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  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 .
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.
 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.