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Jyotisha (or Jyotishyam from Sanskrit jyotiṣa, from jyótis- "light, heavenly body") is the traditional Hindu system of astrology, also known as Hindu astrology, Indian astrology, and more recently Vedic astrology. The term Hindu astrology has been in use as the English equivalent of Jyotiṣa since the early 19th century, whereas Vedic astrology is a relatively recent term, entering common usage in the 1980s with self-help publications on Āyurveda or Yoga. Vedanga Jyotisha is one of the earliest texts about astronomy within the Vedas. However, some authors have claimed that the horoscopic astrology in the Indian subcontinent came from Hellenistic influences, post-dating the Vedic period.
Following a judgement of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2001, which favoured astrology, some Indian universities offer advanced degrees in Hindu astrology.
Jyotiṣa is one of the Vedāṅga, the six auxiliary disciplines used to support Vedic rituals.:376 Early jyotiṣa is concerned with the preparation of a calendar to fix the date of sacrificial rituals.:377 Nothing is written on planets.:377 There are mentions of eclipse causing "demons" in the Atharvaveda and Chāndogya Upaniṣad, the Chāndogya mentioning Rāhu.:382 In fact the term graha, which is now taken to mean planet, originally meant demon.:381 The Ṛigveda also mentions an eclipse causing demon, Svarbhānu, however the specific term of "graha" becomes applied to Svarbhānu in the later Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa.:382
The foundation of Hindu astrology is the notion of bandhu of the Vedas, (scriptures), which is the connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Practice relies primarily on the sidereal zodiac, which is different from the tropical zodiac used in Western (Hellenistic) astrology in that an ayanāṁśa adjustment is made for the gradual precession of the vernal equinox. Hindu astrology includes several nuanced sub-systems of interpretation and prediction with elements not found in Hellenistic astrology, such as its system of lunar mansions (Nakṣatra). It was only after the transmission of Hellenistic astrology that the order of planets in India was fixed in that of the seven-day week.:383 Hellenistic astrology and astronomy also transmitted the twelve zodiacal signs beginning with Aries and the twelve astrological places beginning with the ascendant.:384 The first evidence of the introduction of Greek astrology to India is the Yavanajātaka which dates to the early centuries CE.:383 The Yavanajātaka ("Sayings of the Greeks") was translated from Greek to Sanskrit by Yavaneśvara during the 2nd century CE, under the patronage of the Western Satrap Saka king Rudradaman I, and is considered the first Indian astrological treatise in the Sanskrit language. However the only version that survives is the later verse version of Sphujidhvaja which dates to AD 270.:383 The first Indian astronomical text to define the weekday was the Āryabhaṭīya of Āryabhaṭa (born AD 476).:383
According to Michio Yano, Indian astronomers must have been occupied with the task of Indianizing and Sanskritizing Greek astronomy during the 300 or so years between the first Yavanajataka and the Āryabhaṭīya.:388 The astronomical texts of these 300 years are lost.:388 The later Pañcasiddhāntikā of Varāhamihira summarizes the five known Indian astronomical schools of the sixth century.:388 It is interesting to note that Indian astronomy preserved some of the older pre-Ptolemaic elements of Greek astronomy.:389
The main texts upon which classical Indian astrology is based are early medieval compilations, notably the Bṛhat Parāśara Horāśāstra, and Sārāvalī by Kalyāṇavarma. The Horāshastra is a composite work of 71 chapters, of which the first part (chapters 1–51) dates to the 7th to early 8th centuries and the second part (chapters 52–71) to the later 8th century. The Sārāvalī likewise dates to around 800 CE. English translations of these texts were published by N.N. Krishna Rau and V.B. Choudhari in 1963 and 1961, respectively.
Modern Hindu astrology
Astrology remains an important facet in the lives of many Hindus. In Hindu culture, newborns are traditionally named based on their jyotiṣa charts, and astrological concepts are pervasive in the organization of the calendar and holidays as well as in many areas of life, such as in making decisions made about marriage, opening a new business, and moving into a new home. Astrology retains a position among the sciences in modern India. Following a judgement of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2001, some Indian universities offer advanced degrees in astrology. (The decision was upheld by the Supreme Court of India in 2004.)
Astrology remains an important facet of Hindu folk belief in contemporary India. Many Hindus believe that heavenly bodies, including the planets, have an influence throughout the life of a human being, and these planetary influences are the "fruit of karma." The Navagraha, planetary deities, are considered subordinate to Ishvara, i.e., the Supreme Being, in the administration of justice. Thus, these planets can influence earthly life.
Status of astrology
The University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government decided to introduce "Jyotir Vigyan" (i.e. jyotir vijñāna) or "Vedic astrology" as a discipline of study in Indian universities, saying that "vedic astrology is not only one of the main subjects of our traditional and classical knowledge but this is the discipline, which lets us know the events happening in human life and in universe on time scale." The decision was backed up by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, despite widespread protests from the scientific community in India and Indian scientists working abroad. A petition sent to the Supreme Court of India stated that the introduction of astrology to university curricula is "a giant leap backwards, undermining whatever scientific credibility the country has achieved so far", but it refused to intervene in the matter.
In 2004 the Supreme Court dismissed a further petition, concluding that the teaching of astrology did not qualify as the promotion of religion. In February 2011, the Bombay High Court referred to the 2004 Supreme Court ruling when it dismissed a case which had challenged astrology's status as a science. Despite continuing complaints by scientists, astrology is still, as of 2014, taught at various universities in India, and there is a movement in progress to establish a national Vedic University to teach astrology together with the study of tantra, mantra, and yoga.
Rāśi – zodiacal signs
The Nirayana, or sidereal zodiac, is an imaginary belt of 360 degrees, which, like the Sāyana, or tropical zodiac, is divided into 12 equal parts. Each twelfth part (of 30 degrees) is called a sign or rāśi (Sanskrit: 'part'). Vedic (Jyotiṣa) and Western zodiacs differ in the method of measurement. While synchronically, the two systems are identical, Jyotiṣa uses primarily the sidereal zodiac (in which stars are considered to be the fixed background against which the motion of the planets is measured), whereas most Western astrology uses the tropical zodiac (the motion of the planets is measured against the position of the Sun on the Spring equinox). This difference becomes noticeable over time. After two millennia, as a result of the precession of the equinoxes, the origin of the ecliptic longitude has shifted by about 22 degrees. As a result, the placement of planets in the Jyotiṣa system is consistent with the actual zodiac, while in western astrology the planets fall into the following sign, as compared to their placement in the sidereal zodiac, about two thirds of the time.
|Number||Sanskrit||Transliteration||Representation||English||Kannada||Telugu||Tamil||Malayalam||Element||Quality||Ruling Astrological Body|
|6||कन्या||Kanyā||virgin girl||Virgo||ಕನ್ಯಾ||కన్య||கன்னி||കന്നി||Earth||Dvisvabhava (Dual)||Mercury|
|9||धनुष||Dhanuṣa||bow and arrow||Sagittarius||ಧನು||ధనుస్సు||தனுசு||ധനു||Fire||Dvisvabhava (Dual)||Jupiter|
|10||मकर||Makara||mountain goat||Capricorn||ಮಕರ||మకరము||மகரம்||മകരം||Earth||Chara (Movable)||Saturn|
Nakṣatras - lunar mansions
Historical (medieval) Hindu astrology enumerated either 27 or 28 nakṣatras. Today, a rigid system of 27 nakṣatras covering 13°20’ of the ecliptic each is generally used. The missing 28th nakshatra is Abhijeeta. Each nakṣatra is divided into quarters or padas of 3°20. Of the greatest importance is the Abhiśeka Nakṣatra which is the King amongst all the Nakṣatras and worshipping and propitiating this Nakṣatra has the power to remedy all the other Nakṣatras. Remedial measures are in general the high-water mark of all realistic predictive astrology work and go a long way in mitigating Karma.
Daśā-s – planetary periods
The word Dasha (Devanāgarī: दशा, Sanskrit,daśā, 'planetary period') means 'state of being' and therefore the Daśā governs to a large extent the state of being of a person. The Daśā system shows which planets may be said to have become particularly active during the period of the Daśā. The ruling planet (the Daśānātha or 'lord of the Daśā') eclipses the mind of the native, compelling him or her to act as per the nature of the planet.
There are several dasha systems, each with its own utility and area of application. There are Daśās of Grahas (planets) as well as Daśās of the Rāśis (signs). The primary system used by astrologers is the Viṁśottarī Daśā system, which has been considered universally applicable in the Kaliyuga to all horoscopes.
The first Mahā-Daśā is determined by the position of the natal Moon in a given Nakṣatra. The lord of the Nakṣatra governs the Daśā. Each Mahā-Dāśā is divided into sub-periods called bhuktis, or antar-daśās, which are proportional divisions of the maha-dasa. Further proportional sub-divisions can be made (but error margin based on accuracy of the birth-time grows exponentially). The next sub-division is called pratyantar-daśā, which can in turn be divided into sookshma-antardasa, which can in turn be divided into praana-antardaśā, which can be sub-divided into deha-antardaśā. Such sub-divisions also exist in all other Daśā systems, some of which have been named above.
Grahas – planets
The Nine Planets of Vedic Astrology or Jyotiṣa are the forces that capture or eclipse the mind and the decision making of the human being-thus the term 'Graha'. When the Grahas are active in their Daśās or periodicities they are particularly empowered to direct the affairs of the person or the inanimate being as the case may be. Even otherwise, Grahas are always busy capturing us in some way or other, for better or for worse.
Gocharas – transits
The natal chart shows the position of the grahas at the moment of birth. Since that moment, the grahas have continued to move around the zodiac, interacting with the natal chart grahas. This period of interaction is called Gochara (Sanskrit: gochara, 'transit').:227
The study of transits is based not only on the transit of the Moon/ Candra, which spans roughly two days, but also the movement of the slightly faster planets such as Mercury/Budha and Venus/ Śukra. The movement of the slower planets Guru, Śani and Rāhu-Ketu is always of considerable importance. Astrologers must study the transit of the Daśā lord and must also study transits from various reference points in the horoscope.
Yogas – planetary combinations
It is usually advisable to study the underlying theme behind the Yogas rather than attempt to memorize them. Rāja Yogas are givers of fame, status and authority and are formed typically by the association of the Lord of Keṅdras/ quadrants, when reckoned from the Lagna/ ascendant, and the Lords of the Tṛkoṇa/ trines. The Rāja Yogas are culminations of the blessings of Viṣṇu and Lakṣmī. Some planets, such as Mars for Leo Lagna, do not need another Graha to create Rājayoga, but are capable of giving Rājayoga suo-moto due to their own lordship of the 4th Bhāva and the 9th Bhāva from the Lagna, the two being a Keṅdra and Tṛkoṇa Bhāva respectively.
Dhana Yogas are formed by the association of wealth-giving planets such as the Dhaneśa or the 2nd Lord and the Lābheśa or the 11th Lord from the Lagna. Dhana Yogas are also formed due to the auspicious placement of the Dārāpada/ A7, when reckoned from the Ārūḍha Lagna (AL). The combination of the Lagneśa and the Bhāgyeśa also leads to wealth through the Lakṣmī Yoga.
Sanyāsa Yogas are formed due to the placement of four or more Grahas, excluding the Sun, in a Keṅdra Bhāva from the Lagna.
There are some overarching Yogas in Jyotiṣa such as Amāvasyā Doṣa, Kāla Sarpa Yoga-Kāla Amṛta Yoga and Graha Mālika Yoga that can take precedence oveYamaha yogar planetary placements in the horoscope.
Bhāvas – houses
The Hindu Jātaka, or Birth Chart, is the Bhāva (Sanskrit: 'division') Cakra (Sanskrit: 'wheel'), the complete 360° circle of life, divided into houses, and represents our way of enacting the influences in the wheel. Each house has associated kāraka (Sanskrit: 'significator') planets that can alter the interpretation of a particular house.:93–167Each Bhāva spans an arc of 30 degrees and therefore there are twelve Bhāvas in any chart of the horoscope. These are a crucial part of any horoscopic study since the Bhāvas, understood as 'state of being' personalize the Rāśis/ Rashis to the native and each Rāśi/ Rashi apart from indicating its true nature reveals its impact on the person based on the Bhāva occupied. The best way to study the various facets of Jyotiṣa is to see their role in chart evaluation of actual persons and how these are construed.
Dṛṣṭis – aspects
Drishti (Sanskrit: Dṛṣṭi, 'sight') is an aspect to an entire house. Grahas cast only forward aspects, with the furthest aspect being considered the strongest. For example, Mars aspects the 4th, 7th, and 8th houses from its position, and its 8th house aspect is considered more powerful than its 7th aspect, which is in turn more powerful than its 4th aspect.:26–27
The principle of Dristi (aspect) was devised on the basis of the aspect of an army of planets as deity and demon in a war field. Thus the Sun, a Deity King with only one full aspect, is more powerful than the Demon King Saturn, which has three full aspects.
Aspects can be cast both by the planets (Graha Dṛṣṭi) and by the signs (Rāśi Dṛṣṭi). Planetary aspects are a function of desire, while sign aspects are a function of awareness and cognizance.
There are some higher aspects of Graha Dṛṣṭi (planetary aspects) that are not limited to the Viśeṣa Dṛṣṭi or the special aspects. Rāśi Dṛṣṭi works based on the following formulaic structure: all movable signs aspect fixed signs except the one adjacent, and all dual and mutable signs aspect each other without exception.
Astrology has been rejected by the scientific community as having no explanatory power for describing the universe. Scientific testing of astrology has been conducted, and no evidence has been found to support any of the premises or purported effects outlined in astrological traditions.:424 There is no proposed mechanism of action by which the positions and motions of stars and planets could affect people and events on Earth that does not contradict well understood, basic aspects of biology and physics.:249
Astrologers in Indian astrology make grand claims without taking adequate controls into consideration. Saturn was in Aries in 1909, 1939 and 1968, yet the astrologer Bangalore Venkata Raman claimed that "when Saturn was in Aries in 1939 England had to declare war against Germany", ignoring the two other dates. Astrologers regularly fail in attempts to predict election results in India, and fail to predict major events such as the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Predictions by the head of the Indian Astrologers Federation about war between India and Pakistan in 1982 also failed.
In 2000, when several planets happened to be close to one another, astrologers predicted that there would be catastrophes, volcanic eruptions and tidal waves. This caused an entire sea-side village in the Indian state of Gujarat to panic and abandon their houses. Nothing predicted happened and their houses were burgled.
In one test, 27 Indian astrologers, with the appropriate horoscopes, failed to determine the intelligence difference between 100 mentally bright and 100 mentally handicapped children at a rate higher than that determined by chance alone in a double blind test. The astrologers had, on average, 14 years experience. A team of astrologers from one astrologers institute also performed at chance expectation. The president of the Maharashtra Astrological Society claimed to be able to predict sex and intelligence 60 per cent of the time each, but he performed no better than chance in double blind conditions.
- Archaeoastronomy and Vedic chronology
- Hindu calendar
- Hindu cosmology
- History of astrology
- Indian astronomy
- Jyotiṣa resources
- Nadi astrology
- Superstition in India
- Synoptical astrology
- Hindu units of measurement
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