Homage to Lord Kalachakra!

I recently received my Tibetan horoscope from Men-Tsee-Khang, the Tibetan medical and astrological institute based in Dharamsala, India, and set up by the Dalai Lama.

There were a lot of surprises in there. What principally surprised me was that the positions of the planets differed marginally from Indian sidereal astrology. This is the front page of the prognosis offered by Men-Tsee-Khang.

Homage to the Lord Kalachakra!

In contradistinction, here is the rashi chakra for the “seven planets” produced by the enormously wonderful Indian software, Jagganatha Horam.

Lagna 24 Libra 16; Sun 21 Scorpio 25; Moon 10 Gemini 28; Mars 28 Leo 31; Mercury 4 Sagittarius 24; Jupiter 9 Capricorn 20; Venus 6 Capricorn 04; Saturn 27 Leo 10.  These figures tally more or less with my own horoscope program, Astral Windows. Venus and Jupiter are in Capricorn, sidereally.

But not in the Dalai Lama’s mobs’ chart. There, Venus and Jupiter have ended up in Sagittarius, although the other positions are similar. I decided to ask the astrologer a question, to which she replied, quite promptly. She said that Tibetan astrology was, like Indian astrology, a sidereal system and quite occasionally discrepancies like this occurred.

This was not good enough for me. A colleague of mine, Professor Edward Henning, sent me his book a couple of years ago. Called Kaalachakra and the Tibetan Calendar (ISBN 978-0-9753734-9-1, New York 2007), this wonderful book points out the basic flaws in its calculations.

Indeed, Professor Henning was kind enough to explain the anomalies to me, in personal correspondence.  He told me that there was no equivalent to the ayanamsha in Tibetan astrology, and, indeed it is basically a tropical system, with the errors so great that it had somehow turned into a sidereal system – with anomalies as described above.

Of course, Hindu astrologers also have a kaalachakra system too, but it is kind of different and has various different ayanamshas. No one is quite clear what the starting point is. Some mention Spica at the end of sidereal Virgo, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn fixed on the star Regulus, while Varamihira, the “father” of Indic astrology based it on a star in Rohini which seems to have blanked out. And scholarship has shown that although Varahamihira’s astrology retains some Indian heritage, much of it seemed to based on astrologers attached to Alexander the Great’s invasion into the East. My own book on sidereal astrology – Tantrik Astrology – still appears to be extant.

Go figure!

9 responses to “Homage to Lord Kalachakra!



    I appreciate your attention to detail here, but astrology of any type is more closely related to homeopathy than it is to science or sense of any kind. For myself, of the many religious personalities with whom I am familiar, the Dalai Lama is the least toxic. If all religious leaders were as open and accepting of other beliefs as is he, this world would be a lot less bloody place. In the long run, all religion is a claim of distinction based on nothing but more or less reasonable philosophical points. You would think that the absolute inability to prove anything about any religion out there would constrain the various adherents from there usual statements of absolute certainty that there uncertainties are more certain than anybody else’s uncertainties, or is that certainties. I think you get my point. I for one am a great fan of your journalistic ventures, but this is medievally oblique.


    EEK…”there uncertainties” in two locations should be “their uncertainties”. Since my bouts with leukemia, diabetes, sarcoidosis, and most evilly, shingles, my typing has gone where all good food goes in the end.

  3. What Ayanamsa do the Tebetens use? The Indian is usually Lahari, while the western Siderealists (Moi) use Fagan/Allen

  4. If they are Sidereal, then they must mark the position of the planets, relitive to background of fixed stars. That means there has to be a starting point. In western Sidereal, it is Spica. Alpha Virgo. (29 Virgo 06′ 05″) The Ayanamsa is the distances between the Vernal Equinox and the start of the Sidereal Zodiac at any given moment.
    Just wondering.

  5. Edward Henning

    The academic promotion is much appreciated! Incidentally, I am told that the Dalai Lama is on record as stating that Tibetan astrology does not work.

  6. Will Fausser

    Forgive the resuscitation of an old blog post, but I came to find this via google search. Basically I’m comparing my Tibetan chart with a more traditional Indian sidereal chart, and everything is the same except the ascendant seems to have moved from Gemini to Taurus. Is this explained by any of your research on the matter?

    • Edward Henning is dead. Far as I can tell, some people attempted to fuse the Indian traditions together with the Chinese traditions. As Ed said, in a previous comment, even the Dalai Lama thinks there’s a big problem.

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