Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Overview of the basic element of vedic astrology

Overview of the basic element of astrology

Out of the many luminous bodies in the sky, there are ones that are fixed and ones that move. The background of the fixed stars is called the zodiac and is divided in separate, distinct spaces, called nakshatras. The heavenly bodies that move are called Grahas (for the lack of a better word translated as "Planets").

For predictive purposes Jyotish looks at the positions of the planets in relation to the stars in the Zodiac at the time of one's birth. These positions reveal how the universe was functioning at that instance. In a way, planets are like 9 special measuring points from which the entire subtle state of natural law can be measured. At the time of birth, when the body enters the world, this state of the universe gets projected into the structure of the life of an individual. Therefore, the conditions of these nine measuring points, the nine planets, define the entire life span of events and circumstances for an individual.

The 9 Grahas

We just mentioned nine planets, even though not all of them are actual planets. Only five of them are planets, one is a star, one is a moon, and the remaining two are special mathematical points. Everyone is familiar with the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. The other two elements included into the group are Rahu and Ketu, known as the North and South Lunar nodes. Rahu and Ketu do not have physical substance, they are two mathematical points that mark the point of intersection of the plane of the Moon's orbit around the Earth with the ecliptic plane. Lunar or solar eclipses occur when the Sun and the Moon are close to one of the nodes. From now on, we shall refer to this group of "planets" with a proper Sanskrit term Grahas.

Each graha (planet) represents certain facets of human life. Traditional Vedic astrology does not consider the influences of Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto.

Grahas have primary and secondary significations. Here is the list of the primary graha significations assigned by the sage Parashara (the author of Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra):

SURYA (Sun) signifies the soul.CHANDRA (Moon) signifies the mind.MANGALA (Mars) signifies energy.BUDHA (Mercury) signifies speech.GURU (Jupiter) signifies knowledge.SHUKRA (Venus) signifies reproduction.SHANI (Saturn) signifies grief.

The 27 Nakshatras

The zodiac is divided into 27 Nakshatras, each of identical size. The first one is called Ashwini, and the others follow from there. The very same zodiac is also divided in a different way: into 12 Rashis (zodiacal signs). Out of the 12 signs, the one that is rising in the East at the time of birth is of particular importance. It is called Lagna (Ascendant) and it is used as the main point of reference in analyzing the chart. The Nakshatra rising in the East is also important.


The grahas (planets) are constantly moving through the Zodiac. The circle of the Zodiac is divided into 12 equal segments called constellations or rashis (signs). Each rashi (sign) occupies 30 degrees of the celestial space. Each of the rashis (signs) has a unique set of attributes that affect any graha (planet) traveling through that sign. The signs are environments that affect the way a planet feels and behaves.

Rashi rulerships

Every rashi (sign) has its particular planetary ruler. The Sun and the Moon rule over one sign each, while the rest of the grahas hold rulership over two signs. Traditionally, Rahu and Ketu are considered not to hold rulership over any signs, although, some astrologers consider Rahu and Ketu to co-rule the signs of Aquarius and Scorpio respectively. The sign rulerships are a permanent value. ARIES (Mesha) is ruled by Mars.TAURUS (Vrishabha) is ruled by Venus.GEMINI (Mithuna) is ruled by Mercury.CANCER (Karka) is ruled by the Moon.LEO (Simha) is ruled by the Sun.VIRGO (Kanya) is ruled by Mercury.LIBRA (Tula) is ruled by Venus.SCORPIO (Vrishika) is ruled by Mars.SAGITTARIUS (Dhanu) is ruled by Jupiter.CAPRICORN (Makara) is ruled by Saturn.AQUARIUS (Kumbha) is ruled by Saturn.PISCES (Meena) is ruled by Jupiter.

The 12 Bhavas

The Zodiac is divided in one more way. Relative to the position of the Earth, the zodiac is divided into 12 bhavas (houses). Just as the proper motion of planets is reflected by their degree positions in rashis (signs), the diurnal (illusionary, relative motion of the planets as perceived from the Earth) motion of the planets is shown by their placement in astrological houses. The houses represent the various areas of life. The planets and signs that occupy the corresponding bhavas (houses) will affect those areas of life. The twelve bhavas (houses) represent the totality of the existence as experienced by a human being. Here are the main significations of each house: The First House represents the Self.The Second House represents your financial assets.The Third House represents courage.The Fourth House represents happiness.The Fifth House represents your children.The Sixth House represents your enemies.The Seventh House represents your spouse.The Eighth House represents your vulnerable points.The Ninth House represents your fortune.The Tenth House represents your career.The Eleventh House represents your income.The Twelfth House represents the end of everything. So far, we have briefly covered the general principles of the three main components of Jyotish: the Grahas (Planets), the Rashis (signs), and the Bhavas (Houses). The positions of the planets in the signs and houses are depicted in what is called the Horoscope.

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