[INDOLOGY] 'Vedic' astrology (was: bhakti)

Bill Mak bill.m.mak at gmail.com
Mon Nov 14 13:28:57 UTC 2016

Dear all,

Without examining the actual content of “Vedic astrology", I believe this discussion may become completely misguided. If one talks about the lunar astrology “hinted at” in the Vedāṅgajyotiṣa, indeed Vedic astrology seems the correct term. From the extant materials, this form of Vedic astrology based on 27/28 nakṣatra-s was practiced by the Buddhists and Jains. By the time of Varāhamihira, only remnants survived as collected in the Bṛhatsaṃhitā.

As far as I can tell, what is referred to “Vedic astrology” refers actually to Greco-Indian horoscopy. Not only does it have little in common with the older “Vedic astrology”, the way it was conceptualized was completely different - it is based on solar motion, using zodiac, planets and planetary relation, concepts which are absent and foreign in the Vedic corpus. Unless one stretches the definition of Vedic to cover everything under the Indian civilization, “Vedic astrology” as such is a pure misnomer. No scholars on jyotiṣa would commit such travesty, from Kane, PV Sarma to Pingree.


Bill Mak

Bill M. Mak, PhD

Visiting research scholar
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW)
New York University
15 East 84th Street
New York, NY 10028

Associate Professor
Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University
Yoshidahonmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan 606-8501
〒606-8501 京都市左京区吉田本町

email: mak at zinbun.kyoto-u.ac.jp

copies of my publications may be found at:

> On Nov 13, 2016, at 2:11 PM, Robert Zydenbos <zydenbos at uni-muenchen.de> wrote:
> patrick mccartney wrote:
>> I guess the question for me specifically regarding Vedic astrology is exactly the point Valerie and Luis raise. It could be called by the astrologers 'Indian Astrology', and perhaps it is a better representation, however they have settled on the use of Vedic to qualify their predictive system. Although, it's possible that someone out there might think that 'South Asian astrology' is a better term because all this knowledge developed prior to the birth of the Indian nation.
> If we ask such questions, there is the real danger that we enter the field of endless 'politically correct' quarrels. (E.g., is it not Western hybris to use the word 'Indian' for ancient Bhāratīya knowledge systems? etc. etc.)
> As for 'Vedic' astrology vis-à-vis other systems of astrology: there are also plenty of Jaina astrological practitioners (one of them has / had a regular program on a commercial South Indian TV station), there is a long and serious tradition of writing on astrological subjects by Jaina authors, and systemically I do not see any major differences with 'Vedic' astrology.
> The only significant difference I have come across concerns methods of prāyaścitta. I once heard a Jaina astrologer in Karnataka advise a person to pray to 'Infant Jesus' to counteract a certain planet's influence. The next person happened to have the same difficult, and she said "he should pray to Infant Jesus, but since you re a Jaina, you should do japa of this mantra to Munisuvratasvāmi". Brahmins, so she said, would have to do a pūjā to Viṣṇu.
> Intrigued by these bits of advice, I asked the astrologer more about how this works. She said that ultimately the worship of all those beings (Infant Jesus, Munisuvrata, Viṣṇu) produced the same effect, but only if the worshipper had real faith in what s/he was doing. Hence the object of worship needed to be chosen accordingly.
> Such experiences only strengthen my belief that there is nothing 'Vedic' at all about 'Vedic astrology' except the conventional religious window dressing by certain brahmin astrologers.
> RZ
> _______________________________________________
> INDOLOGY mailing list
> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
> indology-owner at list.indology.info (messages to the list's managing committee)
> http://listinfo.indology.info (where you can change your list options or unsubscribe)

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20161114/9e59b386/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list