Tropical vs. Sidereal in Indian Astrology

The biggest controversy of all is my assertion [and mind you it is certainly not mine alone] that a tropical zodiac, not a sidereal one, is the authentic Indian conception of the 12 signs.

A lot of really important information has come out in the course of debating this point with various learned people. In the interest of putting all that info together in one place, I’ve made this page.

The Main Article

This is where I give the main body of my argument and explanation:

>> The 12 Signs of the Zodiac. <<

Relax and dig in!

Reponses

To my knowledge there is only one substantial rebuttal of my paper so far. Here are my responses to that rebuttal [with links to the rebuttal itself, of course].

And sometimes, I just gotta vent!

On the topic of “following tradition”:

Related to all the above topics, here is very, very fascinating evidence that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati – a very important Guru in Gaudiya Vaishnava parampara, and a very influential astrologer in Bengal during his youth – used the Tropical Zodiac: Bhaktisiddhanta Used the Tropical Zodiac?

Reviews of Other Articles

There are a few important and not-so-important articles/posts on the internet and in print on the topic of sidereal vs. tropical zodiac signs, which people have put forward for me to comment on. Here they are…

Comments on David Frawley

Then, the following articles

  • Sidereal vs. Tropical Debate, by Vaughn Paul Manley,
  • Cyber Witchcraft: Sidereal vs. Tropical,
  • For the Sidereal Zodiac, by Kenneth Bowser:

I comment on all three in one post.

Then there is a reply to a post of G.K.GOEL – a post that is really quite silly and doesn’t deserve to be dealt with on the same page as Kenneth Bowser, Vaughn Paul Manley, and David Frawley – but since for some reason I took the time to respond to this absurd post, I’ll include it here anyway.

Interesting

Here I might keep a list of posts that are food-for-thought and have some relevance to the issue, though somewhat tangental and relatively unimportant.

16 thoughts on “Tropical vs. Sidereal in Indian Astrology”

  1. So – does it mean we have to apply all the Principles and astrological rules on a chart by making the ayanamsa of Zero (sayana Ayanamsa) ? Is it enough or does the chart needs any more changes to make sure we follow Sidereal stars & Tropical zodiac that you just suggested ? Pls explain what else changes are required while using a software & different ayanamsa to construct a chart?

    Thanks…

    1. Applying no ayanamsha to a modern calculation will give the correct signs/rashis, but incorrect stars/nakshatra. Applying ayanamsha such as Lahiri will give acceptable nakshatra, but incorrect rashi. Therefore both must be done: no adjustment made for the rashis, adjustment made for nakshatra.

      I’ve heard from others that Jagannath Hora now has an option to do this. I have not confirmed. I know that Kala has this option.

      The only other change you would want to do, is simplify all your criteria of interpretation and return to fundamentals like signs, houses, lords, vimshopak, and shadbala.

    1. There is no such thing as a “sidereal technique” – sidereal is a definition of where the zodiac starts. It is a measurement, not a technique. I started off using sidereal zodiac measurements, because that is the culture in India. After practicing, exploring and researching in that system for several years, I realized what I have written in this article.

  2. Here is what you have written in one of your posting “If you do sidereal astrology, whole-sign is most effective for natal readings. even or uneven houses is effective for mundane (non-living) readings. If you do tropical astrology, whole sign is probably useless to you for most purposes.”

  3. I first discovered the tropical zodiac thanks to Mr Ernst Wilhelm’s birth chart calculator. When I keyed in my info, my chart looked good, compared to my sidereal one : ) Anyway, I emailed him to understand why such a difference between my sidereal and tropical and he directed me to read his article on ayanamsa and listened to the audio. I had 2 readings with astrologers using the tropical zodiac and was convinced, it suited me. I then looked at charts of my friends and family, and realized how it suited them to.
    I recently came across a YouTube video on how we can use both zodiacs. The sidereal representing our higher self and the tropical representing the physical self on Earth. I pondered over it because I was of the opinion that by using the tropical zodiac, (since it uses the sidereal nakshatras and tropical sun) we would be reading both our higher and physical self.)
    I’ve been told that we can get a good amount of information if we were to study both charts and look at the overlapping details. I am still studying both my sidereal and tropical charts to see if this is true.

    However, it seems that the info from tropical zodiac seems to be accurate as per the readings I’ve gotten and from how I’ve observed that my freinds were quick to jump and say that they prefer the reading from the tropical zodiac, even though I’ve helped them to read their sidereal charts before.

    Just wanted to share a constant contemplation on my mind these days “Sidereal or tropical or both?”

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      In my opinion the sidereal and tropical are used side by side, but for different things. The sidereal coordinates are used to measure stars (nakṣatra) and the tropical coordinates are used to measure signs (rāśi).

        1. Use a hammer to hammer nails and a comb for combing hair. Don’t use a hammer on your head or a comb on nails. Use a thing for what it is meant for. The Sidereal (lit “stellar”) measurements are used for defining the positions of nakṣatras (lit. “stars”). The topical (lit, “sun’s relation to the equator”) measurements are used for definition the sections of the ecliptic (lit. “sun’s path”). So, use the tropical and sidereal systems together, but each one for the thing it is intended for. Not that you look at sidereal signs and houses and nakshatras and also look at tropical signs and houses and nakshatras. Look at sidereal nakshatras and tropical signs/houses.

  4. How do the Nakshatras coincide with the Tropical signs? Are they read through the tropical chart? It would be interesting to see the corresponding degrees. I am a novice, perhps you have already answered this, yet I am interested in this hybrid type of reading.

    1. There’s a naksatra every 13 and a third degrees. So all you need to know is the starting point and you can measure where the naksatra are in the sky. The starting point is 180 degrees opposite the main star of Citra nakshatra (Spica). Where this coincides with tropical space changes over the course of history because the stellar and equitorial/ tropical measurements of a “year” differ by 20 minutes per year. So, the stars drift through the 12 signs. The 12 signs are divisions of the sun’s path (‘ecliptic’) the stars also move against the ecliptic like the planets, but at a massively slower rate. About 5000 years ago, what we now consider the 3rd naksatra (Kṛttikā) was considered the 1st (in Ṛg and Atharva Veda, for example) because it aligned roughly with the beginning of the 1st division of the ecliptic, Aries. A little less than 2000 years ago what is commonly still thought of as the “1st” nakṣatra was Aśvinī, because it aligned with the 1st division of the ecliptic at the time. From that time things got confusing and astrologers/astronomers didn’t want to continue to update the position of the nakṣatras in reference to the position of the ecliptic divisions (rāśi). That’s why many people practicing Indian astrology still count Aśvinī as the 1st nakṣatra and even start the ecliptic divisions from the start of Aśvinī, creating a “sidereal zodiac.” However, the accurate fact is that currently the main star of Citrā (Spica) is 180 degrees opposite from just shy of 24 degrees Aries.

      Thus if we wanted to restart the ancient, accurate method of reviewing the status of ‘1st nakshatra’ we would make Pūrva-bhādrapadā, because that nakshatra is now the one roughly aligned with the start of the first division of the ecliptic.

      Anyway, its less confusing to start from 24 Aries, and measure 13 and a third degrees for each naksatra – that’s how you can know where each one currently is, plus or minus a handful of minutes of arc, since the start is still a little shy of 24 Aries in truth. So for example Aśvinī corresponds to 24 aries through 7:20 of Taurus. Bharanī from 7:20 Taurus to 20:40 Taurus. Kṛttika from 20:40 Taurus to 4 Gemini. Rohini from 4 Gemini to 17:20 Gemini, etc.

      This is the current correlation of nakṣatra to rāśi. In a century or two the drift would be significant enough that you would want to update the measurement.

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Authentic Modern Astrology from the Ancient and Classical World

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