What the world knows as Hindu Astrology or Vedic Astrology, Indians simply call it Jyotisha. The word Jyotisha means "the science of light" in Sanskrit. It is in essence a time-tested, ancient art of accurately predicting the future. The guidelines of predicting future this way hails from the Holy Indian texts i.e. the Vedas. There are primarily three branches of this art, namely-
• The traditional Indian astronomy that predicts the movements of stars and planets.
• The art of predicting major events that will befall a country such as war or earthquakes.
• The art of predicting a person's future course of life, through a thorough study of his natal horoscopes.
The Hindu Vedic astrology believes each of the heavenly bodies to have a particular function. While it takes the sun to be the primary life force, it takes the moon to be the one influencing the fertility cycles. Vedic astrology is believed to be a branch of science for it takes the magnetic field and gravitational pull between the heavenly bodies and planet earth to affect the latter physically. And this very fact acts as the prime basis of its calculation.
Although both Vedic astrology and Western astrology recognizes twelve zodiac houses, the two uses different yardsticks to calculate the zodiac signs of different individuals. Unlike Western astrological predictions which are calculated upon the solar charts, jyotisha is calculated upon lunar charts.
Moreover while the former depends upon tropical zodiac, the latter makes use of sidereal zodiac. The horoscopes are prepared by studying the planetary position (graha), the exact location of the stars (nakshatra), the zodiac houses (rashis), the planetary periods (dasas), the planetary aspects (drishtis), the planetary combinations (yogas) etc.
Using these information a chart is drawn which is believed to be able to accurately predict matters of family and relationship (Kama), finances (artha), career (dharma), spiritual salvation (moksha) and physical health (arogya).
Role of Karma
Although our Vedic astrology takes the location of stars and planetary positions during a person's birth to determine his future, it undeniably believes that the person's Karma has caused these heavenly bodies to arrange themselves in the like-wise manner. That is to say, the planetary deities are subservient to the omnipotent God. Thus to dole out justice, the planetary deities may very well be asked to align themselves in a particular manner during a person's birth to either reward or punish him, depending upon whether he has led a virtuous or a vicious past life.
Laws of Karma thus combine the concept of both fate and free will to suggest that a person's present life has been determined by the choices he had made in his past life (i.e. the idea of fate) and that his future life will be guided by the way he consciously acts in his present life (i.e. the idea of free will).
The wisdom in Jyotisha lies in imparting a kind of spiritual resignation among its believers, quite like the motto of que sera, sera. It also leads its believers to embark on an enlightened spiritual journey through which not only does he get better acquainted with his soul but also with the cosmic connection that exists between his inner self and the guidance offered by the Divine One. It imparts a kind of unflustered confidence in his outlook towards his life for he knows he cannot make amends to drastically alter his present life and that he has to deal with every ups-and-down that come his way for they are but a direct consequence of the way he has led his past life.
The only thing he can make certain is a better next life through a strict adherence to the path of righteousness. However, Jyotisha does leave a scope for ameliorating the effects of the past life upon the present life through practice of meditation, yoga etc.
The ancient wisdom that has been passed down to us has become an integral part of our rich heritage. It is after all the Indian form of astrology, an art that stands out distinctly from the West's endeavors.
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