Jyotish (Vedic Astrology) is known as the eyes of the vedas, and jyoti actually means light in sanskrit. Think of the light within us, the light guiding our path, the light of enlightenment, as we see the planets moving through the sky and guiding us, they are lights as well – it’s that type of light, that universal deep type of light Jyotish really works on.
Essentially a Jyotish session is showing a person the light in their lives and how that light is manifesting. Even contextually we can go back and ask what makes vedic astrology vedic? Because it is regarded as the eyes of the Vedas, it is one of the Vedangas; the limbs of the vedas. My understanding is that it is referred to the eyes specifically because in the context of Vedas it was used to determine timing for different rituals, different auspicious periods in people’s lives, studying the quality of time and being able to interpret that and communicate it to somebody else. Jyotish is needed to really distinguish how to use the other limbs at certain points so we don’t walk around as if we’re blindfolded bumping into the wall.
As I was taught, these are the Sadangas (six limbs) within Vedic Astrology.
Gola: the science of the astronomy
Ganita: mathematical calculations from textbooks such as surya siddhanta. When you’re looking at the position of the heavenly bodies and being able to calculate it, it’s interesting that thousands of years ago they had calculations that we’re just discovering now with NASA. They actually knew how to calculate precise motion.
Hora: is an extension of that, while Ganita is more of the mathematical study, hora is more of a qualitative aspect
Jataka: is what we know as natal astrology. The analysis of someone’s individual horoscope. Looking at the relative planetary positions at the time of the birth and what that actually means in terms of the person’s past and present karmas and likely future as well if they continue down this path.
Prasna: The chart for the moment that a question arises. There are really cool things that can be done with prashna. For example if a person comes in for a reading typically as an astrologer I will always cast a prasna chart just to see what’s going on behind the scenes. Sometimes we can see the clarity of the individual why they’re coming for a reading, if there are any external factors that are affecting them that we wouldn’t normally pick up in the chart, or even things that are happening in the horoscope that are corroborated by whatever is going on in the stars right now.
Muhurta: Electional astrology, the study of auspicious timing. If somebody comes and says “ I want to start a business/ launch a website/ something that requires an auspicious time to do that” typically in india there was muhurtas for marriage which is quite an involved process because you need to determine compatibility of people and figure out based on both of their horoscopes when is the best time for them to get married, there is a whole science to that. There can be muhurtas for literally anything; for traveling, within the muhurta chintamani an ancient muhurta text which outlines everything it is very fascinating.
Nimitta: Omenology, the study of omens and signs. Understanding how to read life, pay attention and be aware. If sirens go off while giving a remedy that’s an omen it’s not the right remedy. The universe is engaged in dancing with us, it’s a mirror for our consciousness and it’s always talking to us wether or not we listen is a different story. The more we become aware and the more these messages come then the more we’re able to get little subtle hints that we’re maybe going down the right path or not and we definitely examine that in astrology.
What makes Vedic astrology vedic? Why is it vedic? What is vedic?
We’re looking at prognostication based on planetary influences, we can sort of agree that this is the definition based on astrology in general. Let’s go back further. In history there are many different civilizations popping up at different time periods. We tend to think of these as separate cultures, separate points, each of them having their different ways of thinking but in reality what we find is history is a lot more fluid than that and there is evidence that there was exchange of knowledge and as different cultures learnt different things, there was sharing, there was economic trading, all that kind of stuff. In the Babalonian era near India there was a time where information there was fluid. Going back to Vedic culture, what we know as present day India actually looked and felt very different maybe even 800 years ago, 1000 years ago, the geo-political borders were very different. You had up to kashmir and even parts of afghanistan and what we know as modern day pakistan up to the himalayas and maybe even a little bit north of that, so when we say indian civilization we kind of need to incorporate that all these different civilizations were there and they all had heavy mythological elements. The deities that originate from the vedas, the vedas themselves; there were four of the vedas. The vedas, these are basically like groups of mantras and slokas that embody all of the knowledge and a lot of it is very esoteric but from there as we know within the vedic culture different deities stemming from the puranas, the brahmanas, the different vedic literature, even just vedic astrology was shared through sanskrit through that medium of the sanskrit language.
We also talk about the 5 elements so if you know ayurveda a little bit there’s that interaction of the elements and also in terms of the precise calculations that are more stellar based. These are different elements that we bring and take into account in Vedic astrology. Commonalities between what we would know between helenistic or western astrology or even egyption, mayan, there are similarities but there are deviations that are rooted in this vedic culture.
There are two different types of zodiacs used to practice astrology. Zodiac meaning the 12 signs of the zodiac from aries all the way to pisces and ways of measuring those house systems. The sidereal system is stellar based. One of the main maha rishis of vedic astrology, the great seers from India that cognized this or it was divinely revealed to them and they shared it through the different texts; Maharishi Parashara he has a text called “Brihat parashara hora shastra” and he talks about how there are things in the sky that basically don’t move, these are the stars, and there are things that do move, these are the planets; graha. So when we’re looking at the zodiac in vedic astrology we’re measuring everything against that fixed stellar background like all these planetary movements, using the sidereal system as opposed to tropical.