What is Jyotish?

Vedic Astrology - Jyotish - is an extraordinary and unique system of astrology. As many have realized, it can describe a life in detail so subtle that the suspicion arises that the astrologer knows the life better than the one who is living it! How can this be? In fact, the astrologer is accessing an ancient tradition of knowledge far surpassing anything known in the West. This view is corroborated by many who have journeyed to India and experienced first hand the power of this system to reveal the secrets and promise of human life.

A system of astrology that grew out of the ancient Vedic tradition of India, Jyotish differs from Western astrology in a number of significant respects. For one, it uses the sidereal or fixed zodiac instead of the tropical or movable zodiac of Western astrology. In Western astrology, the zodiac, due to a tilting of the earth on its axis, appears to be moving out of alignment with the actual star-based zodiac. Currently this misalignment amounts to slightly more than 23 degrees, nearly one entire sign. Thus, a person whose rising sign might be Scorpio in Western astrology, has a good chance of being Libra ascendant in Vedic astrology.

While Western astrology emphasizes the Sun sign, Jyotish looks to the Ascendant and the placement of the Moon. As well, Jyotish does not recognize the outer planets, Neptune, Pluto, or Uranus. It does, however, give important emphasis to the two Lunar nodes, Ketu and Rahu, the points at which the moon in its orbit around the earth passes through the plane of the ecliptic. Although merely points in space, these nodes are so crucial they are given the status of planets in Jyotish.

Also of great importance are the Nakshatras, the 27 star constellations, one of which the Moon will occupy at the moment of birth, thereby determining among other things the cycle of planetary periods that determine the sequence of events in one's life.

Perhaps more than anything, Jyotish is valued for its predictive ability. Centuries ago Vedic seers cognized principles that allow past, present, and future events to be known. Called the Vimsottari Dasha system, this aspect of Jyotish allows the astrologer to trace not only what has gone before, but what is likely to happen in the future.

Known as the Eye of the Veda, Jyotish enjoys a degree of acceptance and reverence in the Indian spiritual tradition that many Westerners do not understand. More than just a system of astrology, Jyotish is an integral component of Vedic knowledge.

Lord Ganesa, Patron of Jyotish

At one level Jyotish deals with the circumstances and characteristics of a person's material life, its purpose to reveal and perhaps remedy what opportunities or perils may await. By knowing what lies ahead, it is believed that one can not only maximize the good that is coming, but also avert any obstacles or dangers.

Vedic astrologers (Jyotishis) will say that while Jyotish uses logical, repeatable, and therefore scientific principles, it also involves intuition, a crucial component that varies from astrologer to astrologer. However, the concept of intuition hardly explains the power of Jyotish in discerning the circumstances of our life. Certainly, anyone who has received a personal reading from an experienced Jyotishi comes away amazed by the degree to which the astrologer appeared to know them.

In Jyotish, it is often the way in which information is expressed that affects one most profoundly. An offhand, almost careless observation by the Jyotishi may capture perfectly a subtle attribute or circumstance of our life we cannot help but acknowledge.

Some believe that in Jyotish our own Absolute nature speaks to us through the astrologer. Indeed, the Jyotishi's first words reveal incontrovertibly that we are known to some higher intelligence. Moreover, the relationship toward us is unmistakably one of acceptance, love, and compassion. Far more than predictions of what will or will not happen, the Jyotishi's words promote an acceptance and understanding of our life that can go a long way in dispelling fear, uncertainty, and isolation, and awaken in us a truer conception of who we are.

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