12-Step Guide to Vedic Horoscope Interpretation

Summary: A Beginner’s Guide to successful Vedic (Jyotish) Horoscope Interpretation. It covers the key areas of: Collecting Information and Constructing the Horoscope; Evaluation of Key Indicators for Judging the Jyotish Horoscope;  Synthesis and Reporting Back to Client. It contains numerous links to well-researched and clearly written additional resources. Sharing the author’s extensive knowledge and experience, it makes the process of chart interpretation and prediction effective, systematic and easy-to-follow. Reading time: 35 to 45 minutes

Introduction and Contents

In order to make best use of this guide, you will need a background knowledge of key topics in Jyotish – such as planets, houses, etc. These are covered in the ‘Learn Jyotish’ section of this website. You will also need to be aware of some of the broader factors and spiritual implications of Vedic Astrology covered in the article: ‘How to Start Interpreting Vedic Horoscopes’.

If you are a Western Astrologer approaching Jyotish for the first time, you might want to familiarise yourself with some of the key differences between Western and Vedic Astrology before reading this article. If you are completely new to Jyotish Astrology I suggest you read the Introductory Articles on the subject first.

A future, follow-up article will give a working example of the application of the principles in this 12-Step Guide to judging a specific individual’s Vedic Horoscope.

The steps in this guide follow a systematic and logical sequence aimed at readers completely new to Jyotish horoscope interpretation. I have found this sequence very effective, but realise some astrologers might wish to change the order of a few things to suit their needs. I have split this guide into three key sections:

Phase 1 – Collecting Information and Constructing the Horoscope

Step 1: Gathering the Birth Data

Step 2: Calculating Planetary Positions

Step 3: Determining the Ascendant (Lagna)

Step 4: Drawing up the Birth-Chart

Step 5: Determining the Client’s Specific Needs

Phase 2 – Evaluation of Key Indicators for Judging the Jyotish Horoscope

Step 6: Assessing the Overall Strength of the Birth-chart

Step 7: Determining the Strength of Each Planet and Its Effects in Turn

Step 8: Determining the Strength of the First House – The Ascendant

Step 9: Assessing the Condition of the Remaining Houses (2 to 12) in Turn

Step 10: Predicting the Effects of the Mahadashas and Transits

Step 11: Looking for Repeating Patterns Helps Our Predictions

Phase 3 – Synthesis and Reporting Back to Client

Step 12: Synthesis, Reporting and Recommendations

This step also contains additional sections on:

General Considerations when Reporting Back to Client

Determining Our Level of Predictive Skills in Jyotish: Levels 1 to 4

Giving a General Chart Reading

Giving Feedback for Issues in Specific Life Areas

Making Remedial Recommendations: Planetary Antidotes – Upaye

Phase 1

Collecting Information and Constructing the Horoscope

This phase of chart interpretation is a relatively straightforward and ‘mechanical’ process. However, there are some key factors to watch out for and these are covered in Steps 1 to 5 below.

Step 1: Gathering the Birth Data 

In order to cast a horoscope we need just 3 things – date of birth, place of birth and time of birth. The first two of these are unlikely to cause us any problems, but uncertainty in the time of birth can cause serious issues!

I would advise all newcomers to Vedic horoscope interpretation to start by using birth-times that are written down. Even then there can be errors, as the birth-time is sometimes recorded a while after the actual event.

In the case of my own horoscope, the written time was about 8 minutes different from when I took my first breath. Fortunately this was of no great significance in terms of my ascendant determination. It also meant my predicted Mahadasha periods were only a few weeks out – which was quite acceptable.

If a child was born into a Hindu family we can usually assume a written birth-time is highly accurate – because Hindu culture recognises the importance for Jyotish and pays particular attention to it (in case this crucial information is needed in the future – e.g. for determining marriage compatibility) !

My advice for beginners is to completely avoid birth-times that are not written down. If a mother says the birth happened ‘before breakfast’, a skilled astrologer could rectify the chart by checking real life events and then ‘working backwards’ to derive an accurate birth time. However for beginners, if the birth time is not written down, then best avoid interpreting the horoscope – for now.

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Step 2: Calculating Planetary Positions

Usually this will be done with Jyotish software. All we have to do is select the Ayanamsha we want to use. For beginners, this should be based on Lahiri’s calculation (often the default in Jyotish software anyway).

If we have not got access to Jyotish software we could easily translate from any Western Tropical Chart which shows planetary positions. We do this by subtracting the Ayanamsha for that birth date. Note that the Ayanamsha changes with time (although by not a lot – typically about 1 degree every 72 years or so). If we have a Tropical birth-chart or print-out we also just discard the planetary positions of Neptune, Uranus and Pluto, etc. as only the nine ‘planets’ (up to and including Saturn) are used in Jyotish.

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Step 3: Determining the Ascendant

This is the most ‘mission critical’ part of the whole chart interpretation process. If we get this wrong our chart interpretation will not be valid! Worse still, our remedial measures / gemstone recommendations could do more harm than good! So, I cannot stress how important it is to get this right!

If we have a written birth time and our Jyotish software puts the ascendant some way towards the middle of a sign we can usually relax.

As a precaution I always see what a plus, or minus, 10 minute variation in the birth time does to the ascendant. This is easily done with software. If this moves the ascendant to another sign I then draw up 2 charts and ask the client a number of questions to determine which chart applies to them. Although I would recommend avoiding this for those of us just starting to interpret charts! So, best to start by interpreting charts where there is no likelihood of any ambiguity in the ascending sign.

However, we should always be aware of the possibility of a wrongly determined ascendant if a chart  for the actual client sitting in front of us seems to make no sense at all. If it makes no sense, then the ascendant is almost certainly wrong!

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Step 4: Drawing up the Birth-Chart

I would always advise beginners, or anyone coming to Jyotish from Western Astrology, to use the South Indian Chart format. It is simply more intuitive than the North Indian format.

I have modified the basic layout of the South Indian chart to make it even easier for newcomers to access key information at a glance. So, I have included boxes where we can number the houses from Lagna, boxes to count houses from the Moon, places to put aspects to the house, etc.

A blank chart is shown below (Image is high definition and can be enlarged [click on Image], copied and printed out).

Blank Chart For Vedic Horoscope Intepretation - South Indian Format - Modified for Beginners

Blank Chart For Vedic Horoscope Interpretation – South Indian Format – Modified for Beginners

Although software can draw up a chart and populate it for us, I much prefer to fill in the chart by hand using the planetary positions calculated by my software. I do it this way because it starts my analytical processes working as I go along  (at least  ‘in the background’ of my mind). As I slowly fill in the chart, I start to notice features and repeating patterns that I would otherwise have almost certainly missed just by looking at a ready made print-out.

Sometimes I use abbreviations for the planets (e.g. ‘SY’ for Surya – the Sun, BU for Buddha – Mercury, etc.) and sometimes I use the astrological symbols familiar to Western Astrologers. It doesn’t really matter. I always add the angle of the planet in the sign and an ‘r’ to remind me if it is retrograde.

Here is what a populated chart in this format looks like (again, click on image to enlarge it):

Completed Birth-Chart For Vedic Horoscope Interpretation - South Indian Format - Modified for Beginners

Completed Birth-Chart For Vedic Horoscope Interpretation – South Indian Format – Modified for Beginners

Key: LA = Lagna (Ascendant); SY = Surya = Sun; CH = Chandra = Moon; MA =Mangala = Mars; BU = Buddha = Mercury;  Gu = Guru = Jupiter; SK = Shukra = Venus; SA = Shani = Saturn; RA = Rahu; KE = Ketu

A future, follow-up article will use this individual’s specific birth-chart as a working example of the application of the principles contained in this 12-Step Guide.

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Step 5: Determining the Client’s Specific Needs

Finding out at this stage what the client actually wants helps focus our ‘detective work’ – by looking for clues in specific areas. It can also save us a lot of time in figuring out information that is currently of no interest to the client!

People seek astrological readings for all sorts of reasons. Some just do it out of curiosity. Others might be at a crossroads in their lives and need some help from a ‘more cosmic’ perspective so as to find the best direction for their future.

Some people have very specific areas of their lives that are causing (or have caused) them considerable problems. Fortunately, these issues can usually be categorised into: health, wealth, career, relationships, family members, children, personal growth and spiritual evolution etc. The good news is that each of these areas is dealt with in detail by Jyotish by considering the indications of Houses, Planets, etc. This helps us focus on specific areas of their chart – for example certain houses, planetary indicators, relevant Mahadashas, etc. connected with their problem.

I always ask myself if Vedic Astrology is actually the best ‘route’ for all clients. Is the client prepared for a more ‘karmic’ and predictive interpretation? Does he or she actually want to ‘fix’ their issues? Or are they more concerned right now with their thoughts and feelings around issues? I then usually point out to them the benefits of both Western and Vedic systems as follows:

‘If we look at both Vedic Astrology and Western Astrology we find both systems have unique strengths, but key differences. Western Astrology tends to focus more on psychological factors and the mind, so a Western birth-chart is a good starting point for counselling. If we are seeking insights into our thoughts, feelings and psychological inner-self then Western Astrology has a lot to offer. Vedic Astrology on the other hand, focuses more on karma and predicting what karmas will manifest in our lifetime and when those effects will occur. It is unique in that it offers remedial measures to greatly lessen returning negative karmas. So, Vedic Astrology is both predictive and preventive and offers real solutions to many of life’s problems’.

So, in some cases (e.g. grief, trauma, emotional vulnerability, etc.) I would advise a client not get a Vedic Horoscope interpretation done at all! Rather, I would recommend a Western Horoscope analysis done by a professional Astrologer – who could then use it as a starting point for counselling!

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Phase 2

Evaluation of Key Indicators for Judging the Jyotish Horoscope

This phase of horoscope interpretation requires some knowledge of the basic principles of Jyotish, such as house indications, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ houses, planetary strengths and indications, natural benefics and malefics, aspects, Mahadashas, etc.

I have attempted to isolate chart factors and deal with them separately. Each statement is based on: ‘All other things being equal’. Of course, in Jyotish there are multiple layers of interpretation, exceptions to certain rules and even ‘exceptions to the exceptions’! I have also left out many factors and techniques so as to present a clearer methodical path by avoiding information overload. A professional astrologer would take these into account – but these finer levels are not for beginners. 

I have tried to put each task in a logical, sequential and systematic ‘step’ order. I have done this to benefit learners, but realise experienced Jyotish Astrologers will really combine these steps into an integrated ‘seamless’ flow. However, even beginners will notice there is some overlap between each step and a repetition of some of the processes. This is unavoidable.

I recommend making Steps 6 to 11 an iterative process. So, we work through Steps 6 to 11 once. Then stop and reflect on the information we have gathered. Then go back to Step 6 and work through to Step 11 again. This lets us see if we have missed anything, to focus on areas where we might need more detail and to correct anything we think we might have got wrong, or even just to ‘fine tune’ our understanding, etc.

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Step 6: Assessing the Overall Strength of the Birth-chart

This is an important step in horoscope interpretation. Together with Step 8 (Determining the strength of the ascendant), this determines the ‘foundation’ upon which the whole structure is built. If the ‘foundations’ are strong a building is more likely to withstand any storms!

Remember that in Jyotish: Strong = Beneficial : Weak = Adverse!

With practice and experience this overall assessment of the birth-chart becomes possible ‘at a glance’ (well almost).

It is worth remembering that at this stage we are just looking for a very generalised assessment of the overall strength of the chart – we don’t need to go into too much detail yet.

Firstly, we need to assess the strength by Sign Placement of ALL the planets in the chart.

For those of us new to Vedic astrology it is worth having a systematic way of doing this. One method is to put the information about a planet’s power or status in a table such as the one below (taken from a client’s chart).

Planetary Strength Table for Vedic Horoscope Interpretation

Planetary Strength Table for Vedic Horoscope Interpretation

From the above table we can see we have one planet (the Sun) in it’s exalted sign and no planets at all in their debilitated sign. None of the planets are weakened by being ‘combust’ or involved in ‘planetary war’ either. Sure, there are several in Enemies signs, but there are none in Great Enemies signs. So, the foundations from this viewpoint are beginning to look reasonably sound.

Obviously, the more planets we have above neutral status in this table the better – and the more favourable would be their influences. If there were a number of planets debilitated or seriously weakened, then the overall strength of the chart would be less and there would be problems in more life areas.

My mentor suggested that in any chart, when at least one planet was in it’s own sign or better (and where there were no debilitated planets) was a good indicator of a certain amount of ‘positive returning karma’. Sure, there might be struggles in some areas of life, but to have at least one planet in own sign or better gives a positive overall influence to the whole chart.

Secondly,  we need to assess the strength by House Placement of All the planets in the chart.

The overall strength of a chart is also determined by seeing how the planets are distributed throughout the houses. It is obviously better for a chart to have more planets in the positive houses (e.g. 5 and 9 – Trikona, or 1, 4, 7, 10 – Kendras) than in the negative houses (Dusthana – 6, 8 and 12). If there are a lot of planets in the negative houses then the overall chart strength will be less and struggles more likely.

Note that Houses 3, 6, 10 and 11 are categorised as Upachaya houses. The indications from malefics, such as Saturn, Mars, Rahu and Ketu, will improve over time if they are placed in these houses (more details given in Step 7). So, malefics placed in Upachaya houses help improve the overall strength of the birth-chart.

When assessing the overall strength of a chart we cannot ignore the important role of the 9th and 5th Houses. If the 9th is strong, then the native’s luck and fortune may well overwrite any problems seen elsewhere! So, although problems may arise, in this case the native always finds effective solutions – almost by ‘Divine Grace’.  Similarly, a strong 5th is beneficial as this represents positive returning karma from a previous incarnation.

So, combining both the status by sign and the effects of House placement on All the planets, we should arrive at an overview of the ‘foundations’ of the chart.

For example: if we have quite a few strong planets (by sign) and more planets distributed in ‘good’ houses rather than bad, we are looking at a positive foundation for the whole chart. As a result we would expect the person to be able to easily overcome any difficulties in life.

On the other hand, if most planets are below ‘neutral’ status (by sign) and there are also a lot of planets in the Dusthanas then the foundations are significantly weakened and the ability to overcome problems lessened.


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Step 7: Determining the Strength of Each Planet and Its Effects in Turn

This step follows on quite naturally from the previous one (where we classified the strength or status of each planet in a table). So, having already classified each planet’s strengths by sign placement (done in first part of Step 6 – e.g. is it in its exalted sign, debilitated sign, is it retrograde, combust, etc.), we can then work systematically through all the planets in turn and see how the effects they indicate are further affected by house placements.

If a planet is placed in any of the good houses (e.g. 5, 9, 1, 4, 7 ,10) this improves the planet’s status so that all the things indicated by it are enhanced. This means returning karmas in the life areas associated with a particular planet are generally more favourable. However, if the planet is positioned in any of the ‘bad’ houses (6, 8, 12) the planet and all the things it indicates are adversely affected.

Let’s take Venus as an example. If it were placed in the 5th or 9th house that would be very good (lucky, fortunate, etc.) for the indications of Venus e.g. partnerships. It would also be very good for the other things like dancing, singing, music, the fine arts, etc. that Venus indicates. However, if it was placed in the 12th house then there could be some problems and losses involving the marriage partner.  The person themselves could  also have little talent in the Arts etc. as a result.

We should also be aware that Houses 3, 6, 10 and 11 are categorised as Upachaya houses. The indications from malefics, such as Saturn and Mars, Rahu and Ketu, will eventually improve if they are placed in these houses. For example, Mars in the 11th will eventually bring some positive energy to the house of ‘Gains and Profits’;  Rahu in the 10th is eventually quite favourable for career status. So, Malefics placed in Upachayas are generally beneficial in the long term – unless they are weakened by sign placement (e.g. in sign of debilitation) at the same time.  If we are looking at a chart and see most  malefics are in Upachaya houses, we can tell the client that this is generally favourable and that any issues indicated will usually get better over time.

What about exalted planets in ‘bad’ houses and debilitated planets in very ‘good’ ones? The general consensus is that an exalted planet in the 8th will benefit the 8th house and its indications, but is not so good for the planet itself. A debilitated planet in a very good house benefits the planet, but not the house.

Combining information from the above factors we should now be in a position to infer how this status will effect each planet’s indications: psychological, physiological, sociological and others.

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Step 8: Determining the Strength of the First House – The Ascendant

This is another key step – as the strength of the ascendant or first house also sets the tone for the whole chart. A good ascendant helps build strong foundations too. The condition of the ascendant is important because the first house represents the following:

Birth and our younger years as a child
Health, body, and strength
Our personality and temperament
Self‑confidence and self‑love
Prosperity and fame
‘Dharma’ – our actions and activities that are most evolutionary

The way we evaluate it is basically the same as for any other house. So we will need to find out the following:

The condition or status of the planet ruling the first house by sign placement (is it in its exalted sign, debilitated sign, is it retrograde, etc.). This information will be available from Step 7.

The condition or status of the planet ruling the first house by house placement (i.e. is ruler of Lagna in 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.). So, we are looking to see if this planet is placed in a favourable house (e.g. the auspicious 9th – ‘luck and fortune’) or an unfavourable house (e.g. 12th – house of loss). This information will also be available from Step 7.

We then need to find details about the planets that occupy the first house. We need to determine if they are a benefic, neutral or malefic influence – both from their natural characteristics and also from the houses they rule. For example, although Mars is a natural malefic, if it becomes a functional benefic on account of it’s 9th lordship (as it does for a Leo ascendant) then it would bring some benefits to the first house (e.g. energy, courage, enthusiasm). But Mars, as lord of the 12th, would most definitely not!

So, we need to be aware of the list of functional benefics and malefics for the particular ascendant we are working with. The functional nature (over and above the natural characteristics) of a planet really comes into focus during its Mahadasha too.

Finally, we need to find out which planets are aspecting the ascendant and to assess if these aspects are favourable or unfavourable. As expected, the influence will be positive from natural benefics, and negative for natural malefics.

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Step 9: Assessing the Condition of the Remaining Houses (2 to 12) in Turn

Basically this process is identical to that given in Step 8 above and repeated for each of the remaining houses.

When we are doing this we need to be aware of the things each house represents (e.g. 7th – partnerships, 2nd- wealth, etc.). Then, we associate the condition of the house with the effects in the life area indicated by the house.

We also need to be particularly focused on all the factors affecting a particular house if a client reports problems in the life area indicated by the house. Again we also need to bear in mind planets occupying the house, their functional benefic or malefic status, aspects to the house, etc.

After analysing all the 12 houses we should be in a position to see which ones are particularly strong and which particularly weak. So, at this stage, we should be able to correlate the information we have discovered from the chart with the life events and issues presented to us by our clients.

Let’s look at 2 extreme cases. In the first case suppose the ruler of a house is strong by sign placement – for example, placed in it’s own sign or better. Now suppose this ruling planet is also placed in an auspicious house (Kendra or Trikona). This further boosts the ruling planet’s strength and the foundations of the house it rules. Even better if the house in question is itself occupied or aspected by benefics. In this case we can be sure all the affairs linked to this house will be very positively influenced!

Let’s take the other extreme. Suppose the planet ruling a house is seriously weakened by sign placement (e.g. in debilitated sign). Because the ruler is weakened the foundations of the house are also weakened. If the planet ruling the house is also placed in an unfavourable house (Dusthana) then we can be certain all the affairs linked to this house will present difficulties. Worse still, if this house is also occupied by malefics (e.g. Saturn, Mars, Rahu or Ketu) then this negatively impacts the affairs of the house even more!

In real life we rarely get the extremes mentioned above, so the astrologer would tell the client there are a balance of factors affecting the life areas indicated by the house. In this case, the positive outcomes are more likely to surface during the Mahadashas of positive planets associated with the house (by rulership, occupancy or aspect) and vice versa.

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Step 10: Predicting the Effects of the Mahadashas and Transits

Effects of Mahadashas

It is very important to remember:

The main birth-chart equals ‘What’

The Mahadasha equals ‘When’

So, the birth-chart is the static element and the Mahadashas the dynamic element of prediction.

As a general rule I write out the start and stop dates of all the Mahadashas from birth until about 70 or 80 years of age. It’s important to note that a complete cycle of Mahadashas takes 120 years, so in the average life-time of a person not all of the Mahadashas will become active. It’s also important to note that when we are born is usually part way through one of the Mahadashas. So, a Mahadasha very, very rarely starts at birth (if it does it is a coincidence)!

During the Mahadashas of any particular planet, all of the things it is associated with come to ‘centre stage’ and are brought into focus. This is not only just the things the planet indicates, but also the houses it rules, planets it is conjunct with, etc.

As part of chart interpretation it is the astrologer’s job to identify particularly good Mahadashas or particularly bad ones.

Mahadashas explain why a well placed planet in a birth chart may have some very positive indications, but the client has not (yet) reported any of this happening in their life. The reason for this is simply because the Mahadashas of that particular planet has not yet occurred. So the effects predicted by the birth-chart have not been activated or come to ‘centre stage’ – yet. For example, a chart may show a considerable amount of luck and fortune. While this might be true throughout life to a certain extent, the full effects will only be felt in the Mahadashas of the relevant planet (e.g. the ruler of the 9th).

When we are starting chart interpretation it is probably best to avoid the fine detail given by the sub-periods (called the ‘Antardasha’ or ‘Bhukti’) in a Mahadasha . Obviously if we have a negative minor period in a negative Mahadasha then things will not be good at all!

Effects of Transits

The only transit I usually look in detail at is the seven and a half year ‘Shani Sade’ transit of Saturn over the 12th, 1st and 2nd from the natal moon. I would only pay particular attention to this transit if it was currently occurring for the native – and then determine if it could be implicated in their present problems.

The other transit that may be worth looking at is that of Jupiter. But, ‘all other things being equal’, the effects of the transits are less than the effects of the Mahadashas.

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Step 11: Looking for Repeating Patterns Helps Our Predictions

As we find repeating patterns in a chart our confidence in our own predictions grows. This is something we should be aware of from the very first chart we interpret.

For example, if the 7th house (an indicator of partnerships) had a major malefic, such as Mars occupying it, then we would be inclined to think the client might have some issues regarding marriage -as Mars has a tendency to disrupt. This would be particularly true during a Mars Mahadasha.

If the ruler of the 7th itself was also debilitated (or conjunct malefic, combust, etc.) this would increase our confidence in saying that partnerships will be problematic.

If we then find that Venus (the indicator of ‘love’ / marriage) was also significantly weakened in the birth-chart, then we could be very sure partnerships would definitely be an issue for the client!

So, even as beginners, if we find repeating patterns then we can be more confident in our predictions. The more the repetition, the greater will be our confidence.

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Phase 3

Synthesis and Reporting Back to Client

Step 12: Reporting Back to Client and Remedial Recommendations

This section contains the following topics:

General Considerations when Reporting Back to Client

Determining Our Level of Predictive Skills in Jyotish: Levels 1 to 4

Giving a General Chart Reading

Giving Feedback for Issues in Specific Life Areas

Making Remedial Recommendations: Planetary Antidotes – Upaye

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General Considerations when Reporting Back to Client

In the following discussions I use the term ‘Client’. When we are beginning our studies of Jyotish this term will almost certainly refer to a family member, friend or colleague.

Although we may begin our Jyotish journey with some degree of healthy scepticism there will come a point when we are looking at a chart when the ‘mists of karma’ clear and we can see the client’s life events reflected in their birth-chart. This is an awe inspiring and very humbling moment. It is an ‘OMG’ moment when we realise that this stuff is actually for real! This is paradigm shifting and we will never be the same again. Be prepared for this.

In trying to make Jyotish easier to understand I am always making the assumption ‘all other things being equal’ in my comments. In real life they never are! So, many of my statements are a first approximation. Later on, when we are more experienced, we can blend together more factors.

When interpreting a Vedic Horoscope we are really playing the role of the ‘Karmic Detective’ looking for ‘cosmic clues’ in the birth-chart. As beginners, we should not expect to be able to ‘solve’ every single case. There simply might be too much planetary activity going on for us to be able to decipher it. This has happened to me on several occasions where I simply could not interpret the chart before me in a meaningful way! We can then advise the client of the need for a second opinion.

It is important to note that client’s who are on a spiritual path may have life experiences far better than their chart would indicate! Always bear this in mind.

Jyotish is probabilistic. It does not deal with certainties. An experienced Jyotish astrologer can be around 70% accurate in their predictions. As beginners, we should always use terms that imply ‘possible’ and not ‘certain’ with our clients. So, we should choose our language very carefully.

As part of the above considerations it’s useful to be aware of some forecasting analogies that apply to Jyotish and convey them to the client.

As a beginner we are in a bit of a ‘catch-22’ situation. Ideally we need to establish a ‘baseline’ or ‘average’ for people in a certain level of society – but can only do this after seeing quite a few charts. Sometimes interpreting charts of older friends or family members helps us reconcile chart indications with actual life experiences during certain Mahadashas.

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Determining Our Level of Predictive Skills in Jyotish

First Level of Predictive Skills

At this most basic level we should be able to start to identify exceptionally beneficial, or very challenging, life areas associated with particularly strong, or particularly weak, planets or houses.

For example, suppose we see some issues with the 7th house. This might be the ruler of the 7th is placed in it’s sign of debilitation or the 7th is occupied by a major malefic such as Mars. We should then be able to infer that there will be some challenges and difficulties with partnerships and marriage. If both of these factors are present then, almost certainly, there will be issues with partnerships.

Another example; suppose the ruler of the 9th was in it’s sign of exaltation and planets occupying the 9th were natural or functional benefics. This would then indicate an above-average level of luck and fortune for the client.

So, at this first level of predictive skills, we should be able to predict a few areas of life which will probably involve struggles and problems, and a few areas of life which will almost certainly be easy, successful and free from obstacles.

We should also bear in mind that some life areas may have a balance of positive and negative factors and we should be able to report this to the client.

Second Level of Predictive Skills

Building on our skills from the 1st level, we should now be able to incorporate information from the Mahadashas. So, we can make predictions to identify when the difficulties or benefits (previously identified in level 1), are likely to happen.

For example, if we have identified Mars in the 7th as being potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of relationships, we could then identify when this is likely to occur from the dates of the Mars Mahadasha. If this has already happened and the Mars Mahadasha has finished the client’s could be relieved! If it was some time in the future, then we should be able to prescribe remedial measures to lessen the impact of this returning karma.

Third Level of Predictive Skills

At this level we can start to be a bit more speculative and make associations from our knowledge of planets and houses. Not all of these predictions will come to pass, but we can inform the client of certain possibilities in their chart.

For example, suppose we see Saturn in the 2nd. We could then infer wealth comes slowly after some level of effort. If Ketu was in the 2nd we could tell the client to be aware that strange things could happen to their finances – particularly during a Ketu Mahadasha (or sub-period). If Mercury was in the 2nd wealth could increase due to business, communications, etc.

Further examples of associations. Suppose Mars was in the 10th, then a person’s career could involve military, police, security, etc. If Jupiter in the 10th, then career might involve law, spiritual knowledge, etc. If Venus was in the 10th then career could involve fine arts, drawing, painting, music, etc.

Suppose someone had Saturn in the 1st house. We could suggest this brings personal qualities of patience and perseverance, but tell the client that this may have caused problems at birth, or more general health issues – particularly during it’s Mahadasha.

Suppose Jupiter is in the 7th house. We could then make the association between the positive indications of Jupiter and the 7th meaning that we could predict the client would have a knowledgeable and spiritual wife. If a favourable Venus was in the 7th then we could suggest a beautiful wife that may be interested in the arts singing, dancing, etc.

Experienced astrologers would look at many more factors in order to be more certain about these predictions, but as beginners we can get a general idea of possibilities and communicate them to our clients.

Fourth Level of Predictive Skills

By this stage we should have gained more experience and looked at numerous charts to correlate our predictions with client’s actual life events. We would now start to look at finer detail indicators – such as the divisional charts, looking at the chart using the house the Moon occupies as ascendant, etc. In particular, we would also view the Navamsha chart as well as looking for major planetary Yogas and any Sambandhas in the main birth-chart.

I have found Sambandhas to be particularly revealing – e.g. if the lord of the 9th was in the 5th and the lord of the 5th in the 9th we would be looking at a highly spiritual person.

At this skill level we are looking at techniques and indicators not covered in this introductory level website.

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Giving a General Chart Reading

We usually do this on a house-by-house basis starting with the first house and ending with the twelfth. As we move through each house we tell the client the key indications of each house and if things are generally favourable, or more challenging.

While doing this we also need to bear in mind the overall strength of the chart we are reading and any significant past / present / future Mahadashas. This information, together with effects from possible transits of Saturn and Jupiter, can be blended into our overall feedback.

As a beginner we might only report on those houses and life areas where we see particular strength, or particular weakness. So, for some houses in a chart there will be a mix of positive and negative factors and we can then inform the client that nothing dramatic is indicated for that life area. This message can be quite reassuring!

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Giving Feedback for Issues in Specific Life Areas

If a client has an issue in a specific life area we need to carefully examine all the things associated with it. Often, most issues fall into line with the affairs indicated by a particular planet or particular house. Having a good knowledge of all the indications of the nine planets and twelve houses is essential.

When giving feedback on specific issues it is useful for the astrologer to think in terms of the four key Vedic categories of Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha.

This section therefore contains examples of key indicators for determining issues with: Health, Wealth, Family, Marriage and Partnerships, Career, Spiritual Development.

Again, we need to be very aware of the overall strength of the client’s chart and assess the strength of the ascendant, the ability to overcome problems and difficulties, general luck and good fortune, etc.

‘Single Factor’ Issues

For example, if a client reports a general problem with restrictions and delays in many areas we would focus on Saturn (and its Mahadasha / transits). If they are experiencing widespread frustrations we would look more closely at Rahu. If there were accidents, disruptions to a range of activities, etc. we would put our attention on Mars.

‘Two Factor’ Issues

If the client reported delays and restrictions in a specific area such as delays in having children we would look at conditions in the 5th house as well as Jupiter and see if there are any associations with Saturn. We would also look at the condition of Venus (which governs the reproductive system).

If the client reported frustrations with career we would specifically look at their 10th house and see if there are any possible connections with Rahu (e.g. Rahu in 10th , Rahu conjunct 10th lord, etc.)

If there was the possibility of divorce or frequent arguments in the marriage we would look at the 7th house and any link with Mars (e.g. Mars in, or aspecting the 7th, or its lord). However, we should be aware that 25% of the population will have Mars aspecting the 7th! This is where more advanced techniques such as looking at the Navamsha chart should help further clarify things.

Example: Health Issues

If a client reports issues with health we should first inform them that not all health issues are due to returning karma! Some may be due to inappropriate lifestyle, poor diet and possibly due to the place where they live or work. These factors and how to remedy them are covered in the Jyotish-related applied Vedic sciences of Ayurveda and Vastu. However, in the hands of a skilled astrologer, Jyotish can often throw light on otherwise intractable health problems.

For health matters the astrologer would first look at: strength of overall chart, strength of ascendant (house of body), planets occupying the 1st, the strength and position of the Sun (indicator of self).

Here are some other things we should check:

We would also need to check out the 6th house. This is the house of enemies and in Vedic terms ‘disease’ is an ‘enemy’. The 6th is also an Upachaya, so any negative indications read from the 6th may get better with time.

If client reports specific health issues in a certain area of the body we should correlate this with the list of body parts associated with each house. See ‘Parts of the Body Associated with Each House’ section of  ‘The Twelve Houses and Their Indications’.  For example, head is correlated with 1st, 5th with stomach, 12th with feet. A weak 5th could therefore indicate problems with poor digestion, stomach issues, etc.

If client reports difficult to diagnose illnesses check associations with Ketu. For example, Ketu in 1st, or conjunct lord of 1st. Is Ketu Mahadasha current – if so when will it end?

Medical astrology is a complex field and there are very few astrologers who are well versed in both Ayurveda and Jyotish. Those that are, can predict lack of balance in the Ayurvedic doshas from planetary arrangements in a chart. Wow.

[There is only one author I recommend on this topic – Dr. David Frawley. He is an expert in both Ayurveda and Jyotish! His book ‘Ayurvedic Astrology – Self-Healing Through the Stars’ is the only one I would ever use for reference.]

Example: Issues with Wealth

If a client reports issues with wealth we would obviously look at the state of the 2nd house (accumulated wealth). However, we also would need to examine the 11th (gains and profits), the 12th (losses) and the 5th (investments). We would also need to look at the status of Jupiter which is associated with both knowledge and wealth.

For example, if the lord of the 2nd was in the 9th, the client should be very lucky with accumulated wealth. If the lord of the 2nd was in the 12th we might expect losses.

If the lord of the 11th was strong, we could say gains and profits were likely, but the client could face losses if the 12th house was weak.

The 9th also has some effect on wealth because a strong 9th indicates luck and general good fortune. A weak 9th could indicate poor luck – with implications for finances.

At the next level of predictions we can start to make predictions based on planets in specific houses, etc. If, for example, Mercury was favourably placed in the 11th, we could predict there could be gains or profit through things associated with Mercury (e.g. Business, Commerce, Communications, etc.). If Jupiter was placed in the 11th, there could be financial gains through knowledge, law, etc. These associations are interesting (and fun to make) – but not guaranteed!

Example: Family Issues

In Jyotish, the indicators for the affairs of family members are clearly delineated by houses and indicator planets. Therefore, simply by looking at relevant houses and indicators we should be able to gain some idea of potential problems (or lack of) for all family members. Here are some examples:-

Mother: The 4th house covers happiness, comforts and our mother. These are naturally tied together. So we would look at the condition of the 4th – where it’s ruler is placed, planets occupying it and aspecting it. We would also examine the Moon. We would note which house it was in, any benefic or malefic influences from occupying or aspecting planets, etc. A waxing bright Moon near complete fullness would be better than a waning moon near full darkness.

Father: Our relationship with our father can be seen from the 9th house and his status and providing power for the family can be seen from the 10th. We would also examine the strength and status of the Sun – we would ask ourselves if it was positioned in favourable, or unfavourable, signs and houses, any presence of conjunct malefics, or the proximity of the nodes in the same sign, etc.

Children: The 5th house is the house of children. Again we would examine it’s condition and any occupying and aspecting planets. For example, if Saturn occupied the 5th we might predict there would be delays in having children. Mars in the 5th might lead to miscarriages or accidents to children. Ketu in the 5th might imply strange illnesses or children with psychic abilities, etc. Of course if there were issues with fertility we would check indicators of the reproductive system such as Venus. We should also examine the condition of Jupiter (by sign, house, aspects) as this planet is associated with children.

Siblings: Affairs relating to siblings can be found from examining the condition of the 3rd and 11th houses. There is some academic debate which house indicates younger, and which house indicates older siblings. Some texts suggest if the 3rd is weak there is ‘no happiness from brothers’. This could mean the complete lack of siblings. Some texts suggest the affairs of (and relationships with) the eldest sibling are seen from the 11th.

It is worth noting that both the 3rd and the 11th are Upachaya houses – so indications can improve with time.

Example: Problems with Marriage and Partnerships

Marriage and partnerships are seen primarily from the 7th house. It’s worth pointing out that the 7th indicates more of an ability to work together in marriage and partnerships. It’s not really about romantic love.

A good 7th indicates a couple will be able to work together in a relationship with little arguments or upsets. However, it does not imply there will be a ‘chemistry’ between the partners. Because marriage is so important to a person’s happiness and that of their family, a lot of effort is spent by traditional Indian families finding compatible partners that can work harmoniously together to bring up children.

There is a whole set of separate techniques used for determining a couple’s compatibility using Jyotish. These are beyond the scope of this article. Note that it is very rare to get perfect 100% compatibility, so this is something we shouldn’t worry about. Rather, we should realistically seek more positives and less negatives. If someone is already married many Jyotish astrologers (myself included) consider it unethical to perform a ‘retrospective’ compatibility analysis!

We assess the 7th just as we would any other house – by looking at the sign and house in which it’s ruler is placed, planets occupying the 7th and planets aspecting the 7th. We would also look at the status of Venus as this is the indicator planet for the marriage partner.

Because marriage is so important, this is the one time I would advise also looking at the relevant divisional chart – in this case the Navamsha. However, I would only do this if the birth time was confirmed as accurate. Of course, if the Navamsha chart was favourable, then that strengthens the affairs of the 7th house itself. Examining the Navamsha chart is really a ‘Level 4’ prediction skill.

Almost everyone in India has heard of ‘Mangala Dosha’. This is a negative influence caused by Mars occupying the 7th house or aspecting it in one of the partners. We should realise that on average, Mars occupies the 7th for about 1 in 12 people. Because Mars casts three aspects, it also happens to aspect the 7th for about 1 in 4 people (wherever it is placed in a chart). This aspect from Mars is usually of less concern than its direct occupancy of the 7th. The good news is that if a couple of people who wish to get married both have Mars in the 7th, then any potential ‘turbulence’ in their relationship is greatly lessened! This is therefore a natural antidote to ‘Mangala Dosha’.

Using our ‘Level 3’ prediction skills we can associate planets occupying the 7th with certain indications. For example, Saturn in the 7th could indicate delays to marriage, or an older partner, etc.; Jupiter in the 7th could indicate a knowledgeable partner or one with spiritual aspirations; Ketu in the 7th can indicate an unusual partner or one who may have psychic powers, Venus could indicate a beautiful partner who is interested in signing, dance, drama, etc. In my experience, these indications are often very clear and truly reflect the marriage partner.

Example: Determining Potential for Spiritual Development

Dealing with spiritual progress is the last of the four key areas covered by Jyotish predictions (i.e. Artha, Dharma, Kama, Moksha). Strong spiritual indications appear in the charts of many living enlightened Masters and those on a spiritual path. Here are the things to look for.

9th House – This house indicates religion, faith, worship, relationship with our spiritual teacher (Guru) and higher knowledge of all kinds. It is key in assessing spiritual aspirations. A strong 9th benefits all these indications. Having an exalted planet such as the Sun in the ninth is of great benefit.

Jupiter – Another indicator of good spiritual progress is a strong Jupiter, e.g. in own sign or better, and / or in a Kendra or Trikona house.

5th HouseIndicator of past life credit, spiritual techniques, mantras, etc. Good spiritual progress is indicated by: a strong 5th house, e.g. lord of the 5th in own sign or better; benefics such as Jupiter in the 5th; some mutual exchange or associations between the lords of the 5th and 9th, (e.g. lord of 5th in 9th, or 9th in 5th, or both). If both occur then this is a very powerful Sambandha indeed. I have seen this exchange in the birth-chart of an enlightened Master in the Vedic tradition!

12th House – We should also look at the 12th house – an indicator of Moksha. If the ruler is strong, or the 12th house is positive in other ways, this is very good for spiritual development towards higher states of consciousness. Ketu works well in the 12th for spiritual seekers and is a good indicator of progress towards enlightenment.

Saturn – We should also look at Saturn – can give humility and patience (needed to just sit and meditate). A strong Saturn is of course beneficial for this and Saturn occupying or aspecting the 1st, or it’s ruler, is also beneficial – at least from a spiritual  perspective.

Example: Issues with Career

It’s not easy to give an exact prediction of the ideal career for a person. However, their career status and the likely achievements in their chosen career can be read from the 10th house. We should remember the 10th is an Upachaya. This means malefics placed in the 10th (unless afflicted by debilitation, etc.) do quite well in the end.

For example: Rahu in the 10th brings power and good career status; Mars brings energy (and possible careers in military, police, etc.); Saturn is good for careers involving land, wood, metal, etc.; Jupiter is good for careers in law, knowledge, etc.

We should also look at the condition of Mercury when discussing careers as it has some input on career (not surprising as it is involved with business, communication, etc.)

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Making Remedial Recommendations: Planetary Antidotes – Upaye

Having given feedback to our client about potential benefits, or challenges, as seen from their chart, we now come to the unique feature of Jyotish. This is its ability to prescribe ‘planetary antidotes’ or  remedial measures that can deflect a person’s returning ‘negative karmas’ to  make their life happier – with less obstacles and challenges. So, the Jyotish Astrologer is really involved in a form of ‘Karmic Engineering‘!

It may be worth pointing out to the client at this stage that they must have had some ‘good grace’, or positive karma, to even get a Jyotish consultation in this lifetime (as it was once only available to kings and rulers in ancient India).

When prescribing remedial measures it is important to keep in mind the principle used by medical practitioners: ‘Do No Harm’. I am saying this because it is actually possible for an astrologer to do harm! This could happen if we recommend the client wear a gemstone aimed at strengthening a functional malefic planet.

So, what can we, as astrologers, do to help relieve the problems and suffering of our clients?

Prescribing Gemstones to Balance Planetary Energies

Firstly, we can always recommend the client wears a gemstone to strengthen the Lord of their ascendant. This applies to all ascendants (see below). This will never do any harm. Note: If the ascendant is already very strong e.g.  exalted in the 9th, it may not be necessary, but it will never do any harm.

[There is a line in ‘Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra‘ which says that Mars, for a Scorpio ascendant, is ‘Neutral’. However, I was personally present when a couple of the best Jyotish Pundits in India recommended a pink coral (not a red one) to a close friend. As coral strengthens Mars this implies it must be beneficial for this ascendant.]

Can we recommend gemstones for weakened planets (weakened by sign, house, conjunction, or aspect) other than the ruler of the ascendant? We can, provided we first check that the planet in question falls into the ‘Functional Benefic’ category using the ‘Functional Benefics and Malefics for All Ascendants’ page on this website. Many astrologers think this is particularly beneficial during the Mahadasha of the said planet. In fact, if we have a number of auspicious planets (i.e. functional benefics) that all need strengthening,  we can prioritise the stone for the current Mahadasha planet – (provided, of course, that it is a functional benefic for the ascendant).

Readers might find the free ‘Gemstone Report’ facility on the ‘Astrological Gem International’ website of use. As they say: ‘We offer this free Astrological Gemstone recommendation as a starting point for those without an astrologer, as well as a unique resource for learning about the areas of your life that may be affected with each gem.’ So, this is a useful starting point, but not as good as an experienced astrologer.

When recommending gemstones, it’s important to specify the correct quality, the right setting material (e.g. gold or silver) and to ensure the stone touches the skin. We also need to specify an auspicious day to start wearing the stone. I recommend the book ‘Gems and Astrology’ by the respected Indian Astrologer G.S. Kapoor, which contains this detailed information. High quality precious gems suitable for Jyotish remedial purposes are expensive. Very Expensive indeed!

 Using Mantras as Planetary Antidotes

Secondly, I always recommend planetary mantras. Although it is quite possible to recommend a single, planet-specific, mantra for a ‘damaged’ and weakened planet I usually prefer to make use of the benefits offered by the Nav Graha Mantra. This takes care of the energy of all planets in one go. If this is too complex for some clients, then the simple chanting of ‘Aum Namah Shivaya’ also brings great benefits. Added Benefit –  Mantras are a ‘zero cost option’ for the client!

Acts of Charity to Modify Returning Karma

Thirdly, the Vedic texts often specify acts of charity as remedial measures. Sometimes these can be a bit difficult to achieve for people living in the West (e.g. can you find a Brahmin on a Saturday to whom you can donate a cow?). However, some are relatively simple. I like to feed the crows in my local park on a Saturday – as both an offering to my ancestors and to balance any potential problems arising from the position of Saturn in my own birth-chart.

Vedic Ceremonies (Yagna) to Improve Weakened Planets

Finally, it is possible to balance planetary energy by the performance of Vedic ceremonies called ‘planetary pujas’ or ‘yagnas’ (also called ‘yagyas’ or ‘yajnas’).

Both gemstones for auspicious planets and yagnas for functional malefics were recommended by the highly respected Jyotish pundits of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

As with all Vedic ceremonies the outcome is dependent on the proficiency and level of consciousness of the person performing the ceremony. So, when I require planetary pujas to balance the planetary energies in my own chart I always use the puja or yagna services attached to a spiritual centre (such as an ashram) with an enlightened Master as the Guru. I must say that I have been very happy with the planetary pujas performed on my behalf by the pujari attached to the ashram of the living saint Mata Amritanandamayi. These ceremonies involve specialist knowledge and ingredients, so there is a modest charge for this service.

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Recommended Resources

    1. When I first became interested in Jyotish 40 years ago there were very few resources available to Westerners. I found the book ‘Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer’ by James T. Braha of great initial help. The book is well laid out in clear sections that avoid ‘information overload’. However, as my knowledge of the subject grew (thanks to scholars in the Transcendental Meditation Movement) I could detect some areas of the book that were not at all clear. For example, the author does not directly mention functional benefic and functional malefic planets and how to deal with them in a systematic way. His advice on gemstones for remedies also does not take this into account.  However, apart from this I would still recommend this book for complete beginners. There is an updated version available (which I have not read), but the original version is fine.
    2. As a reference book my mentor suggested using ‘Predictive Astrology of the Hindus’ by Pandit Gopesh Kumar Ojha. It contains a huge amount of information but stays within traditional methods well – which Is why I always use it.
    3. If you are just experimenting with Jyotish and don’t want to spend money on specialist software I recommend the free DrikPanchang website for constructing birth-charts.  You will have to play with the settings to get a South Indian format chart in English, but it also gives divisional charts such as the Navamsha. I find it very useful – be sure to ‘scroll down’ if it is your first visit.