The history of Indian Astrology can be traced back to the origin of Vedas and Puranas and what lies beyond that has now been lost in antiquity. Modern scholars, however, look down upon Pauranic wealth of knowledge as mere imagination or guesswork.
Puranas contain invaluable information on a host of subjects like history, astrology, ayurveda, politics, religion and spirituality. Usually, scholars adhering to Pauranic knowledge systems have been severely restricted in their explorations due to their command on one or two subjects at the most. In fact, only a scholar with complete command on each of the classical knowledge systems can be considered eligible to study, explore and apply the science of Indian astrology effectively.
Puranas calculated time with the help of divisions like shaka and samvat. Based on the calculations of such time divisions numerous calendars and panchangas have also been developed which goes to show that history of the post-Mahabharata era can be recorded in a systematic chronological order without any ambiguities.
The ancient texts of Jyotish also give descriptions of Brahmanda (universe) : -
Kotighna naravnand shatk narav bhubhrid bhubhujangendubhih
Jyotih shastra vido vadanti nabhasah kaksha mimam yojanaih
This excerpt can be translated thus: -
The rays of the Sun reach a maximum distance of 187120692000000000 Yojanas( a classical measuring unit) which is known as diameter of the circumference of Brahmanda paridhi (universe) or Akash Kaksha.
Within this circumference of Brahmanda primary prakash pindas (illumined celestial bodies) are situated in their heavenly orbits.
Earth has been described in Siddhanta Shiromani thus: -
Akrishya shaktishcha mahi tayaayat swasthe gurum swami mukham swaktayaa
Akrishyate yatyat teev bhati same samantat ripat twiyamrave
The excerpt can be translated thus: -
Earth is endowed with the power of gravitational force which helps in attracting any object moving in an upward direction.
According to the ancient texts of Jyotish it would be wrong to calculate the beginning of the day from midnight because in the calculation of horoscopes if the moment of birth is even a second before sunrise the day and panchanga calculations of the previous day are taken into consideration. For calculation of Ishtkala as well, the moment of sunrise is of prime import.
Dinam Dineshasya yatoava darshane, tami tamo hanturdarshane sati
(Excerpt taken from Siddhanta Shiromani)
This excerpt can be translated thus: -
The presence and absence of Sun in the skies is considered as day and night respectively.
Another important point to be noted is that, contrary to popular perception, Jyotish cannot be equated with the term of astrology which is defined as the study of planetary movements in its relation to human affairs because Jyotish is an incomparably expansive field which comprises of not only astronomy and astrology but several other related branches of study as well.
This has been made amply clear with the help of three principal divisions of Jyotish namely, Siddhanta which deals with laws of planetary motion and their calculations, Samhita dealing with the correlation of celestial phenomena with terrestrial phenomena on macro as well as microcosmic plane and Hora dealing with personal astrology encompassing muhurta, jataka, prasna, varshphal and other branches of study.
This magnanimous science of Jyotish has its origin as one of the six Vedangas which include Nirukta, Nighantu, Vyakarana, Shiksha, Kalpa, Chand and Jyotish. It is considered that a complete command of each of the six vedangas is required before one can become eligible to begin with the study of Vedas themselves.
In the development of the tree of astrological knowledge Jyotish Shastra consists of the trunk or central portion with its roots originating from the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Tantra as they provide complete knowledge of the basic elements of the science of astrology. There is a great need to enhance this classical knowledge resource by taking ahead the tradition of research developed by Rishis and Munis of yore who made astounding observations on the nature of universe thousands of years ago.
The branches of this tree of astrological knowledge can be classified as Siddhanta, Samhita and Hora which provide information on different branches of Indian astrology. The leaves on the branch of Siddhanta Jyotish can be classified as various branches of mathematical calculations including algebra, geometry, trigonometry and spherical astronomy. In Samhita, the leaves can be classified as various studies including study of various omens like falling of lizard, dream interpretations, natural disasters, Samudrika Shastra (study of the natural formation and markings on body parts including palmistry), various positive and negative results of planetary movements and Vastu Shastra (the science of directions). In Hora, the leaves can be classified as various branches of astrology including individual horoscopy, horary astrology, Muhurtas (electional astrology), Tajik study (annual horoscopy or varshphala) and the study of calculation of panchangas.
The fruit of this tree of astrological knowledge can be defined as predictive astrology which provides information on everyone’s past, present and future. Nowadays, with rapid advancement of technology in modern times, astrologers have become dependent on computers for their calculations and predictions instead of which they should rely on this tree of astrological knowledge.
The knowledge of our Rishis and Munis in the science of Indian astrology from this statement: -
Our Rishis made a detailed investigation of the nature of planets and celestial bodies and it has been stated about eclipses that: -
Whenever Sun, Moon and earth form a linear alignment due to their heavenly motion it causes eclipses. A solar eclipse is caused when Rahu or Ketu come at a distance of 14 degrees or less from the Sun only in the day falling in the cusp of Pratipada and Amavasya tithis. On the other hand, lunar eclipse takes place only in the night falling in the cusp of Purnima and Pratipada tithis. Each eclipse repeats itself in the same position after 6585 days and 8 hours or 18 years 10 days and 8 hours. In this duration of 18 years 10 days and 8 hours a total of 71 eclipses occur comprising of 42 solar and 29 lunar eclipses. There are a total of 28 total solar eclipses out of these but it is visible at the same place after long periods of time.
The science of Indian astrology is based on such accurate scientific observations that if fully explored it has greater possibilities than even that of a complete scientific discipline. With such incredible potential, the other end of the science of Indian astrology would always elude serious researcher in his explorations because as a branch of knowledge it is not constricted by any preconceived notions of modern science.
by Pt. Sunil Sharma