In my new book, 27 Stars, 27 Gods, there is a small section at the beginning explaining that the fixed stars (“nakshatra”) and the zodiac signs (“rashi”) are two different entities without a permanent connection, because the zodiac signs are anchored to solstices and equinoxes, which perpetually drift through the fixed stars.
A prominent astrologer complain to me about this statement. I’ll paraphrase the conversation here.
How did you come up with this opinion? With whom did you study Jyotish?
I replied with the info available here, explaining who my Guru is, and why it is unimportant. The actual importance is in the idea itself. He replied:
This heterodox idea – that the Indian system should use the tropical zodiac – vitiates the traditional jyotish system. It is not accepted by any astrological lineage (“sampradaya”)
I replied: As far as I have seen, there is no such thing as a real “astrological sampradaya.” There are only independent teachers, many of whom may have learned from older independent teachers, a few of whom may have also learned from even older, yet still independent teachers. In any case, even if I am to accept that there is such a thing as a bona-fide “astrological sampradaya” – even bona fide sampradayas gradually become erroneous and distanced from their origin. Hence in Bhagavad Gita (4.7), Krishna acknowledges the need to periodically reform them.
My article clearly shows that fixed stars being distinct from zodiac signs is not “vitiating” the tradition, it IS the tradition, established by the authorized cannons of tradition Surya Siddhanta, Bhagavat-Purana, Vishnu-Purana, etc. If a “lineage of continuous teachings” is out of sync with explicit statements in the texts that they are founded upon, those lineages are in need of reform.
The English translations of those texts are flawed. Perhaps your theory is based on a flawed translation.
I explained that I understand Sanskrit and read the texts in their original language.
He finally replied:
If this idea – that the Indian system should use the tropical zodiac – was true, then all the masters of astrology in India would be using it.
I replied that this is a flawed logic, because there is a difference between “tradition” and “custom.” In Indian philosophy they are differentiated as shastra-pramaana (“tradition”) vs loka-pramaana (“custom”).
Tradition is defined by the founders of a school and preserved in its sacred/core textbooks, shastra. In astrology these include Surya-Siddhanta, Vedanga-Jyotisha, and pertinent sections of other Vedic literature like the Puranas, etc. Custom, on the other hand, is merely what happens in the course of time among the masses, loka.
Because the custom has an inherent predilection and momentum to diverge gradually from its original tradition – the guardians of tradition carefully maintain their sacred/core books (shastra) and encourage the intelligent among the masses to refer to them scrupulously. This maintains custom in sync with tradition for as long as possible. When it is no longer possible, a major reform is required – to bring custom back into harmony with tradition.
That is exactly what seems to be happening currently in the Indian astrological world. Custom has diverged from the definitions of its sacred texts, and has adopted a fusion of signs and fixed stars (a “sidereal zodiac”). I am a supporter of the reform movement, clarifying the difference between the fixed stars (nakshatra) and the zodiac signs (rashi).
I require your assistance and support. Please read the articles linked to from this post, do your best to comprehend it, and once you do – please also support this cause and spread this message.