Tag Archives: jyotish astrology

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

Sun

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°)

Moon

Exalted sign: Taurus 0° to 3°

Moolatrikona sign: Taurus 3° to 30°

Own sign: Cancer

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

Mars

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°)

Mercury

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°)

Jupiter

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°)

Venus

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°)

Saturn

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.

Rahu

Exalted sign: Taurus

Debilitated sign: Scorpio

Ketu

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.


[1]

Sign ownership or rulership by planets in vedic astrology

Sign Ownership or Rulership by Planets in Vedic Astrology

Vedic Astrology – A Paradigm Shift.

Summary: This article briefly examines the paradigm shift needed by Western Astrologers if they are going to stand any chance of understanding the fundamental concepts involved in the predictive and preventive Vedic Astrological system. (More in-depth articles about ‘planetary forces’ and ‘free-will versus pre-destiny’ to follow).

Jyotish – A Major Paradigm Shift for Western Astologers

A fully Self–realized Vedic Master said this about Vedic astrology:‘The purpose of astrology is to take you to the ultimate truth that the entire universe is one organism. It’s one Being, one consciousness, one Self, that manifests itself into this varied universe’. [1]

For many centuries man thought that the Sun and planets revolved around the earth and that the earth was at the centre of the universe. These ideas were very deeply ingrained in our thinking and formed a conceptual framework which affected our whole outlook on life.  The learned scholars and establishment of the time (the Church) supported these ideas.

Irrefutable scientific evidence later emerged to suggest that what had previously been taken as ‘self-evident fact’ was merely a result of an earth-centred perspective and that, contrary to what we observe, the earth and planets do indeed revolve in orbits around the Sun.

Looking back from our present time it is hard to imagine the upset this change in perspective caused and why those who supported the new theories were branded as heretics.  It is also difficult to imagine why the established ideas had so much inertia.

The above is an example of what is known as a ‘paradigm shift’.  There have been other examples.  More recently the concept of ‘evolution of the species’ had to overthrow the entrenched ideas that God, at some time in the past, created life exactly as we see it now – and that there was no room in the divine plan for changes.

Yet another paradigm-shift occurred in the field of physics when the rules of motion as laid down by Isaac Newton were found to be inadequate at explaining all observed phenomena (e.g. those occurring close to the speed of light or at the minute atomic scale).  Einstein’s’ theory of relativity and the whole of quantum physics then emerged. However, the shift from one view point to another is never easy and takes considerable time to get established in the consciousness of the general public.

Now Western Astrologers are often considered as being reasonably flexible and adaptable to ‘new ideas’. One problem with Jyotish Astrology is that it is not a ‘new idea’ – it has been in existence for thousands of years.  Another problem is that in order to be able to fully grasp ‘where it is coming from’ a major paradigm shift is going to be needed by Astrologers born and bred into Western Astrological thinking patterns.

Here are some key concepts:

1. Planets do not affect people

The Jyotish Astrologer realises that planets do not affect people – it is people which affect people!  In the West it is very easy to take on an ‘Astrological Victim Consciousness’ mode of thought e.g. ‘I’m having a bad time at the moment because of my Saturn transit’ i.e. Saturn is the agent responsible for my condition.  Jyotish Astrology says this is nonsense.  Any condition or situation we find ourselves in at the present is solely due to our past thoughts, words or deeds.  Of course we could argue as follows, ‘I can’t remember doing anything which would give rise to what I am now experiencing.’

The answer to this, from a Jyotish viewpoint, is very simple.  It says that our memory does not extend far enough back.  In order to understand the present we might require a memory stretching back many lifetimes.  So Jyotish has built into its structure the concepts of re-incarnation and the fruits of past actions returning to the individual.

The mechanics of Jyotish, at a fundamental level, rely on the Vedic Model of Reality: the universe and all the beings in it is an interconnected single entity!

2. We were not born at a particular time in the past merely by chance

We were not born at some particular time, when the planets were arranged in a particular way, merely by chance.  Jyotish Astrology comes from a tradition which does not believe that the Creator plays dice!  It would be grossly unfair if some people were born into very rich families and others into families of beggars just by accident.

Jyotish implies that we were born at a particular time and place due to our past karmas and latent impressions (samskaras). The celestial arrangement of the 9 planets amongst the twelve houses and 27 constellations (Nakshatras) at our birth simply reflects how our lives will unfold as a result of our past deeds. The moment of our incarnation on this planet therefore reflects the karmic lessons we needed to learn to maximise our evolution – and Jyotish Astrology can detect the nature and timing of the benefits we receive and challenges we face.

3. Planets do not emit some kind of ‘force’ that affects people

Many Western Astrologers believe that the planets emit some type of force which, as yet, has not been discovered by science, and which influences our lives.  They therefore feel that Jyotish Astrology is in some way limited as it does not use the very slow moving planets Neptune, Uranus and Pluto and thus fails to take into account the ‘forces’ emitted by these planets.

The Western Astrological concept of a planet emitting a ‘force’ that affects human beings is very mechanistic and ‘Newtonian’. Vedic Astrology realises that it is just dealing with a field of information, not a physical, or even esoteric hidden force. The planetary arrangements present at the time of birth are a type of code that can be ‘read’ by skilled Vedic Astrologers and translated into predictions.

The lack of a physical force and the acceptance that planetary arrangements merely represent information is supported by the Jyotish axiom that the ‘effects’ of planets vary markedly with the individuals’ rising sign or ascendant.  There is no such parallel in Western Astrology.

In Jyotish the planet Mars is (generally) a very positive influence in the birth chart of someone with a Leo ascendant (sign rising on the horizon at birth).  It is also (generally) an extremely negative influence for a person with a Virgo ascendant.  So the same planet signals both positive effects for some individuals and negative for others. Clearly this is not due to any physical force emanating from the planet! This gives evidence to the fact that we are really dealing with an integrated field of information (or intelligence) where the individual is linked to the Cosmic Totality.

 4. Jyotish offers a range of remedial measures to modify returning karmic influences

Because we are part of an integrated whole, then by participating in certain vedic procedures , performing prescribed acts of charity, reciting certain sanskrit mantras  or wearing appropriate gemstones we can modify or deflect (to a large extent) returning karmas so that we do not have to suffer the consequences in this lifetime. So, Jyotish enables us to both detect and ‘deflect’ returning karmas! [2]

Footnotes:

 [1] HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: ‘The Daily Sutra’, 20 May 2003

[2] Vedic ceremonies such as yagnas, when performed correctly by enlightened pandits are said to modify returning karmas. Also, as the universe and the beings in it are viewed as an interconnected whole, then the wearing of certain gemstones associated with  specific planets in a birthchart are said to modify returning karmas associated with those planets. The sanskrit mantras are also seen as a  means of ‘upwardly managing’ the laws of nature to modify returning karmas.

Jyotish – Forecasting Analogies

Summary: This article examines a few of the analogies used to describe the probabilistic nature of prediction in Vedic Astrology.  It helps our understanding of how planetary arrangements can be used to predict the chances of future events occurring.

Forecasting Analogies in Vedic Astrology

Vedic Astrology is essentially probabilistic. It is therefore similar to a long-range weather forecasting system. It attempts to predict when and how the actions we have performed in the past (our past karmas) return to us in the form of present and future influences on our lives.  If ‘potential storms’ are seen on the horizon we can take appropriate action to avert any potential problems that have not yet manifested.  We can also make maximum progress and fulfil our desires most easily when ‘fine weather’ is forecast. Just as weather forecasters cannot be 100% accurate all of the time, Jyotish is not an exact science. Skilled and experienced Vedic Astrologers are said to achieve around the 70% mark. However, if there are many different factors in an individual’s birth chart all pointing to either benefits, or issues, in a specific life area, then a Jyotish astrologer can be much more confident in his or her predictions.

 Different seeds produce different trees.  A Botanist can look at two seeds.  He predicts one will grow into a silver birch; the other into a red wood.  We find nothing surprising in his prediction. He cannot say exactly how many branches each specific tree will have, or even what height they will reach as this depends on the soil conditions, climate and local environment.  He cannot say how long each tree will live either. But he can make general predictions about their overall characteristics.  A birth chart is like the seed – we should not be surprised that Vedic  Astrologers can predict general trends.

We know that the structure and characteristic growth of the tree is encoded in the DNA within its seed. Similarly the probable effects of our returning karmas (which are governed by the sequential unfoldment of the laws of nature) are reflected in the ‘code’ contained within the planetary arrangements in our birth-chart. This implies we were not born at a random time by chance and reflects the Vedic view of the interconnectedness of all life and matter in the universe.

Vedic Astrology gives a vantage point which transcends space and time. Instead of driving along an unknown road we can take a perspective ‘from a helicopter’ and see the future turns, terrain, and road surface. It is a bit like navigating with a map rather than trying to navigate without one. In some areas of life the road is straight and the going easy. In other areas we need to take more care. These benefits and difficulties also change with time as we progress along the journey. Life simply becomes easier and more fulfilling as a result of having a perspective from the viewpoint of Vedic astrology.

Sidereal astrology shows the relationship between the cosmic totality and the individual reality. The whole of sidereal astrology was cognized by an ancient sage called Maharishi Parashara who is said to have discovered mathematical and astronomical rules to predict the future and remedial measures needed to avoid any potential problems. To him, the cosmos was an intelligently organised and inter-connected whole; so that one event led into another event and that this unfoldment of life could be predicted from the code contained within the arrangement of the planets at the time of birth.


Additional Information

Frequently asked questions on Vedic Astrology: FAQ’s-1, FAQ’s-2