Astrology is an incomparable tool to assess the highest potential of one’s life. At the time of your first breath in this body, a snapshot of the cosmos is taken, and this reveals the road map of your life...the strengths you have, the challenges you may face, the work you need to do in this lifetime. Astrology can guide you to live the highest purpose of your life.
We currently have two main ways of looking at the cosmos at the moment of your birth. Western astrology is based on the Tropic zodiac, a fixed zodiac, and considers earth to be the center and the celestial bodies to be revolving around it. It considers that the Sun comes back to the same equinox point after it completes its cycle around the earth (as observed from the earth). This point is called the vernal equinox; when the sun is overhead the equator, the day and night are of equal length, and it is considered the starting point of the first sign of the zodiac, Aries. This equinox is on March 21st every year.
However,the earth tilts on its axis 1 degree every 72 years. Vedic astrology follows the sidereal zodiac, which takes into account this tilt of the earth. Due to this movement of the earth, this equinox point has shifted approximately 24 degrees west of the vernal equinox point that the western system uses. Vedic astrology is based on sidereal year, which is the time it takes the earth to revolve around the sun with respect to the fixed star in the sky called Chitra. This sidereal year is 20 minutes longer than the tropical year. Over time, the difference has accumulated, and now the western and Vedic astrology is 24 degrees apart...which is approximately one whole zodiac sign. Thus, a person who has Sun in Leo in western astrology is seen as Sun in Cancer in Vedic astrology.
Nothing in the universe is still, the universe is still expanding, and Vedic astrology takes this movement into account. It is, therefore a more rational, more astronomically accurate view of the cosmos.
Secondly, Vedic astrology uses the Dasha system,the different planetary period dominant for an individual in real-time. When they are born, each person is assigned a 120-year cycle of life according to the Vedic viewpoint. This 120-year cycle is broken down systematically indifferent planetary periods. Each planet is given a set number of years and follows the same chronological order. E.g., Jupiter is a 16-year long Dasha(period) and is always followed by Saturn, which is 19 years long, then Mercury which is 17 years long...and so on. Where one starts their life is based on where the individual’s moon was placed at the time of their birth. This is also the reason why time of birth is a critical piece of information. Dasha system is an essential tool to gain an understanding of what an individual’s life journey is like in real-time. For example, if a person is running Ketu Dasha, a time of with drawing, a time of deep contemplation and spiritual practice, and they keep trying to create a business that is keeping them occupied in the mundane world,then it is not going to be an easy task. More than likely, they are not going to succeed in their efforts. And it’s not because they are not putting in the right effort or taking the right action towards their desired result; it’s just that the timing is not right. The season is for sowing wheat; however, they keep sowing rice. So, obviously, nature does not support it! This insight is a huge asset that Vedic astrology offers in aligning our life with the cosmos'natural rhythms based on an individual’s chart.
Another key difference is the offering of remedial measures in Vedic astrology. The vedic system understands that each planet is here to invite us to evolve. Each planet has an energy associated with it. Not only that, each planet has a deity associated with it. Therefore, when someone is running Saturn dasha, a time of transformation, a time of creating a disciplined spiritual practice, then it is appropriate to create one which is more in alignment with Saturn. Shani, a fierce form of Shiva, presides over Saturn. So, when we do mantras for Shiva,it refines our energy with the planet Saturn. Mantra is a great remedy and in addition, we offer gemstones for correction. Another way of really clearing the energy with a planet is to serve people represented by that planet. For example, Saturn represents people who are homeless, older adults, and the fringes of society. If we offer selfless service to these people during our Saturn Dasha, it really creates a beautiful alignment of energy and life becomes more inflow. There are many more remedial measures, like Yagyas (fire ceremonies), specific breath practices, visiting holy places, etc.