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Birth-time Errors

Summary: Discussing the implications of Birth-time errors for correctly identifying the Ascendant; for prescribing planetary antidotes; the calculation of Mahadasha starting times and possible errors in Nakshatra allocation; plus chart rectification techniques to determine a correct birth-time.

Consequences of Birth-time Errors for Chart Interpretation

Do birth time errors really matter that much? In Vedic Astrology the answer is a most definite ‘Yes’. There can be serious consequences of birth time errors, both for correct chart interpretation and for advice to clients.

Although most of the planets move relatively slowly through the sky (e.g. the Sun takes about 1 day to move through 1 degree of arc in our charts) this is not the case with the Moon which moves through 1 degree of the zodiac in less than 2 hours. Neither is it the case with the Ascendant (the zodiacal sign that appears to be ‘rising’ on the Eastern horizon at the time of our birth). Unfortunately, an accurate position for the Moon and the determination of the correct Ascendant, play an absolutely crucial role in Vedic Astrology.

Implications of Birth-time Errors in Identifying Ascendant (Lagna)

As there are 12 signs of the zodiac and 24 hours in 1 day (1 day is 1 complete revolution of the earth) the Ascendant changes on average every 2 hours. However, due to the complex 3D geometry of a rotating spherical earth (with an axis inclined at an angle of around 23 degrees to the plane of its orbit around the sun), the Ascendant can change in less than 1 hour in some cases. This depends on how far away from the equator we live, the time of day, etc.

Note: when we use the term ‘Ascendant’ we are referring to the ascending sign regardless of the actual degree of the horizon projected onto that zodiacal sign.

It is very bad news if our birth time is not accurate as we can then be given the wrong Ascendant by an astrologer. Birth-time errors can result in the following negative outcomes based on Ascendant:

    • Chart interpretation is rendered meaningless because all chart interpretation is built around identifying the first house (corresponding exactly with our rising sign)
    • Functional benefic and malefic planets can be wrongly identified
    • Planetary antidotes are wrongly prescribed doing more harm than good!

If the actual Ascendant (horizon) is placed in the middle of a sign, say around 15 degrees then there can be some leeway regarding birth-time errors without the Ascendant sign actually changing. Good news!

The problems really start when the actual Ascendant degree is placed close to a sign boundary – say within 5 degrees. In these cases a few minutes difference in birth-time can completely change the Ascendant and location of the first house. Bad news indeed!

Implications of Birth-time Errors in Prescribing Planetary Antidotes

An inaccurate birth-time could mean that planetary antidotes that are intended to improve our situation can actually make matters worse!

In medicine there is the key principle of ‘Do No Harm’. A Jyotish astrologer will actually do harm if he recommends strengthening a functional malefic by wearing an appropriate gemstone.

For example, suppose he uses the stated (but inaccurate) birth-time and calculates that the Ascendant for a particular person is Aries. He would then be perfectly correct to suggest the person wears a yellow sapphire to strengthen the planet Jupiter (it rules the 9th and 12th for an Aries Ascendant). However, if the true birth-time places the Ascendant in the next sign along – Taurus, then Jupiter is a highly malefic influence (it becomes a functional malefic as it is Lord of the 8th and 11th Houses for Taurus Ascendant) and should never be strengthened with gemstones for a Libra lagna. So it really does matter.

Implications  of Birth-time Errors in Mahadasha Timings

A unique feature of Jyotish is the Mahadasha system of prediction – ‘what’ is likely to happen and ‘when’ it will come about. The calculations of the starting times of the Mahadashas and Antardashas periods depend on accurate data on the position of the Moon in the birth-chart.

In the longer Mahadasha planetary periods (e.g. Venus, Saturn, or Rahu) a birth-time error of even 20 minutes can cause a Mahadasha starting time error of around six months!

A later birth-time than stated means the actual Mahadasha period starts earlier than calculated, and vice-versa.

Implications of Birth-time Errors in Nakshatras

A professional Jyotish Astrologer will use the position of the Moon in the ‘lunar mansions’ or Nakshatras. Different Nakshatras bring different ‘flavours’ to a chart. Problems arise if the stated birth-time puts the Moon very close to a boundary between two Nakshatras. This is something the astrologer will be watching closely and weighing up alongside the other factors mentioned above.

Chart Rectification – Techniques to Check Birth-time Accuracy

Professional Vedic Astrologers will be very much aware of the potential problems produced by inaccurate birth-times. They will be constantly checking to make sure what they ‘see’ in a person’s chart closely corresponds with the actual life events of their clients – and when those life events happened.

They might ask clients to tell them the dates of any marriages, children’s birth, when parents passed away, etc. together with background information on health, wealth, relationships, career, spiritual aspirations etc. Major discrepancies between what is ‘seen’ in the chart and real life will definitely indicate birth-time errors.

Jyotish is such a powerful predictive technique that Vedic Astrologers can actually ‘work in reverse’ from real life events to determine an accurate birth-time. They use the Mahadasha periods and ascendant calculations to do this. This process is called ‘Rectification of Birth-time’ or simply ‘Chart Rectification’ and requires some skill.

Modern Jyotish software enables this whole process to be carried out much more rapidly than before, as a range of ascendants and their charts can be quickly calculated for a corresponding range of birth-times. The Mahadasha calculations can also be performed more quickly too.

Resources for Students of Jyotish

Mahadashas – Planetary Periods

Summary: Explaining the key features of the Mahadasha planetary periods used in prediction, their duration, possible effects and how they are modified by the Antardasha sub-periods.

Jyotish Astrologers use Mahadashas to predict periods when we might experience significant life changes and the events, for better or worse, associated with them.

During specific Mahadasha periods, their predictions from the birth‑chart, which are linked to a particular planet, are most likely to occur. Mahadashas therefore enable astrologers to determine when ‘the cosmic postman’ will deliver his ‘karmic packages’!

The Mahadasha system is unique to Jyotish. Although sometimes written as ‘Mahadasa’, it is pronounced ‘Mahadasha’

Key Features of Mahadashas

    • The Mahadasha system of prediction is unique to Vedic Astrology – it is not linked to ‘transits’
    • Each major period is ruled by a different planet
    • The total duration of all the major periods taken sequentially is 120 years
    • While the duration of the major periods is the same for everyone, each individual has his/her own starting point in the 120 year cycle (determined by the longitude of the moon at birth in the sidereal zodiac)
    • Mahadasha periods are a key to successful prediction. This is where the static elements of the planets in the houses and signs in the birth-chart interact with the dynamic element of the Mahadashas to produce time dependent predictions: i.e. ‘what happens’ and ‘when it happens’
    • There are a number of different Mahadasha systems around , but the one most commonly used and discussed here is the ‘Vimsottari Dasha’ system
    • Jyotish software is by far the easiest way to find the Mahadashas for an individual (although tables are available)

Mahadasha Periods – Duration in Years

Duration of Planetary Mahadashas in Jyotish Astrology

Duration of Planetary Mahadashas in Jyotish Astrology

Mahadasha Sequence

The Mahadasha sequence is in the order as shown in the diagram above.

This sequence is the same for everyone regardless of their ascendant, or position of the Moon, or any other chart factors.

The Mahadasha that is operational at the time of our birth depends on the longitude of the Moon in the sidereal zodiac at the time we were born.

The Moon’s position also determines the remaining duration of that Mahadasha. For example, our birth time might give us a starting point of say 9 years into a Saturn Mahadasha. As the total duration of a Saturn Mahadasha is 19 years this means we would experience a change to a Mercury Mahadasha (the next in the sequence) when we were 10 years old. And a change to a Ketu Mahadasha (the next in the sequence) in another 17 years – when we were 27 years old. Then would follow the Venus Mahadasha, then that of the Sun, etc.

Effects of Mahadashas

We can best understand a Mahadasha period through an analogy. In the ‘play’ of life all the main characters (indicated by the planets) are always present, but often just waiting ‘off stage’. We may have to wait some time, maybe until Act 3 before the hero, or villain, actually appears! A skilled Vedic Astrologer can detect this potential waiting in our birth-charts and from it predict future events. They can see how the ‘play of life’ will unfold for an individual, and then make predictions  into the far future.

Astrologers often suggest a range of possible events – but it is likely that only a few of these possibilities occur.  This is not a ‘get out clause’ on their behalf ‑ just that a list of possibilities is given in the classical texts and they tell us what the lists include. They can certainly identify the life areas where we can expect benefits, or problems. ‘Forewarned’ is ‘forearmed’ as they say.

It is as though all things connected with a planet (e.g. the planets natural indications, the house(s) which it owns, the sign and house in which it is placed, or other planets which it aspects) become activated and brought to the foreground during the planets Mahadasha.  Therefore, the most significant life events during a planet’s Mahadasha will be events associated in some way with where and how that particular planet is placed.

While factors indicated in our birth‑chart hold good for life, the effect of a particular planet’s Mahadasha is to activate or ‘turn on’ areas of the chart associated with the Mahadasha planet. These areas indicate the most significant life events during that period.

Assessing the effects of Mahadashas is further complicated by the fact that planets active during these periods don’t just behave according to their natural characteristics!  This is where the concept of functional benefics (or malefics) is used. A benefic is a good agent and a malefic a negative agent. A planet such as Jupiter which is considered a natural benefic can, at times (e.g. for a Libra ascendant), behave in a negative way, but this depends on the particular ascendant. During Jupiter’s Mahadasha it would then be classed as a functional malefic influence.  Its potential negative tendencies and ability to do harm will then become active and apparent during its Mahadasha.

Antardashas: sub-periods of Mahadashas

Each major period, called a Mahadasha, is ‘ruled’ by one of the planets.  There are also nine secondary periods called ‘Antardashas’ (again determined by each of the planets) and these significantly modify the effect of each Mahadasha. Predicting specific events, rather than overall positive or negative tendencies during these sub‑periods can be more challenging for a Jyotishi.

However, during a Mahadasha of a strong and well placed functional benefic, when combined with another benefic planet’s Antardasha we can expect events to be very positive indeed. Of course, the overall strength of our chart is important as it gives an indication of how well we could ‘weather the storm’ of any unfavourable Mahadasha / unfavourable Antardasha combination.

When we talk about the minor periods there are 2 planets mentioned.  For example a Venus‑Mars period means that the main effects (Mahadasha) are governed by Venus and the minor effects (Antardashas) are controlled by Mars.

The sequence of the minor periods within the major one is identical to the Mahadasha planetary sequence. For example, if we take a Mars Mahadasha, the Antardashas are as follows: Mars-Mars; Mars-Jupiter; Mars-Saturn; Mars-Mercury; Mars-Ketu; Mars-Venus; Mars-Sun; Mars-Moon; then the Rahu-Rahu period begins.

What ‘weight’ should we give to the Mahadasha planet and the Antardasaha planet regarding their effects on an individual? Many Jyotish Astologers seem to attribute about 60% to the Mahadasha planet and around 20% to the Antardasha planet when predicting outcomes from a birth-chart. The remaining 20% is attributed to transits – mainly of the slow moving giants Jupiter and Saturn. This separate topic is covered in another article.

Effects of Birth-time Errors

Although errors in our birth-time will not greatly affect the position of most of the planets in the zodiac the exception is the Moon –  which moves through 1 degree of the sky in just under two hours.  And it is the position of the Moon which is used to calculate the Mahadasha starting dates!

Starting times of Mahadasha can be several months off their true times due to errors in our birth‑time. If our birth-time is actually earlier than we think, then the Mahadasha (and Antardasha) start date will be later, and vice versa. For example; if we were born into a Venus Mahadasha, a 20 minute error in our birthtime will move all the times predicted forwards, or backwards, by just over 3 months!

Very skilled astrologers can ‘work backwards’ from our real life events to obtain an accurate birth-time. They call this process ‘rectification’ and use their knowledge of Mahadashas to do this. Wow!

Resources for Students of Jyotish

Planetary Aspects

Summary: Explaining the concept of ‘Planetary Aspects’ in Jyotish and examining the rules needed to apply these principles. Also highlighting the major differences between aspects in Vedic Astrology and Western Astrology.

Planetary aspects are important and the rules in Jyotish are very different from those in Western Astrology.

Planets occupying a house will ‘cast their field of influence’ across the birth-chart and affect (for better or worse) other houses and any planets positioned in these houses ‑ this is called an aspect.

    • Aspects are directed from one house to another house (unlike in Western Astrology)
    • Aspects in Jyotish are therefore not from a planet’s ‘orb of influence’ (e.g. a 10 degree sector) to another planet’s ‘orb of influence’
    • Therefore, a planetary aspect can affect a house even if the aspected house is devoid of planets. This is a very important difference!
    • Planets in houses, as well as empty houses, can all be influenced by planetary aspects ‘beaming’ onto them from across the birth-chart
    • Aspects occur from planets positioned anywhere in one house (e.g. Sun at 2 degrees in 1st house) to affect planets positioned anywhere in another appropriate house (e.g. Saturn at 29 degrees in 7th)

A Simple Example of an Aspect

In this diagram, the Sun projects its field of influence across the chart onto the 7th house counted clockwise from the Sun. In this particular chart this house corresponds with the sign of Libra.

What are the effects of this? That really depends on a number of interrelated factors involved in chart interpretation. Firstly, an important factor is determining the ascendant in this chart. This will determine if the Sun is a functional benefic or malefic influence. Then we would need to see in what house the Sun was placed in order to assess its strength. Having done this we could see what house corresponds with Libra.

Suppose we had a Sagittarius ascendant. The Sun is then ruler of the auspicious 9th House (Leo in this chart) and it is placed in its sign of exaltation (Aries). It will then beam a very positive energy via its aspect into the sign of Libra. As this corresponds with the 11th house we would expect all affairs of the 11th House to be strengthened and improved by this aspect. We could therefore expect ‘gains, profits and the fulfilment of desires’ to be improved.

Aspect principle in Jyotish Atrology

Sun Aspects only 7th House

Aspect Rules

    • Rahu and Ketu do not cast any aspects – but all the other planets do
    • All other planets aspect the 7th house from themselves
    • Mars also aspects houses 4th  & 8th  from itself
    • Saturn also aspects houses 3rd  & 10th  from itself
    • Jupiter also aspects houses 5th & 9th from itself.

Any interpretation of the effects of aspects needs to consider both the natural characteristics and the functional characteristics of the aspecting planet.

Aspect Diagram for Mars

Mars Aspects 4th, 7th and 8th Houses in Jyotish

Mars Aspects 4th, 7th and 8th Houses from itself in Jyotish

Aspect Diagram for Jupiter

Jupiter Aspects 5th, 7th and 9th Houses in Jyotis

Jupiter Aspects 5th, 7th and 9th Houses from itself in Jyotish

Aspect Diagram for Saturn

Saturn Aspects 3rd, 7th and 10th Houses in Jyotish

Saturn Aspects 3rd, 7th and 10th Houses from itself in Jyotish

Conjunction and Combustion

Vedic Astrology uses the term ‘conjunction’ to indicate that two or more planets are together in the same sign or house – even if positioned near the opposite edges of a house. So, if the Sun was placed at 1degree Taurus and Saturn at say 28 degrees Taurus they would be termed ‘conjunct’ in Jyotish.  However, unlike Western Astrology Jyotish does not differentiate between oppositions, trines, etc.

When planets get too close to the Sun they get damaged and become ‘combust’. The exact degree needed for this to happen depends on the planet. If a planet is closer than 10 degrees to the Sun we need to be aware of possible ‘combustion’ effects and research the exact limits for the particular planet. ‘Combustion’ causes problems such as weakening the planet and its indications, the houses it rules, etc. ‘Combustion’ does not apply to Rahu or Ketu.

Resources for Students of Jyotish

Functional Benefic and Malefic Planets

Summary: Explaining how Natural Benefics and Natural Malefics can switch roles on account of the houses they own in an individual’s birth-chart. They then become Functional Malefics and Functional Benefics and can bring problems and benefits in their major time periods. This change of behaviour is dependent on the specific ascendant in the chart.

Functional Benefic and Functional Malefic Planets

This is where things begin to get a bit more complicated. Students of Jyotish need to be familiar with the basic concepts of ‘natural benefics and malefics’  before reading this section. If you already understand these concepts you might just want to skip to the article giving a list of functional benefics and malefics for all ascendants.

Why do functional benefics and malefics matter?

    • Firstly they form a key component of chart interpretation.
    • Secondly, this knowledge is also vital for prescribing the correct remedial measures for bringing balance to the planetary energies for a particular birth-chart with a specific ascendant. This is a key component of Vedic Astrology’s ability to modify returning karmas.

Concept of Functional Benefics and Malefics

In addition to their natural benefic or natural malefic characteristics, planets in Jyotish take on other characteristics, for better or worse, depending on what houses they ‘own’ or ‘rule’ in an individual’s birth-chart. The concept of a ‘House’ and how it corresponds exactly with a sign in Jyotish are covered in a separate article.

This depends on the specific ascendant for the birth-chart being examined.

These planets then become’ functional benefics’ or ‘functional malefics’ because they function in good or bad ways over and above their natural characteristics.

Their ‘functional’ behaviour therefore overwrites their ‘natural’ behaviour. These results, again for better or worse, will usually become apparent during the major time periods (Mahadasha) of the planet.

 We will now examine how this happens.

The Sage Parashara stated a set of rules to determine if a natural benefic will become a functional malefic (and vice versa) for a particular ascendant on account of the houses the planet ‘rules’ or ‘owns’ in a particular birth-chart. These rules are not complicated, but there are quite a few of them and they need to be worked through systematically.

As Rahu and Ketu do not own any houses they are never categorized as ‘Functional Malefics’ – they are just natural malefics and do not change their roles.

How Sun and Moon can become Functional Malefic Planets

For the two planets Sun and Moon this is fairly straightforward as they each own only a single sign and therefore a single house in an individual’s birth-chart.

Let’s now look at one of Parashara’s rules. He said that: a planet becomes a functional malefic if it owns either the 3rd, 6th or 11th house.

He also said it becomes more negative in that order. So if a planet owns the 11th it will be more problematic than if it owns the 6th and if it owns the 6th it will be worse than when it owns the 3rd.

Applying these rules we see that for a Libra ascendant the Sun owns the 11th house as it rules Leo (houses correspond exactly with signs in the Jyotish system).  The Sun therefore becomes a major functional malefic for a Libra ascendant and is capable of doing considerable damage to the house it occupies in the birth-chart and the planets it joins there or aspects in the house opposite it.

Functional Malefic Sun for Libra Ascendant

Functional Malefic Sun for Libra Ascendant

If we now take an Aquarius ascendant and count houses clockwise around the chart we see the Moon owns Cancer which for this ascendant is the 6th House. So the Moon has become a functional malefic for an Aquarius ascendant because it owns the 6th.

Functional Malefic Moon for Aquarius Ascendant

Functional Malefic Moon for Aquarius Ascendant

How Planets ruling two houses simultaneously can become Functional Benefics or Malefics

Things are relatively simple when dealing with the Sun and Moon because they only own one sign each, so only one house each. The complexity arises with the other planets Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn which own two signs and therefore two houses each.

Let’s see the implications of this and look at a couple more of Parashara’s rules:

Parashara said that: a planet becomes a functional benefic if it owns either the 5th or 9th houses.

He also stated that: ownership of any of the Kendra houses 1, 4, 7 and 10 is also beneficial.

Some examples of Natural Malefics becoming Functional Benefics

A natural malefic such as Mars can become a very positive influence for someone with a Leo (sidereal) ascendant. This is because Mars ‘owns’ both the auspicious 4th and 9th houses for this particular ascendant. These positive effects will be particularly noticeable during the major time period (Mahadasha) of Mars.

Functional Benefic Mars for Leo Ascendant

Functional Benefic Mars for Leo Ascendant

Another example of a major, natural malefic changing role is in the case of Saturn for a Taurus ascendant. If Taurus is the first house, then Saturn owns the 9th and 10th houses. So it meets two of the criteria stated above and becomes a fine, positive functional benefic for a Taurus ascendant. But only for this ascendant!

Functional Benefic Saturn for Taurus Ascendant

Functional Benefic Saturn for Taurus Ascendant

Some examples of Natural Benefics becoming Functional Malefics

 As we have already discussed: A natural benefic such as Jupiter can become a very negative influence for someone with a Taurus (sidereal) ascendant. This is because Jupiter ‘owns’ both the inauspicious 8th and 11th houses for this particular ascendant. These negative effects will be particularly noticeable during the major time period (Mahadasha) of Jupiter.

Let’s take the example of a person with a Libra ascendant and Jupiter placed in the 7th house. The 7th is the area responsible for partnerships and marriage. Although we need to do a detailed analysis before making any predictions, we could certainly expect problems with partnerships, lack of harmony and even possible divorce during the Jupiter Mahadasha. Instead of bringing a positive energy into the 7th house matters it now brings problems!

Functional Malefic Jupiter for Taurus Ascendant

Functional Malefic Jupiter for Taurus Ascendant

As a final example we will take Mars for a Capricorn ascendant. According to the above rules it should be a functional benefic on account of its ownership of the 4th house, but it is also a functional malefic on account of its ownership of the 11th.  Well in this case the 11th is more negative than the 4th is positive, so it ends up being a functional malefic!

Functional Malefic Mars for Capricorn Ascendant

Functional Malefic Mars for Capricorn Ascendant

At this point we can either learn more of the rules relating to functionality (preferable, but takes time) or simply refer to a list of functional benefic and malefic planets that has been worked out using these rules.

Further Resources on Jyotish

Natural Benefic and Malefic Planets

Summary: Examining the natural benefic and malefic planets in Vedic Astrology, the terminology used and a list for the nine planets including Rahu and Ketu

List of Natural Benefics and Malefics in Jyotish

    • Venus, Jupiter and the waxing Moon are natural benefics
    • Mars, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu are natural malefics
    • The effects of Mercury depend on its associations
    • The Sun is classified as ‘Cruel’ rather than ‘malefic’
    • The waning Moon is mildly malefic

 Benefics and Malefics – Terminology Explained

From the perspective of higher states of consciousness (as explained in Vedic literature and the philosophy of Vedanta) there are no categories of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Rather, stuff just is! The planets simply act as ‘the cosmic postman’ delivering our returning karmas at the appropriate time. However, for convenience in our discussions below we call a planet’s influence ‘bad’ if it leads to disruption, problems, sufferings and significant challenges in life, and we call it ‘good’ if it leads to happiness, pleasures and the fulfilment of our desires.

In Jyotish, planets which are ‘good’ are called ‘benefics’, those that are ‘bad’ are called ‘malefics’

In Vedic astrology the word used for a natural benefic is ‘shubha’ (literally ‘auspicious’), and for a natural malefic ‘papa’ (literally ‘sinful’).

Nine ‘Planets’ used by Jyotish

Before we continue, it is worth noting that Jyotish does not use the outer planets Neptune, Uranus and Pluto which are used by Western Astrologers.  Neither does it use any of the sub-planets, or asteroids such as Chiron. This is because it simply does not need to use them.  Jyotish deals with a field of information, rather than physical forces emitted by celestial objects. All the information needed for successful karmic prediction is contained in the position of the nine ‘planets’ (actually Navagraha or the  ‘nine key celestial objects’) distributed amongst the twelve zodiacal signs and 27 Nakshatras in the sidereal zodiac.

The ‘nine planets’ used by Vedic Astrology include seven physical objects; Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, plus two virtual objects. These are the calculated points in the sky associated with eclipses (the Moon’s nodes – two places where the orbit of the Moon crosses the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun). The North node is called Rahu and the South node Ketu.

Natural Benefic and Natural Malefic Planets

The concept of ‘Natural Benefic’ or ‘Natural Malefic’ is fairly straightforward.

Certain planets are considered to be inherently positive and bring benefits; others are considered inherently negative and bring difficulties.

In Vedic Astrology, two examples of natural benefic planets are Jupiter and Venus.

In Jyotish, two examples of natural malefic planets are Mars and Saturn.

The above examples would come as no surprise to Western Astrologers. However, there are significant differences between how the other planets behave in Jyotish and in Western Astrology.

What about Mercury? Well, Mercury is considered a benefic when it is on its own, or when associated with benefics (e.g. aspected by benefics, or joined by benefics in the same house), and a malefic when associated with malefics. So, Mercury can take on either benefic or malefic roles according to its associations.

What about the remaining ‘planets’ (although not planets in the astronomical sense) Sun, Moon, Rahu and Ketu?

The Sun is not considered to be a natural benefic in Jyotish. This may be very surprising to Western Astrologers. Because of its ‘fierce heat’ the Sun is often described as ‘cruel’ by Vedic Astrologers.   In practice this means that other planets close to the Sun in a birth-chart get ‘scorched’ or ‘become combust’. So natural benefics (such as Venus) near the Sun cannot bring the usual benefits associated with them, and natural malefics (such as Mars) are capable of doing more harm when ‘combust’.

The positive or negative effects of the Moon depend on whether it is growing in brightness (waxing) or decreasing in brightness (waning). A full Moon is very auspicious. The waxing Moon in Jyotish is a natural benefic. The waning Moon is considered malefic (but only a mild malefic influence – many astologers would rather call it ‘ashubha’ – ‘not auspicious’ ).

Jyotish pays considerable attention to the Moon’s nodes; Rahu and Ketu. These have no material existence whatsoever! They are just calculated points where the orbit of the moon around the earth crosses the ecliptic (the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun). However they both indicate significant and very real karmic effects. In Jyotish both Rahu and Ketu are malefics.

Modifying Factors

People new to Jyotish often ask ‘What benefits can a natural benefic, such as Venus, actually bring’? The answer really depends on where Venus is placed in an individual’s chart. Here are the general rules:

Strong planets can do more good than weak ones.

A strong natural benefic will do a lot of good; a weak natural benefic is hardly capable of doing any good at all.

 The strength of Planets depends on where they are placed in the Zodiac. In a particular sign (different for each of the planets) planets are greatly strengthened and they are then said to be in their exalted position. In the sign opposite their exalted position they are greatly weakened and are then said to be ‘fallen’ or debilitated. An exalted or ‘own house’ natural benefic will be very positive for the individual. For more details see: Planetary Strengths or Powers

A strong (e.g. exalted or ‘own sign’ status) natural malefic will, in general, bring some good into whatever house it is placed. Therefore, strength in a malefic brings out its good characteristics. A weak malefic will cause major problems. For example, a strong Mars will give good motivation, courage etc.

The above is a general rule ‑ Saturn is a special case. A strong Saturn will bring integrity, humility and patience; it could also bring more adversity and grief during its period of operation (Mahadasha).

The planetary indicators (Karakas) of a range of physiological, psychological, and sociological phenomena related to an individual are discussed in a separate article.

Further Resources for Students of Jyotish