Parashara's Light

Note: I'm including several reviews pertaining to Parashara's Light. However, these reviews refer to much older versions, and I haven't reviewed any of the recent versions.

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First Review:

Parashara's Light is available for Macintosh, Windows, and DOS (PC compatible) systems. Because it is very fast, it can be used on slower machines. The program has very precise calculations and works well on computers with large or small screens (including laptops). The built-in atlas contains the longitudes, latitudes, and time zones for 125,000 U.S. cities, plus accurate time changes for dates after 1968.

At first glance, Parashara's Light appears to be similar to most of the other programs. On closer inspection, however, one discovers that the program has a truly outstanding degree of customizability and a very wide range of features. The most shining example of this is its worksheet selection. The program allows you to design up to four different worksheets, each with its own layout. Each worksheet can display 4, 6, 9, or 12 sections of information, depending upon the size of your computer screen, and how much information you want to see at once. Each section can show a chart, chart data table, or dasa. Parashara's Light allows you to choose from 12 different dasa systems (more than any other program) and to specify a starting date and how many sub-period levels to show. It can calculate each of the dasas from any point (not just from the Moon, and not just for the Vimshottari dasas). You can also move the starting date for each dasa forward and backwards in time with a click of your mouse.

Among the charts to select are rasi, bhava, chandra, four types of lagna, varga (Parashara, Nadi, and Tajika), gochara (transit), and varshaphal (progressed). You can specify the date you want for each gochara chart, and the person's age for each varshaphal chart. Imagine creating one worksheet with all twelve dasas displayed, and another with 12 different varga charts. This is a great feature.

Parashara's Light contains the full text of four Vedic classics: Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, Saravali, Hora Sara, and Garga Hora. You can browse the texts and use the bookmark feature to explore what is said about any topic. The program also highlights (in red) sections pertaining to the most recently calculated chart, and can print them out (about 15 pages).

The research section of Parashara's Light allows you to search charts for one factor, or look at the factors in common in a group of charts. You can search for planets, dispositors, and lords (of houses) in exaltation, trikona, kendra, combust, own sign, aspect, or vargottama; signs and houses occupied and/or aspected by planets or lords; and house cusps aspected, hemmed in by benefics or malefics, or in a specific nakshatra. This is an excellent set of search features.

In the rectification module, you can enter five different events in a person's life, and view the changes in Vimshottari, Yogini, or Astottari dasas and subperiods for 10 time periods (of 1, 5, 15, or 60 minutes each) before and after the birth time. In the Event List, you can enter twenty different event dates and see the dasas and subperiods for all three dasa systems. These tools can definitely facilitate birth time correction.

The new chart tutor allows you to click on any house in the displayed chart and see what it signifies, a description of its sign, where the house's lord is and what that means, plus interpretation's of the chart's ascendant, ascendant nakshatra, and moon's nakshatra.

Parashara's Light has several other useful modules. The Auspiciousness Graph is a colorful bar graph display of the planetary strengths (using Shad Bhala, Vimshopak, shastiamshas, avathas, dignities, and the number of good positions in varga charts). The Timeline displays a monthly calendar with the Vimshottari dasa changes indicated, and a graphic ephemeris for the month. The new Muhurta (electional) page shows rasi and navamsa charts for any date, planetary positions and standing, three dasas, a short list of keywords for the nakshatra and thiti, plus a "thermometer" indicating the auspiciousness of the day in general, for marriage, and for travel. The Vedic calculator lets you add and subtract points (a la Arabian Parts) to create sensitive points.

Even with a slim manual and without online help, Parashara's Light is easily learnable and very friendly. Its depth of features, graphics, and flexibility will fulfill the wishes of most Vedic astrologers.

Second Review:

Parashara's Light

by Michiel Boender

Parashara's Light is superbly interactive and a joy to use. Here is a program you can tailor to your needs, designing both screen displays and printed pages. You can view any of four "worksheets" of data onscreen, and change what's in each to your heart's content.

Imagine your computer screen divided into four sections, two across and two down. Each panel can contain a chart, a table, or a graph. By clicking on any panel, a menu pops up and lets you select what you want to see in that panel, e.g., a predictive chart, a dasha listing, a graph of Shad Bala, a table of lordships, etc. You can choose any divisional chart (including Parashara, Tajika and Nadi Vargas), Ashtakavarga, alternate lagna charts, a planetary data listing for any chart, Gochara, Varshaphal, progressions, Prashna information, a variety of tables, notes you've attached to a person's chart, and more. As you look at a chart in the worksheet, you can click on any planet and a new screen pops up, showing you information about the point's rulerships, avastas, aspects, and dignity. This screen also allows you to view delineations on a planet's Nakshatra and the effects of its lordship(s), plus the karakas (significations) of the planet, its sign, its house, and its drekkana. Amazing.

In addition, you can easily switch between viewing worksheets of four panels (2 by 2), six panels (2 by 3), nine panels (3 by 3), twelve panels (3 by 4), and sixteen panels (4 by 4), i.e., zoom in to see the panels displayed larger, or zoom out to see more panels at once. You can, for example, create a screen with sixteen different divisional charts on it, arranged just the way you want. You can print worksheets, as well as save any worksheet format you create to reuse later.

Parashara's Light offers a very large number of dasha systems (13), and allows you to base the calculations on any point, e.g. from the Lagna (Ascendant) instead of the Moon. While looking at a dasha listing (in a worksheet), you can mouse-click to view earlier or later dates, change the number of dasha levels displayed (e.g. mahadasha, bhukti, antardasha, etc.), or even change the dasha method itself. The worksheet uses a smart pointer to help you. When you move the pointer to the symbol for moving the dasha date backwards in time, it displays the word "earlier", while if you move it to the symbol for decreasing the number of dashas shown, it shows the word "fewer". This is a very nice touch. The worksheet is one of the most outstanding and effective tools I've ever seen in an astrology program.

With the new Design Tool you can create your own pages for printing. You can select from a large variety of charts and tables, much like the worksheet, and arrange them any way that you like on a page. You can view pages as a full page, actual size, or enlarged, create charts and tables of virtually any size, and position them quite precisely. In the planetary data list, you can specify what you want listed, including avastas, nakshatra information, sign and degree position for each planet, lordship, balas (shad and vimshopak), and dignity. The design tool is simple to use and a very powerful addition to the program.

The full program comes with the complete text of four Vedic classical references, including the foremost Brihat Parashara Hora Shasta. Not only can you read these works onscreen and search for any keyword, you can also view (or print out a report of) all of the sections that apply to a chart. The Dasha Effects module also uses classical references to interpret each dasha, bhukti, antardasha, etc. for a person's chart. It shows when all of the periods and subperiods start and end, and you can effortlessly switch to a new mahadasha or subperiod, and see delineations for that. The program also finds all of the yogas for a person's chart from B.V. Raman's 300 Important Combinations, complete with delineations.

Parashara's Light offers a wide variety of predesigned printouts, including divisional charts, vimsopaka bala, planetary relations, Varshaphal, Prashna, Dasha listings, Shad Bala, Aspects, Avasthas, Ashtakavarga, Health, Astronomical data, Pancha Pakshi, Sahams, and Krishnamurti and K.N.Rao pages. One of my favorite features is that you can view all of the charts throughout the program in the round wheels chart format that Western astrologers are used to, instead of square wheels. No more trying to figure out where a house or sign is. This is an invaluable feature for those just breaking into Jyotish.

In its dynamic transit viewing section, Parashara's Light shows you each point's degree, nakshatra position, relationship, sarva Ashtakavarga, kakshas, and strength as it changes with time. You can also view or print ephemeris tables, a monthly graphic ephemeris, and a monthly calendar showing the changes in dasha subperiods.

Parashara's Light has a revolutionary new transit report designed specifically for Jyotish work. You select a date range and the transiting & natal points to use, including the Moon's nodes, upagrahas (shadow points) and the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto), and transits to all of the house cusps, the angles, and the Yogi Point. The program displays (or prints) the entries into new signs, Nakshatras, and Navamshas, and transits into a point's sign, Nakshatra, Navamsha, or degree. It can use Vedic aspects, exact trines, squares, oppositions, and conjunctions, and show changes of dashas (up to five levels for any of the dasha systems). You can include Lunar phenomena such as changes of tithi (lunar day), karana (lunar half-day), and yoga (Sun plus Moon point), Moon phases, Moon rise, and Sun rise. You can turn on any points or searches, and name & save the searches that you design, to use again later. This module is awesome in its capabilities.

The program also has superlative research functions. It can search a set of charts for factors such as a planet, house lord, or planet's dispositor in a specific sign, Nakshatra, house, or dignity (e.g. exalted), or combust, conjunct a malefic or benefic, in a kendra or a trikona, conjunct or aspecting a planet or house lord, or Vargottama, or for factors like a sign or house occupied by or aspected by a planet or house lord. You can combine queries with and & or, such as, "Who has Vargottama Jupiter and a debilitated Moon." This module can also analyze groups of charts, displaying -- graphically or as a table -- the distribution of the planets in each of the signs, Nakshatras, or dignities, for all of the planets, nodes, and the Ascendant; or show aspects or conjunctions between these points. This is a very fine research utility.

Parashara's Light greatly helps astrologers rectify a birth time. Its rectification module shows the changes in Vimshottari, Yogini, and Astottari dashas -- to five levels -- for five different dates in a person's life, for ten time segments before and after the birth time. You can look at segments that are one, five, ten, or sixty minutes apart.

The new file manager can import charts from the Quick*Charts files, save charts to new sets, copy files, delete charts, and load multiple charts quickly. I especially like the browsing function, i.e. going down the list of names and seeing a chart instantly for whomever's name is highlighted.

The program has a very useful and attractive Muhurta page, for finding optimal dates for activities. It displays Rashi and Navamsha charts, positions of the planets by degree, sign, nakshatra, pada, relationship, avasta, kaksha, Ashtakavarga, and sarva, plus tarabala, chandrabala, tithi, karana, yoga, five levels of Vimshottari, Yogini, and Chara dashas, interpretations of the nakshatra and tithi, and an image of a thermometer showing the general auspiciousness, as well as the auspiciousness for travel and/or marriage. It even has a tool to shift the time forwards or backwards by a minute, ten minutes, an hour, day, week, Ascendant sign, or Navamsha sign, or to a new date and place. This is a great electional astrology device.

Parashara's Light is a consummate Vedic astrology program. Its accuracy, flexibility, classical texts, wide range of functions, speed, and ease of use should satisfy everyone interested in or practicing Jyotish.

Review #3:

I've discovered an interesting and amazing parallel between the two major Western astrology programs and the two top Vedic astrology programs. One of the Western programs and one of the Vedic program are both designed like a Rolls Royce: large, powerful, with lots of buttons and switches, slower to handle, and with beautiful finishings, and the other pair of Western and Vedic programs are like BMW's: excellently engineered, fast, very stable under harsh conditions, handle well, and fun to drive.

The Rolls Royce programs are the Western program Win*Star Plus and the Vedic program Goravani's Jyotish. They each consume a large amount of hard disk space, are best on a fast (Pentium 166+) computer with a large screen (15" minimum), have an encyclopedia of reference materials built-in (including a glossary), are more complex to learn (partially due to the huge range of features), have unbelievably extensive and remarkably beautiful graphical and chart printouts, and have desktop publishing quality output.

The gazelles or BMW-type programs are Solar Fire for Western astrology and Parashara's Light for Vedic work. These have a simple and elegant interface using pull-down menus, excellent tools for designing your own pages and charts, superbly easy-to-use customizing (of colors and other display and calculation factors), World-class graphical transit printouts, and an ease of use that makes reading the manual unnecessary. They work great on laptops, small screens and slower computers, and their exceptional interactivity allows you to keep changing what is being shown to you on screen in an ongoing exploration of each displayed chart.

It is important to state that all four of these programs are incredible and well worth having. Each has many features no other program has, and represents years of state-of-the-art programming. Since I have reviewed the latest version of Solar Fire in my most recent review, I will focus on the latest versions of the other three programs in this article and the next.

Parashara's Light 4.0 by Michiel Boender

This latest version of Parashara's Light adds incredibly valuable new features. Perhaps the most apparent is the ability to show each planet in a different color. You can select the color for each point from among millions, with different colors for viewing and for printing. Colored points enable you to quickly scan any listing, chart, or graphic to find the planet you're looking for. You can also set the color background for all of your charts, and produce beautiful wheels thereby.

The updated transit/dasha search adds a monthly calendar that allows you to see in a clear, day-by-day monthly calendar format, exactly what dasha changes, whole sign and exact aspects, and ingresses (entries into houses, nakshatras, padas, navamshas, kakshas, and signs) are happening each day (and minute). This is great tool for watching the events to your chart. The transit/dasha search tool can also display and print lists of the dates and times when these events occur, and is the most powerful time search tool yet available for Vedic astrologers.

Perhaps most useful among the new features is the Page Designer. It allows you to place any number of charts, data tables, labels, and notes on a page, and easily and precisely set the size and position of each item. You can select from natal and divisional charts, Prashna, Muhurta, Varshaphal, transit, and progressed charts, Nakshatra and Sarva Chancha Chakra circles, dasha and Varshaphal dasha listings, Jaimini karakas, and detailed tables that include dignity, Shad Bala values, lordships, avastas, and more. I love these features immensely, as they allowed me to design exactly the pages I wanted to see and print out, with more control and power than any other Eastern or Western program. What an excellent tool.

In alliance with Richard Houck's new "Bits of Destiny" book, Parashara's Light offers two new kaksha reports, that enable you to see the number of kaksha's active on any day (and thereby how resilient -- or prone to trouble -- you are that day). The program now analyzes each chart for over 1000 yogas, and prints a beautifully formatted report interpreting the yogas that are active in a chart.

The file manager has also been enhanced. You can now sort any chart listing by any point's sign, Nakshatra, dignity, strength, house occupied, or the number of points in any sign, Nakshatra, house, sign, or dignity. In other words, you could view a list of your clients by which planets are strongest for each person.

Parashara's Light now has a complete online help manual, making it even easier to use, and by the time you read this, will include the largest Time Change atlas in the astrological world, complete with the longitudes, latitudes, time zone, and time change information for over a million (!) cities throughout the World.

In sum, this is a truly valuable update and well worth having by every Vedic astrologer.

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