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Jyotisha Practice

Jyotisha * Vedic

vs. Tropical * Western

Astrological Systems

Some Key Differences

Making sense of the incommensurable, apples-and-oranges comparison

How Is Jyotisha different from western-tradition Astrology?

Jyotisha a.k.a." Vedic astrology" uses the same sky full of stars as other popular astrological systems, including Tibetan, Chinese, Vietnamese, and the Ptolemaic (Tropical) astrology of the West.

If you are familiar with your western astrological chart, you'll notice that your Jyotisha planets and radical lagna take a different zodiacal position from the Ptolemaic *western-tropical positions. Jyotisha uses the sidereal zodiac. Sidereal reckoning is also used by astronomers.

An accident of History - in the pit of Kali Yuga

Tropical astrology - unfortunately - uses the erroneous "Ptolemaic" calculations for positioning the planets. This is a historical accident and it is no one's fault. The error is essentially a result of tragic library losses during the end of the Roman Empire and the ensuing Dark Ages. At this time, a vast body of astrological literature was lost to European scholarship. (It would have been lost to Tibeto-Indian scholarship too, were it not preserved by the miracle of memorized Sanskrit metre chanting.)

Following that catastrophic destruction of the knowledge temples (in the dead center of Kali Yuga ) one of the few surviving documents was a record of astronomical observations by an Alexandrian sky-watcher named Ptolemy. This document states that, over the period of his observations (less than 60 years) the zero point of Aries did not seem to move.

Having few other texts to consult, the struggling European astrological scholars came to believe that the zero point of Aries *never* shifts! Yikes! That's an awful mistake, and it's had awful consequences for a whole tradition that can no longer make accurate predictions.

But, they can do something! Joining into the rich artistic and literary developments of post-Roman European civilization, the tropical astrological tradition has instead focused on psychology, poetry, archetypes, and mystical symbolism.

This orientation to subconscious psychological imagery (in the deep sense of psyche, meaning 'soul') has loaded up the intuitive (not rule-driven) side of astrological divination, and made unscholarly pattern-recognition readings the option of choice.

The tropical tradition has produced uncountable numbers of gifted psychic readers have said they were"astrologers " when in fact they were intuitive mystics.

Why inaccurate Tropical Astrology has Survived : true Clairvoyance

The clairvoyant perception of this class of European"astrologers " has produced many accurate readings through the centuries. But it is important to understand that these intuitive readers were not practicing astronomically-based astrology.

Proper astrology is a" vidya" or knowledge-base. The" -logy" in astro-logy consists of a body of logical rules. In Jyotisha, the body of rules is supported by traditional spiritual tools such as mantra and puja, which are designed to guide the Jyotishi toward intuitive alignment, and wise and compassionate counseling. But the core of the -logy is definitely a body of calculation and interpretation rules.

When tropical astrologers try to use their body of rules to predict future events, their predictions nearly always fail (because their calculations are incorrect). And of course tropical astrology's failed predictions are a leading cause of the present western" science" taboo against astrology in any form.

Yet the European tradition did not die out, even when educated people came to associate it with gullible ignorance and charlatanism. The reason for its survival IMO is the presence of so many gifted clairvoyants, posing as tropical"astrologers ".

Clairvoyance vs. Astrology

In these early centuries of Dwapara yuga with its huge emphasis on reasoning and positivistic materialism , the completely irrational gifts of clairvoyance and clairaudience are held in even lower esteem than the rational-looking" charts " of Ptolemaic astrology!

In practice, then, frightened clairvoyant/clairaudient intuitives often hide behind the slightly more historic and respectable facade of astrological science in the attempt to not look or sound insane.

The patterns in a tropical chart can provide an effective signal to open the reader's intuitive listening. When sensitive intuitive readers respond to the perceptions they receive through their astral bodies, the"astrological" reading they produce may match the client's needs in a very direct and accurate way.

Indeed, this question-answer match through (what Jung calls) synchronicity can be mediated by a" chart"as well as by a photograph, a handwriting sample, or a lock of hair. However the interpretive power involved is an authentically psychic reading of the native 's astral body imagery -- and not at all astro-logical.

As clairvoyance becomes more socially accepted, I believe that most of these intuitives will stop claiming that the tropical astrological charts provide the" reason" that they know what they know. Ideally, they will feel safe enough to" come out of the closet"and admit the true source of their knowledge, which is purely psychic seeing into the astral body imagery of the client.

At that point, the tropical astrological tradition with its faulty Ayanamsha will collapse, and more accurate astrologies such as Jyotisha will take their place.

Apples and Oranges

Jyotisha predictions depend heavily on the proper calculation of various " dasha" timelines combined with" gochara" (cow-path) transits. The lunar" Nakshatra"astrology is intensely psychological and reveals the native 's psychic relationship to one of 27 guiding deities. Daily events can be timed using the panchanga * lunar ephemeris. Using these analytical tools, Jyotisha predictions for both character and the timing of events tend to be quite reliable.

Western astrological predictions use tropical progressions and transits only. Western horary predictions from the tropical ephemeris have a poor track record. However as noted above, there is a class of clairvoyants who use tropical charts as an intuitive reading tool.

Due to this group's intuitive abilities combined with the development of symbolic, psychological thought in the West," tropical astrological" readings may have a valuable healing and spiritually validating effect on the client.

It will be easier to work with the Jyotisha readings if you can set aside any preconceptions about the" correct" positions by sign, degree, etc.. The two systems are largely incommensurable - like apples and oranges - so comparing them is generally unproductive.

Suzuki Roshi's " beginners mind" is a great attitude for the tropicalist to have when learning how to use Jyotisha charts.

Can I use a tropical ephemeris

  • to find the Jyotisha planetary positions, then use the Jyotisha sign and degree to"find myself" more accurately in western astrology books?

The conversion factor given in your tropical ephemeris for" Sidereal" position will give the" western sidereal" degree not the Jyotisha degree.

Anyway there is not just one Jyotisha degree. The fact that there are several ayanamsha in the Jyotisha world creates what practicing Jyotishi call" the vexed matter of the ayanamsha" :) There are several Jyotisha positions in common use by astrologers in India and worldwide. I use the Lahiri ayanamsha .

It's not so east to cipher this correction from a tropical paper ephemeris. If you are interested in learning Jyotisha, I strongly recommended getting some quality Jyotisha software that does the calculations by computer.

  • One thing that will definitely not work to interpret your Jyotisha chart, is to look up your Jyotisha sign and house positions in western astrology books. Just switching from thinking" I am a Gemini" to thinking" I am a Taurus " is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The western psycho-typology with its dependence on transits and progressions is not capable of generating consistent predictions, so just plugging in new"sidereal" positions into poetic tropical symbols will not give any better results.

One might produce an interesting psychological profile from looking up the Jyotisha planetary positions to tropical descriptive books. It wouldn't reflect" you" but it might be an interesting study in the human condition!

Consistent real-world predictions come from using the" dasha" systems in Jyotisha. Unfortunately, there is no surviving analog to the" dasha" timelines in the tropical system.

  • However, even though Western astrology won't help you predict events, it might help deepen spiritual awareness. Similarly, divinations via Tarot, I-Ching, tea-leaves, reading of omens and gazing can all be accurate. All forms of divination afford communication with the divine.

But only Jyotisha gives significant predictive results regarding the dimension of human experience we call" time".

Why does western astrology often seem to"work "?

"Insight" vs."Foresight"

A big part of human consciousness exists outside of time. We have a deep sense of the eternal divine.

If you are a highly intuitive person, it is possible that you would receive true spiritual benefit from western astrology's psychological language and poetic insights of some of the better western writers.

Good writing in any language or tradition can stimulate precious interior realizations that truly advance one on the spiritual path.

However, western astrology as a science of time-and-events is severely flawed by a Ptolemaic calculation error circa 400 AD. Western astrology has no predictive value, nor can it accurately explain the past.

It"works " in the psycho-spiritual sense, the same way tea-leaf reading, crystal balls, and divining the patterns in chicken entrails " works ": by synchronicity, when a highly intuitive person sees an inner truth mirrored in an outside pattern.

I used to love reading two excellent 20th century writers in the western tradition: Robert Hand and Isabel Hickey. Although their planetary narratives have no value in predicting events, their insights on human nature are poignantly beautiful.

I would never discourage a person from pursuing a subject that advances their spiritual path. If you enjoy tropical astrology, then go for it. However, if you want a blueprint of the course of material events for the full incarnation, Jyotisha will yield much more accurate results.

From an advanced student of tropical astrology after a first Jyotisha reading:

Q: I have considerable training in western astrology, having studied with a known teacher for years. These Jyotisha calculations are so different that they describe me as a different person!

Now I have to process being a whole different person! That' s a total exaggeration, and mind you this is not a complaint and it' s just rather fascinating that I've gone around for twenty years with a certain spiritual model of myself, or more thinking in terms of certain astrological influences, and now I'm being invited to seriously reconsider the matter.

It's liberating but also I am resisting it.

A: about being a and"new person" in Jyotisha. Yes, it's challenging to switch personality profiles. The mind becomes habituated.

It's quite important in the beginning to resist mixing the two systems. I think tropical astrology has poetic value and Jyotisha has predictive value; at some point the student has to choose a path.

The Jyotisha model depends on the *interactions* between planets, signs, Nakshatra, aspects, houses, and multiple varga charts (very importantly between radix and navamsha charts which are your"exterior"and"interior" reality respectively); engaged with the vimshottari dasha;

engaged with stimulating transits.

I think you'll find over time that the predictive power of the Jyotisha system is compelling... so that investing in the Jyotisha model while leaving the old one-chart western poetic-psychology model in your"literary" category of spiritual reflection tools will be easy.

One of the nicest things about western astrology is its poetic literature, much of it in English and much drawing from the lore of western mystical traditions. It's a spiritual pleasure to read and reflect on the western archetypal model.

Unfortunately, tropical techniques have poor predictive results, so if we want to move beyond describing internal archetypes (which western literature does so well!) and accurately describe external material events, we'll need to see the world through the eyes of the rishi.

From a person culturally accustomed to tropical archetypes, encountering Jyotisha for the first time:

Q: I've been reading tropical astrology books and thinking of myself as "a Gemini" for forty years. I think"Gemini" describes my personality pretty well. I'm slender... attractive and intelligent... love new experiences... restless in romance... etc.

However, I just had a Jyotisha reading from you and it blew me away with its accuracy. So now I'm thinking of myself as "a Taurus " instead.

We are having a full moon this weekend. Should I think of it as occurring in Scorpionis/Taurus or in Libra/Aries? Either way, it's affecting me - but the interpretations would be *so* different because of the different energies of the signs.

A: applying western archetypal tropical thinking to a Jyotisha chart will produce very confusing and disappointing results

To enjoy the view from both systems, we need to understand at the outset that Jyotisha thinking is apples-and-oranges different from the western model you are accustomed to. So let's not carry the archetypal thinking into Jyotisha and start thinking of yourself as "a Taurus ". You're not"a Taurus " or"Sign-X". Astrology is just not that simple.

Jyotisha sees the incarnation as a complex set of yogas that bring past-life credit and debit items into the current life for rebalancing. These items do not coagulate, as it were, into archetypes in the western sense. They are embedded in your life schedule at birth. They rise up into material manifestation during a certain time period. Then they fade into the reflective background of your life. The"personality" in Jyotisha is a minor concern, although" ego" is a strong function of Surya the Sun .

Western astrology creates a psychological profile using typological generalizations such as "you are a Gemini" (usually because of some relatively trivial placement like Sun in tropical Gemini). Then, when a full Moon occurs in Gemini, the tropical tradition predicts that"Full moon will intensify your Gemini-ness ". It's very vague - more poetry than prediction.

Archetypal thinking is profoundly holistic. That's a blessing for many toxically positivistic westerners, who find in this deep human psychology their only conceptual connection to the greater universe. I'm all for it!

But archetypes don't tell us anything about the evolution of events over time. Archetypes are eternal.

As I mentioned, if a naturally spiritual person is looking for a reason to be especially self-aware, and they expect to get comfortable and pleasing results from introspection on the full Moon day, because of some putative planetary effect, then we still have a significant benefit because they have in fact turned inward looking for truth.

By turning inward, they have advanced along the spiritual path. I certainly support that!

Jyotisha logic is quite different. The sign in which a planet is located is only one part of that planet's behavior. The first power of a planet is its house lordship. The second power is the aspect rays it shines on the other planets and houses, and the aspects it receives from other planets. Its third power is its distance from the Moon and from the ascendant. We also consider whether the planet is in the sign of a friend or an enemy, the sign of its exaltation or fall, and several other considerations. Furthermore the Nakshatra qualities and the ruling deities should be known. All of this thinking must happen before the Jyotishi first opens his/her mouth to speak!

Furthermore, signs have no fixed" innate" qualities in Jyotisha as they do in Ptolemaic astrology. Jyotisha would never say anything so typologically simplistic as " you are a Gemini" even if you have five planets in Mithuna (Gemini), because the signs behave according to the disposition of their rulers, not according to any innate qualities. Therefore a Sun in Gemini in one chart may behave entirely differently from a Sun in Gemini in another chart. It is impossible to generalize. Western astrological books are filled with cover-to-cover generalizations. (Often lovely, poetic, beautifully narrated generalizations... but never specific enough to ground a prediction)

Jyotisha logic does (or can) use psychological profiling to describe the person's overall disposition, but the profile is much more complex than the common western typological style.

Jyotisha considers at least the two primary charts, rashi and navamsha, in even the first preliminary reading. For special questions of career, children, health, education, there are special"varga" or divisional charts that show a specialized view of the key planets.

For example, career powers emerge largely from the 7th and 10th house lords in the radixi chart. A western tropical career profile might check Sun, Moon, and Midheaven ... and say something like" you are a Gemini with Aries rising so you should be a well-paid salesperson for a big corporation." In Jyotisha, to evaluate career properly, one must evaluate at the very least, the behavior of the rashi Sun, rashi 7th and tenth lords, AND lord of the 10th navamsha along with the position of rashi 7th and tenth lords in navamsha.

The bhukti defines the dominant pattern of events. the native could easily have a poorly placed Shani, less benevolent 10th lord or other debility and be in a struggling small business with quite small income. It's actually the 2nd and 11th lords that determine income. Or one could be enduring an uncomfortable dasha, even with good natal leadership planets, and be quite oppressed in career for many years - perhaps achieving recognition only very late in life. Jyotisha is much more complex and complete - and accurate.

In the case of full moon effect, it matters relatively little what"sign" the full moon occupies by transit. It matters relatively little whether the sign itself is Gemini/Sagittarius or Scorpionis/Taurus.

What matters is:

  • Which house lords the full Moon contacts by transit?

  • Are those house lords also the bhukti (timeline) lords?

  • Are they strong by house ownership, by rashi (sign), by aspect?

If so, the matters of life which those planets control will be intensified during the full Moon. Otherwise it will be business as usual.

here are of course some general effects of Moon transiting ("gochara") through the 7th rashi (natal chart) house. These general effects are adjusted and sometimes completely negated by other characteristics of aspecting planets. However, to give you an overall idea, there is some truth to what"Esoteric Astrology" 1925-2005 Jyotishi Bepin Behari (a Bharati author who writes about Jyotisha for western readers) says about this particular generality:

"Good time to tend to personal relationships where you can express yourself in a manner more emotional than usual.

The transit may result in marriage, relating with opponents, loved ones, and the opposite sex from whom you will get cooperation and security.

Confrontation with women both positive and negative are likely to be more intense.

Good friends, meeting with relatives, pleasures of the bed, good food and clothes, gain of vehicle, of pleasure trips, money and happiness."

Fundamentals of Vedic Astrology Vedic Astrologer's Handbook, Volume 1

Now, the Moon transits 7th house of marriage once every month, and it is Full in transit once per year. Obviously the person will not marry every month or every year. But if many other factors line up, then the Full Moon transit could be the straw that broke the camel's back.

In your personal case, this full Moon is likely to give more intense socialization than usual, especially in a work-related context like socializing with other professional women and making creative future plans with them. Transiting 6 houses from the bhukti lord Mercury, this Moon could raise animosity about money so it is a very poor time to ask for a loan.

When women are talking together during this full Moon you will hear about interesting things like education and business but also about health and financial problems due to Moon's moving 6th from Mercury.

Moon full gochara your 9th navamsha would intensify the emotional responsiveness/reactivity of the 3rd husband if there was one. It would exacerbate emotional problems in a younger sibling of the first husband.

Hope this is helpful.

Note to a reader who wanted to know about the terrible and earth-shaking expected effects of the"harmonic conversion" caused by the lunar eclipse [in Mesha] in October, 2003.

The anxious reader forwarded a long email string of wild predictions for inner and outer catastrophic change in the month of November, based on the tropical sign and degree of the moment of eclipse. Each fearful prediction was wilder than the last!

Here is my response:

Lunar eclipses are quite frequent, and they affect different people differently. Most normal adults will not notice any change whatsoever in their material lives, as a result of this eclipse of the full moon in early November (just passed last week).

  • There are very few individual planetary configurations which affect large groups of people in a uniform manner , upon the material plane. This eclipse for example did not impact you or me much at all, [except perhaps inside our marriage-type relationships, where it increases psychic strain due to the position of the Aries-Libra axis in our respective navamsha charts]

  • Unfortunately, poetic new-age-ettes who don't understand astrology (or even very much astronomy) will continue to broadcast these planetary events as if they had some great symbolic significance for all of modern civilization. They tend to focus on small, simple-to-grasp astronomical items like solar and lunar eclipses and retrograde * vakri Mercury. These individual items are easy to identify - it's true. But they must coordinate with other more powerful patterns in order to have measurable impact.

  • These wistful poets spread ridiculously grand astrological predictions based on insignificant details. The miracle of email just increases the scope of their foolishness. Then, when some really important astrological thing DOES happen, nobody believes it!


In the19th and 20th centuries, medicine, law, and teaching were "professionalized" in the west when society imposed rules for educational training and licensing exams. Some fine day I hope that astrology will professionalize too.

Until then we will be pestered by all types of half-literate quacks trotting out small, disjointed pieces of the great Vidya of Jyotisha - selling astrological snake oil, preying on people's fears and vanities, and destroying the trust of all rational people in this magnificent gift from the Rishi.

(note posted in 2010:

BPL sez: this same foolishness has come around again in the"2012" predictions. People will believe anything! Please read up on Cult thinking, negative expectations, and eschatological fantasies before investing a molecule of interest in any of these global catastrophe"predictions " .

Eschatology means "end of the world" visions which are psychotic. However, the fact that end-of-the-world movements have arisen and been disproved by the continuation of civilization on a steady basis throughout history does not stop individuals and groups lead by manipulative charismatic leaders from getting sucked into these collective fantasies.

The Jyotisha nativities of individuals and collectives such as nation-states, are generally accurate and events can be timed by the Vimshottari Dashawith confidence. Please note that as a general trend things are getting better not worse globally, with most of the crises of the birth of the new era being nearly behind us. However individuals will continue to project their personal trauma onto the world stage and that is where these goofy"predictions " come from -- individual psyche's in trouble.

Authentic Jyotisha analysis vs. poetic new-age imaginings

Life is complicated.

Many people are deeply challenged - to the point of emotional breakdown - by the complexity of modern life.

Simple - usually, simplistic - answers are much in demand.

In the hope of maintaining their dignity or at least their mental health, people who are feeling overwhelmed by multiple decision-tracks may cling to messages that offer simple answers to complicated questions.

It seems like the more complicated our techno-global life becomes, the more some folks seek out super-simplified, dogmatically ideological, or fundamentalist"scriptural" solutions.

The astrological fact is that one single planetary effect will never control a person, family, or nation. We always look for a MINIMUM combination (yoga) of three effects:

If your astrological advisors are making predictions on the basis of AT LEAST these three factors (and their astronomical calculations are correct) then feel comfortable that you are receiving the advice of a professional.

If their sage advice is based on any less than these three factors, you are being sentimentally swayed by a well-meaning poet - or worse.

Q:Dear Mrs. Lama, Thank you for your site. It is educative and simple to understand and addresses many interesting topics of astrology. I wanted to ask would it be possible to read your opinion on debilitated and exalted planets in western and Vedic tradition?

If I have understood correctly from your posts - you consider western astrology to be at least intuitively correct - regarding psychology issues etc. Personally I think that comparing my western chart with my Vedic horoscope they both are quite compatible - yes, there are different combinations, but they both indicate many similar themes.

Except one thing. How would you comment the value of interpretation of a western chart where a planet is exalted (Venus in Libra, conjunct Spica - so very positive) but the same planet is debilitated in Vedic horoscope (Venus in Virgo, both Radix and Navamsha - so very negative?). Does it mean that in this case the western horoscope is completely wrong? So I would have to ignore everything in it actually? I would be really grateful to read your opinion about the cases when a planet in western and Vedic horoscopes receives opposite interpretation. Thank you,


Thanks for your note and for your compliments on

It is a good question that you ask, and a common one for western beginners in Jyotisha.

Since I do not practice western astrology, I could not comment upon a tropical style nativity.

However, as a matter of practice, I would say that it is not a good idea to mix the interpretive principles of the two traditions. Pick one or the other to make a consistent reading: they are not equivalent systems, therefore they cannot be compared or mix-and-match.

Naturally I prefer Jyotisha for its predictive capabilities but if a person wishes to use the tropical principles it seems best to simply stick to those tropical principles without inserting rules from an outside system like Jyotisha.

Similarly I recommend against mixing Jyotisha with Babylonian, Egyptian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Tibetan, or other Buddhism-related astrologies. Wait until you have learned the scripture of each system before applying its rules to a nativity.

"Faux-amis "

The problem of mixing systems in astrology is similar to the"false cognate" problem of mixing vocabularies in two related languages.

  • For example in English"to bless " means to give holy energy whereas in French the same word"blesser" means to injure, insult, or wound.

  • "Chair" in French means flesh, pulp whereas "chair" in English is a type of seating.

  • Beginning students who mix the two languages can make some ridiculous mistakes due to these faux-amis. It is also this way in astrology.

  • The same terminology can have quite different meanings in each system.

Finally, no single graha has defining power in Jyotisha.

All nine graha and their internal drishti plus the dominant lords of the dasha timeline must be considered before offering a prediction.

The question to ask yourself is whether your life experience in the matters of Shukra - wealth, relationships, beauty, women - matches the Jyotisha signification of nichha-Zukra or not.

In a female nativity, there should be persistent trouble with other women expressing animosity (often passive-aggressive), issues with jealousy (one's own or other women's) unfaithfulness of the spouse in marriage, and a self-perception for the female that one is somehow not attractive.

One generally has female maids or employees of rather low nature (or is one) and trouble through them, such as the house servants getting into prostitution or drugs or suffering domestic violence

They to you for support, which you are disinclined to offer.

For a man, attraction * akarshana * to fallen women, the wife is a complainer, trouble with female employees, and often drug problems, STD, or sugar-processing ailments such as diabetes.

Yet such a dire forecast would only manifest during Vimshottari Dasha periods of Shukra. Also, the negative implications could corrected by many things: parivartamsha with Budha lord of Kanya, Budha uttama and in a kendra from Shukra, and dozens of planetary yoga that could reverse the prediction.

So, is Shukra properly understood as negative or positive in the context of your complete nativity?

You will only know after you correctly apply the principles of astrological system of your choice - without mixing up any two systems.

Wishing you best success in astrological studies,


Barbara Pijan Lama, Jyotisha

Negotiating the transition from tropical trait-typology to Jyotisha reasoning - take it slow


Hello, I'm in the process of learning astrology and my chart. ... My Sun is at the end of Pisces in Lahiri and at the beginning of Aries in Raman. My Mars in my Navamsha is in 1st house Aries in Lahiri and 12th house Aries in Raman. A lot of my chart is borderline. I find myself both competitive and artistic/philosophical so its hard to distinguish which works better for me. Is there some distinction in my chart that I could more easily figure this out?

A: Namaste,

IMO, Raman ayanamsha doesn't work very well in practice. Shri Raman did a great service to international Jyotishi by writing out so much of his Jyotisha knowledge in English, but his unique Ayanamsha is problematic. Majority of Jyotishi use Lahiri. It works.

Since no one is objective about one's own personality, it will be frustrating for a beginner to try to match graha characteristics to personality traits such as "artistic", on the western psychological model.

Jyotisha rules work differently than western rules.

In Jyotisha, artistic abilities will emerge from numerous yogas (e.g., combinations of Shukra + Shani ) without reference to any particular rashi. Also, in Jyotisha, Surya is not connected with 'art' in any rashi. Rather, Surya (Vishnu) represents reasoning power and moral decisions. Shukra represents balance and design; the stronger Shukra gets, the stronger one's ability to detect and express beauty. Shukra is at maximum beauty-power in the rashi of Meena (Pisces).

Making the transition into a new trait typology can be disorienting for folks accustomed to the western astrological-psychology system. For that reason, you might get a stronger interpretive foothold by ignoring personality traits at first, and starting with the behavior of radix house lords in the Vimshottari dasha. The houses have pretty much the same significations in both tropical and Jyotisha.

First, you'll need to make a command decision re: choosing an ayanamsha. ( I recommend Lahiri as the mainstream choice.) After that decision is made, examine the Vimshottari dasha, and run some tests.

Do the events which have already happened in your life match up with the behavior of the house lords? I.e.,

  • graduate from school/college in a period of the lord of the 4th house or Mercury?

  • Marriage in a period of lord of the first or seventh navamsha, or Shukra/Rahu?

  • Career promotion in a period of the lord of the tenth house in radix, or Surya?

  • Children born in periods of lord of the fifth or ninth house, or Guru?

Also use the house system to try to characterize your relatives, people you know well. E.g.,

Your own siblings are well-known and probably one can be more objective about their" traits ". Count the number of houses to various siblings and then ask the question, should the graha occupy this rashi to correctly define this person?

  • Fourth-from-Chandra would be your maternal grandmother.

Keep matching up these items for well-known close family members. Assign rashi qualities to them, not to oneself.

Jyotisha does accommodate western-style personality typologies (I've written tons of them on ) but the heart of Jyotisha is the Vimshottari timing. If the basic timeline of events lines up properly, then you can proceed to fine-tune the"quality" of the events through assigning the proper rashi/dristhi to the graha. But assigning qualities should be step-2, to avoid getting stuck in the trait-typology confusion during the transition from western-tropical into Jyotisha.

Best wishes for success in your Jyotisha studies.

Barbara Pijan Lama, Jyotisha

Who Is a Hindu?

B.G. Tilak's definition of what makes one a basic Hindu, as quoted by India's Supreme Court. On July 2, 1995, the Court referred to it as an"adequate and satisfactory formula."

"Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are diverse; and the realization of the truth that the number of gods to be worshiped is large, that indeed is the distinguishing feature of the Hindu religion."

Q: hare rama krishna dear Barbara

while I m surfing found you. I like tooo too much every page. thanks really for your beautiful work for jyotisha

I m astrologer since 1992 western astro origin but since 3 years I turned my face to vedic astrology totally and I m very glad indeed.

sometimes I am thinging that most of us have been cheated by western tropikal zodiac. How possible is this. how come then Ptolemy? Liliy? or Ebu Massar? or Maasallah? all medieval techniques?

Even Cyril Fagan become sideralist after 20years of tropical work:)

your site is tooo big to finish all complete would it be possible to inform me when you write something new:?

Thanks again, best regards :) from Istanbul

A: Namaste,

Thanks very much for your compliments on the Jyotisha learning materials at

I am happy to know that you have"switched" from using the tropical astrological computations, toward using the Jyotisha-tradition computations. It is indeed a tragedy that a simple astronomical observation error in Alexandria in the fourth century of the common era, could have generated millennia of confusion (the 'tropical system'.)

But, it seems like that is indeed what happened. At the collapse of western civilization (at the very 'bottom' of the recent Kali Yuga) all the great world libraries were lost, and the very few books which survived became institutionalized as the core texts of civilization. Including, unfortunately, the wrong claim by one 'Ptolemy' that the zero point of Aries does not move!

Luckily, the oral tradition of Brahmin priests, which does not rely for the integrity of knowledge transmission on writing, but rather on the pure grammar of Sanskrita language, was available during these terrible dark centuries. Oral chanting by priests who perhaps did not comprehend the meaning but who were committed to sustaining the knowledge tradition, kept the lights of Jyotisha burning for thousands of years.

The Jyotisha tradition as we have it currently is not perfect, but it does form a reliable basis for reconstitution of this massive knowledge base. The main task with rehabilitating Jyotisha (as I see it) is to winnow out the huge accrual of superstitious belief and ritual practice which has accrued to the pure tradition during the long, dark centuries of ignorance and fear.

The tropical tradition is probably not much of a basis for the reconstruction work now being undertaken worldwide, to recover the ancient mystery traditions, eldritch technologies, and long-buried sources of extraordinary wisdom. IMO it is probably best to just"dump and run" - leaving the tropical tradition in the history books, as a curiosity for scholars. It does not have much predictive or interpretive utility.

For experienced astrologers like yourself, Jyotisha future predictions are much more satisfying. When properly understood (via both logical analysis and reflective intuition) I believe that Jyotisha principles can explain past events and predict future events with some accuracy.

With luck, I will find time to reorganize my website some day, and at that time perhaps I will be able to mark 'new' writing so that readers can find it easily. For the moment the website design is old and not very efficient. (But it is, as you mention, quite pretty!) Currently I work many hours each week as a university instructor and I am also raising a family - so the prognosis for improving the website seems rather bleak! Yet I'll keep reader's requests in mind, and eventually readers will see improvements.

Wishing you all the best in your Jyotisha practice,

Sincerely, Barbara Pijan Lama, Jyotisha


The eastern thought is more about"allowing" things to happen and unfold for you. The western thought is all about" making" it happen. Is there a way to balance these two thoughts? They both seem correct to me!


"Letting it happen" (east) vs."making it happen" (west)

Reality is the result of one's expectations. Reality is produced when the subconsciously held thoughts, beliefs, and expectations are projected upon the blank movie screen of the"objective" consciousness.

East * If one is OK with the contents of the movie, it seems fine to just let the karmic script, that is loaded into the deep subconscious mind, just run off. It is incredibly hard to dig down into the mind and make changes to the belief system. 99.9% of the people do not have the mental equipment to change their own expectations. They accept what their cultural programming provides.

For these folk, it's much easier and less stressful to just let the movie roll. It will help to sit far, far back in the movie theatre (exempli gratia, in a mountain monastery) to avoid being psychically bombarded with the images. But certainly this is the passive-receptive, energy-conserving, meditative, inward path. It is the path of least resistance.

West * If one is not OK with the contents of the movie, there may be some action-instinct to make changes in the projected images. For example, let's say the movie script includes relentless poverty, violence, exploitation, starvation, and disease. Let's say we're not patient people and we're tired of getting bombarded with all this negative imagery and pain. And let's say, the culture-of-origin has some engineering knowledge and a work-service ethic.

Can we change the movie? Yes. But it is extremely labor intensive to make the changes. A society full of such change-agents will be very active, very busy making revolutions in belief systems, and chaotic and resource-intensive with lots of social upheaval and running around like headless chickens using up a lot of energy in"movement without progress ".

In the end, about 90% of the script will run as subconsciously programmed, regardless of intervention attempts, because we couldn't get to the underlying beliefs in time to divert the script. There will however be some measurable improvement in material conditions, from that 10% of genuine change that was accomplished"in time".

Budha recommends compassionate action toward the relief of human suffering, as the highest expression of gratitude for having received the privilege of human birth. This expression is the"making it happen" western path, the path of fierce resistance to the"default" karmic script. It's also the Mahayana Buddhist path of compassionate service. But this path is tricky! The eastern path is easy, calm, straightforward, and extremely efficient. The western path is noisy, chaotic, expensive, and extremely vulnerable to disruption by lower energies such as ego-desires.

Combining East and West, inward and outward results

I was raised in the West, and I believe in the value of material"progress " toward the relief of human suffering. However, I also appreciate that any possible material progress must originate in the elimination of the negative thoughts from which the material suffering is a projection.

Therefore , IMHO, anyone who is sincerely committed to the path of skillful, compassionate" progress " will need to spend a lot of time in passive, meditative reflection in order to detect those" seeds " of negative thought. These cherished, traditional , culturally-embedded, negative thought-seeds must be identified and destroyed (replaced with positive thoughts) before taking action. Otherwise, unconscious actions are really just knee-jerk re-actions. They just waste energy and make a big mess!

The eastern path is safe and quiet, with very low risk also very low potential to relieve world suffering. The western path is high-risk and potentially high-yield.

Action without reflection is pointless and often violent. Reflection without action is selfish but at least it is not violent!

For you, choosing the balance of your path is part of your bigger juggling act.

Most of the great teachers recommend some combination of the East and West paths, according to the nature of the personality. Jyotisha and other historic divinatory methods can be helpful in describing the personality in order to select the most natural approach to Life Service. Truly wise spiritual advisors who are not simply projecting their own ego-membrane (a majority unfortunately) but who can evaluate one's character in neutral judgment, can also provide excellent advice on choosing the right personal balance.

Or, just listen to that still, small voice within.

~~ 14th Dalai Lama 1935- Policy of Kindness Tenzing Gyatso

with Felizitas Von Schonborn. (2005). Path of Wisdom, Path of Peace .

Foreword by Wei Jingsheng; Crossroad Publishing Co.

Dalai Lama talks about Buddhist teachings put to use as psychology:

"It is possible to understand the Buddhist teachings as a method of psychological healing, comparable to psychotherapy, that teaches us how we can master destructive forces like anger, envy, and greed.

Human beings seem to be a bundle of different qualities and psychological processes. We should attentatively examine our qualities and be alertly aware of our experiences in order to recognize what we truly feel and think. At the same time, the personality of human beings is not seen as a unified whole.

According to these teachings, the heart of consciousness is composed of various elements, the five types of attachment, or skandhas:

  • body,
  • sensations,
  • perceptions,
  • instinctual forces,
  • And consciousness.

These inner forces impart the false concept of an ego-consciousness.

The basic problem of emotional disorders therefore lies in a false concept of identity.

This I-blindness should therefore be abolished through self-study.... The goal is not self-realization but selflessness."

"Southern" School of Tropical Astrology

(This charming piece has been around for years, but I think it represents some of the best wisdom available from newspaper astrology!)

OKRA (Dec 22 - Jan 20) Although you appear crude, you are actually very slick on the inside. Okras have tremendous influence. An older Okra can look back over his life and see the seeds of his influence everywhere. Stay away from Moon Pies.

CHITLIN (Jan 21 - Feb 19) Chitlins come from humble backgrounds. A chitlin, however, can make something of himself if he's motivated and has lots of seasoning. In dealing with Chitlins, be careful. They can erupt like Vesuvius. Chitlins are best with Catfish and Okra.

BOLL WEEVIL (Feb 20 - Mar 20) You have an overwhelming curiosity. You're unsatisfied with the surface of things, and you feel the need to bore deep into the interior of everything. Needless to say, you are very intense and driven as if you had some inner hunger. Nobody in their right mind is going to marry you, so don't worry about it.

MOON PIE (Mar 21 - Apr 20) You're the type that spends a lot of time on the front porch. It's a cinch to recognize the physical appearance of Moon Pies. Big and round are the key words here. You should marry anybody who you can get remotely interested in the idea. It's not going to be easy. This might be the year to think about aerobics. Or - maybe not.

POSSUM (Apr 21 - May 21) When confronted with life's difficulties, possums have a marked tendency to withdraw and develop a don't-bother-me-about-it attitude. Sometimes you become so withdrawn, people actually think you're dead. This strategy is probably not psychologically healthy, but seems to work for you. One day, however, it won't work and you may find your problems actually running you over.

CRAWFISH (May 22 - June 21) Crawfish is a water sign. If you work in an office, you're always hanging around the water cooler. Crawfish prefer the beach to the mountains, the pool to the golf course, the bathtub to the living room. You tend to be not particularly attractive physically, but you have very, very good heads.

COLLARDS (June 22 - July 23) Collards have a genius for communication. They love to get in the" melting pot" of life and share their essence with the essence of those around them. Collards make good social workers, psychologists, and baseball managers. As far as your personal life goes, if you are Collards, stay away from Moon Pies. It just won't work. Save yourself a lot of heartache.

CATFISH (July 24 - Aug 23) Catfish are traditionalists in matters of the heart, although one's whiskers may cause problems for loved ones. You catfish are never easy people to understand. You prefer the muddy bottoms to the clear surface of life. Above all else, Catfish should stay away from Moon Pies.

GRITS (Aug 24 - Sept 23) Your highest aim is to be with others like yourself. You like to huddle together with a big crowd of other Grits. You love to travel though, so maybe you should think about joining a club. Where do you like to go? Anywhere they have cheese or gravy or bacon or butter or eggs. If you can go somewhere where they have all these things, that serves you well.

BOILED PEANUTS (Sept 24 - Oct 23) You have a passionate desire to help your fellow man. Unfortunately, those who know you best - your friends and loved ones - may find that your personality is much too salty, and their criticism will probably affect you deeply because you are really much softer than you appear. You should go right ahead and marry anybody you want to because in a certain way, yours is a charmed life. On the road of life, you can be sure that people will always pull over and stop for you.

BUTTER BEAN (Oct 24 - Nov 22) Always invite a Butter Bean because Butter Beans get along well with everybody. You, as a Butter Bean, should be proud. You've grown on the vine of life and you feel at home no matter what the setting. You can sit next to anybody. However, you, too, shouldn't have anything to do with Moon Pies.

ARMADILLO (Nov 23 - Dec 21) You have a tendency to develop a tough exterior, but you are actually quite gentle. A good evening for you? Old friends, a fire, some roots, fruit, worms and insects. You are a throwback. You're not concerned with today's fashions and trends. You're not concerned with anything about today. You're really almost prehistoric in your interests and behavior patterns. You probably want to marry another Armadillo, but Possum is another somewhat kinky, mating possibility.


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"So Yeshua said to them, "The light is among you for a little while longer.

Walk while you have the light , lest darkness overtake you.

The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going."

~~ Gospel of John 12:35