Friday, January 28, 2011

The Astrological Flip Side: Shifting Zodiac Questioned in India


[Update: A Mini version of this story was published
on The Chakra news site, 31 January 2011]

In January of 2011 Minnesota astronomer Parke Kunkle made news when he told the Minnesota Star Tribune that the Earth’s ‘wobble’ (i.e. the 25,950 year Precession of the Equinoxes) has shifted the sun signs of the zodiac. An even though the same idea has of course been the basis of what is called ‘Vedic’ astrology for quite some time, this story got picked up by major news sources around the globe, including CNN, ABC, CSB, FOX News, Huffington Post, and The New York Times.

Ironically, in India the exact reverse 'news' was recently presented at the prestigious First National Conference on Panchanga Ganitam (Calendar Reform), held December 24 - 26 2010 at the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Andhra Pradesh.

Whereas the majority present at the conference upheld the current practice in India of measuring the zodiac year using the shifting constellations (i.e. sidereal astrology), evidence was presented by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet indicating that the true measure of the 12 months of the zodiac year, as described by the Vedic Rishis, is the Tropical Zodiac; and that consequently, one's astrological sign has nothing to do with the constellations. Hence, only two weeks before the big announcement in America stating that astrological signs should be determined, as in India, according to the constellations, an American woman was lecturing to the Indians about the devastating flaw in their own constellational system of measuring the zodiac. This declaration in India, in support of the Tropical Zodiac used by ‘Western’ astrologers, should be of interest to Indians as well as to those who were set aflutter by the recent astrological news.

Ms. Norelli-Bachelet, the aunt of Chile's ex-President Michelle Bachelet (who is now head of UN WOMEN), writes that approximately 1,000 years ago, Indians began to veer from the Tropical Zodiac, and that this is a clear departure from Vedic wisdom. From this point of view it is actually the Western astrologers who have kept the Vedic measure of the year alive. India's squalor and lack of organization can be pointed to as evidence that India's current sacred practices do not hold much weight in terms of their ability to unify and harmonize the whole. One must wonder, if the entire system of Vedic knowledge – including Vedic astrology – were truly alive and well in India, wouldn't the Indian nation be a luminous center of world-knowledge rather than a precarious, disorganized and filthy mess.

With out this side of the story, the news that has widely circulated in America and beyond, about the signs of the zodiac, is simply lopsided. The entire astrological foundation of India, wherein the constellations have been the basis of their zodiac for centuries, is currently being challenged. Many shrug this challenge off, but 60 Temples in southern India have actually begun to celebrate passage through the 12 signs of the Tropical Zodiac, because there is evidence in the Rig Veda that the Vedic Rishis anchored the measure of the sacred year (which we now call the zodiac) to the four pillars of the Earth’s Solstices and Equinoxes.

The assertion and evidence that what people currently think of as 'Vedic' astrology is actually a distortion of the Vedic tradition, deserves equal visibility as the Parke Kunkle story. It is likely that the many people who are interested in, and perhaps disturbed by, the recent news 'virus' that dismisses the Tropical Zodiac as the measure of the 12 Sun Signs, will also be interested in knowing that there are those who are challenging the well-established roots of that same dismissal in India.

It is a fact that the constellations do shift due to the Earth's wobble (i.e. the Precession of the Equinoxes). But it is NOT A FACT by any stretch of the word that the 12 months and four quadrants/seasons of the zodiacal year are suppose to be measured out by uneven constellations which constantly move from the perspective of the Earth. Since the constellations are not consistently 30 degrees each, there are no actual sidereal (constellational) months to speak of.


And furthermore, imagine if we tried to measure and constantly re-calibrate the latitude and longitude of our own globe (and hence the celestial sphere) on the basis of the position of the constantly ‘moving’ circle of constellations. I think most can appreciate what a colossal mess that would be! Well trying to measure and organize a society in terms of a constantly shifting constellational or sidereal calendar is equally convoluted and equally impractical; but as of yet, it is not commonly understood in our modern times that the measure of the Year has real significance and real applications in terms of our collective organization and collective consciousness. Of course we share ONE GLOBE, but most do not appreciate that we also share ONE JOURNEY in time, a journey that has been measured out and celebrated, as far back as we know, by the 360 degrees and 12 months of the Tropical Zodiac.

Additional Notes: Ms. Norelli-Bachelet has lived in India for 40 years, working towards the 'Restoration of Vedic Knowledge'. She runs the Aeon Centre of Cosmology in the Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu and bases her writings and cosmological teachings on the Integral and Supramental yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who envisioned that India would one day help the world find its way to higher knowledge about the relationship between Matter and Spirit, and the relationship between the Cosmos, the Individual and the Divine. Ms. Norelli-Bachelet writes that correctly measuring the Zodiac is fundamentally important in the process of seeing the divine or supramental order and sense in our individual and collective evolution.
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Related Links:
* 'There Will Be a Transformed India the Day the Calendar Problem Is Resolved' (A short video and transcript from the Panchanga Ganitam Conference)
* A Delegate’s REPORT on the First National Conference on Hindu Calendar Reform  (by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet)
* The Importance of Makar Sankranti in Hindu Calendar Reform (Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet's paper, presented at the Tirumala Conference, 25 December 2011)
* 'Restoring the Soul of Vedic Knowlege in the Aquarian Age' (Lori Tompkins, published as a guest column on www.iVarta.com via the IndiaCause blog, 17 January 2011)

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The Zodiac Story in the News:

* 'Your Zodiac Sign May Not Be What You Think' (NBC, 12 January 2011)
* 'New Zodiac Sign Dates: Ophiuchus The 13th Sign?' (Huffington Post, 13 January 2011
* VIDEO: What's Your Sign? Are You Sure About That: Zodiac Signs are off by about a month (CNN's American Morning)
* 'No, Your Zodiac Sign Hasn't Changed' (CNN, 13 January 2011)
* 'Zodiac: What's Your New Sign?' (CBS, 13 January 2011)
* 'Sign of the Times: Astrology Story Sores Like a Comet' (Minnesota Star Tribune, 14 January 2010)
* 'Did You Horoscope Predict This?' (New York Times, 14 January 2011)
* ''New' Zodiac Signs Cause Instant Identity Crises' (CNN, 14 January 2011)

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