Note: This article was written a very long time ago, and most of the programs mentioned have changed significantly since then (not always for the better). Please contact me by clicking here if you want current information.

We are at beginning of an incredible awakening of Western astrologers to Vedic astrology. During the last 10 years, fueled by more openness and a greater understanding of the depth and value of Indian methods, astrologers have become more and more drawn to Jyotish (aka Vedic astrology). Several of the excellent rediscoveries of Project Hindsight, including such ideas as whole sign houses, sect (diurnal/nocturnal strength) and planetary periods, have been used for thousands of years in the East. And for the Western astrologer, many of the Vedic insights and methods are completely applicable to Tropical work, e.g., the idea that planets aspect empty houses. Vedic astrologers understand the twelve houses to a remarkable degree, and their insights have much to offer. E.g. Western astrologers are generally unaware of the Vedic practice of looking for older siblings in the 11th house, or for discernment in the 5th house. It's no wonder that Hart de Fouw and Robert Svoboda's exquisite new Jyotish astrology book, Light on Life, sold out in its first printing.

Astrologers who study and/or practice Jyotish are incredibly fortunate to have several world-class computer programs available to help them with their efforts. Jyotish software is on par with the very best Western programs -- like Solar Fire and WinStar -- in speed, accuracy, ease of use, and range of functions. Vedic chart analysis is much more elaborate than Western methods, so the software must perform many different functions to meet the needs of a practicing Jyotishi, and the packages reviewed in this article succeed admirably.

For those who are new to Jyotish, a few words of background are in order. Besides examining sidereally-based Rashi (natal) charts and Gochara (transits), the Jyotishi looks at divisional charts (akin to harmonic charts), Dashas (periods of time ruled by specific planets), the strengths of planets and houses (using methods called Shad Bala, Vimshopak, and Ashtakavarga), Nakshatras (lunar mansions), Drishtis (aspects calculated by Jyotish rules), kuta analysis (compatibility based on lunar factors), Varshaphal (Solar Returns), Muhurta (Electional astrology), yogas (special combinations of planetary positions), relations between planets (based on rulerships and house positions), Prasna (Jyotish Horary), karakas (significators), and more.

All of the programs reviewed in this article can display and print out Vedic charts, save chart files, and allow you to select an Ayanamsa (the difference between Sidereal and Tropical positions), the length of a year (360 or 365 days), True or Mean Lunar Node, and North Indian (house-based) or South Indian (sign-based) chart formats. They also do divisional charts, Ashtakavarga, Shad Bala, Drishtis, Varshaphal, Vimshopak, planetary relations, Nakshatras, Vimshottari Dashas, user-defined ayanamsas, dynamic transits (showing planets circling a natal chart at user variable rates), and can access the ACS Electronic Atlases for automated entries of the longitude, latitude, and time zone.

Two of the programs reviewed here -- Parashara's Light and Goravani's Jyotish-- run both on Macintosh computers and on PC-Compatibles under Windows. Haydn's Jyotish runs on PCs under DOS and on Macintosh systems, and Shri Jyoti presently runs on PCs under DOS. All of the programs except Haydn's Jyotish can do kuta (compatibility) analysis.

Parashara's Light
by Michiel Boender

Note: This is a review of an earlier version of Parashara's Light. Please contact me via email if you're interested in the latest version.

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.

Goravani's Jyotish
by Das Goravani
from Goravani Astrological Services at 800 532-6528
211 Crest Dr.
Eugene, OR 97405
the demo version (fully functional w/o ability to enter new charts) is $15
the student version costs $145 (no transits, compatibility, research)
the professional version (reviewed here) is priced at $295

Imagine a program with the power and flexibility to print out incredibly comprehensive interpretive reports for birth charts and transits, and over 40 additional exquisitely designed charts, graphs, reports, listings, and tables for an individual's chart. Add to this the full texts of the Bhagavad Gita and David Frawley's Astrology of the Seers, and the charts of 2500 famous people and 1000 cities and countries from the Penfield Collection, and a built-in atlas of 3500 cities, with U.S. time changes after 1967, and you get a small idea of just how much Goravani's Jyotish offers.

All of the program's printed output looks outstanding. Each page is perfectly arranged, listings and tables are neatly boxed, the text fonts are easy to read, the planet and sign glyphs are beautiful, and there's page numbering for multiple pages. Several of the printouts include excellent explanations of the meanings of the portrayed chart(s). The graphs -- of sign and house strengths -- are stunning, and for those with color printers, the program can produce gorgeous multi-color mandala-quality charts. Also offered are Krisnamurti charts and data pages, a K.N. Rao format page, a page of Vimshottari, Yogini, and Chara dashas, and Lotus Medicine & Bhrigunadi Progressions listings.

Goravani's Jyotish is almost an encyclopedia of Jyotish. It's reference section contains tutorials on Jyotish basics, Vedic philosophy, Varshaphala (Jyotish Solar Returns), derived houses, lords of houses, Yogini and Mudda dasha systems, karakas, and more. There is a built-in glossary of over 280 Jyotish terms, superb tables of nakshatras, tithis, orbs for combustion, lordships, house types, avastas, aspects, planetary friendships, and more, and the complete text of the program manual explaining every feature of the software.

The incredibly comprehensive list of karakas (for example: what planets, signs, or houses signify accidents) is over 5000 terms long, plus there's a scaled-down listing for individual charts with three columns of 25 karakas each, for a planet, its sign, and its house.

The program takes up 28 megabytes of disk space, and runs best on a fast 486 or Pentium on a PC with a SVGA color monitor, or on a color Mac running system 7.0 or later. Goravani's Jyotish calculates charts from 1 A.D. to 2500 A.D. with unsurpassed accuracy. Goravani's Jyotish can be customized in more ways than we can list. You can edit the interpretive text and add your own material. You can create custom sets of which pages to print out. You can include the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) and choose which house system to use in the Western wheel display. You can add your own name and address to printouts.

The main Charts screen in Goravani Jyotish is the gateway to most of the program's functions. It shows a birth chart, which can be easily switched to a navamsha, bhava, chandra, or divisional chart, or changed to a different rising sign, or to the chart of someone you recently worked on. The program can display charts as Yantras, i.e. beautiful wheels with divisions that look like a six-pointed star. The main screen also has a listing of the charts on file, a data entry area to enter, edit, find, or delete charts, a table of the planets in the chart, with different views of their positions e.g. by sign, degree, and nakshatra; a varga summary, or a bala table. There are fifteen buttons onscreen allowing you to switch to any of the program's major modules, and a compact Vimshottari dasha table where you can change the planet used to generate the dasha, use different house cusps, set the starting date and number of subperiods (e.g. Bhuktis, Antardashas, etc.), and whether to use a 360 or 365 day year. Finally, there's a list of the yogas found in the person's chart. You can view interpretations for any of the yogas, see what famous people have the same yoga or positions, and what factors create each yoga. The Charts screen is not only incredibly functional, but easy to use as well. This has got to be the most powerful single screen in all of astrological software.

There are literally dozens of different screens within the program, from graphs of planetary and house strengths; to a grid of divisional charts factors, tables of strengths, friendships, and lordships; and detailed information screens for each of the planets. The overlay feature displays three different charts concentrically in a tri-wheel. You can place two people's charts, any divisional chart, the Chandra lagna (Moon as Ascendant), or any sign as the lagna in each of the three wheels.

Goravani Jyotish's transit module is very powerful and well thought out. You can move the transiting planets forward or backwards in time one step at a time or automatically. You can view transits over divisional charts or for any lagna (e.g. the Sun as ascendant), set the local coordinates, print out the biwheel, and view or print out well-written interpretations of the transits (even by the outer planets: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto!) for any date, time, and place. Perhaps its most remarkable feature is the ability to search for the date when a planet reaches a specific degree of a specific sign. The program finds the date and immediately shows you the transiting positions around the natal chart, as well as the four levels of dasha operating at that time. This is a great tool.

The compatibility module allows you to compare a person's chart with any number of charts of members of the opposite sex. You can then review each comparison, or look at a list of who matches the person best. You can print out the compatibility reports for many charts at once or individually.

Goravani's Jyotish has outstanding strengths in working with your chart files. You can use the Roster to step through the charts in a file and immediately view not only a chart for each person, but also any of six different tables showing the birthdate, placement of the house lords for each of the houses; the Sun and Moon's sign and house, the Ascendant and Moon's lord and sublord or Nakshatra, and the mahadasha each person is in and its ending date. You can sort a file by any of these factors, e.g. have the list show you who has the same lunar nakshatra, or is in the same mahadasha. What a fine resource! You can import charts from the Quick*Charts format, and export charts as a backup. To save disk space, you can import charts to an archive file, and retrieve them as needed. You can print out pages with six people's charts per page, which is wonderful for preparing a notebook of charts; or generate a compact list of all of the people in your chart file, showing on one line each person's birthdate, Ascendant and Moon's sign, nakshatra, lord, and sublord; Lotus constitution, current dasha-bhukti-antardasha with the ending date of the antardasha, Sun sign, and house placement of the first, fifth, ninth, and tenth house lords, over 50 names per page.

Goravani's Jyotish is a world-class Vedic program. Its reference materials, stunning output, huge range of features, ease of use, and beautiful screens make it a winner for anyone interested in Jyotish.

An Important Update on Visual Jyotish.

Visual Jyotish program was reviewed in my original article in TMA; but the manufacturer -- C&D Software -- has discontinued selling the software. Since the program is also copy-protected and cannot be moved to a new computer, previous owners of Visual Jyotish are unfortunately out of luck. (They can still try and call 800-RAJ-YOGA to see if they can get help, I couldn't.)

Haydn's Jyotish
by Haydn Huntley
Price: $110 from Haydn Huntley 515-472-7025
P.O. Box 1161
Fairfield, IA 52556
Demo disk available ($10)
Haydn's Jyotish Demo Free Online

While this DOS program may not offer astrological glyphs, graphics, or as many functions as the other Vedic programs in this review, it is incredibly well designed, effortless to use (even without looking at the manual), lightning fast, and perfectly suited for laptops, older computers, and for people who dislike complexity. The menuing system is ingenious and intuitive, and the program always shows you what keys to use.

Haydn's Jyotish has many capabilities. In addition to all of the basic functions common to all of the programs reviewed here (mentioned at the beginning of this article), it can calculate Vimshopak, Bhava and Chaleta Bhava charts, alternate lagna charts for any planet as the first house, partial aspects, three methods of Ashtakavarga (Parashara, Saravali, and Brihat Jataka), two methods of Shad Bala (Raman and Parashara), Bhava Bala, tertiary progressed charts, and Vimshottari dashas to three levels. While viewing a chart, you can move the birth time forward or backwards for rectification, and shift transiting planets a step at a time, too. What I like best in Haydn's Jyotish are its comments on each planet and house and the highlights for the chart. The program displays many factors about each placement, including the sign, house, positional strength, and aspects for each planet in both the Rashi and Navamsha charts, the planet's age, Jaimini karaka, lordship(s), dignity, the houses it signifies and it aspects, and the age at which it gives its full effect. It also points out any planets that are Vargottama, Raja Yogakaraka, close to the edge of a sign, within different signs but conjunct, in mutual reception, and combust. It also shows the Yogi point, Yogi, duplicate Yogi, Avayogi, Soli-Lunar Yoga, Lunar Nakshatra and Tithi, the Dagdha signs, Kujadosha, and the proximity of planets to their deepest point of exaltation or fall.

The birth chart screen looks simple but actually is cleverly designed to show you an amazing amount of information. It can display the degree and minute positions for each planet or show codes that reveal the planet's relationship to the sign its in, and whether it's stationary, slow moving, retrograde, close to the edge of a sign, combust, Vargottama, a Raja Yogakaraka, in mutual reception, rules a trikona, has positional strength, or losing a planetary war. Because each code is one letter, the screen remains uncluttered, while packed with information. You can even view transiting planets for any date placed within a Rashi chart, shown in a different color alongside the natal planets, complete with their codes. Pretty neat.

Haydn's Jyotish has several other niceties. It makes it simple to load, rename, delete, save, edit, or create a chart file. It comes with a utility to convert Quick*Chart files to the program's own format, letting you import files from most other programs. The built-in spooler expedites printing, and you can batch print any or all of the possible printouts, and even create a custom set of charts to print out. The program is very easy to customize, i.e. to select the chart format, length of the dasha listing, true or mean node, etc.

In summary, Haydn's Jyotish is a delightful program to use for fast, accurate, and effortless Vedic calculations. It offers all of the basic functions, and shows you many of the relevant and distinguishing qualities of each chart. As such, it's great for beginners and practicing Jyotishis alike.

Shri Jyoti
by Andrew Foss

Important Note: Shri Jyoti is now available for Windows 95 and 98 and is much easier to use and much more powerful. Go to the newest review by clicking here

SkyClock.

This program for Macintosh computers is available from SynEnergy (800-621-2633) for $89.95. It displays both Western and Vedic charts for the twentieth century quickly, colorfully, and accurately. Charts can be calculated for earlier and later centuries, with diminishing accuracy. The Western astrology features include showing an aspect grid and an element & mode table, or a second chart around a natal wheel. The second chart can be the present positions (updating in real time), the positions on a specific date, or secondary progressed or solar arc positions. You can set the aspect orbs, a chart's harmonic, program colors, and the (Western) house system from six choices. SkyClock's Jyotish abilities include showing Rashi (birth) and Navamsha charts and Vimshottari mahadashas all on the same screen. You can specify what ayanamsa to use, and also view a screen of both mahadasha and bhukti levels of Vimshottari Dashas. This remarkably inexpensive program is great for color laptops, simple to use, and enjoyed by many Jyotishis.

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