In this article we will dive into and explore a simple intro to vedic astrology and some of the basic ideas behind Vedic astrological system. This is the same system used for understanding life circumstances and making predictions in Nadi astrology, as per the palm leaf prophecies.
Vedic Astrology, or Jyotisha, an Introduction
Vedic astrology, or Jyotisha as it is known in India, is an ancient science that dates back at least as far as the Vedas. Jyotisha is an extremely precise science that takes into account the positions of 9 primary planetary bodies, navagraha (nava – nine, graha – planet [lit), relative to a specific location on the earth at a specific point in time.
Charts are cast using the birth time and location of the person (or event, like a wedding or the incorporation of a business). Therefore, a chart shows the exact locations of the planets in relation to that location at that moment. Thus an astrologer can see the way they are interacting with each other.
Using this information (far more than can be covered in a brief intro to vedic astrology!) a skilled Vedic astrologer can read the relationships between planetary energies. Surprisingly accurate predictions can then be made, about past, present and future situations and events of a person’s life for instance.
The 9 Planets of the Vedic Horoscope
The science of Jyotish is extremely profound, nuanced and refined. Obviously, in an introductory glance at Vedic astrology we won’t be able to cover all of the bases. However, let’s start with a look at the Navagraha, the 9 planets used to make predictions in Vedic astrology.
Vedic astrologers consider a total of 9 planets. They are:
- The Sun (Surya)
- The Moon (Chandra)
- Mars (Mangala)
- Mercury (Budha)
- Jupiter (Brihaspathi)
- Venus (Sukra)
- Sani (Saturn)
Rahu and Ketu are not planets. In the related mythology they are a pair of demons who tricked the Gods into allowing them to join this group. To clarify, In the western zodiac, Rahu is the north node or ascending node of the moon and Ketu the south or descending node of the moon.
According to lore, the Navagraha are extremely diligent and precise in their roles as servants of the cosmic order. As such, their respective spheres of influence are governed without wavering in their tasks. Each planet in the Vedic horoscope takes its orders directly from Brahma the creator. Thus all of creation moves according to the rhythm of Brahma’s drum.
Contrary to common belief, there are texts on the science of Jyotish that recognise the outer planets (up to 5 non luminous, or invisible to the naked eye, planets are mentioned). However, they are rarely, if ever used in horoscope readings. An Intro to Vedic astrology rarely touches this depth, but its worth a mention.
The Navagraha, Gods in Their Own Right
Each of these 9 bodies is worshipped as a God. Sometimes all of the navagraha are prayed to before praying to other deities. Meaning that they are prayed collectively to alleviate negative karma and to overcome obstacles.
It is also common that a person may pray to a specific one of the Navagraha for their particular blessing. That is to say, when working with a problem or needing support in a particular area of life. For example, Brihaspathi (Jupiter) may be prayed for good fortunes, or to increase the likelihood of having a child.
In the Vedic horoscope, each planet represents a certain aspect of life, a certain energy in the universe and certain aspects of the personality. Mercury for example governs communication, the nervous system and the intellect.
Check out this intro to Vedic astrology video from ‘The Celestial Quest’ to dive get an overview of the planets. Alternatively, check back in for the next blog post and read more on this topic!
Jyotisha and Nadi Astrology
Nadi astrology, used in the creation of the Indian palm leaf prophecies, is an ancient branch of the science of Jyotisha.
The great sage Sri Agastya Maharishi (the most renowned of the Saptarishi) used this system to divine the information contained in palm leaf prophecies. He and a number of other influential Siddha’s (accomplished masters) are indeed credited with introducing Vedic astrology and developing this science.
However, the Nadi astrology system is more than a simple Vedic horoscope reading. For example, it remains a complete mystery how the names of a person and their parents (and sometimes their partner &/or siblings) were divined. Certainly astrology alone does not indicate a person’s name. Stranger still when the name is in a language that did not exist in the word two or three thousand years ago.
It goes without saying that in order to cast a birth chart, the exact time and location of the birth of a person must be known. Scholars remain baffled, that the exact time and location of the birth of a person could be known before the event. Especially when the event is thousands of years and thousands of miles away.
Nadi Astrology and the Navagraha
An astrologer tracks the intricate relationships between the navagraha as they appear in the sky at the exact moment of birth. The astrologer is then able to interpret karma from past lives. Additionally, they observe their relationships to the natal positions throughout our lives. This indicates how/when that karma will unfold during our current life.
Understanding this intricate unfolding of karma, the sages like Sri Agastya, recommended energetic remedies. The remedies include praying to the navagraha and other deities of the Hindu pantheon. Evidently, prayers in the form of puja help to alleviate the challenging effects of so-called malefic karma. Additionally, they to help ripen the fruits of apparently benefic karma.
Astrology is Not Fatalistic, But Opportunistic.
Some people resist or misunderstand astrology. Thus they miss the beautiful role and potential of astrology. It’s understandable that people are wary of a system that claims to know and predict our ‘fate’.
Astrology however, is not fatalistic. Good astrology offers perspective. Great astrology provides opportunity to those who seek its guidance and learn to integrate its lessons into their lives. Astrology maps the configuration of energy in our life and can suggest the ways in which that energy may unfold.
Energy is a conscious living force and it responds to sustained, conscious attention. Practically this means that what we can learn through astrology can inform our decisions beyond our personal perspective. That is to say that astrology can expand our sphere of awareness in certain areas of our lives. The expansion allows us to become conscious of our previously unconscious motivations and behaviors.
Shifting from the unconscious victim of our own minds, to the empowered leader of our own lives. This is the shift that Astrology can facilitate. It is not too dissimilar to gravity and other universal forces. Not understanding gravity we are bound by it.
For example it is exactly the study of gravity that allowed us to build planes that fly us around the globe. Mastering gravity lead to rockets that can be slingshotted around planets to propel them to the edges of our solar system and beyond.
Worship of the Navagraha
The Navagraha can be worshipped as a whole, in this case the effect is more of a general alleviation of karmic tensions.
The short Moola Mantra below can be used:
OM NAVAGRAHA YA NAMAHA
Alternatively you could use the longer mantra below which incorporates the names of each of the Navagraha within it.
OM NAMAH SOORYAYA CHANDRAYA MANGALAYA BUDDHAYA CHA GURU SHUKRA SHANIBHYASCHA RAAHAVE KETAVE NAMO NAMAHA
Awareness is the key to understanding, and understanding what makes us tick brings profound transformation into our lives.
Of course, sometimes understanding ourselves sometimes requires a little support. The support of the rishis is waiting for you here.
More on Vedic astrology coming in the following posts! Stay tuned!