Even if you’re not a professional astrologer, if you consider yourself an amateur aficionado, you probably have your birth chart memorized just in case the topic of astrology comes up during your next dinner party. And I’m willing to bet you know your bestie’s “Big Three” or have mapped out you and your crush’s astrological compatibility on Pattern (no shade!). After all, understanding how your zodiac sign operates can offer you a deeper perspective on everything, including how you show your internal strengths and how you handle external challenges. (Talkin’ about you, Mercury retrograde.)
But Western astrology isn’t the only astrological system to get to know yourself on a cosmic level. Enter: Vedic astrology, or Hindu astrology. “Vedic astrology, also known as ‘Jyotish,’ represents an ancient tradition originating from India,” says professional Vedic astrologer Pedro Cabral. “Its primary aim is to unveil the divine essence of time through the observation and analysis of celestial body movements, and their influence on human affairs.” In other words, through the examination of the positions of the planets, and how it impacts one’s karma, Vedic astrology helps people better understand themselves.
Meet the Experts:
Pedro Cabral is a professional Vedic astrologer.
Bella Nguen is a professional astrologer.
Ahead, here’s everything you need to know about this ancient astrology system, according to professional astrologers.
What is Vedic astrology?
Put simply, Vedic astrology leans on the concept of karma—or the Hindu idea that your actions have consequences—to allow those who follow this astrological system to deepen their understanding of their personal nature and uncover their cosmic destiny.
The practice originated over 3,000 years ago in ancient India, says professional astrologer Bella Nguen. “[Vedic astrology] analyzes the precise celestial positions at the exact time and place of birth in order to provide insights about a soul’s destiny, karmic lessons, strengths, weaknesses, and ideal pathways in this lifetime.”
The term “Vedic” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Jyotish,” or Jyoti. ‘Jyoti’ means light or heavenly body, and ‘ish’ means lord or ruler, explains Cabral. “Some interpretations suggest that it signifies ‘eyes,’ earning it the title ‘the eyes of the Vedas,’” Cabral adds. (The Vedas are the foundational religious scriptures of Hinduism, btw.) Vedic astrology is rooted in the Vedangas (which literally translates to the “limbs of the Vedas”), “a set of six auxiliary disciplines designed to facilitate a deeper understanding of the Vedas,” says Cabral.
Vedic astrology also has roots in other Hindu scriptures and philosophies, such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, per Nguen. “Many of these texts were written between 1500-500 BCE and contain references to astronomical concepts and astrological practices,” she says.
Vedic astrology was historically used for keeping track of time and drafting calendars that were used to plan religious rituals and celebrations, explains Nguen. Over time, it evolved into a personal tool to determine one’s life path and professional direction. “So in essence, Vedic astrology provided both a spiritual and predictive framework for understanding the connection between mankind and the cosmos while guiding one’s purposeful life journey,” says Nguen.
What are the 12 Vedic signs?
Just like in Western astrology, Vedic astrology consists of 12 signs. Nevertheless, while the signs may be the same, the dates are a bit (read: majorly) different. Vedic astrology bases its division of the zodiac on the position of its twelve constellations, “as opposed to the vernal [spring] equinox, which is the reference point in Western astrology,” says Cabral. Basically, the two disciplines use totally different calendars. Vedic astrology uses a sidereal system, while Western astrology relies on the tropical order. “This distinction arises because of the phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, where the earth slowly shifts its position,” says Cabral.
Because the two astrology systems use different reference points, your Vedic astrology chart will most likely differ from the one you downloaded on Co-Star. For example, if you were born on May 10, your Sun sign is in earthy Taurus in Western astrology; but in Vedic astrology, your Sun sign is in fiery Aries. To find out your Vedic sign, see the list below:
1. Aries: Mesha (April 13-May 14)
2. Taurus: Vrishabha (May 15-June 14)
3. Gemini: Mithuna (June 15-July 14)
4. Cancer: Karkata (July 15-August 14)
5. Leo: Simha (August 15-September 15)
6. Virgo: Kanya (September 16-October 15)
7. Libra: Tula (October 16-November 14)
8. Scorpio: Vrishchika (November 15-December 14)
9. Sagittarius: Dhanu (December 15-January 13)
10. Capricorn: Makara (January 14-February 11)
11. Aquarius: Kumbha (February 12-March 12)
12. Pisces: Meena (March 13-April 12)
How do Western astrology and Vedic astrology differ?
At its core, astrology refers to the study of the movements and positions of the planets and other celestial bodies in respect to the earth. Astrology divides the sky up in different sections, creating the zodiacal wheel. But the way Vedic and Western practices split up these sections differs. Beyond their contrasting calendars, these are the main ways in which these astrological systems diverge:
1. Vedic astrology focuses more on karma rather than personality traits.
While Western astrology focuses on psychological aspects of the human condition, like personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses, Vedic astrology leans more into the idea of karma and dharma (a.k.a. your moral duty). “Vedic astrology is used to determine one’s ideal life path, career direction, and contributions to society based on karma and dharma,” says Nguen. It allows people to address and remedy their specific karma, according to Cabral, and shape their future fate through practices like offerings to deities or charitable acts.
2. Vedic astrology emphasizes the concept of time.
Time is a major tenet of Vedic astrology. In fact, Vedic astrology is known as the science of time. “The underlying philosophy of Vedic astrology is rooted in the belief that time is a manifestation of the divine,” says Cabral. That’s because Vedic astrology is rooted in the teachings of the Vedas, which accurately dated cosmic bodies, like the age of the Sun, for example.
“When viewed in conjunction with other Indian religious classics such as the Bhagavad Gita, [Vedic] astrology serves as a reminder not to squander [one’s] precious time,” explains Cabral. “It offers insights into life’s purpose, karma, family life, love, and the optimal timing for these aspects to unfold.”
3. Vedic astrology views your Ascendant sign as more important than your Sun sign.
In Vedic astrology, your Rising sign, or Ascendant, is revered to be more critical in understanding yourself than your Sun sign. That’s because, according to Cabral, Vedic astrology considers the Ascendant and the angular distance between the sun and the moon, first, because all the other elements of your chart (like the houses) manifest from it. So when reading your chart, a Vedic astrologer will begin with your Rising sign as it informs the rest of your astrological makeup, so to speak.
How do I read my Vedic astrology chart?
Now that you’re aware of the basics, you’re probably wondering how to map out your own Vedic astrology chart. For starters, you’ll need your birth time, birthdate, and place of birth. You can then input that information into a calculator, like Astro-Seek and Vedic Astrology, to access your full chart.
While professional astrologers advise that you seek a professional Vedic astrologer to get a thorough breakdown of your chart, here’s a beginner’s guide to understanding your results, according to Cabral and Nguen:
Your Sun Sign
The sun, or Surya, represents your soul or your life force. This highlights your ego and is a reflection of your inner core.
Your Moon Sign
The moon, or Chandra, rules your emotional temperament. It mirrors your inner needs and overriding karmic path.
ICYDK, in astrology, each house in your chart is associated with a different area of your life. Here’s what each house rules in Vedic astrology:
Your Ascendant, also known as Lagna, is your first house. It influences your outward appearance, inner strengths, and overall outlook on life as well as how you approach your environment.
The second house, known also as Dhana Bhava, is related to material possessions and finances. It also rules non-material things, like your voice.
The third house, or Parakrama, rules mental disposition and processes as well as communication. It relates to your siblings, interests, neighbors, and habits.
The fourth house, also known as Bandhu Bhava, rules your roots and your domestic life. It also rules your relationship with your mother.
The fifth house, known as Putra Bhava, is related to creativity, playfulness, and romance. It highlights your mental intelligence in terms of innovation.
The sixth house, also called the Ari Bhava, correlates to your daily routine, wellness and health. It can also be related to obstacles, debts, enemies, and other hardships.
The seventh house, or Yuvati Bhava, is the descendent of your chart. This placement represents the house of your partner and deals with partnership and the darker side of your relationships.
The eighth house, also known as Randhra Bhava, is the house of death and loss. It holds secrets, mysteries, and transformations.
The ninth house, also known as the Dharma Bhava, represents your principles, dreams, and intuition. It also impacts your religious beliefs and higher learning.
The tenth house, or Karma Bhava, relates to your professional life, prestige, and reputation.
The eleventh house, also referred to as Labha Bhava, influences non-material wealth, wishes, and prosperity. This house reflects your relationship with your social circle like your friends, acquaintances, and support system.
The twelfth house, or Vyaya, mirrors the end of your life cycle and the ascent into the spiritual realm. It relates to the unconscious mind and one’s proclivity to detachment.
After following Western astrology for a while, your world might be a bit rocked. But whether you follow Western or Vedic astrology, “it’s important to note that neither system is inherently right or wrong,” says Cabral. The two systems “have [merely] evolved along distinct paths with different techniques and beliefs.”
In the case you’re trying out different astrological practices or simply following your curiosity of different perspectives of astrology, Vedic astrology is a great tool for understanding how your personal choices can impact your karma, and how you can navigate life with the goal of reaching your full potential, whatever that means to you.
Brittany Beringer-Tobing is a freelance writer, mystic, creator, and full-time Aquarius based in San Diego, CA. Her bylines have appeared in POPSUGAR, Bustle, Well+Good, Frenshe, Thought Catalog, and more. She was formerly an astrology writer at Bustle where she covered all things mystical—from lunar forecasts and numerology to manifestation rituals and retrograde dos and don’ts. Outside of writing in the cosmic realm, you can catch Brittany casting spells, listening to true crime, and dancing the night away.