THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EASTERN AND WESTERN
The Vedic system applies the real position of the planets used by astronomers
against the background of certain fixed stars (or unchanging from our
perspective). It is called the "sidereal zodiac". Hence, in the past the
term Astronomy covered astrology as well as the study of the physical
Western astrology is based on the orientation of the Earth to the Sun,
and applies the "Tropical zodiac". It "assumes" that every year the Sun
at the spring and autumnal equinoxes is at the first degree of Aries and
Libra respectively, and at the first degree of Cancer and Capricorn at
the summer and winter solstices. By this fundamental assumption, the tropical
zodiac ignores the Precession of the Equinox. As the Sun moves along its
apparent path as viewed from the Earth, it does not return to the same
position, against the background of the fixed stars, at the spring equinox
on 21 March where it was at the same time one year early. It is short
by 50 seconds of one degree. Over 72 years this difference amounts to
one degree, and over 2160 years it grows to 30 degrees, or one whole sign
of the zodiac. The whole cycle takes approximately 25,920 years.
On 21st March 1999, the Sun will be in 6 degrees of Pisces according to
the Sidereal zodiac and not at first degree of Aries. Thus, there is a
difference of about 24 degrees between the two zodiacs, which is growing
each year. The two zodiacs were together around the year AD 285, and since
that time we have been in what is known as the Age of Pisces.
The Aquarian Age is not due to start until about the year 2445. The effect
of the difference between the zodiacs, called Ayanamsha, of 24 degrees
is that 5 out of every 6 people were not born under constellation they
have been lead to believe by the newspapers and western astrologers. For
instance, according to western astrology the Sun is in the sign of Aries
from 21 March to 20 April. Under Vedic, or Eastern astrology, the Sun
is in Aries from 13 April to 14 May - a difference of 22 days. This positional
variation also applies to all the other planets.
2. Vedic astrology acknowledges only nine planets - Sun, Moon, Mercury,
Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the two nodes of the Moon called Rahu
and Ketu. These nodes, recognised by astronomers, are points on the ecliptic
path of the Sun which the Moon cuts every month as it circles the Earth
every 29.5 days.
The outer planets - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto - as well as the asteroids
are not used in Vedic Astrology as they are considered to be too distant
from the Earth and small to have an influence on human affairs.
3. The principles governing Vedic astrology have remained unaltered for
thousands of years. On the other hand, Western Astrology has mainly evolved
through research into cosmic influences as each new planet or major asteroid
was discovered, which has then been added to the natal charts and included
in their interpretation.
4. Tropical astrology is largely "Sun" based for the signs of Aries, Taurus,
Gemini etc. may more accurately be called "solar houses". As such, it
is primarily concerned with psychology, the personality and character-types,
the solar side of our life and character.
Sidereal astrology can be called "Cosmic astrology" for it measures the
relationship of the fixed stars and the solar system to ourselves. As
such it covers all areas of life - our desires, talents, responsibilities
and potential for spiritual growth - and has predictive powers to indicate
the time and duration of major events in our life.
5. Besides the 12 signs, Vedic Astrology breaks down the 360 degree circle
into 27 constellations called nakshatras, which were originally identified
with particular stars, but these days cover a span of 13 degrees 20 minutes.
This more detailed analysis is used for electional astrology to select
the most propitious time to start any activity, such as a new business,
constructing a home etc., or performing ceremonies such as marriage, coronations
or initiations. There is no equivalent in Western astrology.
6. In timing major events or changes in our lives, Western Astrology uses
progressions and transits. Vedic astrologers may also apply these systems,
but their primary system will be the use of planetary periods, called
dasha. Under this process, each of the nine planets are given periods
from 6 to 20 years, totalling 120 years, when their influence will predominate
in the individual's life.
Given an accurate birth time, the dasha system can accurately show when
each period of fortune or misfortune will begin and end, and provide actual
dates. Of two people with wonderful careers, good earnings and great accomplishments
indicated in their charts, one may find his niche early in life, while
the other must first navigate difficult waters before finally achieving
prosperity. The system can indicate the timing of such events as well
as their extent. It uses as the starting point the Moon's position against
the background of a Nakshatra in calculations of the planetary periods
within the 120 year potential lifespan. Again Western astrology has no
There are other differences between the two astrological systems, such
as the use of hundreds of planetary combinations, called Yogas, in Jyotish
Shastra, which are used to make detailed assessments of the power and
influence of planets in particular areas of a person's life. Knowledge
of these detailed rules provides a more accurate interpretation of a horoscope.
Next > The Four Aims of Life
In this Section:
Introduction to Vedic Astrology
The Four Aims of Life
Dealing with Obstacles
How Vedic Astrology Works
Planets Main Significations
Interpreting the Horoscope
Contact Geoffrey Pearce