Q: I wondered if you could help me understand better about the Hindu tradition of comparing a couples birthdates, birth times, names, etc., in order to determine if the couple would be a suitable match? I would like to know, how is this exactly done? And how accurate is the outcome? I would appreciate any insight into this matter you can offer..?
A: Good question.
The seeking for auspicious dates and matches is certainly a common thing in Hinduism. Worldwide it is actually a very confused situation. There are at least 7 major astrology systems presently used around the world, each with differences in the factors and the way predictions are made: Chinese, electional, Horary, Horoscopic, Indian, Sri Lankan, and western (tropical).
The two major differences between Indian and western astrology has to do with the sidereal or tropical systems. Both divide the ecliptic into a number of "signs" named after constellations, but while the sidereal system defines the signs based on the fixed stars, the tropical system defines it based on the position of the vernal equinox. Even within western astrology, there are at least 8 different systems used (cosmobiolological, evolutionary, Hamburg, Heliocentric, locational, Huber, Sun and psychological). There are a further 18-20 that have been used but are now fallen out of practice as the systems were connected to dynasties or civilizations that are now defunct.
The basic assumption of astrology is that the position of the stars affect the persons born on that day. A natal chart is often made from this date. In addition to this there are the influences of the mixing of two people, the present dates, etc. All of these factors are being placed together in order to form a sense of whether there is a match that is positive in people and dates and events. The reason for this influence and exactly how this influence worked is not often discussed, but assumed in forces such as gravity or magnetism to produce an assumed prediction of the auspiciousness or lack of it for an event.
Interpreting horoscopes (a map of the heavens at the time of a person’s birth) is a very complicated thing. There is much room for differences and for mistakes within each system or school. Each planet is held to rule over Zodiac signs (the Zodiac is an imaginary belt of sky comprising the 12 astrological signs that the ancients illustrated with mythological figures). In the Western systems, the relationship between the planets, or angles are held to be bad, good, or neutral as well as the planets being either good or bad. The reason for these are not really known. Transits are when planets cross a specific point on the horoscope chart that will be favorable or unfavorable. In addition to this there are nodes, triplicities and quadruplicities. Nodes are the intersections of the moon’s orbit with the apparent path of the sun among the stars. Triplicities refer to how the four astrological elements (fire, earth, air, and water) each relate to three signs. Quadruplicities refer to how the three astrological characteristics called “cardinal”, “fixed”, and “mutable” each relate to each of four signs. Then there are dignities and debilities which are the influences of how a planet is increased or decreased by its placement on the chart. After weighing all of these factors, the astrologer must then choose the method of prediction. There are three common methods used in the Western systems. Romanian astrologer John Manolesco has concluded that of the tens of thousands of astrologers in the Western world there are less than an hundred who can claim to have mastered the subject.
Perhaps the most consternation that comes with astrology is the conflict between the different schools of astrology. The complexity of the Indian system has a seemingly infinite number of rules and techniques. And these are in contradiction to the Western systems. The Draconian method of ancient Babylon (still in use) presents another entirely different system. In China there are entirely different systems. In Mexico, the Aztec system exists. Even with each major arena there are sub-schools that contradict each other. One simply cannot say, “Astrology predicts” because each method and each school predicts differently.
Astrologers everywhere proclaim astrology to be scientific and trustworthy. The obvious problem with this claim is “Which one?!”
There have been some statistical studies of astrology to determine if they are indeed accurate. Several studies seemed to give some partial support to astrology (Mayo-White Eysenck, Guardian-Smithers), but the mild correlation of the results were thought to be mainly due to subject’s expectations. Gauquelin researched sports champions to see how they related to the position of Mars. Gauquelin claimed to have found slight evidence for this correlation but did not consider this an astrological effect. A 12-year study by French scientists failed to replicate this slight evidence. When Gauquelin tested personality traits from 2,000 subjects, the prediction of astrology received a “fatal blow.”(cf. Gauquelin, “Zodiac and Personality:An Empirical Study, vol 6 p. 64). “Every attempt , whether of astrologers or scientists, to produce evidence of the validity of astrological laws has been in vain.” (Gauquelin, the Scientific Basis of Astrology: Myth or reality; New York; Stein and Day; 1973 p. 139 and Gauquelin, Psychology of the Planets San Diego, Astro Computing, 1987 pp. 7-10). Ralph Bastedo tested 1000 people for correlation to the adjectives of the signs they were born under. He said, “All of our results can be attributed to random chance (Ralph Bastedo, “An Empirical Test of Popular Astrology” The Skeptical Inquirer vol 3, no. 1pp. 17-38, 210-212). Other research has shown that when charts are reversed, the interpretation “fits” people and that people cannot tell the real from actually inverted charts (Roger Culver and Philip Ianna, “Astrology: True of False, a Scientific Evaluation”, Buffalo, NY Prometheus Books, 1977 p. 210). In one ambitious study, the results of leading Western astrologers and leading astrology publications were examined. Over 3,000 predictions found that the failures of these predictions were 2673, which equals about a 90% failure rate. (R Culver and P.A Ianna The Gemini Syndrome: A scientific Evaluation of Astrology, Buffalo, NY, Prometheus Books, 1984 pp, 169-170).
I am a firm believer that matches in marriage and events have much more to do with the character or lack of it in people than the planets and how they aligned at a person’s birth or for an upcoming event. It has never been shown that any person could influenced by or be a mismatch by the magnetism or effect of the position of a star. I hold that truth and integrity, loyalty and purity—these have much more to do with the future of a marriage than do the stars.