Often I am asked “What is it that distinguishes the Vedic system of Astrology from what we in the West consider ‘normal’ Astrology? Why is Vedic Astrology considered superior to Western Astrology?” Although there are many differences between the two systems, this article will look at three major ones.

The first, most obvious, and possibly most confusing difference is that each system uses a different Zodiac. The Sidereal Zodiac is the actual, observable, ‘scientific’ sequence of ‘signs’ based on the fixed pattern of stars that we see from planet Earth. This is the zodiac that Vedic Astrology, the astrology of India, uses. Western Astrology uses the Tropical Zodiac which has the same sequence of signs, but instead of being based on the fixed, observable pattern of stars, the Tropical Zodiac is figured from the location of the Sun when it crosses the Vernal Equinox (around March 22), which is the midpoint of the extremes of the Sun’s apparent (as seen from the Earth) travel from North to South during the year. In other words, for the Western Astrologer, the Sun’s position on the ‘first day of Spring’ designates the beginning of the zodiac’s first sign, Aries.

Since all this stuff about signs in the Heavens is really just a human fabrication, why should it matter which system we use? It matters because what we are trying to do in Astrology is to have events here on Earth indexed to a dependable constant: the fixed pattern of the stars. Now we come to the important point of distinction: the Tropical Zodiac is not referenced to the permanent pattern in the Heavens! That point above us where the Sun is midway on its journey from solstice to solstice moves a tiny bit each year. It goes backwards by a bit less than 1 minute of arc every year, due to the slight wobble of the Earth on its axis. Although the two zodiacs coincided about 2000 years ago, today the Tropical Zodiac is approximately 24 degrees (nearly an entire sign!) out of phase with the actual, observable, positions of the stars.

Thus, because the Western Astrologers refuse to actually look up at the Heavens, their interpretation of the planetary positions relative to the backdrop of the stars has not been consistent. This becomes a problem if you are going to rely on centuries of past accumulation of observable data based on the signs for your analysis (and prediction) of events on Earth. Actually, Western Astrologers acknowledge this weakness in their system by putting much more emphasis on Aspects: the actual degree distance between Heavenly bodies, which can be measured without regard to the backdrop of the stars. Vedic Astrology, in contrast, has a very highly developed system of analysis that emphasizes the signs, their meanings, and their relationship to each other, the planets, and the houses.

The next important distinction between these two systems of astrology is that whereas Western Astrology (generally) regards the Sun and its position as the primary factor for interpretation, Vedic Astrology chooses the Rising Sign as the primary significator. Instead of saying that everyone born within a 30 day or so period shares the same characteristics by having the same ‘Sun Sign’, Vedic Astrology wants to know which group of stars was on the Eastern horizon at the moment you where born. The Rising Sign has been found to give a much more specific ‘snap shot’ of an individual than their Sun Sign. This may make Vedic Astrology less popular at parties since you will need to know the actual minute of birth of the person you are hitting on, and then have a computer with Astrology software handy in order to look it up. But it does have the advantage of referencing each House in the birth chart to a particular Sign, which is the basis of analysis in the Vedic System.

A third major distinction between “regular” astrology and the one from India is that Vedic has numerous techniques of determining the strength of any factor under consideration. Over the centuries, the mathematicians of India concocted numerous formulas for evaluating the relative power and weakness inherent in planets, signs, and houses depending on their positional relationship within a particular chart. This becomes especially useful in making predictions, since the Astrologer is not just being asked to identify what it going on in the Heavens, but also the likelihood that it will translate into something significant in a person’s life.

Western Astrology approaches the subject of prediction with some trepidation, due to the lack of such techniques of evaluation. About the only one it uses is the applying aspect vs. separating aspect, where the planets that are in a mathematical relationship with each other are either coming closer together (getting stronger in relationship) or moving apart (weaker).

In Vedic Astrology, there are mathematical formulas for everything, for all situations, for all elements within a chart. The Vedic astrologer has many tools for determining whether or not the mix of energy patterns indicated by planets amongst the stars is going to manifest or simply remain a dormant potential.

All of this makes Vedic Astrology much more complicated than Western Astrology. But that’s more like what life is like, isn’t it?

4 thoughts on “Compare

  1. Melanie Watkins

    I have studied Western Astrology pretty much all my life, its my passion, its my drive its the only information I can retain, I pretty much eat breath and sleep astrology just recently I stubbed on to Vedic a couple weeks ago and I have been HOOKED, I have spent over a week knees and elbow deep learning all that I can. Its amazing! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Shivah Haran

      Yes Vedic Astrology with it’s astronomically accurate zodiac and indepth Dasha system is a much more dynamic and accurate predictive tool to delienate one’s life.


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