Dashas – A Primer
The body of jyotish depends squarely on the epic texts known as Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra (BPHS) which are essentially a comprehensive transcript of the dialogues between Muni Parashara and his acolyte Maitryaya. In 100 chapters, Parashara has captured nearly all of what traditional Jyotish is. There have been embellishments and additions and in some cases subtractions and variant opinions that have been provided by other doyens and even a significant portion of Parashara’s teachings have been attributed to what is known as Jaimini System. Jaimini system builds upon and elaborates a portion of the discourse. Without entering the quagmire of who came first and who adopted whose writings and similar never-ending controversies, most jyotishis would serve themselves better by avoiding getting embroiled into such debates and gratefully gain what they can from the writings of all of these great former astrologers; many of them being saints.
Phalita Jyotish or predictive astrology (that which shall fructify, or in other words bear fruit) deals with the important factor of karma which creates our destinies and also allows us to reverse the wrong-doings of earlier times through charity, penance, worship etc. Essentially, through developing right actions and right mental attitude. While the horoscope itself is essentially a snapshot of the heavens as viewed from the birthplace at the epoch of birth and holds important attributions and signatures of the incarnating soul, the planets do not stay frozen for our entire lifetime. Thus we incorporate two types of movements of the planets. One type is the direct movement which is studied as transits or gochara. The other type is a projected or progressed movement. These essentially are what is termed in Jyotish as dashas. These have been interpreted both as Dasha (surrounding conditions and states) as well as Disha (directions; the optimum plan of action).
One or Many
If one were to browse through BPHS one would see a few categories. There are dashas which are calculated based on the nakshatra such as Vimshottari, others are based on the rashis such as Chara dasha, while another popular dasha Kalachakraincorporates both the nakshatra and rashi. Aside from this classification, Parashara has indicated that some of the dashas can be utilized as general purpose and applicable to all, whereas other dashas are utilized when certain conditions are met with in a horoscope. For example, Panchottari dasa is utilized when someone is born in karka lagna and also has karka dwadashamsha rising in lagna.
Udu means the ‘flying’ as in a bird. The term is also utilized for nakshatras. Puristically, all nakshatra dashas are udu dashas, however, generally speaking vimshottari dasha is considered as the udu dasha. Vimshottari has been the primary staple dasa used by jyotishis in general. A minority of jyotishis have utilized other dasas too quite successfully and in recent times, Professor B. V. Raman, Mr. K.N. Rao, and more prolifically Sri Sanjay Rath and his disciples have been very instrumental in producing large bodies of work dealing with different dashas. In the case of many of the dashas, there are variant calculations prescribed and this then compounds with the other two uncertainties: which ayanamsha, which dasha year duration – and the situation becomes very complex. In astrology there is a major role played by what is known as the Law of Diminishing Returns. I have seen beginners and even more advanced jyotishis to use too many factors and techniques which make it very confusing for most. The illustrated cases are very impressive but when the same dasha or principles are applied to a few more randomly selected charts, the solid platform risks becoming a floating barge in the Jyotish Baitarini!
This stands for the ancient multicultural principle of Keep It Simple ‘Santon’! Since these articles are aimed at beginners, it would be more useful to learn a few dashas rather than a whole bag-full that would only cause mental indigestion. I have found two dashas, both belonging to the udu dasa group most useful. When the birth is insuklapaksha (bright half of moon, shukla prathama to poornima) vimshottari dasa must be used whereas if the birth is in krishnapaksha (Krishna prathama to amavasya) then ashtottari must be used. This is not to say that dashas such as chara, sthira, yogini, chakra, kalachakra and the rest of 32 dashas described in BPHS are to be ignored. But these must be taken up after gaining some confidence in vimshottari and astottari. Also, one must not rely on just articles in magazines or on the internet to consider themselves astrology literate. Internet articles in particular can be of the highest quality or questionable, therefore some prudent caution would not be out of place.
In subsequent articles we will go into more details about the methodology and other considerations and try to reduce if not eliminate the mystery around these very useful tools for timing of events.
The basic premise behind dashas is simple and straightforward. Life is segmented into sections or periods which are represented by planets in the horoscope (nakshatra dashas) or the signs (rashi dasas). The orientation point for the nakshatra dashas (udu) is the natal moon. If we visualize that starting at moment of birth, the moon is progressing through the rest of the zodiac (at a speed lot slower than in transit, i.e., 2.5 days per sign) and as it passes through the different nakshatra, the planetary rulership changes. The planetary ruler is then considered to be the primary planet indicator during that period. Some of the dashas such as vimshottari and ashtottari have very long total duration, 120 and 108 years respectively and most individuals do not complete the full cycle. Others dashas such as yogini are shorter and one can have more than one cycle during a typical lifetime.
Vimshottari and Nakshatras
Vimshottari is related to the quantity ’120′ and the entire dasha cycle spans over 120 years. The two luminaries, five planets and the two lunar nodes that are considered by Vedic astrologers in delineations, rule over periods varying from 6 to 20 years each during the 120 years in this order: Ketu (S. node of Moon), Venus, Sun, Moon, Mars, Rahu (N. node of Moon), Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury. These rule for 7, 20, 6, 10, 7, 18, 16, 19 and 17 years respectively. Nowhere in ancient texts does one find the rationale behind the assignment of this order (other than saying that the order follows the order of nakshatras or lunar asterisms, on which the dasha system is based) nor are the individual durations rationalized. These ‘periods’ are different from the ones that are attributed to Ptolemy and Babylonian astrology, and therefore must be of a different origin and the product of a completely different line of thinking and derivation. Some experts have tried to group the different dasha periods by drawing the dividing line after the Moon (which being the satellite of earth is considered the nearest body to earth and the orienting point in the scheme) in the vimshottari dasha sequence, thus giving us two groups, constituted by:
a) Mars, Rahu, Jupiter and Saturn, their periods totaling to (7+18+16+19=) 60 years, and
b) Mercury, Ketu, Venus, Sun and Moon, their periods totaling to (17+7+20+6+10=) 60 years.
The above scheme places the ‘outer’ planets in the first group and the luminaries (sun and moon) and the “inner” planets in the second group, with each group containing one of the two lunar nodes. The vimshottari order is preserved, as well if the two groups are joined together (mars, rahu, Jupiter, Saturn, mercury, ketu, sun and moon being the order of vimshottari dasas!). The rationale behind the assignment of individual period durations in the vimshottari scheme is not known, but this sequence is interesting and intriguing, at the very least.
In vimshottari dasha the sidereal asterismal position of natal Moon determines the point at which one enters into or starts the 120 year cycle. The 360d zodiac is divided into 27 asterisms, each 13d 20m long. The first 13d 20m starting at sidereal Aries 0d, is ruled by Ketu with Venus, Sun, Moon, Mars, Rahu, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Venus following in the same order as that followed in the rulership assignment in the vimshottari dasha.
Each vimshottari dasha period (mahadasha) is subdivided into nine sub-periods, also known as antardasha or bhuktis. The first bhukti in any dasha is ruled by the dasha lord itself and is followed by the bhuktis of other planets. The first bhukti in the dasha of Sun would be ruled by Sun, followed by the bhuktis of Moon, Mars, Rahu, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Ketu and Venus. Each sub-period can be further divided proportionately into antaras, pratyantaras, sukshmas etc. However, given the controversies regarding the most ‘accurate’ values for ayanamshas (precessional corrections for converting tropical longitudes into sidereal longitudes) and inaccuracies in reported birth times, the practical usefulness of finer sub-periods may be questionable.
Is Vimshottari a Progression?
Those who are familiar with western astrology would perhaps know that in that system the primary progression is based on a degree a year progression. Planets are considered as moving one degree ahead each year, thereby completing 120 degrees in 120 years. If you think for a moment, vimshottari is based on the moon moving through a set of nakshatras (120 degrees) in 120 years! However, in the finer Jyotish system of dasha, it is the moon that we consider as progressing at unequal rates through the zodiac. For example if at birth moon was at the beginning of Ketu’s nakshatra, the nativity will experience 7 years of ketu followed by 20 years of Venus dasha (moon is moving through Venus star). So although in longitude (degrees) the star of Ketu occupies the same segment in the zodiac (13d 20m or 800 minutes) as does the star ruled by Venus, the moon moves through the two at very different speeds, thus giving the different durations of the dashas. The following table will help clarify:
Asterism beginning at the following sidereal longitudes of Moon:
Deg min Deg min Deg min Asterism ruled by
000 00 120 00 240 00 Ketu
013 20 133 20 253 20 Venus
026 40 146 40 266 40 Sun
040 00 160 00 280 00 Moon
053 20 173 20 293 20 Mars
066 40 186 40 306 40 Rahu
080 00 200 00 320 00 Jupiter
093 20 213 20 333 20 Saturn
106 40 226 40 346 40 Mercury
Understanding the Alphabet – Nakshatras
Nakshatras are very useful in delving a bit deeper in the charts. Without understanding these, one’s handling of udu dashas would be shaky. There are many different ways in which these have been used, including, the presentation of effects experienced by those born with moon (and ascendant) in the different asterisms. Typically, the 360 degrees of zodiac can be divided into 27 segments which coincide pretty closely to the daily motion of the moon (or more accurately, the daily motion of the moon through a tithi. Each tithi is the time during which moon travels 12 degrees away from the sun, and since the sun is also moving through nearly a degree during the same period, the moon needs to move approximately 13degrees in order to maintain the 12 degree difference from sun.) The nakshatra is a segment that is 13d 20m long. There are 27 nakshatras in the zodiac. For muhurta (electional horoscopy) a sub-segment known as Abhijit is used by some jyotishis. Each nakshatra is associated with a fixed star (or two) and is listed in Dr. Raman’s book for beginners. Each nakshatra has four divisions, each 3d 20m long. These are known as padas and these quarters are identical to the navamshas, and are 108 in number in the zodiac. 108 Is a very special number that appears in Hindu practices in more than one way (for mantra repetitions and other rituals, etc.).
Nakshatras and Dashas
Nakshatras also have a special connection with planets. Each nakshatra is ruled by one planet in the order of vimshottari dashas. The first nakshatra beginning at Aries 0, known as ashwini, is ruled by Ketu. The next one, bharini, is ruled by Venus (whose dasha follows that of ketu), next come krittika ruled by Sun, rohini ruled by Moon,mrigashirsha (Mars), ardra (Rahu), punarvasu (Jupiter), pushya (Saturn) andashlesha (Mercury). The cycle then repeats in two sets, the next set of nine stars ruled by the planets ketu to mercury being: magha, purva phalguni, uttar phalguni, hasta, chitra, swati, vishakha, anuradha and jyeshta, and the third set comprisingmoola, purvashadha, uttarashadha, sravana, dhanishta, shatabhisha, purvabhadrapada, uttarabhadrapada and revati. Each set spans four signs, beginning with a fire, then earth, air and water sign.
Each set of nakshatra, therefore, contains all four elements.
Nakshatra lordship and dispositorship is important and gives rise to a scheme whereby each planet is associated with another planet through a body or soul (essence) relationship. This sharira-jeeva relationship is described in details elsewhere in this manual. The intrinsic elemental nature or guna of a planet in a horoscope must be kept in mind as being associated with not only the sign but also the nakshatra it is in. The nakshatra rising in the east (lagna nakshatra) also adds a significant extent to the personality of an individual in addition to the sign rising and must be paid attention to. Similar considerations must be noted for the lunar asterism and the different nakshatras that the karakas or significators.
Other Building Blocks
Combining nakshatra attributes with those of the signs that they are associated with (attributes such as, elements, malefic/benefic nature, chara-sthira-dwiswabhav state, male-female nature, etc.) can help fine-tune many details and impart a richness and texture to the horoscope readings. According to some jyotishis, one can view the influences of the sign/rashi/constellation on a planet as its exterior, physical or coarse influence, while the influence of the asterism or nakshatra would determine the finer or mental nature of the planet. The navamsha sign in which the planet is placed would describe the intrinsic nature and motivations that act on the planet, in a sense the karmic signature. The three can also be described as the form, living essence and motive of the planet in a cosmic sense.
Next time we shall look at tara sambandhas and other factors influencing the planets that one would be examining while analyzing a vimshottari dasha. Only through an examination of a matrix of influences can one truly decipher the meaning of the astrosymbolizm of dashas and how they connect and work cooperatively with transits within the confines of the horoscope of the nativity.
After dasas have been calculated using tables that are given in all ephemeris or with a program (since most people use computers these days), the next question that faces the astrologer is, how to translate all these periods and planets into a reading? Some basic considerations that may be followed are:
First and Foremost
The mahadasha period determines the primary jurisdiction of effects that one might experience during the dasha.
After Dasha comes Bhukti
The results during the bhukti period would depend on the interaction between dasha and bhukti lords, mutual relationship, placement, attributes and strengths, etc., but a bhukti generally cannot give or take away what falls outside the jurisdiction of the dasha. The dasha effect generally supervenes and forms the boundaries of what is achievable. The only thing to watch out for is the bhukti lord is a yogakaraka and very strong. This sometimes makes it the primary determinant even surpassing the dasha lord.
The strength of the dasha and bhukti lords determine the extent to which the effects of these planets would materialize or be experienced by the nativity (jatak, one that is born).
Yogas Have a Say
Any special yogas or combinations formed by the dasha and bhukti lord in the natal horoscopes may materialize in their dasha and bhuktis or in the periods of the planets that are placed in the stars of the yoga-forming planets. For example, the mutual angular disposition of Jupiter and Moon results in gajakeshari yoga, a benefic combination for fame and success and gives a very steady level-headed mind set that is not swayed easily by sentiments. A person with stronger Jupiter and Moon would be more successful and higher-placed than another one with gajakeshari but with the two planets weak in the horoscope. Similarly, a person with gajakeshari in the 1st and 10th house is likely to experience a higher degree of success than one with the Jupiter and Moon in the 3rd and 6th signs from the ascendant (although the two planets are still in mutual angles). If the dasha and bhukti lords are mutually ill-disposed, such as in the 6th or 8th from the other, then their energies are not likely to be expressed in a harmonious manner. Somewhat similar to when the team members do not work in synch with each other! One factor to keep in mind though is what is known as rashidrishtis. The fixed (sthira) rashis aspect the movable (chara) rashis except the one next to them. So Scorpio will aspect Capricorn, Aries and cancer but would not aspect Libra. Similarly, Libra will aspect Aquarius, Taurus and Leo but not Scorpio. The mutable (dwiswabhav) rashis, Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces aspect each other. They are all in kendras from one another and in general references made in yogas and other astrological combinations which refer to Kendra sambandha producing such and such effect is more pronounced when the planets are indwiswabhav rashi! Gajkeshari yoga that is formed by Jupiter and moon being indwiswabhava rashis is especially strongly expressed if the planets are benefic and strong otherwise.
Nature of Indicators
During a dasha (and to a lesser extent in a bhukti), influences of the planet/s are expressed according to the nature of the sign in which the planet is placed in the natal chart. Planets in cardinal (chara) signs generate restlessness, activity, outwardly directed expression, dynamism, the opposite effects are seen during periods of planets in fixed (sthira) signs. Mutable (dwiswabhav) signs generate ambiguity, bipolar responses and nervousness. The quadruplicity of the sign (all sidereal) must likewise be taken into account, particularly the way in which it interacts with the inherent nature of the planet. A fiery Mars in a fiery cardinal sign can express itself strongly and is very much in its own element. If it is not in a malefic house (6th, 8th or 12th from ascendant) or aspected by malefic planets, its periods signify a large amount of activity and personal growth and reshaping. Likewise, Moon in a watery sign would be able to express its effects more in the way it is supposed to. Moon in a fixed fiery sign would be very uncomfortable. This, incidentally, is perhaps the theme on which house ownerships, exaltation and debilitation are based.
KP and Asterismal Consideration
An important consideration to be kept in mind (the concept originating from Krishnamurthi Paddhati) is that the planet ruling over a period indicates the source of effect during its dasha or bhukti. If it is strong by rulership, position and association the effects during its period will be strongly felt and vice versa. The nature of the effect will be determined by the planet in whose star the dasha or bhukti lord is situated. The asterismal sub (which is the angular representation of the duration of bhukti in a dasha, considering the dasha duration to represent an arc of 13d 20m) indicates success or failure depending on its relationship (inherent and house-wise) with the asterism lord (indicating the effect during a dasha). The following example might make this more clear. In a horoscope, if Mercury is in Scorpio ascendant in the asterism of Mercury and sub of Venus. During the dasha of Mercury, the source of effects would be Mercury, the nature of effects experienced will be determined by the asterism lord, Mercury in this case and the houses ruled by it (8th and 11th) and occupied by it (1). Venus, the sub-lord is in the 2nd house and is in the 7th from the 8th house, 4th from 11th and 2nd from 1st house and Mercury. So, during the dasha of Mercury, the 8th and 11th house effects would flourish, while the 1st house will be moderately helped. This translates into numerous obstacles, gains from insurance or inheritances (8th), good earnings for one’s capabilities and a period of moderately good health and some personal growth (1). Mercury is an active planet but it is located in a fixed watery sign (Scorpio). It is strong in shadbal (strength determination), so the effects will be prominently felt. But since it is not in a very congenial sign, the native would have enormous restlessness without an opportunity for expressing it and things would move very slowly or not at all. There would be opportunities for spiritual and metaphysical experiences and growth. The intellectual as opposed to emotional faculties will be utilized more in these matters.
Planets are Known by the Company they Keep
Associations and aspects from other planets to the planets ruling the dasha and bhukti modify and modulate the effects of the period lords. As a general rule, friendly and benefic planets (natural benefics such as Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and waxing Moon, or benefic by disposition, such as planets ruling over angular and trinal houses from the ascendant) help move matters, malefics (natural such as Saturn, Mars or rulers of the 6th, 8th and 12th signs from the ascendant) exert the opposite effects. Sun and waning Moon and rulers of 2nd, 3rd and 11th signs from the ascendant have mixed effects, partly benefic and partly malefic. Some authorities consider the Sun as a cruel but benefic planet. Rahu and Ketu are shadow planets and assume the qualities of planets in whose sign they are placed in a horoscope. However, they generally tend to be malefic in nature. The nodes are in a class by themselves and different authorities have dealt with those in different ways. Some have assigned particular signs as owned by the nodes and signs in which they are exalted or debilitated, as is the case for other planets. Others have refrained to do so. My experience is that the nodes take on the attribute of their sign dispositor. Any planet which is in conjunction with the nodes loses its propensity to bring about effects and often expresses through the nodes in their dashas, bhuktis or transits. Nodes have a very significant influence on one’s life and nodal periods sensitize and expose one to influences beyond one’s immediate control. Perhaps these influences originate from actions in other time periods. They have been thought to signify karmic influences, Rahu signifying karma-generating actions (future karma) while Ketu signifies deeds already done and is more concerned with tying up of karmic loose ends.
One Swallow Does Not Make Summer
Dasha effects must not be studied in isolation. The reference to the natal chart is absolutely essential but they must be studied simultaneously with transits. The stars of the dasha and bhukti lords and of their asterismal dispositors represent sensitive zones during the dasha and bhukti. When these stars are transited by the Moon and/or Sun or other significant planets, the effect tends to fructify. The transit of the dasha and bhukti lords through different houses and stars should also be considered. There is some see-sawing that one can find in contemporary views, with some astrologers saying that the dasha supersedes transit influences, while there are a few who uphold the opposite view. The final vote is not in, obviously, but it would pay to closely study the transit of planets associated with the current dashas, vimshottari and chara. The latter dasha being not within the scope of this course may not be illustrated here or in future material pertaining to this course; however, the seed has been planted in your mind. Mastering vimshottari dasha, however, is definitely the first task one should perform. A very good compendium of rules and suggestions exists in a small booklet which includes both the Laghu and Madhya Parashari (companion booklets of Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra), translated by S.S. Sareen and published by Sagar Publications. The considerations take one a step beyond what is written in other classical texts.
Although most Jyotish texts, ancient and contemporary, focus a lot on laying out the attributes of signs, planets, nakshatras, houses and the effects of combinations of these pointers, the beginner in Jyotish is often left wondering about the sequence in which these must be tackled or what weightage must be given to each of those individually. To complicate matters further, recommendations sometimes vary from one author to another.
The Five Principles
Sage Satyacharya discussed the five principles (pancha siddhanta) of horoscopy inSatyajatakam. These being:
Graha Sheela: Intrinsic attributes and behaviors of the planets;
Karakattwa: Intrinsic significances of the planets, karakatwa;
Nakshtra or Asterismal Position: Also known as tara sambandha whereby planets are considered from their asterismal placement from the natal lunar asterism (the star in which moon is placed at birth) or the 10th or 19th therefrom.
Ruler Star # Name Effect
Sampat’ + moderately positive
+ moderately positive
- negative results
+ moderately positive
- negative results
+ moderately positive
- negative results
+ moderately positive
+ moderately positive
++ moderately positive
Let us consider that the Moon is in Aries 2d and thus in the star of Ketu in a chart The sequence of star-relationships in this specific example would be:
The relative positions from sign (rashi) and in stars would be an important factor to consider. For instance, a planet that is the bhukti-lord and in the 3rd star from the dasha-lord might find it difficult to facilitate positive results fully. The effects are modulated by the intrinsic or chart specific qualities of the planet such as strength, beneficence and participation in a particular yoga or arishta (-) as well as mutual location of major and sub-lords in the chart, etc.
Planetary Strength: This is based on the placement of the planets in a chart in signs and divisions, as well as the planetary states or awasthas.
Rulerships of Specific Houses in a Chart: This is very important in Jyotish and along with the dispositorship of signs (and stars) forms the crux of our system.
Essentially, one must realize that the following building blocks are used in a Jyotish analysis.
Rising sign - which orients and aligns the zodiacal circle of signs (impersonal) with the circle of houses in a given chart (personal), bringing the two together. There is a considerable lack of unanimity in what is understood and utilized by jyotishis as a house or bhav. In the experience of many a house or bhav would be represented by the entire sign placed in a house with reference to the first house or rising sign, regardless of where in the sign the rising degree (ascendant) might be placed. For instance, if the 28th degree of Cancer is rising, then the entire sign of Cancer would be in the first house or tanu bhav, the entire sign of Leo would be in the 2nd house or dhan bhav, and so on. This is known as the “whole sign as a house” system. Other house division systems in astrology include: equal house, Placidus, Regiomontanus, Zenith, Campanus, etc. Most are used in western or tropical astrology but Placidus is also used in Krishnamurthi Paddhati and some jyotishis utilize the equal house division (Sripati Paddhati).
House groups: The houses are next viewed in sets or groups,
i. Trines or Trikonas: The trines 1st, 5th and 9th are the most important benefic houses. Some consider the 1st as a weak trine or a weak benefic (the 1st is considered to be an angular house, as well). Since the first house represents the self and the ultimate decision maker in most things that we do, as well as the primary perceiver of reality as one experiences it first hand, this can be seen as the most important house in all considerations such as yogas and associations with other planets. I, therefore, vote for giving it a lot of importance in all delineations, for good and bad effects. The trines essentially form the tripod on which our life-experience rests upon. The 9th house indicates our past, going beyond this lifetime, our ancestral roots, our karma that is ripe and ready and which brought us to the present station in the journey of soul. Little wonder, therefore, that this is the house we look at for matters such as our luck, fortune and destiny, things over which we have little control, in this lifetime. The 5th, on the other hand, represents the future, the next generation (children), it also signifies ‘that’ which we have the capability of creating. This has implications greater than simply our innate creativity, but also includes the karma and actions that we create, now — deeds over which we have relatively ‘greater if not full’ control. So, in a sense, our 9th house indicates that which might be predestined, whereas, the 5th represents to some extent that which is within our free-will to create and accomplish. The 5th house is 3rd from the 3rd (house of initiative, actions, purushartha) and this again underscores the association of ‘free-will’ and the 5th house in a spiritual manner as opposed to the physical, worldly things. It must be realized that karma exists in a timeless realm, whereas, we experience it within the temporal constraints of our existence which gives us the perception of time as a linear entity. The 5th, though forward-looking and prospective in nature, is not entirely free from what is known as ‘purva-punya‘, effects generated by earlier deeds, which then appear as our current spiritual state and the Grace that we may receive through mantras, remedies, upaayes(which literally means procedural solutions). So, paradoxically, there is a timelessness link between the 5th and 9th houses in some ways.The first house represents the present — our current station. Since our current horoscope is linked strongly to the moment of our birth and is indeed a route map of this lifetime, it makes a lot of sense to study the 1st house carefully to see which houses, and signs it is connected with, in order to acquire an understanding of the direction that we originally intended to follow. It pays to remind ourselves from time to time that we as souls are the creators of our horoscopes and the designers of our destiny and so some of us may indeed choose to alter our course in life, at times. Leaving the spiritually advanced aside, most of us come to this lifetime to learn how to make spiritually correct decisions. The concept of being crushed and trapped forever in the concrete prison of fatalistic karma hastily interpreted from the ‘old’ age and the careless, carefree abandon of the new age are both extremes and both positions are perhaps illusory.
ii. Angles or Kendras: While the three trines represent our experiences in time (past, present and future), the angles, 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th are connected with and represent our surroundings and the people close to us, thus, from the 1st we see the nature of the self, the person closest to us, and our inner space. From the 4th we study our mother and all the places which generally represent as our secure resting places, our mother’s womb, the ancestral home, the native surroundings we were raised in, the sanctuary we return to each day, as well as our final resting place in this worldly journey.The 7th deals with all that which is truly a part of self but that we tend to project outside. It is that part of ourself that we continue to seek outside of us. The significant other, the externalized half, the other gender, our interactions with others outside of our circle are all covered by this angular house.Finally, there is the 10th which describes our work and occupational surroundings, and goes even beyond our daily mundane and worldly work, and describes the purpose, the major tasks that we bring to this lifetime, with us, the quality of supportive influences and people that help us attain this. According to Laghu Parashari Bhashya an accompanying text to Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, in the order of increasing strength the houses are: 1, 4, 7 and 10th the strongest.
iii) Trikas or Challenges: Our challenges, impediments and our losses are indicated by the 6th, 8th and 12th houses. These govern among many other things, VI: sicknesses and enemies, VIII: hidden parts of our self, our defects, our chronic obstacles — as well as our hidden strengths, and, XII: our losses, separations (detachments) and confining situations. In some senses, all of these houses have the ability to confine us, to subject us to regimentation and under controls that we are not naturally inclined towards accepting, and those things that help focus our awareness on specific issues and problems, in a worldly and also perhaps in a spiritual way. These houses bring us face to face with our vulnerabilities, showing us the fragile, human parts of our ‘selves’.One important basic principle of Jyotish involves treating any house that is being examined as the first or orienting house. The houses that are in trinal or angular relationship with the said house, represent the helpful influences to the matters ruled by the house that is being examined. Those houses that lie in the 6th, 8th or 12th from the house under study would adversely interfere with the fructification of this house. The 6th and 8th are particularly malefic in this type of consideration. This mode of studying a house is also applied when examining dasha effects. If the bhukti lord is well-placed from the dasha lord, the two can work harmoniously, and if these happen to be benefics and mutual friends in the horoscope under scrutiny, can lead to very desirable and positive results. Experience indicates that the major period lord is the more important one and if the sub-period lord makes connections with the major period lord (sign exchange or mutual reception, occupancy of the same sign, aspects, etc.) then the sub-period would show up the effects of major period lord. If such an association is not there, then the sub-period lord would show its independent effects, within the general boundaries of what is promised or indicated by the major period lord.
iv) Connecting Houses: The remaining three houses, 2nd, 3rd and 11th, deal primarily with our acquisitions and how we go about acquiring those. Through these houses, we connect and communicate with others, often in a materialistic and material sense. It must be mentioned that the 6th house also qualifies to be considered as a part of this triad, since it is also a upachaya or house dealing with earnings, growth and usually indicates acquisitions obtained while in service of others. Sage Satyacharya does not consider it as an ‘evil’ place for a house-lord to be placed in (see below). However, readers are advised to test this position which must not be taken too literally.
So, when viewing a chart we must first look at these four sets of houses, namely, 1-5-9, 4-7-10, 6-8-12 and 2-3-11. There are a few different ways of looking at these:
Strength: The simplest way is to look at the strengths of the houses and of their lords using the full-scale v/graha shadbal system. From a practical point of view, it is best not to have the 6-8-12 set excessively strong, as a general rule. It is best to have the trines, 1-5-9, strongest and balanced (equally strong!) in the chart. In Jyotish, planets can be in strong or weak, friendly or inimical signs — this is based on their nature and temporal placements and is taken into consideration as part of the classical strength determination.
Relative Placement of Ruler: The next thing to look at is the placement of the ruler from its own houses. A ruler placed in a trine or angle from its house would be able to help matters governed by the house. If placed in 6th or 8th from its house or in the 6th, 8th or 12th from the ascendant (1st house in radix), then the house under study is likely to suffer to some extent. Please note that a planet placed in the 12th sign from its own house is not necessarily a weakening influence, though it is so, when placed in the vyaya bhav or house of loss from the ascendant. In the same vein, unless otherwise weak or afflicted, the mere presence of the lord of the ascendant in the 12th house is not necessarily detrimental for the indications of the 1st house. This could be treated as an exception that applies to the first house. If lords of other houses are placed in the 12th from ascendant (the horoscope’s 12th house), the indications of those houses may suffer. Perhaps this is why when the lord ofdusthanas (trikas, bad places!), 6th, 8th and 12th are placed in the 12th house, these houses do not prosper and thus result in a net positive effect for the nativity in a worldly sense. This forms part of what is known as a ‘vipareet rajyoga‘ or paradoxical-regal combination!
Tri-fold Connectivity: The connectivity between the house, the house ruler and the dispositor must be reviewed. The dispositor is the planet that rules the sign in which a house ruler is placed. If Aries is rising and Mars is in Capricorn, then Saturn as the lord of Capricorn is the dispositor for the 1st house (and for the 8th, Scorpio in that chart, as well).
Executor or Karaka: Finally, we should routinely look at the executor or the significator for the house under review. These planets may be considered as the secondary rulers for a house. Although, only a few significators are listed in standard books, many more house-significations may be attributed to each planet. One can generate a list by associating the intrinsic attributes of the planets with areas and activities in life. Sun, for instance, is the significator for father, wood, light, energy, government, administration, bones, teeth, eye, eyesight, structure, and much much more (For more detailed discussion of these and other material suitable for the beginner please study my on-line article For Beginners in Jyotish
One can examine these planetary significators in two ways, firstly, by studying their strength and disposition as viewed from the perspective of the house they signify as well as the placement of the significators from the ascendant. The second way is to treat the house that holds the significator as the ascendant and viewing the relationship/placement of other planets therefrom, considering their natural benefic and malefic natures and properties.
Other Considerations: Other considerations and ways of examining the planetary associations and relationships also exist. These include their placement in nakshatras, i.e., the stellar division of the zodiac, and the considerations of the ‘body’ (sharira) and “spirit” (jeeva) dispositors. Divisional charts, particularly the nonile or novile harmonic — navamsha, is examined in several ways to judge the connectivity between planets and signs. There are many other esoteric and practical techniques that can be utilized to define and examine the ways in which planetary indicators associate with each other and connectively manifest their energies. These are fairly advanced considerations and techniques that lie ahead in your path as a jyotishi.
Scoring System: According to Satyacharya, a bhav or house would be strengthened by the following:
When the lord of the bhav is placed between (flanked by) benefic planets. This is also called ‘shubha kartari‘ yoga.
2. When the lord of the bhav receives aspect from benefic planets.
When the lord of the bhav is strong by virtue of being in exaltation,moolatrikona, its own, or friendly sign.
When the lord is placed in an Upachhaya sthana from lagna. These are the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 10th or 11th houses from lagna.
When the lord of bhav is in an angle (kendra) from the lagna or lagna-lord.
When the lord of bhav is in a trine (1, 5, 9) from lagna or lord of lagna.
For each of the above, a planet can receive a score of 1 or 0. In item 5 and 6, scores of 0.5 to be assigned for each of the considerations, 0.5 from lagna and 0.5 from lord of lagna.
On the other hand, a house is weakened in the following situations:
Lord of bhav is flanked by malefics in the 12th and 2nd house from it (papakartari yoga).
Lord of bhav receives aspect of malefics
The lord of bhav is weak in strength by being in debility, or in inimical signs
The lord of the house is combust.
The dispositor of the lord of a bhav (the lord of the sign that holds the lord of bhav under scrutiny) is weak, debilitated, or in inimical sign.
The lord of the bhav under study is in the 8th or 12th house from the lagna or from the lord of lagna.
For each of the above there can be a score of -1 or 0. In item f, a score of -0.5 for each of the considerations: lagna and lagna lord.
Looking at the tenth house, we see that:
The lord mercury is not flanked on both sides (0)
The lord does not receive aspects from benefics (0)
The lord is in the sign of a neutral (0)
The lord is not placed in an upachaya (0)
The lord is not placed in an angle from the lagna (0)
The lord is not placed in a trine from the lagna or its lord (0)
Total benefic points = 0
On the malefic side of the equation,
The lord of 10th bhav is not flanked (0)
The lord does not receive aspects (0)
The lord of the 10th bhav is neither weak nor strong (0)
The lord of the house is not combust (0)
The dispositor of the 10th lord mercury (Moon) is not strong (-1)
The lord of the bhav is in the 8th from lagna (-0.5)
but not from the lord of lagna (0)
Total points = -1.5
The points a planet can obtain can range from -6 to +6. We can add 6 to the scores obtained to convert the range into positive numbers and this would result in a percentile range from 0 to 12. In our example the sum total that the Sun in this chart gets is:
0 + (-1.5) +6 = 4.5. This corresponds to a percentage of 37.5% indicative of difficulties in reaching full potentials insofar as the 10th house is concerned.
While numerical measures such as these help one, it must be noted that they must not be taken as the final value. For instance, in this scheme, we have not taken into full consideration things such as composite shadbal, vimshopaka and nakshatra effects, etc. The numbers derived here serve as starting points and must be modulated with proper judgment.
The Proof of the Pudding
Without digressing too much from the subject matter at hand, this may be a good time to look into why we are putting so much effort into learning the dashas and their wonderful reminder to us that the Universe is indeed connected! That, I think, is the most beautiful reassurance that astrology was meant to give to us! It is unimaginable otherwise why the distant planets going about their business of circling around the sun have such profound impact on, concordance with, and relevance to the billions (at least on our planet) of human lives through the language of astrology.
This chart is of Benazir Bhutto and while there shall always remain the niggling doubt as to which one is the correct chart and so on in this chart that I provide an intriguing consonance between her ill-fated career and assassination, and the signature of the Jyotish indicators is highlighted and can be used as a somber and somewhat macabre illustration of the principles that underlie the human experience.
In her case, rahu is a strong maraka since it is placed in the 2nd house with gulika. Sun and mars too are indicative of the same being placed in the 7th, the other maraka house which also happens to be the badhaka house in her chart. On the ill-fated day of 27th December 2007 when she faced her destiny – the vimshottari dasha of Saturn-Jupiter-sun was in effect. Saturn is in the star of mars and aspecting it fully. Jupiter is the lord of first house but in the house of enemies and in the star of moon the lord of the 8th house and longevity. Without the falsely misplaced optimism and sense of purpose would she have dared to go so unprotected amidst the very crowd that had earlier made an attempt to kill her. The anthara lord is sun who too is placed in the 7th and thus the maraka house and in the star of rahu who is placed in the 2nd (maraka house) with gulika an extremely evil upagraha. At the time of assassination, look at the transits! Jupiter and sun are in the 7th house with the natal lord of lagna in the chart of the moment! And Saturn is right across from the strong maraka rahu as per the natal chart. The death came by as she was travelling (3rd house) during a moment of extreme confusion (ketu placed with Saturn). In this case the two dasha markers, Jupiter and sun were also placed in the 7th which is a badhakasthana. To top it all, the weekday was Thursday ruled by Jupiter and the hora at the moment belonged to: Mercury which rules over maraka sthana, and is the ruler of the rising moment at the ill-fated event and in natal chart is placed in the 8th in the rahu ketu axis. Rahu as touched upon earlier is a strong maraka and with gulika placed in the 2nd house which signifies death. Most intriguing!
When it comes to dashas, Jyotish is resplendent with dashas that offer directions to the nativity as to the sign of times and to act appropriately – not just for personal and materialistic benefits which is certainly possible, but for lasting spiritual growth. That too is possible! Dashas are available to the jyotishi that utilize the asterismal perspective and others that utilize the rashis. Vimshottari the commonest is asterism-based, as is ashtottari and yogini which are very different from how they utilize the nakshatras. There are also rashi dashas such as chara and there are dashas like kala chakra which are based both on asterisms and rashis – a bridging of the two factors that have found many followers recently.
Truth be told, no dasha is perfect! Why else would the sages describe so many? Some jyotishis recommend using more than one, or several dashas in tandem and while it has been accomplished successfully by a few, the plethora generally has proven to be confusing for many beginners (for whom this series is meant).
Conditional dashas as described in Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra are really meant to be utilized by researchers since the few slokas in which each of the dashas have been described do not do justice to any of those individually.
has therefore remained the mainstay for many jyotishis, certainly at the beginning until they are ready to incorporate more. I have found it useful to work with Vimshottari and Ashtottari dashas for individuals based on a simple hint given by G.C. Sharma in his translation of Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. Vimshottari was recommended for those born during the Shukla paksha while Ashtottari was recommended for those born during the Krishna paksha. Some have further teased it into night births and day births.
In my recently published article on actor Leo Dicaprio (EST: November 2008 issue) I have demonstrated how Ashtottari dasha can be utilized. The basic premise seems to be that one born in krishnapaksha has a slightly shorter lifespan hence utilizing a dasha of 108 years. This cannot be taken too literally because lots of people born in shuklapaksha die young while those in krishnapaksha live longer. And overall, there are not too many that live to be even 108 years, let alone 120! It is even more interesting to note that while ketu gets a period allocated to it, Ashtottari only allocates periods to rahu and ketu is missing. The utilization of nakshatras is different from Vimshottari also and nakshatras are utilized in groups or clusters of 3 or 4 stars alternately, as opposed to the sequential cycles as in Vimshottari, also the janma nakshatra of Sri Ram, Abhijit is utilized in the ashtottari scheme.
Vimshottari Rulership (YY) Nakshatra Ashtottari Rulership
Mercury 17 Ashwini
Revati Rahu 03 – 00
Rahu 03 – 00
Venus 07 – 00
Venus 07 – 00
Venus 07 – 00
Sun 01 – 06
Sun 01 – 06
Sun 01 – 06
Sun 01 – 06
Moon 05 – 00
Moon 05 – 00
Moon 05 – 00
Mars 02 – 00
Mars 02 – 00
Mars 02 – 00
Mars 02 – 00
Mercury 05 – 08
Mercury 05 – 08
Mercury 05 – 08
Saturn 02 – 06
Saturn 02 – 06
Saturn 02 – 06
Saturn 02 – 06
Jupiter 06 – 04
Jupiter 06 – 04
Jupiter 06 – 04
Rahu 03 – 00
Rahu 03 – 00
When to Use Which?
Other than the lunar paksha as the determinant for choosing Vimshottari over ashtottari, Parashara has also indicated that if Rahu occupies an angle or trine from the lagnesha, then ashtottari may be utilized. An exception would be if rahu is in the ascendant. In addition to this BPHS also indicates that for night-births in shuklapaksha (bright phase of moon) and day-births in Krishnapaksha (dark phase of moon), ashtottari can be used. These ‘conditionalities’ are given in BPHS as suggestions as opposed to firm directives. The text indicates that it is what others have utilized and Parashara was merely including these for completeness sake. Some jyotishis have taken this to mean that Parashara was not recommending that Ashtottari be used over vimshottari which has been clearly recommended (as also a few other of the many dasas described in BPHS, thereby leaving room for experimentation. The third directive (Vimshottari for suklapaksha day births and krishnapaksha night births while Ashtottari for the converse situations) has more merit as experimentation indicates. Sometimes when both ashtottari and vimshottari point in the same direction, effect-wise it represents a stronger likelihood.
This young man sustained injuries and became paraplegic losing the functionality in all limbs. Scorpio rises with lagnesh mars with rahu and neechastha venus in the 11th house. Venus does get cancellation of debility due to mercury being in kendra from moon and lagna. Since the birth was in Krishnapaksha, this would be a candidate for using Ashtottari (rahu in kendra from lagnesh, Krishnapaksha birth during the daytime). The seriousness of the accident and consequences sustained on Wednesday the 22nd August 2007 are very unfortunate and grave.
Venus, moon and mars hold sway over the day. Venus represents 7th and 12th house and is placed in the 8th from its nakshatra dispositor moon. Lagnesh mars is also in same nakshatra and the 6/8 relationship is not a good omen. Moon is involved in the dasa scheme. From the ashtottari nakshatra scheme (see Table), both are in hasta nakshatra which is associated with mars and thus represents accidents, injuries etc. Notice too that venus, mars and rahu the latter signifying sudden events, accidents are placed in the pada of 9th house. The ninth is badhaksthana in Scorpio and therefore the pada of that house will have a negative connotation as well. Jupiter the great benefactor is actually placed in the 9th house (badhaksthana) and forming a 6/8 relationship with its dispositor moon (also represents a rashi sambandha with planets in chara and sthira signs associating with each other) and was not helpful, other than perhaps not killing the individual by virtue of being a maraka and ketu’s dispositor. On the day of transit, a wednesday ruled by gnatikaraka mercury, retrograde venus was transiting the badhaksthana, Saturn was within few degrees of its natal position, with sun and mercury (few days after his birthday) across from natal moon and rahu right over the natal moon.
Major lord Jupiter in badhaksthana, 6th from its dispositor in shani’s nakshatra, rahu and mercury too involved. Atmakaraka Rahu and gnatikaraka mercury are negative indicators and the sudden injuries and dire consequences show up in this dasa scheme too, an indication of how destiny shows up strongly in charts when something inevitable has to occur.
As described both indicators of the dasas were transiting key positions. Jupiter and moon in lagna, the later in debility aspected by mars from the maraksthana, rahu transiting the moon and Saturn its natal position, while venus transits the badhaksthana, too many coincidences to be called such.
Recovery is likely to be very slow with signs of improvement during the period of mars after September 2009 (Vimshottari) and more sustained improvement after February 2010 when mars rules the bhukti in Ashtottari. The current transit of Jupiter in atichara gati (acceleration), neech rashi is not a good period and hope will dwindle.
Cautionary Note for Readers
Since many beginners would be reading and learning from this series, I must reiterate to them the fact that while sages have indicated different dasas, one must learn the dasa applications one by one and it is safest to first use Vimshottari ONLY which BPHS has recommended for all charts and when familiarity has been gained, then to move on to include or consider dasas such as Ashtottari, Jaimini system dasas, yogini etc. Otherwise there could arise confusion. This portion of this series was just to introduce readers to the possibilities beyond Vimshottari and illustrate how different dasas can co-operate and indicate similar trends.