What's the difference between Vedic Astrology and the astrology practiced primarily in the Western world?
Vedic also called Indian and Hindu astrology is deeply rooted in the history, philosophy and lives of many millions of inhabitants of India. Immersed in an animistic religion from birth, most Indian children are in fact named after one of their many gods and are reared in the Karmic world of countless re-incarnations and endless cycles.
Whereas, western astrology is centered more in the intellect, with a questioning mind and a call for action and change in a materialistic world; the Vedic form is more emotional, meditative and passive with a fatalistic response to the dual (good and bad) forces of nature.
Vedic Astrology has a long and relatively unbroken tradition, having come down to us intact and unchanged after several thousand years. The Vedic (Hindu or Indian) form of astrology is known as Jyotisha which means "The Science of Light".
Although not mentioned in the Vedas (ancient Hindu religious texts), it enjoys the prestige and acceptance that comes with great antiquity.
Incorporating Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn as well as two imaginary planets Rahu and Ketu with twelve signs, twelve houses and twenty seven constellations, the heart of Hindu astrology is the Dasha system, based upon the position of the moon at birth.
In Vedic astrology the zodiac is divided into 27 different moon Nakshatras or constellations instead of the 12 sun signs in western astrology and a Vedic astrologer or "Jyotisha" can usually tell what sign someone is born under from a first name. Each Nakshatra is ruled by a different god or goddess and many Indian parents name their children after the deity associated with their child's moon sign.
Indian astrology practices an elaborate procedure called the "kuta" that uses the moon to determine compatibility between potential marriage partners. Since many marriages are pre-arranged, parents often consult an astrologer before agreeing to a match.
Believing that the moon is a powerful influence on the emotional, psychological and spiritual life, an understanding the moon's placement in the various Vedic houses is an important part of the Indian system.
The two imaginary planets, Rahu and Ketu provide additional elements to the mystical heart evident in the culture of India.
Rahu represents mystery and cruelty and Ketu represents Karmic (good & bad) experiences. Where, in one's houses these planets lie at birth determines one's destiny and is called "Kundli".
The concept underlying Vedic astrology is Karma or fate. Vedic astrologers believe that:
1. The good and bad actions that a soul has performed in previous lives determine the fate (karma) of each individual in his or her present life.
2. Good and bad actions of individuals done now, will determine their fate (karma) in the future.
3. Fate depends on the exact time and place in which a person is born and is linked to the motions of celestial bodies.
The concept of houses is crucial to understanding Vedic as well as western astrology because we are now dealing with the Ascendant and the areas (houses) of life where the planets rule and manifest their power.
The Vedic tradition considers the planets to have a "proper" house. Mercury in the 1st house, the Moon in the 3rd house, Venus in the 5th house, Mars in the 6th house, the Sun in the 9th house, Jupiter in the 11th house and Saturn in the 12th house.
Vedic astrologers believe that medieval scholars of the Dark Ages following a work by Ptolemy mistakenly anchored the zodiac to the solar solstice rather than adjust the zodiac for the drift associated with the precession of the equinoxes.
The Indians have kept the zodiac fixed on the outer constellations while Western astrologers fixed on the much narrower solar seasonal cycle. This mistake, linked to an exaggerated role of the Sun, led to the 'tropical zodiac' and a resulting "drift" of the signs from their original locations due to the precession of the Equinoxes. The western zodiac signs now arrive about a month late.
Some Indian astrologers have also taken exception to the addition of newly discovered but invisible planets that the west has grafted onto their system while insinuating historic influences previously unknown to the ancients and creating an essentially new and distinct astrology.
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