What’s your sign?
What if you have been thinking you are a Taurus all of your life, and suddenly discover you are actually an Aries? That means you are trading in “one pair of horns” for another!
Let’s consider the difference between western astrology and the system that I have been practicing for many years, which is known as Vedic Astrology, or Jyotish. It all started long, long ago…. Jyotish is at least 5,000 years old.
In the beginning of time all the planets (grahas) were said to be assembled at the beginning point of the zodiac, at 0 degrees of Aries. It is due to the precession of the Equinoxes each year that the two zodiacs have been moving further apart over time. The western system relies upon the movable or Tropical zodiac, whereas the Vedic system utilizes the fixed or Sidereal zodiac.
The difference in degrees between the two zodiacs is called the Ayanamsh. This difference increases between 43 seconds and 56 seconds of distance per year. Thus, the movable zodiac moves ahead of the fixed zodiac about one full degree every 72 years.
Look to the heavens: If you were to look at the sky and observe which constellation was rising in the east (at night when the stars are visible), you would see that, astronomically, the Sidereal zodiac much more closely matches the actual position of these constellations. In Vedic Astrology, the sign that is rising in the East at the moment of one’s birth, is the most important reference point for constructing the Janma Kundali (natal birth chart) for the individual, whereas Western astrology puts the emphasis upon the sign the Sun is in during a 30 day period, approximately. A rising sign changes about every two hours, so it is important to find the exact time of your birth, or as close as possible.
What’s really important: The Sun sign is, of course, important as well in the Vedic system, but more important would be the lagna (also known as the rising sign, or ascendant), which becomes the first house of the chart, as well as the condition of the planetary ruler of that sign, and the Moon (Chandra) which represents one’s mind and emotions.
This explanation provides some of the technical reasons for the differences between these two systems of astrology. For most people living today, when considering their Vedic charts, all the planets and the rising sign would be found to be about 23 or 24 degrees earlier than in their western charts, or basically nearly one full sign back. This is why many who think their Sun is in the sign of Taurus, the Bull, would find it to be in the sign of Aries, the Ram, in their Vedic Astrology chart.
Who are you? Not only will this give you an entirely different perspective of your personal traits, tendencies and talents, but Vedic Astrology is also very event-oriented. So, the minute of birth is quite important. It helps construct the rising sign, or first house, from which all the other houses follow, and they describe the different parts of our lives.
All roads lead to… Some people feel so “identified” with what their “sign” is in the western system, that they resist looking into what their Vedic chart consists of. I have found an interesting phenomenon: oftentimes there can be a similar influence between the two charts, for different planetary reasons. For example, if you are a Scorpio Sun sign in the western system, often the Sun is found in Libra in the Vedic chart. However, either your ascendant or Moon sign could be Scorpio in the Vedic chart, and thus you can still feel and perhaps act like a Scorpio!
Of equal importance, however, is the sequential unfoldment of karma to be found in the corresponding Dasha periods, which are based on the time of one’s birth.
What will happen next? Dasha periods are planetary cycles. Maha dasha periods range from 6 to 20 years, depending on which planet is governing the cycle you are in. But then they go down four more dasha levels, which change with ever quicker frequency. You might think of this as “wheels within wheels”; forces of Nature governing the time and space dimension we occupy in our individual journeys on planet Earth. I will give you an example of why this matters, on a practical level.
Probably everyone remembers that Nancy Reagan was using the services of a western astrologer at the time President Reagan was shot. If she had been employing a qualified Vedic Astrologer instead, and if the President’s birth time were known precisely, the danger could have been averted.
Practical Value: In fact, that is one of the chief values and purposes of Vedic Astrology, to alert our clients to “avert any danger before it arises.”
Once the event has occurred, it’s rather hard to take it back. When studying the birth chart, I am very aware of the areas of vulnerability for my client, including health. The saying we have in the West is “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Knowing what type of diseases or weaknesses a client is subject to, I am able to advise them of lifestyle modifications that may help them avoid that weakness, at least in its worst form. Of course, individual will power to avoid harmful substances, as well as the Will of God, play a big part in the karma or life lessons we must go through.
How much Free Will do we have? Many people have a fascination about the difference between free will and destiny. As I understand it, there are many things that are predestined, such as meeting specific individuals along our life path. The meetings seem destined, but the free will comes into play from that point on, that is, what each of you decide to do with the relationship.
Couple Compatibility from a Vedic astrology point of view is very important in determining the chances of success for partnerships or marriages. Whether it regards business or romance, it is good to have some insight from the beginning, as to whether the planetary factors are strong enough to provide the basis of harmony and mutual interest that will withstand the inevitable bombardment of outside pressures.
Just as we would choose to lay the strongest, sturdiest foundation for a house we were building, relationships need to be based on healthy planetary dynamics to provide lasting, happy results for those involved in them. Vedic Astrology is an ancient science that can help considerably in this area. It was available only to the Maharajas or kings of ancient times, as the manual calculations took many days. Now computers reduce the calculation time to seconds, so this service can be used by anyone, to utilize the natural laws which planets represent. Many couples enjoy having compatibility readings done as they begin dating, to ensure the road to romantic success will be a smooth one. This can easily be seen by analyzing both people’s charts.
Laws of Nature: If we consider each planet to represent some aspect of cosmic intelligence, or a force of Nature which affects our life in a specific way, that helps to understand why knowing our birth chart is so important. I like to think of the planets as being like “people” with very different personalities. Mars, for example, is the “Commander in Chief” of the celestial army, and is often thought of as the war god.
If you are interacting with someone who has Mars in the first house of personality, you will surely feel the difference compared to interacting with someone who has Moon in the first house! Once you get to know the different values of each planet, you can begin to spot these different types of players in your personal drama, and get a feel for which type you blend well with, and which to avoid, for maximum harmony and well-being in your own life. We also make use of current transits (Gochara), or movements of the planets, as they relate to your natal chart. Progressive charts also give insights into what a particular year may bring your way, so yearly readings are recommended.
Cycles of Time: There is always a reason and explanation to be found for personality tendencies, great good fortune, terrible tragedies, broken hearts, and health challenges. Once we know the cycles of time governing each part of our lives, we can be prepared to make the most of the beneficial cycles, while taking precautionary measures to alleviate the challenging cycles.
Which leads us to the subject of YAGYAS (ancient Sanskrit rituals to mitigate the afflictions in our charts) but that will have to wait till the next article!