Vedic astrology has been around for a long time. It is as old as the Vedas. In fact, it is referred to as the ‘eye’ of the Vedas. It helped people see higher power and a superior creation. In ancient India, astrology had a very important role in society. Astrologers were revered by kings and emperors. Astrology was the tree and astronomy was one of the numerous branches of that tree in those days. It touched every aspect of the lives of the people, making them productive. While initially Vedic astrology was depicted in the language of mysticism and divinity as was the custom of those days, later, it was explained in a new format—as that of science. This was pioneered by Indian astrologers during the first few centuries of the Common Era (CE). While earlier, Vedic astrology, like the Vedas itself, was narrated as it was received from the supreme intelligence; the new field of science was carved out to explain astrological factors including planetary movements and alignments in worldly terms with proofs for the benefit of the common masses. This approach quickly spread throughout the world and India became the knowledge hub of the world.

Repetitive waves of invasions followed. The sole intention was to wipe out the Vedic way of life and replace it with “modernity”. As part of it, astrology was labeled as a blind superstition with no scientific backing and was effectively blacklisted. This void created on the psyche of the society by casting out astrology from mainstream science still exists. Even today, though Vedic culture as a whole is getting widespread acceptance, spirituality as the basis of worldly life is considered too absurd a suggestion. Vedic Astrology allowed people to get in touch with themselves. It inspired them to base their lives on Dharma – selfless devotion to duty. Ancient India had some renowned astrologers. The list includes mathematicians, physicists, and sages. Some of their works are still followed by modern scientists of today. 

The 18 sages of Astrology:

The 18 sages are the legendary wise-men who paved the way for the development of astrology the way we know it today. They are – Surya, Pitamaha,  Vyasa, Vasistha, Atri, Parashara, Kapila, Narada, Garga, Marichi, Manu, Angira, Lomasha, Paulasha, Chyavana, Yavana, Bragu, and Shaunaka. Of them, the contributions of Sage Parashara and Sage Garga are especially relevant in contemporary terms. Sage Parashara is the grandchild of Sage Vasistha and the father of Sage Vyasa. He is also called the father of Vedic astrology. Sage Parashara, in Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra (expansive Parashara science of prediction), decoded from the Vedas the structure and existence of the cosmos. He depicted how creation took shape and explained in detail the positions of the planets and stars along with their unique characteristics. He also explained about divisions in the Zodiac, which is the Rasi, and also about the Lagna. In exquisite detail, Sage Parashara has expounded the different Rashi features, yogas (planetary alignments with each other) and drishties (planetary influence on each other). It is a vast text and is recorded in the form of question-answer format. Sage Garga was a warrior-Brahmin. It means he was equally proficient in the knowledge of Vedas and that of weaponry. He compiled the Garga Samhita. In it, in the form of sutras (equations), he recorded the influence of astrological factors on the life of an individual as decoded from the Vedas. These sutras depict how the individual will be impacted by the placement of the planets and stars in the cosmic chart.

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Sage Garga was a contemporary of Lord Sri Krishna and all episodes in the life of Sri Krishna have also been recorded in Garga Samhita. It is believed the Brahmin descendants of Sage Garga migrated to Greece and spread Vedic culture there. This is why Greek mathematicians and astronomers are referred to as Garga-acharyas. Sage Vyasa is known today as the author of Mahabharata. Lesser known is the astrological credentials he displayed in the epic where he has provided hints at the existence of the planets Uranus and Neptune. Sage Manu is the author of Manusmriti which was the first detailed compilation of the Vedic way of life. They, as well as the other sages, narrated the various astrological features in the language of mysticism and divinity. There was no effort to explain the ‘why’ and provide proof. It has been recorded as it has been received from a higher power. Faith in divinity was supreme and the astrology lessons as expounded by these sages were taken to the heart by the people of ancient India. When the time came for the necessity for faith to be derived in scientific terms, another great Indian rose to the occasion.


Aryabhata is still renowned for his proficiency in mathematics, physics, astronomy as well as astrology. He lived between 473 CE and 550 CE. He is said to have been a native of Pataliputra (Patna). It is also argued that he originally belonged to Ashmaka in Kerala before moving to Kusumapura which is modern-day Patna. But despite discrepancies about his native place, it is known that he received education from Nalanda University. He formulated the sine table and calculated sacred ratios including ‘pi’. His works were far more advanced than the hi-tech science of today. Unfortunately, most have been destroyed over the hundreds of years of invasions, plunder and loot.

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The Aryabhata-Siddhanta, which is a collection of his works compiled by Varahamihiria and other later mathematicians, is one of the few to have survived. It deals with planets, stars and their movement in space. He described how shadows of Earth and the Moon caused ‘Rahu to swallow the Sun’ and resulted in an eclipse. He was first to find out that planets didn’t shine by themselves and instead reflected the light of the Sun. He calculated the time for one Earth year and also derived the years of other planets. He found out that the stars were more like the Sun. Aryabhata’s works were translated into Arabic and Greek. The ground on which modern science stands today was laid by Aryabhata. He was the first to translate Astrology from the language of faith to the language of science. Unlike Galileo, or much of modern scientists, Aryabhata’s intention was not to destroy faith; he laid out the reason behind them. India’s first satellite was named Aryabhata to honour his legacy in the field of astronomy and astrology. 


 Varahamihiria was the contemporary of Aryabhata. He lived between 499 CE and 587 CE in Ujjain. Ujjain was the hub of education, arts and culture at that time. He studied astrology under his father Adityadasa who studied the Sun. A young Varahamihiria met Aryabhata during his visit to Kusumapura. This meeting inspired him to take up the field of religious science pioneered by Aryabhata, as his career. His works in the field saw him being placed on the same pedestal as Aryabhata. At his peak, his popularity rivalled that of Aryabhata, the famous Vedic astrologer. However, they were no rivals in science. Varahamihiria backed Aryabhata’s thesis that planets were not luminous bodies and only reflected the Sun’s light. He improved upon Aryabhata’s works on trigonometry and sine tables. He also made contributions of his own. He was the first person to understand the science of attraction that held the planetary system together. He called it guru-tva-akarshana (the attraction of guru). Today we call it gravity. His famous works include Pancha Siddhanta (compilations of five earlier siddhantas or sacred concepts that are now lost) and Brihat Samhita (literally, the big compilation, which details on, among other things, gemstones). He has also written vastly on astrology. Among them, Brihat Jataka is considered one of the five main treatises on horoscopy.

Varahamihiria was a permanent member of King Vikramaditya’s court. History places him as one among the navaratnas, or the nine gems, of Vikramaditya’s court. Somewhat ironically, the title Varaha (the boar) was bestowed on him for predicting the death of the prince during his 18th year by a boar. Though the king did everything to protect his son, the prince was killed on a fateful day by the inanimate boar fixed on the flag post which fell on him while he was resting on a couch outside his palace by the pool. Varahamihiria also conceptualized and built the Meru Stambh complex, today known as Qutb Minar. The Meru Stambh was an astrology site and observatory, the first of its kind, constructed to replicate and study the movement of cosmic bodies onto a specified area within the complex. 


 Bhrahmagupta the Vedic astrologer, took the efforts by Aryabhata and Varahamihiria to the next level. It was he who laid the foundation for the mathematical concepts behind astrology and its implementation in day-to-day life. Brahmaputra is believed to have lived between 598 CE and 668 CE. He was born in Bhinmal, located in North-West India in the present-day state of Rajasthan. His father, Jisnugupta, was an astrologer. He was a top-grade scientist at the Ujjain astronomical observatory. While the zero (0) was originally conceptualised by Aryabhata, it was Brahmagupta who truly defined it. He visualised ‘0’ as being everything and nothing at the same time. It laid the basis of the modern numerical system. Contrary to his predecessors Aryabhata and Varahamihiria, Brahmagupta preferred a geocentric view of the universe. Brahmagupta’s calculations were premised on Earth positioned stationary at the centre of the planetary system. He has compiled two astrological texts namely Brahma-sphuta-siddhanta and Khandakhadyaka.

In Brahma-sphuta-siddhanta he introduced the concept of negative numbers or those values which exist as debt and that of linear and quadratic equations. This is in addition to his concept of ‘0’. In Khandakhadyaka he laid out ground rules for longitudes to predict the placement of cosmic bodies at a given time. He explores risings and settings, eclipses and equinoxes, and conjunctions of planets. His works explained the erratic behaviors of Lord Planets in their movement across the horoscope chart using mathematical equations. Like his predecessors, many of his works were translated into Arabic and then into Greek and spread throughout the then Vedic world. Brahmagupta was an orthodox person who preferred to keep science rooted in the sacred texts, hence, his insistence on a geocentric universe and using divine beings in place of planets and stars. With Brahmagupta, the task of explaining astrology in the language of science started by Aryabhata was more or less fulfilled. 

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