The Differences Between the Vedic and Western Astrological Systems

The Vedic astrological system is significantly different from Western astrology, offering a profound depth and complexity not found in the Western system.  The spiritual and mythological roots of Vedic astrology are found in the lineages of Indian maharishis (“great seers”) who studied the movements of the heavens, intuited their meanings and codified an enormous body of astrological knowledge.  I belong to the astrological lineage of the great seer Parashara

While the Vedic system of astrology uses the same twelve “signs” of the zodiac as does Western astrology, the signs of those two systems occupy different parts of the sky.  The signs in Vedic astrology (often called “sidereal” astrology) are the actual twelve solar constellations named Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc.  Several thousand years ago, Western astrology (often called “tropical” astrology) based the beginning of the zodiac (Aries) on the position of the sun on the day of the vernal equinox (March 21); because the sun’s position on that day has shifted 24° degrees backward through the constellations over the last several thousand years due to the precession of the earth’s axis, the Western system of “signs” is now 24° off of the circle of the actual constellations. 

Vedic astrology also uses a system of 27 lunar constellations (nakshatras) that is superimposed on the twelve solar constellations.  These lunar constellations are unknown in the West.  The moon’s position in one of these 27 lunar constellations at the time of one’s birth is critical in determining marriage and relationship issues as well as in determining the chronology of planetary influences throughout a person’s life.  That system of chronology (the dasha system) is also unknown in the West.

In Vedic astrology several important subsidiary charts (amshas) are generated from the primary natal chart, and are used to more closely examine issues of spirituality, work, marriage, children, property and past lives, among other important matters.

Finally, the way the planets relate to one another and to various parts of the horoscope are based on different principles.  In Western astrology the planets relate to one another and to areas of the chart by a system of strict angularities.  In Vedic astrology, the planets relate to one another and to the various “houses” of a natal chart through the principle of drishti or “glance”; each planet has a unique way of “glancing” at other planets and at the houses of the horoscope.  The drishti of the planets is an essential component in the determination of the energies in a person’s Vedic chart.  In addition, the interplay between the planets in an individual’s chart is best understood in the context of astrological mythologies and archetypes of ancient India.

These are the most important distinctions, among many, between Vedic and Western astrology.


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