VEDIC ASTROLOGY – Introduction
The traditional Vedic horoscope is based on ancient wisdom rooted in the Veda, the oldest source of spiritual knowledge in the legacy of our humanity. Veda means knowledge, from the Sanskrit root Vid, to know. This verb-root has given rise to such modern words as ‚video‘, the Dutch ‚weten‘ or the German ‚wissen‘, both meaning ‚to know‘. This Veda. or knowledge, has been revealed in the remote past from the Divine Consciousness to Rishis or Seers, who ‚heard‘ or ’saw‘ the Veda and shaped it into hymns and chants for the benefit of the humanity.
The Veda proper consists of 4 texts, thousands of years old, which were learned by heart through long years of training and were ritually chanted. In these texts we find mythology, rules for rituals, and both exoteric or public, and esoteric or secret, spiritual and scientific knowledge. The wider Vedic doctrine has been laid down in numerous texts called Upanishads, Puranas, Shastras etc., and has also been preserved in the form of orally transmitted, secret, knowledge.
Astrology or Jyotisha, the ‚knowledge of the lights‘, plays a crucial role in the Vedic doctrine. It describes the cosmic cycles of our planet and our solar system, the influences of positive and negative cosmic energies on our human existence, and gives rules for both enhancement of the positive energies, and the subsiding of the negative ‚ones. First of all this science is used to determine the ritual calendar: the holy and auspicious days for temples, festivals, the special days for particular deities , and for the performance of rituals. Temple building and inauguration, house building and inauguration, marriage, the start of studies, business or other projects, the planting and harvesting of crops, the planting of trees, and thousands of other things. All is performed and regulated in accordance with this ancient science of the cosmic energies and the cycles of the sun, moon, and the planets, in relation to our earth.
On a more personal level this science is used to make horoscopes for individuals. According to this horoscope a person can on the one hand perform appropriate rituals at the suitable auspicious moments. On the other hand a person can know the positive as well as the more difficult periods of one’s life, and, with the help of certain crystals, precious stones, grains, diet, the wearing of certain colors, and if necessary the performance of certain rituals, subside these negative cosmic energies and influences as much as possible. All this in accordance with the Vedic doctrine.
Two specific and powerful differences exist between Vedic astrology and Western astrology. Western astrology was inherited from the ancient Greeks via the Romans. The first important difference is that Vedic astrology follows primarily the Lunar calendar, against the background of the solar calendar. The second determining difference is that Vedic astrology is a so called sidereal astrology, following the actual path and place of the planets against the heavenly map of the fixed stars.
Being a sidereal, or star-bound, astrology means that the cosmic and cyclic process of Precession determines the sacred almanac. Our earth `wobbles‘ around its axis. This wobble makes the points of the solstices and equinoxes shift one degree against the backdrop of the fixed stars of the signs of the zodiac every 72 years. For these points to move through all the signs of the zodiac takes t 26000 years. Greek astrology on the contrary has ‚fixed‘ the signs of the zodiac it uses to the solstices and equinoxes. In Western astrology the spring equinox is fixed as 00 Aries (as it actually was at the times of the Greek and Roman civilization). In reality the sun enters 0° Aries in our time on the 15th of April, three weeks after the spring equinox, which falls in the Western calendar on the 21st of march. The people who follow this almanac (for instance in India, Burma, Thailand and Cambodia) celebrate their New Year at the moment on the 15th of April, when the sun enters the sign of Aries. Thus in Vedic astrology the whole zodiac has shifted ± 23 degrees, resulting in completely different horoscopes being calculated in either system.
The other difference between Western and Vedic astrology is that the latter follows the lunar calendar as principal determinant, and not the solar calendar. The year is divided in the 12 months, according to the movement of the sun through the signs of the zodiac. But it is the movement of the moon through the 27 Nakshatras or Lunar Mansions every month that is the decisive factor in an individual’s horoscope, of auspicious and inauspicious days, of temple festivals and other celebrations, etc. These 27 lunar mansions all have their own name, form, presiding deity and character. A persons birthday is the day the moon passes through the birth Nakshatra in the month of birth. And as the moon’s cycle is not synchronous with ,the solar cycle, a person’s birthday will be celebrated on a different day of the solar calendar every year.
Because of the use of the moon and the Lunar mansions as the main determinant of a horoscope it is possible to, make very detailed calculations, because the moon moves through a Zodiacal sign in 21~ days, and through a Lunar mansion in just one day.
Another element allowing for great accuracy is the Lagna or Ascendant. As the earth rotates on its axis, the sign that rises on the eastern horizon at any place of the globe at any time, changes every two hours. Therefore Vedic horoscopes are interpreted both from the Nakshatra or Lunar mansion, as well as from the Lagna or Ascendant.
The twelve signs of the zodiac are called Rasis, and are the same as in Western astrology (except of course for the 23 degree shift because of the Precession), but their cosmic energies or influences are interpreted some extend differently.
The planets are called Grahas, which means seizing or holding. Traditionally 9 Grahas are considered; Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter. Venus, Saturn, Rahu or Dragon’s Head and Ketu or Dragon‘ Tail. Their cosmic energies are thought of as ’seizing‘ a person through the moment of his or her birth, and then, through their movements and interactions during life.
by Kedardutt Joshi
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