How Long is a Year?

How long is a “year”? That question may not have crossed your mind but it is important, because Parashara (and all others) define planetary eras in years. So unless you know what a year is, you don’t really know how long the planetary eras and cycles are.

To answer this question we must turn to the Surya Siddhanta, the authoritative treatise of astronomical calculations upon which ancient Indian astrology is based. This book defines how the movement of planets and stars defines the passage of time.

In its first chapter, it explains that time has two functions: (1) To create cyclic destruction and creation, and (2) To allow things to happen. The first function cannot be quantified because it is infinite, transcendental and all powerful. In the Bhagavad Gita, the infinite Godhead Krishna says that he himself is identical to that function of time. The second function, which allows events to unfold in sequence, can be measured and is the subject of all astrological computations.

To deal with tiny increments (amurta) like milliseconds Surya Siddhanta calculates time based on the movements the Sun across “atoms” (truti). Milliseconds (thank god!) do not usually concern astrologers, who deal in more ordinary spans of time (murta) like years, months, days, hours, etc. Surya Siddhanta calculates these practical timespans based entirely upon the revolution of the nakshatras through the sky (nakshatra ahoratra), which corresponds exactly to the rotation of the Earth on its axis.

Surya Siddhanta gives three other methods of measuring practical time, correlating them to the main method: the nakshatra ahoratra of the Earths rotation. Here are the definitions of a day and the length of a year in each system. I’ve rounded off the year lengths for simplicity.

 Name Day Year Nakshatra 1 Rotation of Earth 359 days Savana 1 Sunrise to the next 360 days Lunar 1 Moon phase (tithi) 360 Tithis (354 days) Saura 1 Tropical degree of Sun 365 days

The three ancillary timing systems have specific uses only. Surya Siddhanta defines them in its fourteenth chapter: The Saura calendar based on the Tropical zodiac defines the seasons: equinoxes, solstices, year-halves, and months in relation to the (six) seasons. The Lunar calendar is for religious purposes: holidays, anniversaries, vows, pious deeds, etc. The Savana calendar is practical: deeds that need to be done a certain number of “days” before or after other events use the sunrise calendar of the Savana year. Also computation of which planet rules the day, month, and year follows the Savana system.

Nakshatra time is the primary way of measuring how time allows events to occur in a particular sequence. It is to be used for anything and everything except what is specifically apportioned to the other systems.

What is predictive astrology? It is an artful science of foretelling the sequence of events, portending how events will happen. Therefore what measurement system of time should be used for predictive astrology? The system that is specifically meant for defining how time causes events to unfold in sequence. What system is that? It is Nakshatra time.

Therefore to calculate the duration of planetary eras and cycles you must use Nakshatra time, which defines a year as 359.017 days.

A small element of imperfection is impossible to avoid as a result of our inability to perfectly measure time, and to the fluctuations inherent in time itself. One could say that these imperfects and fluctuations may be the mechanism universal karma uses to accommodate the reality of chaos, chance and uncertainty.  Nevertheless, the level of precision and accuracy available is great and amply sufficient, especially if you master the artful science and use the correct time scales (Nakshatra time) in your computations.

The full significance of getting the length of the year exactly right will become clear when you learn how transits work with the beginning of eras.

Note: I have continued the discussion here – Do Your New Discoveries Make Your Old Readings “Wrong?”

- Vic DiCara

Vedic Astrology?

Do I practice Vedic Astrology???

Vedic means “pertaining to the Vedas.” Strictly speaking there are four Veda: Rg, Sama, Yajur and Atharva. “Vedic” refers to the culture of those four books specifically. There is lots of astrology in those four almost prehistoric books, but it does not contain the system itself. The system itself is from supplementary books written at what archaeologists would mostly consider later dates. Thus even in its origin “Vedic astrology” is not exactly “Vedic.”

The astrology of ancient India comes primarily from the teaching of Parashara and Jaimini who wrote their own manuals on the science, especially the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra and the Jaimini Sutra. Many, including myself, consider Parashara and Jaimini to be the founders of two distinct schools of Astrology. The astrology practiced today in India is not totally dissimilar from these ancient teachings, but is just a few parts of those systems applied in simplified forms, shallowly understood in general, a great deal cut out or ignored entirely, and a great deal added in from medieval and modern sources.

What system do I personally practice? I practice the system that I personally practice! I would go so far as to say that any astrologer practices their own unique system for no one can conform perfectly and completely to the thoughts and methods of another. My personal system attempts to be much more complete and deep in its application of the ancient methods of Parashara, bringing those methods to life not by diluting them with medieval and modern mixtures but by deeply and intuitively understanding them through my own heart and mind.

The world thinks that there is some vast difference between “Vedic” astrology and “Western” astrology. But the opinion of the masses is almost always gross and off the mark. People who understand very little about astrology think that Western and Vedic astrology refer to different “signs” – Western having a “tropical” or seasonal zodiac and Vedic having a “sidereal” or stellar zodiac. They do not know that Vedic astrology is by no means the only system to use the sidereal zodiac, nor do they even realize that classical vedic astrology employs both the Sidereal and Tropical zodiacs!

The truth is that Western astrology is only a bit more different than Vedic astrology is from the true ancient astrology of India. The fact is that all culture has common roots, including astrology, and it is likely that ancient India and the world’s oldest surviving book, the Rg Veda, may represent an important core of that ancient common root.

Astrology is one. It is one science which has diluted and confused itself into many twisted branches bearing few fruits, but at it’s root it is one.

Am I a “Vedic Astrologer” – in a sense, yes, and you can say so if it pleases you. But personally, I think of myself only as an “Astrologer.” I seek the ancient unified root of astrology and strive to bring that to life in the modern world.

- Vic

Vic DiCara
http://www.vicdicara.com

Ancient Prayer to the Sun

This is from the first chapter, 35th song of the world’s oldest surviving book, the Rg Veda. The father of ancient astrology, Sage Parashara, recommends contemplation upon this prayer to make peace with the astrological Sun.

I call upon fire, friendship, waters and the restful night to aid us.
I call for aid to the Sun, bringer of life.

Revolving through the darkness of space, awakening gods and mortals alike
Riding in a golden chariot, looking upon every being.

Moving to the northern and southern solstices he journeys
Coming from afar to chase away all distress and sorrow

On a multicolored chariot decked with pearls and flags
The many-rayed sun sets off powerfully into the darkness

White horses draw that golden chariot, bringing its light to everyone
All beings exist in the lap of the Sun

There are three universes, two belong to the Sun,
While the other belongs to death and is the home of warriors
He is the kingpin around all things firmly rest
And revolve

Strong winged, lighting up all regions, causing fear to creatures of darkness
What worlds have the rays of the wise leader illuminated now?

He illuminates the eight points of the Earth, the three deserts, and seven oceans.
The golden-eyed Sun appears now to give treasure to those who worship.

Golden handed, far seeing, going in his path between Earth and heaven
he drives away sickness, and illuminates what was once dark

Golden handed and kind leader, come to us with aid and favor.
Drive away creatures of darkness assembling at sunset.

The ancient paths of the Sun collect no dust and are clear in the middle of the sky
Come on those fair paths today, and bless us to be free from harm!

- Vic DiCara