Teachings in Metaphysical Astrology

March 2003

                                                    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



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


Venus, Saturn


Sun, Mercury

Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn



Sun, Venus

Mars, Jupiter, Saturn



Mercury; Saturn

Mars, Jupiter

Sun, Moon


Sun, Moon, Jupiter

Venus, Saturn



Moon, Mars, Sun




Mercury, Venus


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 are empty.


                        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 backwards inconjunt).


                        f. Saturn aspects planets and houses: 4 back (the backwards square) and 3 ahead (the forwards sextile)


            5. Yogas


            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.


            7. Nakshatras


            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 Nakshatra Page.


            8. Dasas


            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)

            Venus             20

            Sun                 6

            Moon              10

            Mars               7

            Rahu               18

            Jupiter             16

            Saturn             19

            Mercury          17 


B. Evaluating Planets in a Vedic Chart.


            Planets are evaluated for strength, positive or negative influence, and detailed meaning in several ways:


            1. Factors of Strength (in descending order of importance):


                        a. Rulership/Exaltation


                                    Planets are strongest the signs they rule or are exalted in. They are somewhat stronger than normal when in the sign of a friend.


                        b. Brightness:


                                    The true planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) are strong when retrograde.

                                    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).


                        a. Debilitation.


                        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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