Jyotiṣa is the Sanskrit word for “Astrology.” There is a lot of speculation on what it means. Here is what it really means, in lieu of authentic Sanskrit dictionaries and linguistic rules.
It is made of two parts jyotis and the suffix ṣa. [It’s not made by combining jyoti and iśa because (a) there is no such word as jytoi (it’s jyotis), and (b) there is no such word as iśa (it’s īśa), and (c) if you combined jyotis and īśa you don’t get “jyotiṣa” (the closest you might get is jyotīśa, which is a cool word, for sure, but is not a pre-existing Sanskrit word, and most certainly is not the Sanskrit word for “Astrology.”)]
- An illuminating object, for example:
- The stars and planets
- As the revealer of things, and thus
The suffix ṣa has several possible meanings:
- The best
- Mastery (in the sense of learning or wisdom)
The most direct meaning of the word Jyotiṣa is: Astronomy / Astronomer / Astrology / Astrologer. Since these are the English words expressing learning in the movement of the heavenly lights.
The primary use of Jyotiṣa is to measure the duration of things… to tell the time. By knowing the time, Jyotiṣa indirectly gives us a glimpse of the all phases of time: past, present and future. So there is also good use of many of the other connotations inherent in the word Jyotiṣa , such as the ability to reveal things, and enlighten.
Jyotisha is not really the science of light – it is the science of time. Time, however is relative to light. For example, the movement of the Sun (the source of all local light) is the backbone of the measurement of time.