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Using the Tropical Zodiac in Vedic Astrology
By Laura Barat
I am a Vedic Astrologer and I use the Tropical Zodiac. To many this is very close to sacrilege and a contradiction in terms. This novel way of delineating the horoscope is gaining momentum and validity within the Hindu Astrological community. I am writing this article with the purpose of giving valid and logical reasons why the Tropical Zodiac of Rasis (Signs) is to be used instead of the Sidereal Zodiac of Rasis. "Of Rasis" is stated because it is quite clear that the Sidereal Zodiac is to be used when delineating Nakshatras.
What is the Tropical Zodiac?
In America, Europe and in ancient Greece, Persia and Egypt, the Tropical Zodiac is and was always used. The Tropical Zodiac measures 12 portions of 30 degrees each beginning from the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. The Vernal Equinox is the point where the Sun crosses the equator on its way North. This is the first day of Spring and is 0 degrees Aries. Thus, a portion of 30 degrees was given to Aries, 30 degrees to Taurus, 30 degrees to Gemini and so on for 12 Signs until 360 degrees are covered.
When the Sun is at its farthest northern point and begins to move South, then it is the Summer Solstice and the Sun is at 0 degrees of Cancer. For example, if one has a Sun positioned at 12 degrees of Taurus, that means that one's Sun is 42 degrees north of the celestial equator. If a person has their Sun at 24 degrees of Leo, then their Sun is 54 degrees South of the Tropic of Cancer and 36 degrees north of the equator. The same principle of measurement is applied to all the planets. Thus, the Tropical Zodiac is based upon the Sun's longitudinal relationship to the Earth.
What is the Sidereal Zodiac?
In regard to Rasis or Signs, the Sidereal Zodiac is made up of 30 degree portions beginning with the Nakshatra of Aswini as measured from certain fixed stars. Since astrologers use different fixed stars to determine the first point of Sidereal Aries, we have different Ayanamshas. An ayanamsha is the difference between the vernal equinox (the Sun at 0 degrees Tropical Aries) and the first point of Sidereal Aries. The Sidereal Zodiac bases the measurement of Signs on the fixed stars as opposed to measuring Signs from the relationship of the Sun to the Earth as in the Tropical Zodiac.
The Argument for a Tropical Zodiac
A rasi simply means a "heap of thirty". That is all. Hindus use rasis in their calculations with all circles and arcs and it does not automatically infer that Zodiac signs are to be used.
In about 100 A.D., a Greek astronomer by the name of Hiparchius took the names of Aries, Taurus, Gemini and so forth and gave these names to the fixed stars starting with the first point of Aswini.
This was a very grave mistake and would cause the science of astrology to be looked down upon from then on. The reason he named the constellations thus is because around this time, when the Sun was at the vernal equinox, or the 1st point of Tropical Aries, it was also at the 1st point of Aswini. Suddenly, with the help of Hipparchius, the birth of the Sidereal Zodiac of Rasis was about to be born.
100 A.D., according to Sri Yukteswar, was a time very close to the heart of Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, when important astronomical and astrological knowledge was lost and this included knowledge of the precession of the equinox.
Since evidence clearly supports that the Hindus exchanged information with the Greeks and Persians, the names for the Fixed Stars were also exchanged and the Hindus named these star constellations the familiar Aries, etc.
What is forgotten is that these star constellations already had names. They were the names of the Nakshatras and the names of the Chaldean and Chinese lunar mansions. The star constellations were and are the "realm of the gods.". "Swarga Loka" is the name of this heavenly realm. The story goes that they are the heavenly abodes of extremely pious beings that became "godlike" due to their austerities and were given a place in the heavens to influence the Earth. To name these stars after animals (the Signs) was a grave mistake with unfathomable ramifications.
At the same time the Hindus named their star constellations after the 12 Signs, evidence from several ancient texts shows they lost knowledge of the precession of the equinox. These measurements of 30 degrees each of the star constellations became FIXED and remained so up to the present day. Only with the help of astrologers that are also astronomers and that have studied the history of Astrology at this time, are we able to sort through this mess of the Rasis and the Sidereal Zodiac.
The Rasis before Hiparchius
The Surya Siddhanta is the greatest astronomical text of the Hindus and gives all the calculations to calculate the Lagna, the Nakshatras, planetary positions within Nakshatras and Tropical positions of the planets.
NOWHERE in the Surya Siddhanta does it say to use Sidereal Signs and Sidereal positions of planets to erect a horoscope. In fact, there is more evidence in the Surya Siddhanta that the Tropical Zodiac is to be used instead of the Sidereal Zodiac when erecting horoscopes.
And here is why....The Surya Siddhanta gives the calculations for finding the Nakshatra position of the planets. It then uses an ayanamsha to convert the planetary positions back to Tropical positions and from there find the Tropical Lagna. After finding the Tropical Lagna the Surya Siddhanta leaves it there.
Since it is impossible to find the Sidereal Lagna without the use of the Tropical Zodiac, then it would be concluded that the Surya Siddhanta would mention to convert the Tropical Lagna back to its Sidereal position if that were indeed the method to be used. It does not mention this at all.
The Yavana Jataka, the Srimad Bhagavatam and the works of the great Varamahira all mention the Tropical Zodiac as the harbinger of the signs. Oddly, they also mention the first part of Aswini as the beginning of Aries.
It becomes clear that the authors were not aware of the Precession of the Equinox and summarily thought that the 12 constellations named after the Solar Months would forever coincide with those Solar Months.
With the introduction of the importance of Rasis with the Yavanas as per Yavana Jataka and the religious and philosophical importance of the Nakshatras in the daily life of the Hindu, during the time of the alignment of the two Zodiacs (around 100 A.D.), the Indians lost knowledge of precession of the equinox and therefore the Sidereal Zodiac for the Rasis was born.
The Realm of the Gods and the Realm of the Earth
The Nakshatras of the Hindus and the Lunar Mansions of the Chaldeans and the Chinese are deified. They are also referred to as Swarga Loka, the heavenly realm. Through Parasara we know that the Planets are incarnations of God and have consciousness so they are also deified.
The Rasis are also incarnations of God however they do not have consciousness and are named after earthly creatures. Their manifestation depends upon the Earth's relationship to the Sun, therefore they are Tropical. The Nakshatras are deified beings living within the heavenly realm and therefore they are star based and are rightly represented through a Sidereal Zodiac.
Modalities of the Rasis (Signs)
Another valid argument for using the Tropical Zodiac and confirming the relationship of Rasis to the intertwined movement of the Sun and the Earth is the modalities of the Signs. Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn are called moveable signs. Their common characteristic is change and their beginning heralds a change in the Sun's movement. At 0 degrees Aries the Sun crosses the equator on its way North, changing from the Southern hemisphere to the Northern hemisphere. At 0 degrees Cancer the Sun changes from moving North to moving South. At 0 degrees Libra the Sun crosses the equator on its way South, changing hemispheres and at 0 degrees Capricorn the Sun begins to move North. If the Rasis were sidereal and not based upon the Sun's movement in relation to the Earth, there is no valid reason why these particular signs would herald change.
The fixed Rasis, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius, represent the Sun being steadfast and resolute on its course.
The dual Rasis, Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces, represent the Sun losing momentum on its course and getting ready for a new beginning. This is why these signs are energy transformers. The dual signs are steadfast and resolute just enough to get the job done but are also flexible enough to allow for necessary change.
Again, there is no reason for the aforementioned Signs to carry any of these qualities divorced from the fact of the Earth's relationship to the Sun. Just having a certain constellation of Stars behind the Sun does not automatically bring these characteristics, especially if such "constellations" do not carry consciousness as they do not per Parasara. The qualities are ONLY explained by the Sun's motion relative to the Earth.
One Zodiac, One Astrology
Astrology systems are as varied as there are cultures upon the Earth. However, the many variances are rather small compared to the many similarities. This points to the fact that at one time, many centuries ago, the many different cultures practiced a unified Astrology with varying techniques and shared these techniques among themselves. And they all used the Tropical Zodiac when it came to Rasis.
When delineating a horoscope, an astrologer has many techniques at his/her fingertips, the Parasara techniques, the Jaimini techniques, the Tajika techniques, the Bhrigu techniques, Western techniques and on and on. All of these techniques can accurately read the horoscope and they are all valid. That is, unless, 2 different Zodiacs are used.
Tajika techniques, which originated in Tajikstan, an ancient Persian culture, are the originators of Greco-Roman astrology and thus, modern day Western Astrology. Tajika is widely used in India today. So we now know that the Indians use their aboriginal astrology techniques, Parasara, Jaimini, and Bhrigu, along with Western Astrology.
Western Astrologers should be encouraged to use Parasara techniques as well and they should also incorporate the Nakshatras into their practice. The Nakshatras were widely used by Western Astrologers up until the time of the Inquisition. They were associated with black magic, black magic being anything that was not sanctioned by the Catholic Church.
The Role of the 3rd and 9th Houses
There is a saying, "with effort comes grace". While many Vedic Astrologers are open to the idea of a Tropical Zodiac, many are not. Some resist it forcefully because of their religious beliefs or because it is not what was taught by their guru. Some resist it because they have become comfortable with their own horoscopes and do not want change.
But research into the mystery of the Zodiacs by human beings weighs in favor of a Tropical Zodiac being used to delineate all horoscopes while using Rasis and not a Sidereal Zodiac for using Rasis.
Human research and self-effort into this mystery has revealed a mistake was made in computation of the Zodiac around 1900 years ago. And this mistake has cost the reputation of Astrology.
Human effort and scientific enquiry are 3rd house endeavors. The 3rd house is the opposite of the 9th house which is divine inspiration and knowledge or knowledge that can only be revealed through grace. The rule of opposites states that opposites at their extremes are exactly the same. Thus, the 9th house which is higher knowledge and divine grace must be balanced out with self-inquiry, research and one's own effort to find the Truth. With a sincere effort by the individual (3rd house) the Truth will be revealed (9th house). Dogmatic beliefs and unwillingness to research has no place in Astrology if it is to become a worldwide respected science by the general populace again.
As always, research into this fascinating subject is welcomed and encouraged. Studying several horoscopes with both Zodiacs along with the history of Astrology is the only way to convince oneself of the validity of one over the other. But as we move from the Dark Age into a more enlightened age, the Truth will slowly reveal itself. It is imperative that Astrologers of all disciplines keep an open and scientific mind with regard to this subject. As an astrologer I welcome any comments and discussion to this novel approach.
About the author: Laura Barat is a professional practicing Vedic Astrologer in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She is a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology and a regional teacher for Dirah Academy International.
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