A Hindu astrology birth chart is actually known as a Vedic birth chart, but no matter what you choose to call it, these charts are very different from Western astrology birth charts.
The Hindu Astrology Birth Chart vs. Western Astrology
There are key differences between a Hindu astrology birth chart and a Western one. Understanding these differences will provide you with deeper insights when you read your Vedic chart.
Karma vs. Psychological Tendencies
The Vedic chart is more concerned with karma and reoccurring planetary cycles than a Western chart, and these planetary cycles are called "dashas." The planets in Vedic astrology are called "grahas," and the ancients believed that the birth chart is based on past karma; it's the grahas, or planets that bestow this karma. It's through understanding these dashas that the Vedic astrologer is able to predict when these karmic tendencies are likely to occur.
Understand the Birth Chart
The Vedic chart itself is also very different from Western charts. The first striking feature of the Vedic chart is its actual shape; the Vedic chart is square, while the Western is round. The differences continue with the actual planets that are used; but the more recently discovered outer planets of Neptune, Pluto and Uranus are not used in the Vedic astrology. The nodes are used; Rahu is the name of the north node, while Ketu is the name of the south node.
Sun Sign Changes
Further still, there's the question of your sun sign. Vedic astrologers shun the Tropical Zodiac and instead use the Sidereal Zodiac. This is of particular importance because the Tropical Zodiac deals with the equinoxes. This means that the Western chart begins with the first degree of Aries.
On the other hand, the Sidereal method tracks the planetary movement against the actual movement of the stars, and this means that the Vedic birth chart begins twenty-four degrees ahead of one degree Aries. So, unless you were born between the 15th and the 20th of the month, your Western sun sign, rising sign and perhaps even your planets are all moved back by one astrological sign.
For example, if you are a sun sign Gemini in Western astrology, there is a very good chance that your Hindu astrology birth chart will show you as a Taurus
The Moon and the Sun
In Western astrology, the sun is seen as the center of the universe, and therefore, the entire birth chart revolves around it. However, Vedic astrology uses the moon and the twenty seven constellations of the moon (the lunar mansions or nakshatras) as the primary source of predictive techniques.
For the Vedic astrologer, the sun represents your soul, while the moon represents your mind. The sun and the moon are considered the two eyes of the universe. The sun is considered the Divine Father and the moon is the Divine Mother.
According to the Vedas (ancient Indian scriptures) the human mind was born form the moon. This is why the gurus believe that the mind is the source of all emotions, and why the moon is so important in Vedic astrology.
Finding Purpose in Life
One of the most persistent, if not confounding questions in life is "What's my purpose?" Vedic astrology recognizes this very human question, rolls it into the birth chart, and then goes a step further by actually recognizing four aims in life.
- Kama: Not to be confused with karma, Kama literally means desire and represents the need for both emotional and sensory happiness.
- Artha: Artha is often translated as wealth and demonstrates that you need sufficient funds in order to function happily.
- Dharma: You need to be acknowledged for who you are and what you can contribute; this is your duty and function in life.
- Moksha: This represents your need for spiritual growth. In fact, the term "moksha" literally means liberation or freedom.
Blending Both Worlds
It's very important to recognize that when it comes to Vedic or Western astrology, no one system is better than the other. It may be easier to think of Vedic astrology as pertaining to the totality of all your lives, and therefore your karma, and Western astrology as pertaining to your current incarnation.
Regardless of how you view the Indian way of doing astrology, most would agree that it's a fascinating method that has certainly stood the test of time.