I was prompted to write this in response to the numerous times I get asked this question. Vedic Astrology or Jyotish (pronounced as Geo-thishh) as it is more commonly known, is a Sanskrit word that translates as “Science of Light“. Jyotish denotes an “Eastern” form of Astrology which is a sophisticated form of mathematically based astrology originating in the ancient Vedic traditions of India. The term “Vedic”, comes from the word “Veda” in Sanskrit (root word Vid- knowledge or wisdom), and denotes in a very broad context all Vedic knowledge embodying every arena of the human experience. This extends into the abstract realms of philosophy, consciousness, cosmology and spirituality and includes medicine, mathematics, sciences and dates back to over 5000 years ago.
Traditionally, Jyotish was practiced specifically by the male members in families of astrologers (called Jyotishis) that go back hundreds of generations. Young male children with appropriate planetary combinations in their horoscope were selected to study Jyotish and spent their whole life in deep and profound study of Sanskrit, Vedic scriptural texts and Jyotish texts for decades and then apprenticed with their mentor, father or a Guru before they were considered eligible to do consultations and predictions for others.
In many parts of India, Jyotish implies horary astrology when an astrologer answers a question specific to a problem or issue at hand. Based on the exact time that the question is asked and interpreted by the astrologer through divination methods as an Oracle, an astrologer consults the Divine to get answers to questions. As such all consultations in Jyotish are considered as sacred and a person’s birth/natal chart (Kundli) is considered as Divine revelation of a person’s lifetime and its journey of lessons. Elders in the family consulted charts at specific moments and milestones in life of when unexpected problems arose.
Most astrologers and those engaging in the practice of astrology are also spiritual aspirants committed to a discipline of spiritual practices that include many hours of ritual, mantra chanting and studying scriptural texts daily. An astrologer “intervenes” in the karmas of an individual on their behalf to act as intercessors. They offer part of any consultation fees received, to temples and deities as these actions must be offset through such spiritual practices.
Jyotish is not just deduction but is more of a predictive science and art based on the astronomical positions of 9 planets in the 12 houses and signs in your natal chart at the precise time of your birth at the place of your birth.
The word for planet is Graha – “That which seizes or gets a hold of”. One may be in the archetypal hold of a planetary influence that colors their outlook on life. The current planetary positions of the day when an astrologer is consulted are also overlaid on top of a birth chart for a multi-dimensional view into a person’s chart.
Some of the basic differences between Jyotish and Western Astrology are listed below:
Western Astrology uses the Tropical Zodiac which uses the orientation of the Earth relative to the Sun and planets of the solar system. Jyotish uses Sidereal astrology which uses the visible zodiac with the position of the Earth relative to the Sun, the planets, the stars as well as their constellations. Jyotish uses the 27 constellations of fixed star groups called asterisms or Nakshatras (also referred to as Lunar Mansions).
The Earth as an oblong sphere goes through a steady change in the orientation of its axis of rotation while rotating around the sun . This is called the precession of the equinoxes, because the equinoxes moved westward along the ecliptic, opposite to the yearly motion of the Sun along the ecliptic. What this means is that the Earth’s equator shifts backward at a certain rate through the signs of the zodiac. Because of this phenomenon, as an example, Aries in the western zodiac drifts further away from the Aries used by Vedic astrologers — at the rate of about 1 degree every 72 years.
What this implies is this- there is a difference of 23 degrees between what is considered as the position of all the planets, signs including the rising sign in Jyotish vs. Western Astrology. example: if you knew your Sun sign to be in Sagittarius in Western astrology, in Jyotish it may very well be in Scorpio. Or if your rising sign was Taurus in Western Astrology, you may be an Aries rising sign in Jyotish.
Jyotish uses 9 planets (Grahas) into a person’s chart (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn as the 7 visible light bodies and 2 shadow planets- Rahu (the northern ecliptic node) and Ketu (the southern ecliptic node). Neptune, Uranus and Pluto are considered to be too far away to exert a significant transitionary impact on the human psyche over a period of months or years. Periodic changes in life are viewed from where the natal moon sits with an eye on the transition of planets. The Moon represents the emotional mind, Mother, while the Sun represents the Soul and Father and the planet Saturn represents the greatest teacher of them all as He rules Time, discipline, and all Karmic lessons to be learned.
In most Western astrology charts the focus maybe more on the Sun sign and personality of the person but very few possibilities exist to remedy any constraints or challenges presented in a person’s chart.
Jyotish defines a person’s psychological nature to a greater depth that is sometimes hidden from the cognitive mind and provides insights in understanding how and when certain karmic events are likely to occur. This is based on analyzing the person’s natal (Birth) chart through the Ascendant (Lagna, the Rising sign or 1st house) and through the house and sign where the Moon is located. Along with this Jyotish utilizes the system of planetary periods and lifecycles exerting its influence throughout the course of a person’s lifetime. Each major planetary major period of influence is referred to as a Dasha. This equates to a person experiencing their life through the lens and filter of that specific planetary period and its influence. Of course, not everyone experiences all 9 planetary dashas in a single lifetime. Some planetary periods of Mercury, Jupiter Saturn, Venus and Rahu extend over a span of 16 -20 years each and can feel more benefic or malefic depending on the state of debility or exaltation that planet is in your natal chart. Your exalted Jupiter maybe a death planet for another. Each planetary period is then sub-divided into sub-planetary phases within the major planetary phase and can be taken down to months, weeks, days, hours and minutes to predict life-events. This gives Jyotish a wider range to predict life events to a specific day and time. Hence Jyotish is also used to establish auspicious timings (Muhurtham) for major life events such as marriages, ceremonies, major acquisitions, life changes, travel to other lands etc. Typically the charts of two potential partners are reviewed closely for at least 10-20 points of compatibility before a life-long partnership of marriage is considered.
Many astrologers begin their day by consulting the daily Panchang (Ephemeris) which is similar to a Farmer’s Almanac that is used to consult moon phases, sunrise and sunset times, positions of the moon in a constellation and star group, inauspicious times of the day when no major life event or activity is undertaken. There are certain moon phases and asterisms that are considered inauspicious for certain events and tasks.
The emotional mind represented by the Moon is the portal through which we all experience life in a sensory way where as the journey of the Soul is represented by the Sun. The planetary positions and patterns at the time of our birth and throughout our lifecycle are a detailed map providing a landscape and direction to help us understand our life’s journey. Jyotish provides a pragmatic and realistic view of our strengths, challenges, constraints and those potentials waiting to be expressed. However just because a potential exists does not mean that it is expressed fully in the present lifetime. By gaining insights into our chart, we are empowered to make conscious choices with awareness to move towards the expression of this inherent potential. As I like to say this-“Karma trumps All else”.
In these modern times, many don’t know what to do, where to go and how to go about attaining or achieving their life’s path, when to act when action is necessary, or a general awareness of what our life is about. Because of a lack of clear guidance and clarity into what one’s life purpose or path, strengths and limitations are, we spin our life’s energy bank account into an over-expenditure and deplete this account early by engaging in various actions without any fruitful outcome that is of any real benefit to us or to others. Jyotish helps provide insights into our life from the perspective of the 4 goals of human life: Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha and offers a perspective of Acceptance of who we are and what our life’s path is about. Of course the answers received from Jyotish may not always be palatable to all and even then only a further few are able to correctly understand and modify their behavior and habits to express their potential fully. This too requires Grace of the Guru or good luck. This again is a set of previous unfulfilled karmic impressions.
Jyotish also offers remedial measures based in Vedic Spiritual practices, to offset our areas of constraints and challenges through spiritual practices and rituals and disciplines. This empowers us to manifest our destiny in a more harmonious way rather than one with resistance and challenges.
To learn more about how a Jyotish consult can help you, email me at email@example.com.
For more information and to schedule a Jyotish consultation with Gayathri, please visit www.centerforquantumhealth.com/
Gayathri has trained for over 15 years in the South Indian format of Vedic astrology (Jyotish) through her mentors who hail from a long lineage of astrologers in Kerala, India. She consults with her mentor in Kerala on all chart readings and consultations provided. Gayathri and her husband Shylesh are co-founders of their non profit spiritual organization Atmanandam Mission Trust and facilitate meditation retreats several times a year at their private retreat center in Kerala India www.atmanandam.org.in