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By Swami Harshananda

Ātharvaṇa-jyotiṣa literally means ‘Science of heavenly bodies, belonging to the Atharvaveda’.

History of Jyotiṣa[edit]

Jyotiṣa or astronomy is one of the six Vedāṅgas or subsidiary sciences that help us to understand the Vedas. Performance of sacrifices was the most important aspect of the Vedic religion. It was related to different periods of the year, time and the position of the stars. Because of these details a separate science called ‘Jyotiṣa’ evolved in course of time. Each of the four Vedas developed its own Jyotiṣa.

Gist of Ātharvana Jyotiṣa[edit]

The work Ātharvana-jyotisa as extant today comprises of 162 verses and may be a recast of an earlier work. It is generally assigned to the 2nd cent. B. C. Its contents primarily detail:

  1. Muhurta - A particular division of time
  2. Karaṇa - An astrological division of day
  3. Yoga - Leading star of a lunar asterism; a variable division of time
  4. Tithi - Lunar day
  5. Vāra - Day of the week

Technique of Ātharvana Jyotiṣa[edit]

It is said to fall outside the Vedic period but before the period of the Siddhānta calendar which divides the zodiac into twelve rāśis or signs. It adopts a scheme of nakṣatra astrology. It forms nine groups of three nakṣatras (asterisms) each, the total being 27. Information is provided at length as to what should be done or not to be done on the presence of the nine groups and their constituents.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore