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WHAT IS VEDIC ASTROLOGY: Two of the major systems of astrology popular in India are Parashari and

Jaimini (actually the latter is a sub-set of the system described by Parashara in his magnum opus, Brihat

Parashar Hora Shastra). Neither of these should be called Hindu astrology, because Hinduism is a religion,

Neither are all Indians Hindus, nor jyotish is something that only applies to hindus. Vedic astrology is

perhaps a more appropriate term (also popular in North America) as it describes the predominant origin of

the existing system of jyotish. Purists might find problems even with that terminology. Anyway, jyotish

utilizes the sidereal zodiac which continually moves out-of-phase from the tropical season-based zodiac,

used in western astrology, due to a phenomenon called the precession of equinoxes. The earth is like a top

with a very slow wobble which results in its northern axis pointing towards a different star in the starry

heavens at large intervals over a large period of time, leading to the vernal equinox coinciding with a

different constellation over millennia (the axis approximately precessing or moving backward through one

sidereal sign every 2000 years). Since there is no specific star indicating the boundaries of the sidereal signs,

it is easier to determine the zodiac that is based on solar epochs, such as equinoxes and solstices, hence the

utility of the tropical zodiac as seed. The correction for the precessional motion is known as ayanamsha,

which describes the difference between tropical and sidereal zodiacs. Several values of ayanamshas have

been used by notable jyotishis. The 360 deg. zodiac is divided into twelve signs, each 30 deg. wide and

possessing fairly similar qualities, symbols and lords as the western system. Despite modern attempts,

traditional Jyotish does not recognize the trans-saturnine planets (Neptune, Uranus, Pluto) and only

the seven classical planets including the sun and moon are considered. On the other hand, Rahu and

Ketu, the nodes of Moon, are considered as planets with their special propensity towards acting as surrogates

for the planet whose sign they occupy and with whom they associate in a given horoscope. There are several

other mathematical points known as upagrahas or sub-planets (as opposed to asteroids used in western

astrology) that are described but not very commonly utilized by jyotishis. In addition to the twelve signs, the

sidereal zodiac is also divided into 27 stars, each being ruled by one of the planets. As a result, jyotish uses

three sets of nine stars ruled by nine planets and nodes in the same cyclical order repeating in each set of

nine stars. Further divisions of the zodiac called amshas or vargas are utilized in constructing divisional

(somewhat similar to the western harmonics; also see the specific chapter XXIV on vargas for elaboration)

charts such as, navamsha, nadiamsha, shastiyamsha, dwadashamsa, dashamsa etc., each representing the

division of a sign (30 deg) into up to 150 parts. The staunch follower of jyotish; therefore, may have to study

several charts for each nativity. Even more vargas or harmonics have been described in the 'tajik' and Jaimini

systems and are used by skilled jyotishis not only for annual but also for natal readings. A method that

divides each of the 27 stars into subdivisions was popularized by an astrologer named Krishnamurty a few

decades ago. This and other similar stellar-based methods have generally remained somewhat less popular

than the mainstream 'Parashari' jyotish, in India. The use of nakshatras or lunar asterisms in synastry, and

electional astrology (muhurta), on the other hand is quite popular.

The timing of events in jyotish is determined through several dasha systems. There are many

methodological differences between vedic and western systems in procedures adopted for the determination

of planetary strengths, the study of annual (periodic) charts and the way in which horary charts are drawn to

answer questions for clients who do not wish to reveal birth data or who do not know accurate birth times.

An interesting application popular in India is for determining an auspicious moment for entering a new

house, for starting a business or even for studying astrology or for starting many other things (electional

astrology). Also unique are the practices such as matching of horoscopes prior to matrimony or remedial

astrology which uses gems, herbs and religious techniques to propitiate evil planetary effects. Vedic

astrological analysis depends heavily on planetary associations with and in specific houses of a horoscope

(positive combinations are properly called yogas while the negative ones are called arishtas).

JYOTISH PRIMER by Rohiniranjan/Crystal Pages -- © All rights reserved, since 1980



bugbear for astrologers of all times and places. Numerous types of progressions, directions, transits and

other techniques are strewn all across existing literature. Indian astrologers generally define periods in one’s

life as being ruled by the various planets. These periods or DASHAs (pronounced 'dusha' meaning condition

or direction). Although vimshottari dasha which spans over 120 years in duration is the most popular and

with the widest user-base and documented testing, many other dashas have been described in ancient texts:

ashtottari, navamsha, lagna, chara, sthira, kala, kalachakra, yogini, shoola, etc. A few of these are based on

the asterisms while others are based on signs or rashis; some are universally applicable while others are

selected based on the chart meeting certain conditions (conditional dashas). By far the most popular of the

former category is vimshottari dasha which is based on the longitude of the natal Moon and can be viewed as

a lunar progression. Although the ascendant and other planets are of great importance in vedic astrology, the

Moon is held in the highest esteem. In the absence of accurate birth times, the Moon sign has been

recommended to serve as the ascendant and this often works well in describing the individual and his/her life

with a fair degree of accuracy. The sunsign is considered very important in western astrology, in jyotish, the

Moon sign is considered very important in jyotish and the daily horoscope is based on the Moon sign.

Satyacharya had indicated that one’s birthstar need not be the lunar asterism at birth, and by extrapolation,

people have recommended the utilization of seeds for vimshottari, other than the natal lunar asterism. Yet

another area for research and testing. It is tempting for most to just follow someones recommendations

(without necessarily being shown the practical evidence, often not asked due to reasons of delicacy) rather

than putting some time and effort into personal testing, but the latter is really the best way to be certain,

hence I recommend that hard and personal approach.

The division of zodiac into 27 stars and 249 subdivisions (as per KP) is important for vimshottari

analysis. Starting with the first degree of sidereal Aries, each subsequent 13 deg. 20 min. (800 minutes) wide

slice of the zodiac is ruled by nine planets in this order: Ketu, Venus, Sun, Moon, Mars, Rahu, Jupiter,

Saturn and Mercury. In the vimshottari scheme of progression, these rule over the following periods in years:

Ketu (7y), Venus (20y), Sun (6y), Moon (10y), Mars (7y), Rahu (18y), Jupiter (16y), Saturn (19y) and

Mercury (17y). Each set of nine stars ruled by the nine planets occupies a third of the zodiac (120 deg.) and

the three stars ruled by any one planet are in trine (120 degrees apart) from each other. The position of the

Moon at birth in these stars determines the first dasha period. If the Moon is in Jupiter's star at birth then that

individual will begin life with Jupiter's major period. Each star is further subdivided into nine variable

subdivisions, each ruled by one of the nine planets, in the same order as the dashas, with the first subdivision

ruled by the lord of the star. These sub-lords rule over the sub-period or minor period in a dasha. To

illustrate, if Moon was in the first degree of Jupiter's star, the first DASHA-bhukti would be ruled by JUPITER-

Jupiter, while if Moon was a little more advanced then the first DASHA-bhukti would be ruled by JUPITER-

Saturn. Incidentally, the dasha method has been reliably tested only with sidereal longitudes and in order to

calculate that you will have to deduct the value of the ayanamsha (precession) from the tropical longitude of

the natal Moon. The sidereal zodiac is almost one sign behind the tropical at present. The duration of sub-

periods are in proportion to the major period of the star-lord. For example, Moon's dasha lasts for 10 years,

whereas Sun's dasha is 6 years long. Therefore, Sun's sub-period in Moon's dasha would be 6 / 120 x 10 =

0.5y or 6 months. Likewise, the duration of Moon's sub-period in Sun's dasha will be of 6 months duration.

The levels of sub-periods can be up to very minute subdivisions, their usefulness would be determined by the

accuracy of the birth time and the ayanamsha adopted or whether parallax or geocentric longitudes of Moon

have been utilized. One soon gets to the point where the consideration of too many variables begins to

become confusing rather than helpful!

It helps to keep in mind that the planet ruling a major period represents the prime general influence

JYOTISH PRIMER by Rohiniranjan/Crystal Pages -- © All rights reserved, since 1980


and the source of effects. It sets the tone for the period. It determines the initiation of any effect and if strong

induces a greater degree of motivation and initiative. There are several ways of measuring planetary

strength, but as a first approximation, a planet that is exalted or in its own sign and untainted by malefic

influences, is helpful and strong. If the major period lord is weak, a general lack of energy and initiative is

experienced and things do not get started easily. The areas in life governed by the houses owned by the

dasha lord describe the initiators in that major period. The elemental nature of the house - whether it be fiery

or earthy, fixed or movable, male or female, angular or cadent etc. is important too. Once these sources of

effects have been defined, one next looks at the star in which the dasha lord is placed. The planet ruling this

star would indicate the areas affected during the dasha. Consideration of the strength of the star-lord is also

important. If the major lord (source) is strong, then the element of free-will is stronger, if the star-lord

harboring the major period lord is very strong, then there could be a touch of fate in the effects experienced.

Finally, one considers the lord of the asterismal subdivision in which the dasha lord is located. This planet by

its disposition towards the star-lord would determine whether the effort will result in success or failure. Its

strength determines the degree of effect of the event on the individual and his/her life. To reiterate, the major

lord is the source of an effect, its star-lord indicates the nature of the effect and its sub-lord indicates success

or failure. The same logic is applied when the effect of a minor period (BHUKTI) in a dasha is considered.

The only difference is that the minor period is limited by the major period. If the major period denies

marriage, while the minor period promises so, the likelihood of marriage is bleak or short lasting during such

a period. This scheme generally attributed to Krishnamurty (of the Krishnamurty paddhati fame) is one of

the many considerations that may be studied in order to delineate dasha period effects in a chart.

Further minor divisions of bhuktis into antaras, pratyantaras, pranas and sukshmas etc. have been

described but given the general lack in accuracy of reported birth times, differences in opinions about the

correct value of ayanamshas and of the most suitable epoch to be considered for natal horoscopy (first cry,

cutting of cord, and other points in time), such minor divisions are often reduced to being only of academic

importance. Students may begin with using Yukteshwara's or the very closely related value known as

Raman’s ayanamsha with the solar 365.25 day year. As experience develops, some fine-tuning may be

incorporated. For pinpointing the timing of an event, transits of significant planets (dasha and bhukti lords,

the Sun and Moon) through sensitive stars (belonging to the dasha/bhukti lords) and through significant

houses should be taken into account. In some cases the transits of the planet ruling the pratyantara (3rd level)

assumes a significant role.

It is often (wrongly) believed that the occidental astrological approach gives uncanny insights into

the personality makeup of an individual; whereas, the vedic approach is more satisfactory for delineating

events and their time of occurrence. However, to a serious student, both systems must appear to have several

levels of interpretation and equally incisive outcomes have been demonstrated to have been achieved

through use of either system. The difference in approach is more a function of the persons and their

backgrounds that find astrology attractive. In the western scene, for many recent decades, astrology has

drawn to itself those with a background in humanities and particularly psychology, academic as well as

clinical and we see that influence in their leanings and approaches and in the way they have shaped western

astrology. On the jyotish scene, recent years have seen the most actively involved proponents coming from

the field of management and engineering/programming. Is it any wonder that in recent times, jyotish has

taken on a new refinement which adds a very strong applied aspect to it, with neat organization of the bevy

of jyotish principles, as well as focus on techniques and toolkits. This is very welcome as the ‘fat’ within the

jyotish framework continues to be trimmed off and the vehicle of jyotish takes on a newer, slimmer, sleeker

and streamlined shape. Change is always good, because it becomes enrichened through this in the long run.


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