Jyotisha (or Jyotishyam from Sanskrit jyotissa, from jyotis- “light, heavenly body”) is the traditional Hindu system of astrology, also known as Vedic astrology. Vedanga Jyotisha is one of the earliest texts about astronomy within the Vedas. However, historical documentation shows that horoscopic astrology in the Indian subcontinent came from Hellenistic influences, post-dating the Vedic period.

Jyotisa is one of the Vedanga, the six auxiliary disciplines used to support Vedic rituals. Early jyotiṣa is concerned with the preparation of a calendar to fix the date of sacrificial rituals. Nothing is written on planets. There are mentions of eclipse causing “demons” in the Atharvaveda and Chandogya Upaniṣad, the Chandogya mentioning Rahu. In fact the term graha, which is now taken to mean planet, originally meant demon. The Ṛigveda also mentions an eclipse causing demon, Svarbhānu, however the specific term of “graha” becomes applied to Svarbhānu in the later Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa.

The foundation of Vedic astrology is the notion of bandhu of the Vedas, (scriptures), which is the connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Practice relies primarily on the sidereal zodiac in this kind.

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There are sixteen Varga (Sanskrit : varga, ‘part, division’), or divisional, charts used in Hindu astrology :

Rasi in Hindu Astrology – Zodiacal Signs

Around 2500 BC many extant texts were written by sages such Agastya and Bhrigu. Each sign was divided in three more strata called “charna” similar to decanates of Western astrology.

The Nirayana, or sidereal zodiac, is an imaginary belt of 360 degrees, which, like the Sayana, or tropical zodiac, is divided into 12 equal parts. Each twelfth part (of 30 degrees) is called a sign or Rasi (Sanskrit : ‘part’). Vedic (Jyotiṣa) and Western zodiacs differ in the method of measurement. While synchronically, the two systems are identical, Jyotiṣa uses primarily the sidereal zodiac (in which stars are considered to be the fixed background against which the motion of the planets is measured), whereas most Western astrology uses the tropical zodiac (the motion of the planets is measured against the position of the Sun on the Spring equinox). This difference becomes noticeable over time. After two millennia, as a result of the precession of the equinoxes, the origin of the ecliptic longitude has shifted by about 22 degrees. As a result, the placement of planets in the Jyotiṣa system is consistent with the actual zodiac, while in western astrology the planets fall into the following sign, as compared to their placement in the sidereal zodiac, about two thirds of time.

 

  1. Sanskrit : Meṣa
  • Representation: ram
  • English : Aries
  • Element : Fire
  • Quality : Chara (Movable)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Mars
  1. Sanskrit : Vṛṣabha
  • Representation : bull
  • English : Taurus
  • Element : Earth
  • Quality : Sthira (Fixed)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Venus
  1. Sanskrit : Mithuna
  • Representation : twins
  • English : Gemini
  • Element : Air
  • Quality : Dvisvabhava (Dual)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Mercury
  1. Sanskrit : Karka
  • Representation : crab
  • English : Cancer
  • Element : Water
  • Quality : Chara (Movable)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Moon
  1. Sanskrit : Siṃha
  • Representation : lion
  • English : Leo
  • Element : Fire
  • Quality : Sthira (Fixed)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Sun
  1. Sanskrit : Kanyā
  • Representation : virgin girl
  • English : Virgo
  • Element : Earth
  • Quality : Dvisvabhava (Dual)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Mercury
  1. Sanskrit : Tulā
  • Representation : balance
  • English : Libra
  • Element : Air
  • Quality : Chara (Movable)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Venus
  1. Sanskrit : Vṛścika
  • Representation : scorpion
  • English : Scorpio
  • Element : Water
  • Quality : Sthira (Fixed)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Mars
  1. Sanskrit : Dhanuṣa
  • Representation : centaur with bow-arrow
  • English : Sagittarius
  • Element : Fire
  • Quality : Dvisvabhava (Dual)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Jupiter
  1. Sanskrit : Makara
  • Representation : mountain goat
  • English : Capricorn
  • Element : Earth
  • Quality : Chara (Movable)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Saturn
  1. Sanskrit : Kumbha
  • Representation : water-pourer
  • English : Aquarius
  • Element : Air
  • Quality : Sthira (Fixed)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Saturn
  1. Sanskrit : Mīna
  • Representation : fishes
  • English : Pisces
  • Element : Water
  • Quality : Dvisvabhava (Dual)
  • Ruling Astrological Body : Jupiter

 

Nakshatras in Hindu Astrology – Lunar mansions

A Nakṣhatra or lunar mansion is one of the 27 divisions of the sky, identified by the prominent star(s) in them, used in Hindu astrology.

Historical (medieval) Hindu astrology enumerated either 27 or 28 nakshatras. Today, a rigid system of 27 nakshatras covering 13°20’ of the ecliptic each is generally used. The missing 28th nakshatra is Abhijeeta. Each nakshatra is divided into quarters or padas of 3°20. Of the greatest importance is the Abhisheka Nakṣatrya which is the King amongst all the Nakshatras and worshipping and propitiating this Nakshatra has the power to remedy all the other Nakshatras. Remedial measures are in general the high-water mark of all realistic predictive astrology work and go a long way in mitigating Karma.

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Dasas in Hindu Astrology – Planetary Periods

The word Dasha (‘planetary period’) means ‘state of being’ and therefore the Dasa governs to a large extent the state of being of a person. The Dasa system shows which planets may be said to have become particularly active during the period of the Dasa. The Hindu Astrology system comprises of Nine Planets called as the Navagrahas. The ruling planet (the Dasanatha or ‘lord of the Dasa’) eclipses the mind of the native, compelling him or her to act as per the nature of the planet.

There are several dasha systems, each with its own utility and area of application. There are Daśās of Grahas (planets) as well as Daśās of the Rāśis (signs). The primary system used by astrologers is the Viṁśottarī Daśā system, which has been considered universally applicable in the Kaliyuga to all horoscopes.

The first Maha-Dasa is determined by the position of the natal Moon in a given Nakshatra. The lord of the Nakshatra governs the Dasa. Each Maha-Dasa is divided into sub-periods called bhuktis, or antar-dasas, which are proportional divisions of the maha-dasa. Further proportional sub-divisions can be made (but error margin based on accuracy of the birth-time grows exponentially). The next sub-division is called pratyantar-dasa, which can in turn be divided into sookshma-antardasa, which can in turn be divided intopraana-antardasa, which can be sub-divided into deha-antardasa. Such sub-divisions also exist in all other Dasa systems, some of which have been named above.

 

Grahas in Hindu Astrology – Planets

Nine grahas (Navagrahas) are used from Graha (‘seizing, laying hold of, holding’)

The Nine Planets of Vedic Astrology are the forces that capture or eclipse the mind and the decision making of the human being-thus the term ‘Graha’. When the Grahas are active in their Dasas or periodicities they are particularly empowered to direct the affairs of the person or the inanimate being as the case may be. Even otherwise, Grahas are always busy capturing us in some way or other, for better or for worse.

 

Gocharas – Transits

The natal chart shows the position of the grahas at the moment of birth. Since that moment, the grahas have continued to move around the zodiac, interacting with the natal chart grahas. This period of interaction is called Gochara (‘transit’).

The study of transits is based not only on the transit of the Moon/Chandra, which spans roughly two days, but also the movement of the slightly faster planets such as Mercury/Budha and Venus/Sukra. The movement of the slower planets Guru, Sami and Rahu-Ketu is always of considerable importance. Astrologers must study the transit of the Dasa lord and must also study transits from various reference points in the horoscope.

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Yogas – Planetary Combinations

Yoga (‘union’) is a combination of planets placed in a specific relationship to each other.

Raja Yogas are givers of fame, status and authority and are formed typically by the association of the Lord of Kendras/ quadrants, when reckoned from the Lagna/ascendant and the Lords of the Tṛkoṇa/ trines. The Raja Yogas are culminations of the blessings of Vishnu and Lakshmi. Some planets, such as Mars for Leo Lagna, do not need another Graha to create Rajayoga, but are capable of giving Rajayoga suo-moto due to their own lordship of the 4th Bhava and the 9th Bhava from the Lagna, the two being a Kendra and Tṛkoṇa Bhava respectively.

Dhana Yogas are formed by the association of wealth-giving planets such as the Dhanesha or the 2nd Lord and the Labhesha or the 11th Lord from the Lagna. Dhana Yogas are also formed due to the auspicious placement of the Darapda/ A7, when reckoned from the Ārūḍha Lagna (AL). The combination of the Lagneśa and the Bhāgyeśa also leads to wealth through the Lakṣhmi Yoga.

Sanyasa Yogas are formed due to the placement of four or more Grahas, excluding the Sun, in a Kendra Bhava from the Lagna.

There are some overarching Yogas in Jyotiṣa such as Amavasyā Doṣa, Kāla Sarpa Yoga-Kāla Amṛta Yoga and Graha Malika Yoga that can take precedence over Yamaha yogar planetary placements in the horoscope.

 

Bhavas – Houses in Vedic Astrology

The Hindu Jātaka, or Birth Chart, is the Bhāva (‘division’) Chakra (Sanskrit: ‘wheel’), the complete 360° circle of life, divided into 12 houses, and represents our way of enacting the influences in the wheel. Each house has associated karaka (‘significator’) planets that can alter the interpretation of a particular house. Each Bhava spans an arc of 30 degrees and therefore there are twelve Bhāvas in any chart of the horoscope. These are a crucial part of any horoscopic study since the Bhavas, understood as ‘state of being’ personalize the Rashis to the native and each Rashi apart from indicating its true nature reveals its impact on the person based on the Bhava occupied. The best way to study the various facets of Jyotiṣa is to see their role in chart evaluation of actual persons and how these are construed.

 

Dṛishṭis – Aspects

Drishti (‘sight’) is an aspect to an entire house. Grahas cast only forward aspects, with the furthest aspect being considered the strongest. For example, Mars aspects the 4th, 7th, and 8th houses from its position, and its 8th house aspect is considered more powerful than its 7th aspect, which is in turn more powerful than its 4th aspect.

The principle of Dristi (aspect) was devised on the basis of the aspect of an army of planets as deity and demon in a war field. Thus the Sun, a Deity King with only one full aspect, is more powerful than the Demon King Saturn, which has three full aspects.

Aspects can be cast both by the planets (Graha Dṛishṭi) and by the signs (Rasi Dṛishti). Planetary aspects are a function of desire, while sign aspects are a function of awareness and cognizance.

There are some higher aspects of Graha Dṛishṭi (planetary aspects) that are not limited to the Viśeṣa Dṛishṭi or the special aspects. Rasi Dṛishti works based on the following formulaic structure : all movable signs aspect fixed signs except the one adjacent, and all dual and mutable signs aspect each other without exception.

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