Encyclopaedia of Indian Astrology

author: Prof. N.E. Muthuswamy
edition: 2006, MPS Trust Thiruvananthapuram (CBH)
pages: 1,147
Topic: Jyotisha

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About this Encyclopedia

There are very many implicit hurdles and unsurpassable limitations for creating an encyclopedia of Indian astrology in English. It is primarily because of the limitations of the English language to explain the intricate Sanskrit terms. English when compared with Sanskrit and other languages in India has fewer alphabets and phonemes. In English there are 26 alphabets only. They are independent giving no scope for any combinations. In Sanskrit, in which most of the astrological texts were written has 16 vowels (in English only 5) and 33 consonants with scope for various combination numbering about 70. Indian astrological literature abounds in Sanskrit words joined with these 119 syllables. In an Encyclopedia in English language these 119 syllables are to be represented by 24 alphabets only excluding x and z, since there are no words in Sanskrit beginning with these letters. So the exact pronunciation of many Sanskrit words cannot be correctly transliterated into English. Scholars use diacritic marks to indicate the correct pronunciation of Sanskrit words in transliteration.

I have not resorted to the system of diacritical marks, as it will be strange to be common English user. In most cases the above vowels and consonants used in Sanskrit cannot be represented through English alphabets and English man can understand their pronunciation only by hearing them. The transliteration spelling adopted by me may not be hundred percent perfect. This difficulty can be removed only by devising new alphabets. But this is not the proper medium to resort to such a new system of alphabets. This difficulty is felt in all languages which have lesser alphabets. But the linguistic fanatics try to accommodate the 180 odd phonemes of Indian languages into 24 alphabets in English. But to overcome this difficulty, I have used corresponding English words for identifying the phoneme and given example of how the phoneme is to be pronounced and to a great extent I have been able to find words which truly represent the pronunciation of the alphabet. I have also given the Sanskrit word in Sanskrit script along with all Sanskritised words in the alphabetized portion of the dictionary so that the confusion regarding the pronunciation of the word is reduced. This will be evident in the words which start with sa, sa sha. I felt that the person who is going to use this encyclopedia will have some elementary knowledge of astrological jargon. To minimize this inevitable difficulty and to familiarize with the correct pronunciation, I have given the Sanskrit word in brackets with each word e.g. Akaalamruthyu. Readers who do not know Sanskrit may bear with me. For their reference, the general plan of the Sanskrit alphabets with their English transliteration used in the dictionary is given at the beginning pages of this work.

In this encyclopedia the topics are alphabetized based on the English alphabetized system for quick reference. Since the work contents are related with Astrology it can be read continuously also as a textbook. Cross reference are given where there are different names for same topic e.g. the word sign in English and raasi in Indian Astrology. Since this is a book of ideas in astrology, the English speaker will be naturally looking for the English words and not for Sanskrit words. This is the case with all topics which are common in Indian and Western Astrology. Such words are explained with English name and cross references are given to the Sanskrit words. In most cases, the Sanskrit words are italicized and are referenced in the respective places as cross references. These cross references are a must in Encyclopedias particularly when more words express the same idea. This is more so in subjects common in two languages such as Indian Astrology and Western Astrology.

In this work I have limited myself to references in Indian Astrology. So, for this encyclopedia the words and ideas had to be culled out from standard treatises by reading every line of the various books. For this purpose standard books like Bruhathparaasarahoara, Yavanajaathakam, Bruhathjaathakam, Jaathakapaarijatham, Phaladeepika, Sarvarthachinthamani, Prasna-anushtanapaddathi, Prasnamarga, Prsnayaam, Jatakatatvam, Bruhatsamhitha, Saaravali etc ere referred. Still some words and ideas conveyed by them may have been left out. I have not included many words and ideas of subjects which are closely allied to Astrology, viz. Astronomy, Vaasthu Saasthra, Tanthra Saasthra, Mantra Saasthra, Yoagadarsana. There are two reasons for their non inclusion. One I am not adept in these subjects and two they are also very vast subjects warranting independent encyclopedias for them.

I could not avail of any scholarly assistance in selection of topics in the preparation of explanation and their editing and streamlining because lack of people who know the subject at a higher level and to share the intellectual work usually necessary for an encyclopedia. There was also no dependable material published I the subject or any forerunner encyclopedia itself. As far as astrology is concerned the library facilities also are very poor. And the preparation of an Encyclopedia requires access to all the material published in the subject. So naturally this will reflect in the explanation given to the words in part.

I do not claim that this work is complete and exhaustive in all respects. In a work of encyclopedia no author whatever may be his repertoire and grasp of subjects can claim completeness and perfection. There will he new words to be included. There will be ideas which still require elucidation. The supplementary editions of many encyclopedias indicate that every encyclopedia is not final and complete but requires improvement by corrections, revisions, additions and other improvements to satisfy the demand of the readers. When this is the case of encyclopedias written by a team of 2000 and 3000 permanent and accomplished scholars, what to speak of an encyclopedia by an ill equipped individual. But as a pioneering work it has its own importance, usefulness and worth. This is only a small beginning. Even the Britannica, the giant of the modern encyclopedias, had only 2000 pages when it was started in the year 1771 and was published in 100 installments. It is a pity that India could not contribute at least one encyclopedia in astrology which is her pride. I hope that this encyclopedia will be developed by Astrologer fraternity. There is ample scope for revision modification and additions.

As this encyclopedia is the first publication in the Indian Astrology, I did not have the facility to refer to or emulate another encyclopedia in the subject. Being an individual effort I had to work with limited physical office amenities, mainly lack of manual assistance. Since I had no publisher to take up the part of publication of encyclopedia, I had to be very economical in all respects. I had to cut short the expenses. I could not even employ a messenger, lest it should add to the production cost. I had to be cost conscious. The men of average income are the users of this encyclopedia and as such the price should not go beyond a reasonable level. So even in selecting the typesetting arranging and selecting the type I had to keep in mind the production cost to be reasonable and this has resulted in keeping a medium standard for the publication which I crave for the indulgence of the readers.

I have to suggest that scholars in the respective fields of vaasthu, Mantra Saasthra, Astronomy (karmapaddathi) and yoagas may take up the work as early as possible, least these valuable oceans of wisdom may be lost for ever, due to the inaction on the part of the professional. There are also astrology to Tibetan, Chinese, Babylonian, Egyptian, etc. Comparative study of these different systems of Astrology will reveal many factors.

Since the time of Independence of India in the year 1947 the educational planning was done by people who were more inclined to alien culture. As a result, the basis and common language which was the uniting element for all Indian states were relegated to background when Sanskrit was discouraged. All traditional subjects, the literature of which were fully in Sanskrit, became obsolete and astrology also was no exception. The sad fact remains that no intensive effort has been made or methodology adopted to teach this subject to their master citizens, by the planners and administrators of education, who do not care to have the mind and vision to include the study of astrology in the curriculum. They lack the acumen to realize the worthiness and richness of Paraasara, Jaimini, Garga, etc. they preferred Chaucer, Milton, Jonson, Mccaulay to Paraasara, Naarada, Sushruta, Bharatha, Chaanakya. One can understand the alien administration neglecting the Indian seers. But it is a paradox that even after India got independence the planners have not realized this unpardonable lapse and irreparable damage done to Indian wisdom. Though their policy pays them rich dividends for the short duration, in the long run it will prove suicidal to the Indian culture. This consequence they do not realize and how one can expect that astrology will get its due share in the curriculum. Academic bodies in some universities like senates and syndicate pass resolutions banning the study of Astrology without trying to understand its principles and utility. This is the position in the universities dominated by the so called rationalists. Still in the name of pseudo secularism the so called rationalists in the higher helm of affairs oppose its study. They connect it with Hindu religion and treat it as communal. There are other groups who brand it as superstition. It is the clear indication that the subject is not properly patronized by the managers and people of the country. In the above subject it is not congenial to professional ethics and tantamounts to the inaction of the able merciless son who witnesses passively the dying mother craving for help before his very eyes. Scholars will definitely appreciate the wisdom Indians had in the field of Astrology. Also the astrological fraternity world over, turn their attention to imbibe the means and niceties of Indian astrology and develop their acumen. Above all, this must open the eyes of the educational planners of India and they have to realize the gravity of the criminal indifference and neglect they have been showing in the propagation of such a great subject. In spite of this criminal neglect and anti-propaganda against astrology, the public encouraged it because of its utility value for them.

At present all over India a new generation of educated intellectuals like Scientists, Managers, Lecturers, Professors and Doctors understand the usefulness of Indian astrology in day to day affairs and have started learning astrology. In all metropolitan cities particularly in Delhi, Bangalore, Ernakulam, Trichur, Trivandrum astrological associations are conducting classes in Astrology. At Trivandrum in the year 1984, I established an Association named Jyothisha Prachara Sabha and undertook the work of giving an academic base to the study of astrology. Apart from this, Indian Astrology has been taken to international academic research and education. Now Indian Astrology can boast of a good number of international astrological bodies like American College of Vaedic Astrology. British Association of Vaedic Astrology to name a few. Also scholarly journals like Astrological Magazine from Bangalore, Vaedic Astrology from Delhi, in English, Khseerapadham from Trichur and popular journals like Jyoitsharathnam from Quilon and Naal from Trichur are now assisting in the propagation of Astrology. This is apart from the numerous journals which are coming in other states and other parts of India and world in vernacular and English on Indian astrology. The result of these efforts has increased the great awareness among the public towards understanding and helping the propagation of Indian astrology to the masses.

I am 78 years old and I myself had to prepare the rough a well as the final press copy of the material. For the Malayalam edition I had to write the words in slips and afterwards alphabetize them. but in this case, thanks to the computer, that itself put the words typed into it, alphabetically and gave print out. But for the help of the computer I could not have thought of the publication of this encyclopedia. Being a one-man effort there were many limitations, those of manpower, infrastructure, finance, lack of reference materials and above all age with all its discouraging and disadvantages attributes. Still I can have the satisfaction that as the effort of an individual, this will have some worth indeed. Being the first of its kind in English, this will help the great subject of Indian Astrology to get it focused to the world community of intellectuals. Due to the age factor the author may not be there to see an improved edition of this. But it is left to the posterity to take ahead this mission.

I am sure the ideas presented in these pages will evoke interest in the minds of the learners, astrological community and the researcher to go further in the advancement of the knowledge of Indian astrology.

I had received suggestions and help from several quarters of astrologers and scholars in the preparation of the encyclopaedia. I am indebted to all of them.