicted.  Vedic Astrology therefore demonstrates the relationship between the individual and the cosmic totality, man and the universe.

Q. As Vedic astrology comes from India is it linked to the Hindu religion?

A. We could ask a similar question about yoga, which originated in India. However, we all realize we don’t have to have Hindu beliefs in order to experience the benefits of doing Yoga! The situation is exactly the same with any of the Vedic ‘Sciences’ (e.g. Jyotish, Ayurveda and Vastu). The Vedic Sciences exist for the benefit of everyone, regardless of race, religion, belief system or country of origin. This ancient wisdom is for everyone in this modern age.

Q. Is Vedic astrology a science?

A. It is certainly highly mathematical, logical and systematic in its application of the rules and axioms of Jyotish as applied to chart interpretation and prediction.

Because Jyotish sees the universe as a field of energy and information it is quite in keeping with modern scientific thought about the nature of reality. Although many thousands of years old, its concepts about the nature of reality have close parallels with modern neuroscience, cosmology and particle physics.

Vedic Astrology acts like a long-range weather forecasting system, so is essentially probabilistic.  It attempts to predict when and how the actions we have performed in the past return to us in the form of present and future influences on our lives.  If ‘potential storms’ are seen on the horizon we can take appropriate action to avert any potential problems that have not yet manifested.  We can also make maximum progress and fulfil our desires most easily when ‘fine weather’ is forecast.

Vedic astrology is however, not experimentally derived knowledge. Rather, it is cognized and revealed wisdom, said to be given to us for the benefit of all mankind. However, Vedic astrology is based on wisdom that was revealed to a great Sage over 5000 years ago.  The ancient Sanskrit texts form part of the Vedic tradition of India which also includes the ‘sciences’ of Yoga and Ayurveda. A revival of interest in this eternal wisdom is currently taking place.

Q. When I had my Jyotish chart drawn up I noticed that both my sun and ascendant are in different astrological signs compared with my Western Astrological chart. How can this be possible?

A. Vedic astrology divides the celestial sphere into the same thirty degree segments used by Western astrology and the segments are given the same names e.g. Aries, Taurus, etc. But there is one major difference that accounts for the change in planetary positions between the two systems. The difference is in the starting points of each zodiac .

The Sidereal Zodiac used by Vedic Astrologers never moves with respect to the distant or ‘fixed’ background stars. So the segment called ‘Aries’ always remains in the same place relative to the fixed stars and the constellations (groups of stars).The starting point of Aries is always towards a fixed star in Jyotish.

However, Western Astrology uses the Tropical Zodiac whose starting point is based on the position of the spring equinox. This equinox point moves slightly each year relative to the fixed background stars. Over many years this slight movement makes a big difference. The starting point of both zodiacs coincided about 1700 years ago, but now differs (because of an astronomical phenomenon called ‘the precession of the equinoxes’) by about 24 degrees. It is this difference of 24 degrees that causes many planetary positions to be in different signs in the two systems [2]. Of course, if you were born around 300 AD there would have been no difference!

Q. Why does Vedic Astrology only use the nine ‘planets’ up to and including Saturn? Surely the other planets beyond Saturn affect our lives?

A. In Vedic Astrology, all the information needed for prediction in all life areas is encoded in the arrangements of the nine  ‘planets’ [3] at the time of birth. In Jyotish the planets do not emit some type of ‘force’ that affects individuals. It is more a matter of coded information. It is not a mechanistic ‘Newtonian force’ type of concept. Rather, Vedic Astrology sees the universe and the beings in it as part of an interconnected whole: a field of energy, order and ‘intelligence’. The celestial arrangement of the nine planets amongst the twelve zodiacal signs, the twelve houses and the 27 constellations (Nakshatras) at our birth reflects how our lives will unfold in time as a result of our past deeds. So we are dealing with ‘coded karmic information’ (which gives us all the information we need) and not ‘planetary forces’.


[1] Further information on Maharishi Parashara can be found on Wikipedia – although the article would benefit from additional scholarly review.

[2] The difference in planetary positions between the zodiacs is now around 24 degrees. If your sun was, say 14 degrees in Virgo in Western Astrology, it will now be at 14 – 24 = – 10 degrees Virgo in the Vedic or sidereal system! The negative sign 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 your sun was at 28 degrees Virgo in Western astrology (tropical or moveable zodiac) it will now be at 28 – 24 = 4 degrees Virgo in Jyotish (fixed or sidereal system). In this case it has not changed sign

[3] Jyotish uses only nine ‘Grahas’  or celestial objects (roughly translated as ‘planets’): the Sun and Moon (although from an astronomical viewpoint these are not planets), Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. It also uses two calculated points called ‘Rahu’ and ‘Ketu’; these are the Moon’s nodes and linked to the position of eclipses. It does not use any planets (or sub-planets such as Chiron) which cannot be observed with the unaided eye (e.g. planets beyond Saturn)

Additional Information on Jyotish