This article emphasizes the need to validate any data before using it, and more specifically elaborates this prerequisite by elaborating the data quality issues associated with birth data. Date of birth, Place of birth and Time of birth are the 3 components needed to cast a natal chart. Modern astrological software have made this casting of charts easy, quick and reliable. However, these 3 data points need to be validated through questioning, before preparing the natal chart. Additional considerations include time zone and summertime corrections, wherever applicable.
Birth details are the core data for preparing a native’s natal chart. This data further expands into exponential proportion as derived data points, which are used in specific astrological calculations and predictions. Hence, accuracy of this data is of paramount importance and errors overlooked while preparing the natal chart can lead to significant errors in derived variables matrix and calculations. Astrological predictions based on such wrong data are not likely to truly reflect the individual in question. Some systems of astrology are very sensitive to small changes in data (like KP System where precision is required at sub-second levels). However, certain other systems which do not consider ascendant or Lagna as part of their system construct are relatively more accommodative of birth time range by few hours (like Brighu Nandhi Nadi & Raaja Nadi and few other Nadi based systems with their origins in South India). While there are some methods available to rectify errors in birth time by few minutes, such methods of amendment might implicitly introduce bias into source data (forcing the data to fit the system) and should be approached with caution.
Significant differences of opinions exist among astrologers on the right time to be considered as the time of birth for a baby. Multiple options exist – The time head of a baby comes out, whole body comes out, time when umbilical cord is cut, the first breath of baby, the first cry of baby etc. All of them can have some difference in time among them. Among this, time of first breath of baby is widely accepted in Indian astrology as a reliable data point. However, birth times reported in official birth records may not truly reflect this specific aspect and are susceptible for certain amount of errors in observation, reporting, rounding off (by several minutes, if not hours) and calibration of time device involved. Hence, unless someone is present inside the labour room with a time calibrated watch and specifically note down the time of first breath without any distractions, the time of birth data should be always taken as a close approximation of real birth time.
Next, the need to ensure correct place of birth, its latitude and longitude coordinates are highlighted. The geo-location coordinates used in several astrological software may not truly reflect the actual place of birth. The errors can get amplified when we use an approximate point for a larger city like Chennai which has a larger boundary. Listed geo-coordinates for many smaller city and villages are not very accurate. Software involved in casting might also impose some additional rounding off errors at seconds level. The need to understand different settings in software like ayanamsa, consideration for True node points and their implication on the system of prediction (like KP system) and derived metrics are highlighted. Some additional consideration including international timelines involved for different countries closer to the polar region is discussed.
Through this article, the reader/astrologer is urged to consider all of the above-mentioned aspects while casting a natal chart, to minimize the errors. The importance of recording different life events associated with an individual at regular time intervals is also highlighted, on the successive follow up consultation to build a strong database on individuals.
This article concludes with an assertion that in spite of all these efforts, all birth data will only remain as a reasonable approximation and certain amount of errors is indispensable (after all, it’s about a human-being and to err is human 😊).
To be continued…