People trying to use astrology constantly have to face up to the fact that they are not getting accurate results very easily at all. The real problem – believe me – is a lack of clear, thorough, correct, and deep understanding of the most basic astrological principles. But people don’t think that’s possible. They all think “I already know all that begginner’s stuff.” So they think that there must be some fancy technique they haven’t mastered yet, or some asteriod or planet they need to include in their charts, or some obscure calculation that will suddenly make everything right.
Case in point: currently there is this surge of interest among Indian-based astrology fans that the way we calculate planetary positions is somewhat wrong, and we should change to the system described in the Indian astrological / astronomical classic: Surya Siddhanta.
Here is my opinion of the calculation system described in Surya Siddhanta.
Old astronomical texts from India – including Surya Siddhanta – do not work on Ephemeris principles, rather they work on averages, “means.” They observe the planet for sometime and from that observation they derive an average motion. They then use this average motion to postulate future and past positions of planets.
This is very much like the mean node positions verses the true node positions. Mean nodes are calculated in this manner, and therefore they do not always accurately locate the nodal positions and are sometimes erroneous in predicting eclipses. The Surya Siddhanta System is a similar Mean Motion system.
Averages are estimations, not reality. Therefore periodically, regularly, the averages must be updated by correcting them in accordance with new observations. The corrective value is called “Bija” – the “seed” which keeps the system accurate. If the corrective value is not updated the calculations become inaccurate.
The version of Surya Siddhanta currently available to us contains a Mean Motions system which is accurate for 1100 A.D. and is quite inaccurate today, 900 years in need of updating the bija. This is one reason why Sri Yuktesvar spoke against using these old averages and said to use modern, highly accurate calculations.
People who don’t grasp the simple mathematical truths here, but who are in the habit of grasping for new revelations to try to improve their practice of astrology, rather than going deep into the foundations of what they already know and improving themselves there – such people find this Surya Sidhanta fad (let’s hope) an extremely attractive and thrilling proposal. However, in my opinion it will only throw our ability to grasp true astrology into a greater chaos than it already is.