Archives for category: Jyotish

HOUSES -PLANETS- SIGNS

The eighth house is the house of death. It indicates life span of the subject, reasons and timing of death, inheritance from legacies, unearned incomes, occult inclinations, anxieties, distress, calamity, defeat, insult, indebtedness, overseas trips and physically, organs of excretion.

For calculating life-span of the subject there are detailed formulae, taking into account the character of the Siogns, the placement of the planetary Lords, the strength of the planets in a Sign and several other factors with precise calculations. Pundits and astrologers are adept at calculating longevity when a child is born, cautioning about dangerous periods in an infants life and offering remedies through ritual prayers, mantras and charity. While we need not go into them, the subjects chart under examination indicates ‘medium’ life span of about eighty years.

For the subject the Sign in the eighth House is Aquarius which is owned by Saturn. As Saturn becomes the owner of the eighth House on account of the Sign there and is himself significator of longevity, it indicates a long life. The eighth is both owned by Saturn and aspected by it. Eighth House aspected by its owner is also indicative of long life. Owner of the eighth House with a benefic planet in the same House, Saturn with Jupiter in this case also indicates long life. Owner of the eighth House in the eleventh House is indicative of a difficult childhood but prosperity in later life.

The presence of the lunar node Ketu in the eighth House is generally not considered favourable. It portends sorrow, loss of consciousness and possible dishonour. However, aspected by Saturn it assumes the character of Saturn. Ketu is also a mystic planet and indicates the subjects mystical nature. He may delve in the occult with some success and have extra-sensory experiences even acquiring supernatural abilities. It also indicates that he will earn wealth abroad. Ketu’s presence in the eighth house also indicates that death may come to the subject suddenly through an accident in his ‘Shani Dasha. Saturn phase, but only after the normal life span  indicated by other factors referred to above has been exhausted.

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HOUSES -PLANETS- SIGNS

The Sixth House is a dark place. It signifies enemies, thieves, obstacles, dangers, vices and sin, cruelty, humiliation, indebtedness, competetion, poison, maternal uncle, and step mother. The presence here of Sagittarius here for our subject of study, indicates that he will trap animals and enjoy keeping pets in cages or be fond of hunts. His maternal uncle will be a truthful and just person who will be helpful to the subject. the subjects children will do well in examinations and be financially secure. He may suffer from diseases of the liver and pancreas. He may be blunt and offend people with his frankness. He would travel in connection with his job.

Jupiter a benefic planet, as lord of Sagittarius and therefore lord of the Sixth House in this case, being located in the eleventh House indicatesthat he would be in service and overcome enemies. He will also be successful in competetion. He may gain through his maternal uncle. The subject would also not be a person who antagonizes people. Sixth lord with Saturn in the same house ( the eleventh)( indicates health problemsat some time during the Saturn phase (Dasha).

HOUSES -PLANETS- SIGNS

Pursuing the chart of our chosen subject we now proceed to the Fifth House, the House of progeny, intelligence, romance and repository of credit earned from past lives. It is also the House that speaks of capabilities in meditation, spiritual practice, Msntras and Yatras (pilgrimages) and possible authorship of epics.

We note that the constellation Scorpio located here is owned by Mars. this falls within the ‘Holy triangle’ consisting of the region comrising the First, the fifth and the Ninth houses, all therefore auspicious Houses. The house is further empowered by the fact that in Cancer ascendants ( those having Cancer located in the First House) Mars has ownership of an ‘Angular’ House at the centre ( that is, the tenth House – Aries being located there). A planet which is the owner of both a triangular  House ( Fifth in this case) and a Central House ( Tenth in this case) becomes greatly auspicious for the chart. The fact that Mars is furthermore located in the most auspicious and powerful part of the Holy traingle, the ninth House, further empowers Mars as a Karak or benefactor. Such benefits therefore accrue to the fifth House in this chart. This would make the subject highly creative, profecient in music, and learned and help him attain a high position in life, being well thought of by the authorities, wealthy and well placed in life. He would also write books and be of a religious bent of mind.

Yet there is an element of dischord. The Sun loctaed in the Fifth House is aspected by Saturn from the eleventh House. this is indicative of dischord and friction between the subject and his father, replicating the relationship between the Sun and his ‘son’ Saturn. Moreso if they live together, less if they do not.

Scorpio in the Fifth House may also subject the native to face unfounded and baseless charges in life.

A malefic planet like the Sun located in a House in the Holy triangle renders it quite beneficient. It no longer is a ‘killer’. Furthermore the Sun is in a constellation which is friendly on account of the Sun’s friendship with Mars, the owner of Scorpio. It is also in the company of a generally benefic planet, Mercury, in the same House, which affects its attitude.

We also note that there is a mutual aspecting between planets placed in the Eleventh House , namely Saturn and Jupiter and the Fifth House, namely the Sun and Mercury. They are viewing each other. This has its implications. Jupiter’s aspect on the Fifth house and the Sun indicates that the father of the subject is learned and wise and that spirituality will therefore be inherent in the subject. It also will make the subject wealthy, learned, a lover of culture and make him famous. Likewise conjunction of the Sun and Mercury will amke the subject intelligent, famous, fortunate, an artist, thinker and writer. Saturn’s aspect on the House again indicates a philosophic bent of mind. As circumstances are generally positive there is a liklihood of progeny of both sexes. The House has all the circumstances for general happiness and well being and in sum is quite positive despite the forecast of differences between the subject and his father.

 

HOUSES -PLANETS- SIGNS

F O U R T H          H O U S E

The House is concerned with the mother and is therefore the House of security, happiness and home comforts.  It also indicates dwelling place, immovable property, ancestral home in which the subject was born, ancient monuments and architecture. It also is concerned with ones conveyance facilities. The house is also concerned with piety, moral virtues, righteous conduct and ability to meditate, depending on the influence of beneficial planets on it. It also indicates ones level of intellect, qualifications and knowledge of religious texts.

The presence of Libra in this house for the chart of the subject we are examining makes him equable and of a friendly temperament, humourous, well-educated and learned. He has a strong sense of family ties. his home will be well decorated and he will have a good collection of art objects. His mother will have exceptional beauty, with elegant taste and be fond of perfumes and jewellery. She will be house proud.

The lord of Libra the Sign located here, is Venus located in the seventh House, a Central House (Kendra) and it is unaspected by any planet. Thus, so far as property, conveyance and home comforts which provide happiness are concerned this is positive. furthermore the Moon, which is the lord of the ascendant for this chart, directly aspects this House from the tenth House, creating more fortunate domestic circumstances.

But there is a serious blemish too. Venus lord of Libra, the Sign in the Fourth House is unfortunately situated in it’s enemy Sign, Capricorn. This casts a shadow over the otherwise favourable position of Venus as lord of the Fourth House. Scriptural injunction also warn that if the lord of the eighth House, Saturn in this case, is in the eleventh House and the Moon has malefic planets on either side then it is going to create a ‘Dukh Yoga’, or conditions for sorrow. Saturn the lord of the Eighth House is indeed in the Eleventh House. Furthermor the Moon, well placed otherwise and powerful in providing other creature comforts on account of its aspect on the Fourth House, unhappily has Saturn on the one side in the eleventh House and Mars on the other in the ninth House and both are malefic planets. Thus as the Moon is significator for Mother, her longevity is seriously jeopardized and the subject may lose her even in infancy. The Fourth house, House for mother, is also aspected by Mars and Ketu, both malefic, creating further uncertainty for the mother’s life span. Add to this an affliction on account of an aspect of Rahu, the malefic Lunar Node, on the Moon, significator of Mother and the sorrowful ‘Dukh Yoga’ is undeniable. Thus the subject is unlikely to be blessed with mother’s love.

However, aside from this major negative factor, for the rest, the circumstances of the House for other issues remain quite favourable and uncompromised. As they say, in the game of fate, you take some and leave some (sigh). 

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2ND HOUSE

 

The Second House is concerned with wealth, more particularly, accumulated credit and worth. It is also concerned with family, friends, capability or otherwise to enjoy happiness, ability to speak the truth, beauty and love.

HOUSES -PLANETS- SIGNS

The next constellation, Leo  falls in this House for our subject under study. The Lord or owner of Leo is the Sun, situated for our subject’s horoscope in his 5th house ( see chart above). That House is part of the Holy triangle (First, Fifth and Ninth Houses are thus categorized in Hindu scriptures). These are auspicious areas of the chart. The 5th and the 9th Houses are where the Goddess of prosperity and well-being, Laxmi is said to reside.

The Second House is one of the three Houses of ‘acquisition’ deemed inauspicious for ownership of Signs falling there (together with the 6th and the 11th). However, as the Sun, the owner of the Sign Leo, happens to be located in the ‘Holy Triangle’ (the 5th is such a Triane House) and further as scriptural injunction proclaim that a malefic planet located in an unauspicious House will produce auspicious results, it is likely to produce positive effects. Additionally the Sun is located in the constellation Scorpio in the 5th House, whose lord is Mars, a planet ‘friendly’ to the Sun. The sun is therefore in a friendly Sign. We noted in the post on the First House that planets in friendly Signs are inclined to do good to the House concerned, whereas planets in unfriendly Signs bring harm – the analogy of a person being in his friend’s home being happy is apt. Therefore the beneficial effects arising do not get blemished either. Furthermore, the Sun in the 5th House is aspected by Jupiter (count 7 from where jupiter is located in the 11th House). Not only does Jupiter’s aspect always bring goodness (Jupiter’s vision according to scriptures is like nectar falling) but Jupiter also happens to be an extraordinary friend of the Sun (Param Mitra), enhancing the positive attributes acquired by the Sun. Here let us recollect the principle of flow on which Jyotish astrology relies. Positive energy thus generated from the Sun flows to the Sign it owns, Leo, in the Second House.

We also note that the Lunar Node Rahu is located in the Second House. Rahu essentially malefic in nature produces effects according to the lord of the Sign it occupies – in this case the Sun. As the lord of Leo has developed several positive attributes, Rahu will act accordingly to imitate that ambiance  particularly during its phase (Dasha) of 18 years (more on the Dasha system later) it will be beneficial for the horoscope. We also note that Rahu is not aspected by any planet, allowing unmitigated influence of the Sun’s positive attributes on it. Rahu therefore, though in a ‘killer zone’ (Marak Sthan – the Second and Seventh Houses are thus defined) may not become a killer before the normal span of life of the subject is over and only eventually in its phase or sub-phase be the agent for precipitating death.

Yet the influence of separative planets in the Second House (both Rahu and the Sun being so defined) has the effect of making the subject of the chart wander away from home, origins, family or clan and parents. Yet on account of the Sun’s positive attributes, this could prove a blessing in disguise and be the cause of his development away from his native place of origin. However, it makes for a personality given to lying and misleading others.

The location of Leo in the 2nd House is indicative of earning wealth through activity connected with Government. The location of the owner of the Sign (Sun) in the 2nd House,located in the 5th ( House of progeny) brings gains or wealth through progeny and is indicative of a wealthy individual. It also makes the subject capable of handling difficult assignments effectively and display of exceptional intelligence in early years but it also makes for an unhappy nature.

The aspect of Saturn on the 2nd House creates obstructions and delays in fulfillment of issues relate to the House – thus the subject may attain to a comfortable life of wealth and well-being only in later life.

This House also appears to have fared reasonably well, taking all factors into consideration. However, what is forecast is separation from parents through their early demise or in other ways and separation through wanderlust or nature of employment and gain of wealth from such separation. The subject is not likely to be wanting in wealth, whatever the nature of the separation.     

kundali-second-house                                                             

 

 

FIRST HOUSE 2

 

In the previous two posts I sought to explain the astrological chart in Jyotish  (Hindu Astrology). I tried to give a clear idea of how the chart has a reality in space projected from the earth and that the 12 houses in the chart representing different aspects of ones life are essentially directional. We studied the placement of the Zodiac Signs in the 12 Houses for an individual who we selected for our case study. We then studied the regions of the chart and the ownership of the Signs by planets which has a central significance in Jyotish astrology. Finally we studied the placement of planets and their value as emerging for the chart in question. the idea was to give interested lay men some understanding of a complex discipline. I now propose to give a House by House assessment of the individual chart in question. For those who have not seen the earlier posts it may be useful to do so to be able to follow the presentation now being made.

The First house is called the ‘Lagna’, the connection, in Jyotish astrology. It shows the connection of the incarnating soul to the mortal world. It is also called the House of birth and the ‘Ascendant’, meaning the Zodiac Sign which ascends on the horizon at the birth of a particular subject. It represents the bodily vehicle which the soul has been assigned to inhabit, to discharge the fruits of its past Karmas and to engage in fresh Karmas in the course of its journey of 48 million incarnations (according to Hindu scriptures) to eventual enlightenment and reunion with the Absolute Essence – truth, Consciousness and Beauty (Satyam – Shivam – Sundaram). The nature of that vehicle consisting of the body and mind, is represented by the First House; its shape, appearance, size, health,character, temperament and personality. It also represents the early stages of life and longevity of the subject.

Our chosen subject was born in the Sign Cancer ( not according to the solar calendar, where the Sign at birth in which the Sun was at birth is taken as the birth Sign, but according to the Hindu system of astrology, where the Zodiac Sign rising at birth on the horizon is taken as the birth Sign), the Kark Rashi or Cancer in this case. The very fact of birth in Cancer confers a sensitive and creative nature, mild and introverted, friendly, slender of build, potential; to be prosperous, intelligent, spiritually inclined, compassionate and generous. Lord Rama’s birth sign is also believed to have been Cancer. The ancient scriptures provide the key to these interpretations. This emerging picture based on the Zodiac Sign in the first House, will however be modified and amplified by other factors introduced by planetary influences.

The consideration of the First House is always most important. As they say, well begun is half done. If the First House is ‘spoilt’, it becomes an impossible task for the rest of the Horoscope to repair the damage. If the elements going to influence the First House are positive it will be a real head start for the life of the subject in question.

HOUSES -PLANETS- SIGNS

 

We have seen that the Moon is going to play a positive role in this Horoscope. Not only is it only the Lord of the Ascendant (Cancer), the sign at birth in the First house – it is also the ‘Strongest’ planet for the chart, determined on the basis of complex calculations of position, location, strength and association with other planets, but the First House has been adjudged the strongest house for the chart. Together they make for a powerful birth. We need to probe deeper. The Moon is located in Aries at birth in the Tenth House. This is good because Mars ( we saw in the earlier posts) is a powerful planet for the chart, and it is the owner of the sign Aries in which the Moon is a tenant in the tenth house( see illustration of chart above). The reason why Mars is powerful for the chart is because it owns two Signs located, one in a ‘Triangular’ House, the Fifth ( part of the holy triangle of 1st, 5th, and 9th, the most auspicious Houses in all charts) and one in the Central area (called Angular Houses). Furthermore it itself is located in the ninth House, the most auspicious house in the Holy Triangle and in the chart. According to scriptures, a planet owning one of each becomes most auspicious for extending benefits to the subject of the chart. These positive attributes acquired by Mars tend to pass on from owner of a Sign to the tenant – from Mars here, to the Moon. The Moon as owner of the Ascendant Sign Cancer in the first House receives these positive Martian attributes and passes them on to the Sign it owns, Cancer located in the First House. This becomes a superb flow of positive martian energy flowing from the ninth House of Fortune and Spirituality and past good Karmas, to the Moon and the constellation it owns and in which the subject is born.

This principle of ‘flow’ is important in Hindu astrology. One is always on the look out for the channels being established through which positive and negative energies may flow through any given chart.

Now one has to look around for other factors and influences to build further on these positive attributes or detract from them. The next important consideration is planets ‘aspecting’ (looking at ) the First House and planets aspecting the owner of the Sign in the first House.

Venus from the seventh House (180 degrees) is looking at the First House (see chart above). The Venus aspect is benign, because it is located in Capricorn, owned by Saturn which is a friend, therefore Venus is a tenant in a friendly House. when you’re in the house of a friend you are happy and in a good positive state of mind. Venus is also in an ‘exchange’ of Houses with its friend Saturn, meaning that both friends are in each others’ Houses as tenants. this in astrology is considered a ‘special relationship’, which makes both more than happy. This positive energy from Venus then ‘flows’ into the first house to enrich it. Saturn, the friend’s philosophic nature thus passes from it to its friendly tenant Venus and onwards to the first house it is aspecting.

Jupiter is also aspecting Venus in the seventh House. Jupiter is significator of wisdom and knowledge and it passes these attributes to Venus and onwards to the First house. Thus the subject of the chart receives all these positive energies in its First House making it likely to be philosophical, learned and wise on account of the Saturn and Jupiter aspects and glamorous on account of the venus aspect on the first house. He is likely to have a life full of luxuries, refined sensibilities and artistic sense, lover of fine arts on account of their combined flow of energies through venus to the first House.

However, Saturn’s aspect on the First house is likely to be troublesome for the subject’s health, particularly in childhood ( as the First house represents health in early life) though its malefic influence is modified by the ‘special relationship’ formed with Venus through ‘exchange’ of houses, its conjunction with Jupiter ( both sitting together in the same House, the eleventh) and its being aspected by Mercury from the Fifth house. Furthermore as Saturn owns the Eighth House of longevity and death (Aquarius being located there which it owns – see chart above) and also aspects its own Sign in the house there, it promises a fairly long lifespan for the subject. According to scriptures, Saturn in its own house or aspecting it ceases to be a ‘killer'(Marak). If these modifications were not available, its aspecting of the House of birth would have led to the death of the subject in infancy. Yet essentially, Saturn remains malefic, even if it makes the subject more philosophically inclined and for Cancer ascendants in the Natal chart, remains an eventual ‘killer’ i.e. in the end in one of its phases (more about phases) later  when the normal lifespan is ending it will be the initiator of death. In any case it portends poor heath for the subject. However in aspecting the First House, along with the modified malefic influence, it also carries the positive energy of jupiter with which it is conjunct (in same House) and Mercury with which it is in mutual aspect each looking at the other. Thus its philosophical nature with poor health) combined with jupiter’s knowledge and wisdom an Mercury’s skills with speech and writing are also passed onto the First House and help min shaping the subject’s abilities in these areas.

There remains a fuller consideration of the Moon as Lord of the ascendant, first House. a powerful and well placed Moon will give the subject prestige and power, make him a leader or administrator and involved with governance. The Moon is also significator of the mind, from creativity to lunacy. in our case study the only aspect on the Moon is that of Rahu, the Northern Lunar node, from the second house. Rahu is a deviant planet and produces a deviating mind. If the Moon was weak in the Natal chart it could lead to mental illness but as it is the most powerful planet with Mars ( in the ascendant phase on the eve of full-moon), it becomes insatiable curiosity, need to investigate and always look for a quest. But Rahu’s aspect creates an urge to taste variety, even when it is prohibited.

We have seen that those born in Cancer have a pleasant and amiable personality. The influence of Mars, as the Moon is located in its Sign, gives this pleasant personality aggressive traits, a pushing nature and vigour and zeal.

Thus from an analysis of the First House a preliminary pen picture emerges. the positives outweigh the negatives. this is a lucky man. More about him in the analysis of the second House.

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astrological aspects

 

 

 

zodiac

Photo Credit: astronlogia.com

 

In the previous post we became acquainted with the concept of Houses of the Natal chart and what they signify for the subject we had chosen, whose Horoscope is being drawn up. We also projected the Houses into space around the Earth and noted that the Houses were directional. We saw that at the time of birth the 12 Zodiacal Signs would become aligned with the 12 houses, one figuring in each. this would have astrological significance, depending on the nature of the Signs. The next step for the Pundit in drawing up the Horoscope would be to find out where the planets had got located in the 12 Houses.

Before he considers the effects of actual location of planets in the Houses and Signs therein, the Pundit however needs to determine whether they are malefic, benefic or neutral for the Natal Chart. This is determined on the basis of the Zodiac Signs (constellations) which they are said to own, as indicated in the scriptures.

The Sun and the Moon own one Sign each, the other planets own two Signs each but the Lunar Nodes Rahu and Ketu, also considered as planets in Hindu astrology, own no Signs. The chart below shows the Signs aligned with various Houses of the Natal Chart, the placement of planets in the Houses and the ownership of the Signs by the planets..

PLAETS OWN SIGNS

 

* The Sun owns Leo in the Second House.

* The Moon owns Cancer in the first House

* Mars owns Aries in the tenth House and Scorpio in the fifth House

*Mercury owns Gemini in the twelfth House and Virgo in the third House

*Venus owns Libra in the fourth House and Taurus in the eleventh House

* Saturn owns Capricorn in the seventh House and Aquarius in the eighth

* Jupiter owns Sagittarius in the sixth House and Pisces in the ninth house

 

We know that the 12 Houses signify various aspects of a person’s life. What we have yet to learn is that the 12 Houses are divided into regions or zones, which are auspicious, inauspicious or neutral. There are four categories into which the Houses of fortune are divided as shown in the diagram below:

(a) Central Area (Kendra), also called Angular houses – these are the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th.

(b) The holy Triangle (Trikon), also called the Triane Houses – the 1st, 5th and 9th.

(c) the three Houses of Acquisition (Trishdaya) – the 3rd, 6th and 11th.

(d)Houses on either side of the first House – the 2nd and the 12th.

(e) the eighth House, in a category of its own.

chart with vishnu-laxmi

 

The delineation of the chart into these zones is important for Jyotish astrology. The Central area is neutral. The Triane are auspicious. The last of the Triane, the 9th House is the most auspicious, representing fortune (Bhagya) and spirituality and righteousness (Dharma). The Houses of Acquisition (Trishdaya) are also referred to as sinful areas and are inauspicious. The 2nd and 12th on either side of the 1st ( the ascendant) are variable depending on the nature of the second Sign owned by their Lords. Planets owning Signs are referred to as their Lords. The 8th house is the House of mortality and therefore inauspicious. In scriptural lore the 1st House represents the Lord of creation, Vishnu, whereas the other two laterals of the Holy Triangle, the 5th and the 9th represent Laxmi, his consort, the goddess of good fortune and happiness.

EMERGING  NATURE  OF  PLANETS  FOR  THE  CHART

It is only after the Pundit knows which Sign has fallen in a House that he can determine the nature of its owner, the planetary protagonist for the chart. The inherent nature of the planet will get modified and even transformed, depending on the placement of the Sign in one of the above designated zones. The most auspicious planet for the chart, irrespective of its inherent nature will be the one with a combination of Signs, one at the Centre and the other in the Triangle. A planet will be auspicious but blemished if being a benefic it owns a Sign at the Centre and another outside the Triangle. A planet will be doubly inauspicious if it owns two Signs, both outside the Centre and the Triangle. Such a planet may become a killer for the chart in question. Lords of triangular Houses ( planets owning a Sign in a triangular House) will produce evil effects except if they occupy their own Signs. Lords of Signs in the 2nd and the 12th will give results according to the placement of the other Sign they own. Lord of the Sign in the 8th House will be evil unless he is himself located in the 1st or 8th House or is also Lord of a Sign in a triangular House. A planet owning two Signs, both placed in Central houses will also be inauspicious for the chart ( Affliction of the Centre – Kendra Dosh).

The foregoing is only a brief outline of a very complex compendium of intricate rules to determine the nature of the planets for a chart but would doubtless give the reader some understanding of how an analysis is made of location of Signs in the chart.

SINGNIFICANCE  OF  OWNERSHIP  OF SIGNS  FOR  THE  CHART

The Pundit can now determine how the planets are going to behave in the chart even before he actually considers the effects of their location in the Houses. From their ownership of Signs located in different zones of the chart he learns whether the owners are auspicious, inauspicious, killers or neutral for the specific chart, irrespective of their inherent benefic or malefic natures. Let us see what picture emerges for our case study of the person whose horoscope we have taken for our study.

1. Mars (though malefic) is the most auspicious planet for this chart as it owns a Sign in  a Central house, the 10th and a Triangular house, the 5th.

2. Jupiter owning a Sign in a Triangular House, the 9th is auspicious but also owning a Trishdaya House, the 6th, becomes blemished. however, as the 9th House is the most powerful triangular House, he retains most of his auspiciousness.

3. Venus owning a Central House and a Trishdaya House (11th) is inauspicious.

4. Mercury is neutral owning the 12th House but also owning the 3rd (Trishdaya) becomes inauspicious.

5. Saturn owning the 8th House is evil and further owning the 7th becomes a ‘Killer’ ( the 2nd and the 7th Houses are also deemed as ‘Marak Sthana’, areas of death).

6. the Sun owning the 2nd House is neutral ( as it owns only one House and the nature of the second affecting this position therefore does not arise).

7. The Moon owning the 1st House, the ascendant House of birth ( both Central and Triangular in definition) should be auspicious if it itself is suitably located and in the right phase at birth of the subject – this we shall examine later.

This is the final look of the planets for the chart in question. However this picture is likely to change further depending on where the planets have actually got located in the chart at birth. Now that this major exercise is over the Pundit turns to the next stage, which is to determine where the planets have got located in the chart in the twelve Houses of fortune with the twelve Signs already located therein. Here again the process involves perusal of the ephemeris to find the longitudes of the planetary positions at birth and their calibration to obtain a precise longitude of the place of birth.

LOCATION  OF  PLANETS  IN  THE  NATAL  CHART

Finally the planets appear in our subjects Natal Chart as shown below:
PLANETS IN HOUSES X

                                              ( IN THE CHART ABOVE THE NUMBERS REPRESENT THE ZODIAC SIGNS )

 Numerous questions arise in the mind of the Pundit when he sees the completed chart above. These relate , we have already seen, most importantly to the ownership of the Signs by the planets and their resulting status for the chart; whether they are going to be malefic or benefic for it. Other issues include the presence of the planets together in a House (conjunction), mutual relationship, their aspects on one another, their relationship to the Signs they occupy, their relationship to the Houses where they are located, their inherent natures, their significations, their strengths for the chart, whether they are well placed for the chart and beneficial or otherwise.

The planets are the real protagonists apart from the subject. They are as complex as the subject whose life they are supposed to control and influence. I have in the preceding posts on Stellar India sought to give a detailed expose of the planets in mythology, popular lore and scriptures. With the benefit of that detailed background we are in a better position to appreciate their true natures and the manner in which they are intended by providence to influence lives.

We saw that the Sun, Moon, Mars and Jupiter are mutual friends, though the Moon is indifferent to Jupiter ( having eloped with his wife). The Moon regards his son Mercury with amity, though Mercury sees his father Moon with enmity. Saturn and Venus are mutual friends and both regard the Sun and Moon as enemies. Saturn furthermore regards Mars as n enemy. The Sun reciprocates the sentiments of Saturn and Venus with hostility, though the Moon’s nature is such that it does not regard any planet as an enemy. Saturn we saw is an estranged son of the Sun. Mercury views the Sun and Venus as friends. This friendship is reciprocated by Venus. Saturn views Mercury as a friend but this is not reciprocated.

The Sun is a mild malefic. Saturn is entirely malefic and so is Mars. Jupiter is the most benefic of planets and Venus is benefic too. Mercury has an uncertain nature, mostly neutral, assuming a benefic or malefic attitude depending upon the company and location he is in. The Moon is a changeable planet. When in the ascendant mode to full-moon it is benefic but when in its descent to no-moon it becomes malefic. The two Lunar Nodes are always malefic. Yet these inherent natures are subject to change for the chart. Thus a benefic need not necessarily bestow good fortune, nor a malefic, misfortune. For instance an inherently good person can cause you harm and an evil person can in fact be of advantage, depending on the circumstances. These circumstances would include the House they occupy, the Sign they inhabit, the company they are in, their mutual relationship in a chart, the Houses on which their aspect (sight) falls. For instance a benefic planet in the company of a malefic in a House will lose some of his beneficial capabilities as also the malefic some of his evil intentions. Further, if they are enemies they will disturb the tranquility of the House, much like two quarrelsome persons invited to a party will create tension there. Like friends together would create a positive environment in a House. Enemies ‘looking’ at each other would disturb the peace of the relevant Houses and friends viewing each other would enhance the favourable results. Furthermore a planet in a Sign owned by an enemy would be unable to do good, much like a person in the house of a hostile person. Planets in friendly Sign, those belonging to friends, would be relaxed and able to act effectively to promote the prospects of the House. They may even develop special relationships, like being in mutual exchange of Houses, which would further enhance their capabilities and bring more powerful effects.

When looking at the completed chart, the learned Pundit’s thoughts would now focus on the nature of the Signs the planets occupy, in the following order:

 are they

(a) in the Sign they own (Swa-Rashi)

(b) in a Sign in which the planet is in exaltation ( each planet is assigned a Sign in which it is in exaltation )

(c) in a Sign in which the planet is in debilitation ( the 7th sign from the one in which it is in exaltation is the one in which it is in debilitation – i.e. 180 degrees next)

(d) in a Sign belonging to a friendly planet or an enemy planet.

He also proceeds to calibrate their strength (Bal) for the chart. They could be infant, youthful, aged or combust, depending on their longitudinal coordinates which may place them in the first, second or third section of the constellation or too close to the longitude of the Sun. There are also other complex considerations on the basis of which the strength of a planet is determined. A powerful planet will do its job, good or bad with certainty, a weak planet will do it halfheartedly and a combust planet will be ineffective either way. The final analysis of our subject’s chart after studying the location of the Signs, considering their lordships and noting where and with whom the planets are located, evaluating their locations in terms of being in their own Signs, in exaltation or debilitation, calibrating their strengths, reveal the following:

He notes first that none of the planets are in their own Signs, in exaltation or debilitation. Next he notes whether they are in friendly, enemy or neutral Signs, depending on who the owner is. The Moon is in a neutral Sign. Mars, the Sun, Mercury, Venus and Saturn are in friendly Signs. Jupiter and Rahu are in enemy Signs and Ketu is in a neutral Sign. He also notes that Saturn and Venus are in an exchange of Signs ( each located in the others Sign) and have therefore developed a special relationship in the chart and being friends this creates a ‘Rajyoga’ or very auspicious circumstance for the subject.

The Moon, Lord of the ascendant Sign Cancer, also happens to be the most powerful planet for the chart and being in ascendant phase at time of birth ( 14 Shukla Paksh – day before full moon) is in a state of empowerment. The subject’s birth was also on a Monday, reckoned as the Moon’s Day. the Moon is located in the 10th House of career and achievement, a Central House. These factors make for a strong and well placed Moon, which is going to be a positive influence for the chart, If the Moon was, say in the 11th or 12th House and was weak and in the dark half of descending phase, the picture would have been quite negative.

The placement of Mars, already emerging most auspicious for the chart, based on its ownership of Signs placed in a Central House, the 10th and a Triangular House, the 5th – becomes even more auspicious by getting located in the most powerful House of the Holy Triangle, the 9th house, which is the House of fortune, spirituality and righteousness. There is no blemish either on account of being in any enemy’s Sign, as Jupiter the owner and Mars the tenant are friends.

The placement of the Sun and Mercury in the 5th House ( part of the Holy Triangle) is also quite positive. They are not enemies sitting together but Mercury has become ‘combust’, its coordinates being too close to the Sun thus loosing effectiveness.

The placement of Jupiter and Saturn in the 11th House is also positive, as planets located in the 11th, the House of ‘Gains’, give benefits. They too are not enemies, though Jupiter is indeed in an enemy Sign, while Saturn is not.

Venus is in the 7th House, which is not considered positive because Venus is the significator of the House of marriage and sexuality and according to scriptures being in the house of which it is a significator disturbs the issues with which both are concerned.

The placement of Rahu in the 2nd and Ketu in the 8th are causes of worry, both being inauspicious planets and unfortunately placed.

Overall however the emerging picture is quite positive and promising  and several potential ‘Rajyogas’ are apparent. Of course there are pitfalls as well, as in any life.

ASPECTS OF PLANETS

The Pundit has also to take into account the question of aspects ( their sight falling on a House where another planet is located) of planets on one another and on the Signs and Houses. different planets cast their vision in different ranges from where they are located in the chart. Most cast a vision on the seventh House (at 180 degrees)from where they are, including the location. Saturn, Mars and Jupiter have multiple visions in addition to the standard seventh. Once the Pundit knows which House is aspected by the planets, he makes conclusions according to scriptural aphorisms on aspects. When a planet aspects a House, its inherent benefic or malefic nature affects the issues concerned with that House. When a planet aspects a planet it affects (a) the aspected planet’s signification ( each planet represents certain issues as significator eg Venus is significator of conjugal affairs and sex. (b) the issues represented by the Houses in which the Signs owned by the aspected planet are located. Let us illustrate from our subject’s chart for greater clarity:

Jupiter a benefic brings positive effects from its aspects on the 3rd,5th, and 7th Houses, namely Houses of achievement, progeny and spouse respectively. As the sun is in the 5th House ( Holy triangle) it also sends positive energy to the House it owns, the 2nd. Likewise it brings benefits to the Houses owned by Mercury ( which is also aspected by it in the 5th House) the 3rd and 12th Houses.

On the issue of planetary strengths the Pundit arrives at the following conclusion:

Moon – very benefic – auspicious

Venus – benefic – but inauspicious for chart

Mars – greatly reduced malefic – most auspicious for the chart

Jupiter – benefic – auspicious but blemished for chart

Saturn – less malefic- but eventually a ‘Killer’ for the chart

Sun – malefic – but generally neutral for the chart

Mercury – malefic – inauspicious but generally ineffective being combust

We observe that thus far the exercise has been merely to describe the conditions of the playing field and the strengths and weaknesses of the protagonists and how they are likely to interact to determine the destiny of the subject. This will show broadly how each House will be affected favourably or adversely in respect of the issues within its jurisdiction. The precise and detailed predictions would come at the second stage when it would have to be analysed to what extent the generalizations apply or to what extent they have to be modified. This exercise would involve a detailed examination of each House in the chart which we will attempt in future posts.

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Sage Parashar

Finally we need to note that Jyotish astrology has two aspects – the Math. ( Ganit) and the predictions ( Phalit – fruit). while the Math is based entirely on the science of astronomy and mathematics and is precise and scientifically accurate in every detail, the predictions covering interpretations of the astronomical facts for the life of the subject and his destiny, are an entirely different ball game which relies on scriptural aphorisms with no explanation of the reason for their conclusions. The Phalit is derived from scriptural verses attributed to the legendary sages of the period of the earliest Vedas, prominent among whom were the sages Parashar and Jaimini, the first emphasized the role of the planets while the second stressed the importance of Signs for predictive astrology. Sage Parashar’s treatise of 11000 verses, the ‘Brihat Parashar Hora shastra’ is the essential basis of Jyotish predictive astrology. Parashar is believed to have lived around the third millennium BC and his treatise is in the form of a dialogue between him and his disciple Maitreya who poses the questions. Parashar is also said to be the grandfather of Veda Vyas the author of the Mahabharat epic which contains the Bhagvad Gita. According to scholars the present form of Parashar’s treatise was conceived in the 7th or 8th century AD piecing together the lost ancient version from manuscripts and traditions. The present version is believed to have been recompiled in the 19th century.

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Photo credit: panoramio.com Sage Parashar temple Himachal Pradesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are all addicted to having our Horoscopes read and interpreted. Our Natal charts hold a great fascination, predicting the course our lives are supposed to take, the highs and the lows, the opportunities and the obstacles, the strengths and the weaknesses – what the stars have to foretell. From the Jyotish (traditional Hindu) standpoint, the drawing and interpreting of the Janampatri or Natal Chart is an immensely complex exercise, which I propose to simplify in this post. But before we do that we need to ponder on what it implies.

In the series of posts on Stellar India so far I have covered the nature of the planets in Astrology and Hindu myth. Astrology , as I stressed earlier is for the Hindu an article of faith because it finds full sanction in Hindu scriptures, and unlike the Judaic faiths is not considered a heterodox deviation  at variance with established religious beliefs, if not blasphemous – the stuff of magic and witchcraft.  In India astrology is part and parcel of the orthodox belief system, is an aspect of religion, the high priest the Pundit being an adept at astrology if he has any worth. All social and religious customs and festivals derive their significance from astrologically determined timing and the Hindu calendar and time scale are a product of that discipline. Astrology and the planets which it represents and interprets, are part of age-old mythology and form part of the Hindu pantheon as demigods.

The astrological general effects which we studied in the posts on Fasts, Festivals and Prohibitions concern the populace as a whole having universal application. However, at the heart of Hindu astrology there is the question of the effect of the stars on the individual. It is here that we enter the hallowed ground of the Horoscope which confines itself to predicting their effect on the individual rather than the mass. It is to this microcosm level that much of the burden of traditional knowledge and astronomical and mathematical complexity turns its attention.

The birth of the individual is the crucial moment and the Natal Chart is drawn taking the stellar configuration at that moment. That chart will then become the road-map of his life and define the effects of each passing day and subsequent configurations will have upon him, in the context of the original configuration at his birth. It is therefore imperative for all Hindus to ensure that this stellar passport and birth certificate is drawn up. He will need it when he marries, when he builds a house, celebrates a birthday, or engages in any important social, religious or commercial activity. For this it is essential to record the exact time of birth to the minute if not the second and to relocate it in terms of the Lunar calendar.

To understand the Horoscope, we need to get acquainted with the several stages through which a chart is processed before it becomes a complete Horoscope and also to become conversant with the basic underlying concepts.

Basically, three terms are used and it is important not to confuse one with the other. Let me explain; The first concept is that of the 12 Houses ( Bhavs – loosely translated as moods). The second are the 12 constellations of the Zodiac, referred to as Signs ( Rashis). the third are the 7 planets + 2 Lunar nodes making them together as the 9 ‘planets’ of the Hindu Jyotish or Astrology. There must be a clear understanding of the distinction of the three.

 

T H E    H O U S E S

At the first stage of preparation, the Pundit or astrologer has an empty chart with 12 ‘Houses’. This as yet refers to no person. It is a universal map of the life of  prospective individuals. It is like a form which has yet to be filled in. The life of man is divided into 12 categories and these are cast within 360 degrees because the visible Zodiac also falls within 360 degrees. Each category will fit into one or two constellations, covering a space of 30 degrees. This will be determined on the basis of the birth of the subject whose chart is being drawn up. It is as if 12 Houses of fortune of a person are abstractly suspended into space, waiting for the constellations and planets to fill them up.

Each House relates to an aspect of life ( these aspects related to individual Houses are proscribed in the ancient scriptures on Astrology without indicating any logical reason for such prescription – presumably, divinely ordained). Very briefly, the Houses represent, first, the body and temperament of the subject; second, wealth; third, siblings; fourth, mother and home; fifth, progeny; sixth, enemies; seventh, spouse and sex; eighth, lifespan and death; ninth, spirituality and destiny; tenth, father, honour and career; eleventh, gain; and twelfth, loss and misfortune. These are the major issues of life but the detailed enumerations of the Houses are more comprehensive in the connected issues they embrace. These twelve, ‘Celestial’ Houses, as they are termed, are shown in the diagram below:Untitled

However, looking at the chart ( a North Indian version, there being a south Indian and an East Indian version also) it is difficult to visualize what it represents in the space around the Earth. the Houses are entirely conceptual but have a physically definable reality. Simply put, they are directional. the First House, denoting birth and person of the subject is in the East, the seventh is in the West, the Fourth is in the North and the Tenth is due South. We can either assume, as in traditional astrology, that the Earth is stationary, in which case the Houses remain stationary or if we assume in astronomical terms that the Earth rotates, then the directional Houses move with the Earth, the First being always in the East. If we assume the Earth as stationary, the band of the Zodiac Signs would be moving at that point;  If the Earth is taken as the moving factor, then the Zodiac Signs would be stationary. The chart and the actual position in space would therefore be as below:

 

                                                                                                                      S P A C E                                                             C H A R T 

CORRECT

 

 

The point at the centre of the circle shown in the above diagram, may be assumed to be the place of birth. To be more precise, the direction due East would be bisecting the first House, running through its middle. This would be the line running due East into the horizon at the place of birth and would correspond with 15 degrees of the 30 degrees of the first House; likewise, due West would be 15 degrees of the seventh House; North, 15 degrees of the fourth House and due South, 15 degrees of the tenth House.

The tenth House is also the Zenith, where the Sun is at mid-day and the fourth the Nadir. The Sun rises in the first House and sets in the seventh. Therefore the Houses from two to seven are below the horizon while the seventh to the first through the twelfth are the Houses above the horizon – the first and seventh being half below and half above the horizon. 

 

T H E      S I G N S

Like the twelve directional Houses, also called the Celestial Mansions, the twelve Signs of the Zodiac are also divided into twelve sections of 30 degrees each, together aggregating 360 degrees of the visible cosmos. the twelve Signs are the constellations of the Zodiac, beginning with Aries and ending with Pisces. In fact the Zodiac is only a small part of the visible cosmos. They are recognizable constellations within a narrow band of 23 degrees on either side of the ecliptic ( the path of the Sun around the Earth). The Zodiac is contained within this band width of 46 degrees. Within this band also orbit all the planets of our Solar System. the rest of the visible cosmos beyond the band of the ecliptic is not relevant to Hindu astrology. The following illustration would graphically show the juxtaposition of the Celestial Houses with the constellations of the Zodiac within the ecliptic band.

 HOUSES AND SIGNS

 

 As the Earth rotates in one direction, we may assume that the constellations appear to rotate in the opposite direction. the time taken for a revolution of the Earth is twenty-four hours. A constellation or Sign encompassing 30 degrees, which is coterminous with a House would take about two hours to enter and exit the House. The Signs rotate round the Earth in the order of the numbers from 1 to 12. The Signs are assigned permanent numbers to identify them in the chart from 1 to 12 ( one has to try really hard not to confuse the numbers denoting Signs from those denoting Houses). thus Aries is assigned the number 1 and whenever the number 1 appears on the chart it indicates the presence of Aries in that House. Below are listed the Signs with their permanent numbers:

Aries (Mesh) 1                                                             Libra ( Tula) 7

Taurus (Vrishabha) 2                        Scorpio ( Vrishchika) 8

Gemini ( Mithun) 3                              Sagittarius ( Dhanu) 9

Cancer (Kark) 4                                      Capricorn ( Makara) 10

Leo ( Singha) 5                                        Aquarius ( Kumbha) 11

Virgo(Kanya) 6                                         Pisces ( Meena) 12

In the illustration above if we assume that the constellations rotate clock wise and the Earth is stationary, Cancer would enter and pass the first House in about two hours above the horizon. After passing the first House Cancer would enter the 12th House and eventually set in the 7th House below the horizon. Leo would follow Cancer above the horizon entering the first House thereafter and set in the 7th House. The other Signs would follow likewise. Or if we take the Earth to be rotating, the Houses would pass the stationary Signs one after the other in the same order.

It is important to note that at any point on Earth ( Jaipur or New York, Timbuktu or Kathmandu) where a birth takes place, the chart for that birth would show the first House as aligned along the horizon due East at that point. At that point Houses 2 to 6 and half of the 1st and 7th would be below the horizon and Houses 12 to 8 and half of the 1st and 7th would be above the horizon ( please see the above illustration to understand this).

At the moment of birth the Sign rising in the East ( in the first Celestial House) in the town or village of birth of the subject, is  called the ‘ascendant’, the birth Sign, the ‘Lagna ( connection) Rashi (Sign). the manner in which this is calculated is extremely complex in the interests of absolute precision.

 The first step will be to have the precise time of birth ( Indian Standard Time – IST). The next is to note the latitude and longitude of the place of birth. The longitude will help to precise the IST in terms of the local place of birth. the latitude will be important in determining the Sign rising in the East at the time of birth. Next the longitudes will have to be noted. longitudes are indicated in the ephemeris in the Panchang for 5.30 IST (dawn). As the time of birth at the place of birth is likely to be different from IST, the longitudes would have to be adjusted accordingly through complex calculations or by viewing the tables in the Panchang which are specific to different cities in India. We need not go further into the enormous complexities of the calculations involving conversion of time scales, adjusting of timing of sunrise at place of birth in relation to IST sunrise, adjusting of longitudes to fix planetary positions at place of birth etc etc. Suffice it to say that nothing is left to the imagination in the interests of hair-splitting accuracy, which is so important for predictions to be accurate, considering that the Zodiac is on the move from minute to minute, the planets at their own varying speeds and time of sunrise and sunset change from day-to-day and place to place.

However, coordinates of Signs and planets occupying birth charts would be useful for those who may be interested in going deeper into this complex discipline, which has several courses assigned in Indian universities.

I have chosen a colleague of mine in the Foreign Service as our ‘subject’ whose Natal Chart we will be studying for purposes of illustration.

A few of the coordinates at birth for our subject are given thus in his horoscope under the caption ‘Bhav Spasht’ or coordinates of Houses.

                                     Ascendant ( Lagna- or birth):  3/17/50/58

                                     Sun:                                            7/16/03/59

                                     Moon:                                         0/22/26/23

the above coordinates of birth signify that at birth if we drew a line due East at the place of birth, the 3rd Sign, Gemini, had already passed and the 4th Sign, Cancer had arisen 17 degrees, 50 minutes and 58 seconds of iots total of 30 degrees. thus more than half of Cancer had risen above the horizon at the place of birth.

Likewise, the coordinates of the Sun show that the Sun had passed through the 7th sign and had completed traversing 16 degrees, 3 minutes and 59 seconds of the 8th Sign, Scorpio of the total of 30 degrees of that Sign. The Sun thus was located in the 5th House aligned with Scorpio ( see chart above). it too had passed the midway mark.

The Moon, had already traversed 22 degrees 26 minutes and 23 seconds of the first Sign, Aries, that is, 2/3rds of the Sign. The Moon was thus located in the 10th House.

the extent of progression of the planets into the Houses are indicative of their health and state, for instance, the Sun’s state is ‘youthful’, that of the Moon, ‘aged’ for the chart.

This has connotations for the chart in the manner in which the planets are likely to act, like an old person, feeble and ineffective, or a youth, active and strident, or an infant, or even a person who is dead and therefore exhausted and ineffective.

The number of the ascendant Sign in the Zodiac is then placed in the first House of the chart, the succeeding constellations in successive Houses. let us take the instant case of our subject, born in cancer, No. 4 of the Zodiac. We therefore note ‘4’ representing Cancer in the first House of the chart, Leo (5) in the second, Virgo(6) in the third and so on till all the 12 Signs are placed in the 12 Houses. Thus the Zodiac Signs are ‘superimposed’ on the blank Natal chart of 12 Celestial Houses as shown below:

HOUSES AND SINGNS X

 

Thus we note that 4, Cancer, is in the first House; 5, Leo, is in the second; 6, virgo, is in the third; 7, Libra, is in the fourth; 8, Scorpio, is in the fifth; 9, Sagittarius, is in the sixth; 10, Capricorn, is in the seventh; 11, Aquarius, is in the eighth; 12, Pisces, is in the ninth; 1, Aries, is in the tenth; 2, Taurus, is in the eleventh; and 3, Gemini is in the twelfth.

Like the Houses, the Signs also have their natures and properties which influence the subject and his fortunes. very briefly, signs can be masculine or feminine, movable and passionate, fixed and inactive,  or common and harmonious. they can have the quality of fire, earth, air or water, can represent the directions, be blind, deaf, or mute, be dry or watery, fruitful or sterile, human, reptilian, animal, bestial, vegetal or mineral, rise with head first or posterior, be silent or vocal. these qualities of the Signs will affect the subject’s personality and nature in the ascendant House and other aspects of his fortune in the other designated Houses. briefly, therefore, the Signs will affect the Houses they inhabit. Quite often, astrological predictions are based merely on the presence of the Signs in various Houses in a generalized kind of way, like the predictions on a daily basis to be found in the columns of newspapers and magazines, without reference to the planetary positions in the horoscope. That is of course only a small part of the story. Planetary positions further elaborate, modify and transform the basic predictive analysis, based merely on the locations of the Signs.

In our next post we will delve deeper into the influence of the planets and their ownership of Signs, and their mutual aspects on one another in the Natal Chart, to understand the full impact of Signs and planets on a horoscope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From my earlier posts we are already familiar with the universal prohibitions arising from the nature of the Tithi ( Hindu Lunar day), the daily Chaughadias ( hourly change in auspicious and inauspicious phases of the day) eclipses etc. The longer term prohibitions become more significant as they affect Hindu social life and commercial activity over extended periods as contrasted with the shorter term prohibitions which pass quickly from hour to hour or Lunar day to Lunar day. These prohibitions relate to ‘universal effects’ as contrasted with ‘individual effects’ which are the concern of the horoscope of an individual or sometimes of a national unit.These universal prohibitions, applicable to all are governed by the following astrological or astronomical events:

DAKSHINAYAN

The fundamental precept of long-term prohibitions arise from the belief that when the Sun is in Uttarayan (Norther swing) moving from the tropic of Capricorn to the tropic of Cancer, it is an auspicious time  as the Sun becomes stronger and empowered with every passing day. The commencement of this process is marked by the great festival of Makar Sakranti ( entry of the Sun into Capricorn) mid January, with great rejoicing, kite flying and feeding cattle around town. When the Sun is in Dakshinayan ( southern swing) moving from Cancer to Capricorn, its rays grow weaker, losing power and the time is less auspicious. This is marked by Kark Sakranti ( entry into Cancer), mid July. If this were strictly observed or enforced, no auspicious activity like marriage, inauguration of temples , entry into a new home, ceremonial tonsure of a child’s hair, coronation or assumption of important office etc etc  would be astrologically recommended during a six month period during each year. Fortunately, relief has been provided in the month of Margsheesh ( November-December) but only till the Sun enters Sagittarius ( Dhanu Sakranti) in mid-December when the prohibition becomes total as in this month the Sun is at its weakest in the year.  This period is called the Malmas, the dark month.The prohibition ends with Makar Sakranti and suddenly there are marriages everywhere once again. Even a former Governor of Rajasthan state waited till Makar Sakranti before assuming office.

SHRAAD

post05-india-sacred-cows

Soon after the Dakshinayan phase commences, come the further prohibitions on account of Shraad. These are observances which are not festive but equally essential. We are said to be born with two types of obligations: debts to the gods ( Dev Rinn) and those to the ancestors ( Pitri Rinn). Dev Rinns are discharged through prayer and ritual and the first half of every day is for that. Pitri Rinn is discharged through ritual observances for ancestors and the latter half of the day is appropriate for that. Both are to be undertaken with the Sun as witness, therefore preferably between sunrise and sunset.

The Shraads commence with the full-moon of the month of Bhadrapad and end with the no-moon of the month of Ashwin, generally falling in the month of September each year, prior to the Sharad ( Winter) Navratra ( discussed in the post on fasts). This is a fortnight during the year which is reserved for deceased ancestors. Ancestors include three generations of parents, grandparents and great grand parents and uncles, aunts and siblings who have no progeny other than yourself to honour them. That which is done with Shraddha, faith, is Shraad. During the Shraads all other auspicious and festive events are prohibited. Each of the fifteen Shraad days is dedicated to the ancestor who died on that Tithi. Prayers and offerings to ancestors consist of preparations of rice, lentil and milk and the favourite food of that ancestor if known and then distributed to five beings – a cow, a crow, a dog, ants and a beggar – called the Panch Gras. Thereafter Brahmins are fed. This upholds an ancient tradition of feeding all manner of beings before consuming ones righteous repast. Through the mouths of these beings the ancestors are satisfied and honoured. mahalaya-ama-nIt is believed that the ancestors are permitted to visit the mortal world from their realms as spirits during this period to observe whether they are still loved and remembered. Most people observe these rituals meticulously as it is believed that one will be blessed with progeny and they will be assured long life and a successful career only if the ancestors thus honoured bless the family. The principle is that you are only entitled to future generations if you care to remember and honour your past generations – sounds quite logical.

DEVSHAYAN

images (9)Growing up in an Indian home one often hears the remark ‘sorry we can’t celebrate the wedding for the next few months, the god’s are asleep’. This was always intriguing. how possibly did the gods go to sleep? Of course one was familiar with the strict timings observed in temples when the gods awaken in the morning to the chanting of Mantras and the afternoons when the curtains are drawn or gates closed when they are resting, bathing or being presented with offerings of food. The timing for worship and divine audience  Darshan, was fixed in the morning and evening hours. If you came at the wrong time your worship would be without viewing the deity of the temple. Thus one was familiar with the concept of divine rest periods. But the prolonged rest for months on end in the lunar calendar was another matter and once again had stellar origins.

The period of divine rest or inactivity falls between two Ekadashis ( eleventh Tithis). Beginning with the Ekadashi in the Indian month of Ashad, Shukla Paksh ( lunar ascending phase), falling generally in June-July, it extends to the Ekadashi falling in the month of Kartik, Shukla Paksh. The first Ekadashi is popularly known as Devshayan Ekadashi ( Divine rest Ekadashi), signalling commencement of Devshayan Dosh (divine inactivity affliction) and the second one is called Devauthni Ekadashi ( Divine awakening Ekadashi) signalling end of the afflicted months.

Hindu-God Vishnu imageAs the Devshayan Dosh runs more or less concurrently with the Dakshinayan, the prohibition becomes strengthened further and no one dares to breach it by arranging any auspicious activity then. After the Devuthni Ekadashi, cities in India suddenly spring to life for a month, squeezing in a spate of marriages and events. Roads become so crowded with marriage processions and bridegrooms on horseback and elephants moving with their dancing and singing entourages that traffic happily comes to a standstill, unless of course you have to take a flight or a train. Mass marriages are also the order of the day for people of humbler means.

MALMAS

A month later, despite the prohibition arising from ‘divine rest’ having been lifted, another prohibition arises on account of the Sun entering Sagittarius and once again there is a complete lull on the Hindu social calendar. The entire sub-continent pauses till the Sun leaves Sagittarius and enters Capricorn on Makar Sakranti when its Uttarayan phase begins. Then all is well again for another six months, though short-term prohibitions do crop up from time to time. the Pundit is your trusted guide through all this. The question arises why the Sun’s entry into Sagittarius is deemed unfortunate. Of course the obvious explanation is that it is the month in the year when it is the least empowered having moved to its southernmost point and therefore inauspicious. But there is also a mythological basis for Malmas being inauspicious.

Jupiter, lord of Sagittarius, is the divine mentor and Guru of the demigods. When a royal personage, like the Sun enters the abode of his Guru, he must humbly conduct himself as a disciple and assume a lower seat from him, which he does not find pleasant. This causes him discomfort and being thus reduced in stature he is not his radiant self and in such a state cannot be expected to confer auspiciousness on celebrations. Marriages therefore are avoided during this period. also deferred are important trading and commercial transactions. Indeed, the Indian stock market itself is affected by these distant and invisible cosmic events and it is only after Malmas has passed that the stock market assumes full momentum again.

  Once, being in a hurry I installed a statue of my father in the village square at considerable cost with a stone carved canopy, despite warnings by the Pundits. Within days I was informed that a wayward truck had hit the canopy and that it had shattered, though the statue only suffered minor damage as it too was toppled to the ground. Could have been an unfortunate co-incidence – who knows? 

While the presence of a visible Full-Moon engendering a feeling of auspiciousness and a clearly visible eclipse or transit of a comet arousing fear and being interpreted as evil, may be understandable, the occurrence of a cosmic event which is not visible and can only be known through calculation of movement of the Sun affecting something as mundane and material as the stock market is most remarkable and shows the dominant influence of stellar phenomena on Indian culture and civilization. One cannot escape the feeling that India invisibly reels under a stellar spell.

ADHIKMAS

The third major prohibition period is the additional  month which we saw had to be inserted within  a month in the lunar calendar every three years. Generally Adhikmas ( additional month) falls in late summer or monsoons and therefore in the period of Dakshinaya and the Devshayan, thus not creating an additional period of prohibition but this may not always be so, when the prohibition period would grow even longer than it is. Apart from the prohibition of marriages, during this month, the scriptures  demand that one prays more, fasts, sleeps on the floor, eats only once a day and is charitable.

JUPITER IN LEO

The entry of Jupiter in Leo is another signal for prohibitions. Again we go back to the relationship of Jupiter and the Sun in Indian lore. As the Guru of the Indian Olympus enters Leo, abode of the Sun, the Sun begins to feel the same discomfort having to act deferentially to his Guru and marriages are once again avoided during Jupiter’s sojourn in Leo. However as this would mean no marriages for a whole year because that is the period that slow-moving Jupiter remains in the Sign, the Pundits have found a way out of this impossible prohibition by restricting it to a shorter duration when Jupiter enters a segment of three degrees of Leo from 13 degrees 20 minutes to 16 degrees 40 minutes called the Navmansh of Leo, thereby limiting the prohibition to less than two months.

COMBUST JUPITER AND VENUS

Other prohibitions are associated with periods during which Jupiter or Venus become ‘combust’ ( get too close to the Sun as viewed from Earth). A ‘combust’ planet cannot exert its benefic influence and becomes a source of negativity, therefore inauspicious during such phases. During such phases also, marriages are avoided. fortunately with the Sun’s movement onwards as also that of faster moving planets, the combust status remains only for a short duration.

From the foregoing it should become abundantly clear that planning a calendar event in India is no joke and the astrological almanac is the arbiter for fixing the timing of auspicious and inauspicious events with the assistance of the Pundit – those who take this lightly do so at their own peril!

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Gandhi observing fast of silence

The Hindu calendar is as full of fasts as festivals, with fasting being obligatory on most festivals. A fast can be total and stringent or of a limited nature. for instance a fast can prohibit the consumption of certain cereals, milk and its products, types of vegetables, particularly onion and garlic and other root vegetables and recommend  consumption of alterante edibles. Fasts can also include other prohibitions, like abstaining from drinking water,  avoiding eating consuming meat,abjuring violence, impurity, untruthfulness, sleep, gambling and sex, and observing silence.  Milder fasts allow eating of fruits and drinking water and milk. 

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The Buddha fasting before enlightenment – Gandhara sculpture

Fasts are undertaken primarily for spiritual evolution but also aim particularly to absolve one of sins committed, to overcome astrological afflictions, alleviate suffering and disease, achieve material well being, for the peace of deceased ancestors and to secure a place for oneself in divine spheres, Devloks. in the afterlife- that is, to attain the goals of Arth ( wealth and material wellbeing), Kama ( pleasure and love), Dharma ( religious and moral duties) and Moksha ( liberation and spiritual release and evolution, the ultimate aim of life). different fasts are directed at propitiating particular deities. Fasts are also undertaken during festivals

 

THE TITHI

Fasts generally fall into categories depending on the Tithis ( Lunar Days). An earlier post dwelt at length on this complex concept, which define the days of the Hindu lunar month. In a brief review let us try and grasp the import of the Tithi. The Tithi is a unique creation of the Indian mind based less on what is visible and more on calculation. India’s is perhaps the only civilization whose mentors conceived of recording the passage of time from day to day by relying on a formula of calculation rather than the visible movements of heavenly bodies. Most cultures  in antiquity conceived of days commensurate with the presence of the Sun in the sky and nights with its absence or again the visible phases of the Moon in the night sky. Not so the unique Indian sages and astrologers. For them the Tithi, the Indian equivalent of a day and a night was in fact a matter of calculating the difference in the longitudes of the Sun and the Moon. Quite an abstract way of defining the passage of days but one that would satisfy their  need for accuracy in recording the passage of time. There is a practical logic behind the exercise to define the passage of days in the month. Indian sages and astrologers saw that the Sun and the Moon would pass around the earth through 360 degrees. When the longitudes of the Sun and Moon were coterminous, it was a No-Moon and they fixed this Tithi as Amavasya ( noting that the difference in the longitudes was zero). When the longitudes of the Sun and the Moon placed them at 180 degrees apart, it was Full-Moon and they called the Tithi Purnima ( noting that the difference in longitudes was 180 degrees). They also noted that in between the two there would be 15 segments of 12 degrees on either side, each constituting a Tithi. Thus after Amavasya as the Moon’s longitude moved 12 degrees away from the Sun’s, the first Tithi  of Shukla Paksh ( ascendant phase of Moon) would commence and last till the Moon moved another 12 degrees further out. Of course meantime the Sun’s longitude would also have moved, though at a much slower pace. The second Tithi would commence when the Moon’s longitude was another 12 degrees away from where the Sun’s longitude had now moved to. Thus they devised the formula of subtracting the actual longitudinal positions of the Sun and the Moon and dividing the balance by 12 to arrive at the Tithi in either of the two phases. Furthermore, the Moon generally takes 2 hour to move a degree and it generally traverses 12 degrees in 24 hours, which is also the approximate time taken from one Sunrise to another, therefore an appropriate formula to measure the passing of days.

 

EKADASHI ( Eleventh  Tithi )

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Credit: drikpanchang.com

The most popular fasts are those falling on Ekadahsis, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The legend goes that he was in a slumber in a cave after a furious battle with a demon. The demon pursued him there and sought to slay him as he slept. A glorious power in the form of a goddess then arose from the slumbering Vishnu’s being and slayed the impertinent evil force. That goddess is worshiped on Ekadashis as the benign force that removes all obstacles. The fast is undertaken to purify the mind, strengthen faith, remove obstacles. The demon represents our negativity which accost us as we ‘slumber’ unaware that we are becoming subject to temptations. Thus the Putrada Ekadashi fast helps in bringing forth male progeny, the Papkusha Ekadashi fast requires one to remain silent, cleansing the mind and washing away sins, the Kamada Ekadashi fast ends all sorrows and so on – different Ekadashis for different gains arrive once each month.

TRIYODASHI  ( Thireenth Tithi )

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Credit: Trishul Das’ – vedicgoddess.weebly.com

The other common and recurring fasts are called Pradosh (ending afflictions), falling on Triyodashis dedicated to Lord Shiva. The fast is observed after an early morning bath with prayers to Lord Shiva and recitation of mantras and ritualistic placement of lamps in eight directions. Triyodashis falling on Saturdays are observed for the birth of a son, Mondays for relief from debt, Fridays for gaining wealth, fortune and a good spouse, Sundays for a long life. According to legend on Triyodashis the gods assemble at Mount Kailash the abode of Lord Shiva. Sarasvati the goddess of learning and fine arts plays on a Veena, Brahma the creator of the world plays on the cymbols, Vishnu the sustainer on a Mridangam and a galaxy of gods join Lord Shiva the god of gods in a dance. Theircombined blessings fall upon the fasting devotee.Those engaging in a fast, if poor are blessed with riches, if ignorant gain knowledge, if without issue with a son, wives do not get widowed, widows become spiritually enlightened and longevity is ensured.

2DHANTERAS KE MAUKA SE  BARTAN KI DOOKAN SAZIThe fast of Dhanteras (Wealth – Thirteenth) also falls on a Triodashi in the month of Kartik (October-November), waning-half, is dedicated to Yamaraj, Lord of death. On this day every Hindu housewife fervently goes shopping to bring home a metal utensil. Shopkeepers have a field day displaying pots ans pans and all manner of kithen utensils, shining bright on stands right into the streets. What is actually recommended is to bring home a silver utensil but the token purchase of a metal one is accepted. download (1)At the entrance of the home grain should be placed in a container as an offering to Lord Yama with a lamp facing south, his direction, to the recitation of Mantras. A dip in the Yamuna river is also highly recommended since Yamuna is the sister of the dark lord. The story (Katha) goes that once Yama asked his attendants what they disliked most about their job. Prompt came the protests that they felt deep remorse at snatching away souls of the young, particularly of one newly wed who had hardly a chance to taste the pleasures that mortal life had to offer. They pleaded with him to be told how such premature deaths could be averted. Lord Yama then proclaimed that those who fasted and lit a lamp in his honour on Dhanteras would not suffer such a plight. however most people just buy the utensil in the belief that this would bless them with riches but the real purport of the fast is to ensure that there are no premature deaths in the family.

CHATURTHI  (Fourth Tithi)

7175971_f496Yet another popular and recurring fast is the Chaturthi. Its lord is Ganesh, the elephant headed deity, remover of all afflictions and obstacles. according to scriptures the Chaturthi is in fact the mother of all Tithis. The Panchangs (calendar and almanac) show the precise time each month for fasting on chaturthis, depending on the rising of the Moon. women fast to ensure long life for their husbands. the principle Chaturthi falls in the month of Bhadrapad( August/September) commemorating the ‘birth’ of Ganesh. On this Chaturthi looking at the Moon is prohibited as it brings bad luck in the shape of false allegations. The legend goes that the Moon once burst out laughing on seeing the elephant headed God and had to suffer grave consequences for his misplaced merriment.

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Another important Chaturthi, popularly known as Karvachauth falls in the month of Kartik ( October/November) this is the years most important observance undertaken by wives to ensure a long life for their husbandsa and their unflagging love. They pledge fidelity and dress in their bridal finery fasting without water or food from dawn till the siting of the Moon. They look at the Moon through a grain strainer and then at their husbands transferring the Moon’s radiance to them. The fast strengthens marital bonds reminding both partners of their obligations towards one another. The fast and the rituals are observed with unwavering resolve across the land. women gather together, sing and perform rituals as they fast.

cow-and-krishnaThe Bahula Chaturthi in the month of August is devoted to revering the cow as the best-loved animal of Lord Krishna and one that gives freely of milk, like nector from the gods. On this day of fasting no milk or milk products are consumed as the cow’s milk must go to its calf alone. This fast is undertaken by both men and women for the protection and wellbeing of their progeny.

 

TRITYA  ( Third Tithi )

The Akshya Tritiya, also called Akha Teej in local parlance falls during the month of Vaishakha (April/May -spring) dedicated to the loving consort of Lord Shiva – Gauri. Akha Teej means the indestructible Teej. All sacrifices made on this day whether in charity, penance, ritual prayers and baths in the Ganges have an enduring quality in conferring results on devotees. this is a day most auspicious for marriages and mass marriages are performed to reduce costs for those of humble means.628x471

Other popular Teejs occur during the month of Shravan ( July/August – onset of Monsoons) when women swing and sing, apply Henna on their hands and visit their parents, receive gifts and pray to Lord Shiva’s consort. the Gangor festiavl is also celebrated on a Teej falling in the month of Chaitra  ( April) when again women worship Gauri the daughter of the mountains and consort of Shiva, to ensure long life for their husbands and marital bliss and progeny.

POORNIMA  ( Full-Moon – Fifteenth Tithi, ascendant phase)

Poornimas are also good for fasting as they help to make one temperate, particularly as the Moon is believed to arouse carnal passions. the most auspicious Poornima occurs in October and is called Sharad Poornima. On this day it is believed that the Moon is in its most empowered state in the year and its rays are like nectar. It is therefore ethe practice to pray to the Moon when it is  high and to leave a rice pudding in a salver throughout the night in moonlight to absorb its rays. It is then eaten the next day by the family assuring health and good fortune.

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The Poornima in the month of Phalgun is celebrated with the burning of Holika fires symbolically destroying the evil aunt who took the boy devotee Prahlad in her lap with hypocritical love in the hope that he would be destroyed but perished in the attempt on account of divine grace. the day after India rocks with the festival of Holi.

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In the month of Chaitra (April) the Poornima marks the ‘birth’ of the mythical monkey faced Lord Hanuman of the Ramayana. He is considered the epitome of faith and devotion, the one who when asked where is your Rama, tore open his chest and showed the questioner his beloved Rama there. Hanuman is one of the most popular of gods. It is said that he was blessed by Rama with perpetual spiritual presence on the mortal plane and therefore devotees feel he is more accessible to them.

In the month of Vaishaka (April/May) the Poornima marks the birth of the Buddha. The Poornima in the month of Jaisht marks the birth of the great saint Kabir and the Poornima in Kartik the birth of the Sikh Guru Nanak. In the month of Ashad the Poornima is dedicated to all sages and mentors, called Guru Purnima. On this day one is expected to respect and serve ones Gurus and conduct oneself with devotion, simplicity, cleanliness,gentility, discipline and restraint It is also an occasion to receive blessings from elders and teachers.

AMAVASYA   ( No-Moon – fifteenth tithi – descending phase )

Amavasya fasts are essentially for helping ancestors in the after life. we are not aware what trials they may be undergoing in the intermediate worlds, depending on their Karmas, before reincarnating. the descriptions in the Garud Purana are intimidating to say the least and a close approximation to Dante’s nether worlds. thus fasting and setting aside token foods and offerings go directly to them and help them through their trials. During the fortnight of the Shrads beginning in the month of Ashwin after Poornima till the following Amavasya ( September ), the focus is entirely on fasting for the release (Moksha) of the Pitr – ones forbears. Other Amavasyas falling during each month are also devoted to helping ancestors.

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The Vat-Savitri amavasya falling in the month of Jyestha has a particular and romantic significance linked to the popular myth of the extraordinary princess Savitri 9radiant with the light of the sun). Savitri fell in love with Satyavan, a prince. Unfortunately his natal chart ominously pointed to an early and premature death.The king tried to dissuade his daughter from marrying Satyavan but she remained adament. satyavan’s parents had also become dispossessed of their kingdom and sought refuge in a forest. To add to their woes they ahd also beocme blind and helpless. she joined them in their humble forest dwelling under a Banyan tree and served them with utmost devotion. One day Satyavan went out to cut wood. Knowing that his days were numbered she accompanied him. He was suddenly afflicted with pain in the head and descending the tree put his head in her lap and died. Then there appeared before Savitri the Lord Yama, god of death riding his buffalo with attendants, come to claim Satyavan’s soul. Satyavan’s soul was led away but Savitri followed the terrible lord of death unafraid. He commanded her to return but she vowed to follow her husband to the ends of time. No one had ever followed the fearsome lord and Yama was impressed with her courage and determination and granted her a boon. She asked for the restoration of the sight of her husband’s parents. Grnating it, Yama proceeded on with Satyavan’s soul in tow. But Savitri still followed. then exasperated, Yama granted her a second boon. She demended the return of their kingdom. Again this was granted. But she still purdued the terrible lord. Impressed with her perseverance he granted her one final boon provided she did not ask that he be brought back to life. Now Savitri asked that she be allowed to bear Satyavan a hundred sons. at this point Yama released the soul of Satyavan without which the boon could not be effective. Satyavan thus came alive in her lap under the Banyan tree.

On this Amavasya, married women pray for the long life of their husbands and for marital happiness. It is the custom to place two baskets under a Banyan tree, one with five types of grain and the figures of Lord Brahma and his consort the goddess Savitri and in the other images of the lovers Savitri and Satyavan. After ritual prayers to the baskets , Lord Yama and the Banyan tree, women circumambulate the Banyan chanting Mantras and listen to the legend of Savitri and Satyavan, thus ensuring marital bliss for themselves. The significance of the Banyan regarded as a divine tree, is that it is said to embody Brahma the creative force of the material world in its roots, Vishnu the sustaining force in its trunk and Shiva the annihilating force at its crown.

 

PANCHMI  (Fifth Tithi)

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Panchmis are dedicated to the divine serpents whose lord is Sheshnag, the hydra headed cosmic serpent over whose coils the great lord Vishnu reclines, perpetually meditating on sustaining creation, while the great serpent’s hood forms a crescent-shaped umbrella over his head. Sheshnag and other serpents are worshipped on this day. Serpents are drawn on either side of ones home  and legends of serpents are heard through ritual prayer. This ensures that the house shall never want in food. the most important Panchmi is Nag-Panchmi falling in the month of Shravan ( waning half0 and is celebrated throughout India with fervour and devotion.

The Panchmi falling in the month of Magh (waxing phase) however is dedicated to the goddess of learning, knowledge and fine arts. Sarasvati. It is also the harbinger of spring and is called Basant (spring) Panchmi. On this day infants are taught their first alphabets and it is auspicious to begin an academic course.

DOOJ  ( second Tithi)

Another popular fast and festival is Bhaidooj (the Dooj for brothers). In the month of Kartik the second Tithi flling in the waxing half of the month is dedicated to strenthening amity between brothers and sisters. The legend goes that on this day Yama, the lord of death ate at the house of his sister Yamuna, symbolized now as the river that flows by the national capital delhi. On this day one finds brothers hastening to their sisters’ homesto feast on a meal specially prepared by them. It is said that he who on this day is fed by his sister, the epitome of kindness, shall be blessed with wealth, honour, long life and spiritual evolution.

OTHER FASTS

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Lord Rama Credit; whoa.in

Fasts are also rigorously observed on particular festivals to commemorate the ‘birth’ of Avatars Ram and Krishna and the unmanifest Universal consciousness, Shiva on Shivratri. We have seen in the previous post that Ram’s ‘birth’ is celebrated on Ramnavmi, the Navmi (Ninth Tithi) that falls in the month of , Chaitra (waxing half) which is the first month of the Hindu New Year, after Navratra, the first nine nights. while there is no historical record of the birth of the Avatar that has captivated the imagination of the entire land, his influence is so great that every other town and village bears the imprint of his name or that of persons in the story of his life, the epic Ramayana. Millions also carry his name in some form or other. There is even a natal chart of the great Avatar which shows the Zodiac signs of his birth and even the placement of planets and Nakshatra ( asterism) in which the Moon was at the time of his birth. Whether one can deduce the historical time when the planets and Zodiac Signs were so configured, is a matter which should be an interesting subject of research. For Hindus, he is more real than any historical event. Indeed if we were successful in a fixing a historical time for his birth, it would only devalue his legendary status. It is perhaps better to leave his persona in the mists of legend and myth.

Likewise Krishna, the other great Avatar that followed him, has also a natal chart, equally precise supporting the patterns of his earthly life. the existence of these natal charts, handed down by tradition from remote antiquity is astonishing. How were precise horoscopes drawn up for legendary Avatars of whose birth no historical records exist? After all horoscopes are based on the Panchang ephemeries and the hair splitting calculations of Tithis, and coordinates of planets at any time can be said to be more significant than historical dates in the Gregorian calendar.

The fast commences on the first day of the month and concludes on the Ninth Tithi, Navmi thus called RamNavmi. It includes chanting of Mantras, reading of the Ramayana, respecting elders, speaking the truth only, showing love for members of the family, avoiding quarrels, abstaining from sex and engaging in prayer. The observance of the fast results in the fulfillment of all worthy wishes, sins are absolved, the soul briefly liberated.

The Navmi of the following month of Vaishakhi is dedicated to Rama’s wife Sita, the epitome of feminine purity, virtue and sacrifice, the archetype of Indian womenhood. Her father the great wise king Janak, failing to have an issue prayed for one. While tilling the earth in a royal ritual to appease the rain god his plough struck a golden casket embedded in the earth which upon being opened revealed a beautiful baby girl. Thus she was named Vasundhara, daughter of mother earth. The observance of the fast is believed to equal acts of charity like gifting of land to the poor. the fast helps in cleansing the vehicle of the soul.

Krishna’s ‘birth’ is celebrated on the Ashtmi (Eighth Tithi) in the waning half of the month of Bhadrapad. worshipers fast during the day and stay up till midnight, the hour of the birth of the celestial Avatar in the prison of his maternal uncle the demon king Kansa who had been told that his sister would bear his nemesis. Accordingly he confined his sister and brother-in-law in the dungeons and on every birth dashed the child to the earth with laughter – but at the birth of the ninth child,  the Avatar, the prison keepers fell asleep, the prison doors flew open and Krishna’s father carried him to safety leaving him in the foster care of friends. The event is celebrated across the land in temples and homes as JanamAshtami or Ashtmi of birth. 

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Krishna and Radha Credit: taringa.net

The following Ashtami of the waning half of the month of Bhadrapad celebrates the birth of Krishna’s beloved but unwed consort, Radha, the epitome of the female romantic. In all temples Krishna is shown with playing the flute with Radha amorously standing beside him. According to most traditions they must be worshiped together. Worshiping Krishna alone is not auspicious. There is a mystical tradition according to which fasting on her birth day and chanting her name is equal to making all the major pilgrimages and results in acquiring great knowledge and prosperity. Fasts in honour of Radha bring happiness, honour, wealth and admirable qualities in the worshipers.

The Ashtami in the waning half of the month of Ashwin provides for a fast called the Jeevatputrika and is observed for the well being and long life of progeny and grandchildren.

The unique significance of stellar events in the life of a Hindu is further highlighted by the fact that the occurrence of festivals on different Tithis have enhanced results when the Moon is in certain Nakshatras ( the 27 Asterisms conjoining with the Zodiac Signs). Thus while the festival of Ramnavmi always falls on the Ninth Tithi of the waxing half of the month of Chaitra, if at that time the Moon is in the Nakshatra Punarvasu ( viewed from earth ) then that Ramnavmi becomes specially auspicious. This is because it would replicate the stellar configuration of the ‘actual’ time of Rama’s birth.This configuration is referred to in the ancient treatise the Agastyasamhita attributed to the great sage Agastya in whose hermitage Rama spent time during his exile. The configuration shows the Moon in Punarvasu, while the Sun is in the Sign Aries and the ‘birth’ takes place with the zodiac Sign Cancer  rising above the horizon, becoming Rama’s ascendant Sign. All planets are so placed that they cast benign aspects on the ascendant Sign to herald the birth of the Almighty Spirit on the mortal plane as an Avatar. This reminds one of the Star rising over Bethlehem  portending the birth of Christ the saviour. Likewise the other Avatar Krishna’s birth Tithi becomes doubly auspicious if on that Ashtami the Moon is in the Nakshatra Rohini.

Care has to be taken not to fast or commence prayers during a festival when it falls on a ‘mixed’ Tithi i.e. the same solar day. Thus prayers and fasts may have to be postponed at the commencement of the Hindu New Year  if the First Tithi, the Pratipada, for instance, happens to be joined to the preceding Amavasya ( No-Moon) on that day, which is the commencement also of the Navratra or nine auspicious nights of empowering prayer top the goddesses. Commencement of prayers and the ritual setting up of the altar on a mixed Tithi under the mistaken impression that the this is the day, can invite grave misfortune. In the religious texts the Goddess makes clear that she does not forgive those who commence such prayers at an inauspicious time. The importance for householders to possess the Panchang calendar therefore cannot be overemphasized. It clearly gives from day-to-day the type of Tithi on that solar day of the Gregorian calendar, the precise time of beginning and completion of aq Tithi on a certain day, down to the minute, the precise time of the entry of the Moon into a certain Nakshatra and time of exit and therefore the correct time of commencement of prayers.. You simply cannot assume that the New Year celebration and prayers of Navratra will commence at past midnight or the dawning of the day. The Panchang will tell you at what moment of the night or day the New Year will commence and it remains most advisable to take a good look at the Panchang for precise timings or then consult a Pundit in advance.

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Demon Ravana in prayer for empowerment Credit: srinistuff.com

Fasts are a form of sacrifice. As one makes sacrificial offerings to ritual fires, to lord Agni ( god of fire) or other deities so too with fasts of abstention, sacrifices are offered. This act of sacrifice leads to empowerment. In Hindu myths and legends a recurring theme is that of demonic forces undertaking fasts to oblige the gods to grant them boons. when a severe penance is undertaken the spiritual forces are left with no option but to grant boons. Demons then ask for boons of invincibility and immortality and thus empowered let loose a regime of terror on the pious. Ravana the adversary of Lord Rama was one such, a great devotee of Lord Shiva who through penance and prayer acquired powers superior even to the demi-gods. Thus the belief exists that fasts will inevitably produce rewards.

The Hindu calendar we see is full of fasts and festive occasions as the Christian calendar is of saints. We cannot possibly mention them all here. The broad categories and important fasts which are universally observed and some lesser known ones of interest have however been covered in this post.

 

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