Shri Jyoti Star 5.0

By Andrew Foss

For MS Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP

List Price: $299 (available through me for a special price of $265)

[Reviewer's Note: Andrew originally released this update as version 4, but soon changed the number to version 5.]

It is the rare astrology software developer who puts so much time and love into their creation. Over the years, I have watched Shri Jyoti Star grow incredibly in power and ease of use, to become one of the foremost astrology programs available today. It's author painstakingly eliminates bugs and regularly adds new features, and gives the registered users of the program a full year of free upgrades (each significantly enhanced and available at the click of a button).

Shri Jyoti Star has so many capabilities and wonderful touches that it is impossible to review them all. It operates under Windows 95 and higher, and includes the latest ACS PC atlas data for automatic lookup of coordinates and time zones for over 250,000 cities throughout the World. Shri Jyoti Star is very easy to use, with standard Windows features like pull-down menus, program tips, and right-click menus, as well as several training videos to introduce you to the program's operation.

Shri Jyoti Star can import files from Quick*Charts, Parashara's Light, and Visual Jyotish, and receive them from AstroDatabank. Data entry is simple, and the new version accepts birth data in a variety of formats. You can also view your database (chart file) sorted alphabetically, by most recent entries, or by gender. You can also view only those people who have Tropical or Sidereal Sun or Moon or Sidereal Ascendant in a specific sign or nakshatra, or who have Sidereal planets or the Nodes in a specific Sidereal sign, and can then save a new chart file of those having that position. You can keep people's contact information in the database and export it to a spreadsheet for making address labels.

With the versatility of a Swiss Army knife, Shri Jyoti Star offers special features for those who use the methods of Sheshadri Iyer/Hart de Fouw, Krishnamurti Paddhati, Jaimini/Sanjay Rath, and V. K. Choudhry (Systems' Approach). When you first run the program, it assists you in selecting the chart format, color scheme, house system, ayanamsha, and nodal calculation method you prefer. It offers 20 different pre-designed screens for everything from natal analysis to transits, Systems Approach, rectification, Varshaphal, compatibility, ashtakavarga, and varga analysis, 27 different sets of pre-designed printed pages, and 18 different blank screens that you can fill with the charts, tables, and graphs you want. You can also design from scratch any number of pages for printing, and sets of pages to print out at the push of a button.

Essentially, both the screens and printed pages are created by first selecting the format of the page (i.e. 2x2, 3x3, 4x3, 5x3, 5x4, or 6x4 cells per page) and then placing whatever charts, tables, and graphs you want in each cell. Shri Jyoti Star even allows you to have different formats on different pages. You can drag any chart or table around the page with your mouse, and copy whole pages to other pages. The program offers many more choices of charts, tables, and graphs than other Vedic programs I have examined, with over 40 types of charts (including varga charts and special lagna charts), 50+ types of tables (with many additional options for several of the tables), 26 graphs, and more than 15 dasa systems (you can control the starting date, planet calculated from, and total cycle length).

An optimal way to use the program's flexibility is to design your own screens and printed pages along specific themes, e.g. one page for dasa work, another for Shri Pati analysis, a third for evaluating planetary strengths, a fourth for showing the compatibility factors and charts (see the next paragraph), and so on. Because the printed page sets can be any number of pages per set, you can create one set for your standard natal readings, another set for predictive work, etc.

Unique among Vedic software, Shri Jyoti Star allows you to work easily with two different sets of chart data at the same time. You can place wheels, tables, and graphs onscreen (or on printed pages) for any two people's charts, or for a birth chart and a transit or Varshaphal (Solar Return) chart. You can also view compatibility tables, composite charts, and additional tables showing the kakshas, lordships, associations, sarvashtakavarga, dinam, relationships, and aspects between the charts, plus a table showing the kutas and yonis for all of the planets. These are excellent features.

Also unique is Shri Jyoti Star's ability to "rotate" the chart, so that any planet is in the first house. This is most often used when evaluating dasas, i.e. to place the dasa lord in the first house and evaluate the dasa by reading the new chart. In fact, the program offers a chart specifically showing the present dasa lord in the first house, so you won't have to specify which planet to place there.

Another of Shri Jyoti Stars' unique features is its creative use of color. You can set different color schemes for onscreen work and for printing (as many as 3 different schemes each), and for each scheme select the colors for the planets and signs, dignities, background, and headings. Planets and signs can be displayed in their "natural" color (e.g. green for Mercury, Gemini, and Virgo) or colored to show the planet's dignity (and the dignity of the sign's ruler). There's color coding for three kinds of dignities: Parashari (exalted, detriment, etc.), Systems Approach (strong/weak benefic/malefic) , or Hart/Iyer (yogi, avayogi, daghda rashis, etc.) and you can use either natural or dignity coloring for each individual chart, graph, or table. The dignity color coding lets you instantly see which planets are strong or important in a chart.

One exciting feature new to version 5 is the ability to see aspect lines in charts. While most Western astrologers are used to seeing aspect lines drawn in their charts, until now no Vedic program has offered this capability. That's partly because the square charts of North and South India do not lend themselves to drawing lines between planets. Shri Jyoti Star succeeds beautifully in depicting aspect lines for both of these styles (as well as in Western circle charts). More importantly, the program can draw Whole Sign, Parashari, Jaimini, Parashari and Jaimini combined, Tajik, Systems Approach (aspects within 5 degrees), and Western aspect lines, and you can quickly switch between all of these. The software also has the ability to display aspect and interaspect tables for any type of aspects, and between any two charts (e.g. transit and natal, rasi and varga charts, person A's rasi and person B's navamsa, etc.).

Shri Jyoti Star has many very powerful features. Its rectification and time shift tools, for example, are unparalleled. You can display a table showing the times when the rising sign and navamsa rising sign change throughout the day (for the birth chart or - for prashna - for the present date). You can also shift all of the charts, graphs, and tables onscreen forward or backward in time, step-by-step or automated, by any increment of time that you want. You can even see any type of aspects (see the preceding paragraph) form and disappear over time. This time-shift tool allows you to immediately see all of the changes a shift in birth time makes. This is wonderfully designed for rectification.

The relocation and AstroMap features are equally excellent. Shri Jyoti Star displays a person's world Astro*Carto*Graphy map (with planet rising and culminating lines), and allows you to see a person's natal ascendant and midheaven (and the longitude and latitude) change as you move the mouse pointer over different areas of the map. By clicking on any place, you can instantly relocate the person's chart to a new location. What makes this function outstanding is that since the map only takes up a portion of the screen, you can still see several of the charts, tables, and graphs and watch them change as you click on each new place. (You can also quickly move the chart(s) to any city by entering its name into the provided field.) You can even relocate two different people's charts to the same place simultaneously, and, unique to Shri Jyoti Star, view two different people's Astro*Carto*Graphy planet lines on one map!

The program's research features are even more impressive. Shri Jyoti Star allows you to search both ranges of dates (to find specific times when planetary placements occurred), and your database/chart file (to see who has a particular yoga). Its time search function allows you to place any or all planets in specific signs or exact positions or orb ranges (e.g. Moon at 5 degrees of Aries plus or minus a 2 degree orb) and then search any time period for when the planet(s) are at these positions (or search your chart collection for who fulfills the criteria). The program then shows you a list of dates (or names) meeting the search conditions, and you can click on a date (or name) and see the planetary positions for that chart, and show that chart on the main screen. You can also search for when any of over 70 classical yogas occur either in the sky or in your chart collection.

Perhaps the most powerful of all of the research features is the Custom Search. Here the program offers you a huge number of conditions that you can select from, including planets in signs, houses, navamsas, nakshatras, states (such as dignities, vargottama, a specific number of houses from the Moon or Ascendant lord, and aspected by or hemmed in by malefics or benefics), or lords of specific houses in specific houses, navamsa, states, nakshatra, etc., or the ascendant in a specific nakshatra, navamsha, etc., or a number of planets in specific houses, states, nakshatras, etc. You can combine any of these criteria with AND/OR logic. Shri Jyoti Star then searches your database, and finds the name of all of the people who meet the condition(s) you've selected. In addition to the power of these search functions, the speed with which the program searches is truly phenomenal.

Version four also includes extensive tables of sahams (Vedic style Arabic Parts), control over aspect orbs, the ability to increase glyph size in charts independently of tables, protection against overwriting any pages you've created, a check to make sure you've saved all of the charts you created before exiting the program, lovely lotus borders for charts, the ability to add up to 6 pages of notes and the dates & details on (up to 39) life events to each chart, a calendar, Arudha for both houses and for planets, and a table of critical points including mrityu bhaga (death point) and the brighu bindu (love point),

Another innovation in version four is Shri Jyoti Star's new Planetarium. It shows the planets and the fixed stars, and labels the stars that are closest to each planet. The planetarium can even be animated, i.e. you can watch the planets move forward in time, forming conjunctions, combustions, etc. This is a visually very neat feature.

Two nice features in Shri Jyoti Star for obtaining answers to personal questions are the Ramayana Oracle, and the Quick Prashna functions. The Oracle allows you to meditate on a question, click a button, and then receive an answer to it. The Quick Prashna enables you to select a question from a set of 18 themes (like getting married, having a child, taking a journey, etc.) and gives you the likely outcome based upon the rules of Prashna (Vedic horary astrology). The Group Muhurta function allows you to create a group of people's charts, and find the best time for the group to initiate an activity.

Shri Jyoti Star includes an extensive and searchable list of karakas (significators of specific themes like loss of wife, long awaited money, dogs, etc.) showing the planet(s) or house(s) that indicate the theme. It also includes classical interpretations of planets in nakshatras, lords of houses by house, Phaladeepika's yogas, planets in houses, two or more planets in a house, and Upagrahas in houses, and more delineations will be added by the time you read this.

Another new feature is the enhanced transit report and calendar. You can select whatever transit events you want, planetary entries into signs, navamshas, and nakshatras, aspects to and conjunctions with natal planets, and dasas to 5 levels, for any date range and place, and the software will create a monthly calendar showing these events.

Shri Jyoti Star continues to be the Vedic program of choice for a growing number of Jyotishis. The incredibly powerful rectification and research features, the huge number of tables and graphs, the ease-of-use, superb accuracy, rock-solid stability, and frequent enhancements all make Shri Jyoti Star of tremendous value. It gets my highest recommendation.

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