Learning Vedic Astrology for Western Astrologers
by Hank Friedman
A. The Fundamental Elements of Vedic Astrology.
1. Planets - Grahas
In Vedic astrology, we use 9 "planets":
The Sun and Moon
The true planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
The shadow planets: Rahu (the Moon's north node) and Ketu (the Moon's south node)
The planets are classified as natural benefics and malefics:
Natural Benefics (in order of descending strength) are:
Jupiter, Venus, Mercury (if not aspected by malefics), and a bright Moon (more than 72o
away from the Sun)
Natural Malefics (in order of descending strength) are:
Saturn, Rahu/Ketu, Mars, Sun, Mercury (if only aspected by malefics), & the dark Moon
(if w/in 72o from Sun)
2. Houses- Bhavas
The twelve houses are quite similar to their use in Western astrology, but Whole Sign
houses are used for most purposes, i.e. the rising sign defines the sign of the first house, and all
other houses follow, one sign per house.
They are divided into several new categories:
a. The Kendras - houses 1, 4, 7, & 10 (house of action – the angles)
b. The Trikonas - houses 1, 5, 9 (houses of opportunity – the trinal houses)
c. The Dusthanas - houses (3), 6, 8, & 12 (houses of challenge)
d. The Upachaya - houses 3, 6, 10, & 11 (houses of improvement)
e. The Trikhastanas - houses 6, 8, & 12 (houses of greatest difficulties)
f. Dharma - 1, 5, & 9 (life purpose – fire houses)
g. Artha - 2, 6, & 10 (work – earth houses)
h. Kama - 3, 7, & 11 (pleasure – air houses)
i. Moksha - 4, 8, & 12 (enlightenment – water houses)
3. Signs - Rasis
PLANETS EXALTATION DEBILITATION MOOLATRIKONA RULES
The Sun Aries Libra Leo Leo
The Moon Taurus Scorpio Taurus Cancer
Mars Capricorn Cancer Aries Aries, Scorpio
Mercury Virgo Pisces Virgo Gemini, Virgo
Jupiter Cancer Capricorn Sagittarius Pisces, Sagittarius
Venus Pisces Virgo Libra Taurus, Libra
Saturn Libra Aries Aquarius Capricorn, Aquarius
Rahu Taurus Scorpio Aquarius
Ketu Scorpio Taurus Aries
The signs in Vedic astrology are used similarly to Western except that their primary
purpose is to ascertain the strength and ruler of the planet(s) or houses in that sign.
Additionally, there is an intricate system of planetary friendships in Vedic astrology:
Moon, Mars Jupiter
Mars, Jupiter, Venus,
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn
Sun, Moon, Jupiter
Moon, Mars, Sun
Sun, Moon, Mars
Note that Moon has no enemies and Jupiter is the enemy of no planet.
4. Aspects - Drishti
The Vedic rules for Whole Sign aspects are unique:
a. All planets aspect both other planets and houses, even if the houses they aspect
b. All planets associate with any planets in the same sign.
c. All planets aspect the opposite house (sign) and any planets in them.
d. Jupiter aspects planets and houses 5 and 9 away, i.e. the house and planets it is
trine to by sign.
e. Mars aspects planets and houses: 4 ahead (the forward square) and 8 ahead (the
f. Saturn aspects planets and houses: 4 back (the backwards square) and 3 ahead
(the forwards sextile)
By definition, yogas are combinations of two or more factors that signify a specific
positive or negative effect. For example, a planet in its own sign or exalted, and at the same time
in a kendra (angular house) creates a maha purusha yoga.
6. Divisional Charts - Vargas
There are many subcharts in Vedic astrology similar to harmonic charts in Western
astrology. They are used to analyze different areas of life – e.g. marriage, children, career, etc. –
and are used in conjunction with the birthchart. Click here to see more about Vargas.
Based upon a lunar calendar, where the Moon changes its mansion or Nakshatra once a
day, Vedic astrology uses a system of 27 nakshatras for both general and specific purposes. See
The unique system of prediction in Vedic astrology is the vimshottari dasa method. In
this method, 120 years of life are divided into 9 separate planetary periods, beginning with the
planet that rules the Moon's nakshatra at birth. During any dasa, you are primarily under the
influence of the planet whose dasa is running. For greater specificity, these planetary periods are
sub-divided into 9 sub-periods (one for each planet).
The order of the dasas and their durations are:
Ketu 7 (years)
B. Evaluating Planets in a Vedic Chart.
Planets are evaluated for strength, positive or negative influence, and detailed meaning in
1. Factors of Strength (in descending order of importance):
Planets are strongest the signs they rule or are exalted in. They are
somewhat stronger than normal when in the sign of a friend.
The true planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) are strong
The Moon is strong when Full or within one sign either side of Full
c. Directional strength (Dig bala):
Mercury and Jupiter are strong in the first house
Venus and Moon are strong in the fourth house
Sun and Mars (and Ketu) are strong in the tenth house
Saturn (and Rahu) are strong in the seventh house
2. Factors of Weakness (in descending order of importance).
Planets are weakest if in their sign of debilitation. (However, there are certain
planetary combinations that strengthen debilitated planets.) (Planets are somewhat weaker in the
sign of an enemy.)
b. Darkness/ Invisibility.
Planets are totally combust – and therefore very weakened – if within 3o of the
Sun. They are seriously combust if within 6o of the Sun. A combust planet tends to create
problems for the houses it rules.
If the Moon is New, it is very weak. If the Sun or Moon are eclipsed, i.e. born
during an eclipse, they are weakened greatly.
c. Planetary war.
If two true planets are within 1o of each other, they are at war and both are
weakened, but the loser of the war is weakened tremendously. (The loser is the planet that is
darker and/or has lower planetary latitude.)
3. Factors of Ease and Challenge.
a. House placement and rulership. Planets ruling houses 1, 5, or 9 (and to a lesser
degree those in houses 1, 5, or 9) carry the positive significations of these houses (good fortune,
opportunity, blessings) to other houses they rule or occupy. Those planets either ruling houses
6.8, or 12 or in houses 6, 8, or 12 carry the negative significations of these houses (illness,
creating enemies, loss, obstacles, etc.) to other houses they rule or occupy.
b. Yogas. There are specific yogas for wealth and poverty, long and short life
span, opulence and austerity, and fame and disgrace. These are very important factors in
determining the "level" of a person's life, i.e. on how big a scale they operate.
c. Aspect influences. The effect of a strong benefic's aspect (or many benefic
aspects) upon a planet or house is to stabilize the energies, ameliorate problems, and enhance the
positive aspects of the planet or house aspected. The effect of a strong malefic's aspect (or
multiple malefic aspects) upon a house or planet is to destabilize the energies, give rise to
problems, and amplify the negative aspects of the planet or house aspected.
4. Factors indicating the ability to cope and to utilize the strengths of the chart.
The primary factors are all pertaining to the Lagna ( = first house = ascendant):
a. The nature of and strength of planets in the first house.
b. The nature of and strength of planets aspecting the first house.
c. The nature and strength of the ruler of the first house.
d. The nature and strength of planets aspecting the ruler of the first house.
e. The nature of yogas on planets in the first house.
f. The nature of yogas involving the ruler of the first house.
g. The dispositor (ruler of the sign of) the ruler of the first house.
h. The navamsa position (i.e. strength by sign) of the ruler of the first house.
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