Speculations regarding Jyotish

Introduction

Jyotish is a controversial subject in Indian English language press. On the one hand, it is usually denounced as bogus by self appointed secularists. The usual reason for denouncing Jyotish is that it is impossible for inert material bodies like planets or eclipses (Rahu and Ketu) to influence anything. On the other hand, its popularity remains undiminished even when eminent astrologers make contradictory predictions. I would like to discuss here the relationship between Jyotish and Hindu dharma, the existence of various planetary Deities, speculate on the principles underlying Jyotish and the reasons for failures in prediction.

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An outline of Hindu dharma

Hindu dharma is a diverse system. However, there are some basic concepts accepted by the vast majority of (astika) Hindus. These are:

1. Scripture (Sruti and Smriti)

The primary texts of Sanathana Dharma includes four Vedas, Sixteen Brahmanas, four Aranyakas, One Hundred and Eight Upanishads, Six Vedangas, five Upavedas, eighteen Mahapuranas, eighteen Upapuranas, six Darsanas, eighteen Smritis and two Ithihasas.The major scriptures are the Vedas (specially the Upanishads also called Sruti), the Bhagavad Gita (Smriti). Two popular scriptures are Ramayana and Mahabharata. Different Hindu sects may have additional scriptures.

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