Astrology is a type of divination based upon the idea that information about the future or about a person’s personality can be discovered through the examination of heavenly bodies such as stars, planets, the moon, comets etc. Astrology means the study that assumes and attempts to interpret the influence of heavenly bodies on human affairs. American Heritage Dictionary defines Astrology as the study of the positions and aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that they have an influence on the course of natural earthly occurrences and human affairs. The practice of astrology was prevalent in the ancient times too. Some of the well-known civilizations of the world used this field extensively. For example, the ancient Chinese civilization, the Egyptian civilization, the ancient Indian civilization, etc all practiced astrology at some point or the other. Arabs too practiced Astrology before the advent of Islam. The ancient Babylonians were probably the first to use Astrology. After that this science moved to countries like China and India. Greek astronomer Ptolemy was the first ever person to write a book on Astrology. He codified the sun sign astrology that we know today. Ptolemy tried to predict the positions of celestial bodies relative to each other and the earth through knowledge of their orbital motions. During his time, astrology was a part of astronomy. Later, astronomy became an exact science and Astrology remained a part of Theology. Planetary observation is the basis of Astrology.
History of Astrology is an important part of civilization and goes back to the early days of the human race. Apart from being centers of learning in medicine, Baghdad and Damascus were also known as centers of astrology and astronomy. Arabs were pioneers in astronomy before the advent of Islam. The Babylonians were the first to name the days of the week after the Sun, Moon, and planets. They were also the first to set out the twelve houses of the horoscope. Egypt was one of the most important places in the development of astrology.
It is thought that some of the astrological signs of the zodiac originated in Egypt. Astrology was practiced even in the Vedic times in India. Astrology is one of the six disciplines of vedanga. The Hindus believe that human fortune or misfortune in life is due to karma, and karma is believed to be influenced by the movements of the planets. Among the Hindus, Brahmins are considered to be the best authorities on astrology.
In Modern India too, astrology is extensively used to determine the future and improve life. Astrology is studied and practiced by many in India. It is regarded as vital in Indian culture. It is used to make decisions about marriage, starting of new business, and moving into a new house etc. Ancient Hindu Scriptures too gives a lot of importance to the various aspects of planetary motions and its effects on humans. Chinese astrology stresses on the five elements, metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Even the zodiac signs used by them are also different from other forms of astrology.
China was isolated from the western for a long time. That is why Chinese astrology was unknown to the western world. As Chinese astrology developed independently, a lot of difference can be seen between the western concepts of astrology and the Chinese version. But the Chinese and Indian astrologers were in touch every now and then. Therefore, these two schools have a few things in common. In spite of the geographical isolation, there are a few surprising similarities between the western and the Chinese thoughts on astrology. It can only be termed as a coincidence. Even though the science of astrology was started and developed in the east, the west was never without its share of astrology.
Recently, the trend of reading the daily horoscopes have caught up the western world. Suddenly, the western world has woken up to the possibility of knowing and improving their future with the use of astrology. More and more westerners have started to believe in the possibility of getting affected by the powerful planets and stars. Western scholars have included the subject of astrology in their research. Astrology was never scrutinized and researched ever before the way it has been done over the last few years. The astrologers in India claim that it is a scientific method to predict the future. They still club this field of study within the parameters of Hinduism. They say they can prove that astrological predictions are indeed scientific. Hindus almost unanimously believe in astrological predictions. In fact, religious Hindus cannot imagine life without Astrology.
More and more Indians have started to build their houses according to the principles of Vastu Shashtra. This ancient Indian tradition is also governed by astrological implications. Hindus believe that the overall prosperity and benefits of the occupants is dependent on the Vastu principles while building the house. Feng shui is one of the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve harmony with the environment. It is also an off shoot of Chinese Astrology. This again is said to be scientific in nature.