Basic Vedic Astrology

Perhaps the first step in Vedic Astrology is to discard the idea that it is some kind of a superstition. Astrology is composed of two words “Astro” referring to the study of celestial bodies and phenomena and “Logos” meaning the logical application of this scientific study. Vedic refers to the period of the writing of the Vedas and the codification of the data from the Brighu’s (database created across India in the form of Brighu Samhita having records of various birth charts and their life events).

Thus, Vedic Astrology refers to the method of Astrology as studied and practised in India since time immemorial. The principal exponent of this is Maharishi Parasara whose writings in the monumental classic Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra form the standard text for Jyotish (Vedic Astrology).

Jyotish is not fatalistic and none other than Brahma Himself can tell you exactly what is going to happen. In fact of the twelve houses that govern the various facets of life, the 3rd, 6th, 10th and 11th houses are called Upachaya or houses of growth. The affairs connected with this house are based on the exercise of free will of the individual and cannot be dictated upon. Thus, the scope for exercise of free will is about 33% in our lives and that is quite a bit if used properly. The Srimad Bhagavat Gita is the discussion between Bhagavan Sri Krishna and His ardent disciple Arjun, the warrior. A question often asked is why does God (Sri Krishna) have to urge and explain the truth of life to Arjuna to fight the battle when He can easily direct him to do so? The sixth house in any horoscope deals with enemies and battles and this is under the FREE WILL of the individual as it is an Upachaya. Hence even Bhagavan had to preach Arjun about the value of standing up and fighting for truth.

The Sun Signs , the “Zodiac”

Dwadas Aditya1- The twelve Sun Signs: For one reason or the other, whether it be the conquest of the Normans or the birth of Christ, the starting date of the year has been varying as calendars come and go. In the scheme of Vedic astrology, the solar calendar consists of twelve houses of 30 degrees each covering the total span of 360 degrees. These are called the twelve Sun Signs (Dwadas Aditya). These signs are fixed (unlike that used in the western astrology) although the names and other significations, nature etc are similar to that used in Western astrology.

Characteristics of the Signs: The signs of the zodiac are classified in various ways. The important ones are listed below:

  1. Sex: The sign is either positive “masculine”, or negative “feminine”. The odd numbered signs (as reckoned from Aries) are the Male or Odd signs while the even numbered signs are Female or Even signs.
  2. Ruling Element: Each sign belong to one of the triplicity of Fire, Air, Earth and Water (Refer Tatwa below). “Triplicity” means triplicate or three of a kind and there are three signs of each of the four types of elemental forms. The ancients called these the Fire triplicity (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius), because there are three zodiac signs for each element. We will stick to this terminology instead of using the more refined term ‘energy’. Since these signs are similar, this triplicity, trine or TRIKONA (Jyotish terminology) represents harmony or similarity of nature/ interest. These signs are 1200apart.
  3. Mobility: Each sign is either cardinal (Movable or Chara), fixed (Sthira) or Mutable (Dual or Dwisbhava). Thus every fourth sign reckoned from Aries is movable, every fourth reckoned from Taurus is fixed and every fourth reckoned from Gemini is Dual in nature. This similarity of every fourth is called the Quadruplicity of the sign. The movable signs have excessive energy and are capable of easy movement showing the predominance of Rajas Guna. The fixed signs have low energy and have an inability to move thereby showing a predominance of Tamas Guna. The Dual signs are a balance between the excessive mobility of the movable signs and the immobility of the fixed signs thereby showing a predominance of Satwa Guna. Guna is the inner attribute of the sign and this inner nature of the sign manifests external in different ways, mobility being one of them.
  4. Ayanamsa4: This difference is due to the fact that Vedic Astrology takes into account the astronomical fact of the precession of the solar system around another point called a “Nabhi” or Navel whereby the system precesses (like going back) at the rate of about 50.23 seconds per year (others take an average varying from 50″ to 54″ per year based on the time of 26,000 years or 24,000 years for the precession to complete one circle of 360 degrees). This precession results in a mathematical correction called Ayanamsa.
  5. Sankranti: The dates assigned to the signs of the zodiac are based on the solar ingress (i.e. entry of the Sun) of the signs. Depending on the value of Ayanamsa used, this date can vary by a few days and different “astrologers” assign slightly different dates based on their belief on the date of conjunction of zero point of the precession and Aries (called beginning of Kali Yuga) and the rate of the precession. The Government set up a committee called the Calendar reforms committee to correct the anomaly between the beliefs of different Vedic calendars. The result was what is popularly called the Rashtriya Panchang (National Calendar) and the Lahiri Ayanamsa. The date at which the Sun enters a sign is called the Sankranti. Thus, we have 12 Sankranti’s based on the date of the Sun’s entry into each of the 12 signs from Aries to Pisces. Good Vedic Astrologers will date events from the days calculated from Sankranti and also the Tithi. The Vedic Sun signs have a profound influence on the desires of the soul, which is the real individual and if charts are matched on the basis of the Sun signs in addition to the Moon, then real compatibility can be ascertained. Thus, in a way, people having the same Sun signs as given below can be called “soul mates”.
  6. Tithi: Tithi is the Vedic date of the Lunar calendar and is a measure of the distance between the Sun and the Moon starting from Pratipada when they conjoin to Poornima when they oppose at 180 degrees. There are 15 Tithi in the Sukla Paksha (Waxing Phase) and 15 Tithi in the waning phase (Krishna Paksha) (Refer Table-2). Each Tithi is an angle of 12 degrees. This angle is mathematically represented as the manifestation of Jala tattva in our consciousness.

Table-1: The Characteristics of the Signs

Sign Triplicity Quadruplicity Sex Ruler
No Name Mobility Guna
1 Aries Fire Movable Rajas Male Mars
2 Taurus Earth Fixed Tamas Female Venus
3 Gemini Air Dual Satwa Male Mercury
4 Cancer Water Movable Rajas Female Moon
5 Leo Fire Fixed Tamas Male Sun
6 Virgo Earth Dual Satwa Female Mercury
7 Libra Air Movable Rajas Male Venus
8 Scorpio Water Fixed Tamas Female Mars & Ketu2
9 Sagittarius Fire Dual Satwa Male Jupiter
10 Capricorn Earth Movable Rajas Female Saturn
11 Aquarius Air Fixed Tamas Male Saturn & Rahu3
12 Pisces Water Dual Satwa Female Jupiter

Table 2: Tithi or the Vedic date (All angles in degrees)

Paksha Tithi Angle Tithi Angle Tithi Angle
Sukla Paksha Pratipada-1 0 -12 Dwiteeya-2 12-24 Truteeya-3 24-36
Chaturhi-4 36-48 Panchami-5 48-60 Shasti-6 60-72
Saptami-7 72-84 Astami-8 84-96 Navami-9 96-108
(Waxing Phase)
Dasami-10 108-120 Ekadasi-11 120-132 Dwadasi-12 132-144
Trayodasi-13 144-156 Chaturdasi-14 156-168 Poornima-15 168-180
Krishna Paksha Pratipada-1 180-192 Dwiteeya-2 192-204 Truteeya-3 204-216
Chaturhi-4 216-228 Panchami-5 228-240 Shasti-6 240-252
Saptami-7 252-264 Astami-8 264-276 Navami-9 276-288
(Waning Phase)
Dasami-10 288-300 Ekadasi-11 300-312 Dwadasi-12 312-324
Trayodasi-13 324-336 Chaturdasi-14 336-348 Amavasya-0 348-360

Tatva: There are five principal elements or states of existence of all material bodies called TATWA. These are (1) the Solid state called PRITHVI or Earth, (2) the Liquid state called JALA or Water, the Gaseous state called VAYU, the Vacuum state called AKASH or the Energy state called AGNI. Each sign is assigned one of the four principle elements of Agni (loosely called Fire), Vayu (loosely called Air), Prithvi (loosely called Earth), and Jala (loosely called Water). However the fifth, Akash Tatwa (loosely called Sky) pervades all the signs and represents Vishnu Who pervades everything although not visible to mortal eyes.

Table 3: Sun Sign & Healing Gemstones

Name of Sign Vedic Name Dates of Sign Healing Color Healing Gemstone Hindi Name
Aries Mesha April 15 to May 14 Red Red Coral Moonga
Taurus Vrisab May 15 to Jun 14 White Diamond Heera
Gemini Mithun June 15 to July 14 Green Emerald Panna
Cancer Kark July 15 to Aug 14 Lt. Pink Pearl Moti
Leo Simha Aug 15 to Sept 14 Off. White Ruby Manik
Virgo Kanya Sept 15 to Oct 14 Gray Emerald Panna
Libra Tula Oct 15 to Nov 14 Black Diamond Heera
Scorpio Vrischik Nov 15 to Dec 14 Lt.Yellow Cats Eye Lahsanya
Sagittarius Dhanus Dec15 to Jan 15 Yellow Yellow sapphire Pokhraj
Capricorn Makar Jan 15 to Feb13 Blue Blue Sapphire Neelam
Aquarius Kumbh Feb14 to Mar 14 Varigated Hessionite Gomedh
Pisces Meena Mar 15 to April 14 Crystal white Yellow sapphire Pokhraj

Footnotes
1. Aditya is the name of the Sun God as born from Aditi [the mother of the Gods or Deva’s (Deva is derived from Diva, meaning the giver of light or enlightenment)]. There are 12 Aditya’s or Sun Gods for each of the 12 months of Solar transit through the 12 signs. To find your Sun God/Aditya, refer to Vedic Remedies in Astrology by Sanjay Rath.
2 Ketu, the descending node is the co-lord of Scorpio
3Rahu, the ascending node is the co-lord of Aquarius
4Ayanamsa: this is the precession of the solar system and is to be added or subtracted from the zero point of Aries in the western chart to arrive at the Vedic Horoscope. For example, the solar ingress into Aries resulting in the start of the Aries Month in western astrology is March 21. However, the Ayanamsa at present (2000 AD) is about 23 degrees and adding 23 days to March 21 we get April 14 as the date for Solar ingress into Aries in the Vedic Calendar.

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