Indian astrology: Vedic and post-Vedic

Rajesh Kochhar

The oldest astronomical text in India is Vedanga Jyotisha, which is a part of the Vedic corpus. Its oldest parts could be as old as 1400 BCE. Asoka’s Edicts (3rd cent BCE) are consistent with Vedanga Jyotisha. A feature of this period is the identification of planetary positions with the help of nakshatras. In the centuries following Alexander, Greco-Baylonian inputs were received into India from the northwest which revitalized Indian mathematical astronomy, seen in fully¬†blown form in Aryabhatiyam (499 CE). These inputs include (i) accurate luni-aolar calenndar (the Vikrami or the old Shaka, calendar), (ii) 12 rashis, and (iii) week days. Aryabhata { note the single t} introduced for the first time, in the Indian context, mathematical theory of eclipse which tells you that eclipses take place when the Moon is at one of the two nodes.¬† Aryabhata’s contemporay, Varahamihira, designated these nodes as shadow planets and named them Rahu and Ketu. This is the beginning of the nava graha concept. I do not think it would have been possible to cast a horoscope according to Vedanha Jyotisha. Present-day astrology and ritual of which the accurate calendar, week days and rashis are integral part is post-Vedic and not Vedic.

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