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 identifies possible obstacles in life and predicts both positive and also more challenging 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. So, it is involved with ‘karmic engineering’ at its most fundamental level.

Jyotish astrology also 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 all the beings in it as part of an interconnected whole – a field of energy, order and ‘intelligence’, it deals with coded information.

If we look at both Vedic Astrology and Western Astrology, we find both systems have their unique strengths.

Western Astrology tends to focus more on psychological factors and the mind, so 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 is unique in that it offers remedial measures to greatly lessen returning negative karmas. So, Vedic Astrology is both predictive and preventive and offers real solutions to many of life’s problems.

We should note that Western astrology is more ‘Newtonian’ and mechanistic in that it suggests all planets emit some type of force (as yet undiscovered by science) that affects humans on Earth. So every time astronomers discover a new celestial object in our solar system, Western Astrology has to adapt and devise astrological properties for the newly found object. Jyotish regards this as unnecessary. It simply has no need to invent ‘Planetary Forces’ which affect people – as it just deals with coded information based on planetary positions.

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.

The arrangement of the seven ‘planets’ (and the two nodes of the moon) between the twelve signs, twelve houses and twenty-seven stellar constellations (Nakshatras) is in effect, just highly coded information. The transit of planets, as they appear to move through signs and ‘houses’, is also seen as codified information

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, the zodiac it uses 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 often uses unequal angular house divisions.


Additional Information on Vedic Astrology

Article on Vedic Astrology from Wikipedia

Introduction to Jyotish. A range of articles for people entirely new to Vedic Astrology. Including: Introduction, FAQs, Origins and Karmic Implications.

Key Concepts in Jyotish. Articles covering the Sidereal Zodiac, Planetary Forces, Forecasting Analogies and ‘Planetary Antidotes’.

For Western Astrologers. Articles examining major differences between the two systems and the paradigm shift needed by Western Astrologers wanting to understand the subject.

Learn Jyotish. An extensive collection of articles covering key facts, concepts and methods. Aimed at ‘foundation level’ students. Includes essential information needed before beginning chart interpretations. Covering: Chart Formats, Planets, Houses, Mahadasha Periods, Transits, Aspects, Birth-time Errors, Natural and Functional Benefics / Malefics, Chart Interpretation Basics, etc.