Vedic astrology, also known as Vēdānga or Indian astrology, is an ancient science which deals with the study of celestial bodies and their influence over human life. The word 'Vēdānga' itself shows that astrology has its roots and is an integral part of the Vēdās. The literary translation of Vēdānga is ‘the limb of Vēdās’. Humanity has, from time immemorial, upheld the belief that astrology has an important influence over the growth of living beings and the course of their life. History testifies the presence of astrologers in Babylonia as early as 3000 BC. But astrology had developed as a science in India much before this. It is believed that ancient scriptures like Sūrya Siddhāntha and Vēdānga Jyothisham are more than 5000 years old. Astrology is perhaps one of the oldest, deepest and greatest sciences of the world.
Vedas are divided into six parts:
1. Shiksha - A preliminary study of vedic elements and their correct pronunciation
2. Chhanda - Learning the correct expression of vedic suktās.
3. Vyākaraṇa - Helps to learn the grammatical aspect.
4. Nirukta - Useful in understanding the difficult words, pādās and mantrās.
5. Kalpa - Helps to comprehend the ritualistic aspect of vēdas.
6. Jyothisham or Astrology - The eyes of Vēdas, enabling to see the past, present and the future.
Vedic astrology is primarily divided into three parts:
1. Hōra 2. Siddhāntam 3. Samhita
1. Hōra is classified into four categories:
a) Jāthakam b) Praśna c) Muhūrta d) Nimitham
Determined on the basis of a child’s time of birth or the time of beginning of an activity, and whose fate is predicted with the help of planetary position and conjunction. Three systems are commonly used for this:
b) Praśnam: This method is very similar to the study of natal horoscope. Natal Horoscope is based on the planetary disposition at the time of a person’s birth, whereas Praśnam is the forecast from a horoscope prepared on the basis of the time when a person raises a question.
c) Muhūrta: It is the method of selecting suitable time to start or do any activity.
d) Nimitham: These are forecasts based on the omens and signs at a particular point of time. Some consider this as a part of Samhita.
2. Siddhāntham: This is actually mathematics. This involves complex mathematical processes including calculating the position of planets and stars on the basis of their motion and other relevant factors.
3. Samhita: This is the study of natural phenomena like floods, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, rains, climate, and comets. Astrologers can predict the strength and consequences of such events using the principles of the Samhita.
The study of astrology accords primary importance to time. Not even two smallest fractions of time element can be said to be similar. Each of them is different. Every fraction of time energises the living beings in the earth in many ways. The existence of planets and their effects on life in earth depends upon time cycle. Time is the force behind the creation and destruction of every organism in the cosmos. Time is classified into 9 types namely Brahmam, Divyam, Pithryam, Prajāpathyam, Gauravam, Souram, Savanam, Chhandram and Arkham.
Day and night calculations, the holy periods of Shadhasheethi and Vishnupathi and Dakshiṇāyaṇa and Uttarāyaṇa period are reckoned with the help of Souramānam.
One lunar month contains thirty days from Prathipādam to Amāvāsya. The daily rotation of the stellar sphere makes one star day. A Savana Day is of 60 Ghatis duration from one sunrise to the next sunrise. Thus, 360 Savana days form a Savana year. 365.25 days make a solar year (Souravarsham). Kalpa is one year of Lord Brahma and is equal to our 4,32,00,00,000 years.
There are four Yugas, namely:
1. Krutha or Satya = 17, 28,000 human years
2. Thretha = 12,96,000 human years
3. Dwāparam = 8, 64,000 human years
4. Kali = 4,32,000 human years
These four Yugās together form the Mahāyuga which spans 4,320,000 years. The Kali Yuga is believed to have begun in 3102 BC.
The following are some of the important factors that help calculate time:
1 vighati = 24 seconds
2.5 vighati = 1 minute
60 vighati = 1 ghati = 24 minutes
2.5 ghati = 1 hour
60 ghati = 24 hours = 1 day
7 days = 1 week
2 weeks = A fortnight (Paksha) (It has been divided into Krishnapaksha and Suklapaksha)
2 paksha = 1 month
2 months = 1 season
6 months = 1 ayana
2 ayanams = 1 Year
There are 12 months - Chaithram, Vaishākham, Jyeshtham, Āshādham, Srāvanam, Bhādrapadam, Āśwēyujam, Kārthikam, Mārgaśiram, Pushyam, Māgham and Phālguṇam.
There are 6 seasons - Spring, Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, Winter and Late Autumn.
There are 2 Ayanas - Dakshiṇāyaṇa and Uttarāyaṇa
One lunar day is called Tithi.
There are 15 tithis in one paksha. They are the following:
Pradhama, Dwithiya, Thrithiya, Chathurthi, Panchami, Shashti, Sapthami, Ashtami, Navami, Daśami, Ekādaśi, Dwādaśi, Thrayodaśi, Chathurdaśi, Amāvāsya / Pourṇami.
The science of astrology helps a person to make his life easier and peaceful in the face of an unknown future. Astrology gives a clue regarding the various experiences one may go through in life.
Astrology has roots in the firm belief in pre-birth virtues and vices, re-birth etc. Every living being experiences the fruits of his actions, which could be the results of this birth or previous birth. The horoscope helps to get an insight into the actions of previous births. One may go through the effect of a vicious action in the previous birth in this life. With the help of astrology we can foresee such instances and take remedial measures.
Earth rotates on its axis once in every 24 hours. At the same time earth revolves once around sun in one year. This movement of earth makes us feel that the sun is moving around the stars. This imaginary path of sun is called the Ecliptic. The sky path extending to about 8 degrees on both sides of Ecliptic is called Zodiac. This resembles a belt. We feel that moon and other planets move in this zodiac. Since earth exists in this solar system the stars and planets in the zodiac belt influence us.
Zodiac is a circle. In order to understand the position of stars and planets in this circle, a starting point is necessary. Hindu astrology estimates that the first degree of the circle starts from the end of the last Pāda of the last star in the constellation, Revathi. From this starting point the circle has been divided into 12 equal parts of 30 degrees each. These 12 parts are known as Mēsham, Vrishabham, Mithunam, Karkātakam, Simham, Kanya, Tula, Vriśchikam, Dhanussu, Makaram, Kumbham and Meenam.
Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Rāhu and Kētu are the nine planets. Among these Rāhu and Kētu do not have physical existence as they are only shadow planets.