Vedic Astrology

Date 12 Dec 2023

Vedas, repositories of knowledge, are the heritage of India. Astrology, or Jyotish, is a part of the Vedas. The "Rigveda" contains about 30 verses on astrology, the "Yajurveda" has 44, and the "Atharvaveda" has a whopping 162 verses on this subject. Indian sages also created other timeless classical texts known as the "Puranas," which also contain the seeds of astrology. The sages proclaimed Bharata Varsha (the ancient name of India) as the "land of Karma," where people reap the fruits of their actions. Karma and its consequences relate to the realm of astrology, although they have a common spiritual significance.

Astrology is the science of the influence of planets and stars on people and earthly events. The movements and positions of planets, as well as time (Kala), have an impact on each one of us. By observing the movements of planets, one can predict the destinies of individuals and nations, sudden floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other events on Earth. Astrology is a divine science that connects astronomical movements of planets with physical, mental, and spiritual reactions. Astrological science is based on fundamental assumptions about the influence of planets on fate, the effectiveness of the law of Karma, causality, and the continuation of life even after physical death. Specific positions and configurations of stars and planets correspond to various life events, and astrology helps predict these events.

Every science requires research, new theories, changes, and evolution at all stages of development. New ideas and systems constantly emerge. The development of science involves multiple observations, formulation of theories, and final conclusions about their effectiveness. Unfortunately, astrology has always lacked these fundamental elements, which has turned it into something akin to a myth and made it unable to defend itself against skeptics' attacks. In India, astrological knowledge is scattered across numerous classical texts in various Indian languages, making it an overwhelming task to consolidate them into a coherent whole. Superficial records and the absence of a systematic scientific approach to the development of astrology in India have led to the emergence of many illiterate astrologers, greatly tarnishing the reputation of this divine science.

In ancient times, astrological knowledge was passed down from generation to generation through the oral tradition known as "shruti" and "smriti" from teacher to student, a common practice in India due to the absence of paper and printing technologies. Most of the esoteric knowledge about astrology was stored in the minds of Brahmins and in sacred scriptures. However, with the arrival of Muslims and aggressive Mughals, this knowledge faced fanatical attacks unparalleled in their bias. Therefore, in the few texts and manuscripts on Jyotish that have survived to our time, important connecting links are often missing. Many scholars in the past tried to recreate these missing elements, but their attempts were unsuccessful and sometimes created even more confusion and chaos. Today, we are witnessing a revival of Vedic astrology. The market is flooded with literature on various astrological topics. Let's hope that this trend continues...

Vedic astrologers use a rational method of analysis, which includes eight elements:

  1. Solar system: at the center of our solar system is the Sun. Nine planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto - along with the asteroid belt, orbit the Sun on elliptical paths. Vedic astrologers do not use Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. On the other hand, classical authors assign planetary status to the Moon and two lunar nodes known as Rahu and Ketu. Nodes do not have a physical body and represent points where the orbits of the Sun and Moon intersect. They are determined through mathematical calculations. The planets Mercury and Venus are located between the Sun and the Earth's orbit, so they are called inner or lower planets. The orbits of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are located on the other side of the Earth, which is why they are called outer or superior planets.

    Rahu and Ketu always move in a retrograde direction, meaning they are in retrograde motion. The Sun and the Moon never go retrograde. Other planets move through the Zodiac in the usual direction, but sometimes certain invisible forces create obstacles in their path, causing the planets to pause, "reverse," and begin moving backward. At least, that's how it appears to observers on Earth. Eventually, the planets return to their natural course. This phenomenon, where a planet moves backward, is called retrograde motion and occurs when the planet is close to Earth.

    Planets form relationships with each other - friendly and hostile.

  2. Zodiac: the path that the Sun traverses throughout the year is called the ecliptic. The part of the sky that extends 8° on either side of the ecliptic is known as the Zodiac. The Moon and planets move within this belt. The Zodiac is divided into 12 equal parts of 30° each, and each of them represents a separate Zodiac constellation (sign). Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces are the signs of the Zodiac. Each of them is governed by a specific planet. These signs have their unique qualities and play a significant role in interpreting astrological charts. Descriptions of their characteristics can be found in the respective sections of this website.

  3. Stars or Nakshatras: the entire Zodiac is divided into 27 equal parts of 13°20′ each, known as Nakshatras. They are also called stars, constellations, or the Moon's mansions. Each Nakshatra has its ruling planet. The first Nakshatra, starting from 0° Aries, is ruled by Ketu. The sequence of rulers then goes: Venus, Sun, Moon, Mars, Rahu, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury. This cycle repeats starting from Sagittarius and ending at the end of Scorpio. The third cycle starts with Sagittarius and ends at the end of Pisces.

  4. Time: we are all familiar with time measurements such as mean local time, standard time for a specific country or time zone, and Greenwich Mean Time. However, there is another system of time measurement called sidereal time, which is determined by the rotation of the Earth relative to a fixed star. The duration of a sidereal day is 23 hours 56 minutes. Time measured by sidereal day is called sidereal time. When the beginning of the Aries constellation (according to the Sayana system) crosses the observer's meridian, sidereal time is 00:00. In astrology, the first house of the horoscope is considered to be the point of the Lagna. Lagna or Ascendant is the Zodiac sign that rises on the eastern horizon at a specific geographical location and time. The position of Lagna depends on the rotation of the Earth on its axis, meaning it depends on the sidereal time at that specific geographical location at that moment. The calculated degree of Lagna forms the cusp of the first house of the horoscope.

  5. vHouses of the horoscope: there are a total of 12 houses. The first house corresponds to the sign where the Lagna point is located. The following sign determines the second house, and so on. In the Jyotish system, a sign is equivalent to a house in the horoscope. In Western astrology, the picture is slightly different: the starting point of the house is represented by the cusp, and the first house is formed by the space within 30 degrees starting from the cusp. In the Vedic system, the cusp represents the center of the house, and the house itself extends 15 degrees on either side of the cusp.

    Since the Zodiac is in constant motion, each of the signs has the opportunity to be the Lagna within a 24-hour period.

  6. Janma rashi: This is the sign in which the Moon is located at the time of a person's birth. Janma Rashi is also known as Chandra Lagna (Lagna of the Moon) and plays an equally important role as the Lagna itself.

  7. Aspects: an aspect refers to a specific distance between two planets or points in the Zodiac at which they influence each other. In Indian astrology, all planets aspect the house opposite to them. In addition, Jupiter aspects the 5th and 9th houses from its position, Mars aspects the 4th and 8th houses, and Saturn aspects the 3rd and 10th houses. Western astrologers determine aspects based on the degree distance between two planets or between a planet and a cusp.

  8. Ayanamsa: the imaginary sphere containing the entire solar system is called the celestial sphere. The projection of the Earth's equator onto this sphere forms the celestial equator. When the Sun moves from south to north of the celestial equator, it crosses it at the point of the vernal equinox. The other point of intersection between the celestial equator and the Sun's orbit, formed during its movement from north to south, is called the point of the autumnal equinox.

Observations show that the point of the vernal equinox, which also serves as the beginning of the Aries sign, is not stationary. Every year, when the Sun reaches the point of the vernal equinox, it turns out that the Earth's position relative to the fixed star Revati has shifted by an angular distance of approximately 50.3 seconds in the western direction from its position on the equinox day of the previous year. This means that the equinox points slowly move along the ecliptic in a retrograde direction. The angular distance between the starting point of the fixed Zodiac and the point of the vernal equinox is called the Ayanamsa. Indian astrology uses the fixed Zodiac, also known as Nirayana Zodiac, where the first degree of Aries is counted from a specific fixed star in the constellation Revati. Western astrologers, on the other hand, use the moving Zodiac, also known as Sayana Zodiac, and consider the point of the vernal equinox as the beginning of Aries. It is estimated that in the year 285 CE, both Zodiacs coincided. In 2008, the Ayanamsa was approximately 23°58′. To calculate the positions of planets in the Nirayana Zodiac (Jyotish), you need to subtract the Ayanamsa value from the corresponding coordinates of planets in the Sayana system (Western astrology).