The Ruler of the Chart in Vedic Astrology

by Hank Friedman

[Author's Note: Since this article focuses on the Vedic approach, I will be using Whole Sign houses and the Sidereal Zodiac (with the Lahiri ayanamsha) throughout. While the initial version of this article was published in The Mountain Astrologer magazine, in preparing it for my website, I have added more example charts and polished the writing.]

The 1st house in Vedic astrology represents the owner of the chart, including his or her personality, vitality, appearance, body, and nature. Therefore, in exploring a person's chart, we look to the First House to assess the person themselves. However, in a specific chart, the 1st house may or may not be occupied by (or aspected by) by any planet.1 But there will always be a planet that rules the sign of the 1st house, i.e., the ruler of the Ascendant. Therefore, the planet ruling the Ascendant is the one that most represents the person.

In Western astrology, the ruler of the Ascendant is dubbed the Ruler of the Chart. In Vedic astrology, because the Ascendant is called the Lagna, the ruler of the Ascendant is called the Lagnesha (pronounced lug-NAY-sha) -- the ruler (esha) of the Lagna. I will be referring to the ruler of the Ascendant as the Lagnesha for the remainder of this article.

One can examine the strength, house position, aspects received, and other factors of the Lagnesha, and thereby gain a great deal of understanding about a person. For example, if the Lagnesha is combust (especially within 6 degrees of the Sun), such individuals are likely to generally feel unseen by others, under-acknowledged for their talents and contributions, and as a result, often frustrated and unappreciated. Part of their life lessons, then, is to give themselves enough recognition (that is, cultivate and maintain their own sense of personal worth) and over time gradually learn to command the respect from others that they deserve.

Similarly, those with the Lagnesha in its weakest sign (called "fall" in Western astrology and "debilitated" in Vedic astrology) may find it quite challenging to bounce back from life's trials, and might tend to overcompensate for their feelings of inadequacy, in some way. Their lesson is to develop and strengthen their self-confidence, and to take enough time to recover from whatever is "thrown at them" by life.

Perhaps one of the most interesting ways to explore the significance of the Lagnesha in a person's life is to examine its house position. Virtually every major work in Vedic astrology spends time delineating the effects of the Lagnesha's placement by house. If the Lagnesha is strong, then the person is likely to shine in one or more of the life themes represented by the house it occupies.

Lagnesha in the 1st House

On the one hand, this can be seen as the ideal position, because in order for the Lagnesha to be in the 1st house, it must be in its own sign, which makes it strong, steady, and effective. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an example of the Lagnesha in the 1st house at its best. This position can give to the person popularity, vitality, resiliency, success, "horse sense," and physical ability.

I'll never forget the time I asked a client who had the Moon in Cancer in her 1st house if she was athletic. She said no. But since I have seen such a congruent theme of physicality with this placement, I pursued the question. "Do you do anything physical?" I asked. She answered, "Well, I'm into rock-climbing, dance, and canoeing."

As I alluded to above, however, having the Lagnesha in the 1st house has its potential downsides, too. Since one has "all one's eggs in one basket" -- i.e. the two main factors representing self in the same place -- if one or more challenging planets aspects both factors, the impact can be very great. An excellent example of this is Lenny Bruce. At first glance, his 1st house looks wonderful: He has Jupiter there in its own sign of Sagittarius. But both the 1st house and Jupiter are aspected by a strong Mars and a strong Saturn, which had a severe impact on him, as indicated by his addictions and many arrests. Having the Lagnesha in the 1st house did bring him fame and fortune, but the influences on it by malefics also brought him great difficulties.

Another potential vulnerability with this position occurs if the Lagnesha is weak. If the Lagnesha is combust or in a planetary war,2 then both the 1st house and the Lagnesha are adversely affected by the weakness, making it more difficult for such people to marshal their energies and be effective in life. (Note: in Vedic astrology, a planet can be both strong and weak, and if so, both conditions will manifest in the person's life.)

Nevertheless, the Lagnesha in the 1st house generally gives people self-knowledge, some degree of self-sufficiency, and the ability to be themselves.

Sidebar on Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has the coveted placement of his Lagnesha, Saturn, in the 1st house. His 1st house and his Lagnesha (ruler of the 1st house) illustrate some of the principles in the main article quite nicely. (See Chart 1.) Saturn is in its own sign of Capricorn (in the sidereal zodiac), so it is strong, stable, and gives Obama charisma, resilience, common sense, a commanding physical presence, and success. The Lagnesha Saturn is also strengthened by being opposite the Sun, the astronomical positioning that makes it the equivalent of a Full Moon -- bright and closest to the Earth, and retrograde, thus at its peak of power.

Since Saturn represents Obama, both by being in the 1st house and also by ruling the 1st house, any planet aspecting Saturn will have a very strong influence upon the president. Jupiter -- who is the greatest benefic in Vedic astrology and the planet most capable of uplifting other planets -- is in the same house as Saturn* and has strength two ways: It, too, is opposite the Sun and therefore retrograde, and it has directional strength (called dig bala) by being in the 1st house, where it is strongest. So, a doubly powerful Jupiter uplifts the Lagnesha and the 1st house, thereby bringing President Obama great good fortune, wisdom, popularity, and even greater successes.

In Vedic astrology, all planets aspect the house opposite to them (and everything in the opposite house), so the benefic Mercury in the 7th house is also an uplifting influence; it enhances Obama's ability to communicate and clearly articulate his plans and vision.

There are no negative influences upon the Lagnesha, which is highly desirable, because it means that the president will be able to act clearly without unsettling influences. This "pristine" nature of Saturn will enable him to be decisive and effective and to achieve his goals with a minimum of inner obstacles or hesitation.

We are lucky to have a national leader with a chart so strong and well-supported, as indicated by the excellent placement of his Lagnesha, particularly because this Saturn is also with and aspected by the lords of all of the challenging houses (6th, 8th, and 12th), which indicates that he will have many challenges in life and his share of (luckily weaker than him) adversaries.

* A sharp observer might wonder, "Isn't Jupiter debilitated in Capricorn and therefore weak?" The answer is twofold: (1) Jupiter's weakness in Capricorn does not prevent its two strengths from providing great benefit to President Obama. (2) In Vedic astrology, if a debilitated planet is in an angular house and with its dispositor, this creates a profound amelioration of the weakness and even gives rise, paradoxically, to unique abilities. (This is called a Neecha Bhangha Raja Yoga, for those who are interested.)

Lagnesha in the 2nd House

In Vedic astrology, the 2nd house has a wide variety of meanings. Since a person is likely to identify with at least one of a house's meanings when it's occupied by the Lagnesha, I was not surprised to hear a client agree with me and state, "I am my voice." By voice, she meant as a singer, but she could easily have meant as a speaker, chanter, tone-maker, etc. -- in other words, any use of the voice.

The Lagnesha in the 2nd house may indicate someone who is very attached to and invested in his or her possessions, physical appearance (beauty), extended family life, wealth and savings, business and money dealings, adornments (e.g., jewelry and clothes), eating patterns and diet, and areas of expertise.

Julia Roberts is a good example of this position. She is seen as a great beauty (with benefics Venus, Jupiter, and the Lagnesha Moon all in this house); she has a great deal of wealth and is known for her loud laugh (another form of vocalization). But because of the weakness of the Lagnesa Moon (dark and waning), she was severely traumatized by the dissolution of her family after her parents' divorce.

Lagnesha in the 3rd House

The 3rd house has several significations in Vedic astrology that are not employed in Western astrology. In Jyotish, the 3rd house is seen as indicating courage, enterprise, effort, brashness, and initiative -- all qualities associated with the planet Mars. Evel Knievel is a fine example of these qualities, with his Lagnesha in the 3rd. Individuals with the Lagnesha in the 3rd house are likely to invest themselves very heavily in their projects and endeavors, and are very attached to obtaining results.

Other 3rd-house areas in which people with the Lagnesha in this house might involve themselves include working alongside younger siblings, and dealing with relocation (because the 3rd house is the twelfth from the 4th house, suggesting the loss of home).

The Vedic 3rd house also indicates everything done by hand, so someone with the Lagnesha in the 3rd house might be a draftsperson, architect, Reiki healer, massage therapist, acupuncturist, bricklayer, typist, artist, guitarist, drummer, or other instrumentalist.

Jim Lewis, who popularized Astro*Carto*Graphy, had this placement. He became the pioneering champion of astromapping, an interesting 3rd-house application. He originally drew all of his Astro*Carto*Graphy maps by hand and helped people to relocate!

Lagnesha in the 4th House

A person with the Lagnesha in the 4th house is likely to pursue such activities as landscape design and gardening, real estate development, house construction, the creation of fountains and management of waterways, the exploration of psychology and family emotional influences, delving into genealogy, and investing in cars and other means of transportation. These people may also have to deal with ethical issues and with their attractions and passions.

It is interesting that Bob Dylan has this placement of the Lagnesha, because he was certainly the ethical spokesperson for his generation and powerfully championed the causes he believed in.

While writing this section, I immediately thought of Frank Lloyd Wright and his beautifully designed homes. In his chart, the exalted Lord of the 4th house is exactly opposite his Lagnesha in the 7th and tightly conjunct his Lagna, which certainly ties home design into his makeup.3

Lagnesha in the 5th House

One of the meanings of the Lagnesha in the 5th house in Vedic astrology may seem to fly in the face of logic, since we might expect this position to be great for having children. But the Vedic classics emphasize that this placement can indicate some form of hardship with one's progeny or simply the lack of progeny. Nonetheless, many teachers and those involved in child care have this placement. The 5th house is also indicative of discernment, intelligence, and wisdom; merit from past lives; and the ability to counsel and mentor others, as well as the more commonly understood qualities of creating, performing, and directing.

Simone de Beauvoir (who had Lagnesha Mars in the 5th) was a brilliant woman who pioneered existentialist and feminist philosophy. She "gave birth" to a large number of major books but, as suggested by the aforementioned principle, did not choose to have children.

Lagnesha in the 6th House

The Vedic 6th house represents many of the same themes employed in Western astrology: health, competition, debts, jobs, work habits, co-workers, etc. In Jyotish, this house also represents themes like theft, litigation, injury, daily routines, and sudden, intense challenges, such as accidents, the onset of acute illnesses, and sudden confrontations by adversaries.

I have often found a strong 6th-house Lagnesha in the charts of health practitioners, and Deepak Chopra is a good example of this. A renowned and respected doctor, he has brought Eastern ideas and concepts of health to his Western audience with great clarity and depth. Interestingly, he has also been involved in litigations concerning libelous accusations against him.

Lagnesha in the 7th House

One of the unique Vedic views of the 7th house is that it is farthest from the Ascendant. People with the Lagnesha in this house can therefore be considered to be "far from themselves" -- alienated, isolated, or displaced -- especially if the Lagnesha is aspected by malefics or in a weak condition. Another Jyotish meaning of the 7th house is war. Vedic astrologers also see the 7th as a house of passion and seduction and sexual appetite, as well as a place where championing one's own endeavors and entrepreneurial activities is indicated.

Adolf Hitler is a revealing example of the Lagnesha in the 7th house. He felt alienated from himself from childhood, believing that his blood was tainted by being a child of parents who were closely related. In fact, one of his brothers was sequestered for mental illness. Hitler's approach to war was revolutionary, and his powerful leadership abilities (however malignant) are also reflected by the 7th-house Lagnesha, Venus, which is weakened and destabilized, though, by being in a planetary war with malefic Mars.

Lagnesha in the 8th House

The 8th house is often seen as the most challenging house in Vedic astrology, and the Lagnesha here can therefore indicate a life replete with many obstacles, traumas, and personal issues. However, a person with the Lagnesha in the 8th house may also guide others through their life difficulties, in roles such as hospice worker, crisis counselor, bankruptcy attorney, or private investigator.

In addition, a strong Lagnesha in the 8th house denotes someone gifted in ancient traditions, e.g., an herbalist, astrologer, healer, acupuncturist, etc., as well as those who are in the sex industry or have sexual charisma. The 8th house also represents chronic issues, such as long-term financial problems, lingering illnesses, compulsions like addictions and gambling, and scandals and sexual intrigues.

Maya Angelou's life deeply reflects many aspects of the Lagnesha in the 8th house. (See Chart 3.) Her childhood was incredibly traumatic, with her parents' divorce, the rape by a stepfather whom her family then murdered, her frequent relocation, early pregnancy, and more. Nonetheless, she became one of the most influential voices of the 20th century, even writing a poem for President Clinton's inauguration. She is seen as a pillar of wisdom, with the deep insight and courage to surmount all of the difficulties that life placed in her path, and she has helped countless others as well.

Lagnesha in the 9th House

While the 8th house is considered the most challenging in Vedic astrology, the 9th house is considered to be the most blessed. The Lagnesha in the 9th house can bring to the individual many opportunities, great teachers, uplifting experiences, good fortune, higher education, a powerful intuition, and a deepening understanding of life and spirit.

A well-placed Lagnesha here can indicate a person who is charitable, spiritual, ethical, virtuous, honored, supported, and respected. Since the 9th house represents one's father in Jyotish, the father can play a very important role in the life of someone with this placement.

Sir Paul McCartney's life reflects his 9th-house Lagnesha very well. Paul's father championed his musical endeavors from an early age, and Paul was blessed to meet his fellow musicians and his manager when he was still an adolescent. His rise to fame and fortune was phenomenal, and like many with the Lagnesha here, he has given much to charity and supported idealisticpolitical and ecological causes. Publishing is a 9th-house matter, too; he has published not only a huge number of songs, but also films, poetry, artwork, and books. Even the guru theme of the 9th house played out in Paul's life: His pilgrimage to India and visits with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi were deeply enriching to him.

Lagnesha in the 10th House

The 10th house represents the top of the chart and symbolizes life's greatest achievements. Therefore, people with the Lagnesha in the 10th house are likely to care very much about what they do in life, and their level of success. Reputation, the professions, patronage, authority, fame, and status all are 10th-house themes and should therefore be prominent in the lives of those with this placement. Since the 10th house is also the "highest" house of the chart, such themes as space, sky, and even astrology have their correspondences herein.

Albert Einstein is a classic example of this placement. He achieved incredible fame and great respect for his professional work, and in fact, his theories still influence thought about space and time. He also struggled with authority figures, and became a symbol for a person marching to the beat of a different drummer.

Lagnesha in the 11th House

In addition to the Western meanings of friendship, group affiliations, and networking, Vedic astrologers see the 11th house as representing older siblings, easily received support of all kinds from others (including easy money from little work), receiving in general, fulfillment of one's desires, public entertainment and amusement, the pursuit of pleasure, mass communication and the Internet, and the theme of improving oneself and one's life. Interaction is a very prominent theme of the 11th house; for instance, people with strong planets in the 11th house tend to have powerful and important relationships.

Drew Barrymore is an excellent exemplar of the Lagnesha in the 11th house. (See Chart 4.) She has had a relationship with "the masses" from the age of one, and has an incredible network of friends and supporters (e.g., Steven Spielberg is her godfather, and gave her the role in the movie ET). She became snagged by indulgence in drugs, sex, and alcohol, but she started rehabilitation in her mid-teens, and has steadily improved her life ever since. She has become a great financial success in the entertainment business as a founder and director of her own production company.

Lagnesha in the 12th House

The 12th house carries the meanings of foreign residence and interactions with foreigners; pleasures of the bed (including sex and sleep); the pursuit of enlightenment, meditation, and ashram life; insecurity and anxiety; expenditures and losses of all kinds; humanitarian work with those less fortunate; espionage, secrecy, and masked intentions; and isolation (including reclusiveness, imprisonment, and hospitalization).

Henry Kissinger has the Lagnesha in the 12th house; he is renowned as a diplomat and mediator who has been greatly effective negotiating with foreign leaders. He has resided in foreign lands and conducted many "backroom deals." He was shy as a child (very common in the charts of those with the Lagnesha in the 12th house) and lived through a very insecure and traumatic childhood in Nazi Germany as a Jew, eventually fleeing with his family while he was still young.

I have come to realize that, as individuals progress through life, the qualities and characteristics of their Lagnesha become more and more apparent. By allowing themselves to become fully invested in the themes represented by the house occupied by the lord of their Ascendant, people reach their ultimate attainments.

Important End Note: Those who have their Ruler of the Chart either aspected by malefics (Mars, Saturn, Rahu, or Ketu) or weak, will need to focus on resolving the challenges that have arisen around the life themes represented by the house occupied. E.g. if someone has a weak or challenged Lagnesa in the Second House, they may need to address deep family issues, problems with speaking, financial challenges, etc. The journey of working through these karmic issues is like a Holy Quest, and will bring great release and insight.

I could never have progressed in my understanding of Vedic astrology, nor written this article, without the priceless transmission of teachings and wisdom to me by my Vedic guru, Hart de Fouw.

Chart Data and Sources

(in alphabetical order)

Data are courtesy of AstroDatabank, the best resource for accurate birth data.

Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928; 2:10 p.m. CST; Saint Louis, MO, USA (38°N38', 90°W12'); AA: birth certificate.

Drew Barrymore, February 22, 1975; 11:51 a.m. PST; Culver City, CA, USA (34°N01', 118°W24'); AA: birth certificate.

Lenny Bruce, October 13, 1925; 11:24 a.m. EST; Mineola, NY, USA (40°N45', 73°W38'); AA: birth certificate.

Deepak Chopra, October 22, 1946; 3:45 p.m. IST; New Delhi, India (28°N36', 77°E12'); A: from memory.

Simone de Beauvoir, January 9, 1908; 4:00 a.m. LMT; Paris, France (48°N52', 02°E20'); AA: birth certificate.

Bob Dylan, May 24, 1941; 9:05 p.m. CST; Duluth, MN, USA (46°N47', 92°W06'); AA: birth certificate.

Albert Einstein, March 14, 1879; 11:30 a.m. LMT; Ulm, Germany (48°N24', 10°E00'); AA: birth certificate.

Adolf Hitler, April 20, 1889; 6:30 p.m. LMT; Braunau am Inn, Austria (48°N15', 13°E'02'); AA: birth certificate.

Henry Kissinger, May 27, 1923; 5:30 a.m. MET; Fürth, Germany (49°N39', 08°E47'); AA: birth certificate.

Evel Knievel, October 17, 1938; 2:40 p.m. MST; Butte, MT, USA (46°N00', 112°W32'); AA: birth certificate.

Jim Lewis, June 5, 1941; 9:30 a.m. EDT; New York, NY, USA (40°N43', 74°W00'); A: from memory.

Sir Paul McCartney, June 18, 1942; 2:00 p.m. GDWT; Liverpool, England (53°N25', 02°W55'); A: from memory.

Barack Obama, August 4, 1961; 7:24 p.m. AHST; Honolulu, HI, USA (21°N18', 157°W51'); AA: birth certificate.

Julia Roberts, October 28, 1967; 12:16 a.m. EDT; Atlanta, GA, USA (33°N45', 84°W23'); AA: birth certificate.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, July 30, 1947; 4:10 a.m. EET; Graz, Austria (47°N05', 15°E27'); A: from memory.

Frank Lloyd Wright, June 8, 1867; 5:00 p.m. LMT; Richland Center, WI, USA (43°N20', 90°W23'); A: from memory.


1. In the Whole Sign house systems of both Vedic and Greek astrology, empty houses can be aspected by planets.

2. A planetary war occurs when two true planets are within one degree of each other. The true planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. (This excludes the Sun, the Moon, and the nodes.)

3. This configuration also creates a Raja Yoga, a combination for great success in 4th-house matters.

© 2009 Hank Friedman-- all rights reserved

Hank Friedman is renowned in the San Francisco Bay Area for his transformative sessions. His in-depth astrology readings synthesize Western and Vedic approaches. Hank teaches Vedic astrology classes and provides free tutorials in Western and Vedic astrology and a weekly astrology software weblog on his Web site. Hank has written Astrology on Your Personal Computer; he reviews astrology software online and in periodicals. He has helped to guide thousands of astrologers to find the best software for their needs. Contact Hank via e-mail:; Web site:

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