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Comparison of Vedic and Western Systems

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 6:13 AM

Saraswati (sar rah' swah tee), Goddess of music and learning.

What is Vedic? Vedic astrology, or Jyotish (jyoh' tish), as it's called in India, is the Science or Knowledge of Time. Its purpose, over its several millennia of existence, has been to identify karma, or action, in terms of the past, present and future. Vedic astrology is about understanding how to best perform in time. It's a behavior analysis and forecasting system, based on astronomical calculations, that helps us anticipate the benefits and challenges that lie ahead. Vedic astrology informs us of ways to modify our actions for the better. So while we might naturally have the will to take action. Vedic astrology prepares us for it in the best way.     

The field of Vedic astrology has much the richness of tradition, myth, and philosophy. It offers wisdom principles that are both engaging and relevant to our modern times-yet it has a recorded history that dates back several thousand millennia and an oral tradition that some say precides history itself.   

Some of you will begin this article with a familiarity with tropical astrology (as is mostly practiced in the West), so I think it may be helpful to inform you about some of the differences between the astrology of the West and that of the Vedas (vay' dahs), from the East. 

First let me state that indicating the differences between Vedic and tropical astrology isn't to say that one system is better than the other. The intention here is to help you understand some of the key components of the Vedic method that stand apart from the Western approach. This summary will give you a high-level overview before you plunge into the core of any book.

1. Different Start Dates for the Sun Signs: No, your Western Sun sign didn't disappear! The Vedic system starts at the first point of the sign (and constellation) of Aries around April 14 each year, and the Vedic Sun signs transition around the second week each month—not the third, as in the tropical.

The Western system is a zodiac of signs. The Vedic system is a zodiac of constellations. As such, each system starts its zodiac on different days. You'll notice in the following table that the two systems overlap around the second to third week of each month (about the 15th to the 20th, plus or minus a day or two). If you were born during that time, your Sun sign would be the same in either system; otherwise, your Sun sign will move back one sign in the Vedic system. This is due to precession, which will be discussed in a bit.

2. Largest Astrological System: Due to the fact that India is the second most populous nation in the world at this time, and astrology is an integral and accepted art of their society, India most likely has the highest number of astrologers and clients per capita of any nation. A great many people in modern India—from priests, executives, and merchants, right down to the common worker (whether they'll admit it or not)—use astrology to some degree and recognize it as part of their ancient traditions.

Radha and Krishna symbolize the loving  unity of the feminine and masculine principles in vedic concepts of manifestation.

3. Philosophical Integration: Vedic astrology is part of a large integrated system of philosophy called the Veda. The fundamental principles used in Vedic astrology can also be found linked to its sister systems, such as Ayurveda, the Science of Health; and Vastu, the Science of Space (a cousin to the popular Feng Shui system of placement).

4. Predictive Tools: Many people state that tropical astrology is focused more on - psychological analysis. While this might be true, the Vedic system is also equipped to perform this function. However, the Vedic system has a very large set of predictive techniques that analyze and forecast events ranging in time from several seconds to decades of life.

5. Tropical vs. Sidereal: Most Western astrology systems use a zodiac of signs related to seasons—that is, tropical, while the Eastern Vedic system uses a zodiac of constellations related to stars—that is, sidereal (sigh deer' ee all). Tropical astrology states that the signs are defined by the equinoctial and tropical points, especially the Sun's location at the vernal equinox. Vedic astrology says that the signs are marked by their proximity to the constellations that bear their names, thus striving to adjust the position of the signs to the constellations in reaction to precession.

6. Number of Planets: Traditional Vedic astrology uses the Sun and Moon and the planets up to and including Saturn. It doesn't use the slower moving, unseen (by the naked eye) outer planets of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Vedic astrology also puts a special emphasis on the nodes of the Moon, called Rahu (rah' hoo) and Ketu (kay' too or keh' too). The Western system (as well as some modern Vedic astrologers) also use the outer planets of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. It's also important to note that Vedic astrology places more significance on the rising sign, called the Lagna (lahg' nab), and the Moon than it does to the Sun.

In Vedic astrology, the planets are listed in terms of their ruler ships of the days of the week, starting with the Sun and "Sun" day, and ending with Saturn or "Satur[n]" day. The nodes don't rule any weekdays. It's also interesting to note that Vedic astrology considers a special set of auxiliary "planets," called upagrahas (oo' pah grah' hahs), for advanced chart analysis.

7. Chart Formats: The Vedic charts are square and are interpreted in a style that is different from the familiar round charts of Western systems.

8. Precession and Ayanamsa: About 1,700 years ago, around A.D. 285 (according to Vedic scholar Lahiri and the Indian government), sidereal Aries and tropical Aries were marked approximately in the same position in the skies. Researchers will differ a bit about the actual date and marker point of the Aries sign/constellation alignment, but they all agree that the signs are slipping backward in relationship to the constellations at a rate of about one degree every 72 years. Due to this backward drift of Earth, called "precession of the equinoxes," the first point of Aries has prĂ©cised, or slipped back, from March 21 (the day of the Spring equinox) to later in the calendar year—around April 14. The Vedic system compensates for this precession. This 23- to 24-day difference between where the two systems mark the start of the sign of Aries is called the Ayanamsa (ah' yahn ahm' shah). Proponents of the tropical system say that the zodiac signs are seasonal segments of the heavens independent of the constellations, and thus they don't adjust for precession.

9. House Systems: The Western system has many house systems to divide up the zodiac, while the standard Vedic convention is to treat the house and sign of equal length—thus calling it the equal house system.

Surya, the Sun.

10. Aspects: Vedic astrology evaluates the favorableness of aspects differently from Western astrology. In the Vedic system, the quality and quantity of the influence of the participating planets is more important than assigning a value to the aspect itself.

11. Planetary Yoga’s: Planetary yogas are special combinations of planets that offer a degree of power and influence not seen in standard chart indications. There are literally hundreds of these combinations, pointing to "secret" planetary unions that reveal wealth, health, spiritual advancement, relationships, career success, and many other features of our lives not shown in standard chart analysis.

12. Nakshatras: In addition to the 12 signs of the zodiac, the Vedic system uses ---*7 "Moon signs," or additional no zodiac asterisms, called the nakshatras (nahk shah' tras). Each of the 27 nakshatras are subdivided into four sections, or Padas (pah’ dahs), thus making for 108 nakshatra padas in total.

13. Shodasavargas, the Divisional Charts: In addition to the familiar natal chart, Vedic astrology divides a sign of the zodiac 15 additional ways. The most famous of these divisions is called the navamsa (nahv ahm' shah), which divides a 30-degree zodiac sign into 9 subdivisions of 3 degrees and 20 minutes each. Thus the planets can be located in the 12 signs of the zodiac, and more precisely, within the 108 navamsas.

14. Dasas: The Vedic system has a way of forecasting when traits in the chart will show themselves through the use of a predictive analysis tool called the vimshottari dasa (vim shoh' tah ree dah' shah). This system allots each planet in the horoscope a specific period of influence in a person's hypothetical lifetime of 120 years.

15. Remedial Measures: The Vedic system not only identifies the results of karma in terms of the past, present, and future, but employs corrective measures, called upayas (oo pie’yahs), aimed at improving the quality and character of a person's life.

16. Additional Interpretive Techniques: There are many other methods of chart interpretation too numerous to mention in this small book, but as you read more detailed guides, such as my first astrology book, Beneath a Vedic Sky, you'll learn about ashtakavarga (ahsh' tahk ah var' gah), varshaphal (vahr' sha palh), sudarshana chakra (soo dahr' shah nah cha' krah), and other fascinating features of Vedic astrology.

17. Vedic Astrology as a Self-Development Tool: Since astrology is an integral part of the whole-systems approach of Vedic knowledge, the development of consciousness is regarded as a prerequisite for advancing one's skills as an astrologer. Traditional Vedic astrologers meditate, get proper rest, live and eat well, keep the company of the wise, and perform specific rituals and other special spiritual practices to become healthier and happier. They strive to develop the full capacity of their minds, bodies, and hearts. In this manner they can "see" nature more clearly and perform their work to their full potential.

* Sign starting the new astrological year

18. Vedic Astrology as a Spiritual Performance: In traditional Vedic chart interpretation, the reading of a chart was conducted like a spiritual event. It would take place in a temple, where the priest/astrologer would draw the chart diagram and per-form a small puja, or "ceremony," over the chart. Mantras would be recited and deities would be invoked to help make the reading a success. Even today, Hindu astrologers will recite mantras and invoke the help of their personal deity, called the ishta devata, to help them read the chart with reverence and accuracy. all undoubtedly helping the client get the best results!

Now that you know some of the distinctions between Vedic and tropical astrology, we'll move deeply, yet simply, into the principles and practices of Vedic astrology and its supporting Vedic systems of knowledge.

Writer - William R. Levacy... 
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