Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion, with over a billion followers worldwide. Hinduism has also been called the oldest religion in the world, and its holy texts - the Vedas - are the most ancient of all the world’s scriptures. Hindus believe that the universe is governed by a supreme, universal spirit or force called Brahman that is eternal and unchanging, and that all living beings carry a part of Brahman within them, which is called the atman, or soul.

Hindus believe that the ultimate goal of the soul is to reunite with Brahman by achieving spiritual enlightenment - or what Hindus call "moksha" - but since each soul is unique, the path that each person takes to do this can be different. This is why Hindus believe that Brahman manifests itself differently to different people, taking various forms and appearing as what people colloquially refer to as different “gods”. Likewise, Hindus believe that there are many methods or “yogas” by which a soul can achieve “moksha”. While this leads to a wide diversity of how Hindus practice their religion, they are all linked by shared concepts and cosmology, recognisable rituals and pilgrimage to sacred sites, and shared textual resources.

One of the core concepts in Hinduism is that of karma - that a person’s actions today help to determine the future path they will follow as their soul seeks to reach ultimate enlightenment, or Moksha. Since enlightenment is difficult to achieve, Hindus believe that this journey usually lasts more than one lifetime, and that they will be reincarnated in a future life based on the karma, or actions, they take in this one, until eventually their soul is finally perfected and they achieve enlightenment.

In Hinduism, the karma from a person’s past lives is believed to be reflected in the position of the heavenly bodies, including the planets, at the time of their birth, and this positioning is believed to continue to have an influence throughout the present life of that person. These influences are studied and reflected in the practice of Hindu Jyotisha, or what is commonly called Vedic Astrology. First documented in sanskrit in the Yavanajātaka, Hindu Jyotisha dates to 100-200 AD, and today remains an important facet of belief in the contemporary lives of many Hindus. For example, newborns are traditionally named based on their Jyotisha charts (Kundali), and astrological concepts are pervasive in the organization of the calendar and holidays, and in making major decisions such as those about marriage, opening a new business, or moving into a new home. Hindu Jyotisha is an established discipline of study in Indian universities, and in India is believed to be one of the main subjects of traditional and classical knowledge.

The 12 traditional signs of Hindu Jyotisha are: Mesha (Ram), Vrishaba (Bull), Mithuna (Twins), Karkata (Crab), Simha (Lion), Kanya (Maiden), Thula (Balance), Vrischika (Scorpion), Dhanus (Archer), Makara (Crocodile), Kumbha (Water-bearer), Meena (Fish)