Astrology is a subject that studies celestial objects and their movements and makes predictions about happenings in the lives of individuals based upon the cosmic position of sun, moon, other stars and planets. It is widely believed that astrology as a field of study began as a result of human beings’ attempt to measure, record and predict seasonal fluctuations with reference to movements and positional changes of cosmic objects (Marshack, Alexander, 1972
DIFFERENCE IN ORIGIN
Vedic or Hindu culture is one of the oldest cultures of the world which dates back 3000 years, before Christ was born. Vedic astrology (Jyotish) is an integral part of this Vedic culture, which is being practiced in India for thousands of years. Veda has six constituents (Vedanga) and Jyotish is one of those. There existed a number of school of Vedic Jyotish study under the stewardship of Rishis (sages) namely, Vashishtha, Bhrigu, Khana and others at different points of history. About 3100 BC, Rishi Parashar compiled the essence of different astrological principles and practices that existed in ancient India in his book Brihad Parashar Hora Shastra. Teachings of Rishi Parashar passed down the ages through his disciples and came to be recognized as the main stream Vedic Astrological System. Thus the Vedic astrological structure that is practiced in India is the Parashar School of Astrology. After the death of Rishi Parashar, other astrology stalwarts namely Barahamihir, Satyacharya, and others wrote astrological texts which are also of great value, but those are improvisation on what Rishi Parashar wrote. With passage of time Vedic astrology spread to Babylon, Greece, Rome and Egypt.
The root of Western or Hellenistic astrology can be traced back in 18th BC Babylon. The Babylonian records of the movement of celestial objects are the oldest documents of astrological study that is followed in the Western world. Some 16th century BC Babylonian astrological writings mention about 7000 omens based on position of stars and planets which were given importance by successive Babylonian kings. During 4th century BC Babylonian astrological study was fashioned with Egyptian astrological thoughts and a Hellenistic Greek astrological system was born. This Hellenistic astrology was given a modern face by Greek mathematician Ptolemy during 2nd century AD.
DIFFERENCES IN STRUCTURE & SYSTEM
Vedic astrology is a system of making predictions on events in the life of an individual, group of individuals, community or a state through calculations on the basis of movements and positions of celestial bodies in the back-drop of some permanently fixed cosmic objects. This system of calculation is referred to as sidereal zodiac. The planets that constitute the core of Vedic astrology are Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter along with two nodes of Moon namely, Rahu and Ketu. Plants like Pluto, Neptune and Uranus are too far away to be able to influence worldly events and as such excluded from the list of planets for calculations. Date of birth of an individual is positioned in the calculation of such planetary movements and position to predict events in the life and destiny of the individual. Under the Vedic astrological system, planetary movements and date of birth are combined to produce a chart, called horoscope, which is basically a forecast document of future events in an individual’s life in chronological order. Horoscope shows the respective influences of various planets and their movements on the lives of individuals and also the good and bad phase of lives of individuals as a result of movements and positions of planets.
Vedic astrology can be divided into six branches;
- Gola: This branch of astrology deals with the astronomical position of the planets.
- Ganita: To derive the implication of astronomical position, different step-specific mathematical tools are used. These tools construct Ganita.
- Jataka: This is the natal chart or birth chart that depicts a complete picture about an individual’s character, trait, success, failure and sequence of events especially turning points of life. Many consider this as the essence of Jyotisha. In India it is commonly called as Janam Kundli.
- Prashna: Astrology must be able to answer questions which are of prime importance in the lives of individuals. This branch of Hindu astrology contains the process of finding such answers. The calculation involved to find answers is based upon the time when the question is asked and the time and date of birth of the subject.
- Muhurta: This branch of Hindu astrology is all about selecting the most auspicious time to take important decisions in life. Auspicious time is calculated by analyzing the cosmic position continuously for the window period to complete any task or take an important decision. The Western counterpart of Muhurta is Horary astrology.
- Nimita: The method of predicting omen or inauspicious things like war, disease, drought, flood, etc. is described in Nimita.
Western astrology is the system of forecasting future events in the life of individuals on the basis of tropical zodiac. The Western school of astrology believes that sun is at the centre of our solar system, and as such has tremendous influence on the events on earth. Relationship of sun with the tropics of earth is the core of Western astrology. Calculations in Western astrology are based upon the date of birth of the subject. Western astrology is basically horoscopic. In Western astrology, the sky is divided into 88 constellations, which along with path of the sun through the constellations form the core of calculation in Western astrology. There are 12 sun signs in Western astrology. The key to the calculation is the position of the sun when the subject was born.
- Vedic astrology is based upon cosmic movements and positions; Western astrology is based upon the path of sun through the constellations.
- Vedic astrology is referred to as sidereal zodiac; Western astrology is referred to as tropical zodiac.
- Vedic astrology bases calculation on the date and time of birth of the subject; Western astrology uses only date of birth.
- The shape of Jataka or janam kundli is square; the birth chart in Western astrology is circular.
- Vedic astrology was developed in India about 500 years ago; Western astrology was developed in Babylon and Greece some 2000 years ago.