As a Vedic Astrologer, one of the most common questions I hear is:
What is Vedic Astrology? How is it different from "regular" astrology?
Most Westerners don't even know there is more accurate form of astrology and they have no idea that Eastern astrology, or Vedic Astrology, predates the Western approach to astrological interpretation. Some people truly don't care that they are ingesting cosmic misrepresentations and half truths.
Even more surprising to me is the fact that many Westerners who study yoga fail to deepen their knowledge of the Vedic Limbs- which includes a branch called Jyotish, or Vedic Astrology. Every branch of the Vedas contains resources for awakening, or enlightenment. Vedic astrology, or Jyotish, is a powerful resource for increasing the light of awareness, jyoti.
Many people who learn the differences between Western and Eastern astrology, realize that they have studied false information for years. Western, or Tropical astrology, simply put, is highly inaccurate. Yet it predominates as the mainstream understanding of astrology in the West. As surprising as this is, it speaks volumes about Westerncentric interpretations of knowledge and wisdom.
The depth, layers and ancient lineage of jyotish astrology are incomparable. Simply put, the West has nothing like it. But there are even more glaring differences between Jyotish (or Sidereal astrology) and Tropical (or Western astrology).
There are two ways of measuring the zodiac- a Tropical approach and a Sidereal approach. The different measurements are an important distinction to understand. The Sidereal zodiac is based on the fixed sky, the stars- which do not move. Whereas the Tropical zodiac is based on the moveable, unfixed sky, and uses the constantly changing vernal equinox for its measurements.
Besides the metaphoric differences of a fixed vs. unfixed zodiac, there is an even more important difference that determines the fate of accuracy. The Eastern Sidereal system is astronomically accurate because it uses the Sun's position in relation to the skies. Planetary movement is tracked against the fixed position of the stars- which honors astral positions accurately.
The Western Tropical zodiac is based on the relationship of the Sun to the Earth. It tracks planetary movement from the view point of the Earth, and tracks the planets from seasonal points, like spring time and the equinox.
The differences between these two zodiacs sounds fine in theory, however, it creates an unfortunate problem when calculating the starting point of the zodiac. Where the zodiac begins is crucial for constructing an accurate chart. Accuracy must be based on the reality of what is happening in the skies. Both systems agree there are twelve signs, but because a difference has emerged in the starting point of the zodiac, the Sidereal zodiac and the Tropical zodiacs no longer align. The ancient Vedic astrologers understood the differences in these two zodiacs and chose not to use a Tropical approach because they knew it wasn't accurate.
Tropical astrology marks the beginning of its zodiac from the seasonal point, or vernal equinox. However due to complex astronomical shifts taking place, the point of the vernal equinox changes slightly every year at a rate of about one degree every 72 years. Over the last several hundred years, the starting point of the astrological year has changed as a result. The Sidereal system takes this shift into consideration, however, the Tropical system does not. As a result, there is now roughly a 24 degree discrepancy between starting points of the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs.
Tropical astrology doesn't take into consideration the slight but consistent shift taking place annually between our earthly position in relation to the Sun. Over hundreds of years, this 24 degree shift has slowly been taking place and the starting point of the seasons (or equinox) has continued to change as well. Eventually this difference will become so large that Western astrology will become obsolete and will no longer have any relevance. Currently there is little to no connection between the Tropical zodiac and what is happening astronomically in the skies.
Eastern astrology on the contrary is astronomically accurate because it is consistently taking into consideration the current placement of the Sun in relation to the skies. It is therefor an accurate expression of what is happening cosmically from the vantage point of the sky and star patterns, or constellations. The consistent and slow shift in seasons, our relationship to the Sun, and the placement of the planets in relation to the stars, is all utilized in order to create a true expression of the cosmos.
The starting point of the zodiac is important for an accurate chart to be pulled. After hundreds of years, Western astrology is still calling Aries the starting point of the zodiac and uses the same start date every year- even though it is no longer relevant. But due to the slow and steady astronomical shifts taking place, Aries is actually not an accurate starting point any more. The 24 degree shift (which continues to widen) is accounted for in Eastern calculations. Currently, according to Sidereal calculations, the zodiac begins at about six degrees Pisces.
Besides the way the charts are cast, the differences between Eastern and Western astrology are vast. The depth, layers, intention, philosophy, as well as the spiritual and dharmic clarity of Vedic astrology, far surpasses anything that Western astrology can offer- hands down.
Read More About the Differences Between Eastern and Western Astrology.
Jyotish Astrology Basics
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8/28/2018 03:33:36 pm
Thank you for writing this very detailed article. While I have always respected both eastern and western sciences, I agree - it is so surprising to me that Yogis choose western astrology. So surprising! Thanks and big love.
1/1/2020 10:46:59 am
Thank you for commenting Laura. It is surprising isn't it?! Old habits die hard and let's face it, Vedic Astrology is quite complex!
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