Indian vs Ancient Western Horary Astrology

Hi. I moved this article to my new website. Please read its updated and improved version there. Thank you.


I have been recently dealing with horary. As I was doing some charts, I felt like revisiting horary’s philosophical and metaphysical dimensions. As I was rereading parts of Bonatti, Sahl, Umar, Al Kindi, Masha’allah and others, one thing led to another and I came across a book on Indian horary called Prasna Magna. Prasna is the term the Indians use to denote horary. So whether you call it Jyotish horary, Indian horary or Prasna, it refers to the same branch of interrogations/questions: the lowest one in the astrological science.

Prasna Marga was written in 1649. It is translated by the famous Bangalore Venkata Raman and has been reprinted a few times due to the strong interest in it. This is the first book I have read on Indian horary and thus I want to make it clear that I will be judging Indian horary based upon Prasna Marga and from the perspective of one who practises Western Ancient horary. I will disregard the Zodiac because horary is divination to a great extent and it is more important what system one chooses to follow, and to stick to it, rather than some differences in methodology. Needless to say, one cannot blatantly disregard the fundamental rules, but horary allows a far greater leeway than electional, the next branch, let alone natal or mundane.

For those that do not know, this is how a (Northern) Indian astrological chart looks like:

And this is how a South Indian astrological chart looks like:

My thanks to this website for the free charts:

My goal in writing this article is to stimulate Western/non-Indian Astrology practitioners, not just horary ones, to read Prasna Marga. I could write a very long article to do this book justice, but I am not going to. I want you to read the book, which I strongly recommend, and of course to make up your own minds as to its philosophical as well as practical merits.

Prasna Marga is a very big and extremely detailed book. I have to say that it not only deals with horary but with natal as well. After all, a lot of the rules and aphorisms in horary can be, and should be, applied in the natal branch. I had read about Jyotish horary from Hart de Fouw and how comprehensive it can be but I have to say I did not expect it to be that thorough. Even if you have read the largest Western horary book, namely the Nine Judges translated by Ben Dykes, plus Bonatti, Lilly, etc, in reading Prasna Marga you will be amazed at the amount of detail that is given. I am not one to be easily impressed but this Indian book is something to take one’s breath away. I read all the horary parts for a few hours without taking a single break.

By impressed, I mean not so much the astrological rules pertaining to the chart, that is, the intra-chart rules, the hundreds of aphorisms on pretty much any topic one can think of, because they are preserved in the Western horary books. (Some of them are similar to those on thought interpretation given by Herman of Carinthia in the Search of the Heart translated by Ben Dykes). What I mean is the totality of the Indian approach. It considers the moment of asking the question to be unique. As such, not only the astrological chart but the world outside, as well as inside, gives all kinds of information on what is asked about. Here are some of the factors that are considered:

The practitioner’s breath (not just on this day but the previous ones as well);

The direction occupied by the querent;

The querent’s bearing

The querent’s mood

The querent’s clothes

The practitioner’s departure and what omens they see on the way;

Indicative signs when entering the querent’s house

Judgment according to the lamp and the flame

As much as I am impressed, I have to mention what I consider to be the negative side not just of Prasna Marga but of Indian Astrology in general. There are so many rules and aphorisms that, at best, could, theoretically at least, allow one to reach an amount of detail that seems impossible, but, at worst, could turn one into an absolute slave/zombie to these authorities and rules. And I am not even getting into the worshiping part which is oriented towards the lower astral plane and its repercussions. My point in criticizing Prasna Marga is that one is given hundreds, if not thousands, of rules for probably any conceivable topic, and from a number of angles, yet what about the practitioner themselves?

What about their own contribution? I am not talking about reinventing the wheel. I am talking about the uniqueness that every human being brings into their practice. I am talking about one’s individuality. Again, there are dozens if not more rules telling the practitioner not to judge the chart because the outcome will be negative. I am not just talking about intra-chart rules. I am talking about prior to meeting the client and drawing the chart itself. Why this strong need to control the environment? What will happen if the answer is indeed negative? After all, given how many factors can be taken into account, chances are it will be unfavourable. So what? Hearing bad news is not the end of the world. What about learning from the negative outcome? How about accepting fate and being open to what you are presented with next?

In the interest of impartiality, I am not saying the ancient Western horary books are the opposite and full of advice for the querent, but what I am saying is I had never come across such fervent desire to make the outcome known before even meeting the client and erecting the chart. What I mean is the obsession of looking for the positive outcome. It is here where metaphysics and philosophy must come in. In conclusion, I do recommend that my readers read Prasna Marga but be prepared for a strong response. This book will either appeal to you greatly or it will be a big turn off.

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