The horoscope is a map of the heavens at the time and place of birth showing the position of the planets in relation to the newborn child. Astrology studies the combined influences of these planets as fields of energy that influence the lives of human beings.
Vedic Astrology (called “Jyotish,” or the Science of Light) comes to us from India and goes back thousands of years before Christ to the ancient Vedic culture. It is based on the Vedas, the original scriptures that were brought to us by enlightened sages. It assumes the law of karma, which is the principle of cause and effect.
Vedic astrology is predictive in nature, gives insight into a person’s karmic tendencies while defining a person’s psychological nature, and puts focus on understanding when certain events are likely to take place. In terms of analyzing relationship compatibility and auspicious timing of events, it offers some of the most sophisticated tools of prediction and analysis. It puts emphasis on the spiritual development of the individual and how one’s quality of life can ameliorate through self-improvement and higher thought.
As with Western astrology, Vedic astrology is rife with mythology and symbols. The two systems have many things in common, including the twelve signs, houses and planets (although in classical Vedic astrology the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are not taken into account, whereas the lunar nodes Rahu and Ketu are given prime importance), and the transits of planets. But they also have a number of differences, each using specific methods of analysis. We will cover briefly a few major differences between them.
Astrology is a vast system of knowledge with many layers of interpretations using various tools. No single factor can be taken in isolation. Synergy is at the base of this art of interpretation.
Some Differences Between Vedic and Western Astrology
Tropical versus sidereal zodiac:
Vedic Astrology is based on the sidereal zodiac.
Although some Western astrologers use the sidereal zodiac, most Western astrology uses the tropical zodiac which is based on the orientation of the Earth relative to the Sun and planets of our solar system. The sidereal (relating to the stars) zodiac calculates the position of the Earth relative to both of these (Sun and planets) as well as the stars of our celestial sphere. The Vernal Equinox is the day that the Sun in the tropical zodiac enters the constellation of Aries. However, the Earth’s rotation axis is not fixed in space. Like a rotating toy top, the direction of the rotation axis goes through a slow precession, causing the position of the equinoxes to change slowly with respect to the background stars. Because of the Earth’s precession, the dates of the Equinoxes gradually change over a 26,000-year cycle. Since the rotation axis is precessing in space, the orientation of the Celestial Equator also precesses at the same period. Every 72 years we actually move back by one degree. After 2100 years we move out of one age and into another. The Tropical (Western), and the sidereal Aries were on the same zodiacal plane around 285 AD but this is no longer the case today. Astronomically, the vernal equinox no longer corresponds to the sign of Aries but to that of Pisces. Vedic astrology is based on the sidereal zodiac, taking into account the precession of the equinox. There is currently approximately a 24⁰ difference between the degrees of the planets in the tropical and the sidereal systems. For example if your Sun was at 5⁰ of Aries at the time of your birth in the tropical zodiac, and you want to find out what your sidereal (Vedic ) Sun sign is, you would substract 24⁰, which would put your Vedic Sun at 11⁰ of Pisces.
Click this image to find your Vedic Sun Sign.
Vedic Astrology gives special importance to the Moon sign, the Fixed Star Groups (nakshatras) and the Ascendant (lagna).
Whereas in Western astrology emphasis is placed on the Sun sign, in Vedic astrology the ascendant and the Moon sign along with the nakshatras (asterisms or pattern of stars) have special importance. There are 27 of them. The Moon enters a nakshatra approximately each day of the month. Furthermore, the other planets also travel through the nakshatras. The meaning of the nakshatras in a chart will clearly show the major life themes of a person. This does not mean that the Sun Sign is not important but the speed at which the ascendant changes (approximately every two hours) as well as the Moon’s path through the different nakshatras and signs give a more individualized overview of the natal chart.
Vedic astrology uses a whole sign system.
There are many systems to determine where a sign starts and where it ends. In the whole sign house system, sometimes referred to as the ‘Sign-House system,’ the houses are 30° each. The ascendant or rising sign (the constellation that is rising on the eastern part of the horizon at birth) designates the first house, beginning at zero degrees of that house and ending at 30°. The next sign after the ascending sign then becomes the 2nd house, the sign after that the 3rd house, and so on, and each occupy a 30° span, starting at 0 and ending at 30. In other words, each house is wholly filled by one sign.
Vedic Astrology uses the powerful tool of the planetary periods (called dasas).
Another unique feature of Vedic astrology is its quality of precision in revealing the periodic ups and downs in an individual’s life. The natal chart shows the potentials in one’s life. But when those potentials materialize and the order of events takes place, are predicted under the dasa (planetary period) system. Each planet has a determined period during which it comes into prominence and shows its inherent potentials during the course of one’s life.
Vedic Astrology uses divisional charts.
One particular feature of Vedic astrology is the use of divisional charts (vargas). These charts are created by dividing each sign into a number of sections as per specific calculations. Each one of these charts then becomes a new chart and the planets will then be placed into the signs of this chart. While all these charts are subject to the natal chart (rasi chart), they will each shed light on different themes in a person’s life. They are very important for fine tuning and providing more clarity in various aspects of a native’s life, like health, wealth, children, marriage, career, parents, residence, learning, and so on, as well as the overall strength of the planets in the horoscope. Classically, there are up to sixteen divisional charts, but as they are very sensitive to any errors in the birth time (especially in the higher divisions), usually the ones with lower divisions can be effectively analyzed, unless the birth time is totally accurate.
Vedic Astrology uses the drekkanas.
The drekkanas are further divisions of the signs in the natal chart. Each sign encompasses 30°, and a drekkana is a one-third division of a sign: from 0-10 degrees, 10-20 degrees and 20-30 degrees. Each drekkana is associated with symbolic images that can provide further information about the chart and potential events in a person’s life.