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Vedic Astrology – Introductory 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). They 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. 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’.

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

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.

Footnotes

[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

1.  More Frequently asked questions  on Vedic Astrology: Introductory FAQ’s 1

2.  Detailed differences between the Western and Vedic Astrological systems

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

Jyotish Astrology, just like the knowledge of how to maintain perfect health – Ayurveda, and all the rest of the vast Vedic literature was ‘revealed’ or ‘cognized’. It was not discovered – neither was it invented by mankind, nor developed by trial and error.

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

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 contains a range of practical techniques to modify a person’s returning karmas. So Vedic Astrology provides the ultimate form of ‘precision karmic engineering’.

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 offers 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.

Footnotes

[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.

Jyotish – Planetary Forces

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 [1] 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 [2]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 [3]. But they signal significant and very tangible karmic effects.

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 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.

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.

Footnotes

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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’.