Western meets eastern astrology

East fails to meet West at International Astrological Convention in New Delhi

Some of Chanana's enthusiasm rubbed off on the portly Congress I general secretary, Shyam Sunder Mahapatra, who volunteered to arrange a minute "consultation" between Mrs Gandhi and Narain Dutt Shrimali, the year-old president of the Indian Astrological Federation.

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Both Chanana and Mahapatra, as the city's political grapevine noted, have reasons to be astrology-minded. Mahapatra was recently stripped of his party charge to look after the international department as well as the affairs of West Bengal and the North-Eastern states. And, the chip on Chanana's shoulders is perhaps caused by his inability to attain the Cabinet rank.

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There was a general consensus that radicalism and assorted Leftist politics will be on the run during the '80s. But Indian astrologers violently disagreed among themselves on vital issues at home: the future of Mrs Gandhi, her son and her party. And, on all questions, the verdicts pointed to the ultimate state in the science of probability when the odds are always even. Conflicting Predictions: The delegates' Visages, attires and outlooks were as conflicting as their predictions. The Indian delegates - some of whom wore Sai Baba-style flowing saffron robes - sat for three days at the spacious auditorium of the Young Men's Christian Association YMCA while droves of speakers deliberated on various aspects of astrology with the help of charts and diagrams.

The convention, for once, threw into relief the condition of Indian astrology where an estimated three lakh professionals, many of whom are unlettered and without any training in the science, are competing with each other to make a living out of crystal-ball gazing. Said Shrimali: "If you throw a stone in Delhi, it is bound to descend on the head of an astrologer. There was a more serious side to the deliberations. The participation of foreign delegates - mostly from the USA and Australia - brought home yet another sad truth about Indian astrology, namely, its total dependence on texts written thousands of years ago and its consequent refusal to adapt itself to changing times.

The Indian astrologers present at the convention were not representative even by a long shot.

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Raman, the celebrated mathematician-astrologer from Bangalore, was a notable absentee. Nor was Jyoti Bachaspati, the Calcutta astrologer, to be seen at the convention. And Shrimali is noted more for his intuitive power than his grasp of the intricate calculations involved in astrological predictions. In fact, the only authoritative Indian astrologer present on the occasion was Sridhar Keshuv Kelkar, 55, a Maharashtrian Government official who runs the astrology column in The Illustrated Weekly of India.

The delegates from abroad included at least one astrologer of international standing, Robert Hand, the hefty and bearded American author of the best-seller Planets in Transit , who runs a computer-fitted astrological service in Massachusetts with a , US dollar annual turnover Kevin Barrett, the suave Australian astrologer specialising in stock-market predictions, read a paper on something equally unpredictable - horse-racing.

Culture Gap: The convention could have become a unique East-meets-West exercise in astrology, but for the obvious culture gap between the Indian delegates and the foreign speakers. The most glaring drawback of the Indian system of astrology, as it became apparent during the convention, was its bad astronomy and poor mathematics. Except for Kelkar, none of the Indian speakers even as much as ventured beyond the orthodox Hindu cosmogony, in which the outermost planet was regarded as saturn. The remaining distant planets - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto - found very little place in the Indian delegates' scheme of things.

Indian astrology, as the convention clearly showed, is also beset with lack of equipment - such as telescopic facilities and modern computers. The majority of the delegates, however, seemed to be unmoved by the stagnation setting in Indian astrology. Apparently, they had assembled in Delhi only to collect, at the end of the convention, a piece of paper written in Sanskrit which authorised them to "practise" astrology "anywhere in India".

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This new crop of astrologers, certified by the Federation, will join the legion of professionally qualified astrologers churned out every year by Benaras Hindu University through its five-year Jyotish Acharya course. Nearly all of the new "graduates", who climbed the podium on the concluding day of the convention to receive their certificates from the vivacious Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Kumudben Joshi, were tired, doddering and harried-looking middle-aged men.

Astrology was clearly not just a hobby with them: it held out the prospects of post-retirement livelihood. The delegates who were mostly small-town astrologers, showed little interest in the finer points of the subject. Some of them even practise homoeopathy and seek in astrology a rough-and-ready diagnostic procedure. Though publicly flaunting their disbelief in the supernatural and the psychic, most of the Indian astrologers supplemented their knowledge of the planets and stars by borrowing freely from the country's unending occult lore.

Even Shrimali, a Sanskrit scholar from Jodhpur, claimed that his guru , Swami Sachidanand, whom he had met in the Himalayas 15 miles north of Badrinath, was 1, years old now. Said Shrimali: "He is a rishi and he knows everything because he is totally detached from everything. Once he felt that he was getting too attached to his walking stick.

He at once dropped it in the river. But that too happened four hundred years ago. Free Will: In contrast, the foreign astrologers, particularly the Americans, were refreshingly free from the unctuous compulsion to foretell the destiny of rising politicians. As Annie Hershey, the short haired, ebullient astrologer from Ohio, US, observed: "We have faith in man's free will and its influence on his destiny.

We can only say which of the alternatives is favourable for him. After that, he creates his own future. The Hindu astrology has a fixed, or sidereal, zodiac. But, in Western astrology, the reference point keeps changing as the vernal equinox, or the beginning of the spring season, changes over the centuries along a changing, or tropical, zodiac There is already a difference of 24 degrees between the reference points in the two systems, which strongly suggests that the Hindu zodiac was fixed sometime around A. Some of the foreign astrologers hinted that this fact alone constituted an embarrassing refutation of the Hindu astrology's claim to antiquity.

While Indian astrology languishes within the confines of moth-eaten tracts, the Western system has been making spectacular strides in close contact with developments in statistical methods, including computer technolOgy. Hand, while speaking to India Today, recalled the work of the French husband-and-wife team, Michel and Francoise Gauquelin, who fed into a computer personal data on 15, prominent persons of the world from various "Who's Who's".

The couple arrived at distinct patterns of personality according to planetary ascendants.

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Their technique involved a careful sifting through the adjectives used in the "Who's Who". Hand is a trained science historian who read history at Princeton University.

Western meets eastern astrology what sign

I highly recommend that you read it, as its content complements that of this article. I prepared this article, which includes a table -- placed at the end of this article -- clearly illustrating the differences between both systems, because I wanted to focus on the procedures of both approaches, not just Jyotish, and to cover a little more ground.

I have a great deal of respect for both Western and Vedic astrology. I practice both, and find the "dance" between them exceptionally enriching. Please understand, however, that — especially when learning each system — one should carefully avoid applying the principles present in one of the approaches to the other approach, as it can "muddy the waters". When I first learned Jyotish, I was careful to keep all of my understandings of Western astrology compartmentalized and separate, until I had gained fluency in Vedic astrology. Only after doing so was I able to begin to see how each system might interact with the other.

Definitions In truth, there is no unified approach used by most Western astrologers.

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They may favor using Outer Planet transits or Progressions or Directions for their primary predictive tool, and some include additional bodies like asteroids, the comet Chiron, Arabic Parts Greek Lots , Fixed Stars, Hypothetical Points, and Uranians and Plutonians, or even adopt radically different approaches like the Huber method, Evolutionary Astrology, or Symmetrical Astrology aka Cosmobiology.

Similarly, there are literally thousands of Vedic astrological approaches, including -- among the most popular systems -- Parashari, Jaimini, Laghu Parashari, Krishnamurti Paddhati, and Shri Pati Paddhati.

In point of fact, the "bible" of Vedic astrology, called Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, is actually a compendium of independent approaches, some of which actually contradict others. This has led some Jaimini astrologers to call their approach Parashari since there are many Jaimini chapters in BPHS , further confusing the issue. For the purposes of this article, I am focusing on modern Western astrology as practiced by many professional astrologers ignoring the multitudinous variations , and on Parashari astrology as explicated in Phaladeepika and much of BPHS.

Fundamental differences between Western and Vedic astrology Zodiac The most foundational difference between Western and Vedic astrology is each system's choice of Zodiac.

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Western astrologers use the Tropical Zodiac, where the beginnings of the twelve signs are determined by the Sun's apparent orbit around the Earth, i. Vedic astrologers, on the other hand, use the Sidereal Zodiac, which is based upon the physical positions of the constellations in the sky. They choose a starting point most commonly the place in the sky opposite to Spica for the beginning of Aries, and proceed in equal 30 degree segments for subsequent signs.

Vedic astrologers, by and large, use Whole Sign Houses, where the Ascendant can fall anywhere in the First House, and each house comprises all of one sign. Planets and Sign rulerships Western astrologers use all of the major planets including Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, and most attribute rulership of Aquarius to Uranus, Pisces to Neptune, and Scorpio to Pluto. Vedic astrologers, on the other hand, stick to the visible planets, i. Planets only aspect other planets and the angles Ascendant and Midheaven. Vedic astrologers use a different approach: each planet associates with all planets in the same house, and aspects the opposite house and any planets in that house.