Jyotisha, or Vedic Astrology as it’s commonly known in the West, is one of the oldest forms of astrology, practiced in a continuous tradition for thousands of years. It was originally an oral teaching, a limb or vedanga of a larger body of teachings forming the Vedas, or scriptures of ancient India.

Jyotisha means “science of light”. On a mundane level, this refers to the light of the visible planets as seen in the night sky. On a spiritual level, it implies astrology’s capacity to illuminate what lies within us — our karma for this lifetime.

This is not sun sign astrology, which should be treated as entertainment and little more. Vedic astrology is unique and extremely specific. Although Jyotisha has been practiced for millennia in India and other parts of the East, it now enjoys growing popularity in the West, thanks to its ability to address every aspect of the human experience, in a manner both insightful and predictive.

Like western astrology, Jyotisha uses a birth chart to map the planets’ positions at your time of birth. Unlike western astrology, Jyotisha also uses many “divisional” charts — the so-called amshas and vargas — which are derivatives of the main chart that reveal details about relationships, studies, career, wealth, family, health, spirituality, etc.

Navamsa means “9th division” and refers to a divisional chart that is so important that no Vedic astrologer would provide a consultation without referring to it. Some say the navamsa represents the fruit of one’s karma in this lifetime, reflecting both one’s love relationships and spiritual path.

Karma and the role of the astrologer

Jyotisha (astrology) and hasta (palmistry) reflect the karma we’re inclined to experience in this life. Vedic astrology has an undeserved reputation as being deterministic, as if there was only one possible future, and all actions lead inevitably to it. But in fact, there are many crossroads in a full life, and we make choices that affect our futures.

Jyotisha acknowledges that karma may be fixed or flexible, that we have more or less free will in some areas of life than in others. My role is to help people understand their strengths and weaknesses, where they’ll experience success or frustration, and to forecast those periods when life will be pleasurable, painful or just plain normal.

I try to help people understand themselves, and be aware of all the positive possibilities their life has to offer. I won’t discuss death, or frighten anyone with information about things they haven’t specifically asked to be discussed.

I believe astrology is a map of where your soul needs to go in this life — with your baggage, your itinerary, your experiences en route, and your ultimate destination.