The term Astrology is a gross misnomer for the term Jyotisha the way it is used in India. The word Jyotisha actually means Jyoti (light) and Isha (God). So, Jyotisha is the light of God. Sometimes it is also interpreted as the light shown by God to those individuals who seek it. Jyotisha also has another meaning. Some say that the word Jyotisha has been derived from the Sanskrit word Jyotishka, which means an illuminated object especially stars.Therefore, it is the study of stars and associated bodies of the skywhom we call as planets.
Indian jyotisha is one of the most ancient predictive sciences that mankind has ever known.Among all the civilizations that our world witnessed, the Indian civilization is the oldest and the only living ancient civilization till today. Even though historians are unanimous about this fact, they are yet to figure out an approximate time period when the ancient Indian civilization started. The reason for this failure is mainly attributed to the failure in not being able to time the actual period of documentation of the Vedasthe oldest and the most enigmatic book of wisdom that mankind has ever received. Historians are not unanimous as to when these Vedas were authored and by whom were these scripted. The Vedas are four in numberthe Rigveda, the Samaveda, the Yajurveda and the Atharvaveda of which the Rigveda is the oldest.
The first texts to be taught, heard and learnt in India are the Vedas, which are four in number. These Vedas were only comprehensible to the great seers or Rishis. In order to help the common man to understand Vedas, the ancient Rishis of India developed the six Vedangas (limbs of the Vedas), which had to be mastered first in order to make sense of the divinely Vedas. These six limbs were Vyakarana (Grammar), Chandas (Meter), Shiksha (Intonation), Nirukta (Etymology), Kalpa (Ritual) and Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology). The Vedas taken together is personified as a living being. The Vyakarana is his face, Chandas his legs, Shiksha his breath, Nirukta his ears, Kalpa his hands, and Jyotisha his eyes. It is for this reason why Jyotisha is considered as the eye of the Vedas.
Jyotishang Vedenan Chakshoo
Many researchers of history estimated the time of scripting the Vedas to around 6500 B.C. Among such researchers, Prof. H. A. Davies in his book An Outline History of the World mentioned that the Indian civilization started at least 5000 years before the birth of Christ (p:78). Lokmanya Sri Balgangadhar Tilak in his books The Arctic Home in the Vedas and The Orion estimated the time of scripting the Vedas through calculation of the Equinoxes to 6500 years B. C. Thus, it is clear to us today that the age of the Vedas is at least 8500 years. And it is in these Vedas that we find the mention of astrology and the zodiac. It is a common belief in the minds of the layman that Vedas have no reference to astrology and therefore, astrology is of recent origin. Nothing is far from truth than this. It is clearly mentioned in Rigveda in 1st Mandal, 164 Sukta, 48 Rik.
Dwadaspradhyaschakramekam Trini Nabvhani Ka-au Tachhiket
Tasminatsakang Trisata na Sankabo, Arpita Shashtirna Chalachala Sha
Pradhya means part of a circle. Dwadaspradhyaschakramekam means that the circle (i.e., the zodiac) is having twelve parts. Trini Navbhani means three navals. We are all aware that the zodiac has three cascades of constellations starting from Aries (Mesha), Leo (Simha) and Sagittarius (Dhanus). Tasminat SakangChalachala Sha means that the circle has 360 spokes (Shanku) and the circle is a fixed circle. In other words, the zodiac is a fixed zodiac with 360 degrees. The above Rik is a clear evidence that astrology was existing during the time of Vedas and whosoever wrote the Vedas was well aware that there is a zodiac in the sky, it is of 360 degrees divided into three major stellar cascades, having 12 parts or Rashis and it is a fixed or non-moving zodiac. This leaves no room for doubt at all that not only astrology is as old as the Vedas, the Indian system of Niryana (fixed) zodiac is more scientific and reliable that the Western Sayana or Sidereal (moving) zodiac.
In Ramayana, also we find clear mention of astrology. In the Ayodha Kanda of Ramayana, Sloka 18 to 20 we find the mention of astrology in the conversation between Lord Rama and his father Dasarath. Not only that, Maharshi Valmiki, the documenter of Ramayana described the planetary positions of Lord Rama at birth. Valmiki clearly states that Lord Rama was born in Chaitra month, Navami tithi, Cancer (Karkata) lagna (ascendant), Punarvasu nakshatra. At birth, Lord Rama had exalted Jupiter (Brihaspati) along with Moon in Lagna and in total five planets was exalted. Had astrology not being in vogue at that time, how Valmiki could make such precise comments about the planetary configurations at birth for Lord Rama is a question that requires inquiry by scientific minds.
Similarly, in Mahabharata we can find the evidence of utmost importance laid on astrology. In the Sabha Parva 5, Uttara Parva 34 to 102, Karna Parva 50, and Ashwamedha Parva 85 of the Mahabharata we find evidence of mathematical, applied and omen-based astrology. One example may make it clear. Duryodhana wanted to know a good Tithi to start the Maha Yudh (the great war) which would render him victorious. The youngest brother of the PandavasSahadevawas an adept in astrology during his time and was famous as a pundit in astrology and astronomy. Duryodhana sought astrological advice from Sahadeva. Being on the path of righteousness, Sahadeva advised Duryodhana to start the war on Amavasya (New Moon day). Understanding the gravity of the situation, Lord Krishna made the Pandavas do the last rites of their father on the 14th day of the darker half of MoonKrishna Chaturdashi. But since parental last rites are done on Amavasyathe 15th day of the darker halfDuryodhana thought that Amavasya has come (or else why would the Pandavas do their last rites) and started the war. But Chaturdashi is a Rikta (empty) tithi as a result of which Duryodhana and his group lost the war and everything with it.
Similarly, in Mahabharata we can find the evidence of utmost importance laid on astrology. In the Sabha Parva 5, Uttara Parva 34 to 102, Karna Parva 50, and Ashwamedha Parva 85 of the Mahabharata we find evidence of mathematical, applied and omen-based astrology. One example may make it clear. Duryodhana wanted to know a good Tithi to start the Maha Yudh (the great war) which would render him victorious.The youngest brother of the PandavasSahadevawas an adept in astrology during his time and was famous as a pundit in astrology and astronomy. Duryodhana sought astrological advice from Sahadeva. Being on the path of righteousness, Sahadeva advised Duryodhana to start the war on Amavasya (New Moon day). Understanding the gravity of the situation, Lord Krishna made the Pandavas do the last rites of their father on the 14th day of the darker half of MoonKrishna Chaturdashi. But since parental last rites are done on Amavasyathe 15th day of the darker halfDuryodhana thought that Amavasya has come (or else why would the Pandavas do their last rites) and started the war. But Chaturdashi is a Rikta (empty) tithi as a result of which Duryodhana and his group lost the war and everything with it.
Many Rishis such as Vashistha, Bhrigu, and Garga were masters of astrology and taught it to their disciples by word of mouth. Before the beginning of the present age, Kaliyuga, which began in 3102 B.C., sage Parasara milked the essence of the various schools of Vedic astrology present at his time and distilled it into his text known as the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra. Sage Parasara spoke this text to his disciple Maitreya, and Maitreya taught it to his disciples and it was passed in this way through the ages simply by word of mouth. It was only in the last few centuries that priests of kings tried to document the knowledge, which was ultimately destroyed due to various foreign invasions that medieval India suffered.
The basic school of Vedic astrology practiced in India is called the Parasara school of astrology. Parasara was among the last of the great sages of the Vedic age. After him it was the priests of kings who preserved the line of Vedic astrology. Notable amongst them was Satyacharya and in particular Varaha Mihira who wrote several important texts on astrology. After them several other texts were composed which are also considered “classics” of Vedic astrology, such as Saravali, Jataka Parijata, Sarvartha Chintamani, and Horasara. All of these texts follow Parasara in their teachings. Jyotisha is traditionally classified into three Skandas or parts. They are: Ganita, Samhita and Hora. Much like the six limbs of Vedas, Jyotisha also has six limbs. They are: Gola, Ganita, Jataka, Prashna, Muhurta and Nimitta
From India, Vedic astrology spread to the Persians, and from the Persians to the Babylonians, and from them to the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. With the rise of Islam the Arabs learned astrology from both the Greek Hellenistic astrologers on one side (the West) and Vedic astrology from India on the other side (the East). We find that noted historian E. M. Plunkett writes in his book Ancient Calendars and Constellations: “The opinion of the Greek writers at the beginning of the Christian era may be quoted as showing the high estimation in which Indian astronomy was held. In the Life of Appollonius of Tyana, the Greek philosopher and astrologer, written by Philostratus about 210 CE, the wisdom and learning of Appollonius are set high above his contemporaries because he had studied astronomy and astrology with the sages of India.” Similarly, the greatest palmist of all times, Cheiro, clearly mentioned in his book You and Your Hand that, “People who in their ignorance disdain the wisdom of ancient races forget that the great past of India contained secrets of life and philosophy that following civilizations could not controvert, but were forced to accept. For instance, it has been demonstrated that the ancient Hindus understood the precession of the equinoxes and made the calculation that it [a complete cycle] took place once in every 25,870 years. The observation and mathematical precision necessary to establish such a heory has been the wonder and admiration of modern astronomers. They, with their modern knowledge and up-to-date instruments, are still quarrelling among themselves as to whether the precession, the most important feature in astronomy, takes place every 25,870 years or every 24,500 years. The majority believe that the Hindus made no mistakes, but how they arrived at such a calculation is as great a mystery as the origin of life itself.”
Jyotisha is a journey by itself. It is a journey towards the unification of the Supreme Soul. A true astrologer (Jyotishi) can feel God or the Supreme Soul within him whenever he or she sits for astrological analysis.