Indian astrology is popularly referred to as Vedic astrology. This is not because it is there in the Vedas. There is no mention of astrology in the Vedas. However, it is one of the Vedangas, i.e., limb or branch of Vedas, and dates back to the Vedic period. Several of the Poojas and remedial measures prescribed in the Indian astrology are as per the Vedic system. Hence, it is called Vedic astrology.
The Vedangas are six in number. They are: Siksha or phonetics, Kalpa or ritual, Vyakarana or grammar, Nirukta or etymology, Chhandas or metrics and Jyotishya or astronomy and astrology. These are mentioned in the Upanishads.
It is impossible ascertain the exact time of origin of our astrology. Even the most famous historians differ wildly, from 1200 BC to 2500 BC while trying to fix our Vedic period. A lot of them, especially the westerners, still study India based on the Mahenjadaro and Harappan discoveries, which were discovered in the 1920’s!! Several archeological discoveries of recent times date our culture to 7500 BC, making it the ancient most civilization in the world. Our astrology has details of the horoscopes of Lord Krishna, Lord Rama and many other ancient Indian kings and queens, recorded thousands of years ago. The Bhishma Parva and Udyoga Parva chapters of Mahabharata mention many astrological descriptions and omens just before the Mahabharata war. It also describes a period of draught with several planetary combinations. There is also a very clear reference about two eclipses, a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse occurring, creating a rare 13 day lunar fortnight. Available scientific research data shows that the Mahabharata war must have occurred either in 3129 BC or 2559 BC. According to the Hindu Panchangas, maintained from ages, Kaliyuga era is counted from February 17/18 midnight 3102 BC. Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana have been written off as myths by the western historians. However the recent discovery of the submerged ancient city Dwaraka, (the site of the legendary city of Lord Krishna, which got submerged in the sea after the death of Lord Krishna), led by Dr. S.R. Rao of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography of India lends a lot of credence to our mythology. Various texts attribute the origin of Indian astrology to various gods and Rishis. It is futile to ascertain who was the originator. The most popularly followed astrological classics today are the ones written by Rishis like Parashara, Varahamihira, Garga, Jaimini and their followers. People in those days had no satellites or telescopes and yet the planetary positions and their motions recorded by them are as accurate as the planetary positions and degrees recorded today using the space satellites. Our ancient astrologers used their divine intuition to record these planetary movements and their effects on us.
Astrology has a twofold purpose. On one hand it is used as a tool to select the right month the right date and the right time to start various auspicious rites and rituals so that the results are better. On the other hand it is used as a guide to study the destiny of an individual.
Indian astrology is based on the theory of fate. The good and the bad actions of the past life determine your fate or Karma of your present life, and the actions of your present life determine your future Karma. According to Indian astrology a person is born at that place, on that day and on that moment when his individual fate is in perfect mathematical harmony with the progress of the stars in heaven. However it does not preach total dependence on fate. Astrology lets you know what you were born with, what your possibilities are, the limitations, your strong points and your drawbacks. What type of life partners and professions suit you and to expect is also indicated. It also prescribes various remedial measures to ward off the bad effects and to enhance the good results. Astrology is your roadmap of destiny. However your fate is in your hands. The scriptures guide us by telling us what is good and what is bad; what to do and what not to do; how to do and how not to do. You are given a piece of land and the seeds to sow. How much effort to put in to it, what amount of manure and water to add and when how to reap the produce is your job. After that it is you who have to act using your knowledge intelligence, discrimination and experience. Fate is like a game of cards where you cannot help the cards that have been dealt to you but how to play them is in your hands. You may get good cards but if you play badly you will lose and you may get bad cards and still may win if you play carefully. Don’t blame the roadmap if you get drunk, drive badly and have an accident! In the Mahabharata Lord Krishna gave advise to Arjuna and also to Duryodhana. One listened and the other did not!
In the Egyptian, Greek, western and Chinese systems of astrology only the birth chart is cast to give predictions. This is hopelessly inaccurate and insufficient. For example, moon, the fastest moving of the nine planets, remains in one sign fro two and half days. The ascendant, or Lagna, extends for a period of two hours. In these two hours, according to the present birth rate, several thousand people are born in the world with the same birth chart! All of them cannot have the same destiny. Hence their predictions based on this and the monthly transits tends to be inaccurate. They are somewhat accurate about the nature of signs etc., but when it comes to predicting the events in ones life and their timing they are nowhere. You don’t really need an astrologer to tell you that, for example if you are Scorpio sign, you tend to be jealous and possessive! Vedic astrology has a four dimensional approach.
Firstly, we have the divisional chart system, called the Varga system. Based on the planetary degrees at the time of birth, sixteen divisional charts are prepared, by dividing the degrees of the planets. These divisional charts are studied to ascertain the strength and weakness of planets and houses and also to study various aspects of ones life. For example, one-ninth division called Navamsa to study spouse and married life, one-tenth division to study profession, one-seventh for children and so on. The last Varga, called Shodashamsa, is prepared by dividing the planet’s degrees in to one-sixtieth part! Second is the dasa system. Based on ones moons degrees at birth, we calculate the Dasas, or the ruling periods of various planets, which keeps changing during ones life. It is not just one planets dasa but Maha dasa, or main dasa, of a planet, Antardasa, or sub period, of another planet and so on till we arrive at a fifth level dasa to study each day.
Third is the Gochara, or transit of planets. Planets transiting various houses produce various results. But a planet transits a sign for quite some time. For example Saturn transits a sign for two and half years. During this entire period its results cannot be totally good or bad. Vedic astrology further pinpoints its good and bad periods even during its transit in one sign. We have the Asthakavarga and Prastharasthakavarga system, which divides a planets transit in a sign into eight parts and shows which part is good and which part is bad.
Lastly, there is the Prasna Kundali system, or chart cast based on the time of the query. This is studied as an add-on chart to give predictions.
The modern scientists do not accept astrology. But it is a known fact that planets do have their effects on us. The doctors of almost all mental asylums accept the fact that during the full moon and the new Moon periods the mental patients behave erratically. The police record the same effects on many criminals. The modern scientists know some of the effects of the ultraviolet rays, gamma rays and beta rays of the planets. But unfortunately they don’t have the divine wisdom of our ancient is to know all the effects fully.