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Ever Wondered If Astrology and Jothish Are The Same?

Astrology and jothishi

Astrology, Jothish and Vedic Astrology are words that one reads in numerous articles online. It makes one wonder what exactly Jothish is and if it is any different from astrology.

What Is Astrology?

Astrology is the study of how the positions of the planets in the sky affect us and our lives on earth. Astrology evolved in conjunction with astronomy. Astrologers study astronomy to understand the planets and their movements but astronomy does not have any relationship with astrology anymore.

Zubdat-al Tawarikh
Celestial Map in Zubdat-al Tawarikh, dedicated to the Ottoman Sultan Murad III in 1583

A Brief History Of Different Systems Of Astrology

Mesopotamian / Babylonian Astrology

The Babylonian system of astrology dates back to the 3rd Millenium BC. The Enuma Anu Enlil is a collection of cuneiform tablets from the 16th century BC that covers the field of Babylonian omen based astrology. Texts from these times also refer to an oral tradition of astrology. Additionally, this system of astrology was historically more focussed on mundane astrology. 

Hellenistic Astrology 

Egyptian astrologers used a form of Decanistic astrology. When the Babylonian system of astrology and the Egyptian form of astrology mixed horoscopic astrology took form. ‘Horoskopos’ is a Greek word that means hour marker and the new mingled form of astrology began to use the concept of the ascendant along with the twelve houses. It also began to study the individual horoscope of a person as per the time of their birth. Also, this form of astrology ascribes to a mythical sage, Hermes Trismegistus. He also authored major texts on the topic according to the myth. Many of his writings address to another mythological figure, Asclepius. A Pharoah, Nechepso, and his priest Petosiris got this system. They then added more writings to the system.

Astrology in Medieval Islam

Medieval Muslims were desert dwellers who travelled at night. Hence they had an interest and knowledge of astronomy as they relied on the constellations to guide their journeys. They had to determine prayer times as well as the direction of the Kaaba as well as the proper orientation of their places of worship. Additionally, this required a study of astronomy. The broader subject of astronomy covered under the study of how the planets influenced us. It was termed Ilm an-Nujūm.

Zodiac Man
Zodiac Man – Welsh Manuscript

Astrology in Europe

Astrology was very much a part of medieval and renaissance Europe. In the 13th century, astrology integrated with medicinal practices. Doctors practised Galenic medicine combined with a study of the stars. By the end of the 1500s, the law in Europe dictated that the position of the Moon be studied before carrying out complicated medical procedures.

Numerous authors studied and wrote many works on the subject matter. University education is divided into seven areas that ascribe to the rulership of planets. Additionally, the literary works of the times are full of astrological symbolism. Many of the works of literature ranging from Chaucer to John Milton and Shakespeare have astrological references. 

Astrology and medicine
Astrology and medicine were integrated and studied together.


Jyotish, Jothish or Vedic Astrology

Jyotish, Jothish or Jyotiṣa is a traditional form of astrology, practised in India. It is one of the six Vedāṅgas or disciplines that support Vedic rituals. The system used the sidereal zodiac unlike the Hellenistic forms of astrology that use the tropical zodiac. Also, the term Vedic astrology is used to refer to this system. Additionally, the concept of lunar mansions or Nakshatras is unique to astrology in Jothish. Also, the main texts of the system are Bṛhat Parāśara Horāśāstra, and Sārāvalī by Kalyāṇavarma.

The branches of Jothish are:

Ganita

This branch of Jyotish astrology deals with the mathematical and astronomical aspects of astrology. 

Hindu calendar
A picture of a page from an ancient Hindu calendar.

Hora

The Hora branch of Jothish astrology covers Jataka which is the interpretation of the horoscope, Muhurta or electional astrology and Nimitta or the study of omens.

Samhita

Samhita deals with Mundane astrology such as groups of people, countries, weather, comets and other phenomena.

Jothish determines the dates of many of the Indian festivals celebrated by the lunar calendar. Matching of horoscopes of the prospective bride and groom is the basis for many arranged marriages. Astrologers select auspicious dates and times to make a good start to any venture.

Nakshatras or Lunar Mansions
Nakshatras or Lunar Mansions in Jothish

Jothish or Vedic astrology has its roots in the Vedas and is largely practised in India. Additionally, it has gained much popularity all over the world. It is also taught and practised in different countries. Astrology and Jothish are not different except that Jothish talks about the Karma concept, re-birth and burning of our pending karmas and to merge with the source.