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Differences Between Vedic Astrology and

Western Astrology
Chakrapani has always said that he prefers not to make comparisons
between Tropical Astrology and Vedic Astrology because his experience is
limited to the Vedic system; he admittedly has only a superficial
understanding of the Western system. However, giventhe inevitable
questions about how to distinguish the two systems from one another, the
following are some observations aboutVedic, or Sidereal Astrology, and
Western, or Tropical Astrology.
The most obvious difference in the two systems is that Vedic Astrology is
based on the Sidereal Zodiac whereas Western Astrology uses the Vernal
Zodiac. Vedic/Sidereal Astrology uses the fixed observable stars in the sky;
Western Astrology is more time based, determining the beginning of the
zodiac as corresponding to the start of the Vernal Equinox. In the year 2010,
the difference between the two systems is considered to be between 22 and
24 degrees and indicates the difference between the point of the Vernal
Equinox and the first point of the constellation Aries.
This results in the native having a different horoscope in each system, which
can cause confusion. Although Chakrapani cannot defend or legitimize the
Vernal Zodiac as he has not made a study of it, it is generally accepted that
the two systems are looking at the heavens, each from a different
perspective with a consequently unique and different point of view. Some
feel that the two systems can peacefully co-exist as they are looking at the
same phenomenon but with a different angle of vision,as opposed to
contradicting one another outright. Chakrapani has no comment on this
other than the fact that he wholeheartedly subscribes to the Vedic system
which he knows and trusts.
Beyond the two different zodiacs, the most defining element of Vedic
astrology, Jyotish, as it is called, is the fact that it is a Vedic science,
connected at its roots to Vedic philosophy. As such, a spiritual orientation is
woven into the fabric of all the systems and methods of the science. Vedic
Astrology has many categories, and throughout all the branches of study that
it encompasses there is a palpable underlying spiritual orientation to the
material.
Vedic Astrology is intended as a tool to aid mankind in his journey of life on
earth. The understanding being that the purpose of life is to grow in ones
greater understanding, wisdom and capacity to love. Vedic Astrology holds

tantamount the evolution of the soul, and that all trials and tribulations on
the earthly plane are seen as a means to refine ones character in the process
towards ever-greater perfection.
Vedic Astrology is not intended to bea fanciful or lighthearted undertaking or
a source of entertainment, although there is certainly humor and irony in the
human condition if one cares to look from that point of view. This is not to
suggest that Tropical Astrology is any less serious, but certainly, the parlor
games, daily horoscope in the newspaper, casual questions as to ones
sign do not do justice to the subject matter or its intentions. Vedic
Astrology is considered a divine science to be approached with reverence
and respect. It is a highly complex science, and when practiced with focused
study such that one becomes a channel for the knowledge, it also becomes
an art.
Vedic Astrology, as a field of study, encompasses far more than what one
person could hope to master in a lifetime of dedicated work. Some of the
areas of focus include, cycles of weather and crops, earthquakes and natural
phenomenon, health or medical astrology, economics and world trade
markets, politics and world events, and so on. In fact, virtually all realms of
human life are addressed by Vedic Astrology. However, for a practitioner to
become proficient in any given subject requires focused attention on that
area, and attunement to the methodologies and energies of the planets as
they pertain to that particular subject.
Vedic Astrology is frequently called predictive astrology because of its ability
to predict events in life. This ability is due to the refinement in the various
systems of the science, and requires significant subtlety of understanding
and perception on the part of the practitioner.
When one refers to "predictions" in astrology, one is not suggesting that it
has to be so, but rather that the energies are aligned in such a way as to
suggest a probable outcome. This is why astrology is referred to as the
"Science of Indications". Without an effort to overcome the momentum of
any given force or thrust of action, the indications suggest what will probably
be.
Astrology reveals the timing of trends and certain influences, but never
discounts the element of free will. Rather, in studying the horoscope the
intention is to apply effort to overcome obstacles and inherent weaknesses,
and to capitalize on ones strengths. There is also the hope that one will
reach a place of peace and acceptance with the challenges that the destiny
brings.

Vedic Astrology, rather than suggesting a passive or fatalistic philosophy is


founded on being proactive; it is based on the notion that knowledge is
power. The more one reflects on ones own chart; the more the insights
become deeper and more profound. The astrologer serves as a kind of
guide, but a productive encounter with the astrologer requires that the
individual be actively involved, measuring the astrologers words against
their own inner knowing. That reflection is an ongoing process, continuing
long after any given consultation,as sometimes one is not ready to hear, or
consider, or fully comprehendthe material that is suggested in the reading.
Even if it is understood or accepted, oftentimes, for the understanding to
penetrate deep into ones being takes many years. The point being that the
astrologer is acting as a catalyst; the astrologer has studied the energies of
the planets and attempts to be of service to the aspirant who is seeking
greater knowledge of self. It is a spiritual quest, ultimately; the greatest
measure of its success rests with the intentions of the aspirant.
In Vedic Astrology, the Rising Sign or Ascendant is considered to be the most
important factor in making accurate predictions. The Ascendant is
represented by the sign, which is on the eastern horizon at the time of birth,
and is the aspect of the chart that changes most frequently (approximately
every two hours). It is the pivotal point from which the astrologer considers
the horoscope, the context from which all of the planets are evaluated. The
Rising Sign determines the ordinal procession of the houses; when the
Ascendant is determined, the rulership of the twelve houses is then
established. Both of the systems rely on the Ascendant in this way.
The Dasa System (the planetary cycles) is a unique feature of the Vedic
system, which indicates a period during which a planets influence becomes
fully operative. The Dasha System is a critical element enabling the Vedic
Astrologer to give precise predictions during any given period.
Vedic Astrology is also sometimes called Constellation Astrology because it
takes into account fixed stars called constellations. As a result, the astrologer
considers not only the influence of the planets in a sign but also the subtle
influences exercised by the constellations. This means that when a planet
passes through a sign, it expresses the influence of the sign and is also
tempered by the influence of the constellations of the sign. To practice
predictive astrology, one must be able to go deep into the subtle influences
of the constellations.
One consequence of the two different zodiacs is that the Vedic system does
not give the Sun the same prominence that is has in the Western system.
While acknowledging the Sun as a significator of the essence, or soul of the

individual, Vedic Astrology, by following the Sidereal Zodiac gives more


relative importance to the influence of the other planets. In the Western
system the perspective or emphasis of the resulting horoscope results in the
Sun becoming more of a focal point.
In Vedic Astrology, more emphasis is placed on the Moon than on the Sun.
The Moon represents the mind which is seen as the agency of perception
and, consequently, is a major determining factor in how one interacts with
the world. The significance of the Moon can be further appreciated by the
fact that Vedic Astrology divides the Moon signs into twenty-nine different
charts, called Nakshatras, or lunar mansions. The Nakshatras comprise
another method for the astrologer to go deep into the subtle energy of the
mind.
The popular expression,"What is your sign?" reveals the importance of the
Sun sign in Western astrology, as well as a prevailing attitude or idea about
astrology. If that question were posed by a Vedic practioner, he/she would be
more likely referring to the individuals Moon sign. In Vedic astrology, the
mind (not to be confused with the intellect) is considered of greater single
consequence to the chart than that of the Sun.
However, in India, where Vedic astrology has been practiced for centuries,
this type of question would not typically hold sway. Perhaps because
astrology is so much embedded in the culture and traditions of the people,
there is a natural and almost unconscious understanding that reading the
horoscope involves a complex evaluation of the overall placement of the
planets, and how and when they harmonize and blend or oppose one
another. One can observe that there is not the same temptation to reduce
astrology to simple catch phrases, the way one does with a new idea, which
has gained a kind of cult status or superficial allure.
Vedic astrology has remained an integral part of Indian life through the
centuries despite recent trends to westernize and modernize. Even Indians
who consider themselves little interested in astrology likely consult an
astrologer when considering marriage, or important events like the birth of a
child.
Some other methodologies that distinguish Vedic Astrology from the Western
system are mathematical divisions called Shadbalas and Shadvargas. They
give the precise strength of each planet in a mathematical figure, which
enables one to quantify the potency of the planets.
Another system of delineation in Vedic Astrology are aspects known as
"yogas". This is a unique system for understanding the power of the
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associations between the planets in their placement from one another. When
the planets form yogas, they create specific results, which are powerful.
These are a few of the unique features of the science of Vedic Astrology,
although such a cursory list does not do justice to the subject. Also, to make
a truly fair comparison of Vedic Astrology and Western Astrology, one needs
to have made a thorough study of both systems, which Chakrapani has not
done. With these thoughts in mind, we hope that this brief account will be of
some assistance.
Ultimately, the science of Vedic Astrology was bequeathed to man in ancient
times as a means to help alleviate suffering and guide him in his spiritual
journey on earth. This tradition of astrology has remained unbroken and
untainted throughout the ages; its wisdom is universal and timeless and of
value to all peoples of the world regardless of religion, or any belief system
to which they may subscribe.