The Problems with Astrology Programs from India

by Hank Friedman

Since India is the birthplace of Vedic astrology, and home to most of the World's jyotishis (Vedic astrologers), and since India has thousands of computer programmers for hire, it only makes sense that India would be a rich source of Vedic astrology software.

And in fact, there are many, many programs written for Jyotishis in India.

The programs fall into two main categories: programs that do the thinking for novices (i.e. ascertain compatibilities, predict the future, choose a baby's name), and more professional level programs. However, even the professional level programs usually have similar functions to the novice programs, just more of them, plus additional advanced charting features.

Unfortunately, there are several very common problems with Indian astrology programs that have prevented me from endorsing them:

1. Inaccurate calculations.

I was truly surprised that more than half of the astrology programs from India made errors in calculation. Some had very basic errors (e.g. of planetary positions), while others miscalculated dasas or other more sophisticated techniques.

2. Limited or no atlas.

The most common problem with Indian astrology software was the lack of a built in atlas. Those that included atlases covered a very limited number of cities, and usually without any time change data at all. This contributed to the pattern of inaccurate calculations immensely.

3. Software Bugs.

While astrology software created in the United States may not be completely bug-free, it is rare to encounter a serious software problem. Unfortunately, quality control and debugging is much less frequently practiced in India, so the programs often had significant problems.

4. Copy Protection Methods.

Because the theft and illegal copying of software is rampant in Asia, the Indian software creators have found it necessary to implement elaborate copy protection schemes. Some require a disk, cd, or dongle (i.e. a device that is connected to a printer or USB port) in order to run. This is very problematic because one can lose the required accessory, it can fail, and it can become infected with malware. In any case, U.S. astrologers find such precautions to be unacceptable.

5. Presence of computer viruses

In one case, it seemed like the program I received and evaluated (from India) had none of the problems outlined above. Then a friend and fellow Jyotishi ordered the program, and could not get the atlas to work. They send him a "fix" than didn't work, and which contained a computer virus that trashed his PC. When he tried to get a refund, the company cut off all contact and would not respond to any of his emails.

6. Lack of responsiveness to emails,

He was not alone in having poor customer support. I have written preliminary reviews, and raised issues and made suggestions, and sent emails to companies in India, only to receive no response. It is very troublesome to purchase software from a company that is difficult or impossible to get support from. (I have also found that many companies don't want their software reviewed, and don't provide review copies.)

7. Software that does the thinking for you.

It can be very problematic (with both Western and Vedic astrological software) to rely on the software itself to choose the best dates to initiate an activity, choose a gemstone for you, etc. because astrology software by itself cannot take enough factors into account or can't weight them correctly. Additionally, as I covered in my article The Strengths and Weaknesses of Interpretive Software, programs that try to interpret birth charts or predictive cycles can be inaccurate for the same reason (not taking enough factors into account). While you should read that article too, let me simply state that issues with accuracy of delineations or predictions are particularly evident in Vedic software because Vedic astrology requires much more synthesis and understanding than any software can provide.

I look forward to the day when I can recommend a Vedic astrology program written in India without any reservations. I do endorse the free Vedic program Jagannatha Hora with its extensive capabilities, but, as I have written before, one cannot trust its internal atlas, and should enter birth place coordinates and time zone and time change information manually for accurate results.

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