Have you met someone who has the exact same birthdate as you, but they insisted their zodiac sign is different than yours? They’re probably using Vedic astrology.
So what’s the difference between Western and Vedic astrology? And more importantly, is one of them more accurate than the other? The short answer is yes. Read on to discover which one, and why.
Western & Vedic Astrology – Shared Fundamentals
Before we get into the differences between the two systems, let’s establish some basic concepts that both follow. Both Western and Vedic astrology adhere to the Zodiac— the 12 signs that rule the sky.
As the earth rotates and completes its 360 degree cycle on its axis, the sun moves through the 12 zodiac planes in the sky. Each plane occupies a 30 degree range, hence the 12 signs. Based on the date, time, and location of your birth, the sun was in a specific zodiac plane. This is your sign, also known as your ascendant sign. Keep in mind that these zodiac signs also have different names in the Vedic system. From here, astrologists can determine other things about you, including your rising sign, moon sign, and more. On the surface, both systems follow these principles.
Western Astrology Explained
While the exact origins of Western astrology are uncertain, it’s generally accepted that it began around the 2nd century CE. It is based on Ptolemy‘s Tetrabiblos, which explained the philosophy and practice of astrology.
Things start to get tricky between the two systems when it comes to determining the “starting point” of the Zodiac. What point in the sphere of the sky marks 0 degrees? Western astrology follows the tropical zodiac, which places the earth at the center of the system. That means 0 degrees is marked by the Vernal Equinox, or the place where the sun is directly overhead the earth’s equator.
Aries occupies the plane between 0 and 30 degrees, followed by Taurus, Gemini, and so on. The tropical equinox dictates a fixed Zodiac calendar. That means people born between March 21 and April 19 are always Aries, because the sun is always in this plane on these dates, and so on. It is on this matter that Western and Vedic astrology principles break off from one another.
Vedic Astrology Explained
Vedic astrology, also known as Hindu astrology or Jyotish, is based on the Vedas. The Vedas are religious texts that were written in ancient India between 1500 – 1200 BCE. According to the Hindu teachings in the Vedas, a person’s karma is directly influenced by the position of the stars and planets in the sky. This is where the name “Jyotish” comes from – it means “science of the light”.
Unlike Western astrology, Vedic astrology is based on the sidereal Zodiac, which places the sun at the center, not the Earth. As the Earth spins on its access, it also experiences a slight “wobble”. While this wobble tilts the earth only a tiny amount every year, this movement adds up over longer periods of time. A full “wobble” takes about 26,000 years to complete. This works out to be a shift of about 1 degree every 72 years.
Herein lies the key difference between Vedic and Western astrology. Vedic astrology accounts for this movement, while Western astrology does not. That means that people born in a certain month in one year do not have the same Zodiac sign as others born in the same month hundreds of years later.
Is Vedic or Western Astrology More Accurate?
While Western astrology is certainly more popular than Vedic astrology in North America and Europe, there is a general consensus that Vedic astrology is more accurate. There are a few reasons for this.
As we mentioned, Vedic astrology accounts for the Earth’s “wobble”, the impact of which has added up over time. When the two systems came about around 2,000 years ago, the tropical and sidereal Zodiac planes were in line with one another. But as the years have passed, they have grown apart. For example, while Western astrology classifies people born between March 21 – April 19 this year as Aries, Vedic astrology classifies those born between March 3 and April 12 to be Pisces.
It’s become common knowledge that Western astrology has evolved into more of a tradition at this point. And it’s true, the sun is not in the corresponding Zodiac planes that the dates provided by Western astrology say they should be in. One of the biggest flaws of the Western system is that it hasn’t changed to account for the fact that we now know the Earth is not the center of the universe, or even the solar system. So from a practical sense, Vedic astrology is simply more accurate.
That being said, some astrologers believe that the principles of Western astrology draw their power and accuracy not from the modern day positions of the Zodiac in the sky, but from their original establishment 2,000 years ago.