The 12 Signs of The Zodiac

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By Vic DiCara / Vraja Kishor das

Introduction

This article is about the 12 signs of the zodiac. It’s not about, “If you are born between this and that date your personality is like this.” It is meant for people with a fairly serious interest in astrology, and is especially important for practicing astrologers.

It has two main parts. The first will explain how the 12 divisions of the zodiac are calculated, and will address the question of Tropical vs. Sidereal zodiac definitions. The second part will explain the characteristics of the 12 signs, and how these result from the mixture of their ruler, element, mode, and natural order.

 

Part I – Measuring the 12 Signs

The twelve signs are a way to measure space.

Space is like as a sphere all around us. The Sun and planets move through a narrow band anchored around the middle of that sphere. The twelve signs divide this narrow band into twelve discrete sections.

Why twelve?

The easiest way to explain is to use an analog clock. The clock’s round face represents space, the circular band through which the Sun and planets move. The hour hand represents the Sun. The minute hand represents the Moon.

Let’s take a clock before it has any hands or markings on its face. Put the hour hand in place and watch the hour hand move around the clock’s entire circle. This movement represents the Sun moving through the circle of space. A complete revolution of the hour hand around the clock is analogous to a year, because a year appears to be a complete circuit of the Sun through the circle of space.

Now put on the minute hand. Each time it goes around the clock is analogous to a month, because a month is defined as a complete cycle of the Moon through the circle of space; during which time we can see it change from full to new and back again to full.

Now let’s set both hands to the 12 o’clock position, get out a pen, and let the clock start running. The minute and hour hands both move, but the hour hand moves much slower. Whenever the minute hand comes back to the 12 o’clock position, mark the clock face right where the hour hand is pointing. You’ll wind up with twelve marks.

What you’ve just done is exactly analogous to creating the twelve divisions of the zodiac. Each mark on the clock is the border of a new sign. There are twelve of them because the Moon makes twelve cycles through space in the time it takes the sun to make one. So, each sign contains the amount of space travelled by the Sun during the time it takes the Moon to make one complete circuit.

Take a protractor and measure the distance between each of the twelve marks on your clock. Each one is the same: 30 degrees. That’s why each sign consists of 30° of the complete circle of space.

Sidereal and Tropical Definitions

Sidereal and tropical zodiac systems both follow this definition. The only difference is where they start “marking the clock.”

The Tropical definition starts from the point where the circle of the Sun and planets (the “ecliptic”) is anchored to the middle of the sphere of space (the “celestial equator”). This point is called “equinox.”

The Sidereal definition starts in reference to a specific star. There are several different opinions about which stellar point should be used. The most popular is the Lahiri Sidereal zodiac, which starts at the point in space that is 180 degrees opposite the star named Spica.

The sidereal zodiac starts from a star, but it is not the stars themselves. Like the tropical zodiac, it is a system of twelve equal divisions expressing the lunisolar polyrhythm. The stars themselves form thirteen divisions on the circle of space, and each one is a different size – some being twice as big as others! Clearly, the zodiac signs cannot be identical with the constellations that bear their names. Neither sidereal nor tropical signs are stellar. The sidereal zodiac, however, uses one star to define the starting point of the divisions.

Which One is Correct?

People on either side of the issue tense up over this question, because the perception is that if ones definition of the zodiac is incorrect then ones astrology, and all of its history and heroes, must be completely bogus. However, it is a misconception that using the wrong zodiac would invalidate an entire astrological system. Many factors remain similar or identical regardless of whether the zodiac is defined from a tropical or sidereal starting point:

  • Aspects: The planets’ angular relationship to one another is absolutely unchanged. Therefore aspects by degree (called sphuta-dhṛṣṭi in India) are unaffected by ones choice of zodiac definition.

  • Houses: The angular relationship of the planets relative to the ascendant is absolutely unchanged. Thus planets in dynamic houses (called bhava-chalit in India) are absolutely unchanged, and planets in whole-sign houses also tend to sturdily resist being changed by the zodiac’s starting point. This is also true for the houses of subdivisional charts (candra-langa, navāmśa, etc).

  • Fixed Stars: Other systems of measuring space, like fixed stars (called nakṣatra in India), are absolutely unchanged. Techniques based on them are identical for either zodiac definition (e.g. nakṣatra daśā).

  • About 25% of the time, even the signs of the planets and houses will not change.

It’s also very important to note that the further back we go in history towards the early AD centuries, the smaller the difference between tropical and sidereal starting points becomes. Astrologers working more than a dozen centuries ago, for example, faced almost no difference at all between the sidereal and tropical definitions.

One definition of the zodiac might be “correct” and the other “incorrect,” but this does not mean that using the wrong one renders your astrological system useless, or discounts its rich history. If we define the zodiac correctly, however, our astrological systems will become clearer and simpler to use. This will only become truer as we move into the future and the discrepancy between the sidereal and tropical starting points continues to increase.

The Indian Opinion

Modern India is a bastion of the sidereal zodiac. Thus it comes as a great shock that India’s own classical literature defines the zodiac tropically! Probably no one is more shocked by this than Indians themselves, who faithfully assumed they had been “following the ancients” by using a sidereal zodiac. Let’s look at a sample of what Indian classical texts actually say.

Sūrya Siddhānta

The most authoritative, fundamental Indian text on astronomical astrology is Sūrya Siddhānta, a title which declares the book to be “Perfect Conclusions of the Sun.” A tropical definition of the signs might be evident in several early places of the book:

  • 1.13 says that the signs are identical to the tropical months:

A solar month occurs when the Sun enters a new zodiac sign. There are twelve months in a year.

  • 1.28 states that the signs are mathematical divisions, not constellations:

60 seconds (vikāla) make a minute. 60 minutes (kāla) make a degree. 30 degrees (bhaga) make a sign. 12 signs (rāśi) complete the circle (bhagaṇa).

  • 3.9-10 gives the principle on which ayanāṁśa is based: that the stars and signs are different; evidenced by their changing positions in relation to one another:1

In one age (yuga) the circle of stars lags behind 600 revolutions towards the east. Use a formula [math omitted for brevity] to find the current location (ayana) of the equinox relative to the stars.

The above references could support the tropical zodiac, but texts 7-10 of the Fourteenth Chapter explicitly and unequivocally put it in black and white:

It is well-known that the circle of signs is split by two diameters. One is the line from equinox to equinox. The other is the line from solstice to solstice. Between each solstice and equinox are two other markers. Each solstice /equinox and the two following markers represent the three strides of Vishnu.

The Sun has entered Capricorn when it begins moving north for six months. It has entered Cancer when it begins moving south for six months. Seasons last for two signs each, beginning from Capricorn with the frozen season. The twelve signs named Aries, etc. are the months which altogether comprise the year.

Here, Sūrya Siddhānta plainly says that solstices and equinoxes define the 12 signs of the zodiac. It says that Capricorn is defined by the Sun beginning to move north at the winter solstice, and that Cancer is defined by the Sun beginning to move south at the summer solstice.

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is held by most Indians to be penultimate Pūraṇa representing the full maturity of Indian thought. Its fifth division concerns astronomy. Texts 2-6 of the 21st chapter of that division define the twelve zodiac signs, unambiguously, as tropical:

Outer space is measured by relation of heaven and earth. The Sun is the king of all the planets, in the center of everything, keeping everything together. It moves to the north, crosses the equator, and moves to the south. When it goes north of the equator days get longer. When it crosses the equator days and nights are equal. When it goes south of the equator days get shorter. On this basis the Sun moves through the twelve divisions called Capricorn and so forth.

The Sun is at Aries and Libra when the days and nights are equal. Passing through Taurus, etc. the days become longer and then decrease until again equal with the night. Passing through Scorpio, etc. the night becomes longer and then decrease to again become equal with the days.

Thus it is impossible to deny that Śrīmad Bhāgavatam presents a tropical definition of the 12 zodiac signs.

The Western Opinion

Before addressing the perplexing question regarding how India became so devoutly sidereal, first let’s examine how fundamental western texts define the zodiac.

Mul.Apin of Babylon

Mul.Apin is one of the oldest existing documents of astronomical astrology. It reveals that the ancient Babylonians used a lunisolar calendar of twelve 30-day months per year. They anchored the twelve divisions to the equinoxes and solstices, and created stars to serve as reference points for the occurrence of solstices and equinoxes. 1.3.1-12 says:

On the 15th of Tashritu the Scales, the Mad Dog, EN.TE.NA.BAR.HUM and the Dog become visible; 3 minas is a daytime watch, 3 minas is a nighttime watch.2

This says that when the days and nights are of equal length (an equinox) the ecliptic star called “The Scales” (Modern-day Libra) rises heliacally (just before the Sun). This occurs on the 15th day of their month named Tashritu (an Autumn month). Similarly, Mul.Apin also says that when the nights are shortest (summer solstice) the ecliptic stars of modern Cancer rise. And when the nights are longest (winter solstice) the ecliptic stars of modern Capricorn rise.

What we see in Mul.Apin is that the solstices and equinoxes are fundamental to the Babylonian’s twelvefold division of space, and that reference stars are used to measure the discrepancy between tropical and sidereal time. The Babylonian’s would insert leap months to re-sync the stars with the equinoxes periodically. This explains why they gave stars the same names as the twelve signs.

One cannot convincingly argue that the Babylonian’s had a sidereal twelvefold zodiac, because the Mul.Apin explicitly describes eighteen sidereal divisions of the ecliptic.

Tetrabiblos of Greece

In Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos (the “bible” of Western Astrology), 1.10 defines the zodiac with a tropical starting point:

The zodiac is a circle, so there is no clear “beginning” to it. But the sign that begins with the Vernal Equinox, Aries, acts as the beginning.

The next section, 1.11, makes it perfectly clear that the signs are defined in relation to the solstices and equinoxes.

There are two signs at solstices: Cancer is the 30° interval beginning at the Summer Solstice. Capricorn is the same from the Winter Solstice. There are two signs at equinoxes: Aries begins from the Vernal Equinox and Libra from the Autumnal Equinox.

Siderealists suggest that Ptolemy “changed” the Greek system to a tropical one, but I don’t consider this a valid opinion. Ptolemy’s forerunner, Hipparchus, discovered the precession of the equinoxes. Greek authors prior to Hipparchus therefore could not differentiate tropical from sidereal. The first significant post-Hipparchus author, Ptolemy, explicitly states that the “beginning” of beginningless space is judged from the equinoxes and solstices and must follow them, not the stars that temporarily and approximately represent them.

Where does the Sidereal Idea Come From?

The stars of sidereal space are a valid and important astrological entity. India, China, and the Arab world have systems for measuring and dividing sidereal space. However, sidereal space is measured with the Moon, not the Sun as the focal point. Therefore it has close to 30 divisions, not 12 –there are about that many days during one circuit of the Moon through space.

Where does the idea of twelve sidereal signs come from? It is a side-effect of the valid need for measuring the discrepancy between tropical and sidereal space. This measurement is important for defining very long periods of time (“ages”) and for knowing how and when to keep solar and lunar calendar systems synchronized. To know it we have to measure the distance between a sidereal reference point and the equinox’s current heliacal location.

Babylonians measured the synchronicity of their autumnal equinox date with the heliacal rising of the stars they called The Scales. The Greeks measured the discrepancy of tropical Aries against a stellar counterpart bearing the same name. Indians did the same by noting the heliacal position of the equinox in reference to their fixed stars and projecting the current position of the signs into the stars. For example, the Ṛg Veda notes Kṛttikā as the “first” star and the beginning of the celestial circle, because in Ṛg Vedic times, four to five thousand years ago, Kṛttikā heliacally rose with the Vernal Equinox. Later Indian works from nearly two thousand years ago note Aśvinī as the first star, because at that time Aśvinī was the star heliacally rising with the equinox.

These cultures gave the stars the same names as the tropical divisions that they stood as sidereal references for, or visa versa. This seems to have opened a door for people to think of the stars as the signs themselves. It is an easy mistake to make considering that for centuries there was almost no significant difference between the signs and their homonymic sidereal namesakes.

Conclusion

First I explained that the twelve signs are not stars; but are mathematical divisions of space derived from the interplay between the Sun and Moon. So there is no compelling reason to assert that the beginning of the twelve signs should be anchored to a star. It is easier to see the rationale of using the equinox to mark the beginning of the divisions – for this binds the twelve lunisolar polyrhythms firmly to the center of the Earth’s local space, uniting Sun, Moon and Earth.

Siderealists, and Indians in particular, will have a difficult time digesting or accepting this point, because it throws the expertise and validity of their rich astrological history into doubt. “So many great astrologers have been successfully doing it this way in India for so many centuries, how can you say they are wrong?!”

I am sympathetic to this reaction. I went through the same dilemma myself – being of Indian astrological, philosophical and religious background. This is why I felt it important to explain that the zodiac is only one of several fundamental components of astrology, and thus an error in calculating the zodiac does not totally invalidate an astrologer or an astrological system. And I wanted to note that the further back in history we look towards our revered founders, the more insulated they are against the effects of error in this regard, for the discrepancy between the sidereal and tropical measurements grows smaller as we move back towards the early centuries AD.

But if we indeed value tradition we must never lose sight of its original authorities; in this case Sūrya Siddhānta, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Mul.Apin and Tetrabiblos. They all state that the twelve signs of the zodiac are entirely based on solstices and equinoxes, not stars. If we ignore this, what exactly are we loyal to?

Today the discrepancy between the sidereal and tropical reckoning of the twelve signs is too big to overlook. We cannot postpone taking this issue seriously. Once we admit that stars are not signs, there is no compelling reason to use a star to define the zodiac’s beginning. Beside force of habit, injured pride, the paralysis of shock, or fear of change – is there anything that would stop us all from embracing the unequivocal tropical definitions of the zodiac found in all the ancient and classical literature of the world?

 

1 The reason this happens is not easy to explain. The equinox occurs when the Sun moves into a specific angle to the Earth’s axis and equator. But the Earth’s axis slowly rotates in the same direction as the Earth’s revolution around the Sun. So the axis will align with the Sun for an equinox slightly sooner than the earth actually completes an exact orbit. Gradually the equinox occurs at an earlier and earlier point in the Earth’s orbit, and thus the apparent position of Sun in relation to the stars on that day slowly changes. They very gradually drift backwards through the circle of stars.

 

2 According to: Hermann Hunger and David Pingree, "MUL.APIN. An Astronomical Compendium in Cuneiform", p. 43

 

 

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Comments • [comment feed]

1 Shyamasundara Dasa

At a later date and time of my choosing I will respond to this text. This will allow others time to make their learned comments. In the mean time we request the gentle reader to take a look at these two articles on the same topic.

http://www.dandavats.com/?p=10562

http://www.dandavats.com/?p=10570

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on July 8th, 2012
2 Unregistered

Dear Vic,

Hare Krsna.

I am really amazed by your ability, superior intellect and perspicacious understanding in matters astrological. Your mastery of the subject is un-paralleled. All this time for thousands of yugas we have been in ignorance about the true position of the tropical zodiac and none of the great Vedic personalities or acaryas could understand it. Neither great stalwart Vedic astronomer-mathematicians like Arya Bhatta, Brahma Gupta, or Baskara Acarya who spent their lives studying the subject could fathom this secret. Even our Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saravati Thakura, who was a walking encyclopedia, and a mathematical and astronomical genius who published the translations and commentaries of numerous Vedic astronomical texts could not uncover the secrets you are now disclosing to us. It is all the more wonder since you have not studied mathematics or astronomy and have only studied jyotish for 3-4 years and that without a teacher. Simply amazing that with practically no qualifications you have been able to dive deep into the heart of such arcane mysteries and over turn thousands of years of traditional knowledge and show it to be ignorance. Kudos to you. Your guru must be proud to have a disciple who is superior to all preceding Vedic astronomers and who puts Bhakti Siddhanta to shame.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on July 9th, 2012
3 Unregistered

Dear Shyamasundara Prabhu,

You are very welcome to discuss the issue with me first privately if you like - it may iron out many points, for both of us. You can reach me privately via this page: http://vicdicara.com/contact.php

Your servant,
Vraja Kishor das

Dear Atmavidya Dasa,

Your message is based on the idea that for “thousands of yugas” Indian astrology has been done with the sidereal zodiac signs. Do you have any hard evidence for this at all? Do you have hard evidence that any of the exemplary mathematicians you mentioned considered the 12 zodiac signs to be sidereal in origin?

In this article I presented clear and explicit evidence from Surya Siddhanta and Srimad Bhagavatam that just the opposite is true - that the original Indian conception of the 12 signs is tropical. I also have evidence that the same conception exists in Rg Veda. Therefore it appears that what I am presenting is faithful to the shastra. If you have evidence to the contrary please present it.

If possible please try to avoid elaborate insults, as it makes it more difficult to concentrate on the real issues.

Thank you,
Vraja Kishor das

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on July 11th, 2012
4 Unregistered

Dear Vic, Hare Krsna.

First you wrote:

“It says that Capricorn is defined by the Sun beginning to move north at the winter solstice, and that Cancer is defined by the Sun beginning to move south at the summer solstice.”

“It (the Sun) moves to the north, crosses the equator, and moves to the south.

Then you wrote:

“But the Earth’s axis slowly rotates in the same direction as the Earth’s revolution around the Sun.”

It is a contradiction…

As the Sun is moving north and south and crossing the equator at the equinoxes, in it´s yearly revolution around the ecliptic (with the Earth at the center), how then can you at the same time say that the Earth revolves around the Sun?

The Sun is revolving, not the Earth, the Earth is stationary.

It´s not the Earth´s axis which rotates and causes the precession of the equinoxes, it´s the stars themselves (they have their own motion) which rotates around the ecliptic in about 26,000 years, a precession of approx 50 arcseconds eastward/year. This is the reason why the sidereal year is 20 minutes longer than the tropical year, and why the stars on the celestial poles gradually are shifting.

Comment posted by Rohininandana on July 11th, 2012
5 Unregistered

Dear Rohininandana Ji,

Hare Krishna. Thank you for your comment. It presents geocentric astronomy and heliocentric astronomy as being mutually contradictory. I would like to explain how the two types of astronomy are not mutually contradictory.

Car A drives down the street at 30 MPH. Car B moving at 20 MPH. The person in Car A observes the world is moving past her window at -30 MPH. And she observes Car B moving backwards at -10 MPH. The person in Car B, however, observes the world moving at -20 MPH and Car A moving forward at +10 MPH. Even more interesting: the people in Car A and the people in Car B both observe their interior of their own Cars to be stationary.

Car A and Car B are to real things co-existing, and their measurements and observations co-exist in reality. Relative motion is not mutually contradictory.

In the universe, time is active, therefore everything moves (time is realized by motion). [viz. Gita 13.20: prakṛtim puruṣam caiva viddhy anādī ubhāv api | vikārāmś ca guṇāmś caiva viddhi prakṛti-sambhavān “…In the material world, everything is in constant state of change.”]

From whatever point we observe the universe, that point appears to be stationary. Since we stand upon the Earth, the most relevant and meaningful type of astronomy is earth-centric (”geo-centric”), in which the Sun moves around the earth, and the stars have their own motion relative to some pole.

But if you abstract your vantage point to the Sun (like switching from Car A to Car B) the Sun appears to be stationary, and everything else revolves around it. In fact nothing is really stationary, everything is in constant flux.

As the example with the Cars evidenced, relative motion co-exists without cancellation or contradiction. The person in Car A measuring Car B to have a -10MPH motion is right and accurate. And the person on the sidewalk measuring Car B to have +20MPH motion is also right and accurate. And the person in the back seat of Car B reading a book experiencing Car B to have 0MPH motion is also right and accurate - all of them relative to their locus standi. Thus Helio and geo centrism are not at all mutually-contradictory.

Hopefully this is a clear explanation and you are open to it. Thank you for your attention.

Your servant,
Vraja Kishor das

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on July 13th, 2012
6 Unregistered

Hare Krishna!

Yes, Vraja Kishor prabhu, I have arrived into the same conclusion. There are many instances of Zodiac description in the Vedas, including in our Srimad Bhagavatam, all of them Tropical. And there is no description of Sidereal Zodiac in the Vedas. I have asked many authorities, including Shyamasundara prabhu, if they know of at least one description of Sidereal Zodiac in the Vedas, but no, nobody has been able to present any. Which makes life easier. If there would be two concurrent Zodiac descriptions in the Vedas, then we could think why it is so and in which cases one should be used and in which cases the other, but now, we don’t have this problem. There is only Tropical Zodiac described in the Vedas and this is the only Zodiac that can honestly be called Vedic. Others are not Vedic.

In addition to your quotes I can add that there is also one Zodiac description in Vishnu purana. But this is basically the same as the one in Surya Siddhanta.

Atmavidya prabhu, you of course are making an ‘argumentum ad hominem’ here. Instead of commenting the arguments, you are commenting the author. Thus you do not qualify for a discussion partner. ‘Argumentum ad hominem’ is a lowest type of logical fallacy one can make. As long as one commits such thinking errors, there is no hope for one to understand the higher topics.

But you know, Vraja Kishor prabhu, astrology is a science but most so called astrologers are not scientists. The worst cases are religious astrologers. They are as far from the science as possible. They are believers and they accept no arguments. And when they write lengthy articles about their views they conveniently omit the definitions of Zodiac given in the Vedas as these do not prove their views. These do not fit into their worldviews so to say.

So, there is no sense to argue. You will be demonized and insulted in every possible way.

Comment posted by Abhirama das on July 16th, 2012
7 Unregistered

The discussion of the zodiac is interesting and important but it is actually more important to ascertain whether the earth or the sun are moving. Saying that the Bhagavad Gita says “everything is moving”, is simplistic to say the least.

The movement of the earth around the sun is used by modern astronomy for the distances to the “stars” (we consider them planets) because they use simple trigonometry to estimate the distance to them based on the minute distance that they move and come up with the phantasmagorical millions of light year calculations.

So the vedic statements that the earth is the center of the universe is revolutionary. In modern circles it is common to think the sun revolving around the earth as one of the breakthroughs in not only astronomy but the modern approach to the heavens. There are statements of Prabhupada on this which should not be dismissed, and I can only hope the Mayapur temple of the vedic planeterium will remain faithful to this. I know research was commissioned to find the best model to present.

I know that in modern ISKCON many of our learned scientifically minded devotees, deceased and with us, wished to validate the modern scientific opinion of the sun revolving around the earth. I am curious to what opinion will prevail in ISKCON.

Comment posted by amalagaura on July 16th, 2012
8 Unregistered

Dear Abhirama Ji,

Thank you for your comment. I myself have also posted a challenge in several public forums to this effect: “Show me a single sidereal definition of the zodiac in any classical or ancient Indian literature. On the contrary I can show you several tropical definitions.”

No one could reply.

I thought at least someone would try to put forward the Puranic correlations between nakshatra (stars) and rashis (signs). Even such a reply, however, is not substantial, because it always comes after the rashis are explicitly defined as solstice/equinox (tropical) phenomena.

It is very obvious that the original “Vedic” conception of the 12 zodiac signs is tropical. But getting people to admit this is difficult because of (a) habit, and (b) embarrassment - too many people will have to be humble and admit to fallibility. I am trying to show that the fallibility does not equate to uselessness, by pointing out that the zodiac is one of many parts of an astrological puzzle. But still, people, especially astrologers, don’t like to admit that they made mistakes. I myself had to admit my mistake and break my habits to embrace the obvious tropical zodiac definitions.

Your servant,
Vraja Kishor das

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on July 17th, 2012
9 Unregistered

Dear Vraja Kishor prabhu,

Everything is not relative, there are constants!

You and I are driving down the highway, each in a seperate car, right
beside each other, talking to each other via Mobile Cellular Telephone.
We are looking at each other while driving because the cars have
automatic cruise control.

You are going 91 miles per hour, I am going 90 miles per hour.
It has just been reported on the radio that there is a massive six foot
thick brick wall on the highway 2 miles ahead, left behind accidentally
while filming a movie, it was part of the movie set.

I report this to you, that there is a brick wall ahead and that both of us
had better slow down to one mile per hour so we don’t get injured.

You say, “I’m not slowing down, all speed is relative, relative to your car
I’m just going one mile per hour, there are no constants. I’ll keep going
at this speed and won’t get hurt at one mile per hour.”

Then your car hits the brick wall at 91 miles per hour and you are killed.

Another illusion in this case of a car going 91 miles per hour towards a
brick wall, is that a person in the car looking straight ahead would have
the illusion of the brick wall moving toward them at 91 miles per hour,
but the reality, the constant would be that the brickwall is NOT moving!

The same with Mother Earth!

Comment posted by Rohininandana on July 17th, 2012
10 Unregistered

Hare Krishna!

I found my old photo of the quote from Vishnu Purana.
Here it is.

Comment posted by Abhirama das on July 17th, 2012
11 Unregistered

Dear Friends,

In an effort to keep my schedule and avoid confrontational interactions I will try to stop commenting after this post, unless someone asks or says something that I feel is unusually insightful. I apologize.

My closing notes:

There are no constants whatsoever in any corner of the entire material universes. Brahman alone is constant. Everything else is variable.

Matter has some distant relation to Brahman, thus in matter there is perhaps a single constant: change.

Change = motion. Thus everything is moving. The Sun is moving, the Earth is moving, the solar system is moving, the universes themselves are moving; everything is moving. It is not always EXPLAINED this way, because there is little PRACTICAL use in it. It is more practical and useful to take your locus standi as the stationary constant.

For example: A brick wall is stationary relative to the ground it stands on. But it is not stationary relative to a car smashing into it at 91mph.

It is a little confusing to understand relativity or the relativity of motion, therefore I request not to try to do it on the internet where rajo-guna predominates - but in the calmness of your quiet contemplation. I apologize that I may lack the ability to fully explain the topic to everyone, but I hope that if you carefully consider what I have written it will become crystal clear.

Thank you,
Vraja Kishor das

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on July 19th, 2012
12 Unregistered

Vraj Kishor Prabhu

Since you think the lack of responses proves your point. I read Shyamasundara prabhu’s articles and found them far more complete discussions of the topic which do address your queries. I think your approach is simplistic and does not befit someone with your experience in devotional service. The vedas contain variegated discussions and simple references to zodiac signs do not prove a point of not using sidereal astrology. The topic is complicated and I think Shyamasundara prabhu’s articles give a more complete discussion including the differences between the types of shastras involved. I didn’t want to chime in because it is a complicated topic and I do not study these topics (just someone with an interest in astrology), but I find your article to be very unconvincing and humorous the way you wish to have a new form of astrology based on these new conclusions. I do think it is a symptom of one who is self-taught.

humbly,
amala gaura das

Comment posted by amalagaura on July 19th, 2012
13 Unregistered

After reading the links in #1 we look forward to Shyamasundara Prabhu’s learned comments whenever they may appear. We note that he waited a long time to write those articles in the first place. I suppose he is quite busy.

Re #2 excellent comment by Atmavidya Prabhu I know several people who feel the same way but could not express themselves in such a restrained manner. You have hit the nail on the head.

Re #3 by Vic, I can understand, after reading Shyamasundara Prabhu’s articles, why you would want him to correspond with you in private. You should have thought about that BEFORE publishing your article in public. Anyway we hope that Shyamasundara Prabhu will respond in public for our edification. I also found your whole attitude to him be rather off putting, like you are his teacher and mentor when in fact you are junior in every way. But what can we expect as this is the reputation you have on the net forums; a young gunslinger wanting to make his reputation. I suppose it has to do with an afflicted Guru in the 10th house as lord of the 12th giving a rather self inflated view of one’s own greatness leading to hubris and eventual loss as can only come from 12th lord ownership. Having an afflicted 5th and 10th lord simply adds to the mix yielding to a type of hubris that eventually attracts ruination to itself.

Regarding your comment to Atmavidya Prabhu the burden of proof is on you not him to show that astronomers of the past like Bhaskaracarya and Bhakti Siddhanta used Tropical zodiac. It is reported that Bhakti Siddhanta read the Srimad Bhagavatam 108 times, that would include the 5th canto and he would have thus read the sections you quoted many times yet he still followed sidereal zodiac. Did you ever stop to wonder why? Did he know something you don’t? I have significantly more trust and faith in him that some one of your caliber. You have some superficial knowledge but not depth. As Alexander Pope said:

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.

Re #6
Abhirama accuses Atmavidya of the logical fallacy of “argumentum ad hominem” but have not shown how this is applicable in his case. He never attacked Vic’s character. Shouting “ad hominum” is in itself a logical fallacy as many times it is misused and not applicable.

Comment posted by Somayaji on July 20th, 2012
14 Shyamasundara Dasa

While you are waiting for my response I have persuaded His Grace Antardvipa Prabhu to give us his learned opinion regarding the astronomy in this article. Hopefully he will write a separate article. Antardvipa Prabhu is a very scholarly devotee, not one of the purveyors of cheap new age pop-scholastics that we currently see today. He is a qualified Medical Doctor, and has a degree in Education, he was principle in the Australian gurukula.

Currently he teaches English, mathematics, and jyotish (astrology and astronomy) at the Bhaktivedanta Academy in Sridham Mayapura http://bhaktivedantaacademy.com/staff

He is also the TVOP’s consultant for Vedic Cosmology http://tovp.org/en/about-us/meet-the-team . He has studied both Puranic and Siddhantik astronomy in depth and is currently doing his Master’s degree in Astro-physics at James Cook University, Australia. I am looking forward to his article as it will be authoritative and coming from a depth of astronomical knowledge, it will nicely compliment whatever I write later. In fact it may make any response from me redundant such is his erudition. But I may write any way just to tackle the subject from a different angle.

dasa dasa anu dasa

Shyamasundara Dasa

www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on July 20th, 2012
15 Unregistered

Dear Shyamasundara Prabhu, isn’t there a danger that instead of providing a purely scholarly answer Antardvipa Prabhu will be forced to step right into the middle of a controversy and so feel restrained in his answer for fear of upsetting anyone?

I am curious to know the answer but probably not at the expense of another devotee’s peace of mind.

Comment posted by Sitalatma Das on July 22nd, 2012
16 Unregistered

Dear Friends,

Please know that I am merely glancing upward from the shadow of your feet, desiring to attain by your mercy a speck of devotion to Sri Krishna. Thank you for your affectionate attention. I welcome your corrections, and if they are good I will surely embrace them.

So far neither Sriman Syamasundar nor anyone else has ever produced a single reference from Shastra defining the zodiac in a sidereal manner. Quite the contrary many people, including even my insignificant self, have directly quoted explicit tropical definitions of the zodiac from Srimad Bhagavatam, Surya Siddhanta, Vishnu Purana, and Rg Veda. So, we have shastra-pramana.

I am asking the opposing view to present shastra-pramana, and if they cannot then I shall not heed their view. That is, I believe, exceedingly reasonable. It is not reasonable, as Syamasundara has done in the past, to discredit the validity or applicability of the sastra.

So far the opposing view only has loka-pramana. That is, they only have heresay and assumptions based on word of mouth and local customs. They try to use Srila Bhaktisiddhanta as leverage for their argument, but when I ask for proof that this great mahajana held the same opinions they do, I receive no reply.

All things considered, I beg to remain thoroughly unimpressed by the opposing view. I am openly inviting you to impress and educate me. I beg you to do it in an intellectual and rational manner.

Awaiting the opportunity to serve or assist your service to Sri Hari…

Your servant,
Vraja Kishor das

PS. In point of humor - I can tell if a comment will be favorable or unfavorable, so far, simply be seeing if the author addresses me as “Vic” or “Vraja Kishor” =)

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on July 23rd, 2012
17 Unregistered

I don’t know if this will impress anyone but here’s a quote from “Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava” by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami:

Paṇḍita Pañcānana Sāhityācārya was elderly, the head of the astronomy department at the Sanskrit College, and reputed as the greatest astronomer in Bengal. But he was outspokenly atheistic, and Śrī Siddhānta Sarasvatī regularly and fearlessly opposed him. When in 1892 Paṇḍita Pañcānana and others, including Maheśa-candra Nyāyaratna (the head of the college) and Śrī Bāpudeva Śāstrī, proposed revision of the astrological calendar, Śrī Siddhānta Sarasvatī pointed out several mathematical and technical discrepancies in their arguments. One of his pupils published a tract showing conclusively the inaccuracies of the reformers, that the matter rested on the precision of the equinox, which in Vedic astronomy is made from a fixed point of the zodiac. Much discomfited by the sudden rise of the youthful Siddhānta Sarasvatī, Paṇḍita Pañcānana became openly critical of him and his students. Tension simmered until eventually the college principal, Dr. Satīśa-candra Vidyābhūṣaṇa, convened and presided over a debate to resolve the issue…

This is just one of the episodes mentioned in the book where Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati fought off attempts to revise/westernize Indian jyotisha. Unless HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami was completely wrong in his interpretation of what they were arguing about this quote looks rather conclusive.

Comment posted by Sitalatma Das on August 9th, 2012
18 Unregistered

Sitalama Ji,

Thank you. That is an excellent quote.

“One of his pupils” means one of Bhaktisiddhanta’s pupils? So the argument was not made directly by Bhaktisiddhanta, but by his pupil?

“The precession of the equinox, … is made from a fixed point of the zodiac [in Vedic astronomy].” Is an astronomically perplexing statement [i.e. astronomically impossible, a contradiction in terms], suggesting that HH Bhakti Vikasha Swami, due to a lack of astronomical experience, may have introduced something inaccurate in his otherwise superb presentation and effort. It would be good to get the source material and investigate.

Thank you,
Vraja Kishor das

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on August 12th, 2012
19 Unregistered

Vraja Kishor ji,

““One of his pupils” means one of Bhaktisiddhanta’s pupils? So the argument was not made directly by Bhaktisiddhanta, but by his pupil?”

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta would very quite often have one of his disciples write arguments on his behalf. In fact, the Brahma-Samhita we attribute to Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was actually written by one of his disciples. This was standard protocol for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta.

““The precession of the equinox, … is made from a fixed point of the zodiac [in Vedic astronomy].” Is an astronomically perplexing statement [i.e. astronomically impossible, a contradiction in terms],”

It seems you misread the quote from post from comment # 17:

“One of his pupils published a tract showing conclusively the inaccuracies of the reformers, that the matter rested on the precision of the equinox, which in Vedic astronomy is made from a fixed point of the zodiac.”

The key word you misread was “precision”. It is not “precession” as you wrote in your response, which completely changes the meaning. Changing it back to “precision” reconciles what you saw as “an astronomically perplexing statement.” With all due respect, my humble advice is that you pay more attention to detail. I have read some of your writings and books on astrology and the grammar is very sloppy.

Your servant,

Vyasadeva dasa

Comment posted by Vyasadeva Dasa on August 12th, 2012
20 Unregistered

Thank you Vyasadeva Ji for your clarifications. It does seem from HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami’s presentation that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta took a stance against Sri Bapudev Shastri, Mahesha-candra Nyayaratna (Head of the Sanskrit college), Pandita Pancanana Sahityacarya was (Head of the astronomy department of the college, and “the greatest astronomer in Bengal”) and other luminaries who wished to reform the Indian astronomical / astrological system from the sidereal zodiac. It also seems that the matter which concerned Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was the humiliation and public defeat of a champion of atheism. It seems that astronomy was only a tool or front to achieve that end.

I just ordered the 3 volumes of Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava and am looking forward to reading them.

Regarding my grammar. I write everything by myself, and usually publish the first drafts. If you know of anyone who would like to volunteer for proofreading, it would be a great favor to let me know.

Hare Krishna.

Thank you,
Vic DiCara

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on August 13th, 2012
21 Unregistered

PS - still it is perplexing how one could argue that the equinox is fixed in relation to the stars. HH Bhakti Vaibhava’s wording in this part of the presentation is very ambiguous. It could very well mean that the equinox is the point which fixes the zodiac - that the zodiac does not move in relation to the equinox - i.e. that the zodiac is anchored to the equinoxes. This would make the statement conform to Surya Siddhanta 14.7-10, etc. and is a tropical zodiac.

Is there another interpretation? “the matter rested on the precision of the equinox, which in Vedic astronomy is made from a fixed point of the zodiac.” There seems to be no astronomically feasible way in which the equinox is fixed to a sidereal zodiac.

So, still we are hungry for source material and more detail.

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on August 13th, 2012
22 Unregistered

There are four horoscopes mentioned in that book, cast probably over a century by different people, one by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta himself. There’s not a hint that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta position on sidereal vs tropical issue was different from the tradition. It is hart to even imagine the scenario where it would.

Not a conclusive proof, I admit. In those days Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati publised probably five journals on Jyotisha and I guess only those journals would be considered conclusive, or any other records of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s direct statements on the subject.

It seems that astronomy was only a tool or front to achieve that end.

My own impression is that for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta the science of jyotish was as sacred and as closely connected to the Lord as Vedas themselves. He took special interest in protecting the tradition from any modernization or corruption and just as Jiva Goswami wrote a grammar book using names of the Hari, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati wrote a jyotish almanac promoting bhakti and names of Vishnu for all the days and months. It was the first such almanac to counteract the spread of the smarta based books catering to pantheistic Hinduism. He also calculated the dates and timings of vaishnava festivals and auspicious and inauspicious timeframes for performing samskaras, undertaking journeys etc.

Comment posted by Sitalatma Das on August 15th, 2012
23 Unregistered

It is an excellent book. I have not yet finished reading it. In this consideration we need access to exact details before we can know Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s stance on this issue, or, second best, can very confidently extrapolate what his stance would be.

The book itself repeats a well known fact that Bhaktisiddhanta was not a Jataka, ever. The topic under discussion here is Jataka Jyotisha. Therefore even once we know confidently what Bhaktisiddhanta’s opinion on the definition of the zodiac starting point; still we have to take that point into careful consideration.

For my part, the Srimad Bhagavatam is exceedingly clear. As is the 14th chapter of Surya Siddhanta. As are other Purana’s such as the Vishnu Purana. And there is even scope to bring in Rg Veda showing the importance of the equinox in defining the 12 divisions.

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on August 22nd, 2012
24 Unregistered

Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava is truly an excellent book. Actually, we will find a pastime recounted in it where Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati would sometimes find his disciple’s charts lying around the ashrama and would read them, thereby proving that indeed he was a Jataka as well.

Comment posted by Vyasadeva Dasa on August 24th, 2012
25 Unregistered

Re #20

Vic wrote:

PS - still it is perplexing how one could argue that the equinox is fixed in relation to the stars. HH Bhakti Vaibhava’s wording

What is actually perplexing is how you got HH Bhakti Vaibhava Swami involved in this. The author is HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami.

Comment posted by Balakrsna das on September 5th, 2012
26 Shyamasundara Dasa

Dear Prabhus,

Hare Krsna. A short update in reference to #14, I have edited Antardvipa Prabhu’s first draft of his article and expect to get the 2nd draft soon and after that it will most likely be published.

dasa dasa anu dasa

Shyamasundara Dasa

www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com

krsne matirastu

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on September 5th, 2012
27 Unregistered

Re: 25

It is not perplexing at all, it is a mistake. I make mistakes. If you point them out to me, as you have kindly done, I admit them and try to correct them and/or not make them again.

Kindly stay on point and see if there are any mistakes in my presentation of Shastric Tropical Zodiac definitions from Srimad Bhagavatam and Surya Siddhanta. If there are, kindly point these out in a logical manner, if possible without unnecessary scathe. Please do not be diverted into tangential analysis of my grammar and spelling, etc.

Hare Krishna. Please forgive my bluntness.

Your servant,
Vraja Kishor das

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on September 10th, 2012
28 Unregistered

Re #16
Dear Prabhu,

Hare Krsna.

You said:

“It is not reasonable, as Syamasundara has done in the past, to discredit the validity or applicability of the sastra.”

This makes no sense, where has he done that? He has only made three comments on this thread and has done no such thing. Please clarify what you mean with examples.

You said:

“So far the opposing view only has loka-pramana. That is, they only have heresay and assumptions based on word of mouth and local customs. They try to use Srila Bhaktisiddhanta as leverage for their argument, but when I ask for proof that this great mahajana held the same opinions they do, I receive no reply. “

Could you please clarify the following: What hearsay? What word of mouth assumptions? And why are local customs not valid? And when did you ask that BST had the same opinion?

Comment posted by Somayaji on September 14th, 2012
29 Unregistered

Vic said in #23:

“The book itself repeats a well known fact that Bhaktisiddhanta was not a Jataka, ever. The topic under discussion here is Jataka Jyotisha. Therefore even once we know confidently what Bhaktisiddhanta’s opinion on the definition of the zodiac starting point; still we have to take that point into careful consideration.”

It is mentioned in the short bio of HH Sridar Swami (in vol 2) that once BST picked up his chart and noted that because he had Rahu in the 9th that it would be a detriment in his life. So he definitely knew Jataka. Also the topic is actually astronomy because Jataka is based on astronomy and you are arguing for the utilization of tropical system of astronomy as opposed to sidereal. It also looks like you are looking for an out once it is shown that BST favored nirayana and not sayana. Will you then say “he only knew astronomy so his opinion has no value?”

Comment posted by Somayaji on September 14th, 2012
30 Unregistered

BTW at http://www.dandavats.com/?p=10750 it mentions that a whole years worth of Jyotir Vid publication by BST have been unearthed in the Bhaktivedanta Research Library.

Comment posted by Somayaji on September 14th, 2012
31 Unregistered

Re #18
Vic said:

“One of his pupils” means one of Bhaktisiddhanta’s pupils? So the argument was not made directly by Bhaktisiddhanta, but by his pupil?

Are you implying that his pupil was putting forward an argument that was in opposition to that of Bhaktisiddhanta?

Comment posted by Somayaji on September 14th, 2012
32 Unregistered

In #20 Vic wrote:

“that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta took a stance against Sri Bapudev Shastri, Mahesha-candra Nyayaratna (Head of the Sanskrit college), Pandita Pancanana Sahityacarya was (Head of the astronomy department of the college, and “the greatest astronomer in Bengal”) and other luminaries who wished to reform the Indian astronomical / astrological system from the sidereal zodiac. It also seems that the matter which concerned Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was the humiliation and public defeat of a champion of atheism. It seems that astronomy was only a tool or front to achieve that end.”

Could you please clarify; the way you have written the above seems that you are implying the possibility that actually Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was a proponent of tropical system of astronomy but just pretended to be a proponent of sidereal astronomy just to defeat and humiliate an atheist?

Comment posted by Somayaji on September 14th, 2012
33 Unregistered

Dear Vraja Kishore Prabhu,
In #23 you wrote:

“The book itself repeats a well known fact that Bhaktisiddhanta was not a Jataka, ever. The topic under discussion here is Jataka Jyotisha. Therefore even once we know confidently what Bhaktisiddhanta’s opinion on the definition of the zodiac starting point; still we have to take that point into careful consideration.”

It appears to me that you are implying that astronomy is dependent on astrology and not the other way around. How is that? Without astronomy there is no astrology. What am I missing here? Please clarify, you seem to be saying even if as Vedic astronomer Srila Bhaktisiddhanta favored sidereal zodiac then this would still not be sufficient for you unless he were an astrologer as well. If he was not an astrologer then it would as you say require “careful consideration.” Why?

Comment posted by Sugriva das on September 14th, 2012
34 Unregistered

Dear Somayaji,

Hare Krishna.

You asked me to explain how others discredit the shastra in an attempt to refute the argument I (and others) present. The response is to say, “Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and Surya Siddhanta are not relevant to Jyotish.”

You asked me to explain loka-praman. Loka-pramana is “hearsay” and “word-of-mouth.” It is, essentially “public opinion.” Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī Prabhupāda lists it as one of 10 types of Pramana in his Tattva-Sandarbha, but counts it among those which are subservient and unimportant in comparison to the three main pranama (methods of knowing): Sastra / Sabdha (hearing from authority), Anuman (logic), and Pratyaksha (experience). Out of those main three, Sastra is paramount, according to Śrī Jīva.

The difference between hearing from authority and hearing public opinion is clear. Thus if the sastra contradicts a local custom or tradition, it is the custom or tradition which requires correction. In this case Śrīmad –Bhāgavatam, Surya-Siddhanta, and other Puranas contradict, explicitly, the current Indian custom / tradition of considering the 12 signs to be sidereally rooted. So this custom needs to be corrected.

People have attempted to put me at odds with Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, whose feet I am not qualified to keep even on my head, though I do hope to carry them within my heart. However, no one has yet demonstrated that Sarasvatī Prabhupāda expressed any clear opposition to the tropical zodiac. I am indebted to those who have brought Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava to my attention, a most excellent book. I have not finished reading it yet, but so far it does not say anything conclusive about Prabhupāda having a firm stance on this issue.

If it has been demonstrated that Bhaktisiddhanta took a specific stance on this issue, I have missed it. Please bring it again to my attention.

Regarding Siddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupāda’s stance against Śrī Bapudev Sastri, et. al.: It is not clear from the book what topic the debate was over. It could very likely have nothing to do with tropical vs. sidereal. It seems more likely that it had to do with astronomical calculations, whether it was feasible to stick with the formulas given in Surya Siddhanta, or if those should be abandoned in favor of modern Western techniques. (This was recently a small debate in the Jyotish world as well, “SSS vs. Drik.”)

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on September 17th, 2012
35 Unregistered

Please allow me to make a few new statements:

It is not accurate to depict me as a lone maverick championing an oddball cause. I am merely doing my part and carrying the torch. Many, many important personalities before me have discovered and advocated the same reform I am championing. Similarly there are many others who currently share this opinion with me.

In fact, even the very committee who recommended the Lahiri sidereal ayanamsha as the Indian standard in the 1950s expressly stated that it was only a partial reform, and that further reform was required to return the zodiac to proper alignment with tropical seasons. Here are their words, and background, copied from research published by Dieter Koch.

Lahiri was inspired by the astronomy historian S. B. Dikshita, who in the late 19th century wrote an important book on the history of Indian astronomy [History of Indian Astronomy, Part II]. Dikshita came to the conclusion that, given the prominence that Vedic religion gave to the cardinal points of the tropical year, the Indian calendar should be reformed and no longer be based on the sidereal, but on the tropical zodiac. However, if such a reform could not be brought about due to the rigid conservatism of contemporary Vedic culture, one should choose the Ayanāṃśa in such a way that the sidereal zero point was in opposition to Spica, because this would be in accordance with the zodiac of the 16th century astronomer Ganeśa Daivajña.

A similar point of view was maintained by the Calendar Reform Committee, when it recommended the Lahiri Ayanāṃśa: “This recommendation is to be regarded only as a measure of compromise, so that we avoid a violent break with the established custom. But it does not make our present seasons in the various months as they were in the days of Varahamihira or Kalidasa. It is hoped that at not a distant date, further reforms for locating the lunar and solar festivals in the seasons in which they were originally observed will be adopted.” (Calendar Reform Committee Report, p. 5)

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on September 17th, 2012
36 Unregistered

The thread of comments has come to paint a “Vraja Kishor vs. Bhaktisiddhanta” marquee. This is unfair because no one has shown that Bhaktisiddhanta ever even expressed an opinion on this issue. For my part I know that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja was faithful first and foremost to Sastra. My argument is my own small attempt to be faithful to Sastra. Therefore I will not accept the role of being the opponent of His Divine Grace. We are most certainly on the same side, I under the protection of the shade of his lotus feet.

The comments have become very long and I hope that the good readers will refer again to the original article so as not to lose the scope.

I would like to stop replying to comments now, to preserve my time and energy. But if someone kindly posts something of great merit I will reply. I am looking forward to see what new article come forward, as promised by Sriman Shyamasundar Prabhu and Sriman Antardvip Prabhu. I look forward to the content being logical and based on shastra, and the arguments being written out clearly.

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on September 17th, 2012
37 Unregistered

In #16 Vraja Kishore wrote:

All things considered, I beg to remain thoroughly unimpressed by the opposing view. I am openly inviting you to impress and educate me. I beg you to do it in an intellectual and rational manner.

You may want to consider this verse of Manu

“Unless one be asked, one must not explain (anything) to anybody, nor (must one answer) a person who asks improperly; let a wise man, though he knows (the answer), behave among men as (if he were) an idiot”. Manu Samhita 2.110

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on September 20th, 2012
38 Shyamasundara Dasa

Dear Vaisnavas,

Hare Krsna. Just a short update on Antardvipa Prabhu’s article. I have edited it and made several suggestions for inclusions it has thus been revised several times. Antardvip Prabhu advises me that the he will send me the current (and hopefully last) revision so that I can publish it.

A few high lights, it proves that both the Surya Siddhanta and Srimad Bhagavatam define both sidereal and tropical zodiac, and that the Surya Siddhanta uses both these zodiacs but for different purposes. And, that the previous acaryas strongly supported the nirayana, that is, sidereal zodiac in their commentaries of the Srimad Bhagavatam.

I expect to get it this week for posting so stay tuned for “A Tale of Two Zodiacs.

Dasa dasa anu dasa

Shyamasundara Dasa

www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com

krsne matirastu

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on October 8th, 2012
39 Shyamasundara Dasa

Re# 15

Sitalatma Prabhu wrote:

Dear Shyamasundara Prabhu, isn’t there a danger that instead of providing a purely scholarly answer Antardvipa Prabhu will be forced to step right into the middle of a controversy and so feel restrained in his answer for fear of upsetting anyone?

I am curious to know the answer but probably not at the expense of another devotee’s peace of mind.

Your point is well taken, and it is one reason why I have refrained from making any comments on this text but rather prefer to write a formal article later when time permits. It took a lot of convincing for me to get Antardvipa Prabhu to write this article because he was dismayed that there was such gross misunderstanding of even the basic principles of astronomy. And, as we have seen in the history of debates that it is rare for the loser to acknowledge defeat no matter how much evidence is provided. So I made the point to him that he should write not to convince the other person that his view is not correct (since we don’t have any expectation of that happening) but rather for the edification of innocent persons such as yourself and the general public who have been confused by an erroneous presentation and let the gentle reader judge for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

dasa dasa anu dasa

Shyamasundara Dasa

www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com

krsne matirastu

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on October 8th, 2012
40 Shyamasundara Dasa

Re #6 Abhirama Prabhu wrote:

Yes, Vraja Kishor prabhu, I have arrived into the same conclusion. There are many instances of Zodiac description in the Vedas, including in our Srimad Bhagavatam, all of them Tropical. And there is no description of Sidereal Zodiac in the Vedas. I have asked many authorities, including Shyamasundara prabhu, if they know of at least one description of Sidereal Zodiac in the Vedas, but no, nobody has been able to present any. Which makes life easier. If there would be two concurrent Zodiac descriptions in the Vedas, then we could think why it is so and in which cases one should be used and in which cases the other, but now, we don’t have this problem. There is only Tropical Zodiac described in the Vedas and this is the only Zodiac that can honestly be called Vedic. Others are not Vedic.

I recall you asked me this question back in 2005 just as I was in the process of relocating from USA to India so I could not spend much time on it. You never brought it up again so the topic died.

There are in fact definitions of sidereal zodiac in both siddhantik and puranik literature as will be seen in the forth coming article A Tale of Two Zodiacs evidence that was right before our eyes but we didn’t see it. Whether it will convince you I don’t know. But to others and myself it is very convincing.

What I have seen in past controversies such as how many days in the year for Vimshottari dasa, or should we use topo-centric Moon for calculating Mahadasa etc that the person who starts the controversy doesn’t have clear understanding of the subject and often states that the ancients were actually ignorant of astronomy (as in topocentric Moon) or that the ancient somehow lost the real knowledge but that this person has uncovered the truth that had been lost for millennia etc. Usually the person who makes these claims has a bare minimum knowledge of astrology or astronomy but they are now going to enlighten everyone else and in the process create darkness and confusion where there was once order and light.

cont…

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on October 8th, 2012
41 Shyamasundara Dasa

part 2

If there is a long standing tradition in a technical subject like astronomy/astrology it didn’t come about by accident. So if we don’t understand why something exists in the tradition we can approach it in two ways. We can be humble and try to find out why it is so. We may or may not find the answer then in either case we just accept what previous authorities have accepted in the parampara. Or, we can think that we are more intelligent and say that the ancients were all primitive fools and not advanced like we are and they made a mistake which we will now correct.

I remember one case where some “devotee” was questioning the section in the 3rd canto where it describes how “worms” bite the embryo in the womb. This person claimed that there were no worms in the womb and that in fact the embryo was in a sterile environment. I consulted an ayurvedic doctor who explained that the Sanskrit word “krimi” which was translated as “worm” refers, in modern terms, to any type of pathogen, germ, virus, parasite and even worms. He also confirmed that the womb is not a sterile environment but having various pathogens in it but protected by the mother’s immune system. So this misunderstanding of Ayurveda led to doubting of Srimad Bhagavatam. Of course the truth of the matter did not deter the original critic from propagating their erroneous views.

In one sense persons who create doubts about certain well established points force us to go back to the basics and find out why a tradition became established in the first place. I did a lot of research to establish that for Vimshottari Mahadasa and other udu dasa that we should use 365.25 days/year and not 360 as advocated by others. I will at a certain point also write an article as to why topo-centric moon is not to be used in calculating Vimshottari Dasa, not because the ancients didn’t know about it, they did know of it but that topo-centric moon was used only in calculating special celestial phenomena for all other calculations center of Moon is used.

cont..

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on October 8th, 2012
42 Shyamasundara Dasa

part 3

Similarly this question of sidereal vs tropical forces us to examine the axioms of our system. As I have already said Antardvipa Prabhu’s coming article “Tale of Two Zodiacs” will establish for many thinkers that the sidereal and tropical zodiacs were both known in siddhantik and puranik astronomy but used for different purposes. Longitude of the planets are only to be calculated from sidereal zodiac. Whether you will be convinced I don’t know. Some person’s will never be convinced.

Creating doubts in already established systems are easy to do but take a long time in doing the research to re-establish the norm. (It is always easier to ask questions than to answer them.) It also wastes a lot of time for students who get confused by the maze of contradicting statements made by these self proclaimed authorities. So it should not be surprising that persons who create un-necessary doubt and confusion fall into disrepute.

When it comes to Vedic culture we do follow the established path of the former acaryas, and if we do have doubts then like Arjuna we ask in a humble and submissive manner to clear our doubts. In some cases we will never get an answer to some questions for example “why are conch shells pure but other bones not?” We just accept them because it is in the sastra. Or, in jyotish no one knows the answer to the rationale behind the Vimshottari mahadasa or why Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn have special aspects while other planets do not. There are many cases like this. We just accept that that is the way the system is as given to us by Lord Krsna.

dasa dasa anu dasa

Shyamasundara Dasa

www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com

krsne matirastu

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on October 8th, 2012
43 Unregistered

Dear Shyamasundar Ji,

I am looking forward to reading your “Tale of Two Zodiacs.” Please refrain from misrepresenting me as someone who does not follow authorities. I have presented my argument based on the authority of Bhagavatam and Surya Siddhanta. There is no better authority. If you can prove your point with similarly excellent authoritative statements I will be happy and satisfied, and well-educated by your good self.

Hare Krishna.
Your servant,
Vraja Kishor

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on October 15th, 2012
44 Unregistered

..argument based on the authority of Bhagavatam and Surya Siddhanta. There is no better authority.

Guru is the topmost authority on understanding shastra as we cannot understand the purport of the scriptures independently. Jumping over the head of our authorities and learning “straight from the source” is not the proper way, especially if our own findings contradict our acharyas. Example - hundreds and hundreds of absolutely useless translations of Bhagavad Gita. Sanskrit is available to everybody, true, and it’s very authoritative, but without guru no one will get the meaning right no matter how learned they are.

Comment posted by Sitalatma Das on October 16th, 2012
45 Unregistered

Dear Sitalatma Ji,

Hare Krishna. Please accept my respects.

I believe that Guru and Shastra are not independent of one another. A guru who teaches what is not in shastra is not a guru. A guru can claim “Only I can really understand the shastra” but that is fishy, and therefore we have sadhus as the third check and balance.

However, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the idea that there are astrological “gurus” with bona-fide astrological “parampara” is just a dream, a fantasy. There are people out there who think they have a “guru” - and in a sense they do. But this guru is not divinely ordained by a spiritual parampara. Such a thing simply does not exist in the astrological world.

So let us not run for smoke and mirrors: “You have not asked the question correctly , that’s why we refuse to explain why we are not wrong.” Or “You do not have a guru, that’s why you cannot understand why we are never wrong.”

Let us be practical and honest. All the Purana’s, including Bhagavat, define the 12 signs tropically (ie. anchored to tropical events - the solstices and equinoxes). The Surya Siddhanta also does. None of them do so with any vagueness, all are very direct, straightforward and unequivocal. There is not a sidereal definition of zodiac signs to be found. Therefore where is the “guru” who has the bile to say that it is “Vedic” to use a sidereal zodiac.

I am sorry to argue with you - you are a Vaishnava so I take the dust of your feet upon my head if ever I get blessed with the opportunity. It is merely in this academic matter that I debate you. Please forgive.

Your servant,
Vraja Kishor das

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on October 19th, 2012
46 Unregistered

Dear Vraja Kishor Prabhu,

“Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava” book mentions four horoscopes - from my memory - one cast at Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s birh, one cast probably after his departure, one cast by his disciple Sridhara Swami, and one cast by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta himself. There’s not even a hint that any of those astrologers used tropical zodiac or that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati disagreed with their method.

I consider him an authority on technical aspects of Jyotish, even if he wasn’t an ardent practitioner himself, and will not even entertain the idea that he didn’t understand the shastra and was bewildered on the tropical-sidereal issue.

While we are all waiting for Antradwipa Prabhu’s article, maybe you can find those episodes in the book yourself and comment on what system they used. The horoscope in the Appendix is very detailed, and the one cast at birth has probably enough hints, too.

Ultimately - just rereading parts of that book has made this whole topic worthwhile for me regardless of the final astrological solution.

Comment posted by Sitalatma Das on October 19th, 2012
47 Shyamasundara Dasa

Dear Vaisnavas,

Hare Krsna. Sorry for the delay in publishing Antardvipa’s article. The reason for the delay is as follows. All my documents, email etc are on my notebook which has been in the shop for a while now getting tested to find out why there is incompatibility with the external monitor. This has taken a lot longer than previously anticipated. I had hoped to get it back on Thursday probably wont get it back till next week. Again, sorry for the delay.

dasa dasa anu dasa

Shyamasundara Dasa

www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com

krsne matirastu

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on October 19th, 2012
48 Unregistered

In #35 Vraja Kishore wrote:

It is not accurate to depict me as a lone maverick championing an oddball cause. I am merely doing my part and carrying the torch. Many, many important personalities before me have discovered and advocated the same reform I am championing. Similarly there are many others who currently share this opinion with me.

There have always been people who have been against Vedic Siddhanta. Bhaktisiddhanta was well aware of various calendar reform movements that existed in the past. He argued against tropical zodiac and accepted sidereal calendars in vogue during his stay on the planet.

You quote Dieter Koch’s article where it says:

It is hoped that at not a distant date, further reforms for locating the lunar and solar festivals in the seasons in which they were originally observed will be adopted.”

This shows the whole fallacious reasoning behind their desire to change it to tropical zodiac, to keep it according to the seasons. As Shyamasundara Prabhu showed in http://www.dandavats.com/?p=10570 this creates the absurd position of having to define two different zodiac meanings for the northern and southern hemispheres because they run opposite to each other. So according to the idea that the calendar should be according to the season then when should Gaura Purnima be in Australia? Gaura Purnima in the north is just at the beginning of spring, but that would be the fall in Australia. So to make it in the spring in Australia you would have to move it by six months, likewise for everything else. So this idea of keeping in tune with the seasons shows that it is not universal in application. You would have to have a whole different Vaisnava Calendar for the southern hemisphere to keep it in tune with the season that that particular personality appeared in. This calendar would be out of phase with the north hemisphere calendar by six months, this is completely absurd and unacceptable. Thus the argument for tropical zodiac is absurd and unacceptable.

Comment posted by Somayaji on October 19th, 2012
49 Unregistered

As Sitalatma Prabhu points out according to sastra one should approach a guru, it is not enough to simply read books. This is true even for material subjects like medicine or law; simply reading the books do not qualify you to practice medicine or law. So even if we accept your unproved statement:

‘However, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the idea that there are astrological “gurus” with bona-fide astrological “parampara” is just a dream, a fantasy.’

We should still accept a teacher for subjects like jyotisa after carefully studying their qualifications.

I notice that on Shyamasundara Prabhu’s website http://shyamasundaradasa.com/j....._dasa.html he gives a list of all his teachers. I would assume that all his teachers also had teachers who themselves had teachers and so on, so this is a parampara. And other astrology teachers also had teachers. Perhaps they do not keep lists like we do of the 32 previous acaryas, (they don’t keep such lists in law or medical schools either) but still it is expected that one have a teacher or guru and that one is not self taught for as it is said “one who has himself for a student has a fool for a teacher.”

As members of ISKCON we are supposed to be presenting Vedic culture. That includes the concept of accepting a teacher, a superior authority, and studying under them. So the question arises: who is your teacher?

Vraja Kishore wrote:

Therefore where is the “guru” who has the bile to say that it is “Vedic” to use a sidereal zodiac.

Maybe you should wait till after Antardvipa’s article is published before making such statements. Aside from that Shyamasundara Prabhu’s articles mentioned in #1 has already demolished the concept of using Tropical Zodiac, you have not even begun to respond to that, your comment in #34 can hardly be called a response.

Somayaji

Comment posted by Somayaji on October 19th, 2012
50 Shyamasundara Dasa

In #48 Somayaji wrote:

There have always been people who have been against Vedic Siddhanta. Bhaktisiddhanta was well aware of various calendar reform movements that existed in the past. He argued against tropical zodiac and accepted sidereal calendars in vogue during his stay on the planet.

This is a very good point the current Vaisnava Calendar that the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON follows is based on the standard that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati established on the order of Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji. It is 100% sidereal. I know as I used it as the basis to design VCAL in 1983, the Vaisnava Calendar program used in ISKCON for 25 years, some are still using it. If anyone has any doubts that Bhaktisiddhanta had a sidereal zodiac in mind regarding the Vaisnava Calendar they can consult the Vaisnava Calendar committee. (The current calendar program GCAL uses the same system.) To argue that Bhaktisiddhanta supported tropical zodiac is untenable. To argue that Bhaktisiddhanta was ignorant of astronomy and astrology and was wrong to use sidereal system is beyond the pale.

I pray to be allowed to follow in the footsteps of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur.

dasa dasa anu dasa

Shyamasundara Dasa

www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com

krsne matirastu

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on October 19th, 2012
51 Shyamasundara Dasa

Dear Vaisnava,

Hare Krsna.

Got my Mac back today and sent in “Tale of Two Zodiacs” to the editor. Now it is their court.

dasa dasa anu dasa

Shyamasundara Dasa

www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com

krsne matirastu

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on October 20th, 2012
52 Unregistered

There is so much discussion, but it would be better to be quiet and wait for the article. The position I present is extremely simple:

(1) Shastra defines a tropical zodiac and does not define a sidereal zodiac (for rashis).

Anyone is welcome to counter this point with quotation from Shastra that does define the zodiacs 12 rashi in a sidereal manner - and then discussion can proceed.

No one is doing that. Instead everyone veers the discussion towards their idea of what Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati thinks of my argument. Sarasvati Prabhupada is not here to state his opinion. I feel that on this matter I at least represent his fidelity to scripture and willingness to defy social custom in the process. If you feel so strongly that he would disagree with me, that take what you feel would be his position and explain his arguments.

My article that we are commenting on may be used as my response to previous publications by HG Shyama Sundar Prabhu and others.

If anyone wishes more information on me and my background pertinent to astrology, here it is: http://vicdicara.com/about.php

The calendar topic is also largely a diversion, since my own argument is that nakshatras are unequivocally sidereal, and the vaishnava calendar is almost entirely based upon nakshatra and tithi.

Wishing to serve you in anyway possible, and praying for your patience.

Your servant,
Vraja Kishor das

Comment posted by Vraja Kishor on October 21st, 2012
53 Shyamasundara Dasa

Dear Vaisnavas,

Hare Krsna.

If you have not already seen it Antardwipa Prabhus article can be found at the following link:

http://www.dandavats.com/?p=10952#more-10952

dasa dasa anu dasa

Shyamasundara Dasa

www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com

krsne matirastu

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on October 21st, 2012

Comments are closed. Please check back later.

 
 
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