The Fallacy of the
trans-Saturnian Planets

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Deviation From Guru-Parampara

In an attempt to appear modern, some practitioners of Vedic astrology began to slavishly imitate their Western counterparts. Thus in some modern books, on so-called Vedic astrology, you will find reference to Neptune, Uranus and Pluto. We warn the student to be very careful of such authors who deviate from the guru-parampara. The writings of such dubious self-proclaimed gurus and Veda-acaryas are probably infected with many other heterodox ideas and should especially be avoided by beginners or risk confusion. There are so many good books on Vedic astrology translated into English that one can easily get along without those that utilize the bogus planets. The heterodox astrologers give the impression that many Vedic astrologers in India use extra planets or other Western methods. The fact is that the vast majority of astrologers in India still follow the Vedic tradition.

Of the modern Western writers on Vedic astrology, most have had the good sense to present the Vedic tradition regarding planets as it is, without changes. However, some don’t care for the guru-parampara and are so-called modernists. They claim that many Vedic astrologers add Uranus, Neptune and Pluto to their systems of interpretation. To introduce them is irresponsible, and to claim that many Vedic astrologers use them is far from the truth and misleading. It again gives the impression that Vedic astrology is not a discipline with its own set rules. Those who break these rules are not Vedic Astrologers. They may be using some Vedic techniques, but they are not Vedic astrologers and should not falsely call themselves as such.

Some popular astrologers claim that there is a Nadi-grantha which mentions that in the future people will use other planets (Neptune, Uranus and Pluto?) for prediction. First of all, we would like to see proof of the existence of such a text. Aside from that, simply because the text predicts that in the future people will use other planets in Jyotish doesn't mean it should be done. The sastras make many predictions about how degraded Kali-yuga will be, this doesn’t mean that they endorse the sinful activities of the Kali-yuga. Considering that Vedic astrology has been famous for its accuracy for thousands of years without the addition of trans-Saturnian planets. And, that all the Vedic texts and previous acaryas uphold the tradition of using only the visible planets. We conclude that this far outweighs any apocryphal statement of an obscure Nadi which may not even exist. We should also note that none of the known Nadi works use these extraneous planets.

Tropical Definition of trans-Saturnian Planets

Another point to consider is the following: What the so-called Vedic astrologers, who use them, forget is that Neptune, Uranus and Pluto have been given their definitions and attributes by Tropical astrologers not Vedic astrologers. What the Tropical astrologers did was to study the past history of Europe and America only (basically ignoring the rest of the world) and then try to correlate cycles of historical change with the transit of these planets through the tropical signs not the sidereal signs. In other words, it is a lot of guess work based on the speculations of a few imperfect Tropical astrologers at a time when Tropical astrology was very weak. Tropical astrology was practically extinct between 1700–1900. Only Pluto (discovered 1930) was found at a time when Tropical astrology was making a come back.

The implication is that even if, for the sake of argument, these planets did have meaning, it would be scientifically unacceptable for a Vedic or Western Sidereal astrologer to accept the attributes of the trans-Saturnian (and confetti planets) based on their transit through Tropical signs. This is the last word in absurd inconsistency. And certainly doesn’t indicate that the Eastern (we shall not call them Vedic) astrologers who promote or use these planets did much careful thinking on the matter. We should also note that the definitions of the traditional planets used in both the West and East were all originally used in a sidereal system, it was only later (5th century AD) that the Western astrologers deviated under the lead of Ptolemy (it took several hundred years for them to convert from Sidereal to Tropical).

In 1939 Shil Ponde complained that even though Pluto had only been recently discovered, enterprising Western Astrologers had already written books delineating the effect of this planet. He argued that since Pluto took about 360 years to complete a circuit of the Zodiac, then if Pluto actually had any effect it would take many times 360 years to determine, statistically, what those effects might be.

This is standard statistical procedure. To determine if a coin will land 50% of the time "heads" and 50% of the time "tails," you would have to toss it more than twice. In fact, you would have to toss it at least 100 times to see the pattern. Suppose the coin was weighted so that only 1% of the time it landed "heads" and 99% of the time it was "tails." If you tossed it 50 times it would only come up "tails" and you might conclude that it would come up "tails" 100% of the time. Even if you tossed it 100 times it might still only come up "tails." To be able to observe the 1% probability of it coming up "heads," you would have to observe many 1000s of tosses. Thus, to scientifically determine the effect of Pluto, assuming there was any, it would have to be observed for thousands of years.

The method used by the Western Tropical astrologers to assign meanings to the trans-Saturnian planets thus appears to be hampered by intrinsic imperfections. In contrast, Vedic Astrology is a Vedanga, a limb of the Veda. This knowledge was revealed to the holy Rsis by divine revelation. It is stated in Visnu Purana (2.5.26) that Gargarsi became a seer of astrology after many years of doing tapasya and worshipping Anantaseshanaga. Garga and other Rsis to whom the knowledge of astrology was revealed, established schools of astrology and this knowledge has been handed down since then. In the intervening millennia direct observation has confirmed the truths given us by the Rsis.

Definition of the Rasis Tied to the Planets

The definitions of the Rasis are also very ancient. Yet advocates of the trans-Saturnian planets say that the modern planets Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto are prime factors for giving Pisces, Aquarius, and Scorpio their meaning. They will say that Pisces has its unique nature because it is ruled by both Jupiter and Neptune, meaning that Pisces has both Jupiterian and Neptunian qualities. However, the meanings of all the signs are based on a combination of factors associated with each sign: the four elements (fire, earth, air, water), three modalities (chara, sthira, ubaya—movable, fixed, common), two genders (male or female), and planetary rulers (excluding Neptune, etc.). Using these four classes in various combinations yields the meanings of the signs. Thus Scorpio has its nature because it is: female gender, water element, fixed modality, and ruled by Mars. This is necessary and sufficient to define the meaning of Scorpio. There is no need to introduce Pluto into the equation. By using such first principles, the meanings of each and every Rasi can be delineated. In this way for thousands of years astrologers have understood the meanings of all the Rasis including Scorpio, Aquarius, and Pisces. It was not that astrologers had confusion about the meaning of these three signs which were only vanquished with the introduction of the trans-Saturnian planets. Rather, they perfectly understood the meanings of all the signs. It is truly circular reasoning by the advocates of trans-Saturnian planets to say that these planets are at the basis of the meaning of these three signs (Scorpio, etc.) when in fact, the meanings existed thousands of years before the trans-Saturnian planets were discovered. In other words, the trans-Saturnian planets have nothing to do with the meanings of any signs and are of no divinatory value.

Regarding the I Ching or "Book of Changes," which we mentioned earlier. It is a sophisticated system of divination based on the construction of six lines into a hexagram. The I Ching has been in use in China for at least 5,000 years. The philosophical basis of the I Ching has literally been the foundation of Chinese civilization to this day. We could compare the addition of trans-Saturnian planets to Vedic Astrology with the hypothetical addition of extra lines to the I Ching, or adding extra letters to the Sanskrit alphabet. Such tampering would effectively destroy both the I Ching and the Sanskrit language. Do the "Eastern Astrologers" (as distinct from Vedic Astrologers) also endorse the addition of new lines to the I Ching and thus create heptagrams or octograms? Are they more qualified than the Maharsis and the Guruparampara that they have the authority to add new planets to Vedic Astrology and consequently change its axiomatic foundations? Especially planets whose attributes are defined by Tropical astrologers in Tropical signs of the zodiac, and which, even in Tropical astrology, take away from the logical and philosophical elagance of that system.

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