Saturday, 22 October 2011

Vedic Astrology , an important part of Hindu culture

Not a day goes by without members of the Hindu tradition coming to a priest for information on muhurta(the best date and time for a particular action), birth names, and other kinds of astrological advice. Nava Graha puja (ritual for the nine planets) is one of the most popular pujas or purifications performed by a Hindu priest. Therefore, it is worthwhile to have a general understanding of the Hindu astrology.

The oldest existing scripture, the Rig Veda, has references to eclipses. Vendanga Jyotisha contains passages about astrology. The legendary sage Bhrigu is said to have perfected astrology, and the highlight of his work was putting together astrological charts laying out the horoscopes of everybody born or yet to be born in the universe. The Garga Samhita is an astronomical work and contains a chapter from 50 B.C.E. titled Yuga Purana. Mathematician and astronomer Varahamihira (505–587 c.e.) is known to have written on horoscopes. Yavana-Jataka is another astrological study. Bhat-topala authored the astrological work Hora-Shastra in the fifteenth century, and Nilakantha produced Tajika in the sixteenth century.

In comparing and examining an elaboration of DNA work, we understand that a minute part of the body (or microcosm) contains all the information about the whole person (the macrocosm). Once you start thinking that the whole is embedded within every part of this creation, you can start seeing a relationship between the outer world and the inner world, between the microcosm and the macrocosm. This means that by measuring the outer world, one can grasp the inner world; but even more importantly, by setting out to influence the outer world, one can influence the inner world. Thus, we have the foundation of Hindu astrology.

What Astrology Predicts
Astrology (jyotir vigyan) is an art used to predict one's future based on the positions or movements of stars associated with an individual. The foundation of Jyotisha is the notion of the bandhu(relation) of the Vedas or scripture that is the connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm. The practice of Jyotisha primarily relies on the sidereal zodiac, which is different from the tropical zodiac used in Western astrology.So momentous is the occasion of marriage that several kinds of precautions may be taken to minimize the uncertainties involved in the decision. Astrology is one such means; arranging prepuberty marriage is another. All marriage plans must reckon with the supernatural forces that affect the course of every critical venture — both auspicious and inauspicious days, favorable and unfavorable omens, and the horoscopes of the couple and their astrological congruence. Through astrology, man's uncertainty about his personal fate is made more tolerable. A person's fate is seen as locked in a grand mechanism of astral spheres, which move in preordained and predictable cycles across the firmament of time.

The Branches of Hindu Astrology
Hindu Astrology has three branches:
Siddhanta: Indian astronomy
Samhita: Mundane astrology, predicting important events based on analysis of astrological dynamics in a country's horoscope or general transitory events such as war, Earthquakes, political events, financial positions, electoral positions, etc.
Hora: Predictive astrology based on analysis of natal horoscopes and the moment a query is made •
There are four elements in the Hindu astrology: Rashi(the zodiac signs); Bhava(the houses); Graha(the planets); and Nakshatra(the lunar mansions). In Rashi, the signs are given for twelve sectors. That is, 360 degrees of the zodiac are divided into twelve equal parts, with each part called a sign. The Sanskrit names for the twelve signs and corresponding names from Western astrology follow.
Sanskrit As trology Names

Bhava: The Houses
A house is a zodiac division according to local time and location. In Jyotisha, more than one system aligning houses with signs is recognized. Houses are numbered counterclockwise from the house on the eastern horizon.

The significance of the twelve houses are:
Lagna — Nature, appearance, health, character, purpose of life
Dhana — Wealth, family, domestic comforts, early education, inheritance
Prakrama — Younger brothers and sisters, communication (talking, writing, business documents), intelligence, later education, short journeys
Suhrda — Mother, emotions, education, home, property and land surrounding in old age
Suta — Children, lover, recreation, devotion, speculation and gambling, creativity
Ripu/Roga — Health, maternal uncle and aunt, litigation, servants, mental worries, enemies, foreigners
Kama — Spouse, business partner, death, trade, agreement, honor and reputationp
Maritya — Death and longevity, failure, suffering, sexuality, occult, dowry, inheritance, imprisonment, torture
Bhagya — Luck, higher learning, philosophy and religion, mentor or guru, father, prosperity, travel
Karma — Profession, status, power, father-in-law/mother-in-law, government and business
Aya — Friends, hopes, earnings, club and social activities, elder siblings, daughter-in-law/son-in-law
Vyaya — Expenses, sleep, spirituality, travel and pilgrimage, secret enemies, imprisonment, hospitals, asylums, liberation

Graha: The Planets
Graha means any heavenly body or point that can cast an impact on human affairs. It also includes lunar nodes (Rahu and Ketu) and subplanets (upgrahas) — not planets but no less effective than planets; nine grahas or planets; two luminaries; the five visible planets; and the two lunar nodes. The extra saturnine planets (Uranus and Neptune) are not included in the category of Graha.

Nakshatra: The Lunar Mansions
Nakshatra is based on Vedic astrology. By calculating the positions of the moon, constellations, and other features of the night sky, you can explore your characteristics and personality. It is thought that by becoming aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can make a conscious effort to improve your personality.

Each nakshatra represents a division of the path of the Sun, similar to the zodiac. Traditionally, the nakshatra position of the Moon is computed for the newborn's mental makeup and calculations of planetary periods (dasha). Each nakshatra is further divided into four equal segments known as charan or pada.Nakshatra is important in astrological matchmaking, Muharta, Panchanga, and Praana.

Vedic astrology differs from Western or Tropical astrology due to its use of the fixed zodiac as opposed to the moving zodiac. Most people's Western sign would be one sign back on the Vedic chart. However, if you were born in the last five days or so of the Western sign month, you will probably be the same sign in both systems.

Consulting astrologers is important for India's elite population, but not for the poor. A difference between many Western cultures and Hindu society is that most of the people in the Western world likely consult astrology for entertainment, while many in Hindu society consult it to regulate their lives

Recently, following a controversial decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2001, some Indian universities started offering advanced degrees in astrology. The University Grants Commission (UGC) in India is a powerful body that influences higher education. The UGC, with Mr. Hari Gautam as its chairman, recently decided to introduce new departments of Vedic astrology (Jyotie Vignan) as science in all the public universities, and kar-makanda(religious rituals) as a vocational course.

But if astrology is to be classified as a science, it must be subject to scrutiny and confirmed as a rigorous discipline, just as any other science would be. At the minimum, this would include having a set of assumptions in unambiguous language that are shown to be true by experimentation. If they are proven false by empirical evidence, then they must be amenable to correction. In addition, the astrological theory must predict results accurately, and experiments must test the predictions.

According to these definitions of what makes a science, astrology should certainly not be considered a science. In mid-1970, some 186 top scientists, including eighteen Nobel laureates, signed a statement saying astrology is not a science.