Summary: First steps in learning successful Vedic Horoscope interpretation. Examining spiritual considerations and important factors needed before starting to interpret a birth-chart using Jyotish astrology. A step-by-step guide covering the ‘mechanics’ of Vedic chart interpretation will be covered in a separate article.
Successful Vedic Horoscope Interpretation
In order to successfully interpret a Vedic Horoscope we are going to need far more than just a knowledge of planets, houses and the astrological rules of Jyotish!
Firstly, Vedic astrology is a spiritual discipline in itself and we should be aware of the wider spiritual implications of this subject before we even start the process.
Secondly, in order to be able to make predictions from a Jyotish birth-chart we are going to have to combine lots of information from different sources and ‘weight’ those indicators accordingly. This is going to require some level of intuition. In order to develop this intuition we need to undertake regular spiritual practices and also follow a Sattvic lifestyle.
Thirdly, as complete beginners, we are going to have to be able to deal with ‘information overload’ and ultimately decide what factors to leave out until we gain more experience.
The following sections in this article look at the above factors in more detail. A separate article will cover the actual mechanics of the subject in a ‘Step-by-step Guide to Vedic Horoscope Interpretation’.
Jyotish Astrology and Spirituality
Knowledge of Jyotish – A Great Privilege
An enlightened Vedic Master (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) explains the ultimate purpose of Vedic astrology as follows:
‘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)
It has always been a great privilege to have this Knowledge. It was once available exclusively to the royal households and the courts of the Kings of Bharat. These courts had their own highly learned astronomy and astrology pundits. Rulers would ask their pundits for advice before making important decisions.
Why is the knowledge of Jyotish such a privilege for us in the modern world? Well, we should realise that Jyotish gives us some ability to look into another soul’s returning karma. So, this is a divine gift and we should treat it with great respect!
With great privilege also comes great responsibility. Before beginning any chart interpretation we need to ask ourselves: ‘how can I be of most benefit to my client’. In doing so we will need to balance both honesty and compassion.
Horoscope Interpretation Requires Intuition
Chart interpretation requires us to develop abilities to synthesise and make predictions based on multiple sources of information.
We will need to combine information from many key astrological indicators before we can make high probability predictions.
Jyotish is both a logical and systematic subject. However, the ability to combine lots of different factors and ‘weight’ them accordingly requires a reasonable level of intuition!
Spiritual Practices and Lifestyle Help Us Develop Intuition
The practice of Jyotish itself helps develop our intuition and gives rise to a growing awareness of the ‘all seeing light of pure consciousness’ within us. This is called : ‘Jyotish Mati Pragya’ or the all-knowing consciousness.
The more charts we do, the better we become and the more we develop our intuition. This ability develops over a period of time after viewing many charts and observing repetitive patterns that are correlated with client’s life experiences.
All good Vedic astrologers also realise the need for regular spiritual practices – both to improve their own intuition (or ‘sixth sense’) and to really ‘connect’ with the cosmos and its universal ‘forces’. Spiritual practices for a Jyotish Astrologer will probably involve daily meditation (preferably mantra-based Vedic techniques) – possibly together with daily yoga and pranayama. Advanced meditation practices and chanting Vedic mantras will also help develop a strong intuition.
In addition, a Vedic Astrologer will follow a reasonably Sattvic lifestyle (based on Ayurvedic principles). This lifestyle and meat-free diet will improve the astrologers abilities to give a balanced, bias -free interpretation. A well known living saint has also insisted that Her ashram-based astrologers remain celibate!
Some people say it takes a lifetime of study to be really good at Jyotish Horoscope interpretation. Others suggest it may even take several lifetimes! However, we should not be put off by this. We might even have been interested in the subject in a distant past life and are now reacquainting ourselves with it!
Key Considerations Before We Start Chart Interpretation
Dealing With Information Overload
When we start to learn about Jyotish and then try to apply our knowledge to chart interpretation we often encounter Information Overload!
This is particularly so if we are using Jyotish software, which gives far too much information for a beginner. We can be so overwhelmed that we then fail to even see the key factors in a chart. We then have ‘not seen the wood for the trees’!
So, it is important to know what we can leave out when we’re first starting to learn to interpret birth charts.
Professional astrologers will tell us that we should take all of the available factors into consideration when interpreting a birth-chart. Although this is very true, it is not at all helpful for beginners!
Key Factors to Include – Keeping it Simple
Then, as a minimum, we should be able to identify and assess:
- The overall strength of the birth-chart itself
- The overall strength of the ascendant and its ruler
- Functional benefics and malefics resulting from this particular ascendant
- The strength of all planets by sign placement – e.g. exalted, debilitated, etc
- The strength of all planets by house placement – e.g. placed in ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ houses
- How this strength affects the things the planet indicates
- How this strength affects the indications of the houses the planet rules
- The condition of each house due to occupying planets and aspects
- The major planetary periods (Mahadashas) and their favourable and unfavourable effects
- Significant transits – usually of Saturn and Jupiter
I will cover all of these topics in much more detail in the ‘Step-by-step Guide to Vedic Horoscope Interpretation’ article.
What to Leave Out ?
What indicators should we, as a complete beginner, leave out? The following are my personal recommendations. Some astrologers will disagree and say we must include some or even all of these factors ! I would say: ‘yes, but later – when we have gained more experience’.
Personally I would omit numerical data obtained from the six Shadbala calculations and just systematically asses a planets strength from its sign and house placement (for now).
I would also leave out an analysis of the Vargas (divisional charts), with the possible exception of the Navamsha chart (which is important in marriage and also modifies the planetary strengths derived from the main chart ). We can always look at the Vargas when we have gained more experience – but best to stick with the main chart for now.
I would also omit an analysis of the transits, unless there is a significant Saturn transit such as Sani Sade (Saturn transiting 12th, 1st and 2nd house counted from sign containing the Moon). I would also omit transits of Guru unless particularly significant.
For complete beginners I would leave out taking into consideration the Nakshatras. I know that the position of the Moon in a specific Nakshatra at birth can have considerable influence on the overall chart – but this just adds another layer of complexity for beginners. If you have difficulty matching real life events with the main chart, then by all means investigate them.
Should we look at, or omit, an analysis of the birth-chart from the perspective of using the sign the Moon occupies as Lagna? Some astrologers say it is essential to take this into account. I must say I only tend to quickly glance over a chart from this perspective, but I don’t ignore it completely. In my ‘enhanced chart format’ I do label each house from the Moon for easy reference. So, your call really.
Should we leave out Sambandhas  or mutual relationships between planets? An example is the ‘exchange of signs’ – such as when Moon is in Pisces (Jupiter’s sign) and Jupiter is in Cancer (Moon’s sign) in a birth-chart. Maybe this adds another layer of complexity for absolute beginners, but even beginners should be aware Sambandhas exist and can give powerful and significant results. I have seen a number of charts where the presence of Sambandhas explained a lot that was not obvious from other factors.
What about planetary Yogas – should we include them or not? Yoga means ‘union’ – a special arrangement or combination of planets and Jyotish recognises hundreds of Planetary Yogas . And that really is a major problem for a beginner! Sure, if our Jyotish software identifies them, we might like to investigate the influences from a few major ones (e.g. ‘Raja’ Yoga, ‘Adh’i Yoga, etc.)
Can We Learn Chart Interpretation from a Book or Website?
The answer to this is: ‘maybe’. The problem with most books on Jyotish is that they contain far too much information – which can be very confusing.
When I began studying Jyotish I did find the book ‘Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer’ (by James T. Braha) useful. It was well laid out and gave me fairly concise information that I could easily refer to. Unfortunately this book had some major omissions. For example, it did not deal at all well with functional benefic and malefic planets – but it did give me an initial ‘toe hold’ into the subject at a time when there was little else available (also no internet then).
I have actually found AI (specifically ChatGPT) to be quite good at answering questions about fairly detailed topics in Jyotish. It is not perfect though – so the usual warning ‘beginners beware’ applies. However, using it seems a lot faster than trying to trawl individual websites to find the answers, so it is now my first go-to source.
Do We Need a Mentor?
Having a mentor certainly helps. I was very fortunate in having a few extremely knowledgeable friends who were on advanced and residential Transcendental Meditation Programmes (Purusha Programmes) that I could easily refer to. A couple of these friends had access to professional Jyotish Pundits from India. They gave me valuable insights into Jyotish that I never received from books.
Could AI act as a mentor? This was a question I actually put to ChatGPT. It acknowledged it could be a powerful tool for finding information and researching the subject. However it also said: ‘It [AI]doesn’t possess personal experiences, intuition, or the ability to provide subjective insights in the same way a human mentor might.’ The full answer (which I rate highly) is given in Footnote 
What Charts Should We Look at First?
Personally, I would always suggest looking at our own chart first! Many people start their interest in Jyotish this way. At some point there might even be an ‘OMG’ moment – when we realise that this stuff actually works! This happened to me. I started off being highly sceptical, but soon realised Jyotish was very different indeed from Western Astrology. It seemed to provide a ‘window’ onto my returning karma – truly amazing and paradigm shifting too!
Then we could start to examine the charts of our immediate friends and family members. This way we can check how well their life experiences and events seem to be reflected in their charts. However, we must remember that Jyotish is dynamic and that some of the events indicated by the Mahadashas will not have materialised in younger people.
Books often teach chart interpretation by looking at the charts of famous people. I find this less useful because the knowledge we have about all the different life areas (Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha) of celebrities, sporting figures, politicians etc. is limited. Ultimately, the information we get is often what their PR team want us to get. So friends, family and people we know intimately are better for our initial investigations. They will also present charts more typical of people living ordinary (non-celebrity) lives.
Here are some key questions to bear in mind when we first start to look at a our own or another person’s Vedic Horoscope:
- How accurately do they know their birth-time? Is this written down somewhere?
- Do they mention any issues and current problems in specific life areas?
- Can we detect any planetary imbalances or potential problems from their chart that relate to these current issues?
- Which planetary remedies could we choose
 The question I asked ChatGPT was: “Can AI act as a mentor to someone studying Jyotish”? The answer I got: AI can provide information, answer questions, and assist in learning various topics, including Jyotish (Vedic astrology). However, it’s important to note that AI, including myself, doesn’t possess personal experiences, intuition, or the ability to provide subjective insights in the same way a human mentor might.
If you’re studying Jyotish and seeking guidance, it’s advisable to complement AI resources with human mentors who have practical experience in the field. A human mentor can offer personalised advice, share their experiences, and provide a deeper understanding of the nuances of Jyotish that might not be covered by AI.
AI can be a valuable tool for learning, researching, and practising Jyotish, but for a holistic and personalised learning experience, combining AI resources with guidance from experienced practitioners is often the most effective approach
 More details (on external website) of the mutual relationships between planets – Sambandhas
 More details (on external website) of special arrangements or combinations of planets – Planetary Yogas
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.