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What Makes Jyotish Astrology So Special?
Jyotish is a Sanskrit word that translates as the study of light (Jyoti means light). Rooted in a tradition that can be traced back thousands of years, Jyotish has a very long history of being a tool of self discovery and awakening.
The knowledge of Jyotish is among the numerous Vedic texts. These ancient texts have been largely passed from generation to generation as an oral tradition, originally cognized by enlightened rishis of the past. Eventually the knowledge and wisdom of these rishis was written into the volumes of Vedic texts we know today.
Each of these ancient Vedic texts has a purpose- which is to help humans awaken and become fully realized, or enlightened. Although the Hindu religion uses the Vedic texts as the basis for their beliefs, the Vedic texts pre-date this organized religion. This is an important distinction to make. The Vedic texts are not in and of themselves a religion, although the Hindu religion is based on them. Therefore, Jyotish is not a religion either.
The Jyotish texts are among the many recognized Vedic texts, and are part of the Angas, or Six Limbs of the Vedas. The Jyotish texts include both astronomy and astrology, and are connected to the body part, eyes, which is of course our ability to see. Jyotish is considered to be the "eye of the Vedas" quite literally.
The purpose of the Jyotish texts is to awaken one to their cosmic, divine existence, to teach the reality of "as is the macrocosm, so is the microcosm."The wisdom of the Vedas is rooted in Natural Law, where all truth resides.
The recognized grandfather of Jyotish is considered to be Parashara. He was truly a sage, an enlightened being by all accounts, who lived around 2 to 3,000 B.C. according to Indian historians. It was Parashara who originally wrote the Jyotish texts into what is known today as the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. This has been a guiding resource for Jyotishis (students of Jyotish) for millenniums and is a foundational understanding of Jyotish. Inside this sacred ancient text, the principles and practices of cosmic intelligence that guide human existence can be found.
The ancient tradition of Eastern astrology, or the sidereal system, has a profound lineage of masters and seers that is linked to it. This is unparalleled in the modern, Western astrology realms (also known as Tropical astrology). Though ancient Vedic astrologers were well aware of the difference between the fixed zodiac (sidereal or nirayana chakra in Sanskrit), versus the moveable zodiac (tropical or sayana chakra in Sanskrit), they chose to use the sidereal zodiac for reasons of accuracy.
Western astrology, the way it is used today, is quite new. It cannot be linked to ancient roots like that of the sidereal system. I believe this to be the most important distinction between the tropical and sidereal approaches to astrology.
I'm a traditionalist in many regards. I want a lineage connected to my knowledge and resources. Lineage is important for me in order to trust the knowledge that I'm receiving. The wisdom and guidance of the ancient Jyotish system provides this for me. When it comes to Dharma, nothing compares to the depth, accuracy and wholeness that Vedic Astrology provides.
Eastern astrology, the sidereal approach to studying the cosmic self, is based on the fixed reality of life- that which is unchanging. The ancient Jyotishis knew that using a fixed zodiac was ideal as this mirrors the essence of our non-changing self, the Atman, or soul. This non-changing expression of reality, of our cosmic existence, is expressed eloquently in the Mahavakyas as simply "tat tvam asi," or thou art That.
In contrast, the Western approach to astrology, or Tropical approach, is based on the moveable, changing reality- expressed through charts that are based on the unfixed zodiac. The Tropical approach uses a changing reality at its core.
This is a decidedly poignant distinction that accentuates the many differences, philosophic and otherwise, between Eastern and Western approaches. As with most Western-centric ideals, there is an obsession with all aspects of life that are not lasting, that are simply fleeting illusions. The East knows better.
It is well documented that when the calendar shifted from Moon based to Sun based, during Caesar's rule, there was also a shift in how the Divine Feminine and women were perceived, treated and recognized within society.
A change happened during Roman rule which cost humanity greatly. This is when the ultimate shift occurred between honoring feminine ideals versus masculine ideals. This is when Western values and philosophies, and the mind, became king. This is the historical time period when women, and our innate intuitive gifts, began to be feared and made evil. This is the time when dogmatic religious ideals took over, and ultimately suppressed the awareness of cosmic intelligence. This is when the goddess died, and the male god came into predominant power.
As a result of this intense shift in consciousness, a deep appreciation, respect and reverence for the Divine Feminine, the emotional body, intuition and women was lost. I've spent years studying the goddess and how the Divine Feminine was slowly killed off. Killed not only within our cultural and historical understandings, but also killed within our own intuitive awareness. This absence and denial of the Divine Feminine is what I consider to be the most tragic and striking loss for our Westerncentric civilization as a whole.
The issue of the goddess and the Divine Feminine may seem like a separate concern, not connected to the differences between sidereal and tropical astrology. However, I see the connection as a striking and important one.
The Vedic tradition recognizes that the energy of the Moon is feminine and has qualities that correlate directly to the Divine Feminine. This wisdom is found within each body and is also reflected withing the innate intelligence of Nature. The Sun is recognized as a decidedly masculine energy, which expresses itself within every body and in Nature as well. (It is not just the Vedic tradition that honors the Moon as the feminine and the Sun as the masculine energy though.)
Vedic astrology is in fact soli-lunar. It puts equal importance on both solar and lunar qualities within the body, Nature, and cosmic intelligence. The cosmos directly mirror the intelligence withing the body. The body intimately mirrors the intelligence of the cosmos.
Using a solar based calendar and basing our sense of time on the solar aspects of life, the masculine, negates the important impact the Moon has on our life and on time itself. In fact, the Moon is our most remarkable resource for marking time accurately. The phases of the Moon, the ones we see as the Moon waxes and wanes, are perhaps the most basic expression of the Moon as natural time keeper. In Vedic Astrology, the understanding that Moon determines our most basic rhythm of life, is quite elaborate and truly worth studying.
For me, there are remarkable philosophical distinctions between the Eastern and Western approaches to astrology. As a life-long Vedic astrology scholar, I never cease to be amazed at the depth of the layers interwoven into Vedic knowledge. I am constantly reminded that all truth resides in Nature and Natural Law. "Satyameva Jayate", truth alone triumphs. If it is truth on the level of Nature, it is truth on every level of life.
From a Jyotish perspective, the feminine is recognized as having more importance than the masculine in many ways. For without the Moon, its nurturing qualities, its ability to comfort, support and most importantly, to create life, there would be no existence.
This foundational understanding within the Vedic texts, as well as the Jyotish texts, honors the Divine Feminine very intimately. It is one of the very important reasons Jyotish is a premier resource for understanding ourselves, our innate nature and the depths of our cosmic existence. But the depth and profundity doesn’t stop there.
The vast layers of knowledge and self awareness that Jyotish astrology offers, far surpass anything that has come since. Modern Tropical astrologers have taken many concepts from ancient Vedic Astrology, however, they don't fully translate without an astronomically correct chart and the precision that Vedic astrology offers.
As we study our Jyotish chart, we discover layer by layer, a portal into our cosmic existence. When it comes to understanding Dharma, there is no other tool that comes close. Vedic Astrology has always been used for the purpose of bringing light to the soul and keeping one connected to their divine soul purpose. When used properly, Jyotish has the ability to truly enlighten.
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