Astronomy & Astrology

Astronomy & Astrology

Zodiac is a broad belt in the heavens extending to about 80-90 on either side of ecliptic, representing the path of principal planets, the Moon and the Sun. Ecliptic is the path of the Sun, a path which exactly passes through the center of the Zodiac. The Zodiac is a band 18° wide and placed obliquely to the Equator. It is divided into 12 equal parts called Rasis or Signs, or 27 equal parts called Nakshatras. The Ecliptic passes through the center of this band.

The Zodiac is an imaginary circle of 360° and the ancient learned divided the band of seven celestial bodies, which influences human affairs and personalities, into 12 equal parts of 30° each. Each equal part of 30° is known as a Sign (or a Rasi) the Zodiac is called Bhachakra in Sanskrit, and it revolves on its axis once a day from east to west. There are 12 signs in the Zodiac, namely: Aries (Mesha), Taurus (Vrishabha), Gemini (Mithuna), Cancer (Karkataka), Leo (Simha), Virgo (Kanya), Libra (Tula), Scorpio (Makara), Sagittarius (Dhanur), Capricon (hAakar), Acquarius (Kumbha) and Pices (Meena). Each of these signs has a stretch of 30° in the Zodiac.

For every two hours, one Sign rises in the heavens. The Sun's apparent annual motions around the celestial sphere result from the Earth's motion around the Sun. As the Earth orbits the Sun, different constellations of the Zodiac appear in the night Sky.

There are nine planets, which have most powerful influence on the earth according to astrology. These are: Sun (Ravi), Moon (Chandra), Mars (Mangal or Kuja), Mercury (Budha), Jupiter (Guru or Brahaspathi), Venus (Shukra), Saturn (Sam), Rahu and Ketu. The last two are called shadow planets (Chhaya grahas), as they do not have physical or celestial bodies, like the other seven planets. Of the two places, where the Moon crosses the ecliptic (that is the path of the Sun), the north point is known as Rahu and the south point (which is exactly 180° away form Rahu) Ketu. Though they are not like the celestial bodies, like other planets, they are sensitive and effective points. It is their powerful influence on the Earth that prompted the ancient people to rank them as planets in Hindu Astrology.

Ancient astrological science is divided into three skandhas or six angas

The three skandhas are Ganita (astronomy), Hora (horoscopy) and Sakha (astrological mathematics). All these three aspects of the science of astrology had to be mastered, if one is to make predictions correctly.

Ganita Skandha deals with Gola and Ganita. Hora Skandha deals with horoscopy, Prasna, Muhurtha and a part of Nimitta. Samhita Skandha deals elaborately with Nimitta.

Samhita deals with the varying fortunes of the people, changes in weather and progress of the animal kingdom. It sketches also the nature and shape of meteors, shooting stars and all the wonderful natural phenomena.

Our Sages have classified the great science of astrology into six angas,

  • Jataka: Deals with predictions to be made on the basis of the rising sign at birth.
  • Gola: Deals with planetary systems, their nature and peculiarities and in short with spherical astronomy
  • Nimitta: Takes into consideration tatkalika lakshanas (instantaneous / immediate symptomatology) or what are popularly known as omens obtaining at a particular time and makes predictions on certain gestures.
  • Prasna: This refers to forecasts being based upon the time of question
  • Muhurtha: This has reference to fixing up of auspicious times for success in religious, secular and spiritual undertakings.
  • Ganita: Broadly speaking, Ganita refers to mathematical astronomy and mathematical astrology.