Pictured above is the sage Bhrigu – the father of Vedic astrology.
Many ancient cultures looked to the stars for guidance including the Vedic tradition of India. We talked with Andrew Sanderson about Vedic astrology.
Does astrology work?
Yes! Astrology definitely works. You can tell a lot about someone from their horoscope – including their past and future. It is amazing how much detail you can get – like what kind of career they will have, relationships with family and friends, hobbies, finances and health. You can even tell a lot about a person’s spouse and what they are like.
How does astrology work?
Astrology works by punching your birth time and location into some software which brings up your horoscope. It shows the position of the planets in the sky at the time you were born. Then rules and principles are applied by the astrologer to get predictable results. For example, if the Sun is well-placed then you can expect it to give good results in the areas that it signifies and if it is badly placed, then expect bad results.
The horoscope comprises houses, signs and planets. Each indicate different matters in life and their permutations and combinations reveal the life of the individual.
Some people claim that astrology cannot possibly work. They claim to be scientific and dismiss astrology as superstition, but they betray their own values by summarily rejecting something they’ve never studied. Once you know a few basic principles you can look at the horoscopes of famous people and see why they excelled in their field. This is not a matter of belief, but evidence. Look for yourself – it is really interesting!
Is astrology accurate?
Yes, it can be amazing. A good astrologer can know you better than you know yourself. I once emailed my birth details to an astrologer in America and he recorded his interpretation and emailed it back to me. He told me things about my body and how it works that no one else ever has – not even famous Ayurvedic doctors. That astrologer never saw me or talked to me or had any contact with me – all he had was my birth time.
The accuracy of astrology is determined by the astrologer. All the information is there in the horoscope, but the astrologer needs the skill and experience to interpret it correctly. You always have to take it for what it is – one person’s opinion. That’s why it’s recommend you go to three astrologers and then take an average of what they say. There will be common themes that come through.
Unfortunately, many people’s only exposure to astrology is what they read in the paper, which is usually vague and generally useless. In Vedic astrology you need to have an accurate birth time – down to the second if possible. If you don’t have it then an astrologer can do a ‘rectification’ – which is working backwards to find the chart that matches you.
I did this for a friend. He told me his birthday and I looked at what the planets were doing that day and found a chart that matched him. I told him he was born at 2:35am. He checked with his mother who agreed that that was when he was born.
How is Vedic astrology different from Western astrology?
There are a number of key differences between Vedic and Western astrology. For a start they are calculated differently. Vedic charts are adjusted by 24 degrees to take into account precession. That’s quite a big adjustment and it moves most peoples’ Sun back one sign. So in Western astrology I am Gemini but in Vedic astrology I am Taurus.
Vedic astrology (also called Jyotish) is Moon based, and emphasizes the ascendant and Moon more than the Sun. You don’t hear many Vedic astrologers talking about people’s Sun sign like: “He’s so Capricorn.”
Jyotish is also renowned for being predictive. And it integrates seamlessly with the other schools of Indian philosophy (like Yoga and Ayurveda) and has remedial options to correct unfavourable indications (like mantras, rituals, gems, herbs).
Do we have free will?
That is a very philosophical question! But consider this: Even if you don’t have any free will at all, you still have to act as if you do.
I know that many people study astrology and get caught by fatalism. It disempowers them, but it is a mistaken point of view. In time they grow through it to a higher, expanded understanding of the connection between the individual and the cosmos.
Is Vedic astrology a spiritual path?
Yes, it is definitely Jnana Yoga – the yoga of knowledge. When I first discovered astrology it demonstrated to me the divine order that underlies everything. It proved everyone wrong – that life is not random and unpredictable. It made me look at the world with different eyes.
Vedic astrology is a study of life. And more specifically it is a study of boundaries (like time). And if you study boundaries close enough you come to know the unbounded – which is the true meaning of Yoga. So yes, Vedic astrology is definitely a spiritual path.
Which Vedic astrologers do you recommend?
I mostly studied jyotish in the 1990s and since then it has exploded in popularity – especially with the internet. Now it is easily available and there are many good astrologers on the internet like Shambhavi Chopra, James Kelleher, Hart de Fouw, Vaughn Manley, James Braha, Komilla Sutton.
Of course, it is a bit like finding a good doctor – some are highly qualified but not very good, but others are excellent.
One very clever system I discovered was created by the late Edward Tarabilda. His work is carried on by Gandharva Sauls and his business Your Life Blueprint. It’s not regular Vedic astrology, but it had it roots there. It impresses me a lot and I had a great reading from him. He’s the one who explained how my body works better than anyone else.
Speaking of finding an astrologer. There once was a king in ancient India who wanted a new astrologer. He sent for the greatest in the land. As they arrived they were sent up to see him at the top of his high tower and he would through them off the balcony to their death. One day an astrologer arrived who refused to go up the tower. And that is how the king found his new astrologer.
Do you recommend that people see a Vedic astrologer?
Sure, if that is what they want. There are some very good Western astrologers too. Even though their system is different, they can still be very insightful. The key is to find someone who gets it right for you. Like all relationships, sometimes they just work out better with some and not with others and it’s hard to know why.
Astrology is a bit like meteorology – you can see trends and patterns and make predictions. Some of it will be right, but not always. It can tell you when storms are coming and when they will finish. It can give you confidence in the future.