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What is Jyotish Astrology?

Jyotish, or Vedic astrology, is a sophisticated mathematical form of astrology and is the oldest coherent system of knowledge we have. Considered to be one of the limbs of the Veda, Jyotish is referred to as the “eye” of the Veda. 


The word Jyotish comes from the Sanskrit term jyoti, which means “light,” and isha, which means “lord of” or “science of.” Jyotish therefore means the “science of light”. It is not only the light of the luminaries (the sun, moon, planets, and constellations), but also the light of consciousness, which enables us to see, perceive, and understand. 


Jyotish is a spiritual path for healing and understanding who you are. An individual Vedic chart is calculated by using the date, time, and location of a person’s birth. Jyotish describes planetary patterns at the time of an event, such as a birth. It can give us valuable clues to understanding our own spiritual and physical journey. 


Through the exploration of these cosmic influences, Jyotish can help us understand our talents, gifts, and abilities, as well as our challenges, in order to transmute and transcend lingering unconscious habitual patterns or cycles and remember your true soul essence through self-realization.


Jyotish Astrology is different from what we think of as astrology here in the West. In Jyotish we use the sidereal zodiac, which is based on the fixed, observable positions of the constellations, as we see them in the sky. Western astrology uses what is called the tropical zodiac. The tropical zodiac is based, not on the fixed, observable positions of the constellations but rather on the respective and changeable position of the sun.


Because of a phenomenon called “precession of equinoxes” and a wobble in the axial spin of the Earth, the tropical positions have gradually moved away from the fixed, sidereal constellations at the rate of about one degree every 72 years. By the time most of us were born, the tropical positions, and therefore the Western astrology chart, have moved away from the fixed, observable positions by about 24 degrees. In short, there is a 24 degree difference between these two astrological systems.


In Jyotish we think of a person first in terms of the ascendant. We don't think of people in terms of their sun sign, as we do in tropical astrology. Instead, we enter the chart through what is called the “ascendant,” the constellation that is rising on the Eastern horizon at the time of a person’s birth. This aligns the relationship between the planets at the time of birth to the event of the birth and gives clues about an individual’s spiritual and physical body, and the expression the person presents to the world. 

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