What is the difference between Vedic Astrology and Western Astrology?
Vedic Astrology is also known as Sidereal Astrology because it tracks the position of the Sun, Moon and planets against the position of the stars. Western Astrology is also known as Tropical Astrology because it tracks the Sun, Moon and planets in relation to the Earth and its seasonal points.
Over the last millennium, the points where these two different systems start the astrological year have drifted apart by approximately 24 degrees. In other words, the Spring or Vernal Equinox which marks the start of the Zodiac begins at 6º Pisces rather than at 0º Aries as in the Tropical Zodiac.
The difference between these two starts of the astrological year is called the ayanamsa. You will find that unless you were born
between the 15th and 20th of the month, your sign will have moved back by one in Vedic Astrology.
In fact, every 72 years the Vernal Equinox shifts back (or precedes) by 1º. The Age of Aquarius will start when the Sun rises in Aquarius on the morning of the Vernal Equinox in about 430 years. Vedic Astrology will recognise this but Western Astrology will start the year
at 1º Aries. That is not to say that there are not different systems within Vedic traditions. The official calculations of ayanamsa are based on the calculations of N. C. Lahiri but there are also systems in use based on Raman, Krishnamurti and Sri Yukteswar.
Vedic Astrology generally uses the equal house system. There are also 27 signs based on the movement of the Moon called nakshatras. Each sign covers about one day. The key planets or graha are the Sun (Surya/Ravi), Moon (Chandra/Soma), Mars (Mangala/Angaraka/Kuja), Mercury(Budha), Jupiter (Guru/Brihaspati), Venus (Sukra), Saturn (Sanaiscarya/Shani), Rahu and Ketu (the North and South Nodes of the Moon). Rahu indicates your material destiny and karma, while Ketu indicates enlightenment. The Sun, Mars, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu are malefic planets. The Ascendant is known as the Lagna Rasi.
The Hindu calendar or almanac is known as the panchang. In the panchang the majority of information is derived from calculations based on the Moon. This information is used to determine the right time to celebrate traditional Hindu events and to determine auspicious and inauspicious days and times to perform or avoid certain activities. Panchang means five limbs in Sanskrit and this refers to the five ways used to divide the span of a day -- rashi, nakshatra, tithi, karana and vara. (See below for lists of the rashi and nakshatra.) The nakshatra are divided into 4 subsections each of 3 degrees 20 minutes called pada (foot). The Hindu lunar month, which starts from the day after the full moon and ends on the next full moon, is divided into a dark and a bright half. Each of these halves is divided into 15 tithi or lunar days. Each tithi is further subdivided into 2 parts called karana. The vara are the days of the week.
Vara or Weekdays
The Vedic Signs or Rashi (Nirayana/Sidereal)
Samvata (lunar month)
13 Apr - 14 May
15 May - 14 Jun
15 Jun - 14 Jul
15 Jul - 14 Aug
15 Aug - 15 Sep
16 Sep - 15 Oct
16 Oct - 14 Nov
15 Nov - 14 Dec
15 Dec - 13 Jan
14 Jan - 12 Feb
13 Feb - 12 Mar
13 Feb - 12 Apr
The Nakshatras or Lunar Mansions (Moon Signs)
Ashwini (Possessing Horses) - Good time for fast action, getting more wealth, buying or selling vehicles, travelling, starting studies.
Bharani (Bearing) - Time for unpleasant but necessary duties, burning things, drilling for water.
Krittika (Cutters) - Time for boldness, audaciousness and warlike approach, good for driving.
Rohini (Red One) - Good for all new undertakings, marriage, lay foundations of buildings.
Mrigasira (Deer's Head/Path) - Time for marriage, new friends, gardening, receiving sacred thread, travel.
Ardra (Moist One) - Time for dirty work, going against others, fighting back.
Punarvasu (Two Good-Again) - Time for starting over, making repairs, searching for a home, marrying.
Pushya (Nourishing) - Time for imroving health, parties, music and dancing, travel but not for marrying.
Aslesha (Clinging) - Good for fighting, getting rid of old and unwanted things in your life, taking a stand, taking a chance.
Magha (Mighty One) - Time for grandiose actions, taking risks, influential people.
Purva Phalguni (Former Red One/Fig Tree) - Time for restraining your enemies, using subterfuge, gamble but don't take physical risks.
Uttara Phalguni (Latter Red One/Fig Tree) - Good for new beginnings, marriage, new home, promises and vows.
Hasta (Hand) - Time for stabilisation or new approaches, for enduring results.
Chitra (Bright) - Good for improving health, gardening, new clothes, repairing mechanical things.
Swati (Self Going) - Good time to make advances and progress in your affairs, not so good for travelling.
Visakha (Forked One) - Time for construction, land deals, dealing with cars, healing.
Anuradha (Additional Radha) - Good for marrying, commitments, vows, holidays, housewarming parties.
Jyeshta (Eldest) - Time for maturity, confronting enemies, asking for forgiveness.
Mula (Root) - Good for gardening and agriculture, working with water, breaking agreements.
Purvashada (Former Unconquered) - Good for releasing someone, paying off debts, forgiveness, not good for travel.
Uttarashada (Latter Unconquered) - Time for planning for the future, redecoration, new homes, repairs, marriage.
Shravana (Trident) - Time for healing, preventative measures, religious ceremonies, favourable actions.
Dhanistha (Wealthiest) - Good for travel, new car, self-defence, gardening.
Satabisha (100 Healers)- Time for signing contracts for home and land, good for business deals and health cures.
Purva Bhadrapada (Former Lucky Feet) - Time for dangerous or risky actions, agriculture, new pets.
Uttara Bhadrapada (Latter Lucky Feet) - Time for commitments, vows, marriage, new homes.
Revati (Wealthy) - Good for trade and business, marriage, new homes, religious buildings.
Loss, poverty, liberation, sexual pleasures, long journeys, betrayal, self-sacrifice, confinement.
There are three main systems of charts used in India, the North Indian Chart, the South Indian Chart and the Eastern Indian Chart.
The North Indian Chart is read from right to left (counter-clockwise) and the houses are fixed. It looks quite similar to the house chart used in Medieval times in Europe. However unlike the European version, the Ascendant is top centre. The signs are indicated by numbers. When this chart is used, a separate chart will often also be constructed that has the Moon as the Ascendant.
The South Indian Chart is read from left to right (clockwise) and the signs are fixed. Mesha (Aries) is placed in the second from the top left. The Ascendant is often shown by small or large diagonal lines in the house.
The Eastern Indian Chart is read from right to left (counter-clockwise) and the signs are fixed. Mesha (Aries) is placed top centre. The Ascendant is often shown by L for Lagna.
Gemstones and Metals as Talismans
There are two types of planets in every horoscope. Anukul-graha are favourable planets, and pratikul-graha are unfavourable planets. Careful examination by an expert practitioner in both jyotish and ayurveda can establish which planets are favourable and can be further influenced to have a beneficial effect by the use of the appropriate gemstone or metal.
Anukul, or a planet that is beneficially placed in the horoscope is either strong in its own sign, in a good house, ruler of houses which will bring positive results, or otherwise has a positive influence.
Pratikul designates a planet that has a negative influence over the life of a person according to his or her horoscope. For example, a weakened planet may be in dusthana and be an enemy of the lord of the lagna. Unfortunately, you cannot improve a pratikul-graha (negatively disposed planet) by wearing the gem, this only produces increased suffering.
Gemstones and Metals of the Planets
Star Ruby, Garnet
Red Coral, Garnet
Alloy of Metals
Diamond, White Sapphire
White Zircon, White Coral
If you are interested in learning more about Vedic astrology, I can recommend these books: