What is Jyotish?

Jyotisha , a science of astrology and astronomy with immense depth and expanse, has served as the backbone of Indian culture for times immemorial. Another school of astrology, which is loosely termed as the western astrology, is much younger in comparison. Yet it  has shown tremendous growth in its popularity not only among westerners but a sizable number of young generation Indians as well.
But for many the question remains, which one to choose ? Western Astrology or Jyotisha ?

With the advent of newer state of the art technologies to observe and measure various parameters of our Earth based living , there has been a growing recognition that astrology is a pure science, not just a mute diagram or two dimensional figures/geometry drawn on paper surfaces. But the question remains, out of the two , which one to choose ? Western Astrology or Jyotisha ? In light of these frequently asked questions, let us look at some key points summarized and simplified, to bring clarity to the reader and to those interested in Astrology.

Space is sometimes called the Great Mother, the mother Substance, the really primordial homogeneous matter. From a nucleus of Substance is born the Golden Egg (Hiranyagarbha), the Central Spiritual Sun of the Universe, whence emanate all the upper and lower hierarchies of Creative Forces and Powers and man’s divine Progenitors. “Mother-Space” is very properly called the “Mother of the Gods,” as it is from her Cosmic Matrix that all the heavenly bodies of our system were born — sun and planets. The doctrine of a common origin for all the heavenly bodies and planets was inculcated by archaic astronomy before Kepler, Newton and others.

Difference between Vedic and Western astrology

The zodiac is a ring of constellations often referred to as signs, such as Aries, Leo, Sagittarius and Taurus .
It is a kind of cosmic clock around which our solar systems operates. It also governs how astrologers measure cycles of time. Most people do not know that there are two distinct zodiacs.
Vedic astrologers (Jyotishis) use the Sidereal zodiac and Western astrologers use the Tropical zodiac.
The Sidereal zodiac is based on observations of planets lining up against the backdrop of the fixed stars. It is oriented to the center of the galaxy.
On the other hand, the Tropical zodiac is based on the relationship between the sun and earth. It is oriented to the equinoxes.
In Western astrology the spring equinox marks the beginning of the Tropical zodiac at 1 degree Aries. But during that time, our Sun is astronomically traveling in the light fields of Pisces. To put is simply, Western astrology does not correspond to observable position.
The Vedic astrology is called Jyotisha in Sanskrit, meaning the science of light, and it describes how the light emitted from the stars affect/effect us. When Western astrology was in its early stages, the two zodiacs may have lined up; but over time the two moved apart approximately 50 seconds per year to the current 23 degrees of separation (even that number is debated, but the standard of India, the Lahiri ayanamsha is 23 degrees 10 seconds).

Vedic Astrology – the holistic approach to living

Jyotisha (ज्योतिष) is the traditional Indian system of astrology rooted in Vedic-Purānic tradition. It is often discussed as the instructional element of the Rig Veda, and is a Vedānga or an auxiliary text to the the Veda. A “body part” of the Vedas, namely called the Eye of the Veda, for its alleged ability to view both phenomenal reality and wisdom itself. Part of a larger Vedic curriculum including mathematics, architecture, medical and military applications. It is one of the six disciplines of Vedānta, and regarded as one of the oldest schools of ancient astrology to have had an independent origin, affecting all other schools in and around India.

The Sanskrit word derives from jyótis : split to its roots as “Ja”+”Ya”+”O”+”T”+”ish” to get the root meaning as “water or birth”+”in addition to” + “earth” and “stars” + “knowledgeable” equating as one who is knowledgeable, or enlightened with knowledge, of birth, fate, and relationship to water, earth and stars or which means “light, brightness”, but in the plural also “the heavenly bodies, planets and stars”. Jyotisha has historically been part of a continuous “holistic” approach to living and to spiritual practice within the life of Hindus predominant in India.

Considered by scholars to pre-date Western astrology, Jyotisha is the only system that has accounted for the precession of the equinoxes.
What is the precession of the equinoxes? Earth’s axis is tilted 23° 27′ in its orbit around the sun, its equatorial plane is tilted with respect to the ecliptic plane, the plane created by Earth’s orbit. These two intersecting planes create an intersecting line called the vernal axis that occurs on the first day of spring, or Vernal equinox. As the Earth spins on its axis, its axis wobbles (precesses 50.3 seconds of arc per year or 1 degree every 71.6 years) very slowly over a period of about 24,000 to 26,000 years. As this occurs, the pole of the Earth inscribes an arc in the heavens called the precessional arc, the Earth’s pole aligns with different stars throughout this period.

The current pole star is Polaris.

Central Galactic Sun, Vishnunabhi

Earth’s precessional cycle is also referred to as Earth’s Great Year in the alchemical tradition, World Ages, or Yugas in the Vedas. The ancient Vedic seers divided up the cycle into four world ages: the Satya (Truth or Golden), Treta (Third or Silver), Dwapara (Third or Bronze) and Kali (first or Iron) Ages. Each age describes a stage of awareness for mankind in which consciousness ascends, descends, and ascends in unending cycles perhaps due to the influence of this yet to be discovered companion star.
According to Vedic thought, the cycles of ascending and descending consciousness are connected not only to our rotation around a companion star, but also our cycle around the galactic center.

“Vedic astrology orients the zodiac to the galactic center, or the central galactic sun, whose influence comes to us through fixed stars of the constellation Sagittarius.”
The Galactic Centre is like our cosmic belly button — it is sometimes called Vishnunabhi, or the navel of Vishnu– the point from which our galaxy grew and expanded.

 I feel the “Om” calling.


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2 thoughts on “What is Jyotish?

    • Dear Joe, good question 🙂
      Technically speaking, we are now at the cusp of two ages, dark/old-golden age and are slowly progressing towards the golden age. Old age is almost over however some fragments of lower frequencies still remain, but those will go away too in due time. The higher frequencies of golden age are here amongst us already, although not completely yet, but since the dark age is fading away, many now prefer to call this age as ‘the golden age’ 🙂


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