by Hank Friedman
One of the things that distinguishes Vedic astrology from Western astrology is the extensive use of yogas in delineation. The word "yoga" used in this context means the union of two or more factors in combination in the chart. Note also, for the purpose of this article, that unless otherwise specified, when I use the word yoga, I am referring to a positive yoga, i.e. one that leads to desirable results.
1. The importance of yogas in the birth chart.
Yogas directly indicate the "level" of a person's life. I.e. whether the person will have ordinary successes and difficulties or extraordinary achievements or challenges. In fact, as my teacher Hart de Fouw explains, yogas are the most important factors in a chart. They create the context of the person's life, and are much more influential than simple planetary placements. Yogas affecting the first house are most important of all, since they are most easily utilized and describe the person and the tenor of their lives directly. In fact, yogas disconnected from the first house may be difficult to manifest or to "own".
2. For a yoga to fully manifest:
A. At least one planet comprising the yoga should have first tier strength.
B. The dasa of the planet(s) should run at an appropriate age (to be able to utilize them).
C. The yoga should in some way be linked to the First House.
3. For a yoga to be optimal:
D. If the yoga repeats from the Chandra and/or Surya Lagnas, they will be more powerful. (I.e. where the sign of the Moon or the Sun becomes the first house, respectively.)
E. The yoga-forming planet(s) should preferably not be:
I. aspected by/associated with malefics, especially strong or weak or multiple malefics.
2. In negative houses (6, 8, 12), yogas will invoke themes of those houses.
Or weakened by the following five factors:
3. within 1 degree of the beginning or end of a sign (sandhi).
4. combust (within 6 degrees of the Sun), or dark Moon, or eclipsed.
5. defeated in a planetary war.
6. take place in dagdha rasis.
7. debilitated by rasi.
Note: these 7 negative considerations do not nullify a yoga.
G. The dispositor of an exalted yoga-forming planet should not be weak or very afflicted.
H. If the yoga is based upon a planet being exalted or in its own sign, that planet should not be debilitated in the Navamsha.
4. Yogas are synergistic.
A. Most charts have at least one yoga. Having many yogas in a chart can be one indication of an exceptional life -- especially if they involve the same planet(s).
B. Some yogas, such as those where planets flank the Sun or Moon, are supportive of other yogas, as opposed to giving extraordinary results by themselves.
C. Pay particular attention to any planet that participates in multiple yogas, as the dasa of that planet (and possibly some bhuktis) will be particularly noteworthy.
5. Yogas are interactive.
A. Particularly with "bad" yogas, i.e. combinations that predict negative life results, the position of other planets in the chart can ameliorate, nullify, or even reverse the effect of the negative yoga to some degree.
B. In most cases, the negative yoga is not completely eliminated by its planetary "antidote", so either its effect is weakened or both negative and positive results may occur.
C. A particular yoga may contradict the results of another yoga. It is common, for example, to have both poverty and wealth yogas in a chart. It takes careful evaluation of both the strength (and number) of contradictory yogas and the sequence of dashas - to see when each yoga is likely take place - to attain accuracy in predicting the results in cases like these.
6. Named and Classical Yogas
A. There are several yogas that are mentioned repeatedly in Classical Vedic Astrology texts, and these yogas therefore carry the weight and certainty of tradition (as compared to the myriad - literally thousands - of combinations that crop up in one text or another. Among the classical yogas are:
1. The Pancha Mahapurusha Yogas.
2. The Dharma Karma Adhipati Raja Yogas
3. The Solar and Lunar yogas, including the Kemadruma yoga.
4. The "Goddess" yogas, e.g. Lakshmi, Saraswati
5. The Neechabhanga Raja yoga
6. The planet pair yogas: Chandra Mangala, & Budhaditya yogas
7. The Jupiter/Moon yogas: Shakata, kesari and Gajakesari
8. The shuba and papa Lagna and Chandra Lagna Adhi yogas.
Note: for some yogas, a malefic influence on Mercury does not turn Mercury into a malefic.
Types of Yogas
by Hank Friedman
There are an incredible number of categories of yogas, each offering differing results. In this introductory article, I will not be exploring all of the types of yogas. Among the many yogas that I've omitted are the Early Death of Children yogas (Balarishta), the Asceticism yogas (Pravrajya), the yogas that determine life span, the yogas indicating mental or physical illness, and most of the Poverty yogas (Daridra) from this introduction to the varieties of yogas.
Here is a summary of several categories of yogas:
1. Planetary Emphasis yogas, called Pancha Maha Purusha yogas.
These yogas focus on a single planet, and its exceptional emphasis in a chart. Since they are fairly common, for truly extraordinary results, they should repeat from the Moon and Sun lagnas.
Hart de Fouw has introduced a variant of this yoga, wherein the planet can be in the 5th or 9th houses and still produce this yoga. My opinion is that while there is logic in his extended definition, it doesn't properly distinguish between the core meaning of the kendras – empowerment of the planet – vs. the core meaning of the trikonas - opportunity and fortune.
2. The Power Yogas, called Raja yogas.
There are many, many, many Raja yogas indicated by Vedic classical astrology. These yogas represent the ability to succeed in the world, especially in the areas of life represented by houses the yoga-forming planets occupy or rule. If they repeat from Chandra or Surya Lagnas, they are stronger.
One important set of Raja Yogas occurs when the rulers of Trinal houses (1, 5, 9) are associated or mutually aspecting each other. For example, if the ruler of the 5th and the 9th house are associated with each other, the yoga is present.
In several cases, there are major Raja yogas, e.g. the lords of the 9th + 10th or lords of 4th + 5th houses in sambandha, but there are also minor variants when any kendra lord combines with any trikona lord – and these latter yogas gain strength and importance if the planets involved are strong and/or if there are many of these in one chart
Similarly, the Nodal Raj yogas, where Rahu or Ketu is in the 10th with lord of the 9th or in the 5th or 9th with the lord of the 1st or 10th, have minor variants where one of the nodes is in a different kendra from the 10th with a trikona lord.
3. The Flanking yogas, called Kartari, Solar (Vosi, Vesi, and Ubhayachari) and Lunar (Sunapha, Anapha, and Dhuradhura)Yogas, and Lagnadhi and Candradhi yogas.
Each of these yogas are indicated by planets flanking (and in the Adhi yogas also occupying) the Sun, Moon, or Lagna, or 7th house.
The Solar and Lunar yogas are supportive if positive (i.e. flanked by benefics), i.e. they enhance the expression of other yogas in the chart.
Note: the Kartari yogas (where a house is flanked by either benefics or malefics) seem to uplift or detriment the themes of the house flanked.
The Adhi yogas have a more potent influence, as do their counterpart "Mala" yogas wherein there are malefics or benefics flanking and in either the Lagna or Chandra Lagna. These yogas can lead to greater success (if formed by benefics) or greater life challenges (if formed by malefics). It is important to note that if malefics occupy the 12th, 1st, and 2nd houses or the 6th, 7th, and 8th houses, they form a papa (malefic) Adhi yoga even if benefics are also present in one or more of the houses. The same is true for benefics.
4. The Major Lunar Yogas.
One of the most important of the malefic yogas is the Kemadruma yoga. This yoga is formed when there are no planets (not counting the Sun or nodes) in the same house as the Moon, adjacent to the Moon, or in a kendra from Lagna or the Moon (and the Moon itself is not in a Kendra). In my experience, this tends to isolate the individual quite noticably, and create social challenges (the classical texts include poverty and other difficulties, too). Even partial Kemadruma (e.g. where there is one planet in kendra to the Moon or Lagna) may indicate some degree of isolation.
Another challenging yoga is the Shakata yoga, where the Moon is 6 or 8 houses from Jupiter (and not in a Kendra from the Lagna). The weaker the Moon is (e.g. by being debilitated or dark), the more severe the Shatata yoga. The result of this yoga is ups and downs in finances and fortune.
On the positive side, if the Moon and Jupiter are associated or in Kendra to each other, then a Kesari or Gaja Kesari yoga is formed. While both indicate good fortune and the ability to network (make social connections), the stronger Gaja Kesari is formed when Jupiter is not weak nor in an enemy's sign, and is influenced by benefics, and in a Kendra from Lagna or the Moon.
The Chandra Mangala yoga is formed when the Moon and Mars are in the same house (a variant is when Moon and Mars are opposite). This yoga often indicates prosperity (especially through women) but if aspected by malefics can indicate using women for gain.
5. The foremost Day/Night Yoga.
The Mahabhagya yoga is a particularly potent yoga for success, given its relative infrequency. This yoga is even stronger if, for a man's chart, the lagnesh is also in an odd sign, and for a female's chart, is in an even sign.
6. House-Based Major Yogas.
Many yogas are based on the status of a particular house or set of houses.
For example, the Shushuba and Amala yogas are based upon a natural benefic being alone in the 2nd or 10th house respectively, without any aspect with a natural malefic.
The Vasumat yoga, on the other hand, is indicated by only natural benefics in the upachaya houses (i.e. 3, 6, 10, 11).
The Ashuba mala (necklace of ill fortune) yoga, where all benefics are in the trik houses (6, 8, 12), is an example of a negative house-based yoga.
Note: there are also 24 house-based yogas where one must assess if there is a confluent positive or negative theme associated with each house. For example, if a house is occupied and aspected only by benefics, and its lord is strong by sign and in a good house, then a positive yoga exists for that house (and vice versa). It is important to realize, in this context, that a weak 6th, 8th, or 12th house actually renders some benefits for the person, e.g. weakened enemies, crises, and losses respectively.
7. Parivartana Yogas.
These yogas occur when two planets are in each others' houses. (This is called a mutual reception in Western astrology.) This yoga is considered to give good results if the planets exchanging houses are both in 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 or 11. If one of the planets is in 3, 6, 8, or 12, the parivartana is more challenging and can cause poverty and other difficulties. If the exchange is between two trik lords (6th, 8th, and 12th lords), then there may be benefits that are the result of hardships.
A person with this yoga may feel pulled back-and-forth between the two houses involved, with the resolution found seeing which planet (and house) becomes stronger if you move each planet into the other's degree/sign position. (E.g. if a planet moves into a combustion, or associates with malefics, etc. then the other planet provides resolution, or if the planet gains directional strength – dig bala – it provides resolution.)
8. Neecha Bhanga Raja Yoga.
When a planet is in its sign of debilitation (called neecha in Vedic astrology), it is considered either weak or likely to give negative results. But there are special combinations that actually transform (bhanga means break, nullify, modify) the negative sign occupation into a positive, to some degree. There will still be some expressions of the debilitation, but also unique positive results if certain conditions are met.
There are different definitions of whether the yoga exists, depending upon the specific classical Vedic source. Most consider this yoga to exist if the debilitated planet is conjunct or aspected by the planet that rules that sign, especially when the neecha planet (and/or its ruler) is in a kendra. (Hart de Fouw states that the debilitated planet must be in a kendra for the raja yoga to form).
Additional "bhangas" include: the lord of the sign where the debilitated planet is exalted is in a kendra from the lagna or the moon (or in association or aspect to the planet), and the planet which would be exalted in the sign of the debilitated planet is in a kendra from lagna or moon. All of these variants have a weaker effect.
9. Viparita Raja Yoga.
This yoga is a case of "two bads making a good". If two rulers of dustana houses are together in any house or in mutual aspect or in parivartana, and neither planet is with or aspected by any other planet.
This yoga can indicate a rapid rise in life, or adversities turning into benefits (the lemons to lemonade effect) especially when the dasa and bhukti of the both planets occurs.
Hart says that the benefits of this yoga are indicated by the house position of the nakshatra dispositor of one or both planets, and that the yoga is of less benefit (i.e. more negative) if both planets are weakly conditioned
10. The Yogas of Intelligence.
There are several yogas that particularly indicate a higher degree of intelligence. The major ones are the Budhaditya yoga, where the Sun and Mercury are in the same sign (and connected with the 5th house or Lagna, and preferably Mercury is strong),
The Kalanidhi yoga is formed by Jupiter being in the 5th house (in association with or aspected by Mercury or Venus) or simply in the sign of Mercury or Venus, but in the latter case, Jupiter would need strength for this yoga to be significant.
The Saraswati yoga gives many gifts of creativity and intelligence, and there are variants in the definition of this yoga where if Jupiter is of ordinary strength and Mercury and Venus are strong, the yoga still exists.
10. The Lagna Empowerment yogas.
Since the Lagna is the most important place in the chart, as it represents the person and both their ability to utilize their gifts and their ability to rebound from adversity, combinations that strengthen (or weaken) the Lagna are very important to take into account.
Already mentioned in #3 above are the Adhi, Kartari, and Mala yogas that influence Lagna.
In addition, when the ruler (or the ruler of the ruler, or the ruler of the ruler of the ruler) of the Lagna is strong, there are definite benefits for the life. The Kahala, Parvata, and Pushkala, Kalpadruma yogas are based upon this principle.
11. Prosperity yogas.
While many yogas may represent financial and other forms of success, the Lakshmi yoga is the prosperity yoga par excellence. The ninth lord is involved in both forms of this yoga because it represents the greatest good fortune.
Additionally, there are many other Dhana (wealth-producing) yogas. One of the classical combinations is the lord of either the 2nd or 11th house connected to (by association, aspect, parivartana, etc.) the lord of a trikona.
12. The Kalasarpa yoga.
The "serpent of time" yoga is formed when all of the planets – and preferably the lagna – lie on one side of the nodal axis. This yoga is given exaggerated and often melodramatic interpretations by some astrologers. The basic meaning is that there are strong karmic currents in the person's life, and several themes to work through relating to the houses occupied by the nodes, their dispositors, or the houses ruled by planets they conjunct
A Yoga Checklist
To see a checklist of major and some minor yogas click here.
This list shows what planets and conditions are required for each yoga.
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