Jyotish Shastra refers to Vedic Astrology or Hindu Astrology, a system that originated in ancient Hindu scriptures. Here, Jyotish means ‘the science of light or heavenly body’ and Shastra means ‘knowledge on the particular field’. It is a Sanskrit term that deals with the astral light pattern. The modern astrologer depicts Astrology also as the science of timekeeping using celestial bodies’ positions.
Jyotish Shastra is the knowledge of the future, which is an important limb of the Vedas. Hence, it is also known as Vedic astrology or Hindu Astrology. It reflects the understanding and perception of ancient spiritual teachers regarding the facts of life. However, western astrology with its twelve Zodiac signs is different than Hindu astrology.
Hindu Astrology is much more than twelve zodiac signs; it is related to the nature of light and the radiation of various objects (especially the celestial entities). The concept lies in the Sidereal zodiac, a system of analyzing events based on signs and constellation alignments. The system is more accurate and detailed than the tropical zodiac analysis of Western astrology.
History of Jyotish Shastra
During the course of worldly evolution and the emergence of individualized human souls, different kinds of concretization took place, both in the individual as well as in the manifested universe. In this way, the Concept of Astrology or Jyotish Shastra started. Although the exact history of Jyotish Shastra is unknown, it is believed that the ancient Jyotish Shastra is at least 5000 years old. The main aim of Jyotish Shastra was to keep records of time, events, and transits for Vedic rituals.
(Note: Transits are periods of interaction between zodiacs and planets; also called Gochara in Sanskrit.)
Sources of Jyotish Shastra
The Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures) are the source of the emergence of Jyotish Shastra. The Vedas have six supplementary appendixes known as the Vedangas- limbs of the Vedas. One of these is the Jyotish Vedanga – Vedic astronomy and astrology. Jyotish Shastra is an integral part of Vedas and has been practiced since time immemorial. It has its own unique theology, philosophy, art, science, and literature which exist to this day.
Jyotish Shastra Practices
For thousands of years, many Rishis (sages) have been practicing and preserving the tradition of Vedic astrology on a parallel track with the Vedas. Portions of these have been extracted at various times and put into the Jyotish Vedanga. Many Rishis such as Vashistha, Bhrigu, and Garga were masters of astrology and taught it to their disciples in the Guru Parampara (disciplic succession), and in this way, it was passed through the ages.
Branches of Jyotish Shastra
Among the various branches of Jyotish Shastra, these are some of the major ones:
- Gola – positional astronomy
- Ganita -mathematical diagnostic tools for analyzing the results of Gola
- Jataka – natal astrology
- Prasna – answering specific questions based on the time the question is asked
- Muhurta – selecting an auspicious time to start something
- Nimitta – omens, and portents.
Jyotish Shastra – As a system
Jyotish (Vedic), the Hindu system of astrology, is based on the movement of planets with respect to stars and it includes zodiac signs as well. According to it, there are twenty-eight constellations (Nakshatras) made up of twelve zodiac signs (Rashis), nine planets with two shadow planets (Grahas), and twelve Houses (Bhavas). These various elements of Jyotish Shastra represent different aspects of human life.
The Zodiacs are segregated into Fire Element, Earth element, Water element, and Air element, which are of more significance in Western Astrology. The army of planets is divided into groups of deities and demons.
Part of a larger system of Jyotish Shastra includes mathematics, architecture, and medical and military applications. But Jyotish has its own complicated reference to the planets. It has historically been a system of continuous “holistic” approach to living and to spiritual practice within the life of Hindus.
Basic Elements of Jyotish Shastra
There are various elements that affect the system of Jyotish Shastra (In Detail) and each has its own significance in predicting one’s future. Here are the names of the basic elements of Jyotish Shastra.
- Gocharas – The Transits
- Rashis – Signs Of The Zodiac
- Kundali – The Natal Chart
- Bhavas – The Houses
- Nakshatras – The Lunar Mansions
- Grahas – The Planets
- Dasha – The Planetary Period
- Drishti – The Aspects
- Yoga – Special Planetary Combination
Basic Principal of Jyotisha Shastra
The basic premise of the Jyotish Shastra is that all things are linked. Our Karma (fortune) is determined by a destined cosmic design. Predictions from Predictive astrology are made on the basis of this Karma.
Kundali (Astrological chart), shows our karma. The reason that each of us inherits a unique natal chart is that the higher self selects a particular astrological imprint, to experience certain events, and learn specific lessons. From this, evolution occurs by processing karmic situations for optimal benefit. Situations, people, and events in our life catalyze karmic growth, but karma lies within oneself, inside the soul.
Humans are souls, incarnated in different bodies at a very specific time and place and human lives are the manifestation of the greater whole into which one is born, just as flowers bloom at certain times when all conditions are perfectly congenial. So is the case with our births on this planet, according to the theory of karma.
Many practitioners vigorously believe that Jyotish Shastra, with its ties to the ancient wisdom of ancient Vedic literature, is a great source of profound knowledge, and indeed offers a practical means of understanding and predicting the events of life. The study of astronomy or Jyotish Shastra has been able to interpret birth charts based on planetary aspects.