Jyotish - Vedic Astrology

Jyotish or Vedic Astrology is one of the oldest systems of astrology. Jyotish is part of the Vedas, the scriptures penned down by seers thousands of years back. Referred to as divine science, it helps us to understand the intricacies of life, which are beyond the reasoning and rationality of human brain. Jyotish unfolds the theory of spiritual being, of how our current life is nothing more than a transient stopover, in the journey of our soul. Jyotish is divine because it helps us embrace our true self, leading us through spiritual liberation.

How can Jyotish help you improve life ? 

Jyotish helps you understand yourself, through analysis of your horoscope or birth charts. Birth Charts indicate the exact position of planets in the zodiac, at the moment you were born. Your birth chart with nine planets placed over the twelve zodiac signs is the blue print of your fate and characteristics. The million dollar question that arises here is - Is your birth chart a simple stroke of luck, or is there a deeper meaning associated to it ?

Heard of 'Karma' ?

Obviously you have. To understand and believe in Jyotish, you have to accept the law of Karma, the driving force behind the cycle of birth and rebirth.  Only after getting a grasp on Karma, you can get full benefit from Jyotish. Also only through Karma theory, one can understand the much debated concept of Free-Will. To believe or accept the law of Karma, you will have to believe in the theory of reincarnation.

What is Karma ?

Karma is a complex topic of its own, which we will talk about separately in another article. We will then discuss in detail the three forms of Karma (Prabadha, Sanchita and Kriyamana) and other intricacies.

For now let's try to understand the basic concept of Karma. In lucid terms karma can be best defined as - 'what you sow so shall you reap' or the 'cause and effect' theory. Karma is your 'deed', 'duty' or 'action' that eventually produces a result or reaction. Not equal and opposite though! Karma refers to the totality of our actions and creates a balance in the universe. Karma is not punitive or retribution but simply a consequence of one’s actions. How it precisely works is unknown to mankind.

What I want you to derive here is simple - 'You and Your life is the consequence of your OWN past karma or deeds, from current or previous births.'

In a moment we will delve into understanding basic concepts of Jyotish, but before let’s quickly go over of how is it different, elaborate and much matured than western astrology.

Jyotish or Vedic astrology and Western astrology both have 12 zodiac signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces), and seven planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), which both describe in almost similar manner. Outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in western astrology are not considered in classical vedic astrology; whereas ignored in western astrology, vedic astrology takes into account Moon's North and South nodes - Rahu and Ketu. The Karmic Planets!

The three Karmic Planets are Rahu, ketu and Saturn or as Egyptians called him - "The Black Sun".

I am not able to remember the author but there is a famous quote about Saturn or 'Lord Shanidev', as we fondly call him. It goes something like -

"The moment you are able to figure out that the root cause of all problems in the birth chart links to Saturn -  you have become an astrologer."

Vedic astrology uses the sidereal zodiac, where calculations are based on star’s existing position in the sky; Western astrology uses Tropical zodiac based on the Equinox. Sidereal zodiac’s backward movement, though extremely slow has created a difference of 24 degree between the two Zodiacs known as 'precession of equinoxes' or 'Ayanamsha'. Understand this by imagining two zodiac circles (sidereal and tropical) as two wheels, connected at axle, slowly slipping out of phase as one moves through time.

Also, the cusp in vedic astrology is the beginning of the house, while in western astrology it is middle of the house, which causes planets to move in different houses between the two systems.

Keeping aside these basic differences, vedic astrology is extremely detailed and complicated. There are finer charts known as Vargas and many other calculations that makes vedic astrology arduous but also interesting and precisely accurate. Vedic astrologer has to study and interpret all these charts simultaneously, before drawing out any conclusion.

Another aspect that predominantly gives Vedic astrology an edge is use of additional 27 divisions of the zodiac known as Nakshatra (27 asterisms), and the system of planetary periods known Dasha Scheme. Commonly known as Vimshottari Dasha, it's a 120-year-long cycle of planetary positions based upon the birth Nakshatra. Using Dasha schemes, the future events can be predicted with precise accuracy. Western astrology neither uses Nakshatras nor have the Dasha system, which confines its prediction capabilities.

How planets impact human life with such a magnitude is still a mystery, except for the obvious conclusion, that the planets through their humongous magnetic fields and gravitational interaction with the Earth, affect it physically. How they alter the destiny of habitats is beyond the scope of a human brain.