Vedic vs. Western Astrology
Although Vedic and Western astrology share a lot in common there are still innumerable differences between the two. Overall it seems that Western Astrology is most often used as more of a tool for understanding your psychological tendencies and personality traits. Vedic Astrology is more focused on understanding your personal karma unfolding over periods of time, giving insight to the opportunities and lessons on the path towards self-realization. Below are the main difference that most people notice when they begin to compare the two.
Western Astrology uses the Tropical Zodiac which orients the sky to Sun’s annual seasonal movement around the earth. Aries, the first constellation, is defined by when day and night are equal at the spring equinox It is an Earth to Sun relationship. However, if you were to look at the stars in the sky on the spring equinox, you would discover that the Sun was actually in Pisces. Vedic Astrology utilizes the Sidereal Zodiac which is based on the actual physical constellations in the sky viewed by the naked eye. It is an Earth to Universe relationship.
The main difference can be summed up by that fact that the Sidereal Zodiac takes into consideration the precession of the equinoxes, the 26,000 year wobble of the Earth on its axis. This precession or backwards movement through the zodiac takes about 72 years to travel 1 degree. In the year 285 AD both zodiacs were in perfect alignment. Since that date the earth has wobbled about 24 degrees from this point. Currently the Sun at spring equinox on March 20th takes place at 6 degrees Pisces and doesn’t enter Aires till April 15th (24 days later). Moving backwards through the zodiac the next constellation that the Earth axis will point towards will be Aquarius. The Age of Aquarius is still about 420 years away!
There is no direct translation to the english word “planet” in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word “Graha”, meaning “To Grasp” or “To Seize” gives greater insight into how the ancient Rishi’s of India saw the configuration of our solar system and its effects upon our life on Earth. The Grahas are viewed as sentient beings or deities who have psychological tendencies that “Grasp” us and give there influence. It is depending on our perspective and awareness as to how we integrate this influence and are able to surrender ourselves to the knowledge/lesson that they are giving us. In this light there is no good or bad karma, it is all an opportunity to deepen self-awareness on our path to spiritual liberation.
Vedic Astrology uses a total of 9 grahas. The 7 visible grahas (Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn) as well as 2 shadow grahas, the north and south node of the moon (Rahu and Ketu) which give the eclipses. Asteroids and the planets Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto, that can only be viewed with a telescope, are not included in traditional Vedic Astrology
Vedic Astrology does not only use the 12 newspaper horoscope Sun constellations from Aries to Pisces that we are all familiar with. It also uses 27 Moon constellations, which are filled with the Mythology of the Gods and Goddesses of ancient India containing morals, lessons and timeless wisdom. It is both a Solar and Lunar calendar that integrates both polarities of male and female, or, deified as Shiva and Shakti.
Nakshatra is the Sanskrit word used for the Moon constellations which means “fixed stars” or “that which doesn’t decay.” The length of a Nakshatra in the sky is 13 degrees and 20 minutes equaling the approximate distance the Moon travels in 1 day. Each portion contains the Vedic constellations that the ancient Rishis used to determine inflow of celestial energy on Earth. Each one is packed with numerous dynamics that qualify the intricacies of our eternal Soul nature. The Nakshatras reveal how the celestial Gods and Goddesses animate our mind and psychologies with their personalities and motivations. We are simply acting out the themes of the stories and mythologies of the Deities in our life and, with awareness, we can understand the lessons to be learned and not have to make the same mistakes.
Rashi is the Sankrit word used for the Sun constellations which means “heap of stars” contained in a 30 degree portion of the sky showing the distance the Sun travels in 1 month. The Sun constellations refer to our earthly psychological nature and reveal more of our “human” motivations and personalities. Vedic Astrology combines the two influences of the Sun and Moon constellations and give much more accurate description of each grahas placement in the sky.
Vedic Astrology uses a timing sequence, called the Vimshotarri Dasha system, that shows which graha (planet) is giving its karma and when. This cycle of karmic timing, pinpointed with the transits of the grahas in the sky, is used to forecast the tendencies of the future, to realize the opportunities of the present moment, and to give understanding of the past. Western Astrology primarily uses the transits of the planets in the sky as well as the progressed moon system.