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1/13/2019 Ramblings on Ayanamsa – SRI GARUDA

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RAMBLINGS ON AYANAMSA

A topic which brings much doubt and tests the faith of newcomers in Jyotish is the topic
of Ayanamsa. Where our western counterparts who use the tropical zodiac aren’t affected
by this problem, those who use the sidereal zodiac, or a zodiac based on star positions are
cast into a deep dilemma as to which ayanamsa to use. Where western sidereal astrologers
are almost forced to take the plunge into learning the intricacies of the ayanamsa and
thereby choose the ayanamsa they like the best, vedic astrologers are presented with a
peculiar situation where faith tends to be the compelling factor in choosing ayanamsa.

This writeup doesn’t claim to ascertain a correct ayanamsa, but tries to shed light on the
many different facets of the ayanamsa, and some possibilities within the same.

i. What is ayanamsa

To explain ayanamsa it becomes necessary to describe two different zodiacs, the Niryana
chakra and the Sayana chakra. These are two different zodiacs in a sense.
Two ZodiacsThe Niryana is based on the stars and the Sayana is based on the
equinoctial points, i.e. the seasons. The Niryana or star-based zodiac is moving in
comparison to the Sayana chakra, which is seen by the stars being in different positions
during the same time every year. This difference between Niryana and Sayana chakra is
called Ayanamsa.

ii. Two different theories on precession

In an attempt to explain the cause of the ayanamsa two major theories have arisen: luni-
solar theory and what some are calling the binary theory.

The luni-solar theory was initially referred to by Copernicus and later Newton, and has
been modified several times ever since. The theory is based on the idea that the reason the
stars are changing with reference to the earth, is because earths angle to them is changing.
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The reason for the many modifications


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the Sun and Moons gravity is the cause of the earths changing angle. Here whilst
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scientists could prove that the Sun and Moon did indeed affect the earths angle, it wasn’t
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enough to explain the change in ayanamsa. Further the theory was based on a number of
calculation principles which didn’t deal well with predicting future positions of the
ayanamsa.

Here we come to the binary theory. This theory is much closer to home and coincides with
some of the Vedic concepts of the universe, namely that the Sun is moving around another
point, i.e. Dhruva or some other fixed point. See, the Moon revolves around the Earth in
about 27 days. This is a lunar return. Yet, a full moon occurs only after ~29 days. So the
Moon has to spend 2 days extra catching up with the Sun to complete the full moon
phase.
Similarly, the earth revolves around the Sun in ~365 days. Yet, based on the binary theory,
the Sun is simultaneously moving around another point/binary star, and therefore the
earth, just like the moon, must spend more time to catch up with the star-placements in
the heavens.
Because the earth has to spend more time moving forwards around the Sun it appears as if
the stars are moving backwards every year.

iii. Rate of precession

This brings us to the entire predicament of the ayanamsa… the rate at which it is moving!
The rate at which its moving is called precession. The ayanamsa moves based on the star
positions with regards to the equinoctial points, and it has been found that the precession
speed is changing. Where it initially was 46 seconds of arc (”) in 150 AD [1], it is now
~50 seconds of ark and increasing. Therefore for a complete cycle around the zodiac, it
would take about 25 thousand years with present information. Yet with data only spanning
over a period of 2000 years, we only have a 1/12th fraction of the knowledge of the
zodiac movement.

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[2]
These days most makers of astrological software do not take into account the change in
precession rate, and calculate a fixed rate of precession from a given date. This is a
completely wrong approach.
Some intelligent programmers have instead based their ayanamsa calculations on actual
ephemeris data of star positions. Though this is the best approach, it is limited to
empirical/observed data. Therefore the goal of astronomers and astrologers today is to
define and make a model which can imitate the precession.

iv. Clues from the seers

We are not left without clues from the seers of the vedas. According to Surya
Siddhanta[3], the circumference of the nakshatras wherein the stars exist are sixty times
larger than the circumference of the earths movement around the Sun. By this is implied
that it takes sixty times longer for the Sun to progress one degree, than it takes the earth.
Therefore it takes 60 years before the Sun has progressed one degree in the stars, and 120
years before it progresses two degrees. This makes the average rate of precession of the
ayanamsa one minute per year. This is ten arc seconds faster than the current precession
(50″).
Assuming this data to be accurate, it would give a cycle lasting 21600 years before the
Sayana and Niryana chakras aligned again.

v. Ayanamsa choices

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Today the most common choice among


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learn fromastrologers is the Lahiri ayanamsa. The
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reason being that the ayanamsa was selected by a committee after intense scrutiny. The
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Lahiri ayanamsa is based on the Chitra Paksha Ayanamsa. There are two main ayanamsas
Subscribe and Chitra-paksha. The word paksha
given in the vedic scripture namely Revati-paksha
refers to 180 degrees or an exact opposite position from a fixed star. Here Revati and
Chitra do not refer to a large constellation of nakshatras spanning ~13 degrees, but to the
original stars which make up the base of the nakshatra positions. The star Chitra
corresponds to the star Spica, whilst Revati corresponds to the star Zeta Piscium. 180
degrees opposite the star Chitra is said to be 0 degrees of Aries, whilst 180 degrees
opposite Revati is 0 degrees of Libra.

Today the tropical degree of Spica is 23 degrees 57 minutes 2.03 arc seconds. These
degrees are the actual ayanamsa at present. This corresponds to the sidereal degree of 0
degrees Libra and opposite this is the sidereal 0 degrees of Aries according to the Chitra
Paksha/Lahiri Ayanamsa. The reason for choosing stars at the beginning of these two
points is that they correspond to the Deva Ayana, i.e. the day of the Deva begins in Aries,
and ends in Libra, where the day of the Asuras begin. Preferably any ayanamsa which
depicts the movement of the stars should be based on these starting/ending points as
according to the Rg Veda, the stars are the abode of the Deva.

There also exists the Raman Ayanamsa and the Krishnamurty Paddhati Ayanamsa. Where
the former was not openly announced by its author, the latter is very close to Lahiri and
could be an approximation made to compensate for the inaccuracies in the Lahiri
ayanamsa at the given time. This is because astrologers had relied on a mean motion of
the ayanamsa which caused inaccuracies in the calculation with time. One more ayanamsa
called Yuktesvaras ayanamsa exists but it wasn’t used to predict planetary positions but to
justify yuga calculations, hence its unclear as to whether the author of it actually meant to
use it for any other purpose.
What is common for these three mentioned ayanamsas is that their authors haven’t linked
them to any fixed-star positions.

vi. How to choose?

Unfortunately, the astronomical backing is lacking in many of the ‘new’ ayanamsas today,
and mainly because astrologers are too quick to ignore the star positions before ascribing
to an ayanamsa. And if it isn’t the star position, then the precession rate itself doesn’t
correspond to the actual precession of the stars. This leaves ‘new’ ayanamsas as being
imaginary or arbitrary positions in space.
The fixed stars are the basis of the Niryana chakra, without which there is no basis for

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1/13/2019 Ramblings on Ayanamsa – SRI GARUDA

fixing the zodiacs starting points.


Sign-upTherefore
now - learngood
fromadvise to beginners on choosing
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ayanamsa is to analyze these following points:
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1. Stars initiating the ayanamsa.
2. Actual precession rate of the stars. Subscribe

3. The signs which initiate the ayanamsa.

So far the only software today, to this authors knowledge, which depicts the Ayanamsa
based on actual star positions is Jagannath Hora, by PVR Narasimha Rao. The software
uses an ephemeris with the actual star positions to fix the ayanamsa. Yet, it is this authors
hope that one day astrologers will be able to calculate the ayanamsa for any given time
using the knowledge given to us by the seers.

[1] Hipparchos and Ptolemys observations.


[2] Source from Binary Research Institute (http://www.binaryresearchinstitute.org)
[3] Surya Siddhanta, Chapter XII, sloka 80.

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