Category Archives: Vedic Astrology – Jyotish

A predictive and preventive ‘karmic engineering’ system to help maintain only positive influences in our returning karmas.

Jyotish – Resources for students – Overview

Summary: An overview of the collated resources on this website for students of Vedic Astrology.

The ‘Resources for Students Category’ includes a collection of resources for students of Jyotish. The topics presented in this section are at ‘foundation level’ – the minimum we need to know in order to even begin the process of chart interpretation. They cover:

Articles currently being prepared:

    • Astrological signs and houses
    • Planetary aspects
    • Mahadashas (predictive time periods)
    • Elements of basic birth-chart interpretation.

Taken as a whole, they should enable students to ‘put together the pieces of the jigsaw’ and to start examining the Vedic birth-charts (in the sidereal zodiac) of themselves, their family and friends.

The collated information in this section is aimed at Westerners who want relatively simple ‘key points’ for initial studies. I am aware that Jyotish is multi-layered, with more subtle chart interpretations being available at deeper levels of awareness. However, we all need to start somewhere and the very practice of Jyotish can itself lead to deeper states of awareness!

Most professional Vedic Astrologers probably agree on more than 95% of the topics presented here. Where there is disagreement in the detail this often arises from differences in the versions of the standard Jyotish texts available, or the different interpretations of any ambiguous sections in the texts. Some knowledge has also been lost over the long passage of time. However, many principles can be verified by looking at a person’s chart and then comparing the predictions from Jyotish with the actual reality of their life experiences.

Where possible, I have always used Maharishi Parashara as highest authority. This is simply because I have a particular affinity to this tradition of masters which included the illustrious Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math (H.H. Brahmananda Saraswati) and whose disciple Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, brought meditation techniques to the West. Students should be aware that astrologers linked to other traditions may view things slightly differently from the information presented in this section; this is not a problem and adds to the joy and dynamism of the Vedic knowledge!

A Rare and Auspicious Planetary Alignment

Summary: This article examines the effect of a very rare and highly auspicious planetary alignment occurring during September 2020. The planetary configuration occurs in the sidereal zodiac used by Vedic astrologers and represents an outstandingly good time for souls to take a human birth!

A Rare and Auspicious Planetary Alignment

This is a great time to be born!

For about a week, beginning on the 8th September 2020, a rare and highly favourable planetary alignment happens. In the ancient Vedic Astrological system we find that 8 out of the 9 planets, which are used to decode a person’s returning karmas, are in exceptionally good positions in the sidereal zodiac. For example, most of the planets are in their own signs, or exalted signs, etc. and also benefit from being spaced widely apart in the zodiac. They will therefore bring many benefits over an individual’s lifetime as events unfold. It often takes hundreds of years to see similar such occurrences of this configuration, so it is indeed a rare event.

In Jyotish astrology this alignment means that those born during this week will have almost no obstacles to their progress in life. They may have many exceptional talents, be especially gifted and excel in their chosen field.

From a Jyotish perspective those souls incarnating at this time will be blessed with exceptionally good karma throughout their lives and experience a lot of Grace. Some may even turn out to be Mahatmas – great souls born to benefit mankind and, hopefully, to hasten in the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment on planet Earth.

Detailed Analysis for Students of Jyotish

The Moon is, of course, the most rapidly moving ‘planet’ and spends roughly two and a third days in each sign. Before the Moon even enters Taurus sidereal, most of the other planets already have a high status or ‘dignity’   (a planet having ‘own sign’, Moolatrikona, or exalted status is ‘out of harms way’ in a birth chart). These planets therefore bring many benefits to someone born at this time. As the Moon moves into Taurus (from 8th to 10th September 2020 – where it has Moolatrikona status) it completes the planetary configuration giving rise to these extremely positive conditions. It then moves through Gemini before entering Cancer sidereal (from 13th to 15th September 2020). In Cancer it has ‘own sign’ status so once again completes this remarkable configuration.

In addition to 8 out of the 9 planets used in Jyotish having a high status as mentioned above, the planets are also spaced well apart in different signs giving rise to a special planetary combination or ‘Yoga’. This is called Veena or Sankhya-Veena Yoga and occurs when 7 planets are spaced separately in 7 signs. As this yoga is associated with the Veena (the classical musical instrument of Saraswati – the ‘deity’ presiding over Knowledge and the arts) this brings extra benefits to individuals born under these circumstances. These would include good prosperity, being fond of dance and music and having higher knowledge – such as being well versed in the Vedas or other scriptures.

People who were born a week or so before or after this rare event will still benefit from many planets in their birth chart having very good status. For example, although the Moon moves out of its own sign Cancer on the 15th September, the Sun remains in its own sign Leo until Sept. 17th, 2020. When it leaves Leo this further breaks the configuration.

The first highly auspicious period during this week begins on the 8th September 2020 around 10 am GMT as the Moon moves into Taurus sidereal. It then leaves this sign on the 10th September 2020 at around 9 pm GMT. The second highly auspicious period is from around 6 am on 13th September 2020 to about 9 am on 15th September 2020. For the record, the planetary positions (at 0 hours GMT in the sidereal zodiac on the 9th) are as follows:

Sun 23 Leo Own Sign
Moon 7 Taurus Moolatrikona
Mars 4 Aries Moolatrikona
Mercury 11 Virgo Exalted Sign
Jupiter 23 Sagittarius Own Sign
Venus 9 Cancer Neutral Sign
Saturn 1 Capricorn Own Sign
Rahu 1 Gemini Moolatrikona
Ketu 1 Sagittarius Moolatrikona

Will all individuals born during this period have the same karma? No, most certainly not. Individual karmas will need to be decoded (or ‘read’) from each person’s birth-chart. This will take into account the usual multi-layered factors such as: what is the ascending sign for a particular birth time and where is its ‘ruler’ placed; a house by house analysis including house ruler placement; occupying planets; aspects to the house; finer detail determinants – such as the divisional charts, etc. Karmas also unfold differently for different individuals as indicated by the Jyotish Mahadasa system.

Is this alignment ‘perfect’? Well, it is probably as good as it ever gets. Some of the very best charts I have seen have only had 4 high status planets and this configuration goes far beyond that! However, more advanced students of Jyotish will recognise some minor ‘weak points’ due to the following; a few planets being in the first degree or so of a sign; the Moon is waning and moving nearer the Sun; some planets are retrograde (giving rise to the usual debates about the effect of retrograde motion on planetary behaviour); and possibly even some debates about where the nodes experience ‘dignity’. None the less, a birth during this alignment represents extremely good ‘happy karmic returns’ for souls reincarnating at this time.

So, will this period be of great benefit to everyone and not just those born at this time? The answer is unfortunately not. While it is always good to have transiting planets in a positive state they only account for a fraction of people’s returning karmas. The vast majority is delineated by the Vedic Mahadasa system – which has nothing to do with the transiting planets. Therefore, although Vedic astrology indicates it is a truly great time to be born, it does not imply it is an outstandingly good time for those of us already here!

Additional Information on this Auspicious Alignment

Chart Formats in Jyotish Astrology

Summary: Comparison of the two main types of birth-chart format used in Jyotish – North Indian and South Indian, with suggested modifications for students of Jyotish

North Indian and South Indian Chart Formats Compared

Most Western Astrologers use a circular format birth-chart, but this is not used in Jyotish.

There are two main types of chart formats used in Vedic Astrology – the North Indian and the South Indian system. This often causes confusion to those new to the subject as the charts seem completely different. However, each format is just a different way of representing the same information.

The ‘diamond’ type grid is mainly used in North India and the ‘rectangular grid’ type of chart  in South India. Both charts in the diagram below represent exactly the same astrological data. In the North Indian system the ascending sign is always placed in the ‘top diamond’ box and the signs are often numbered 1 to 12, i.e. Aries to Pisces. For the horoscope shown the ascendant is in the 12th sign Pisces, with both Jupiter and Venus in the ascending sign, Rahu in the 4th sign Cancer (corresponding with the 5th house in this chart), etc.

Comparison between North and South Indian Jyotish Chart Format

Comparison between North and South Indian Jyotish Chart Formats

Signs in Jyotish have exactly the same names as those in Western Astrology (e.g. Aries, Taurus, etc.) – but their position in the sky is different from the position of the Western Astrological signs. This is because Vedic Astrology references the signs to the background of the fixed stars in the sky – so it uses the Sidereal Zodiac and not the Tropical one used in the West. Currently there is approximately a 24 degree difference between the two zodiacs (the tropical zodiac uses the spring equinox point as a ‘zero’ reference for the start of Aries and this moves against the background of the fixed stars due to the precession of the equinoxes.)

If we are just beginning the study of Jyotish I believe a slightly modified form of the rectangular South Indian chart format is much easier for Westerners to use (see the diagram at the end of this article).

South Indian Jyotish Birth-chart Format

In the South Indian system each sign always stays in the same box (e.g. Pisces top left, Virgo bottom right).

 The sign count is always made clockwise around the rectangle (e.g. Aries 1, Taurus 2, Gemini 3, Cancer 4, Leo 5, etc.)

The ascendant is shown by a single diagonal line in the appropriate sign on the chart – regardless of the angle of the ascendant (e.g an ascendant of 1 degree Leo or 29 degrees Leo is still shown in exactly the same way)

Houses, which correspond exactly with signs in this system, are counted clockwise from the ascendant. For example, if the ascendant is in Leo (regardless of the exact degree, be it 1 degree or 29 degrees) then the whole of Leo becomes the first house, the whole of Virgo the second house, the whole of Libra the third, etc.

South Indian Vedic Astrology Chart Format

South Indian Vedic Astrology Chart Format

Modified Form of South Indian Chart

To help students access and process a lot of information I have added extra compartments to each of the rectangles. This enables us to put in additional, important and at-a-glance information such as the house number (counting clockwise from the ascending sign), in which house the sign ruler is placed, planetary aspects to the house and what the house number would be if the moon was used as an ascendant. This modification is particularly helpful when learning Jyotish.

Jyotish Chart feature for students

Jyotish Chart feature for students

Planets and Their Indications

Summary: Planetary indicators (Karakas) of a range of physiological, psychological, and sociological phenomena related to an individual and which can be read from their birth-chart

In Vedic astrology planets are used as indicators (Karakas) of a range of physiological, psychological, and sociological phenomena that relate to the individual. Vedic astrology sees the whole cosmos and all the people in it as part of an inter-connected whole. So, in this system, the planetary positions at birth just represent coded information about a person’s returning karmas. It is the job of the astrologer to decode this information and translate it into actual predictions. Vedic astrologers do not consider planets to emit some sort of force, rather they represent information in a codified way.

If a planet is ‘well placed’ in a birth chart, then all its indicated associations are likely to be very positive for the individual concerned. If the planet is ‘poorly placed’, then its associations are likely to provide some degree of difficulty, obstacles or challenges.

By ‘well placed’ we mean a planet in a favourable sign, such as its own or exalted sign, or in a good house (e.g. the 5th or 9th) or well aspected by a planet that has positive associations (a ‘benefic’) for that ascendant. By ‘poorly placed’ we mean the planet is in an unfavourable sign (e.g. weakened or debilitated) or an unfavourable house (e.g. 6th, 8th, 12th), or aspected by a planet with negative associations (a ‘malefic’) for that particular ascendant.

So for example, if the sun in a person’s birth chart is exalted (i.e. in its sign of exaltation – Aries sidereal), or in the 9th house (even better if both exalted and in 9th!) we can expect that person to have excellent health and well-being (physiological indications): good self-esteem, power and influence (psychological indications): good relationships with his father (sociological indications): and be interested in self-realisation and personal evolution (other indicators).

If the sun was poorly placed in a birth chart (e.g. in its sign of debilitation [Libra sidereal] or in the 6th, 8th, 12th houses or aspected by a malefic influence) then we could expect possible health problems, lack of self-esteem, maybe problems with father, etc.

Of course, there are many other indicators and subtle layers of chart interpretation, but this principle is fundamental to assessing an individual’s chart. It is a cornerstone of the subject.


Physiological Indications   Health and general well-being

Psychological Indications:    Power and influence

Sociological Indications:       Father

Other Indications:                 Self-realisation


Physiological Indications:     Fertility, heart, younger years

Psychological Indications:    Mind, memory, emotions, happiness

Sociological Indications:       Mother

Other Indications:                 Affluence


Physiological Indications:          Energy, stamina

Psychological Indications:         Drive, courage, ambition

Sociological Indications:            Younger siblings

Other Indications:                       Military, enemies, property


Physiological Indications:           Nervous system, speech

Psychological Indications:          Logic, intelligence, education

Sociological Indications:             Friends

Other Indications:                        Business, communication, dance, drama


Physiological Indications:           Fat

Psychological Indications:          Wisdom

Sociological Indications:             Children

Other Indications:                        Wealth, guru, philosophy, law, religion


Physiological Indications:           Semen

Psychological Indications:          Pleasures

Sociological Indications:             Wife

Other Indications:                        Luxury, singing, poetry


Physiological Indications:           Longevity, bones.

Psychological Indications:          Patience, grief, adversity, renunciation

Sociological Indications:             Servants

Other Indications:                        Land, wood, metal


Physiological Indications:           Strange illnesses

Psychological Indications:          Frustrations

Sociological Indications:             None

Other Indications:                        Worldly benefits, gambling, thefts


Physiological Indications:           Strange illnesses

Psychological Indications:          Psychic abilities

Sociological Indications:             None

Other Indications:                        Enlightenment, strange events



Planetary Strengths or Powers

Summary: Covers a key component of chart interpretation – assessing the ‘strength’ or ‘power’ of a planet from its sign placement in a birth-chart

In Jyotish, a key component of chart interpretation lies in assessing the ‘strength’ or ‘power’ of a planet.

A planet that is classified as ‘strong’ brings many benefits and signifies positive returning karmas. In general, ‘strong’ equates with ‘good’! The benefits will be in the life areas indicated by the natural associations or indications of that planet  (e.g. health, power, self-esteem, relationship with father are natural associations or indicators of the Sun; mind, emotions, memory are associated with the Moon).

A ‘strong’ planet also brings benefits to the signs associated with that particular planet. By ‘association’ we mean sign(s) the planet is said to ‘own or rule’.

For example, as the Sun is said to be the ‘owner or ruler’ [1] of the sign of Leo (sidereal), a strong Sun brings benefits to the house in the birth chart that corresponds with the sign of Leo. It therefore brings benefits to all life areas that specific house indicates. The house number (1 to 12) will depend of course on a person’s ascendant. Note that in Jyotish signs and houses correspond exactly – unlike in some western astrological systems.

Suppose a person had an ascendant in Aries – this sign then becomes the first house and the sign of Leo (counting clockwise from Aries – yes clockwise, unlike in the Western system) would be the 5th house. So, if the Sun was ‘strong’ (by sign placement – see below) the affairs indicated by the 5th house e.g. children, intelligence and education, would also be supported in a positive way. This is in addition to the natural indications of the Sun (health, power, etc.)

Although there are numerous ways of assessing a planet’s strength, a fundamental indication of strength is to assign a particular state (Avastha) depending on the sign of the zodiac in which the planet is located. Sometimes even the sector of the sign (say the first 10 deg.) makes a difference to the level of ‘strength’. In Vedic astrology there are certain signs in which a planet is said to be ‘strong’ or ‘powerful’ and so can deliver benefits, whereas in other signs it is said to be ‘weakened’ so we might expect more challenges, difficulties or negative returning karmas associated with it.

When beginning astrology, we can make quite a good initial observation of a birth-chart simply by first looking to see if each of the nine planets is in one of the four key categories of strength. These are called, ‘exalted’, ‘Moolatrikona’, ‘own house’, ‘debilitated’ (fallen). The state of ‘Moolatrikona’ (no direct English equivalent word) brings benefits somewhere between the best state ‘exalted’ and the good state ‘own house’.

The sign where a planet is weakest (debilitated) is exactly 180° opposite its position of maximum strength (exalted).

Professional astrologers add a number of other states lying between the ‘own house’ and ‘debilitated’ states. These are a bit more complicated for beginners, but these five intermediate states are named as follows: ‘great friends’, ‘friends’, ‘neutral’, ‘enemies’, ‘great enemies’. Good Vedic astrological software will show these states for each planet in a birth-chart.

For a proper chart interpretation we should take these nine detailed levels into account, but when we are starting to look at charts for the first time we can just use the four states: exalted, own, Moolatrikona and debilitated. They give a surprisingly accurate picture of an individual’s returning karmas! If you are in any doubts about the validity of Jyotish check these strength indicators out in the charts of your friends and family.

The sage Parashara quantifies the benefits a planet in each state can bring: Exalted 100%, Moolatrikona 75%, Own House 50%, Friendly sign 25%, Neutral sign 12%, and Fallen/Enemies sign 0%. This gives us a general idea of how the state of a planet affects the good it can do. We don’t have to take the above figures too literally – but they give a good illustration of the concepts.

So, if we take a naturally positive planet such as Venus, if it is in its sign of exaltation Pisces, it will bring tremendous benefits (both to its natural indicators, and also to the two houses associated with the signs it rules – Libra and Taurus; the house numbers linked to these signs will of course depend on the particular ascendant in the birth-chart). However, if Venus is located in its sign of debilitation Virgo, it will bring no benefits whatsoever.

Therefore the same planet can act in very different ways according to its sign placement!

Planetary Strengths or Powers by Sign Placement


Exalted sign: Aries (maximum strength at Aries 10°)

Moolatrikona sign: Leo 0° to 20°

Own sign: Leo 20° to 30°

Debilitated sign: Libra (maximum weakness Libra 10°)


Exalted sign: Taurus 0° to 3°

Moolatrikona sign: Taurus 3° to 30°

Own sign: Cancer

Debilitated sign: Scorpio (maximum weakness at Scorpio 3°)


Exalted sign: Capricorn (maximum strength at Capricorn 28°)

Moolatrikona sign: Aries 0° to 12°

Own signs: Aries 12° to 30° and Scorpio

Debilitated sign: Cancer (maximum weakness at Cancer 28°)


Exalted sign: Virgo 0° to 15° (maximum strength at Virgo 15°)

Moolatrikona sign: Virgo 16° to 20°

Own signs: Virgo 20° to 30° and Gemini

Debilitated sign: Pisces (maximum weakness at Pisces 15°)


Exalted sign: Cancer (maximum strength at Cancer 5°)

Moolatrikona sign: Sagittarius 0° to 10°

Own signs: Sagittarius 10° to 30° and Pisces

Debilitated sign: Capricorn (maximum weakness at Capricorn 5°)


Exalted sign: Pisces (maximum strength at Pisces 27°)

Moolatrikona sign: Libra 0° to 15° and Taurus

Own signs: Taurus 15° to 30° and Libra

Debilitated sign: Virgo (maximum weakness at Virgo 27°)


Exalted sign: Libra (maximum strength at Libra 20°)

Moolatrikona sign: Aquarius 0° to 15°

Own signs: Aquarius 15° to 30° and Capricorn

Debilitated sign: Aries (maximum weakness at Aries 20°)

There are considerable differences of opinion in the ancient texts about the signs where Rahu and Ketu are strong or weak. So the following are quoted using the best sources I have available.


Exalted sign: Taurus

Debilitated sign: Scorpio


Exalted sign: Scorpio

Debilitated sign: Taurus

There are also other factors which influence strength. For example, if the planet appears to be moving backwards against the background of the fixed stars (i.e. ‘retrograde’), if it is very close to the Sun (i.e. ‘combust’), or within about 1 degree of another planet (i.e. involved in ‘planetary war’). A planet’s position in the divisional charts (e.g. the ninth division or ‘marriage’ chart) also affects its overall power.  These other influences on planetary strength will be covered in further articles.


Sign ownership or rulership by planets in vedic astrology

Sign Ownership or Rulership by Planets in Vedic Astrology