The difference between Vedic and Western astrology

A major difference between Vedic and Western astrology: the zodiac systems

TM writes:

I am a bit confused since according to the Vedic Astrology (from India) the Saturn enters Leo only in the July of 2007 and that at present it is in Cancer for past two years which ends in July 2007.

I know the basics that the Vedic astrology depends on the moon signs while the changes that you mentioned above are based on sun signs. but what I don’t follow is that the planets and their movement through the signs shouldn’t that be the same according to both these systems?


The difference between Vedic and Western astrology is bigger than you think! There are actually two zodiacs, tropical and sidereal. (say: “sigh DEER e-ul,” kinda rhymes with ethereal.) Western astrologers use the tropical zodiac. Vedic astrologers use the sidereal. (Western sidereal astrology is a thing, but the majority of western astrologers use the tropical zodiac.)

The difference is in the positioning of the 12 zodiac signs. Western astrology pins the signs to the seasons of the year, with the Sun entering Aries on the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere. This makes it a bit more earthy and practical, in my view.

The Western and Vedic zodiacs used to be the same (about 2000 years ago).  But the constellations have drifted a bit since the signs were named after them. Or perhaps the equinox and solstice points have drifted. It doesn’t matter why, I guess– but there is now almost a whole sign’s difference between the two.

The sidereal or Vedic zodiac signs have been adjusted over time so that they do line up with these new positions. While we Western astrologers hold our signs to the seasonal pattern of the Earth circling the Sun.

The difference between Vedic and Western Astrology: the zodiac

  • The 12 zodiac signs are the same in both zodiacs.
  • The tropical (Western) zodiac is based on the seasons.
  • The sidereal (Vedic) zodiac is based on the stars and constellations.

Robert Hand explains the difference in his book Horoscope Symbols:

“There are two ways of measuring the progress of a planet through the zodiac. One is to use the so-called sidereal zodiac, which is a measure of a planet’s relation to the background of the fixed stars. The other is to use the so-called tropical zodiac, which is a measure of a planet’s relation to the point in the sky where the Sun is on the first day of Spring. This point, known as the vernal equinox, or 0° Aries of the tropical zodiac, moves clockwise or backward in the zodiac in relation to the fixed stars at the rate of about 1° every 72 years.”

Which is better? Western or Vedic astrology?

Both systems have a lot to offer! My experience with Vedic astrology is limited, and there are some similarities. But the methods for reading the chart are very different, and so are the goals of the reading.

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