The Temporal Status of Planets
as benefics and malefics

By Hank Friedman

[I again thank my Vedic guru Hart de Fouw for making Jyotish fully alive for me.]

One of the most important and profound understandings in Vedic astrology that is missing from Western astrology is that planets have both temporal and natural benefic and malefic status and effects.

Both approaches see Jupiter and Venus as (natural) benefic planets and Saturn and Mars as (natural) malefic planets, but only Jyotish distinguishes such qualities as specifically natural attributes.

A natural benefic or natural malefic is one that has these qualities as a part of their basic makeup. For example, Jupiter brings faith, optimism, luck, wisdom, and generosity to its placement in a chart. And Saturn can bring doubt, anxiety, pessimism, and disbelief to places it contacts in a horoscope.

These natural attributes are generic in that they apply to all placements of Jupiter or Saturn, without regard to the Ascendant or house cusps.

But Vedic astrology recognizes house rulership as central to the interpretation of a chart, and in fact rulerships individualize the themes of a person's chart, instead of presenting generalities that apply to all people.

For example, Venus is the significator of marriage for all charts, but the planet that is the 7th lord in a person's chart is a much more precise and specific indicator of marriage and the marriage partner, for that chart.

And Jupiter may bring trust to the house it occupies, but the houses it rules may also bring troubles.

(This oversight on the part of Western astrology is why so many theme maps -- maps that show where to go for love, career, etc. -- in Western astromapping programs fail to map house lords.)

The idea of temporal benefics and malefics, therefore, is a crucial one.

Note: Temporal represents the positive or negative effects of planets that only occur for specific rising signs, and not for all charts, due to their house rulership(s).

Important: Temporal also means that each planet brings to any house it occupies the themes of the house(s) it rules.

The word temporal is used (akin to the word temporary) because the Ascendant is the fastest moving point in a chart and the one that most differentiates the chart and therefore most represents the person.

(In the Jyotish Whole Sign House system, the Ascendant also is directly responsible for the sign on each house cusp.)

While a planet's natural status expresses its universal qualities, its temporal status reveals the positive and/or negative themes (of the houses it rules) that are active in their life.

Effects of House Rulers

Kendra Lords: The rulers of the angles (houses 1, 4, 7, 10) bring action, initiative, and achievement to the areas of the chart that they impact.

Trikona Lords: The rulers of trines (houses 1, 5, and 9) bring opportunities, blessings, and insights to the areas of the chart that they impact.

Dusthana Lords: The rulers of Trikhastanas (houses 6, 8, and 12) bring losses, accidents, obstacles, and other challenges to the areas of the chart that they impact.

Maraka Lords: The rulers of the marakastanas (houses 2 and 7) bring ill-health, poverty, and suffering to the areas of the chart that they impact.

Temporal Rules

A temporal benefic:

Is a planet that rules good houses (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11)

Note: The 2nd, 7th, and 11th are seen as mildly good houses

A planet that rules two strong good houses is called the Raja Yoga Karaka
and is a very powerful temporal benefic both in the chart and by transit.

          For Taurus and Libra Ascendants:
Saturn is the Raja Yoga Karaka.

          For Cancer and Leo Ascendants:
Mars is the Raja Yoga Karaka.

          For Capricorn and Aquarius Ascendants:
Venus is the Raja Yoga Karaka.

The ruler of the Ascendant is always a temporal benefic.

A temporal malefic:

Is a planet that rules bad houses (3, 6, 8, 12).

Note: The 3rd is seen as a mildly bad house.

Dual Rulerships:

With dual rulerships, if planet rules both a good house and a bad house, one of the following applies:

If the good house is mildly good (2, 7, 11)
and the bad house is strongly bad (6, 8, 12)
then the planet is a temporal malefic.

If the bad house is mildly bad (3)
and the good house is strongly good (1, 4, 5, 9, 10),
then the planet is a temporal benefic.

If a planet rules one strong positive house (1, 4, 5, 9, 10)
and one strong negative house (6, 8, 12),
then it gives mixed results
and is both a temporal benefic and a temporal malefic.

(When Saturn rules the 2nd and 3rd houses, for a Sagittarius ascendant,
it is a mild temporal malefic.)

Since the second and seventh houses are also the maraka houses,
indicating poverty, illnesses, and death,
a planet ruling both of these houses is a strong temporal maraka,
and can bring difficulties during its dashas and transits.

Here are some examples:

For Aries rising:

The Sun rules the 5th (good) house and is a temporal benefic.

The Moon rules the 4th (good) house and is a temporal benefic.

Mercury rules two bad houses (3rd and 6th) and is a temporal malefic.

Venus rules two maraka houses (2nd and 7th) and is a temporal maraka (and therefore more malefic).

Mars rules the Ascendant and is therefore a temporal benefic.

Jupiter rules one strong good house (the 9th) and one strong bad house (the 12th) and will give mixed results, I.e. it is both a temporal benefic and temporal malefic and will give both good and bad results at different times.

Saturn rules two good houses (the 10th and 11th) is a temporal benefic.

For Scorpio rising:

Mercury rules one bad house (the 8th) and one mild good house (the 11th) and is again a temporal malefic.

For Libra rising:

Jupiter rules two bad houses (3rd and 6th) and is a temporal malefic.


Temporal vs Natural status in Interpretation

In the chart at the left above, Jupiter is a temporal malefic because it rules the 3rd and 6th houses. Jupiter is strong (Dig Bala) and indicates both:

(Natural Benefic status) the person is open, nice, and giving.


(Temporal malefic status) they encounter many obstacles and difficulties in their life, possibly including accidents and adversaries.

And transits by Jupiter will bring problems to their doorstep.

In the chart at the right above, Saturn is a temporal benefic (and in fact the Raja Yoga Karaka) because it rules the 4th and 5th houses. Saturn is strong (exalted) and indicates both:

(Natural malefic status) they may be inhibited in some ways, can be strict, and their vitality is variable.


(Temporal benefic status) they do well in life, with many opportunities for success, and few "bumps in the road".

And their Saturn transits bring many blessings.


How much richer the chart interpretation is when including both the natural and the temporal status of each planet.

And in this chart:

The doubly malefic status of Saturn (both a natural and temporal malefic) will indicate challenges in both their nature (e.g. personality) and in the events that shape their lives.


Arnold Schwartzenegger

The chart of Arnold Schwartzenegger is exemplary in exploring the temporal status of planets.

When we look at his chart, we see that Mars is both a natural and temporal malefic, residing in the (bad) 12th house of loss, and ruling the 6th and 11th houses.

Because Mars is both the universal significator of siblings and it aspects the (3rd) house of siblings, it becomes the primary indicator of brothers and sisters. (Universal significators only become primary ones if they occupy or aspect the house representing the same theme or person.)

Sadly, his brother died in a drunk driving accident at age 24.

And the death was during the Sun dasha, with the Sun being the 3rd lord, and therefore a secondary — but still important — significator of siblings. And in Arnold's chart, the Sun is both a natural and temporal malefic.

On the opposite side, much in his life has gone exceptionally well (temporal) and he has been well liked (natural), as indicated by the three both natural and temporal benefic planets aspecting his Ascendant: doubly-strong Mercury (lord of the 1st and 4th), strong Moon (lord of the 2nd), and Jupiter (lord of the 7th and 10th).


Important Takeaways

Temporal status (as benefic or malefic) reflects a person's lot in life and the impact that events and external factors have on a person's life, including other people, and accidents, infections, awards, good fortune, promotions and demotions, etc.

Natural status (as benefic or malefic) reflects the personality of the individual, who they are and how they are received by others (as opposed to what kind of life they have).

One mustn't think, therefore, that all Jupiter transits are positive or Saturn ones negative, because the temporal nature may contradict their general nature.

This Vedic approach, then, explains why some great people have incredibly hard lives, and some unpleasant people seem to coast through life with complete support.



Two important points to always remember:

1. All other astrological principles always also apply. In evaluating the effects of temporal benefics and malefics, one always needs to take into account their strengths and weaknesses, the planets influencing them, the house they occupy, their sign and Nakshatra, etc., as these all modify their expression.

2. What may seem bad, such as illnesses and challenges, can often be our best teachers, enabling us to become more compassionate towards others with similar issues, to focus on ourselves when appropriate, to learn how to deal with adversity, and even to test and strengthen our faith.

To paraphrase my Guides, "It's easy to fall asleep floating on a raft under a warm Sun, but when you run into a brick wall, you wake up."

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