Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means of divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events. Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, and has its roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and some – such as the Indians, Chinese, and Maya – developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from which it spread to Ancient Greece, Rome, the Arab world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person's personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.
Throughout most of its history astrology was considered a scholarly tradition and was common in academic circles, often in close relation with astronomy, alchemy, meteorology, and medicine. It was present in political circles, and is mentioned in various works of literature, from Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer to William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca. During the 20th century and following the wide-scale adoption of the scientific method, astrology has been challenged successfully on both theoretical and experimental grounds, and has been shown to have no scientific validity or explanatory power. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, and common belief in it has largely declined. While polling studies have demonstrated that approximately 25% of Americans, Canadians, and Britons say they continue to believe that star and planet positions affect their lives, astrology is now recognized as pseudoscience.
Ayurveda and Vedic Astrology
Ayurveda is called “the mother of all healing” because it embraces all forms of healing including diet, herbs, bodywork, surgery, psychology and yoga. It accepts anything internally or externally that promotes health, well-being and happiness. Ayurveda explores the qualities and effects not only of foods, medicines and behavior but also of climates, the weather and the stars (astrology).
Ayurveda provides an integral mind-body system of both diagnosis and treatment. First it shows us our individual constitution according to the three doshas or biological humors of Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water), as well as how this constitution is affected by everything from genetics to environment and emotions. Then it outlines various treatment measures to enable us to achieve optimal health and vitality. These range from simple dietary measures to complex herbs and special purification procedures. Ayurveda aims not only at the cure and prevention of disease but also at rejuvenation and longevity. Beyond ordinary health care measures it has special methods to allow us to achieve a higher level of vitality and awareness – a spiritual Ayurveda that is part of the practice of Yoga.
Possessing a similar scope to Ayurveda, Vedic astrology contains all aspects of astrology, including the reading of birth charts (natal astrology), mundane astrology (the effects of astrological on society), astrological timing and forecasting (muhurta), and answering questions (prashna). In addition to these usual astrological considerations, Vedic astrology encompasses all forms of divination, including palmistry and numerology, of which several Vedic forms exist. It also includes astronomy and meteorology, which reflect karmic as well as physical forces.
As a form of natal astrology or the reading of birth charts, the Vedic system helps us understand our personal lives in all areas, including health, wealth, relationship, career and spirituality. Like Ayurveda, it has a broad range of treatment measures including the use of colors, gems, mantras and the worship deities to aid in our greater well-being and life unfoldment. These are called Jyotish-Chikitsa, the therapies of light or astrology.
Yet, though they have their specializations in many areas, both Vedic astrology and Ayurveda have a significant overlap as well. Vedic astrology contains a medical system based upon Ayurveda, while Ayurveda contains a system for the timing of disease and its treatment based upon Vedic astrology. We can designate this combined usage of Ayurveda and Vedic astrology more simply as ‘Ayurvedic Astrology’.
Ayurvedic astrology is the medical branch of Vedic astrology, adding to it the Ayurvedic view of health and healing. It uses the language of Ayurveda to understand the effects of the planets on the body and mind relative to health, disease and longevity. Ayurvedic astrology also uses Vedic astrology as an aid to Ayurvedic analysis, diagnosis and treatment, showing how planetary factors cause disease and balancing them can be an important aid in any cure.
Ayurvedic astrology combines these two great disciplines, using Vedic astrology to plot the influences of time and karma and Ayurveda to show how these relate on to our state of Prana or vital energy. Combining these two great disciplines together, there is nothing that we cannot treat or cannot understand.
Vedic astrology considers that the determination of physical and mental health is the foundation of all astrological analysis. Whatever other indications may occur in a chart – whether for career, wealth, relationship or spirituality – these cannot bear fruit if a person has significant physical or mental impairments. Traditionally, the ascertainment of longevity was the first factor to be examined by a good astrologer. This was not a matter of simply determining how long a person was likely to live, but part of a general determination of the vitality of a person, their energy to use the opportunities afforded them by the chart. In this regard, medical or Ayurvedic astrology is usually the first step of all astrological examination.
However, Ayurvedic astrology is not simply a physically-based medical astrology. It reflects the psychological and spiritual dimensions of Ayurveda as well. It is concerned with our well-being on all levels, which depends upon our connection to the Soul, the real person or Atman within. In this regard, Ayurvedic astrology is concerned with healing body, mind and spirit, using the tools of the entire universe, the foremost of which is the light of the stars and planets. It expands the field of Ayurveda to its broadest possible range.