HE VEDIC ZODIAC

------ © Dr. Satya Prakash Choudhary For an observer on the earth, the Sun appears to move around the earth. The path of this motion is called the ecliptic . Approximately 8 degrees on either side or the north and south of this apparent ecliptic path of the sun is the bandwidth in the heavens within which all the planets (including the sun) seem to revolve from the earth. This precise bandwidth of sky can be visually described as a wheel and hence it is called Bha-Chakra ('Bha' means 'to shine' and 'chakra' means 'wheel' ). Thus the zodiac is referred to as the 'shining wheel' in Jyotish.

On a clear moonless night, observing the sky, it is possible to count approximately three thousand stars. With a 100 inch telescope about 1,500 million stars are observed. The term heaps of stars is probably an appropriate description for the visual effect in the sky. In fact the word Rasi means 'heap' meaning 'heap of stars' . In other words the Zodiac is comprised of 'heaps of stars' .

The ancients intuitively related groups of stars to meaningful patterns. These were not of arbitrary formations or shapes but had clear definite distinctions with specific meanings. The adopted cosmic law is that the form and essence are related. This is an oft-repeated spiritual law in the agama sastras. In other words the meaning of a shape is reflected in their characteristics. The seers of vedic astrology observed that when planets moved through specific group of stars, they gave specific results.

Thus the stars can be grouped together. In other words the Zodiac is divided into segments, based on the asterisms (group of stars) or Nakshatras . The word Nakshatras has two meanings - Na (Not) and Kshatra (destroyed). This means permanent or indestructible. It also has another interpretation lunar mansion - Na (Moon), Kshetra (mansion), Na-kshetra is different from Na-kshatra). The idea of the lunar mansions was derived at a later date for a specific purpose.

Each Nakshatra is named or reckoned by its principle star (yogatara ). For mathematical calculations the position of the primary or principle star is given. The 27 asterisms are like the many stations on the apparent path of the planets or the ecliptic. In another words the zodiac of 360 degrees can be divided into 27 equal slices of 13 degrees 20' each. This is the lunar zodiac, the most ancient zodiac of the world.

In essence there are two zodiacs - the lunar which is the most ancient zodiac and the solar which is relatively of later origin probably. These are two different means of classification of

For practical purposes generally the non-zodiacal asterisms are not considered. Thus each cycle of the moon takes 27 and 1/3 days. The lunar follows the nakshatra system and the solar follows the Rasi (sign) system. The lunar/ nakshatra system is also known as the night system and the solar/ rasi system is known as the day system . The others are considered Non-zodiacal. Predictive astrology generally deals with the zodiacal nakshatras and not the non-zodiacal ones. This is simply because. These 12 equal signs of the zodiac are the 12 rasis (heaps). the king of the night sky is spending each night with one of the 27 wives! The moon remains 24 hours and 18 minutes in each Nakshatra. The Sun is the King of the day sky while the Moon is the king of the night sky. It has been observed that each day the moon moves from one Nakshatra to the other. The moon is attributed a prominent role due to its dominant presence in the night sky. . we have 2 1/4 Nakshatras in each of the 12 rasis. during the day the Sun' is the predominant object in the sky whereas the other planets and asterisms are observed during the night. Non Zodiacal Nakshatras The word Nakshatra is used to mean that which cannot be destroyed. During the ancient times most of the astronomical observations were done in the night sky thus conferring more importance to the lunar zodiac. as the sun moves across the ecliptic circle of 360 degrees. The Non-zodiacal Nakshatras cannot be classified under the term lunar mansions since the moon does not spend time in the non-zodiacal nakshatras. The Zodiac can be divided into twelve equal signs of 30 degrees each.the Zodiac . The 27 nakshatras by virtue of being observed in the 8 degree ecliptic are known as the Zodiacal Nakshatras. This is the solar zodiac . A few non-zodiacal asterisms are mentioned below: • Agni (tauri) • Prajapati (aurigal) • Agastya ( canopus ) . When we try to integrate both the solar and lunar zodiacs. It is as if the moon.

which reveal Astronomical phenomena.5.Min Aries -00-00 Aries -13-20 Aries -26-40 Taurus -10-00 Taurus -23-20 Gemini -06-40 Gemini -20-00 Cancer-03-20 Cancer -16-40 Leo-00-00 Leo -13-20 Leo -26-40 Virgo -10-00 Virgo -23-20 Libra -06-40 Libra -20-00 Lords Ketu Venus Sun Moon Mars Rahu Jupiter Saturn Mercury Ketu Venus Sun Moon Mars Rahu Jupiter .• Lubdaka or Mriga Vyadha [sirius] • Trisanku (Centauri) • Vishvamitra (southern cross) • Saptarishis (the Great Bear) • Dhruva (The Pole Star) The Puranas (ancient mythological texts) recount stories about these non-zodiacal nakshatras. which were originally 28 including a short span intercalary hypothetical nakshatra called 'abhijit'. Zodiacal Nakshatras These are the lunar mansions. This imagery is very helpful in comprehending the nakshatras and their roles. Each nakshatra has a presiding deity (devata) and a particular power (shakti). No 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Nakshatra(Star) Aswini Bharani Kritika Rohini Mrigasira Aridra Punarvasu Pushya Aslesha Magha Poorvaphalguni Uttaraphalguni Hasta Chitra Swati Visakha Starting Longitude Sign-Deg. The shaktis have an effect above.1) of the Yajurveda describes the nakshatra and the presiding deities. an effect below and the final effect of or result of all the factors. only 27 nakshatras are considered. The Rishis attributed characteristics and deities to the nakshatras. which made it easy for humanity to focus on and invoke the energies of these deities. Bhattabhaskara Mishra's commentary is helpful in understanding it further. An ancient vedic text (Taittiriya Brahmana I. But for practical purposes.

Aquarius is invariably symbolized as a man holding an inverted water pot and pouring the water down on earth. Vishnu. Look at any star atlas. Purana. Even the devatas (deities) are nakshatra rupas (of the form of Nakshatras). While Varahamihira describes Aquarius as a man carrying an empty pot. waiting for the 'KUMBHA VRISHTI'? So Aquarius is not just A MAN with an EMPTY water pot. one cannot agree with him. "Varuna lets the big cask. The specific forms (including Shiva. The Veda. The interrelationship of these three factors reveals an ocean of information on which the entire edifice of astrology is built. So I will digress a bit here.17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Anuradha Jyehsta Moola Poorvashadha Uttarashadha Sravana Dhanshita Satabisha Poorvabhadrapada Uttarabhadrapada Revati Scorpio-03-20 Scorpio -16-40 Sagittarius -00-00 Sagittarius -13-20 Sagittarius -26-40 Cap rico rn-10-00 Cap rico rn -23-20 Aquarius -06-40 Aquarius -20-00 Pieces -03-20 Pieces -16-40 Saturn Mercury Ketu Venus Sun Moon Mars Rahu Jupiter Saturn Mercury In summary every horoscope has 12 rasis (signs). 3) describes Varuna thus. Doesn't it sound familiar? That IS VARUNA! The Rig Veda (V. opening downward. Agama and Hinduism in general. Ganesha) and rituals of various deities have a definite astronomical basis. NOTE: The following can be treated like additional reading material and is optional Before ending this article I should acquaint the reader with the close links between the Veda. Is there further reason to support Varuna as the symbol of Aquarius? Varuna is the deity for Satabhisha (Lamda aquarius) and is riding the crocodile (makara-capricorn). but VARUNA with . Agama. I will cite a few instances here. Knowledge of astronomy as well as astrology is very crucial to unlock the secrets of the Veda.85.constellations. I am inclined to believe that originally the Vedic tradition could NOT have been a man carrying an empty pot on his shoulders. 9 grahas (loosely translated as planets) and 27 nakshatras . We all know how much he was influenced by the Yavanas or Greeks (I do not imply that foreign influences are bad or anything of that sort. Jyotish and most Hindu practices are closely linked to both astronomy and astrology. Therewith the Universe's Sovereign waters earth as the shower of rain bedews the barley". but in this context one needs to keep it in mind as it has a different import contextually). And what of the Indian idea of waiting for transits through Dhanishta Panchakam. flow through the heaven and earth and air's mid-region. Purana.

who came to test Sibi's sense of Dharma. Thus Makara (Capricorn) when treated as a crocodile could be the vahana (vehicle) of Varuna. from Visakha (Vi + Sakha). And do you remember who actually the dove and falcon. Who are the presiding deities of Visakha? Indra and Agni. his sense of Justice. but from the symbolism of the story of Sibi probably. Another example would be Tula (Libra). But a word of caution is needed. or that the days and nights are equal. when the Sun is in Tula . While the shape of Visakha is round and can be interpreted as the Vedic fire altar. doing so will require a more thorough knowledge of the Vedic and Puranic literature (or sometimes even Myth from other ancient cultures from across the globe. Remember the crocodile and goddess Ganga ? Likewise for most rasis. Some of the qualities of Libra seem to be derived more from the following. or even the pan of the scales of a Balance. an epitome of Dharma. within our minds? It is probably due to such deeper reasons too that mythology and astronomy will continue to fascinate us in this unconscious attempt to seek the forgotten identity with the Cosmos. What is it that BALANCES. than from Venus or it being the seventh sign. to see the links) as well as Astronomy and astrology. Emperor Sibi.an INVERTED POT POURING WATER down. who weighed ( tula ) himself in the scale/pan to satisy the falcon and protect the dove. (the symbol of Libra). quite often it is done very loosely! Look at how some use Bharani! A SIGN and SYMBOL are NOT the same. something else needs our attention -the story of Sibi Chakravarti. Using the symbol as a sign is worse than not using it at all. Most myths and deities of the Puranas and Itihasas seem to have an astronomical basis too apart from the archetypal significance. judges etc comes not just from the scales/balance. about Libra? Apart from the idea that the ecliptic branches off (vi+sakha) to the south. there seems to be something more. While it is true that both myth and astronomy hold a crucial key to unlock more secrets. I sometimes feel that even the deep-rooted archetypes too have some unconscious origin in the skies. While it is becoming increasingly popular for some western vedic astrologers (and Indian too) to use the symbols of the naksatras in interpretation. Are we not "the stuff of the stars come alive"? Are they not part of our identity with the One? Don't we carry the Universe within us. So too with the other nakshatras. The very deities who rule Visakha! So Libra's association with a sense of justice. were? INDRA and AGNI. I have just cited two examples from a few that come to mind. Quite a tough job! .

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