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Research Aids at Your Service

Research Aids at Your Service

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Published by Rohiniranjan

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Rohiniranjan on Mar 12, 2010
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02/24/2013

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Research aids at your service
ByRohiniranjan (c) Crystal PagesResearch is not a new concept for serious jyotishis. Journals like The AstrologicalMagazine and many others had been supporting and publishing research articles on novelaspects of Jyotish techniques as well as re-examining existing techniques for manydecades now. Given the enormous complexity of the Jyotish delineative process whichincorporates an analysis of myriads of factors, which are then synthesised into ameaningful reading, research can be time consuming and difficult. Even as recently as adecade or so ago, there were not many jyotishis who had ready access to tools such ascomputers and software. Even the few software packages that were available often hadquirks, and at times outright errors particularly in the area of newly programmed infeatures and techniques. Partly due to the internet, and to a massive renewal of interest,many otherwise hidden techniques have come to new light or have newly been proposedand found a place in popular software over the years. Not all of these have beenadequately tested, or validated to produce reliable results and often the user is relegatedto the role of being a paying-beta tester, at least during the first few versions of thesoftware. Respons to complaints and suggestions have varied from one softwarecompany to another. Some incorporate suggestions right away, while others never respond back or make the change!The research features in most Jyotish software are not powerful or suitable for examininga large numbers of horoscopes for conducting group analysis. Standalone researchsoftware has been available for western astrology (e.g., Jigsaw) but not for vedicastrology. The popular Parashara’s Light from Geovision lets one look at a group of charts in a .QCK format file and generates some statistics for factors such as aspects,dignities, shadbala strengths attained by planets in a group, or searching for rules such asnumber of charts with Jupiter aspecting the moon in a group. A commendable baby step,at best.In recent years, The Astrodatabank software from Mark Donough has begun to addJyotish factors and attributes to its research capabilities. Astrodatabank is a MicrosoftAccess-based database which contains birth data of varying qualities essentiallyincorporating the famous Rodden Database. Late Lois Rodden, a Canadian astrologer from Saskatchewan had been a well-known pioneer in the area of birth data collection.The results of years of painstaking work by herself and her group has been availableseparately and as part of the Astrodatabank for some time. The database now containsgreater than 28,000 birth data, many with biographical details and categorized inhundreds of different ways. It allows one to view the charts from different periods of time, different vocational categories, personality types, diseases, the list goes on. Newdata gets added all the time and the database is updated periodically by going online,through the internet. Birth data of celebrities coexist with thousands of data for ordinaryregular folks, the nativities that most jyotishis typically would give readings to.
 
With essentially over a million or more pieces of information available in the database,given all the categories, tags and flags for each record, it is absolutely essential that thereexist powerful search, sort and filtering capabilities – such as are provided by MSAccess. If you already have MS Access on your computer, you can use that; for the restof us a run-time access utility is included with the software.The printed and online documentation is pretty good, a bit concise in places, but detailedin others and the program, though initially a bit overwhelming due to its enormous listsof options and its capabilities is well organized and after some familiarity is very easy touse. Several views allow one to see the database in different ways. The site atwww.astrodatabank.comis loaded with information, birth data, discussions, examples,and helpful material of all kind. The price of the program is comparable to most Jyotish programs and though not exactly inexpensive, represents good value for individuals whoare seriously interested in conducting research as well as interested students because it provides one to experiment with data and real charts and the value of that kind of  practical learning cannot be overstated. Subsequent upgrades tend to cost considerablyless than the original price.In general, the examination of astrological techniques can be done qualitatively or quantitatively. Does a certain yoga work or not would be an example of qualitativeexamination. A research question such as, “Does the gajkeshari yoga formed by themutual angular disposition of moon and Jupiter work in charts, as per classical dicta or otherwise”, would require examination of a variety of charts with this combination and biographical details available, with ease. Similar examples could be a certain arishta andtesting its correlation with a physical defect or disease. While important, such researchwould not necessarily tell us if a certain form of the yoga or arishta is more effective or less, from the other forms of the same yoga or for that matter in comparison with another combination. There are a large number of individuals who do not test things this way andrely heavily on anecdotal evidence or sometimes just hearsay and personal intuitiveguesses which they then call logical interpretation. This is not the best way to remember or practice Jyotish or to demonstrate its efficacy to others.RESEARCH IN ASTRODATABANK:On one internet Jyotish forum, someone once mentioned emphatically that a certaincombination leads to sexual excesses. In the past, no one would have the time or patienceto actually pore over hundreds of charts and see if this is really the case. WithAstrodatabank, it was easy for me to quickly test it and using a subset of the birth data,with the attributes of sexual excesses and deviations, a certain proportion of this groupdid indeed have the combination under examination. In order to see if it is a real effect, Inext compared it with a subset of individuals who were saintly and otherwise holy men. Now I realize that a few of these holy men could have had some sexual issues, but for the purpose of this quick examination, I allowed for that ‘contamination’ because it probablywould not be significant. Well, lo and behold! The said combination was approximatelyin four times as many charts in the ‘sexual’ group than the saintly group. This is whereresearch gets tricky! Since the devil is always in the details and in the re-examination – the obvious thing to test was if there was a sampling bias involved. Sure enough, the
 
sample size of the ‘sexual’ group was about four times larger than the ‘saintly’comparison group! The factor, therefore, was as prevalent in both groups and notsignificant! Proportion or percentage and not the absolute prevalence was the key in thiscase and a red herring was avoided (or perhaps captured!). The real point is that withoutthe database, something like this could not possibly get tested in a few minutes and thecomment made by someone on a Jyotish forum would have been accepted withoutquestion and would stick in many minds as the researched ‘truth’! Having the databasealso gives confidence in what we are testing or should test when opportunity arises.In quantitative testing, likewise, one must not assume that all factors are equallydistributed. If one tests something like the distribution of lagnas, one would find thatcertain lagnas tend to rise more commonly than others. These would tend to be the signsthat are of long ascension, and hence rise for a longer duration than the others. The longascension signs would depend also on the hemisphere of birth and seasons during whichthe birth took place. Again, the bottom-line is that lagnas are neither distributed equallyacross the signs, nor are the sun signs or moon signs. If we are not aware of these‘variabilities’ that lead to sampling bias, we risk arriving at wrong or misleadingconclusions.Astrodatabank allows one to filter out data. One example of such a filter would be for determining how many individuals have the Chandra-Mangal yoga. Three of the manytypes of filters that Astrodatabank provides are positions, aspects and dignities. Each of these screens have several items that one can pick and choose from to design the filter.For our example, I would pick moon and mars in the aspects screen and choose yuti or conjunction (the vedic form allows for the entire sign as opposed to tighter orbs, whichare also available if you so choose). If I were looking for the yoga in specific houses, Icould have chosen that from the position screen. If I wanted to look at only moons thatare in cancer or its exaltation sign Taurus, I could have chosen those from the dignityscreen. One click on the OK button and the computer would show me the birth data of nativities with the combination. I could then go to each chart and examine the biographical data or click on the INFO button and get a table of the planetary positionsand the ascendant for the chart under the cursor. Using the cursor keys, I could next scrolldown to the next chart or next screen. If I need to look at the horoscopes, I could click onthe CHART button and it would open the Jyotish program. It currently supportsParashara’s Light and Sri Jyoti, and several western calculation programs. More would probably get added in subsequent versions if there is public demand. One can add their  personal collection of charts to the database or create new databases by importing one’sown collection of charts or creating a category for research purposes, for instance.While filtering is quite useful, it is restrictive. With filters you are essentially weedingout unwanted criteria. However, if you wish to test several rules to see which one fits,other tools are available in Astrodatabank. For instance, if you want to test a certainassociation (energy-based healing ability, for example) and wish to identify all chartswith sun in 3 house or sun in exaltation in charts (not just 3 house) – you cannot do
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that in one operation using filters. If you try to, the list that will come back will show youhow many charts have exalted sun in the 3 house. This is where ASTROSIGNATURES
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