By Dr Theja Hettiaratchi
An article appeared in the Conscious Living magazine, Perth, Australia, issue 60 – Winter 2002
“To deny the influence of the stars is to deny the wisdom and
providence of God”
I first encountered Vedic Astrology orJyotish about 25 years ago and discovered a system of astrology which can reveal the secrets and truer promise of our lives. Some believe that in Jyotish, our own absolute nature speaks to us through the astrologer (Jyotishi). Indeed, the Jyotishi’s first words reveal incontrovertibly that we are known to some higher intelligence.
Jyotish (ja-yo-teesh) is the Sanskrit (most ancient language on Earth) dual word for Vedic Astrology. Jyoti means light and Ish is in short for Ishwar, which means God. Combined with Vedic, which means “of the knowledge”, the words aptly describe this astrological system.
Vedic Astrology differs significantly from Western astrology.
First, it uses the sidereal or fixed zodiac, instead of the tropical or movable zodiac of Western astrology. In Western astrology, because of a tilting of the earth on its axis, thezodiac appears to be moving out of alignment with the actual star-based zodiac. Currently, this misalignment amounts to slightly more than 23 degrees, nearly one entire sign. So a person whose rising sign might be Scorpio in Western astrology, has a good chance of being Libra ascendant in Vedic astrology.
Second,Western astrology emphasises the Sun sign while Vedic Astrology looks to the Ascendant and the placement of the Moon. In addition, Vedic Astrology does not recognise the outer planets, Neptune, Pluto, or Uranus. It does, however, give emphasis to the two lunar nodes, Rahu and Ketu, the points at which the moon (in its orbit around the earth) passes through the plane of the ecliptic. Although merely points in space, these nodes are so crucial they are given the status of planets in Vedic Astrology.
Also of great importance are the Nakshatras, the 27 star constellations, one of which the Moon will occupy at the moment of birth. This establishes the cycle of planetary periods that determine the sequence of events in one’s life.
On one level, Vedic Astrology deals with the circumstances and characteristics of a person’s material life, to reveal and perhaps remedy what opportunities or perils may await us. It is believed that by knowing what lies ahead it is possible to maximise the good and avert obstacles or dangers.
An expert in Jyotish can derive full knowledge about a person’s potential and trends in life from place and time of birth. The Birthchart, or Janma Kundali, can forecast precise times when different tendencies will manifest. The Grahas (planets) are positioned in their respective Rashis (Signs of the Zodiac). Each Rashi falls in exactly one Bhava (house). The planets aspect each other, and have lordships over the Bhavas.
Then comes the system of Dashas, unknown in Western astrology. Dashas are planetary periods that rule defined stages of one’s life. The main periods (Maha dashas) last between 6 and 20 years, and during this period, a planet will have a dominating influence in the life of a person. Each main period is divided in 9 sub-periods, each ruled by a different planet. Just like the main periods, each sub-period is characterised by the particular qualities and significations of the ruling planets. The dasha system can explain changes in life from day to day with amazing precision.
The 9 Grahas (Planets)
Surya (the Sun)
The Sun represents the soul, ego and body of the individual, so its placement is of great importance.The Sun is best placed in Mesha (Aries) where it is called exalted. Opposite from there, in Tula (Libra) it is least auspicious and called debilitated.The sun is lord of the sign Simha (Leo) and also of the house where Simha is located.
Chandra (the Moon)
The Moon represents the mind, the feelings and, like the ascendant, the overall life of the person. Unlike Western Astrology where the Sun is most important, in Jyotish the Moon is the first graha to look at and plays a central role in many calculations and predictive techniques.The Moon is best placed in the first few degrees of Vrishabha (Taurus) where it is called exalted. Opposite from there, in Vrishika (Scorpio) it is least auspicious and called debilitated.The Moon is lord of the sign Karka (Cancer) and also of the house where Cancer is located.
Mars represents the energy, stamina and younger brothers of the individual. If well placed, it brings strength and focussed energy, if poorly placed accidents and injuries. Mars is best placed in Makara (Capricorn) where it is called exalted. Opposite from there, in Karka (Cancer) it is least auspicious and called debilitated. Mars is lord of the sign Mesha (Aries) and Vrischika (Scorpio) and also of the houses where these signs are located.
Mercury represents the speech, intellect and friends of the individual. It is an adaptable and curious planet. If afflicted, it gives speech problems and a poor discriminative ability. If well placed it makes a person witty, easy going and skillful. Mercury is best placed in Kanya (Virgo) where it is called exalted. Opposite from there, in Meena (Pisces) it is least auspicious and called debilitated. Mercury is lord of the sign Kanya (Virgo) and Mithuna (Gemini) and also of the houses where these signs are placed.
Jupiter represents knowledge, wisdom and the offspring of the individual. It is a planet of expansion, growth and good fortune. Jupiter is best placed in Karka (Cancer) where is called exalted. Opposite from there, in Makara (Capricorn) it is least auspicious and called debilitated. Jupiter is lord of the signs Dhanus (Saggitarius) and Meena (Pisces) and also of the house where these sign are located. Jupiter aspects 3 signs, the 5th, 7th and 9th signs from its own position.
Venus represents the enjoyment, taste, sexuality and relationships of the individual. It can give a person a great sense of esthetics and very pleasant personality, or sensual and tasteless, dependant on how well it is placed in the chart.Venus is best placed in Meena (Pisces) where is called exalted. Opposite from there, in Kanya (Virgo) it is least auspicious and called debilitated.Venus is lord of the sign Vrishabha (Taurus) and also of Tula(Libra) and of the houses where these signs are located.
Saturn is the slowest moving graha, and represents the more time related aspects in life: endurance, sense responsibility, hard work, longevity and reclusion. It is typically described as the bringer of grief and misery in life, but if it is auspiciously placed in a chart it will be one’s best insurance against poverty. Saturn is best placed in Tula (Libra) where is called exalted. Opposite from there, in Mesha (Aries) it is least auspicious and called debilitated. Saturn is lord of the sign Makara (Capricorn) and Kumbha (Aquarius) also of the houses where these signs are located.
Rahu (the Northern Lunar node)
Rahu is the point in the zodiac where the paths of the Sun and the Moon cross. If the Sun and Moon in their movement meet in this point, then an eclipse takes place. Eclipses “seize” the light of the Sun or the Moon, and it is this seizing quality that is characteristic for Rahu.
Ketu (The southern lunar node)
Ketu is not really a planet, but rather a mathematically calculated point in the heavens. Because of its lack of a “body” it represents uncertain, unexpected and unpredictable phenomena. It is intelligent and relates to mathematics and other abstract knowledge.
Rahu, Ketu, and the Planets influence each other in various ways. The ancient sages saw a relationship between the movement ofthe planets and the ups and downs of human experience. Vedic Astrology explores these variations in order to help us anticipate challenges and comprehend their meaning.
The 12 Rashis (signs)
The zodiac is divided in 12 sections, which are called the 12 rashis, or signs. Each sign is exactly 30 degrees. Like the bhavas (houses), the rashis are each related to an area of life. Part of the characteristics of a sign are derived from the graham (planet) that is lord of that sign, but independent of that, each rashis has its own unique traits. The rashis are classified in many different ways, such as movable fixed and dual, as male or female, as watery, dry, airy or fiery. The most influential rashi is the one, which was ascending at the Eastern horizon at the time of birth. It is called the “Lagna”, or better known, Ascendant. Because of its prominence, the whole chart will be coloured according to its characteristics. Another important sign is the one that holds the Moon, the so-called Janma Rashi. The Moon is important in Jyotish, and so is the Rashi it is in. Both the Ascendant and the Moon sign will be of major influence in the life of the individual.
The 12 Bhavas (houses)
The Jyotish chart is divided in 12 sections, which are called the 12 bhavas, or houses. Each bhava is related to an area of life, just like the planets are. Each of the 12 bhavas coincides with one sign. (This is called the equal house system in Western Astrology) Every bhava has one planet which is called its lord, and the lord of a bhava is always the lord of the sign that falls in that bhava. For example, Mars is lord of Aries, and if Aries falls in the 5th house then Mars is also lord of the 5th house.The most important house is the 1st house, and it represents the personality of the individual, his body and life in general.
Vedic Astrologers will calculate and analyse all of these areas for you and give you interpretations on their influences.