What is Vedic Astrology?
Previously we used the metaphor of photography in regard to astrology and said that the general natal reading was like using a wide-angled lens. Once one has got a general idea of where his life is going, he may want to zoom in on a particular time frame to get more details. This is called an "update reading."
A person's life cannot be encapsulated in a few hours. Because it is impossible to do everything in one sitting, people often have follow-up readings that cover certain time frames. People usually ask about what the next six months or one year will hold in store for them. Many people have their charts updated around the beginning of the New Year, or near their birthday, and thereby have a report for the upcoming year. One may want a chart updated because of contemplating a new business, changing his residence, having marital, legal, or health problems, etc. There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding when or why to have a chart done, or for what span of time. One's needs should be the guideline for this.
Follow-up readings are almost exclusively predictive in nature. They will reveal in greater detail the types of situations, both physically and mentally, that you one will find oneself in--times of strength or weakness, happiness and sadness, romance, love, health, illness, travel, education, etc. This type of reading is quite popular with business people, executives, and anyone (that includes you) who needs to have the best information available for decision- making and planning. These kinds of people know the value of a good advisor who can suggest strategy for progressing in material or spiritual life.
Closely related to update charts but of generally longer duration are charts that focus on a particular planetary period or sub-period. These will normally cover time frames of several years in duration. It is advisable for anyone who had such a longer forecast done to have his chart updated at least annually, if not every six months. The reason is simple: the shorter the span of time investigated, the more detail revealed.
The Need For Counsel
Now we shall briefly diverge and take a glimpse at what Vedic thinkers have said about the need of good counsel; then we shall return back to the topic. Since ancient times, good astrologers have been recognized as among the best of advisors. Canakya Pandita (circa 1550 BC) has said that every king should have ministers to guide him:
"One without an adviser has no certainty of counsel."
"All things begin with counsel."
"The country prospers by proper ministerial counsel."
"Through ministerial eyes others' weaknesses are seen."
"Counselors (ministers) are the ones who see the true implications of what ought to be done and what ought not to be done."
"Governance is possible only with assistance. A single wheel does not move. Hence ministers should be appointed and their counsel listened to."
Of the many ministers to the king, Canakya explains that:
"The royal astrologer should know reading, writing, and arithmetic, explain well and interpret the secrets of the planets." And, "The brahmana who knows mathematics, interprets scripts, is interested in the ancient scriptures, and is able to interpret the secrets of planets, is worthy of worship like a god."
And finally Varaha Mihira said:
"There is no better boat than a horoscope to help a man cross over the troubled sea of life."
Though you may not be a king, you can still avail yourself of good astrological counsel to help you plan your life.
The potential of the natal chart has not been exhausted yet; it can also be used to determine marriage compatibility.
It is said that "Marriages are made in heaven." And the cynics have added: "But often end in hell." The situation is common: you meet someone, you are attracted, become attached, get into the relationship, but after sometime find out that it is not right for you--usually after much pain. There must be a better way. There is!
It is a time-honored tradition in India to compare and match horoscopes of prospective marriage partners. This is usually done by the parents (who were detached from the effects of their offsprings' hormonal interactions.) Not surprisingly, the guidance of good astrologers has resulted in a high marital success rate for happy marriages.
A main problem is that many Vedic astrologers nowadays don't know how to do compatibilities correctly. They rely on a very simplistic system called the Kuta method. In the Kuta method the Moons in both charts are compared by a set of twelve criteria based on their position in Nakshatra and Rasi (lunar mansion and sign of the zodiac). Points are allotted for each of the twelve criteria. The maximum value theoretically possible is 36 points, yet in practice no two Moons can get a compatibility rating of more than 33 points out of 36. There are tables available which give the result of all possible combinations. (I once taught a non-astrologer how to do this Kuta method of chart compatibility in 15 minutes. It is that simple, yet many astrologers are charging $50-$60 for this service, which is little more than looking up a number on a table.) I have recently seen a website that does a computerized version of this service for $4.95. It should not be surprising to discover that this method has a high failure rate.
Astrologers using this method will simply calculate the charts, look up the lunar positions, look at the table, and then declare that the couple has X% marital compatibility. For example, if the boy has got his Moon in Scorpio in the nakshatra Vishaka, and the girl has got her Moon in Sagittarius in the nakshatra Purvashadha, then according to the Kuta method the table says that they have only 16 points out of a possible 36, or only a 44% compatibility. Before having a compatibility reading done, ask the astrologer if he uses the Kuta method. If he says yes, then avoid him.
"The kutas or the units of agreement should be considered only when there is general sympathy between the horoscopes of the parties to be brought together. The existing practice almost all over India and particularly in the South is highly defective and dangerous as horoscopes are rejected simply because they do not conform to certain kutas, while the most important factors such as longevity, widowhood, etc., are completely ignored."
B.V. Raman, Muhurta, chapter 11.
A well trained and experienced astrologer employs a system that thoroughly examines the two horoscopes on three tiers:
- The general strength of each chart individually, with special attention paid to capacity for relationship and marriage.
- A detailed examination of compatibility between the two charts based on all the planets, not just the Moon.
- Calculations to determine the durability of the relationship. Many couples are attracted and seem compatible but later end up in divorce court, giving rise to the saying: "Married in haste; lamented at leisure."
For persons who are capable of maintaining a relationship (for it will be impossible to match up someone whose karma is not to marry), this Vedic method of horoscopic matching is quite useful. It saves the client much time, energy, and money, and protects sensitive emotions from unnecessary pain. One needs to know only the date, time, and place of birth of the subjects.
So be sure that the astrologer you are considering to do a compatibility reading is experienced in this area and that he uses a sophisticated technique such as outlined above.
Though compatibility studies are generally done for prospective marriages, they are not limited to this use. For example, the same principles can be adjusted and utilized in conjunction with other astrological techniques to develop an excellent method for choosing personnel.
Let's say you are prepared to pay someone a salary of $50,000 or $100,000 (or more) per year. It would be wise to hire someone who not only presented a good resume (which could have been forged) but who fits the job, fits in well with the others on your team, and, most importantly, works well with you. An astrologer could easily determine if the candidate is honest or a cheater, and if he has the capacity to fulfill the position. And by comparing his chart to the others he would be interacting with, it could be quickly determined with whom he would get along well and with whom he would not. If he fits in with most of your people, you could decide to take him on the team but being careful to minimize his interaction with those whose charts showed a negative reaction. Thus by nicely harmonizing workers into an effective team, esprit de corps is instilled, and competitiveness is greatly enhanced.
Parents often consult astrologers to find out how they can best guide their beloved children. Astrology can point out what the compatibilities and incompatibilities are between parent and child. An astrologer can suggest strategies for dealing with problem areas in the parent-child relationship, and can guide the parents in understanding the nature of their child, what the child's creative potential is, what areas should be encouraged, or what areas may be problematic.