Vedic Astrology - At a Glance
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The Origin of Astrology
Astrology or Jyotish is a Vedanga or one of the limbs of the Vedas. The word 'Veda', coined from the root 'vid' (coming to know) means Knowledge. Almost all of the ancient knowledge developed in India over a period of thousands of years has been recorded in documents which were later compiled into the four Vedas we know of today. The Vedas thus, are the sum of all knowledge developed throughout the Indian past.
The Vedas are said to hold the ultimate wisdom of life, death and the beyond. But the Vedas themselves are too complex because of the subject they deal with. Hence, to understand the Vedas, some other fields of study had to come first knowing which would make a person qualified to read and understand the Vedas. Hence came the Vedanga or the six limbs of the Vedas which are areas one needs to qualify to be worthy of reading the Vedas. These are:
The first of the Vedanga, Shiksha deals with the understanding of phonetics, pronunciation, alphabets, etc. Understanding these is the first step to ensure that the person reads/hears exactly what is written/spoken so as to distinguish what actually matters and what doesn't.
Chhanda stands for composition. There are several compositions in Sankrit and each has a particular rhythm and flow to it. Unless one is aware of construction of Chhanda, it is very easy to misunderstand what is written.
Along with understanding of letters, sounds, composition and structure; the understanding of grammar is also of utmost important. It is grammar that helps understand the concept being discussed and helps understand the mood of the author/speaker.
In any language we often talk in metaphors, onomatopoeias, similes, proverbs and absurd examples which often don't make sense to a foreigner. Nirukta, the fourth Vedanga, is the wisdom of deciphering the context and proverbs to get to the authentic meaning.
Kalpa literally means 'correct'. It is the Vedanga that deals with social practice, daily life, laws, rituals, etc. that a person needs to live in a society. Kalpa deals with everything from geometry to law and intimacy to prayer.
Jyotish, literally meaning 'divide sight' is the field of study that deals with the past, present and future. It looks at knowledge through years and generations, beyond geography and time. It is the last of six Vedangas.
Jyotish is the last of the six Vedanga. It is the perfection of all social and spiritual knowledge which can then be extended in a manner that it sees through the past, present and future. It is after being accomplished in the first five Vedanga that one is qualified to study Jyotish or Astrology. And it is after being accomplished in Jyotish, along with the other five Vedanga, that one becomes qualified for the study of Vedas.
Vedic Astrology - An Overview
In the simplest of terms, Vedic Astrology is the field of study which deals with cause and effect. It tries to identify patterns and flows in all events of life and basis those, makes forecast for what is likely to happen. The most common application of this is to use the motion of planets and astronomical phenomenon to make predictions based on a person's horoscope.
However, astrology is much more vast and deals with numerous different subjects. It deals with identifying the happiness, success and growth of people living in a house (Vaastu) or the impact particular mathematical patterns can have on a person (Numerology) or how the person's body language, face and other physical features reflect the events of person's life (Physiognomy), etc.
Some of the most common applications of astrology are:
- Mundane Analysis
Nadi means the root or the source. The Nadi Texts are the oldest texts in astrology written directly by the founders of Vedic Astrology. Nadi texts are primarily compendium texts that deal with several horoscopes written in a predictive manner or deal with predictive results as arrived from analysis of combinations or placement of planets. As a result they often do not delve into basic concepts because they assume that the reader is well-versed in those and can follow through. As a result, often Nadi Texts are thought to be different methods in themselves.
Grandson of Maharishi Vashishtha, Parashara is among the first to propagate astrology to his disciples. He is also a very respected figure in the Hindu society as he is the author of several verses in the Rig Veda and the author Vishnu Purana.
Parashara stress out a lot of Planets and Houses which are two of the most important variables in astrology. His work, which is based on horoscopy, goes in depth for these two components but uses the very same principles of astrology in the exact same manner as others.
Maharishi Jaimini, a disciple of Parashara's son and the founder of Mimamsa school of Vedic Philosophy, gives more weight-age to the zodiac signs to complement Parashara's work and mentions at several places that the other topics of astrology should be studied from other astrological texts as his treatise would only cover his personal notes on the subject and is not a complete text book.
Lal - Kitab
Lal-Kitab, a rework of an important Nadi text is one of the most important texts in astrology. However, its language is such that it assumes that the reader is already a learned astrologer to begin with. It assumes that the person already knows the principles of astrology and the book simply deals with the final statements which often leads to confusion among beginners and practitioners.
As such, Krishnamoorti Paddhati is not a method in itself. It is a tool within Parashari astrology with a one-line premise that the principle of Vimshottari dasha as mentioned by Parashara can be applied universally for all planets instead of just Moon. Beyond this one sentence, everything used within KP Astrology is borrowed form the works of Parashara.
Are there really different types of Astrology? Actually... there are NOT!
The most widely propagated misconception is that there are several different types of Astrology all through the world and even within India. However, this is not the case. It is a misconception that arises out of sheer ignorance on part of most enthusiasts in the subject.
As you would expect, each subject or field of study has several experts. Each of these has their students and each of these experts write their own texts so as to ensure that the knowledge is not lost with time. In a very similar manner, astrology too has had numerous writers who have all focused on parts of the subject of Astrology and have shared their learning on the subject.
Just as you cannot say Einstein's physics is different from that of Newton or Max Planck, you cannot say that the astrological work of one author/text is different from the other. Any subject can be divided into several branches and each branch can be studied out separately. But unless they're seen together as a whole, the subject cannot be master.
On the left are some of the Branches of Astrology as perceived and propagated in today's day and age which are actually part of the same broader subject and follow the same principles.
Fields of Study in Vedic Astrology
We often thing of Astrology as being limited to horoscopes, however that is far from the truth. In fact horoscope are just a very small fraction of astrology and learning horoscopes is actually learning just 1% of the entire course of astrology!
One of the major gaps in the understanding of astrology is that astrology is limited to dealing with horoscopes. However, that is not the case. It is especially frustrating to us as astrologers because we often see people trying to decipher the result of a planet with another in their own horoscopes and then trying to find the same result in someone else's horoscope.
Astrology is a vast field of study in itself and based on all our experience in different subjects of astrology, we can say that its syllabus is probably more than any other subject on earth! What one sees in the horoscope, is just fraction of the actual expanse of astrology and it is important to know the expanse because unless you know addition, adding two numbers for one math problem is not possible. Even if you memorize the result somehow, you won't be able to add the next sum of numbers.
Astrology primarily begins with mathematics because it heavily relies on calculations. Once you're through with the math, you would need to move on to astronomy to decipher the planetary motions. It is after perfecting this, that you would be able to make sense of astronomical phenomenon that are used for predictions.
Thereafter, you would venture into the actual vastness of astrology wherein you study everything under the sun to understand how they're connected to the astrological principles. Basically if you're predicting that someone is getting married to a doctor, the predictions needs to come from your knowledge of a doctor's profession, your understanding of matrimony and human behavior.
It is only when you're through with all of this, that you can study the principles of interpreting a horoscope and apply them to a birth chart. Which basically is 1% of the syllabus and also 1% of the actual utility of astrology.
The first division of Astrology is Siddhanta which deals with the mathematical and astronomical principles. The concepts of planets, signs, houses, their divisions, motions, speeds, etc. are all covered in the Siddhanta part of astrology and it is the pillar on which all knowledge of astrology stands.
Samhita is the actual knowledge of how everything in the world related to astrology. How they're connected, interconnected how their causal relationships occur and how an analysis can be made basis the understanding of Siddhanta.
One who has studied Samhita can use anything at all to make predictions including things such as the house as it is done in Vaastu, the face/body-language as it is done in physiognomy or even the clothes of the person!
Hora is that part of astrology where the principles of Samhita and Siddhanta are applied together to make predictions using the planetary positions (horoscope) as the base. It uses the knowledge of Samhita to make predictions with the chart created using the principles of Siddhanta.