This lesson provides an introduction to Vedic Astrology terms and concepts. We cover how Vedic Astrology is unique. The lesson goes over chart basics – what planets are included in Vedic Astrology, how is a chart configured, etc. It will use your own chart to demonstrate how to draw the Planet Map that is your birthchart.
In India, Vedic Astrology is called Jyotish, a Sanskrit word that is derived from two roots, “Jyoti” and “Isha”, which respectively mean “Light” and “God”. Jyotish is the science of light, both the light of the celestial bodies and the internal light of the soul. It is a gift that was bestowed upon humanity by the ancient sages and has been passed on from generation to generation in an oral and written form. Jyotish unfolds the knowledge of how the planets and the stars influence an individual human life as well as the life of the nations, and the globe. It sheds light on our lives.
Vedic Astrology uses extremely accurate astronomical calculations to determine the positions of the stars and the planets to predict the future of individuals as well as mundane affairs; therefore, Jyotish is referred to as predictive astrology.
Jyotish has numerous practical applications. The main one is predicting one’s life events, as well as understanding how the heavenly bodies influence our lives and which particular planets are responsible for favorable and unfavorable occurrences in specific areas of life. A human being is a creation of the cosmos; therefore, all the facets of human existence, including the past, present, and future, are intimately connected to the influence of the planets and the stars.
Through Vedic Astrology we can analyze and interpret the quality and intensity of an individual’s karma within various aspects of life. One of the most important areas of Vedic Astrology is “Upaya” (Sanskrit word for method), the body of knowledge that deals with remedial measures for improving and correcting adverse planetary influences, as well as strengthening and promoting the positive ones. Vedic Astrology provides us with tools and means to predict and time the events that are going to take place in one’s life, but more so, it renders instructions on how to improve the quality of life in order to enjoy the totality of existence.
Astronomical Basis of Vedic Astrology
The Zodiac is a belt of heavens extending on both sides of the ecliptic. It encircles the space through which the planets travel in their orbits.
Vedic Astrology employs sidereal zodiac, which is different from the tropical zodiac used in the Western Astrology. While the tropical (Western) Astrology uses the vernal equinox (the Sun’s position at the beginning of spring) as the starting point for the measurements along the zodiac, the sidereal (Vedic) Astrology uses fixed stars to identify different segments along the zodiac.
The starting points of the sidereal and tropical zodiacs coincide once every 25,800 years. After that the starting points separate from each other by an approximate 1degree of an arc per each 72 years. The difference between the longitude of the starting points of the sidereal and tropical zodiacs at any given time is called Ayanamsha.
Due to the existing controversy about the year in which the two starting points coincided last, there are several ayanamshas used by different schools of Vedic astrologers. Some of them are Lahiri, Krishnamurti, Raman, and Fagan ayanamshas. Lahiri is the most widely used Ayanamsha which is based on the last coincidence point taking place in the year 285 A.D.
Lahiri Ayanamsha for the year of your birth is -23:06:20 degrees.
If you want to convert your sidereal (Vedic) planetary positions into tropical (Western), you can do so by adding this ayanamsha to the degrees of the planets in your Vedic chart. To arrive to the sidereal positions by converting the tropical ones, you will need to subtract the ayanamsha from the tropical positions.
For example, Your Sun is placed in 20:40 degrees of the constellation of Gemini in your Vedic chart. When you add the ayanamsha for the year of your birth, which is -23:06:20 degrees, you will derive the tropical (Western Astrology) horoscope position of your Sun, which happens to be placed in the sign of Cancer. Therefore, your Jyotish (sidereal) Sun sign is Gemini and your Western (tropical) Sun sign is Cancer.
How Vedic Astrology Predicts
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 PLANETS
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.
Each planet represents certain facets of human life. Traditional Vedic astrology does not consider the influences of Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto.
Here are the names of the planets in Sanskrit:
SUN is SURYA
MOON is CHANDRA
MARS is MANGALA
MERCURY is BUDHA
JUPITER is GURU
VENUS is SHUKRA
SATURN is SHANI
The NORTH NODE is RAHU
THE SOUTH NODE is KETU
Planets have primary and secondary significations. Here is the list of the primary planet significations assigned by the sage
Parashara (the author of Brihat Parashara Hora Sastra):
Sun signifies the soul.
Moon signifies the mind.
Mars signifies energy.
Mercury signifies speech.
Jupiter signifies knowledge.
Saturn signifies grief.
THE 12 SIGNS
The planets are constantly moving through the Zodiac. The circle of the Zodiac is divided into 12 equal segments called constellations or signs. Each sign occupies 30 degrees of the celestial space. Each of the signs has a unique set of attributes which affect any planet traveling through that sign. The signs are environments that affect the way a planet feels and behaves.
Here are the 12 signs listed in their natural order:
Every sign has its particular planetary ruler. The Sun and the Moon rule over one sign each, while the rest of the planets 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 is ruled by Mars.
TAURUS is ruled by Venus.
GEMINI is ruled by Mercury.
CANCER is ruled by the Moon.
LEO is ruled by the Sun.
VIRGO is ruled by Mercury.
LIBRA is ruled by Venus.
SCORPIO is ruled by Mars.
SAGITTARIUS is ruled by Jupiter.
CAPRICORN is ruled by Saturn.
AQUARIUS is ruled by Saturn.
PISCES is ruled by Jupiter.
THE 12 HOUSES
The Zodiac is divided in one more way. Relative to the position of the Earth, the zodiac is divided into 12 houses. Just as the proper motion of planets is reflected by their degree positions in 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 areas of life are affected by the planets and signs that occupy the corresponding houses. The twelve houses represent the totality of 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 planets (Grahas), the Sign (Rashis), and the Houses (Bhavas). The positions of the planets in the signs and houses are depicted in what is called the Horoscope. Evaluation and understanding of the interactive influences of these three main elements constitutes the interpretation of your horoscope.
Let us take a look at your actual horoscope kundali (chart):
Right now you are looking at your jyotish chart formatted in the North Indian chart style. As you see, there are 12 individual sections in the horoscope. These sections are the houses, and each house is fully occupied by one of the signs. The signs are marked within the houses with numerals. The numbering system used for marking the signs reflects the natural order of the signs (i.e. 1 – for Aries, 2 – for Taurus, 3 – for Gemini, 4 – for Cancer and so on).
The house counting sequence follows a counterclockwise direction, and so does the sign sequence within the chart. The box at the center top of the chart is called the First house. The sign occupying the first house is called the Ascendant. Your Ascendant is the sign which was rising at the eastern horizon at the time of your birth. The sign is indicated by its corresponding number. In your chart, the first house is marked with number 4, which indicates the sign of Cancer. Therefore, your Ascendant is Cancer. The box on the left of the first house is called the second house. The number 5 in that house represents the sign of Leo. Next to it is the third house, then the fourth, and so on up to the twelfth house. The sequential order of the houses is FIXED in the North India chart format. The top center box is always the first house and the bottom center one is always the seventh. When using the North Indian style chart you should also remember that the numbers within the houses represent the sign numbers, not the numbers of the houses. For your convenience, here is a complete overview:
|Houses||Number in chart||Sign|
Each of the planets is placed in one of the houses. The planets are marked in the chart with their abbreviated names. Now we see from the picture of your chart, which houses your planets occupy. The Sun, indicated by the letters Su, is in house 12. The Moon (Mo) is in house 3. Mars (Ma) is in house 2. Mercury (Me) is in house 1. Jupiter (Ju) is in house 3. Venus (Ve) is in house 1. Saturn (Sa) is in house 1. Rahu (Ra) is in house 11. Ketu (Ke) is in house 5.
Once again, you should not confuse the house numbers with the numbers that you see in your chart. The numbers in the houses represent the signs that occupy those houses. The houses must be counted in a counterclockwise direction from the 1st house, which is the top center house. The houses should be counted inclusively of the house you are counting from. For example the 3rd house is located three house away from the first one, not two, and 11th house is 5 houses away from the 7th, not four.
Even though within this tutorial we will always reference your chart in the North Indian format, you should learn the difference between North and South Indian chart styles. Let’s take a look at your natal chart drawn in the South Indian format.
Whereas the North Indian chart has a fixed house order, the South Indian format has a fixed sign order. The sign of Aries always falls on the second left box on the top of the chart. The house box that the Ascendant sign occupies becomes the First house with the remaining houses following in a clockwise direction. Commonly, the First house is marked with a diagonal line or with As mark. Some astrologers choose to mark the houses with numbers , as opposed to the North Indian style, in which the numbers represent the signs.
However, in this illustration of your chart in South Indian format the numbers within the houses represent the signs, 1 for Aries, 2 for Taurus, 3 for Gemini, etc.
In the next lesson of this Tutorial you will learn more details about your jyotish birth chart.