I love reading books on astrology—it’s a great way to deeply learn the science, as well as to see how different astrologers think. Hint: they think very differently from one another. On this page you’ll find the books that I have found especially helpful, insightful, or interesting. I’ll start out with basic books, and add more advanced ones further down the page.
ASTROLOGY OF THE SEERS, by David Frawley
This is one of the first books I read on Vedic Astrology and is still one of the best. Dr. Frawley (whose Indian title is Vedacharya Vamadeva Shatri) is a very unique individual—an American, born in Wisconsin, who holds many esteemed Indian titles, such as Vedacharya (Vedic teacher), Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor), Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer), Puranic (Vedic historian) and Yogi (spiritual adept). The background, understanding and depth he brings to this beginner’s text on Vedic Astrology is outdone only by his ability to make the subject clear and comprehensible. Not only does he cover the basics well, but he delves into many important aspects of Vedic Astrology that other authors do not even attempt, such as its relationship to Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), spirituality, and psychology. Also includes a number of example charts and interpretations that will help aspiring Vedic Astrologers to better understand how to read charts.
LIGHT ON LIFE, by Hart DeFouw and Robert Svoboda
A beginning book for the serious student, Light on Life demands that the reader enter into a more complete understanding of the Indian worldview and the traditional methods of teaching jyotish. This is because Hart DeFouw and Robert Svoboda personally did just that, living for India for 15 years and training under an astrological guru in the ancient ways. In essence they have tried to reproduce the original, verbal teaching style of old Indian astrology in this book, which is loaded with gemstones of wisdom. Great for those who want to dig deep right away, and are willing to put a little more effort in to do so.
ANCIENT HINDU ASTROLOGY FOR THE MODERN WESTERN ASTROLOGER, by James T. Braha
One of the books that pioneered the growing interest in Vedic astrology in America, Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer is a fabulous text whose title says it all. If you are already a Western astrologer, or knowledgeable in the techniques of Western astrology, then this book will get you firmly grounded on the basic concepts of Vedic astrology and how you can put them into practice in a reading. In an easy-to-read style, Braha covers it all: birth charts, navamsa charts, planetary friendships and aspects, shad bala, karakas, upayes, the vimsottari dasa system, transit predictions, planetary maturity, yogas, varga charts, nakshatras, and more. To be sure, the sheer volume of concepts he’s addressing makes each section relatively brief and somewhat simplistic. However, if you’re a Western astrologer looking to jump-start your understanding of Vedic astrology quickly and painlessly, then this is the book.
ELEMENTS OF VEDIC ASTROLOGY, by Dr. K. S. Charak
This two-volume set, written by respected surgeon and jyotishi, Dr. Charak, is a densely-packed full introduction to Vedic astrology. If stuck on a desert island with only one reference work on jyotish, this set would be more than sufficient. He briefly but intelligently covers all the basics, including: astronomical concepts; the planets, signs, and houses and their natures; how to cast a horoscope, varga charts, subplanets (such as Gulika, Dhoomadi, etc., —a very interesting and oft-neglected topic); planetary strength; the vimshottari dasha system; balaristha and aristha bhanga, various yogas, varshaphala, muhurtha, prasna, gochara, ashtakavarga, and on and on. There is no basic or intermediate subject that doesn’t receive its due in this marvelous compendium. Even though each is treated with relative brevity, I find that often Dr. Charak’s descriptions are more understandable and offer more insight than whole books on the same topic.
ASTRONOMY AND MATHEMATICAL ASTROLOGY, by Deepak Kapoor
I put this book in the Beginners section, rather than the Advanced section because I strongly believe that astrologers should have a firm grip on the principles of astronomy. Nothing does more of a disservice to the field than to have jyotishis who don’t understand the fundamentals of astronomy, as well as how the calculations that are the basis of astrology are actually done. In his book Astronomy and Mathematical Astrology, Deepak Kapoor familiarizes readers with what could be called “the astronomy of astrology” in a way that is fairly easy to comprehend, even for such a complex topic. Do you understand how the sidereal zodiac (i.e. Lahiri ayanamsa) is calculated as opposed to the tropical zodiac? Do you know how Vimshottari is calculated and why? For a generation of astrologers used to computers doing everything, these questions often elicit a puzzled shrug, and yet the answers to these questions and others that are addressed in this book are central to what we do, and the future of our work.
NAKSHATRAS, by Dennis Harness
The nakshatras are the most “Vedic” part of Vedic astrology, and easily one of its most fundamental and powerful tools. These 27 “mansions of the mood” have been the basis of Indian culture and practice since the time of the Vedas, and retain their importance today. In Nakshatras, Dr. Dennis Harness provides a useful and often humorous introduction to this essential jyotish tool. The first section of the book deals with the nakshatras one at a time, digging into their individual characteristics, meanings, and positive and negative aspects. He also includes a page of famous examples for each. The second section of the book brushes the surface of some deeper considerations of the nakshatra system, such as muhurta (choosing good times to do things) and the yoni kuta (a traditional relationship compatibility technique). As you begin to recognize the power of the nakshatras, you will find yourself reaching for this little gem more and more often.
THE DIVISIONAL CHARTS, by Dinesh Sharma
The varga or system of divisional charts is one of the most powerful tools in the Vedic astrology toolkit for turbocharging the specificity and accuracy of your predictions. Yet most astrologers content themselves with referring only to the navamsa, or ninth divisional chart. This is often not because of an unwillingness to do so, but due to a lack of knowledge about the proper way to use the other main divisional charts. In his book, The Divisional Charts, Dr. Dinesh Sharma seeks to fill in these gaps about how to understand and apply this unique and excellent system of subcharts. Using the divisional charts, an astrologer can pinpoint exactly where in a person’s life the effect of a planet will be felt, as well as getting deeper insight into the nature and extent of a particular effect. A good way to begin to learn this method of improving your astrology.
SUBTLETIES OF MEDICAL ASTROLOGY, by Dr. K. S. Charak
Dr. Charak is both a surgeon—the prestigious Head of the Department of Surgery at Indira Gandhi Hospital in Delhi—and a Vedic astrologer of the highest caliber. With his intimate knowledge of both health and astrology, the doctor was the perfect person to write a book that combines both subjects. In Subtleties of Medical Astrology, he outlines the entire spectrum of jyotish techniques for both understanding and predicting a person’s health based on their chart, including: the use of multiple dashas (Vimshottari, Chara, and Yogini) to confirm the same event, the divisional and transit charts, retrograde planets, malefic conjunctions, the Trik houses and lords, the twenty-second drekkana and sixty-fourth navamsa, and a lesser-known but adverse area called the mritya bhaga (or “death-inflicting point”). All of these are heavily illustrated with actual charts and case studies from his own practice. If you want to know how to predict health with great accuracy, this is the book for you.