Summary: Vedic Astrology, unlike Western Astrology, takes the view that planets do not emit forces that influence people. Rather, the planetary arrangements at birth and subsequent transits merely represent information in a codified form. This can then be decoded by a skilled Jyotish astrologer to make predictions. Vedic Astrology comes from a tradition that views the cosmos and all the beings in it as part of an integrated whole.
Planetary Forces in Vedic Astrology
Many Western Astrologers believe that each of the planets emit some type of force, however subtle, which influences our lives. They therefore feel that Jyotish Astrology is limited as it does not use the very slow moving outer planets Neptune, Uranus and Pluto (and other celestial objects such as Chiron) as it fails to take into account the ‘forces’ emitted by these planets.
Vedic Astrology however deals with a field of information and not physical forces.
The planetary arrangements present at the time of birth are simply a type of code that can be ‘read’ by skilled Vedic Astrologers and translated into predictions about returning karmas. Thus 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.
The lack of a physical force and the acceptance that planetary arrangement merely represents 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 addition, Jyotish pays considerable attention to the moon’s nodes; Rahu and Ketu. These have no material existence whatsoever! They are just calculated points where the orbit of the moon around the earth crosses the ecliptic . But they signal significant and very tangible karmic effects.
Jyotish Astrologers Interpret the ‘Cosmic Codes’
In order to fully understand Jyotish we need to transcend our current mechanistic models of reality. We have to abandon our Newtonian mechanistic view and replace it with one in which ‘consciousness’ is the primary ingredient of the universe. At a fundamental level, the mechanics of Vedic Astrology depend on the Vedic Model of Reality.
Jyotish Astrology comes from a tradition which sees the Universe as one perfectly integrated whole. At the basis of this whole is an all pervading field of Cosmic Intelligence. We, in our essential nature are part of that Cosmic Intelligence and it is therefore not surprising that the Intelligence which created us in the first place should be able to provide some information regarding our past, present and possible future.
In many ways a birth-chart can be likened to a strand of DNA in a sperm or egg cell in that it stores information in a highly condensed form! As time progresses that information in the DNA gets translated into more of a concrete and observable reality until tissues and organs are built up, structures emerge, and finally the living being is recognised. It is exactly the same with us as our major life events unfold – for better or worse.
Jyotish Astrology consists of a number of axioms and mathematical rules of transformation for enabling the Astrologer to predict how the highly encoded information present in a birth chart will transform itself into possible physical situations. The process is analogous to that of modern bio-chemistry which can ‘translate’ sections of the DNA code in our genes into recognisable physical features.
Jyotish simply does not need to invent forces being emitted by planetary bodies – it deals directly with a field of information.
 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.
 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.
 Wiki says: ‘The lunar nodes are the orbital nodes of the Moon, that is, the two points at which the orbit of the Moon crosses the ecliptic. The ascending (or north) node is where the Moon moves into the northern ecliptic hemisphere, while the descending (or south) node is where the Moon enters the southern ecliptic hemisphere. Eclipses involving the Moon occur only near the lunar nodes. A solar eclipse occurs when the passage of the Moon through a node coincides with the new moon, while a lunar eclipse occurs when the passage coincides with the full moon’.
Additional Information on Vedic Astrology
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.