Introduction to Jyotish
Darshan - Alan Wiuker
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Origin and philosophy:
Vedic Astrology, or Indian astrology, called JYOTISH,
literally means "the science of light". It has its origin
in ancient India many thousands of years ago, by the Rishis.
The Rishis were the Yogis (literally: "seers") who dedicated
their lives entirely to meditation and spiritual practices.Among
them was sage Parashara, father of Vyasa, author or compiler
of The Vedas, the ancient indian sacred scriptures, and other
illustrous sages like Jaimini, Brighu and others.
From those Rishis deep meditative experiences, all the knowledge
of Yoga, astrology, mantras, music, ayurveda (the science
of health) was revealed, all those being branches of the same
Vedic astrology is therefore spiritual by
nature, and aims to help to understand the personal Karma,
to be able to correct it, unidentified with it, and eventually
be free of its bondage to dwell fully in our divine inner
nature, the immortal Soul or "Atman".
The Rishis knew, thousands of years before the invention of
the telescope, very advanced astronomical principles. They
knew that the earth and planets orbit around the Sun and could
calculate their position very precisely, and they understood
their function as the instruments or agents by which the law
of Karma operates.
Jyotish is one of the 6 "vedangas" or limbs
of the Vedas, 6 sciences which are to be studied beforw being
able to understand fully and practice the Vedic teaching.
Each of the vedangas represent one limb of the Vedas, and
Jyotish is called "The eye of the Vedas"
The 6 angas are
of words, etymology (ears)
rituals, ceremonies (hands)
/ Astrology (eyes)
There are six branches of Jyotish,
- Gola: observational astronomy
- Ganita: astronomical and mathematical
- Jataka: Natal astrology, understanding
the effects of karma in the birth of an individual
- Muhurta: Electional astrology, choosing
the auspicious time to start an important activity
- Prashna: Horary astrology, answering
a specific question based on the moment of the query
- Nimitha: interpretation of omens
To understand Jyotish we must understand
the principle of Karma.
Karma is the universal law of action and reaction, cause and
Every action we perform, starting from the very thought and
intention behind it, will sow a seed that will sprout and
later bear a fruit which we will have to reap, a life situation
which we will have to experience, which could be pleasant
or painful, depending on the type of action.
Life is a school towards illumination and perfect happiness,
were we learn by experience and error.
Every selfish or harmful action generates a situation of suffering
that will teach us the lesson, and every generous, selfless,
loving and detached action will create a more favorable situation
for happiness and illumination.
The effects of an action may manifest after long time, therefore
one life is not enough to work it all out, especially since
we are creating new karma while experiencing the results of
the previous one.
That is the cause of reincarnation, as a form to continue
the learning process and experience the karmic debts from
When we are born, we don't do it just by "chance" in a particular
place and time, but in the condition which is the ripening
of the previous actions or Karma, were we will continue what
we left unfinished in the past.
The Vedas declare that the planets and stars are the instruments
of God by which Karma operates, and by analyzing their position
in the sky at the moment of birth we can understand the "prarabda
karma" - the portion of the past karma that will manifest
in this life, as well as the creative tools or potentials
to create a new Karma.
The Vedic and yogic view is not "fatalist" and emphasizes
that through the "agami"or "kriyamana" karma, the karma that
we create in this life by our actions, we can correct our
past actions and create a new destiny. It is here where we
have the free will to choose in which direction we project
our life, and sow the future.
There is also a part of the Karma that we cannot change, and
we need to understand it and work it out. So aceptance of
that Karma with detachment, wisdom and surender to God's will
is also important for inner peace.
The philosophy of Vedic astrology goes hand to hand with the
practice of Yoga, the powerful path of self discipline by
which the soul can develop it's higher spiritual potentials,
enabling him to go beyond the bondage of Karma, and attain
"Moksha", liberation or illumination.
Jyotish can show us the "samskaras"or mental tendencies and
deep-rooted patterns that we bring from the past, that are
the cause of our present and future situations, but it is
Yoga that is the method by which one can change those samskaras
and liberate oneself from their grip.
As an analogy we can say that Jyotish can show you the battlefield
of this life, and which are your friends, allies and foes,
but Yoga is the powerful weapon by which you fight and win
The 4 aspects or goals of life:
The Vedic Rishis understood life in 4 main aspects, which
we can analyze in Jyotish:
- Dharma (divine law)
It is the duty or main responsibility in this life.
It has to do with the moral and ethic awareness, recognizing
the personal duty and sense of justice in every situation
and acting accordingly.
Each of us, according to our previous karma, have a duty,
a job or task to do in this life, a particular responsibility
and service to perform, which will be a form of purification,
evolution and spiritual progress.
By performing our own duty without attachment, we pay
our past karmic debts without creating new ones.
- Artha (prosperity)
Is the need to maintain the physical and material needs.
Economic prosperity, work, possession or lack of food,
home and material needs, are dependant on previous karmas
and can be analyzed in jyotish.
- Kama (desires or enjoyments)
The kind of desires or enjoyments, sensual and sexual
life, art and beauty, are related to past mental tendencies
and impressions, and the capacity to obtain the desired
objects depends on previous karma.
But attachment to sensual pleasures and desires is considered
as an obstacle to inner peace, and is a cause of future
- Moksha (liberation or illumination)
It is the very purpose of existence and it is considered
the most important goal of life.
It means the complete liberation of suffering through
the realization of the divine and eternal inner and outer
nature and the union or fusion of the individuality in
the cosmic consciousness or God.
When this is attained, the wheel of “samsara”,
the wheel of births and deaths is broken, to dwell forever
in a state of absolute bliss.
To free oneself from the grip of karma and samsara requires
a development of the inner potential spiritual powers
as well as the grace of God.
This inner spiritual power can be developed by a life
dedicated to “Sadhana” - spiritual practices
and self-discipline like yoga, meditation, renunciation
to all attachments, devotion and surrender to God.
Vedic astrology can help us a great deal to understand
the main lessons we have to learn in this life, discover
our inner potentials and creative energy, and choose the
type of sadhana or yoga practice, personal Mantra, “Ishta
Devata” or personal tutelary deity, spiritual teacher,
Vedic and Western Astrology
There are many important differences between
the western and Vedic systems of astrology.
One of the most important one is that western astrology
uses the “tropical” zodiac, considering the
vernal equinox as the 0 degree of Aries, but there is a
phenomena called the precesion of the echinoxes, and every
year it goes back a fraction of degree. Now a days the vernal
echinoxe takes place in Pices about 4 degrees. So there
is a difference of around -24 degrees. This difference is
called the “Ayanamsha” and is the base of the
“Sidereal” Zodiac, used in Vedic astrology.
So the western tropical zodiac is more a kind of symbolic
or archetypical zodiac but it doesn’t reflect the
real position of the planets in relation with the stars
and the universe, but is more based in the relation between
the Sun and the Earth and the seasons, and therefore, more
concerned about the worldly matters, while the Sidereal
zodiac used in Vedic astrology is very precise in making
accurate predictions, and for understanding the relationship
of the individual with the entire universe, and is more
suitable for spiritual maters.
Becose of the diferent zodiac sistems, the position of the
planets will be diferent in the chart, and many planets
will be in a previous sign, creating a whole diferent chart.
Another point is that vedic astrology is a Moon based sistem,
instead of the Sun based sistem in western. A special importance
is given to the ascendant as well.
Even though the Sun is the soul of the universe and has
an importan signification, all the experience of the individual
take place on the mind, and that is seen on the Moon. The
Moon is the “prana” or vital force in each individual
and each action, wich will determine his actions, reaction
and therefore, Karma.
So in the vedic sistem, when we talk about somebody’s
“Sign”, we do not usually refer to the Sun sign,
like in the western system, but more to the Ascendant and
Even the sun sign may often be on the sign previous than
the western system and the same with all the other planets
and the ascendant
There are also different interpretative rules, different
rules of the planetary and house aspects and simbolism,
different house systems, but there are several common rules
and symbolisms as well.
If you are used to the western system and tropical zodiac,
which also has its validity for some uses, it is recommended
not to “mix” the two sistems, and try to understand
each of them independently with their own rules and frame
Vedic astrology also has a unique system of dividing the
sky in 27 sections of 13:20 degrees called “Nakshatras”
or Stars, which gives a more precise division of the signs
and the zodiac, and very useful to understand the mind frame
of the native and some inherent karmas related with them.
There is also a unique and very accurate system of prediction
and timing of events which is the Dasha system of planetary
periods of life, which doesn’t exist in the western
system. There are many Dasha systems but the Vimshottari
Dasha is the most commonly used and appreciated. The Dashas
are use together with the transits for fine tuning of predictions.
Another important factor to understand
is that unlike the western system, the Vedic understanding
of the birth chart is thet it represents the “maya”
or illusion of the person. The Yogi does not identify with
it, but rather understands that the chart represents the
ignorant tendency of the mind to cling to a personality,
which actually limits and prevents the spiritual experience,
the realization of the true Self.
The planets show the karma, and karma means bondage to the
material consciousness, it is something that the Yogi wants
to liberate from, and not strength the identification with
We can clearly see that the western culture in general is
based on strengthening and identifying with the ego and
uses astrology to justify the personality.
Even many modern Vedic astrologers who only study the astrological
techniques, without the knowledge of Vedanta philosophy
and study of the Vedas and without a personal Sadhana or
experience in yoga and meditation, tend to do the same mistake.
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