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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 is fundamentally involved with ‘karmic engineering’. It identifies possible obstacles in life and predicts both positive and more difficult 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.

Jyotish astrology 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 the beings in it as part of an interconnected whole – a field of energy, order and ‘intelligence’, it deals with coded information. Western astrology is more ‘Newtonian’ and mechanistic in that it suggests all planets emit some type of, as yet undiscovered, force that affects humans on Earth. So every time astronomers discover a new celestial object in our solar system Western Astrology adapts and devises astrological properties for the object. Jyotish regards this as unnecessary.

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. In Jyotish the planets do not emit some type of, as yet undiscovered, ‘ force’ that affects individuals. It is more a matter of coded information. It is not a mechanistic ‘Newtonian force’ type of concept!

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, this zodiac 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 frequently uses unequal angular house divisions.