Astrology and Jyotiṣa
Jyotiṣa is a vedāñga, a limb of the sacred Veda. It is impossible to know the Veda without the help of its limbs of which jyotiṣa is that part which is logical and bridges the material and spiritual worlds. One does not have to become a jyotiṣa guru for this purpose and what is needed is a working knowledge of Vedic astrology.
Every level of mantra śāstra will have only that much of jyotiṣa as is necessary and relevant. In the Mantra Sastra Course, we start with bāla jyotiṣa (i.e. Vedic astrology for beginners). For those interested in a higher level of jyotiṣa knowledge, we recommend the Parāśara Jyotiṣa Course and the Jaimini Scholar Program.
Jyotiṣa is not the same thing as astrology. The former is based on a sound paradigm of karma and graha. Various human philosophies state that desire and karma cause rebirth. These desires (called icchā śaktī) can be classified into the four groups of dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa while karma-impulse components (called kriyā śaktī) are grouped into nine variables called graha from the word grahaṇa meaning eclipse. Right from conception, the human mind is eclipsed by karma that leads to the development of bias. We have likes and dislikes, love and hate and every kind of emotion that exist in pairs. Karma also causes thought to manifest in the mind as a stream of images, words, smells, tastes and feelings – so real like a live 3D-video. These provide the drive and push for anything and everything. And what is hard is that this is dynamic and ever changing – indicating that there is no end in sight. Our likes and dislikes are always changing and so also our thoughts are not the same in both quality, subject and predominance. This third factor is called daśā which includes the varying physical and mental state as well as time as a condition of existence.