Dating back to a time when Western people were not yet dedicated to the study of astrology and astronomy, Indian astrology is an ancient science that draws from the Vedas, approximately 3500-years-old writings (thus the common designation of Vedic astrology). The knowledge implied by the Indian astrology find its roots in the observations of ancient holy men – saint and sages – who studied the planetary influences.
Indian astrology has the potential – more than any other science known to man – to improve humankind from both moral and material points of view. This is due to its instructive character, property which probably lies at the origin of the Sanskrit name given to Indian astrology – Jyotisha or “Light” (light is widely interpreted as symbol of knowledge and guidance). Astrological predictions rely on the planetary movements that make it possible to foretell an individual’s or even a nation’s future.
Indian astrologers take their predictions a step further by taking into consideration karma when interpreting a person’s future. As it is the case in several Asian countries and cultures, karma is believed to influence an individual’s whole life, creating a mold in which the respective individual will eventually fit during their lifetime. Karma’s influence is suggested by the position of the planets at the time of one’s birth.
Indian Astrology has three main branches or what we may call schools of thought: Siddhanta, Samhita and Hora. Those who follow the Siddhanta path study the celestial bodies. Followers of Samhita are preoccupied with the astrological study of natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods etc. – and with that of other mundane aspects, for example, economic conditions. Hora is the branch that foretells the suitable timing of certain events in our lives.
In addition to the abovementioned branches, Indian astrology also has Nadi Shastra, a different astrological category that is said to predict destiny patterns of people born at 12, 24, and 48 second-intervals. Written on palm leaves by ancient Indian sages, it is said that these predictions are extremely accurate.
Consisting of 27 Nakshatras, Indian astrology studies the movements of the Sun and the Moon – the main light points –, then those of the five major planets Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, and lastly but not least, of the Moon’s two nodal points known in Indian astrology as Rahu and Ketu. As for the planets situated farther away in the Solar system – Pluto, Uranus, and Neptune – they are not used in the Indian tradition because they have been discovered more recently.
The most important celestial body in Indian astrology is the Moon. The reason for this special attention is that it is closest to the Earth, thereby exercising a bigger influence on us: it dictates the movement of the seas’ tides, the plant’s cycles of growth, animals’ sleeping patterns, and so on. Rashi is the name given to the position of the Moon in a person’s birth chart, position which is used to predict one’s future in conjunction with the Nakshatra – the individual’s star constellation.
Astrology-related techniques are considerably more popular in India than they are in Western countries. People turn to astrology in order to predict birth dates, the future of a marriage, career opportunities, finances, deaths, and so many other things with which people are faced on a day-to-day basis.
Specialists from the West started studying Indian astrology during the early period of the 1990s, but it has rapidly grown in popularity from that point after. In recent years, Indian scientists have asked for financial support from the state in order to fund research into Vedic astrology. The argument they brought to support their demand was that Vedic astrology is an important part of India's heritage and a science from which we are continuously learning.
An ancient bundle of knowledge inherited from our ancestors, Indian astrology is quite intriguing, many of its properties and characteristics still waiting to be uncovered and researched.