If The Tropical Zodiac Were Right, Everyone Would Be Using It

Follow the Leader
Follow the Leader

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.

He replied:

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.

Thank you,

Vic DiCara

www.vicdicara.com

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2 Comments

  1. Vidyasagar A says:

    Dear Vic, I appreciate your work & it takes some time for any one to understand & digest and put forth a healthy discussion which makes the right method ultimately to be accepted by both parties. As of now, this process is at very early stages hence your continued patience & spreading of this word is appreciated. But for now, I am one of those fence sitters; As you can understand, the null hypothesis is what the custom is because of the status quo mind & also because ‘Shastra’ is not as easy to find / clarify as Custom is. Moving to Alternate hypothesis is always a difficult process & can only happen after healthy discussions 🙂

    I read your entire essay & viewed the videos on this Fixed stars & Tropical zodiac but help me answer some specific questions, which makes it more clear to me & probably creates healthy discussion:

    1. Leaving stars for a second, what is a ‘Factor’ / demarcation boundary in space which required these zodiacs to be marked & named separately into 12 zodiacs ?

    2. Dhanush (Sagittarius) for example is named after the constellations which looked in that shape hence named as such was the tradition. How is this relevant if zodiacs were to shift ?

    3. Its not unknown to our ancestors that Zodiacs are moving along with They were always aware of many things which even today’s scientists are puzzled on! so how can we understand their naming of zodiacs (whenever they did it) ? I know you said they were named at all – if so how were they ever addressed in Shastra ?

    4. Only celestial bodies (be it stars or planets) have the significant impact to make. If so, what else than stars can give a specific assignable characteristics to zodiacs ? Zodiacs linked to solstice are moving along with sun – then what exactly causes the characteristics assigned to them ?

    5. The most Question is >> If we assume that the characteristics of Taurus (for example) given in scriptures is that of a Taurus which (during that time) used to contain Krittika’s 3 pada’s & 6 other pada’s of next stars, then the characteristics explained were for a specific “place” lets signify it by “X”. With time, the zodiacs moved but stars didn’t. But if you were to look at where the X now is, shouldn’t it be at the same place with the same stars ? in spite of changing solstice? If it changes, then that place ‘X’s’ characteristics are less caused by Stars & more caused by Sun angle to this place than anything else – hence X would have changed. But there is no such Angle that we draw to sun because sun is round 360 degrees. IF there is some specific characteristics attached to a place X & different characteristics assigned to an opposite place ‘Y’, Then it is from some ‘celestial Body’ which is towards the direction of X. Isnt that some celestial body a Star which are equally powerful than Sun but pretty far ? With this in mind, it is not impossible to see logic behind sidereal system also being fair (Fair & not right because the word ‘Right’ looses its importance in astrology)

    6. I am curious to know which other classical astrological academic texts are there apart from Surya siddhantha from ancestors ? and are they silent about this ? I only heard this book referred by you from astrological text books (I am talking of text books and not Bhagavath gita & others epics)

    Thanks a lot for your answers. Highly appreciate your time for good explanation to my doubts so that I am well equipped to profound your site & your thought process on clarifying in my own mind 🙂

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate your comment, Vidyasagar.

      1. Leaving stars for a second, what is a ‘Factor’ / demarcation boundary in space which required these zodiacs to be marked & named separately into 12 zodiacs ?

      I explain that in this video & article – http://vicdicara.com/rashi – there are 12 lunar cycles in each solar cycle.

      2. Dhanush (Sagittarius) for example is named after the constellations which looked in that shape hence named as such was the tradition. How is this relevant if zodiacs were to shift ?

      Who is to say what several dots look like? I think the front of scorpio or the head of leo looks as much or more like a bow than Dhanush (Sagittarius). The images were imposed upon the stars to roughly match the zodiac symbols.

      3. Its not unknown to our ancestors that Zodiacs are moving along with They were always aware of many things which even today’s scientists are puzzled on! so how can we understand their naming of zodiacs (whenever they did it) ? I know you said they were named at all – if so how were they ever addressed in Shastra ?

      The scholarly conclusion is that they are not addressed until later shastras, such as the Purana. In those Purana they are addressed by the symbols that summarize the characteristics of each sign.

      4. Only celestial bodies (be it stars or planets) have the significant impact to make. If so, what else than stars can give a specific assignable characteristics to zodiacs ? Zodiacs linked to solstice are moving along with sun – then what exactly causes the characteristics assigned to them ?

      Who made this rule, that only stars or planets have “impact”? There are many other observable heavenly phenomenon besides stars and planets. For example, the day and night, and their changing lengths. Or another example, the cardinal directions.

      The characteristics of the signs are caused by a combination of their planetary ruler, elemental nature, and direction (“mode”). The planetary ruler corresponds to the planet’s distance from the sun, translated into the signs distance from the Sun’s sign, Leo (and the Moon’s, Cancer). The elemental nature corresponds to the cardinal direction associated with the sign. The mode corresponds to the Sun’s behavior in changing directions, staying in the same direction or doing both, as it moves north and south of the equator.

      For a fuller explanation please see: http://vicdicara.com/class.php?id=2

      5. The most Question is >> If we assume that the characteristics of Taurus (for example) given in scriptures is that of a Taurus which (during that time) used to contain Krittika’s 3 pada’s & 6 other pada’s of next stars, then the characteristics explained were for a specific “place” lets signify it by “X”. With time, the zodiacs moved but stars didn’t. But if you were to look at where the X now is, shouldn’t it be at the same place with the same stars ? in spite of changing solstice? If it changes, then that place ‘X’s’ characteristics are less caused by Stars & more caused by Sun angle to this place than anything else – hence X would have changed. But there is no such Angle that we draw to sun because sun is round 360 degrees. IF there is some specific characteristics attached to a place X & different characteristics assigned to an opposite place ‘Y’, Then it is from some ‘celestial Body’ which is towards the direction of X. Isnt that some celestial body a Star which are equally powerful than Sun but pretty far ? With this in mind, it is not impossible to see logic behind sidereal system also being fair (Fair & not right because the word ‘Right’ looses its importance in astrology)

      The characteristics of the signs come from their ruler, element and mode. Not from the fixed stars that sometimes are and sometimes are not coincidental with their space.

      6. I am curious to know which other classical astrological academic texts are there apart from Surya siddhantha from ancestors ? and are they silent about this ? I only heard this book referred by you from astrological text books (I am talking of text books and not Bhagavath gita & others epics)

      Surya Siddhanta is to astronomy what Vedanta Sutra is to philosophy. Just as all other important philosophical works (like Bhagavata Purana) are expansions upon the Vedanta Sutra, and just as the Vedanta Sutra itself is a summary of salient points from the Upanishads, and thus the Vedas… similarly the Surya Siddhanta is a summary of salient points from pre-existing astronomical literature (such as Vedanga Jyotisha), and subsequent astronomical literature (such as Siddhanta Shiromani) are elaborations upon the content of Surya Siddhanta. Thus Surya Siddhanta is the keystone of Indian Astronomy. Whatever is in it cannot be fundamentally contradicted by any subsequent text, nor can anything in it fundamentally contradict any previous text.

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