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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Vedic and western astrology systems differ

Vedic and western astrology systems both predict future but the way they do it is poles apart. True there are some common factors, both divide the zodiac into 12 equal parts and both fix the position of planets to predict future but there the similarity ends.
During my teaching career in the US I have been asked this question in every class and every workshop/seminar I conducted. Its is a lengthy answer but I will try to limit it to two pages. This is merely a comparison and is not an attempt to glorify one at the cost of the other.
The earth spins on its axis like a top and there is a slight wobble to it. The wobble makes a circle in space and the axis of earth moves over it. This is a slow movement and the equinoctial point (either of the two celestial points at which the celestial equator intersects the ecliptic) moves 1 degree in 71.6 years, and it takes roughly 25800 years to complete the circle. Because of this movement of earth, the stars above earth seem to move slowly although they are fixed in space. When it comes to the Zodiac signs and planets this problem becomes acute.
The equinoctial point is currently at about 23 degrees. That means that we have moved 23 degrees away from our true perspective of the twelve signs when equinoctial point was at the start of Aries. In order to fix their positions correctly we should be deducting 23 degrees from the position of each planets as well as the Sun. Let us view this through an example. Let us assume that you want to measure your weight and you have a weighing scale to do it. Unfortunately for you the machine instead of showing zero shows 10 pounds. You stand on it and take your weight and it comes out to be 110 pounds. What is your real weight? Is it 110 pounds as shown by the machine or 110 -10 = 100 pounds. Obviously latter. We deducted the error from the result.
Vedic astrology deducts this equinoctial error of 23 degrees from the calculated position of each planet before starting predictions. Western astrology does not do it. Neither for the ascendant nor for the planets.
Vedic Astrology is primarily based on the movement of Moon around the zodiac. Moon is the closest heavenly body and influences us most. Moon takes roughly 2 ½ days to traverse each sign and finishes its round of zodiac in 28 days. In Vedic astrology the 360 degrees of zodiac are divided into 27 segments of 13 degrees 20 minutes each which are further divided into 9 segments of 3 degrees and 20 minutes. The zodiac thus has 108 divisions and each sign has nine of these. In Vedic Astrology a planet placed at 3 degrees in a sign gives one result while a little further in the sign his results will change. There is an appreciable change in the behavior of a planet placed in the beginning, the midpoint and the end of the same sign. Western astrology does not differentiate on the basis of planetary degree. An analogy will clarify it further. You may be in your home but your comfort level changes from living room to bedroom to patio. Technically you are at home but results differ. This is true of planets too.
Western astrology predicts general characteristics of a person on the basis of the Sun sign, Vedic Astrology uses the position of Moon in a Nakshatra (Constellation). For example let us take the case of Aries. It spans 30 days from March 21 to April 20. In thirty days Sun will still be in the same sign and so for western astrology the characteristics of a person will not change whether he is born on the March 22 or April 19. (Being born on the cusp supposedly gives dual qualities.) Moon on the other hand would have traversed two Nakshatra (Constellation) and will be in the beginning of the third in the same sign. Her results for each Nakshatra are different so she gives a lot more accuracy to personality traits. Moon tells us your location in your home!
Moon orbits the earth and earth moves around Sun. The points where the orbit of Moon intersects with the zodiac are called Rahu and Ketu.(north and the south nodes of western astrology). These are points in space calculated mathematically but their affect on humanity is so profound that these have been given the status of a planet and treated as such. They have their planetary periods and mantras for pacification. Western astrology does not have this concept.
Vedic Astrology recognizes the effects of Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn Rahu and Ketu only. It makes very accurate predictions on the basis of these nine planets. It describes Uranus, Neptune and Pluto but does not give any credence to their effects on human beings. Western astrology uses outer planets and other heavenly bodies like Ceres, Pallas Athens, Juno, Vesta and Chiron in addition to seven planets from Sun to Saturn. It thus uses a total of 15 planets/sub planets. Some people consider the effects of comets too.
Vedic astrology allots a planetary period to each planet and these periods run successively after one another. In addition to this, the method also gives sub periods up to the fifth level and brings the prediction to the level of hours in a day.
Vedic astrology says that merely predicting future is not enough. There should be remedial measures to control the bad results shown in a horoscope. There is a huge body of literature of Sanskrit Mantras, Tantra, Yajna (fire ceremony) and rituals which are used for just this purpose. There is a close relation between planets and their representative herbs, a similar connection exist with minerals also. This gives us the system of Ayurved which is a holistic method of healing. It treats the root cause of a disease rather than just the symptoms. Herbs and minerals are used to fortify the planet the weakness of which is causing disease.
Planetary transit in Vedic Astrology is a very detailed system. Each planet gives different results as it passes through the 12 zodiac signs. By correlating these results with the Planetary period running at a given time perfect prediction are possible. Vedic Astrology has 16 recognized systems for calculating planetary period, and each throws a different light on future.
The system of supplemental charts is another unique feature of Vedic Astrology. For investigating different aspects of life different supplemental charts are used. For example, to quantify the professional prospects in a chart not only is the tenth house analyzed, the chart constructed by dividing a sign in ten segments is also considered. Similarly for questions related to children Saptamansh charts is used. There are a total of sixteen such charts and these deal with every aspect of human life.
Vedic Astrology places great importance on the ascendant or Lagna. This is because the delineation of the chart is totally dependent upon it. The nine planets gain positive or negative character based purely on the ascendant. It is perfectly possible to have Jupiter and Venus perform very negative roles and Saturn and Mars to do exactly opposite. Western astrology does not place much importance on the ascendant.
The concept of Yog is another vital difference between the two systems. Two planets can enter into a relationship and give results which are totally different from their individual results. The list stretches quite a bit.
This is just a thumbnail sketch of the differences between Vedic and western systems. The complete list will make this article unduly long and boring. I hope I have not crossed that line already.
Bouquets and brickbats are welcome at
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