Additionally, while the three modes: Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable, are associated with the same signs as they are in Western astrology, they have their own names and meanings in Vedic astrology. Cardinal signs are called Moveable, and indicate travel and restlessness, Fixed signs keep the same name, but indicate the unlikelihood of travel, while Mutable signs are called Dual, and indicate alternating between the first two styles.
As you can see in the table below, rashis or Vedic signs, are classified in many unique ways, expanding upon the meaning of each sign.
Vedic Classifications of the Signs
As you can see from the table, the rulership of each sign corresponds with the sign rulerships used in
Western astrology until the 20th century. The symmetry of paired rulers is a beautiful thing to observe:
Vedic astrologers were very careful, even after they introduced additional points into the chart, not to disturb this rulership scheme.
The abodes listed in the table are a few of the many physical locations associated with each sign. These locations were used for a variety of purposes, including choosing where to build a house, and the finding of objects. The three dosha come from the field of Ayurveda, and are used to assist astrologers in the diagnosis and cure of disease, and in making nutritional recommendations. Pitta has a firey quality indicating temper, heat, and assertion; Vata has a windy quality indicating sensitivity, nervousness, and susceptibility to cold; and Kapha has a watery quality indicating heaviness, lethargy, and slow-ness.
The signs' directions are used for Prashna (Vedic horary astrology) and Vastu (the Vedic counterpart of Feng Shui), while the fertility attribute addresses the likelihood of having children. The way a sign rises has been used to assess whether the conditions at the time of birth are favorable or unfavorable.
One additional classification of the signs is central to the Vedic concept of the aims of life. There are four basic aims of life, Dharma, which indicates integrity and life purpose and corresponds to the Fire signs and houses (houses 1, 5, & 9), Artha, which indicates livelihood and security needs, and corresponds with the Earth signs and houses (houses 2, 6, & 10), Kama, which indicates involvement in relationships and the pursuit of pleasure , and corresponds with the Air signs and houses (houses 3, 7, & 11), and finally Moksha, which indicates the goal of enlightenment and the lessons in letting go, and corresponds with the Water signs and houses (houses 4, 8, & 12).
An excellent example of a person with strong dharma, because he has planets in their own Fire signs in Fire houses, is Paul Newman. Renowned for his integrity, he has Jupiter in Sagittarius in the First House and Mars in Aries in the Fifth House. On a more shadowy side, Charles Manson's charisma gave him tremendous influence over others, and he had Venus and Mercury (lords of Air houses) as well as the Sun and Jupiter, all in Venus' sign of Libra, in the 7th house. He manipulated and seduced his followers with drugs and sex, powerfully playing upon their pursuit of pleasure.
C. The Strength and Stability of Planets
Both Western and Vedic astrologers see planets as strong in their own signs and signs of exaltation, and weak in their sign of debilitation. While Western astrologers also see planets as weak in the opposite sign(s) to the one(s) ruled, Vedic astrologers do not.
Besides using Exaltation and Debilitation as indicators of planetary strength and weakness, Vedic astrologers group planets as friends, neutrals, and enemies to each other. When a planet is in the sign of a friend, it is strong (but not as strong as when in its own sign or exaltation). When a planet is in the sign of an enemy, it is weak (but not as weak as in debilitation). When a planet is in the sign of a neutral planet, its strength is mediocre (i.e. average).
Table of Planetary Friendships
To use the above table, it is important to note that the signs of exaltation, ownership, and debilitation supercede the considerations in the table. E.g. even though the Moon is a friend of Mars, Mars is debilitated in Cancer. Similarly, even though Jupiter is a neutral planet for Venus, Venus is exalted in Pisces.
Knowing the strength of each planet is of major importance. It allows Vedic astrologers to determine the most influential planet in any configuration (the strongest planet has the greatest effect, although very weak planets can have potent disruptive effects). Jyotishis also need to assess whether any of the positive combinations in the chart (the positive yogas) are of real consequence. The rule of thumb is that for a yoga to significantly lift up the quality of a person's life, at least one planet in the combination should be strong. In Tom Hanks' chart, for example, Venus in its own sign of Taurus in the Tenth House is a major indicator of his fame and success. In fact, Hanks has three planets in their own signs and two others exchanging signs in his chart (which gives them strength). (Yogas are discussed at greater length in the next section of this article.)
Another way that signs are used by Vedic astrologers is to assess the stability of planets. When a planet is in its sign of exaltation or debilitation, that planet becomes unstable, exaggerated in influence, and therefore the themes of the houses it occupies, rules, and aspects as well as those of the planets it aspects become destabilized. (Other causes of instability are planetary wars – where planets are within a degree of each other, retrogradation, combustion, and the New and Full Moon.)
D. The Network of Rulerships.
Perhaps the most important use of the signs in Jyotish is their role in house rulership. As aforementioned, the rulership systems in both ancient Western and in Vedic astrology are identical. The employment of house rulers in delineation, however, is more developed in Vedic astrology than anywhere else.
In Jyotish, combinations of two or more astrological factors (called yogas) create conditions that either raise or lower a person's life beyond the ordinary. A yoga can be as simple as a planet strong by its sign placement and in one or more specific houses. Or it can be as complex as a series of several different criteria that must all be met. Thousands upon thousands of yogas are defined in classical Vedic texts, and the majority of these yogas use sign rulerships in their specifications. E.g. in Harrison Ford's chart, it is the ruler of the First House in the Tenth House (in its own sign) that is one of the major indicators of his fame.
Please remember that in Vedic astrology, as in ancient Western astrology, each house was equivalent to one sign, so the terms sign and house became quite interchangeable. This is called the Whole Sign House System, in the West, or a Rashi chart, in Jyotish. For example, if the Ascendant occupies any degree of Taurus, the entire First House becomes the sign of Taurus.
The intricacy and importance of the network of house rulerships in Jyotish cannot be underestimated. To have the ruler of a supportive house (all houses except 3, 6, 8, and 12) in a challenging house (especially 6, 8, or 12), indicates challenges for the themes of the positive house. For example, Marilyn Monroe had her Fifth Lord in the Eighth House, and she had many pregnancies, all of which were terminated by abortion.
Similarly, to have two supportive house rulers together in the same house portends particularly well for not only the themes of both houses ruled, but also even more so for the house occupied. In other words, the ruler of a house carries its themes into the house it occupies and aspects. In Harrison Ford's chart, his 1St , 4th, 7th, 10th, and 11th lords are all in the 10th, as indicators of great 10th house success, but because the 12th lord is also there, he had many obstacles on the road to fame and fortune. Fortunately for him, the strongest planet was the 1st and 10th lord, the aforementioned Mercury.
While this discussion of house rulerships may seem daunting, it actually becomes quite easy to apply. If the ruler of a challenging house is strong (and in a house other than one it owns) then the themes of house occupied by it become significantly obstructed. For example, if the 6th house lord (indicating adversaries and illness) is strong, then one's opponents or illnesses are likely to be significant. One can even compare the strength of two house lords. E.g. If the 7th house lord is stronger than the 1st house lord, the person is likely to marry "above themselves". In Princess Diana's chart, her 7th house lord (Venus in Taurus) was significantly stronger than her 1st house lord (Mars in Leo).
Exploring the chart of a famous person may further clarify the Vedic way of using the signs in a chart. The chart of Marilyn Monroe, previously mentioned, illustrates several principles.
The Chart of Marilyn Monroe
Let's start with Saturn in Libra, because it is the strongest planet in her chart. It is the lord of houses 7 and 8, and it is located in the 4th house. As Lord of the 7th, we see that it represents her partners, who indeed were exalted in the eyes of the World (including Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, J.F.K, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and many others). That same strong planet, Saturn, in the house of home and mother (the 4th house) expressed itself as the 8th lord when her mentally ill mother tried to smother her, and her mother was later taken away to a mental institution. It is not generally desirable to have a strong 8th lord, as its strength magnifies 8th house themes, which can include incest, rape, sexual scandals, emotional challenges, and addictions – all of which played a major part in her life.
This powerful Saturn also aspects the First House (Vedic astrology emphasizes the backwards square or 10th aspect of Saturn), and Marilyn experienced a profound sense of isolation wherever she went.
Her Sun, on the other hand, is in a weakened position, in the sign of its enemy Venus, and as the 2nd lord, Marilyn lived in rinky dink apartments, had a "party line" (shared) telephone, and had huge money battles with the studios, even though she was famous and a great money-maker for them.
Marilyn Monroe has a powerful "passion combination" in her chart. Venus as lord of the 4th is opposite Saturn as lord of the 7th, and Saturn is both very strong (exalted and retrograde) and both sources of its strength also indicate instability. This combination explains both her widespread sexual activities and the impermanence of her primary relationships. Saturn's destabilizing influence upon both her 4th house and her 4th lord Venus also accounts for her having lived in over 45 different residences in her life.
Even though neither Jupiter nor Mars have much strength (both are in neutral signs), and they are placed together in the 8th house, their rulership of the 9th and 10th houses (respectively) creates one of the most profound yogas for success, which certainly manifested in her life. Note that her fame came from being a sex symbol, i.e. an 8th house theme. (More on her yogas here.)
Finally, Mercury in Taurus has both strength and weakness. (Note: in Vedic astrology, if a planet is both strong and weak, both are seen to manifest, instead of nullifying each other.) Mercury is in the sign of a friend, Venus, giving it strength, and very close to the Sun (combust), which weakens it. Marilyn was known to those close to her as having an excellent mind (showing Mercury's strength), but was often misperceived by the general public as being ditsy. (The gifts represented by planets in combustion are often either difficult to express or unseen by others.)
Note how, in the entire delineation of Marilyn Monroe's chart, the signs were only used to determine planetary strength and house rulerships. This is how Vedic chart analysis is typically done.
Vedic astrologers use the Sidereal signs effectively using methods that differ from those used by many modern Western astrologers. Jyotishis do not focus on the psychological makeup of the sign occupied by each planet, like many Western astrologers do, but instead place their attention on how planets are strengthened or weakened by the signs they occupy, and what signs and houses they rule.
1. PhalaDeepika Translated by S.S. Sareen Sagar Publications 1992
Chart Data for the Article:
Credit for providing the astrological data for this article goes to AstroDatabank.
Diana, Princess of Wales July 1, 1961 7:45 pm Sandringham, England
Harrison Ford July 13, 1942 11:41 am Chicago, IL
Tom Hanks July 9, 1956 11:17 am Concord, CA
Adolf Hitler April 20, 1889 6:30 pm Braunau, Austria
Charles Manson November 12, 1934 4:40 pm Cincinnati, OH
Marilyn Monroe June 1, 1926 9:30 am Los Angeles, CA
Paul Newman January 26, 1925 6:30 am Cleveland, OH
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