Vedic culture is extremely
ancient, at least 5000 years old by conservative estimate. Vedic
culture has its own unique theology, philosophy, arts, sciences,
and literature which exists to this present day. Vedic astrology
is an integral part of this culture and has been practiced since
time immemorial. The Vedas have six supplementary texts known as
the Vedangas, limbs of the Vedas. One of these is the Jyotisha Vedanga,
Vedic astronomy and astrology. For thousands of years many Rsis
(sages) maintained the tradition of Vedic astrology on a parallel
track with the Vedas. Portions of these have been extracted at various
times and put into the Jyotisha Vedanga.
Many Rsis such as Vashistha,
Bhrgu, and Garga were masters of astrology and taught it to their
disciples in the Guru parampara (disciplic succession). Before the
beginning of the present age, Kali-yuga, which began in 3102 B.
C., Parasara Rsi milked the essence of the various schools of Vedic
astrology present at his time and distilled it into his text known
as the Brhad Parasara Hora Sastra. Parasara Rsi spoke this text
to his disciple Maitreya Rsi, and Maitreya taught it to his disciple
and it was passed in this way through the ages. Thus, the basic
school of Vedic astrology practiced in India is called the Parasara
school of astrology. Parasara was the last of the Rsis (great sages)
of the Vedic age. After him it was humans who preserved the line
of Vedic astrology. Notable amongst them is Satyacarya and in particular
Varaha Mihira who wrote several important texts on astrology. After
them several other texts were composed which are also considered
"classics" of Vedic astrology, such as Jataka Parijata,
Sarvartha Cintamani, and Horasara. All of these texts follow Parasara.
Since the great classics follow Parasara it is natural that the
curriculum of the Florida Vedic College faculty of Vedic Astrology
also follows Parasara.
It should be said that
there are six main branches of Vedic astrology: Gola -- positional
astronomy, Ganita -- mathematical diagnostic tools for analyzing
the results of Gola, Jataka -- natal astrology, Prasna -- answering
specific questions based upon the time the question is asked (this
is called horary astrology in the West), Muhurta -- selecting an
auspicious time to start something, and Nimitta -- omens and portents.
There are also many sub-branches. The sages following Parasara have
written texts on all branches. These shall be the guidelines for
our courses. We are presenting pure Vedic astrology without mixing
in Western or any other type of astrology systems.
From India Vedic astrology
spread to the Persians, and from the Persians to the Babylonians,
and from them to the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. With the rise
of Islam, the Arabs learned astrology from both the Greek Hellenistic
astrologers on one side (the West) and Vedic astrology from India
on the other side (the East).
In the West astrology
has had its difficulties. Periods of time when it was it in favor,
and times when it was politically out of favor. During the Dark
Ages it practically disappeared from Europe and reappeared during
the Renaissance. It disappeared during the so-called "Age of
Reason" only to reappear again in the last 120 or so years.
This fractured history of Western astrology has not helped the continuity
of learning or building up of experience over the ages. Consequently
Western astrology is fraught with many lacunae; blank spots, missing
parts, and discontinuities. By contrast, Vedic astrology has an
unbroken tradition over 5000 years long. And its practitioners reap
the benefits of such a long unbroken tradition such as a large body
of classical literature whose content is understood by its practitioners.
In ancient India and
even up to modern times, astrology was taught to students in schools
and universities. The Florida Vedic College carries on this tradition
of offering Vedic astrology as a serious intellectual discipline
taught at a university level. These are serious courses for serious
students. This is the first time since the 16th century that degrees
in astrology have been offered in a Western institution of higher
learning. And this is the first time ever that an institution of
higher learning outside of India has offered degree courses in Vedic