When Subcycles really count

by Hank Friedman

Updated Monday, November 23, 2020

[Note: I would like to first acknowledge the profound inspiration and teachings I received from Hart de Fouw, which enabled Jyotish to come alive for me.]


(This is a Vedic astrology article oriented towards those already familiar with Jyotish.)

In order to understand what's happening in our lives, we often look at the current astrological cycles.

Western astrologers rely on transits, progressions, directions, and returns for their predictive work. Jyotishis primarily focus on Dashas, with attention to transits too.

Because a person will run the Dasha of a planet for anywhere from 6 to 20 years, it is very useful to sub-divide the Dasha period into subcycles called Bhuktis, and even to subdivide the Bhukti periods into smaller time segments called Antars.

In most cases, the planet ruling the Dasha has the primary influence during the Dasha period, but there are conditions in which the planet ruling the Bhukti "highjacks" its period, becoming the predominant influence. There are even conditions when the Antar ruler controls its period -- which inspired this article.

Sidebar: To be clear, most Dasha periods are modified to some extent by each subcycle (Bhukti), but during hijacking, the entire tenor of the cycle changes from good to bad or vice versa. There might be struggles in ones career during a Dasha, for example, that disappear or resolve during the Bhukti of a well-placed Bhukti lord. By saying that the sub-ruler becomes the primary influence, I mean that its placement -- good or bad -- in a divisional chart reverses the effects of the Dasha lord's placement.

Note: When the Bhukti Lord has a 2-12 or 6-8 relative house position to the Dasha lord in a Varga chart, it has very little influence on the Dasha lord unless there is some other shared influence (e.g. an aspect or lordship).

An example of hijacking: I usually am very healthy, and have been during my current Moon Dasha, but recently I entered a period where my health met several challenges, one after the other. Since this was quite atypical for me, I began to look for what cycle indicated the pattern. And the answer was in the Antar (as shown at the end of this article).

What does hijacking mean?

We evaluate the effects of a Dasha (or any cycle) by looking at the placement and condition of its ruler. E.g. if a person is in the Sun Dasha, we look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Sun, its placement by house, what house it rules, and the planets that influence it. A more experienced Jyotishi will also look at its Nakshatra placement, Shad Bala, and other attributes.

The rules of hijacking are straightforward:

1. The subcycle planet must have unilateral influence on the Dasha Lord in order to control the period. E.g. in the Moon/Saturn period, if the Moon is in Saturn's sign, then Saturn has a unilateral influence on the Moon.

Unilateral Influence

What is unilateral influence? It means that one planet can control a second planet because the first planet sees or influences the second planet but the second planet doesn't see or influence the first planet.

A planet will unilaterally influence a second planet -- in divisional charts -- if at least one of the following conditions is met:

1. The first planet rules the sign and/or Nakshatra occupied by the second planet (and not vice versa).

Sign Lordship. If planet A rules the sign occupied by planet B (and the planet B does not rule the sign occupied by planet A), then the planet A has unilateral influence over planet B.

Note: One looks at the sign in the specific Varga chart, not in the Rashi chart.

Nakshatra Lordship. If planet A rules the Nakshatra occupied by planet B (and the planet B does not rule the Nakshatra occupied by planet A), then the planet A has unilateral influence over planet B.

Note: The planet's Nakshatra placement in the Rashi chart is used.


2. The first planet unilaterally aspects the second planet -- only Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn cast unilateral aspects

The one-sided aspects of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. As practiced in Jyotish, Mars aspects planets four and eight houses ahead of it (counting inclusively, i.e. the house it's in). Jupiter aspects planets 5 and 9 houses away from it, i.e. trines. And Saturn aspects planets 3 and 10 away from it.

E.g. If the Dasha Lord is Mars, and Saturn is two houses behind it in the Navamsha chart, then Saturn unilaterally aspects Mars.

3. The placement of the hijacking planet should be notably better or worse than the placement of the Dasha Lord. The two ways that the hijacking planet can be notably better or worse is if the Bhukti Lord is in a bad house or Papa Sankhya yoga while the the Dasha Lord is in a good house or Shubha Sankhya yoga, or vice versa.

I.e. We only look at hijacking if the nature of the time period will change (to better or worse) because of the differing placement between the Dasha Lord and the Bhukti Lord. If both planets are well-placed or poorly-placed, then there's no real reason to look for hijacking.

A Note about Sankhya Yogas

Please see my article Sankhya Yogas and Divisional Chart Analysis for details about using Sankhya Yogas and Iyer's Divisional Chart approach.

If the Dasha Lord is in a good house (or Shubha Sankhya Yoga) and the Bhukti Lord is in a bad house (or in a Papa Sankhya Yoga) and has unilateral influence over the Dasha Lord, then during the time period of the Bhukti, the themes indicated by the Varga chart will go poorly. For example, if the Varga chart was the D-10, then career challenges might arise.

E.g. Note that in Donald Trump's chart, below, Venus is poorly-placed (in the 12th house, in the sign of an enemy, and with Saturn). Because the Sun is in Venus' sign, giving Venus unilateral control over the Sun, the Venus bhukti of the Sun Dasha will be a downturn.

4. The relative strengths of the Dasha Lord and Bhukti Lord. The Bhukti Planet's ability to hijack the Dasha Lord is contingent upon the Bhukti Lords strength. The Bhukti Lord should be stronger than the Dasha Lord for it to be able to fully hijack the time period, i.e. turn it from good to bad or vice versa.

5. Hijacking follows the principles of the Iyer Method.

Sheshadri Iyer was a Jyotish master who developed the most in-depth method of Varga analysis. His divisional chart approach, as taught to me by Hart de Fouw, is brilliant and incredibly effective. And hijacking is one of the principles he introduced into Jyotish.

As such, all of the Iyer principles apply in evaluating whether hijacking will occur or not, including:

A. If the Dasha Lord is stronger than the hijacking planet, the effects of hijacking will be signicantly less.

B. All planetary strengths and conditions need to be evaluated using Iyer's rules.

C. Planetary Placements are the most important factor in evaluating Dasha effects in divisional charts. The Dasha (or Bhukti or Antar) placement in houses 3, 6, 8, or 12 houses is bad, unless the planet involved is a benefic and there is a planet in the corresponding house (11, 8, 6, or 2 respectively). Sankhya Yogas: When both of the following paired houses are occupied (at least one by a malefic), then the malefic's period is challenging. The paired houses are 1/7, 2/12, 3/11, 4/10, 5/9, and 6/8. D. Exceptions must also be taken into account. E.g. if a strong Jupiter is with or aspecting a Dasha lord in a D-chart, the period goes well even if the Dasha lord is poorly placed.

Note: You can also learn about the Iyer method here and here and here and many other places on this website.


Example: The publication of Donald Trump's bestselling "The Art of the Deal"

If we look at Donald Trump's great success in the release of his book "The Art of the Deal", we see that he published it during Moon/Mercury (Moon Dasha/Mercury Bhukti).

The placement of the Moon in Trump's chart is both strong (Dig Bala) and weak (Debilitated and Eclipsed). Since the most visible attribute of the Moon is the eclipse, and the Moon is also the 12th lord, one might not see this as the most promising time to publish a book.

However, the Moon is in the Nakshatra of Mercury and therefore unilaterally influenced by an exceptionally well-placed Mercury (in the 11th house, ruler of the two money houses, and in its own sign with no malefic influence on it.) Note: Mercury is also much stronger by sign than the Moon.

This hijacking by Mercury makes the entire Mercury bhukti much more positive, and when we think of the significations of Mercury (which include writing), it makes perfect sense that he would publish successfully during this period.

(Incidentally, Mercury is also very well-placed in many of the relevant divisional charts, too, such as the D-4, D-10, and D-11.)

And what about my health?

During my bouts with illness, I was in the Moon Dasha, Venus Bhukti. As I began to think about what could be causing my health issues, I immediately thought "I must be in the Saturn Antar" because Saturn has a unilateral influence on both Moon and Venus (the Moon is in Saturn's Nakshatra and Venus is unilaterally aspected by Saturn).

And Saturn -- as both a natural and temporal malefic -- is not only the 6th house lord (illness) in my 1st house (vitality and body) but it is poorly placed in the Varga charts for health (the D-6 and D-8).

And so it was! I was in the Saturn Antar during the entire span of health challenges.


I understand that for beginning students of Vedic astrology, this article is likely to be rough going (introducing too much at once). But my hope is that it inspires a greater thirst for Vedic understanding and mastery.

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