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Planets in Vedic Astrology

Planets in Vedic / Hindu astrology are treated like living intelligences. This is consistent with the legends of the Puranas, which describe the planets as DEVAS, or active entities who achieve immortality as guardians of the universe with the assistance of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, the two great representations of divinity in the Hindu religious tradition. The point is that these entities all have a function in the proper running of the universe. Their effects on us may be happy or sad, but the planets must (obviously) fulfill their functions for the universe to persist. Individual souls, when they again enter the realm of worldly existence, do so in order to experience difficulties or happiness which they have set up as a result of previous actions in previous lives. The basic purpose of life, put in simplistic terms, is to have experiences which will lead to the realization of desires. This may mean, for some, the manifestation of material prosperity, or the manifestation of strong duties and responsibility; or most effectual for happiness, the development of spiritual interests and activities, which ultimately leads the individual to freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth. The development of any of these interests does not imply superiority or inferiority of any soul. There are usually very strong reasons for why these individual experience different paths in life. The planets (Grahas) are THE SEIZERS of our minds and direct our attention to these activities. We have worked hard for the actions we encounter in this lifetime.

SURYA — THE SUN:

The entity Surya (called the Sun in the West) has inspired its own cult in India. This cult apparently reached its peak in the thirteenth century and is reflected in the work done on the huge temple at Konark in India.

The Sun is the source of all energy in the solar system. Scientists have also apparently located a galactic Sun of enormous size located in the middle of the Milky Way. The energy which produces the raw material of life is enclosed in this sphere. The legends connected with Surya stress the tremendous energy of the creator of life’s energy.

The best-known Vedic myth regarding the Sun describes the Sun’s marriage to Samjna, the beautiful daughter of Tvashtr, the builder of the universe. Samjna is devoted to her husband, but finds the brilliance of the Sun too difficult to bear. As a result, she decides to get away and asks her handmaiden Chhaya (shadow), to take her place while she goes away. Samjna has already had children by Surya, and Chhaya, in her turn, had children by the Sun as well. This effectively ended the ruse. Samjna’s children noticed that Chhaya was treating her children more favorably than Samjna’s children. The Sun forced Chhaya to tell her that she was not his wife, and then went searching for his wife. He followed her and found her disguised as a mare, and order to get her back, the Sun changed himself into a horse as well, mated with her. The children which resulted from this union were the Ashwini Kumars, two gods of healing, which demonstrates the Sun’s ability to regenerate and heal after separation. Tvashtr also sheared off the excess energy of the Sun in order that Samjna could bear to be around the Sun.

The Sun actually functions as a relatively difficult planet in a person’s chart, causing great responsibilities to be borne by the individual during his periods. These periods will cause a certain intensity of to the individual which may result in increased status, ability to influence others, governmental favor, and ability to influence others if the Sun is strong in the chart. If the Sun is weak, the individual will feel like his energy is depleted, or self-confidence is low. The individual will also have problems with the government, bosses, his or her father, or any authority figure in his or her life.

Side note: There has recently been a great deal of emphasis on the theory of matriarchal civilization being the prevalent system prior to 2,000 BC. While this theory may be very appealing to contemporary society, there seems to be evidence that the dominant sex in society has changed position several times over the eons, and that the 30,000-year epoch of matrilineal dominance espoused by certain authors is a theory which has minimal evidence to support it. The preponderance of male solar deities in ancient religions seems to indicate that the sexes were relatively evenly considered in ancient religions.

One interesting attribute of the Sun in India is its alleged connection with certain really ancient traditions. The book Surya Siddhanta, an ancient astronomical/astrological text has been dated as far back as 1,000,000 BC by certain authorities! While this date can not be verified by current archaeological sources (and would certainly be disputed by current academic authorities), this theory implies that there are vast amounts of astrological knowledge that have been lost through the ages.

The Sun hits maturity at age 21. This means you feel the full effect off the Sun’s placement in your chart, for good or bad, by age 21.

THE MOON (CHANDRA)

The Moon is perhaps the most important planet in conventional Hindu Astrology, although it is certainly the smallest body considered. In Hindu astrology. The Moon is considered to be male, and possesses twenty-seven (27) wives (the Nakshatras). Its state of waxing and waning is caused by the curse of either Ganesha or Daksha (the father of the Moon’s 27 wives). The Moon is considered “lustful”, a condition often overlooked or minimized in Vedic Astrology texts. Lustful does not necessarily mean sensual. In popular culture the idea of lust is usually tied to sexual relationships, but there are many types of “lust”. There is lust for power, lust for money, lust for knowledge, and even lust for spiritual liberation. The Moon represents the entire set of thoughts and beliefs that our mind seeks. The mind is also more than thought — it is also the medium for the spirits interaction with the phenomenal world (what we in the West call the “real” world) It is that interaction of the mind with the outside world that produces desire, or “lust”. It also represents the mother for the individual, and many of us form our opinions and reactions to the world through our parents (particularly mother, because we were carried by her for quite a few months and because of traditional child rearing customs.)

The Moon changes signs every two and one half days. It changes nakshatras roughly once a day, and its waxing and waning states add another dimension of mutability to the moon. All of these states modify the interpretation of the Moon in Vedic / Hindu Astrology. The Moon is a public soft planet. In Jyotisha, there are very distinct friendships and animosities between different planets. Significantly, because of the rules which govern the determination of friendship and animosity, the Moon has NO enemies. It is the father of Mercury (more about this later) and is considered to be the planet connected with Soma, the nectar of immortality that is given to those who attain unity with “the reality” or “God”.

In the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, widely considered the most authoritative text on Jyotish, there are descriptions of the avatars (representations of divinity who descend from heaven in order to re-establish order and redirect human impulses from good to evil) and the various planets through which they descended to the material world. The manifestation of Vishnu who descended through the Moon was Krishna, whom some consider the greatest manifestation of divinity, and whom some consider to actually be the great personality of Godhead — everything emanates from him. (Krishna’s birthday is celebrated when the Moon is in Taurus — its exalted position — in late August or early September.) One may accept Krishna as being all defining reality even in a metaphorical sense because of the Moon’s rulership of the mind…the filter through which all reality is understood by the individual. Also, the Moon’s original deity is Varuna, the greatest deity in the original Hindu pantheon, the encompasser of the sky, and the father of sage Bhrigu and grandfather of Shukra/Venus—both considered Brahmins (Priests) of great knowledge and power. The Moon attains maturity at age 23.

MARS (MANGALA/ KUJA/ANGARIKA)

Mars is, according to the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, is the most malefic planet — a role normally attributed to Saturn in other Vedic texts. It is with good reason that Mars assumes this status. Mars is a rapidly acting, rather violent planet. It is also in charge of logic, because logic is the intellectual weapon employed to win arguments. Mars is usually represented by several deities in Hindu mythology, including Shiva’s younger son Skanda (who also goes by the name of Kartikeya or Subrahmanya). This God is created in order to defeat demonws who were in the process of destroying the world and who had made a deal that they could only be defeated by an infant child (There are many similar passages in Indian mythology).

This deity has the power to defeat enemies, but was not designed for human contact. Another representation of Mars (the incarnation of Vishnu through through the planet Mars) is Narasimha, the lion-headed deity of the Hindus. Narasimha was born, like Skanda to destroy a demon who had won the favor of Brahma or Shiva, and was so powerful he threatened the cosmic order. The demon had made a deal with God that he would not be destroyed by human or animal; could not be destroyed either indoor or outside; could not be killed by any weapon; and could not be destroyed in the day or the night. This seemed to cover all of the possibilities, and the demon set about taking over the world, confident in the knowledge that he could not be harmed. Eventually, he became so cruel that Vishnu, preserver of the universe, vowed to end the demon’s cruelty. A young child appeared to the demon, and started chanting a mantra on the threshold of a temple. Initially the demon thought nothing of this, but the demon started being irritated by the child’s singing. The child’s singing of the mantra continued all day and eventually, at duck, a wondrous being emerged from one of the temple pillars. Equipped with a lion’s head and claws, but with the body of a man, Narasimha emerged at the temple threshold, where the demon was lured. He was neither animal nor man; he emerged at dusk, which is neither day nor night; and he emerged at a temple threshold, neither indoors nor outdoors. Narasimha killed the demon with his claws (not using a weapon.) Vishnu as Narasimha fulfilled the criteria necessary for the being capable of destroying a powerful demon capable of perverting the universe. It is said that Yogis of certain sects grow beards and moustaches in order to look like Narasimha, and in order to give them the courage to defeat their own demons and (perhaps) save the world from demonic influences.

Hanuman the monkey general who served the role of Ram’s loyal supporter and servant in the epic tale the Ramayana, is also considered a manifestation of the planet Mars. He is totally devoted to Rama and Sita, Rama being a representation of the Sun and Sita being born of the earth. He is also superhuman; when Lakshmana, Rama’s brother, becomes ill, Hanuman is charged to find a certain herb which will cure him. Hanuman, uncertain as to the herb, lifted up the entire mountain and brought it to Lakshmana. Hanuman / Anjaneya also single-handedly laid waste to Sri Lanka, the home of the Rakshashas (the leader of whom, Ravana, was so powerful that he had all of the planets under his control, and could use them as steps to his home!) (See The Greatness of Saturn by Robert Svoboda). The strength and determination of Hanuman was enormous, and this represents the greatness of Mars at its best. If it has a goal and a service to pursue, it is a truly wonderful planet, capable of delivering us from our worst enemies.

This very courage and inability to compromise, however, are also drawbacks when it comes to interpersonal relations. Individuals who possess strong Mars in certain houses, especially in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th and 12th houses in the chart, are, with certain exceptions, said to cause Kuja Dosha or “Mars Affliction”, a condition which either causes harm to the marriage partner or causes the individual to be attracted to individuals with whom he or she can not function for a very long period of time. There are cancellations of Kuja Dosha, said to occur when Mars is in the Ascendant in the signs of either Aquarius or Leo (according to B.V. Raman) or in Scorpio, Capricorn or Aries. These placements are supposed to nullify Kuja Dosha. In my opinion, they lessen but do not nullify Kuja Dosha. Similarly, Kuja Dosha is said to be inactive if the individual marries after the age of 28. In my experience, this is not true. However, Kuja Dosha is nullified if the marriage partner also possesses the affliction, in my experience. There are remedial measures for Kuja Dosha, and I believe these can work in certain cases as well. A section at the end of the book is devoted to remedial measures for planetary afflictions which fall outside the norm of most Vedic Astrology texts published in the United States.

In the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, Mars is considered the worst malefic, the planet most capable of producing inauspicious results. There are several possible reasons for this status. The predominant reasons is probably Mars’ status as the military planet, the planet which makes widows of women. Mars is the Commander in chief of the planetary army. As such, this planet requires that we make sacrifices for the higher good — in some ways it acts as a metaphor for the realm of logic, because logic and rational thought often make us pursue paths which do not “feel” good. Yet logic and rationalism can be used for constructive purposes, but it must be used carefully. The significations of Mars can, like those of a knife of a knife, can be used to kill or to cure. Mars is an aggressive planet, and it requires action and provides energy wherever it is located in a planet. Mars forces things to happen, yet many things of our technological age would not be possible without Mars, and its energy also applies to things which are heated (this applies to cooked food as well as metals and manufactured goods.). Mars is also essential for success in surgery; for success in engineering; and for success (the most unusual and surprising signification of Mars for most individuals) in spiritual practices. The reason for these three levels and needs is that many of these things require dedication, self sacrifice, and, I would insist, application of intellect (yes, even for spiritual practices, for the truth of the matter is that when we face God, it must be, at least in certain yogic traditions, through the use of a determined mind, and it is Mars as a planet, which allows us to control our mind in order to retain self control.

Interestingly enough, military domination and imperialism are actually judged by other planets in combination or conjunction with Mars. Venus, Saturn and Jupiter are far more territorial planets than Mars is. Mars, may, in fact, eliminate lives, but it does its job because it must be done. This is what makes it such a powerful planet for spiritual activity (because it has little attachment to anything except doing the best job it can) but is also what makes it such a dangerous planet, BECAUSE IT DOES ITS JOB WITHOUT CONSCIENCE AND WITHOUT REGARD FOR THE CONSEQUENCES. Logic, following orders, and spiritual sadhana (practice) must be followed with intelligence and judgment, otherwise destruction and despair will follow. The perspective. Mars, according to K. N. Rao, a well-respected astrologer from India, represents the wife in a man’s chart within the Bhrigu system of astrology, and also represents the inclination to worship Vishnu (a great many people whom I have done charts for who worship Vishnu or who worship deities with Vishnu – like characteristics (including Christ and Buddha) and have seen a very strong Mars either in the first house or in or aspecting the ninth house. Mars also introduces disruptions and arguments in married life and in other interpersonal relationships, often forcing us to work alone, or, to take command and get the job done. Mars attains maturity at ages 27-28.

See the article on Mars by Gary Gomes in course documents in week 3.

MERCURY – BUDHA

Mercury is the significator of intelligence in a chart; it is also considered a child of the Moon and the planet most easily influenced by association with other planets. Mercury, or Budha is also the planet which has the most contact or communication between the world of the living and that of the dead.

The myth of Mercury’s birth is one of the most fascinating in Jyotish. It seems that Jupiter (whom we will discuss next) was extremely ritualistic in his attentions to his wife. His wife, Tara, tired by lack of attention and Jupiter’s attention to ritual over passion, or (accounts differ) seduced by the beauty of the Moon (Soma), ran off or was abducted by the Moon. Jupiter (Guru) wanted his wife back and the resulting conflict caused a war which involved all of the planets and the Gods. Mars and the Sun sided with Jupiter, while Venus, Saturn and the Lunar Nodes sided with the Moon. The final outcome of this war was that Tara was reunited with her husband. However, when she returned to Jupiter, she was with child.

Jupiter demanded to know who the father of the child was. At first Tara claimed that the child was Jupiter’s baby, but after awhile she admitted that the child was really the Moon’s child. Jupiter at first did not want the baby, but after the child was born and Jupiter saw how smart and special the child was, he wished to raise the baby himself. Although eventually the Moon found out about Mercury’s birth, Mercury harbored animosity toward the Moon, perhaps because of the Moon’s abduction of his mother or perhaps because of Mercury’s association with Jupiter as his surrogate father. (Mercury, among all of the planets, is considered the most susceptible to the influence of others.) `However, Mercury is a clever, rather non-traditional planet, so the best it can hope for in its relationship with Jupiter is neutrality and devotion to duty, not love or adoration. One key point is that Mercury is considered the young prince among the planets; it is always youthful in outlook and is the fastest moving of all planets (except for the Moon, its natural father); it rules the intellectual and “clever” parts of the mind, whereas the Moon rules the “common sense” parts of the mind, and Jupiter rules the orthodox, credentialed and socially recognized parts of the intellect. So, if the planet Mercury is intellect, the Moon is publicly recognized intelligence of common sense, and Jupiter is philosophical wisdom (which can, in some ways be limiting or stifling to more creative individuals — hence Tara’s involvement with the Moon.) Mercury has the benefit of both parentages and has the benefit of the knowledge of conventional wisdom and the wisdom of the masses, but is uncomfortable with either of these venues as its sole method of expression.

Among all of the planets, Mercury is the essential planet for learning. It is considered to be the planet which triggers astrological involvement, but it is also the major planet for self-inquiry and for the development of self-knowledge. It is also the planet that can be the most interfered with in this process, because of the fact that Mercury is very easily influenced by adjacent planets.

Among the planets, Mercury, perhaps has the widest range of rulerships, and is perhaps the most socially active of the planets. It is most often mentioned as the planet of Lord Vishnu, and Vishnu is famous for descending to the earth in the form of avatars or incarnations of the lord. so Mercury matches Vishnu’s rather protean form. It is a very flexible planet, and it has been said that Mercury and Mars (separately) in the second and twelfth houses of the astrological chart can give individuals proficiency in Hatha Yoga. Since Mercury is also a clever planet, in the same sign with Mars can, as has been observed by many Jyotishis, create the ability to manipulate words — to lie, in other words — and this combination can be found in the charts of many politicians.. The combination of Mercury with certain malefic planets (Mars, Mercury, Rahu, Ketu) can produce the ability to easily deceive individuals, while its association with benefics, particularly when with Venus, can give a very beneficial and sweet temperament.

Mercury, in a bizarre twist, is also considered to be a significator for landed property in Bhrigu Astrology. The reason for this, is that Mercury is considered to be a representation of Vishnu himself, who is the ruler of the universe. Mars, usually indicated as the significator of land, is a child of the earth. How can the son tell the mother what to do? But Vishnu, as lord of the earth, has the power to increase land and property, for all the world responds to the commands of Vishnu. Mercury achieves maturity at age 32-33.

Jupiter/Guru

Jupiter is often lauded as being the best planet in Hindu astrology, praised for its overwhelming beneficence. Although Jupiter is a very generous planet most of the time, there are sometimes circumstances in which it can be a very detrimental influence in a chart. Usually, this occurs when Jupiter owns malefic houses or is transiting over difficult houses. Jupiter essentially rules luck, and the times when Jupiter withdraws its support can be truly devastating. When this massive planet provides support, its results are usually overwhelmingly good and it seems that one has stepped into a cornucopia.

Jupiter is also known as the Guru planet, the teacher, the remover of obstacles. He rules optimism, happiness, benevolence, and good judgment. The major gifts that Jupiter provides in my humble opinion, are wisdom, generosity, and optimism. The places where Jupiter can be obstructive or difficult are in its extreme adherence to tradition (one of the reasons given for Tara’s elopement with the moon, and from what I have seen, a resistance to any thing which has the appearance of unorthodoxy).

Over the past several years, I have read and heard an extraordinary amount of information about the benevolence of Jupiter, but this is an over-simplification that must be treated with extreme caution when interpreting a chart. I have seen cases in which Jupiter periods have, for certain individuals, caused the onset of cancer and even death! Jupiter, much like any planet, has its detrimental side.

On the positive side, Jupiter as a planet is usually extremely lucky, and its presence in the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth house acts very much like a guardian angel protecting the entire chart. It usually promotes great benefit to the house it occupies. Even when in its debilitation sign of Capricorn, it can give popularity and money, but usually the placement of Jupiter in Capricorn is detrimental for spousal happiness, luck, optimism, and good judgment.

Also, even in periods during which Jupiter has caused a great deal of distress, the trials of Jupiter (And there are some) usually produce a philosophical resignation that what is happening will ultimately benefit the individual (this is quite unlike the way we usually react to the trials of Saturn or the North Node — see the following section). Jupiter is a popular planet, and a great some of its worst attributes are the fact that its truisms are so conventional, that they bore us. Jupiter is also an expansive planet. Placed in or aspecting the first house, it produces optimism, association with conventional wisdom and success, a strong philosophical and traditional nature, and being well liked. It can also produce over weight in this position. (all of the benefic planets will produce some weight, but Jupiter is the heaviest.).

Jupiter is called Guru, which I have seen translated as either “heavy” or “the dispeller of darkness”. It radiates more heat than it reflects, in keeping with the theory that it is a failed second star in our solar system.

When Jupiter is exalted in Cancer, those possessing this placement have extremely strong ethics, are clever in work, and will generally give good and sound advice. Jupiter in Aquarius is also considered a fine placement, producing a very strong philosophical nature and good friendships and similar associations. If Jupiter aspects or is in the same sign with any other planet, it greatly expands the size and power of that planet.

Jupiter is one of the indicators or the husband in a woman’s chart; it is also considered one of the most important indicators for children, and is one of, though not the only indicator, of spiritual matters, spiritual teachers, and association with traditional religious traditions. The Moon (Chandra) is very beneficial in combination with Jupiter, and Jupiter is thought to be too non-conformist or selfish when in the same sign with, or aspected by Rahu, the North Lunar Node.

The primary quality of Jupiter is “expansion”. This principle usually produces very good results, in that it expands the outlook of an individual. It also expands opportunities for growth and opportunities to make money. Jupiter in the sign Cancer because Cancer (called Karka in Sanskrit) is one of the best indicators for public acceptance and being the fourth house, is the natural significator of education, and the Moon (ruler of Cancer) is the natural indicator of public life. It likes Jupiter, because Jupiter gives good advice to the public and tempers the Moon’s (the public’s) excesses through the introduction of patriotism, public gatherings, and societal passages as a way of controlling and channeling the often emotionally unstable energy of the Moon into constructive channels. This character, the idea of good advice and judgment, is the real reason that Jupiter is such a powerful benefic. Its expansiveness, combined with its ability to give solutions to problems, gives Jupiter the power to eliminate problems and help individuals on their path to acceptable behavior and fulfillment.

Jupiter came to earth as an avatar of Vishnu to return power to the devas after a righteous demon had taken over the world. When he met the demon king, he requested just enough land to cover three of his strides. When the king granted his wish, Jupiter grew to enormous size. His first stride covered earth, his second heaven. The demon king offered his own head for Jupiter’s foot. He lost everything he had, but because he had kept his promise, Jupiter promised him he would become King of Heaven (Indra) the next time the universe is created. Often, Jupiter will grant long term benefits for taking the right course of action. Jupiter attains maturity at age 16.

VENUS — THE GIVING BENEFIC

Venus (also called Sukra– THE BRIGHT) is, in my humble opinion, the least well-understood planet in Vedic / Hindu Astrology. One of the reasons for the genesis of this opinion is Venus’s status of the guru of the Asuras — the antigods or open opponents of dharma in Hindu mythology. This status is quite often not given the respect it deserves in many texts, and, of the popular Indian Jyotishis, only R. Santhanam seems to give Shukra his proper place. It is worth noting that, in Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, Shukra (Venus) is given the status of being the best benefic–more capable of giving goof results than even the great benefic Jupiter. It is this status in this text, possibly the most respected Vedic Astrology text ever written, that we should consider when analyzing Venus’ function in a chart.

Venus’ primary function, much more so than the other less spiritual functions assigned to this planet, is as the primary provider of bliss and happiness, regardless of the means through which this status is obtained. It is the primary planet of priests of all religions. The incarnation of Vishnu through Venus is Parasurama, the Warrior Priest who reestablished the dominance of the Brahmin caste in India. Those of us in the West who view the Indian caste structure have little knowledge that caste was supposed to be originally determined by nature; only after it was institutionalized under Jupiter (family) and Saturn (tradition) did it actually start to be passed down within families, excluding others. The ascendancy of those who are intellectually gifted is the desire of Venus, for this should theoretically bring happiness to all, for a variety of reasons. Shukra achieves maturity at age 24.

Venus is listed in various texts as being knowledgeable in the 64 arts. These are skills and abilities for every day living, including rituals. The Yajur Veda the Veda of rituals, is under the domain of Venus. Also Venus is the only graha capable of bringing those dead back to life. In very simple terms, everything which can reproduce or regenerate itself is under the rulership of Venus. Semen, Ojas– these two are the tools of immortality, for they allow DNA to replicate endlessly, giving us a form of immortality. Venus also has general rulership over the plant kingdom, which is extremely territorial, but which also has the ability to regenerate itself after long periods of dormancy–very much like Shukra’s experience in Shiva’s stomach. Shukra is actually beloved by all major sects, but is particularly strongly connected to Shiva. (There is a myth that Shukra learned a mantra to bring the dead back to life from Shiva after doing penance for a thousand years. Shukra/Venus used the mantra in the demons’ war against the gods. He would bring the dead back to life to fight again. Finally, the Gods petitioned Shiva to eliminate Shukra and Shiva swallowed Shukra, but Venus again petitioned Shiva from inside his stomach, seeking release, and Shiva relented, eventually releasing Shukra/Venus through his stomach. Shukra then resumed his position as teacher of the Rakshasas/Demons. There is another story related to this mantra, and it involved Jupiter sending his son to study with Venus in the hope that Jupiter’s son could learn this mantra. Venus guarded against letting this secret out, until the demons found out about this and killed Jupiter’s son, burned him into ash, and slipped the ash into Venus’ wine. Venus found out and uttered the mantra to bring Jupiter’s son to life again, but he regained consciousness in Venus stomach. He was forced to teach Jupiter’s son the mantra, so he could be brought to life again. But he cursed alcohol and intoxicants in the process, because they had led him to folly. Individuals with strong Venus should avoid intoxicants as they will not be favorable to them.

It is also worth noting that Shukra’s function as a teacher applies to us all, for we are, by nature, Rakshasic—we have reincarnated, and have desires to fulfill. This is far more rakshasic than devic.

SATURN — THE GIVER OF GRIEF

Saturn is perhaps the most feared planet in Indian astrology. It is, by definition, the weakest planet in Jyotish. Why then, all the paranoia connected with this planet? Primarily because, despite its weakness, it rules over misery, wasting away, hardship, poverty, privation, old age, and illness—pretty much everything we find unpleasant in life. Yet a strong Saturn has extremely good potential for power and authority. It is found to be very prominent in the charts of dictators and lawyers—those who deal with limitations and restrictions. The most interesting myth about Saturn connects to the birth of Ganesh. Parvati decides to show his new child to the world. Saturn declines, because he knows that he will destroy whatever he looks at. Parvati insists and Saturn’s gaze destroys the young child’s head. One of the gods (Shiva by some accounts, Vishnu by others) rushes out and finds the elephant’s head. This gives the child great wisdom and memory, and copious spiritual gifts. So Saturn’s gaze eliminates the first gifts, but also grants spiritual growth and development. Saturn’s placement in a chart indicates the major source of unhappiness in a person’s life, but promotes spiritual growth. Especially important are Saturn transits to the 12th, 1st and 2nd houses from the Moon, the 4th house from the Moon, and the 8th house from the Moon. Saturn aspects planets three, seven and ten signs away from it.

Saturn is, like most of the Vedic planets, capable of a wide range of significations, so it essential that anyone attempting to read Saturn look at its sign placement (it is exalted in Libra, and well placed in the two signs it owns (Capricorn and Aquarius). It is well placed in the third, sixth and eleventh houses of the chart. It is fallen in Aries and tends to become weak in this sign. But is that necessarily such a bad thing? Often you will notice that the more powerful Saturn becomes, for society as a whole, businesses and markets usually expand incredibly fast when Saturn is placed in Aries (Note: 1968-1970 and 1998-1970), but changes usually occur too fast and erratically to be sustained for long periods of time. And exalted or otherwise strong Saturn often produces economic constriction along with a consolidation of power (1981-1983, for example. Saturn also functions as a benefic for Libra, and Taurus rising, so it usually does well in either of these rising signs. It achieves maturity at age 34-36.

RAHU — THE CAUSE OF DISSATISFACTION AND NON-CONFORMITY

(Acts like the lord of the sign in which it is placed, or planets in which it is conjunction)
The great serpent Vasuki was one of the demons called to churn the elixir of immortality in the Vedic myths. This churning of the ocean caused powerful poison to emerge—this was swallowed and stuck in Shiva’s throat. The second thing to emerge was the Goddess Lakshmi, (like Aphrodite); a very few legends indicate she was promised to Shiva (the liberator) but loved Vishnu (the preserver) and ended up with him. The vast majority of legends indicate that Vishnu was her first and only husband and love. The third thing to come out was the Amrita (the elixir of immortality.) In some ways this parallels the stations of life: from birth comes struggle, absorbed by meditation (Shiva), then prosperity and its maintenance (Lakshmi and Vishnu), then true joy and happiness (The Amrita) or union with God.

The elixir was to be drunk by the gods, and the demons, although their physical might was needed to extract the elixir, were not to receive this. The consensus seems to be that they were too powerful to share this secret with, and the Gods would lose their only advantage in the great war between order and chaos. So the demons were given alcohol—but Vasuki saw that something was wrong, disguised himself as a god and drank the elixir. The Sun and the Moon saw that something was wrong and exposed the demon. As soon as this was noticed, Vishnu took out his discus and chopped the head of the demon off—but the demon had already received the gift of immortality and lived, as did the lower body, Ketu.

Needless to say, someone who is missing their body will automatically be rather unhappy and although immortal like the other gods (the Grahas or planets) will be seeking vengeance, particularly upon the entities that exposed it—namely the Sun and the Moon. Because of this need for vengeance, Rahu regularly stalks the Sun and the Moon and swallows them. Rahu wants and cannot absorb what is has, so along with its demonic energy, it rarely gets what it wants, or cannot hold onto it. Also, as a non-material Graha, it has no substance, so it acts like a ghost. Reflecting the fact that Rahu has this ghostly attribute, what comes during its dasa or sub-period it tough to hold onto—also it encourages people to get interested in occultism or even unhealthy pursuits. This attribute of Rahu can also cause a great deal of frustration, because Rahu is never satisfied, and it likes to be in control. So when Rahu activates in a chart, it can cause all sorts of bad actions. This is what causes Rahu’s intense discomfort. Rahu, like its shadow status indicates, has been shown as being exalted in Taurus, Gemini and sometimes Scorpio; it can also be considered debilitated in Sagittarius, Scorpio and Taurus. Its own sign is Aquarius.

Rahu also rules poison, demonic possession, witchcraft, affliction by ghost, foreigners, engineering, air travel and the unusual or exotic. It achieves maturity when one is 41 years old. Rahu is also the primary indicator of cancer and it acts like the planet that rules the sign in which it is placed.

KETU — THE UNKNOWN, THE THIEF

The lower half of the demon that swallowed the elixir of immortality, Ketu developed a snakehead after it separated from its birth head and was raised by a sage. Since Ketu does not have a head, it is the natural indicator of liberation and its direction is heaven ward. Its maturity is between the ages of 48 and 52. Ketu has a serpent’s tail and a snake’s head.

On the negative side, Ketu has very little interest in the material world, and being the lower part of a demon, the planet has little interest in preservation and can be quite destructive. It is said to be quite a bit like Mars, and is part (like Rahu) of the planetary army—so it can stand for anonymity and obscurity. It is also a thief and steals away material possessions in order to increase interest in spirituality. People with strong Ketu can be prone to depression, but are very psychic and sensitive and have a knack for stripping down to the details of any situation very quickly. It can, however, cause obsession, compulsive and erratic behavior. It can cause accidents, but also sudden elevations in position (President Carter’s and Princess Diana’s charts are excellent examples) but Ketu is not a high status planet and can expose people to fall from grace. It can also cause illnesses that are tough to diagnose, like viruses.

Ketu achieves maturity between ages 48 and 54.

Planets symbolise components of the Self. Everyone has these components. The various placements of the planets in the signs and in the houses make create human diversities. The meaning of the planets in Western and Indian astrology differs quite a lot.

This is especially true for the northern and southern Nodes (Dragon’s Head and Dragon’s Tail). We call the northern Node is Rahu and the southern Node Ketu.

Another difference between Indian and Western astrology is that there are but few Indian astrologers who work with the relatively recently discovered planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. We will not discuss these three planets in the following paragraph. However, we will give Rahu en Ketu special attention. Where the Indian interpretation of a planet differs from that in Western astrology, it will be emphasised in heavy printing.

Continued in Week 2:

This week’s Assigned Readings: Ojha (Intro & pp. 1-18)OR Bhatt, Chapters 1 and 2, Ojha (pp. 75-85) Course material; Gomes “Mars” in course documents; Mantreswar, pp. 1-9 ; Beckman Intro and Chapter 1 (Read the entire Beckman book by week four. It is not very long and will be a good complement to the materials being covered.). Braha (pp 375-376)

Gomes Week Suggested Readings: Braha, (pp. 1-11) ; Braha (pp.17-36), Parasara, Volume 1 (pp. 24-48)

Last modified: Tuesday, 6 January 2009, 07:28 PM

Planets in Vedic Astrology

Planets in Vedic / Hindu astrology are treated like living intelligences. This is consistent with the legends of the Puranas, which describe the planets as DEVAS, or active entities who achieve immortality as guardians of the universe with the assistance of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, the two great representations of divinity in the Hindu religious tradition. The point is that these entities all have a function in the proper running of the universe. Their effects on us may be happy or sad, but the planets must (obviously) fulfill their functions for the universe to persist. Individual souls, when they again enter the realm of worldly existence, do so in order to experience difficulties or happiness which they have set up as a result of previous actions in previous lives. The basic purpose of life, put in simplistic terms, is to have experiences which will lead to the realization of desires. This may mean, for some, the manifestation of material prosperity, or the manifestation of strong duties and responsibility; or most effectual for happiness, the development of spiritual interests and activities, which ultimately leads the individual to freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth. The development of any of these interests does not imply superiority or inferiority of any soul. There are usually very strong reasons for why these individual experience different paths in life. The planets (Grahas) are THE SEIZERS of our minds and direct our attention to these activities. We have worked hard for the actions we encounter in this lifetime.

SURYA — THE SUN:

The entity Surya (called the Sun in the West) has inspired its own cult in India. This cult apparently reached its peak in the thirteenth century and is reflected in the work done on the huge temple at Konark in India. (Interestingly enough, there was an iconoclastic movement at roughly the same period of time in Eastern Orthodox Church. This movement had a strong interest in astrology and destiny, smashing all of the saints and icons used by the church over the past thousand years. Neither movement lasted very long, but the coincidence — perhaps there was an exchange of information — is fascinating.

The Sun is the source of all energy in the solar system. Scientists have also apparently located a galactic Sun of enormous size located in the middle of the Milky Way. The energy which produces the raw material of life is enclosed in this sphere. The legends connected with Surya stress the tremendous energy of the creator of life’s energy.

The best-known Vedic myth regarding the Sun describes the Sun’s marriage to Samjna, the beautiful daughter of Tvashtr, the builder of the universe. Samjna is devoted to her husband, but finds the brilliance of the Sun too difficult to bear. As a result, she decides to get away and asks her handmaiden Chhaya (shadow), to take her place while she goes away. Samjna has already had children by Surya, and Chhaya, in her turn, had children by the Sun as well. This effectively ended the ruse. Samjna’s children noticed that Chhaya was treating her children more favorably than Samjna’s children. The Sun forced Chhaya to tell her that she was not his wife, and then went searching for his wife. He followed her and found her disguised as a mare, and order to get her back, the Sun changed himself into a horse as well, mated with her. The children which resulted from this union were the Ashwini Kumars, two gods of healing, which demonstrates the Sun’s ability to regenerate and heal after separation. Tvashtr also sheared off the excess energy of the Sun in order that Samjna could bear to be around the Sun.

The Sun actually functions as a relatively difficult planet in a person’s chart, causing great responsibilities to be borne by the individual during his periods. These periods will cause a certain intensity of to the individual which may result in increased status, ability to influence others, governmental favor, and ability to influence others if the Sun is strong in the chart. If the Sun is weak, the individual will feel like his energy is depleted, or self-confidence is low. The individual will also have problems with the government, bosses, his or her father, or any authority figure in his or her life.

Side note: There has recently been a great deal of emphasis on the theory of matriarchal civilization being the prevalent system prior to 2,000 BC. While this theory may be very appealing to contemporary society, there seems to be evidence that the dominant sex in society has changed position several times over the eons, and that the 30,000-year epoch of matrilineal dominance espoused by certain authors is a theory which has minimal evidence to support it. The preponderance of male solar deities in ancient religions seems to indicate that the sexes were relatively evenly considered in ancient religions.

One interesting attribute of the Sun in India is its alleged connection with certain really ancient traditions. The book Surya Siddhanta, an ancient astronomical/astrological text has been dated as far back as 1,000,000 BC by certain authorities! While this date can not be verified by current archaeological sources (and would certainly be disputed by current academic authorities), this theory implies that there are vast amounts of astrological knowledge that have been lost through the ages.

The Sun hits maturity at age 21. This means you feel the full effect off the Sun’s placement in your chart, for good or bad, by age 21.

THE MOON (CHANDRA)

The Moon is perhaps the most important planet in conventional Hindu Astrology, although it is certainly the smallest body considered. In Hindu astrology. The Moon is considered to be male, and possesses twenty-seven (27) wives (the Nakshatras). Its state of waxing and waning is caused by the curse of either Ganesha or Daksha (the father of the Moon’s 27 wives). The Moon is considered “lustful”, a condition often overlooked or minimized in Vedic Astrology texts. Lustful does not necessarily mean sensual. In popular culture the idea of lust is usually tied to sexual relationships, but there are many types of “lust”. There is lust for power, lust for money, lust for knowledge, and even lust for spiritual liberation. The Moon represents the entire set of thoughts and beliefs that our mind seeks. The mind is also more than thought — it is also the medium for the spirits interaction with the phenomenal world (what we in the West call the “real” world) It is that interaction of the mind with the outside world that produces desire, or “lust”. It also represents the mother for the individual, and many of us form our opinions and reactions to the world through our parents (particularly mother, because we were carried by her for quite a few months and because of traditional child rearing customs.)

The Moon changes signs every two and one half days. It changes nakshatras roughly once a day, and its waxing and waning states add another dimension of mutability to the moon. All of these states modify the interpretation of the Moon in Vedic / Hindu Astrology. The Moon is a public soft planet. In Jyotisha, there are very distinct friendships and animosities between different planets. Significantly, because of the rules which govern the determination of friendship and animosity, the Moon has NO enemies. It is the father of Mercury (more about this later) and is considered to be the planet connected with Soma, the nectar of immortality that is given to those who attain unity with “the reality” or “God”.

In the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, widely considered the most authoritative text on Jyotish, there are descriptions of the avatars (representations of divinity who descend from heaven in order to re-establish order and redirect human impulses from good to evil) and the various planets through which they descended to the material world. The manifestation of Vishnu who descended through the Moon was Krishna, whom some consider the greatest manifestation of divinity, and whom some consider to actually be the great personality of Godhead — everything emanates from him. (Krishna’s birthday is celebrated when the Moon is in Taurus — its exalted position — in late August or early September.) One may accept Krishna as being all defining reality even in a metaphorical sense because of the Moon’s rulership of the mind…the filter through which all reality is understood by the individual. Also, the Moon’s original deity is Varuna, the greatest deity in the original Hindu pantheon, the encompasser of the sky, and the father of sage Bhrigu and grandfather of Shukra/Venus—both considered Brahmins (Priests) of great knowledge and power. The Moon attains maturity at age 23.

MARS (MANGALA/ KUJA/ANGARIKA)

Mars is, according to the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, is the most malefic planet — a role normally attributed to Saturn in other Vedic texts. It is with good reason that Mars assumes this status. Mars is a rapidly acting, rather violent planet. It is also in charge of logic, because logic is the intellectual weapon employed to win arguments. Mars is usually represented by several deities in Hindu mythology, including Shiva’s younger son Skanda (who also goes by the name of Kartikeya or Subrahmanya). This God is created in order to defeat demonws who were in the process of destroying the world and who had made a deal that they could only be defeated by an infant child (There are many similar passages in Indian mythology).

This deity has the power to defeat enemies, but was not designed for human contact. Another representation of Mars (the incarnation of Vishnu through through the planet Mars) is Narasimha, the lion-headed deity of the Hindus. Narasimha was born, like Skanda to destroy a demon who had won the favor of Brahma or Shiva, and was so powerful he threatened the cosmic order. The demon had made a deal with God that he would not be destroyed by human or animal; could not be destroyed either indoor or outside; could not be killed by any weapon; and could not be destroyed in the day or the night. This seemed to cover all of the possibilities, and the demon set about taking over the world, confident in the knowledge that he could not be harmed. Eventually, he became so cruel that Vishnu, preserver of the universe, vowed to end the demon’s cruelty. A young child appeared to the demon, and started chanting a mantra on the threshold of a temple. Initially the demon thought nothing of this, but the demon started being irritated by the child’s singing. The child’s singing of the mantra continued all day and eventually, at duck, a wondrous being emerged from one of the temple pillars. Equipped with a lion’s head and claws, but with the body of a man, Narasimha emerged at the temple threshold, where the demon was lured. He was neither animal nor man; he emerged at dusk, which is neither day nor night; and he emerged at a temple threshold, neither indoors nor outdoors. Narasimha killed the demon with his claws (not using a weapon.) Vishnu as Narasimha fulfilled the criteria necessary for the being capable of destroying a powerful demon capable of perverting the universe. It is said that Yogis of certain sects grow beards and moustaches in order to look like Narasimha, and in order to give them the courage to defeat their own demons and (perhaps) save the world from demonic influences.

Hanuman the monkey general who served the role of Ram’s loyal supporter and servant in the epic tale the Ramayana, is also considered a manifestation of the planet Mars. He is totally devoted to Rama and Sita, Rama being a representation of the Sun and Sita being born of the earth. He is also superhuman; when Lakshmana, Rama’s brother, becomes ill, Hanuman is charged to find a certain herb which will cure him. Hanuman, uncertain as to the herb, lifted up the entire mountain and brought it to Lakshmana. Hanuman / Anjaneya also single-handedly laid waste to Sri Lanka, the home of the Rakshashas (the leader of whom, Ravana, was so powerful that he had all of the planets under his control, and could use them as steps to his home!) (See The Greatness of Saturn by Robert Svoboda). The strength and determination of Hanuman was enormous, and this represents the greatness of Mars at its best. If it has a goal and a service to pursue, it is a truly wonderful planet, capable of delivering us from our worst enemies.

This very courage and inability to compromise, however, are also drawbacks when it comes to interpersonal relations. Individuals who possess strong Mars in certain houses, especially in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th and 12th houses in the chart, are, with certain exceptions, said to cause Kuja Dosha or “Mars Affliction”, a condition which either causes harm to the marriage partner or causes the individual to be attracted to individuals with whom he or she can not function for a very long period of time. There are cancellations of Kuja Dosha, said to occur when Mars is in the Ascendant in the signs of either Aquarius or Leo (according to B.V. Raman) or in Scorpio, Capricorn or Aries. These placements are supposed to nullify Kuja Dosha. In my opinion, they lessen but do not nullify Kuja Dosha. Similarly, Kuja Dosha is said to be inactive if the individual marries after the age of 28. In my experience, this is not true. However, Kuja Dosha is nullified if the marriage partner also possesses the affliction, in my experience. There are remedial measures for Kuja Dosha, and I believe these can work in certain cases as well. A section at the end of the book is devoted to remedial measures for planetary afflictions which fall outside the norm of most Vedic Astrology texts published in the United States.

In the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, Mars is considered the worst malefic, the planet most capable of producing inauspicious results. There are several possible reasons for this status. The predominant reasons is probably Mars’ status as the military planet, the planet which makes widows of women. Mars is the Commander in chief of the planetary army. As such, this planet requires that we make sacrifices for the higher good — in some ways it acts as a metaphor for the realm of logic, because logic and rational thought often make us pursue paths which do not “feel” good. Yet logic and rationalism can be used for constructive purposes, but it must be used carefully. The significations of Mars can, like those of a knife of a knife, can be used to kill or to cure. Mars is an aggressive planet, and it requires action and provides energy wherever it is located in a planet. Mars forces things to happen, yet many things of our technological age would not be possible without Mars, and its energy also applies to things which are heated (this applies to cooked food as well as metals and manufactured goods.). Mars is also essential for success in surgery; for success in engineering; and for success (the most unusual and surprising signification of Mars for most individuals) in spiritual practices. The reason for these three levels and needs is that many of these things require dedication, self sacrifice, and, I would insist, application of intellect (yes, even for spiritual practices, for the truth of the matter is that when we face God, it must be, at least in certain yogic traditions, through the use of a determined mind, and it is Mars as a planet, which allows us to control our mind in order to retain self control.

Interestingly enough, military domination and imperialism are actually judged by other planets in combination or conjunction with Mars. Venus, Saturn and Jupiter are far more territorial planets than Mars is. Mars, may, in fact, eliminate lives, but it does its job because it must be done. This is what makes it such a powerful planet for spiritual activity (because it has little attachment to anything except doing the best job it can) but is also what makes it such a dangerous planet, BECAUSE IT DOES ITS JOB WITHOUT CONSCIENCE AND WITHOUT REGARD FOR THE CONSEQUENCES. Logic, following orders, and spiritual sadhana (practice) must be followed with intelligence and judgment, otherwise destruction and despair will follow. The perspective. Mars, according to K. N. Rao, a well-respected astrologer from India, represents the wife in a man’s chart within the Bhrigu system of astrology, and also represents the inclination to worship Vishnu (a great many people whom I have done charts for who worship Vishnu or who worship deities with Vishnu – like characteristics (including Christ and Buddha) and have seen a very strong Mars either in the first house or in or aspecting the ninth house. Mars also introduces disruptions and arguments in married life and in other interpersonal relationships, often forcing us to work alone, or, to take command and get the job done. Mars attains maturity at ages 27-28.

See the article on Mars by Gary Gomes in course documents.

MERCURY – BUDHA

Mercury is the significator of intelligence in a chart; it is also considered a child of the Moon and the planet most easily influenced by association with other planets. Mercury, or Budha is also the planet which has the most contact or communication between the world of the living and that of the dead.

The myth of Mercury’s birth is one of the most fascinating in Jyotish. It seems that Jupiter (whom we will discuss next) was extremely ritualistic in his attentions to his wife. His wife, Tara, tired by lack of attention and Jupiter’s attention to ritual over passion, or (accounts differ) seduced by the beauty of the Moon (Soma), ran off or was abducted by the Moon. Jupiter (Guru) wanted his wife back and the resulting conflict caused a war which involved all of the planets and the Gods. Mars and the Sun sided with Jupiter, while Venus, Saturn and the Lunar Nodes sided with the Moon. The final outcome of this war was that Tara was reunited with her husband. However, when she returned to Jupiter, she was with child.

Jupiter demanded to know who the father of the child was. At first Tara claimed that the child was Jupiter’s baby, but after awhile she admitted that the child was really the Moon’s child. Jupiter at first did not want the baby, but after the child was born and Jupiter saw how smart and special the child was, he wished to raise the baby himself. Although eventually the Moon found out about Mercury’s birth, Mercury harbored animosity toward the Moon, perhaps because of the Moon’s abduction of his mother or perhaps because of Mercury’s association with Jupiter as his surrogate father. (Mercury, among all of the planets, is considered the most susceptible to the influence of others.) `However, Mercury is a clever, rather non-traditional planet, so the best it can hope for in its relationship with Jupiter is neutrality and devotion to duty, not love or adoration. One key point is that Mercury is considered the young prince among the planets; it is always youthful in outlook and is the fastest moving of all planets (except for the Moon, its natural father); it rules the intellectual and “clever” parts of the mind, whereas the Moon rules the “common sense” parts of the mind, and Jupiter rules the orthodox, credentialed and socially recognized parts of the intellect. So, if the planet Mercury is intellect, the Moon is publicly recognized intelligence of common sense, and Jupiter is philosophical wisdom (which can, in some ways be limiting or stifling to more creative individuals — hence Tara’s involvement with the Moon.) Mercury has the benefit of both parentages and has the benefit of the knowledge of conventional wisdom and the wisdom of the masses, but is uncomfortable with either of these venues as its sole method of expression.

Among all of the planets, Mercury is the essential planet for learning. It is considered to be the planet which triggers astrological involvement, but it is also the major planet for self-inquiry and for the development of self-knowledge. It is also the planet that can be the most interfered with in this process, because of the fact that Mercury is very easily influenced by adjacent planets.

Among the planets, Mercury, perhaps has the widest range of rulerships, and is perhaps the most socially active of the planets. It is most often mentioned as the planet of Lord Vishnu, and Vishnu is famous for descending to the earth in the form of avatars or incarnations of the lord. so Mercury matches Vishnu’s rather protean form. It is a very flexible planet, and it has been said that Mercury and Mars (separately) in the second and twelfth houses of the astrological chart can give individuals proficiency in Hatha Yoga. Since Mercury is also a clever planet, in the same sign with Mars can, as has been observed by many Jyotishis, create the ability to manipulate words — to lie, in other words — and this combination can be found in the charts of many politicians.. The combination of Mercury with certain malefic planets (Mars, Mercury, Rahu, Ketu) can produce the ability to easily deceive individuals, while its association with benefics, particularly when with Venus, can give a very beneficial and sweet temperament.

Mercury, in a bizarre twist, is also considered to be a significator for landed property in Bhrigu Astrology. The reason for this, is that Mercury is considered to be a representation of Vishnu himself, who is the ruler of the universe. Mars, usually indicated as the significator of land, is a child of the earth. How can the son tell the mother what to do? But Vishnu, as lord of the earth, has the power to increase land and property, for all the world responds to the commands of Vishnu. Mercury achieves maturity at age 32-33.

Jupiter/Guru

Jupiter is often lauded as being the best planet in Hindu astrology, praised for its overwhelming beneficence. Although Jupiter is a very generous planet most of the time, there are sometimes circumstances in which it can be a very detrimental influence in a chart. Usually, this occurs when Jupiter owns malefic houses or is transiting over difficult houses. Jupiter essentially rules luck, and the times when Jupiter withdraws its support can be truly devastating. When this massive planet provides support, its results are usually overwhelmingly good and it seems that one has stepped into a cornucopia.

Jupiter is also known as the Guru planet, the teacher, the remover of obstacles. He rules optimism, happiness, benevolence, and good judgment. The major gifts that Jupiter provides in my humble opinion, are wisdom, generosity, and optimism. The places where Jupiter can be obstructive or difficult are in its extreme adherence to tradition (one of the reasons given for Tara’s elopement with the moon, and from what I have seen, a resistance to any thing which has the appearance of unorthodoxy).

Over the past several years, I have read and heard an extraordinary amount of information about the benevolence of Jupiter, but this is an over-simplification that must be treated with extreme caution when interpreting a chart. I have seen cases in which Jupiter periods have, for certain individuals, caused the onset of cancer and even death! Jupiter, much like any planet, has its detrimental side.

On the positive side, Jupiter as a planet is usually extremely lucky, and its presence in the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth house acts very much like a guardian angel protecting the entire chart. It usually promotes great benefit to the house it occupies. Even when in its debilitation sign of Capricorn, it can give popularity and money, but usually the placement of Jupiter in Capricorn is detrimental for spousal happiness, luck, optimism, and good judgment.

Also, even in periods during which Jupiter has caused a great deal of distress, the trials of Jupiter (And there are some) usually produce a philosophical resignation that what is happening will ultimately benefit the individual (this is quite unlike the way we usually react to the trials of Saturn or the North Node — see the following section). Jupiter is a popular planet, and a great some of its worst attributes are the fact that its truisms are so conventional, that they bore us. Jupiter is also an expansive planet. Placed in or aspecting the first house, it produces optimism, association with conventional wisdom and success, a strong philosophical and traditional nature, and being well liked. It can also produce over weight in this position. (all of the benefic planets will produce some weight, but Jupiter is the heaviest.).

Jupiter is called Guru, which I have seen translated as either “heavy” or “the dispeller of darkness”. It radiates more heat than it reflects, in keeping with the theory that it is a failed second star in our solar system.

When Jupiter is exalted in Cancer, those possessing this placement have extremely strong ethics, are clever in work, and will generally give good and sound advice. Jupiter in Aquarius is also considered a fine placement, producing a very strong philosophical nature and good friendships and similar associations. If Jupiter aspects or is in the same sign with any other planet, it greatly expands the size and power of that planet.

Jupiter is one of the indicators or the husband in a woman’s chart; it is also considered one of the most important indicators for children, and is one of, though not the only indicator, of spiritual matters, spiritual teachers, and association with traditional religious traditions. The Moon (Chandra) is very beneficial in combination with Jupiter, and Jupiter is thought to be too non-conformist or selfish when in the same sign with, or aspected by Rahu, the North Lunar Node.

The primary quality of Jupiter is “expansion”. This principle usually produces very good results, in that it expands the outlook of an individual. It also expands opportunities for growth and opportunities to make money. Jupiter in the sign Cancer because Cancer (called Karka in Sanskrit) is one of the best indicators for public acceptance and being the fourth house, is the natural significator of education, and the Moon (ruler of Cancer) is the natural indicator of public life. It likes Jupiter, because Jupiter gives good advice to the public and tempers the Moon’s (the public’s) excesses through the introduction of patriotism, public gatherings, and societal passages as a way of controlling and channeling the often emotionally unstable energy of the Moon into constructive channels. This character, the idea of good advice and judgment, is the real reason that Jupiter is such a powerful benefic. Its expansiveness, combined with its ability to give solutions to problems, gives Jupiter the power to eliminate problems and help individuals on their path to acceptable behavior and fulfillment.

Jupiter came to earth as an avatar of Vishnu to return power to the devas after a righteous demon had taken over the world. When he met the demon king, he requested just enough land to cover three of his strides. When the king granted his wish, Jupiter grew to enormous size. His first stride covered earth, his second heaven. The demon king offered his own head for Jupiter’s foot. He lost everything he had, but because he had kept his promise, Jupiter promised him he would become King of Heaven (Indra) the next time the universe is created. Often, Jupiter will grant long term benefits for taking the right course of action. Jupiter attains maturity at age 16.

VENUS — THE GIVING BENEFIC

Venus (also called Sukra– THE BRIGHT) is, in my humble opinion, the least well-understood planet in Vedic / Hindu Astrology. One of the reasons for the genesis of this opinion is Venus’s status of the guru of the Asuras — the antigods or open opponents of dharma in Hindu mythology. This status is quite often not given the respect it deserves in many texts, and, of the popular Indian Jyotishis, only R. Santhanam seems to give Shukra his proper place. It is worth noting that, in Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, Shukra (Venus) is given the status of being the best benefic–more capable of giving goof results than even the great benefic Jupiter. It is this status in this text, possibly the most respected Vedic Astrology text ever written, that we should consider when analyzing Venus’ function in a chart.

Venus’ primary function, much more so than the other less spiritual functions assigned to this planet, is as the primary provider of bliss and happiness, regardless of the means through which this status is obtained. It is the primary planet of priests of all religions. The incarnation of Vishnu through Venus is Parasurama, the Warrior Priest who reestablished the dominance of the Brahmin caste in India. Those of us in the West who view the Indian caste structure have little knowledge that caste was supposed to be originally determined by nature; only after it was institutionalized under Jupiter (family) and Saturn (tradition) did it actually start to be passed down within families, excluding others. The ascendancy of those who are intellectually gifted is the desire of Venus, for this should theoretically bring happiness to all, for a variety of reasons. Shukra achieves maturity at age 24.

Venus is listed in various texts as being knowledgeable in the 64 arts. These are skills and abilities for every day living, including rituals. The Yajur Veda the Veda of rituals, is under the domain of Venus. Also Venus is the only graha capable of bringing those dead back to life. In very simple terms, everything which can reproduce or regenerate itself is under the rulership of Venus. Semen, Ojas– these two are the tools of immortality, for they allow DNA to replicate endlessly, giving us a form of immortality. Venus also has general rulership over the plant kingdom, which is extremely territorial, but which also has the ability to regenerate itself after long periods of dormancy–very much like Shukra’s experience in Shiva’s stomach. Shukra is actually beloved by all major sects, but is particularly strongly connected to Shiva. (There is a myth that Shukra learned a mantra to bring the dead back to life from Shiva after doing penance for a thousand years. Shukra/Venus used the mantra in the demons’ war against the gods. He would bring the dead back to life to fight again. Finally, the Gods petitioned Shiva to eliminate Shukra and Shiva swallowed Shukra, but Venus again petitioned Shiva from inside his stomach, seeking release, and Shiva relented, eventually releasing Shukra/Venus through his stomach. Shukra then resumed his position as teacher of the Rakshasas/Demons. There is another story related to this mantra, and it involved Jupiter sending his son to study with Venus in the hope that Jupiter’s son could learn this mantra. Venus guarded against letting this secret out, until the demons found out about this and killed Jupiter’s son, burned him into ash, and slipped the ash into Venus’ wine. Venus found out and uttered the mantra to bring Jupiter’s son to life again, but he regained consciousness in Venus stomach. He was forced to teach Jupiter’s son the mantra, so he could be brought to life again. But he cursed alcohol and intoxicants in the process, because they had led him to folly. Individuals with strong Venus should avoid intoxicants as they will not be favorable to them.

It is also worth noting that Shukra’s function as a teacher applies to us all, for we are, by nature, Rakshasic—we have reincarnated, and have desires to fulfill. This is far more rakshasic than devic.

SATURN — THE GIVER OF GRIEF

Saturn is perhaps the most feared planet in Indian astrology. It is, by definition, the weakest planet in Jyotish. Why then, all the paranoia connected with this planet? Primarily because, despite its weakness, it rules over misery, wasting away, hardship, poverty, privation, old age, and illness—pretty much everything we find unpleasant in life. Yet a strong Saturn has extremely good potential for power and authority. It is found to be very prominent in the charts of dictators and lawyers—those who deal with limitations and restrictions. The most interesting myth about Saturn connects to the birth of Ganesh. Parvati decides to show his new child to the world. Saturn declines, because he knows that he will destroy whatever he looks at. Parvati insists and Saturn’s gaze destroys the young child’s head. One of the gods (Shiva by some accounts, Vishnu by others) rushes out and finds the elephant’s head. This gives the child great wisdom and memory, and copious spiritual gifts. So Saturn’s gaze eliminates the first gifts, but also grants spiritual growth and development. Saturn’s placement in a chart indicates the major source of unhappiness in a person’s life, but promotes spiritual growth. Especially important are Saturn transits to the 12th, 1st and 2nd houses from the Moon, the 4th house from the Moon, and the 8th house from the Moon. Saturn aspects planets three, seven and ten signs away from it.

Saturn is, like most of the Vedic planets, capable of a wide range of significations, so it essential that anyone attempting to read Saturn look at its sign placement (it is exalted in Libra, and well placed in the two signs it owns (Capricorn and Aquarius). It is well placed in the third, sixth and eleventh houses of the chart. It is fallen in Aries and tends to become weak in this sign. But is that necessarily such a bad thing? Often you will notice that the more powerful Saturn becomes, for society as a whole, businesses and markets usually expand incredibly fast when Saturn is placed in Aries (Note: 1968-1970 and 1998-1970), but changes usually occur too fast and erratically to be sustained for long periods of time. And exalted or otherwise strong Saturn often produces economic constriction along with a consolidation of power (1981-1983, for example. Saturn also functions as a benefic for Libra, and Taurus rising, so it usually does well in either of these rising signs. It achieves maturity at age 34-36.

RAHU — THE CAUSE OF DISSATISFACTION AND NON-CONFORMITY

(Acts like the lord of the sign in which it is placed, or planets in which it is conjunction)
The great serpent Vasuki was one of the demons called to churn the elixir of immortality in the Vedic myths. This churning of the ocean caused powerful poison to emerge—this was swallowed and stuck in Shiva’s throat. The second thing to emerge was the Goddess Lakshmi, (like Aphrodite); a very few legends indicate she was promised to Shiva (the liberator) but loved Vishnu (the preserver) and ended up with him. The vast majority of legends indicate that Vishnu was her first and only husband and love. The third thing to come out was the Amrita (the elixir of immortality.) In some ways this parallels the stations of life: from birth comes struggle, absorbed by meditation (Shiva), then prosperity and its maintenance (Lakshmi and Vishnu), then true joy and happiness (The Amrita) or union with God.

The elixir was to be drunk by the gods, and the demons, although their physical might was needed to extract the elixir, were not to receive this. The consensus seems to be that they were too powerful to share this secret with, and the Gods would lose their only advantage in the great war between order and chaos. So the demons were given alcohol—but Vasuki saw that something was wrong, disguised himself as a god and drank the elixir. The Sun and the Moon saw that something was wrong and exposed the demon. As soon as this was noticed, Vishnu took out his discus and chopped the head of the demon off—but the demon had already received the gift of immortality and lived, as did the lower body, Ketu.

Needless to say, someone who is missing their body will automatically be rather unhappy and although immortal like the other gods (the Grahas or planets) will be seeking vengeance, particularly upon the entities that exposed it—namely the Sun and the Moon. Because of this need for vengeance, Rahu regularly stalks the Sun and the Moon and swallows them. Rahu wants and cannot absorb what is has, so along with its demonic energy, it rarely gets what it wants, or cannot hold onto it. Also, as a non-material Graha, it has no substance, so it acts like a ghost. Reflecting the fact that Rahu has this ghostly attribute, what comes during its dasa or sub-period it tough to hold onto—also it encourages people to get interested in occultism or even unhealthy pursuits. This attribute of Rahu can also cause a great deal of frustration, because Rahu is never satisfied, and it likes to be in control. So when Rahu activates in a chart, it can cause all sorts of bad actions. This is what causes Rahu’s intense discomfort. Rahu, like its shadow status indicates, has been shown as being exalted in Taurus, Gemini and sometimes Scorpio; it can also be considered debilitated in Sagittarius, Scorpio and Taurus. Its own sign is Aquarius.

Rahu also rules poison, demonic possession, witchcraft, affliction by ghost, foreigners, engineering, air travel and the unusual or exotic. It achieves maturity when one is 41 years old. Rahu is also the primary indicator of cancer and it acts like the planet that rules the sign in which it is placed.

KETU — THE UNKNOWN, THE THIEF

The lower half of the demon that swallowed the elixir of immortality, Ketu developed a snakehead after it separated from its birth head and was raised by a sage. Since Ketu does not have a head, it is the natural indicator of liberation and its direction is heaven ward. Its maturity is between the ages of 48 and 52. Ketu has a serpent’s tail and a snake’s head.

On the negative side, Ketu has very little interest in the material world, and being the lower part of a demon, the planet has little interest in preservation and can be quite destructive. It is said to be quite a bit like Mars, and is part (like Rahu) of the planetary army—so it can stand for anonymity and obscurity. It is also a thief and steals away material possessions in order to increase interest in spirituality. People with strong Ketu can be prone to depression, but are very psychic and sensitive and have a knack for stripping down to the details of any situation very quickly. It can, however, cause obsession, compulsive and erratic behavior. It can cause accidents, but also sudden elevations in position (President Carter’s and Princess Diana’s charts are excellent examples) but Ketu is not a high status planet and can expose people to fall from grace. It can also cause illnesses that are tough to diagnose, like viruses.

Ketu achieves maturity between ages 48 and 54.

Planets symbolise components of the Self. Everyone has these components. The various placements of the planets in the signs and in the houses make create human diversities. The meaning of the planets in Western and Indian astrology differs quite a lot.

This is especially true for the northern and southern Nodes (Dragon’s Head and Dragon’s Tail). We call the northern Node is Rahu and the southern Node Ketu.

Another difference between Indian and Western astrology is that there are but few Indian astrologers who work with the relatively recently discovered planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. We will not discuss these three planets in the following paragraph. However, we will give Rahu en Ketu special attention. Where the Indian interpretation of a planet differs from that in Western astrology, it will be emphasised in heavy printing.

PLANETARY DEFINITIONS

SUN: The Inner Light, cosmic intelligence, consciousness, life , the father, power and authority.
Darshan: Vedanta Yoga: Karma and Gnana

MOON: The mother, the past, the mind, daily communication, how we receive, feelings and emotions.

MERCURY: Objective intellect and differentiation, humour, writing, education, ideas, commerce, mental flexibility, travelling short distances.
Darshan: Vaisheshika Yoga: Gnana /Atharva Veda

VENUS: Beauty, refinement, charisma, good taste, love, marriage, sexuality, enjoyment of the good things in life, riches, the marriage partner in a man’s horoscope.
Darshan: Purva Mimamsa / Rituals Yajur Veda

MARS: Energy, potency and sexual passion, competitive attitude, sport, muscles, accidents, brothers and sisters, technical insight, action.
Darshan: Nyaya Yoga: Karma/Bhakti/Hatha Sama Veda

JUPITER: The guru or spiritual teacher planet, insight into the workings of the cosmos, creativity, luck, our religious principals, pleasure, party-time, children, the marriage partner in a female horoscope
Darshan: Uttara Mimamsa Yoga: Raj Yoga Rik/Rig Veda.

SATURN: Longevity, limitations, discipline, adversity, delays, melancholia and depression, fears, reserves, material values, concentration, ascetic demeanour, hard work.

RAHU/KETU: In Western astrology the dragon’s head or North Node (Rahu) has positive connotations and the dragon’s tail or South Node (Ketu) has negative connotations.. In Vedic astrology, Rahu grants success but can also cause anxiety and stress, while Ketu can increase spiritual sensitivity, awareness, but can also expose one to accidents, thefts and illnesses.

Darshan: Depends on ruling planet. Ketu naturally inclines one to Vedanta, however and Gnana Yoga. Rahu will encourage the person to “sample” paths or will orient the individual to technology or less traditional forms of yoga such as meditation tapes, technology, etc.

In Indian astrology however, both nodes are regarded as ‘shadow planets’ with negative connotations. A Sun or Moon eclipse is only possible if either the Sun or the Moon is near the nodes. Indian astrology regards Rahu and Ketu as forces who have the power to obscure the Sun and the Moon, which is regarded with negativity (they can obscure the light symbolised by the Sun). Rahu is the head of a mythological dragon and Ketu the tail. This dragon has the capacity to be able to swallow the Sun and the Moon.

Some of the things attributed to RAHU are hypnotism, mass trends, insanity, and self-delusion. Rahu can offer (temporary) material success, which could be an explanation for the positive value given to this shadow planet in the Western astrology. These successes may include for instance, the power to influence others, but it does not lead to inner satisfaction. Rahu can bring psychic powers and mediumship, but also paranoia and negative influences from entities.

We can see Rahu at work in the lives of some film stars, for example. These are the film stars who become extremely wealthy, and have an extravagant lifestyle, but who end their lives in an environment of drugs and decay. Many politicians and leading figures in the business world are under the strong influence of Rahu. They still have to learn that power and material riches do not lead to inner contentment.

KETU is also difficult. Ketu is associated with doubt, isolation, and alienation. However, Ketu can also lead us to concentration on a spiritual level, and further to spiritual deliverance (moksha). It can also generate fine insight, even to the point of genius. Those who turn their backs on a normal daily lifestyle in order to follow the spiritual path are strongly influenced by Ketu. Although the problem here is, that Ketu can give occasion to illusions in spirituality. For instance, following a guru who is of the opinion that he does not have to practice that which he preaches.
The energy of Rahu is directed outwards (extrovert), but the energy of Ketu is directed inwards (introvert).

Sun exaltation 10º Aries fall 10º Libra
Moon exaltation 3º Taurus fall 3º Scorpio
Mercury exaltation 15º Virgo fall 15º Pisces
Venus exaltation 27º Pisces fall 27º Virgo
Mars exaltation 28º Capricorn fall 28º Cancer
Jupiter exaltation 5º Cancer fall 5º Capricorn
Saturn exaltation 20º Libra fall 20º Aries
Rahu exaltation in Taurus/Gemini fall in Scorpio
Ketu exaltation in Scorpio/Sagittarius fall in Taurus

Planets are strong when they are placed in the sign or signs, which they rule. All the planets, with the exception of the Sun and the Moon, rule over two signs. This means that certain planets feel naturally at home in certain signs. The signs represent forces, which are similar to those of the planets who rule them. A planet feels very much at home when it is placed in its own sign, because both energy fields are similar and therefore work well together.

Planetary Friends and Enemies: Below you will find a table of planetary friends, enemies and neutrals:

Planet Friends Neutral Enemies Aspects
Sun Mo, Ma, Ju Me Ve, Sa 1, 7
Moon Su, Me Ma, Ju, Ve, Sa (none) 1, 7
Mars Su, Mo, Ju Ve, Sa Me 1, 4, 7, 8
Mercury Su, Ve Ma, Ju, Sa Mo 1, 7
Jupiter Su, Mo, Ma Sa Me, Ve 1, 5, 7, 9
Venus Me, Sa Ma, Ju Su, Mo 1, 7
Saturn Me, Ve Ju Su, Mo, Ma 1, 3, 7, 10
Rahu Ju, Ve, Sa Me Su, Mo, Ma 1, 7
Ketu Ma, Ve, Sa Me, Ju Su, Mo 1, 7

Up until now, we have only spoken about permanent friendships and animosities. What we mean by permanent is that they remain the same in every horoscope. In addition to this, we also have temporary friendships and animosities.

Temporary in the sense that they are different in every horoscope. The rule of thumb for this is as follows:
Temporary friends are the planets calculated from the second, third, fourth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth house, calculated from the house where a certain planet is placed.

Temporary enemies are planets calculated from the first, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth house, calculated from the house where a certain planet is placed.

You may want to create index cards that can be used as flash cards for memorization. The Levacy book provides a group of keywords connected to the planets. I would strongly suggest memorizing these and Pandit Ojha’s terms for your interpretive work.

Note that many significations of the planets are very similar to Hellenistic and Modern Astrology..

One of the most essential skills in astrology is to be able to measure the strength and nature of a planet. The Levacy text also provides a user-friendly table of planetary strengths (page 16). Notice any dramatic or contradictory changes in regard to planetary strength in Vedic charts as compared to their tropical positions. Charts are available under “course documents” on Moodle.com

The planetary relationship table shown above is good to memorize or have handy for reference..

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