The computations and recordings of the movements of the heavenly bodies came to be called Jyotish, or Astronomy. In other words, Jyotish is the Science of the heavenly bodies.

The earliest sources of Indian Astronomy are the four Vedas. The ancient Aryas read and understood the Vedas. They related the astronomical data in the Veda with what they observed in the sky and subsequently developed and elucidated in detail the principles of Astronomy. Jyotish has now become a structured limb of Vedic Study. It is recognized as the foremost of the six limbs of the Veda.
In ancient India, the lifestyle of the Aryas was noted for the performance of several Yajñas at prescribed times that created a relationship between the performer (microcosm) and the celestial bodies (macrocosm). There were monthly Yajñas like the Darsha-poorna-maasa,8 and seasonal ones like the Chaatur-maasya.9 The Yajña session called the Gavaam-ayana was specially designed for the daily observation of the movements of the Sun and the disappearance of the Moon. This Yajña culture certainly yielded sufficiently precise knowledge about elements of Astronomy. The Science of Astronomy, Jyotish, was a part of the life of the Vedic people. They practiced and taught Jyotish not only for Yajñas, but also for festivities, sacraments (Sanskaars), sowing of seeds, and the like – a tradition that continues even to this day.

Astronomy And Astrology

Many people fail to distinguish between Astronomy and Astrology. They believe these two terms to be synonymous. Nothing could be further from the truth. By definition, Astronomy is a scientific probing of the universe. It deals with the origin, evolution, composition, distance, and motion of all bodies and scattered matter in the universe. Astrology, on the other hand, is the practice of interpreting the supposed influence of planets and stars on earthly affairs to predict or affect the destinies of individuals, groups, or nations. While Astronomy is a science dealing with facts, Astrology is defined as a pseudoscience rooted in superstitions and is considered to be opposed to the theories and findings of Astronomical Science. Astrology has no mention in Vedic Literature. It came to India through the influence of Hellenism which asserted itself after Alexander’s Conquest. Subbarayappa and Sarma, two renowned Indian Astronomers, attest that “with the invasion of India by Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, and the subsequent Hellenic and Hellenistic or Greco-Roman contacts with India, conceivably the astronomical elements of the former should have influenced the Indian culture area.”10 As a result, Astrology has been superimposed on Astronomy for centuries in India.
Astrology is based principally on the nine planets ‘seizing’11 people’s lives. Most times, these planets exert malevolent influences, and they are especially dangerous to travelers and people living in deserted places. For this reason, they need to be always appeased. A horoscope involves predictions based on the positions of the planets and signs of the zodiac. Rishi Dayananda Saraswati says that such a horoscope is nothing but a ‘sorrowscope’.12 Horoscope, the Rishi claims, brings a lot of sorrow to innocent people because they have to spend a lot of money (in paying fees to astrologers and priests) to ward off the so-called effects of ‘bad’ planets and stars. Horoscope, and everything of Astrology, has no basis in Astronomical Truth.

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