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TheVedicSigns

byHankFriedman

[Author'sNote:Throughoutthisarticle,theexamplechartsusesignsintheSiderealZodiac,notthe
TropicalZodiac.]

Sincemankind'searliestdaysonEarth,themovementoftheSunacrosstheheavenshasgarneredour
raptattention.WecanmeasuretheSun'spathfromtwodifferentvantagepoints:inreferencetoour
ownpositionontheEarth,orinreferencetoitspathacrossthebackdropofthestars.Formany
purposes,suchashunting,plantingandharvestingandotherseasonalevents,observingtheSun's
passagerelativetoones'physicallocationhasbeenofvitalimportance.ThemovementoftheSun(and
theotherplanets)acrossthefieldofstarshasbeenvalued,ontheotherhand,forselectingpropitious
timesforbothmundaneproceedingsandspiritualrituals,fornavigation,andforpredicting
astronomicalevents.

Astrologersalsousebothmethodsofreckoning.WesternastrologersusetheseasonalorTropical
Zodiac,wherethesignsarebasedupontheannualmovementoftheSuninrelationshiptotheEarth.
TheTropicalsignofAriesbeginsatthepointintheskywheretheSuncrossestheEquatorgoingNorth
onthefirstdayofSpring(fortheNorthernHemisphere),aroundMarch21st.Vedicastrologers,onthe
otherhand,usethestellarorSiderealZodiac,wheretheSiderealsignofAriesisdeterminedbythe
placementofthestarsintheZodiacalconstellationsofthenightsky.Forthe21stcentury,theSun
entersSiderealAriesaroundApril15th.

TheTropicalZodiacreflectshowthechangesoftheseasons,ofweather,andoflightanddark,affect
us,whiletheSiderealZodiacrevealsourplaceamongthestars,ourplaceintheUniverse.Sincethe
signsinbothZodiacshavethesamenames,andmanyofthesamecharacteristics,thiscanconfuse
astrologersandleadsometobelievethatonemustberightandtheotherwrong.Butinfact,thosewho
usetheTropicalZodiacdosoinwaysthatdifferfromthosewhoemploytheSiderealZodiac,andvice
versa.ItisvitallyimportanttobeclearherethatallmethodsofastrologythatuseeitherZodiaccanbe
deepandaliveinthehandsofatalentedpractitioner.

Buthowdidthebothkindsofsignsendupwiththesamenames?Themostlikelyexplanationisthat
duringtheearlyyearsofWesternastrology,theTropicalandSiderealZodiacswerevirtuallyaligned
(atmostonlyafewdegreesapart),sothattherewaslittleneedtodistinguishbetweenthem.Infact,
manyWesternastrologerstodaydon'trealizethatthesignstheyuse(i.e.intheTropicalZodiac)no
longeroccupythesamespaceastheconstellationsthattheywereoriginallynamedfor.

Forexample,ifyoulookupatthenightskywhentheMoonisinearlytothemiddleofVirgoina
Westernchart,visuallyitwillbetraversingtheconstellationofLeo.Astronomerssometimestrytouse
thisfacttoderidemodernastrology,notrealizingthataZodiacbasedupontheseasonsisjustasvalid
asonebaseduponconstellationalpositions.

Asimpliedabove,thetwoZodiacsdivergefromeachother.BecausetheEarthisnotaperfectsphere
butinsteadiswiderattheequator,itwobblesinitsorbit,andasaresulttheseasonsandthepositionof
theSunrelativetotheEarthshiftinrelationshiptotheconstellations.Infact,theTropicalsignAries
coincideswiththeconstellationofAriesforonlyasmallfractionofthe26,000yearprecessionalcycle.

WithinVedicastrology,thedifferencebetweentheZodiacsiscalledtheAyanamsha,whichmeans
"fallingbackportion".VedicastrologersreckonthebeginningoftheSiderealZodiacbasedupon
specificstarpositions,withthemostcommonlyusedayanamsha(calledtheLahiriorChitrapaksha
ayamamsha)baseduponthepositionofthestarSpicaasmarkerofthebeginningoftheSiderealsign
Libra.

UsingtheLahiriayamasha,thetwoZodiacscoincidedat285AD.ThedifferencebetweentheZodiacs
growsbyonlyaboutonedegreeevery72years.Today,thedifferencebetweenthemisapproximately
24degrees.E.g.aplanetat25degreesofCancerinaWesternchartisatabout1degreeofCancer
Sidereally,andanyplanetearlierthan24degreesofanyTropicalsignwillmovebacktotheprevious
Siderealsign.Thisdivergencecontinuestoincrease,andthereforeastrologersarehavingtocometo
termswithplanetsbeinginonesignTropicallyandanotheroneSidereally.Nevertheless,eachZodiac
hasexceptionalvaluewithintheastrologicalsysteminwhichitisused.

ThepurposeofthisarticleistoshowhowVedicastrologersuseSiderealsigns.(Note:Vedicastrology
alsomakesextensiveuseoftheSiderealZodiacinitssystemofLunarMansions,akaNakshatras.See
LindaJohnsen'sfinearticlesontheNakshatrasinTheMountainAstrologer.)

OneclearillustrationofthecontrastingapproachesliesinthefactthatwhileWesternastrology
textbooksusuallyhavedelineationsofalloftheplanetsineachofthesigns,Vedicclassicaltextsdonot.
TheearlyreferencesonlygiveinterpretationsfortheRisingSignsandoccasionallyfortheMoonsigns,
andthelatertextsthatofferplanetinsignmeaningsdosobycategorizingtheplanetinthesignof
anotherplanet,notitasignitself.Forexample:MarsinasignofVenus,insteadofMarsinTaurusor
MarsinLibra.

Ontheotherhand,whilemostVedicclassicsinterprettherulersofhouses(byhouse,strength,aspects,
etc.)ingreatdepth,thisisnotcommonlydoneinmostWesternastrologytextbooks.TheentireVedic
systemofapproach,inotherwords,isorientedtowardsplanetsandtowardsusingsignsasindicating
planetaryrulerships,asopposedtofocusingonthequalitiesofthesignsthemselves.

Thatisnottosaythatthesignslackmeaning.Asyoucanseefromthesectionbelow,thesignshave
richanddetailedsignifications.Butthesearesecondarytotheirplanetaryowners.Forexample,ifa
planetisinitssignofexaltation,aWesternastrologerseesitasstrong.AVedicastrologer,however,
immediatelylooksatthestrengthoftheplanetthatrulestheexaltationsign,andifthatplanetisweak,
thentheexaltationwouldcarrylittleweight.Similarly,ifaplanetisinthesignoppositetoitsexalted
sign(whichWesternastrologycallsFallandVedicastrologydebilitationorneecha),thenagainthe
Vedicastrologerlooksatitsdispositor,andiftherulerofthedebilitationsignisstrong,thenthe
debilitationisnotonlyameliorated,butcaninfactindicateremarkableabilities.Thiswayofthinking,
abouttheprofoundeffectofdispositorsuponplanets,isacentralandvaluableapproachinVedic
astrology.

B.TheVedicRashis

TheVedictermforastrologicalsignisrashi,whichmeansaheapofstars.WhilemodernWestern
astrologyisverythemebased,withallofthequalitiesofTaurus,forexample,clearlycorrelatingwith
eachother,Vedicastrologyismorenonlinear,withnoattempttomergethevariousmeaningsofeach
signintocoherentthemes.

ThefundamentalfactisthatVedicastrologersconceiveofandusesignsdifferentlythanWestern
astrologers,andthatthedifferingsectionsofspaceactuallyhavedivergentmeanings.Weseethisin
theclassicalVedicinterpretationsofthesigns.InMantreswara's16thcenturyclassicalwork,Phala
Deepika1,thesignAriesisseenasassociatedwithfearofwater,forexample,aqualitynottypically
ascribedtoTropicalAriesinWesternastrology.(Seethefollowingtableforallofthesigns)

UniqueMeaningsoftheRisingSignsinVedicAstrology
Aries roundeyes,weakknees,ofpoorappetite,concealingfacts,andsexy
Taurus heavythighs,sacrificing,happyinmiddleendoflife,enjoysyoungwomen
Gemini fondofdance&music.,likesbeingindoors,sexuallyindulgent,amindreader
Cancer henpecked,manyfriends,walksfast,fewsons,ownsmanyhouses,wealthy
Leo largechin,reddisheyes,obeyshismother,wandersinhills,angryattrifles
Virgo droopingarms&shoulders,fewchildren,takesadvantageofothers'wealth
Libra spiritualdevotee,intentonbeingfirst,brave,twonames,mercilessinarguments
Scorpio lotusmarksonfeet,sickearlyinlife,separatedfromparents,honoredbyrulers
Sagittarius short,alwaysengagedinwork,destroyshisenemies,wonoverbykindness
Capricorn weaklegs,vitality,lazy,affairswitholderwomen,wanderer,lucky,shameless
Aquarius greedy,cleveratcausinghurttoothers,fondofperfumes,fluctuatingfinances
Pisces drinksalotofwater,scholar,sharpvision,fondofhiswife,grateful,verylucky

Additionally,whilethethreemodes:Cardinal,Fixed,andMutable,areassociatedwiththesamesignsastheyare
inWesternastrology,theyhavetheirownnamesandmeaningsinVedicastrology.Cardinalsignsarecalled
Moveable,andindicatetravelandrestlessness,Fixedsignskeepthesamename,butindicatetheunlikelihoodof
travel,whileMutablesignsarecalledDual,andindicatealternatingbetweenthefirsttwostyles.

Asyoucanseeinthetablebelow,rashisorVedicsigns,areclassifiedinmanyuniqueways,expandinguponthe
meaningofeachsign.

VedicClassificationsoftheSigns
Asyoucanseefromthetable,therulershipofeachsigncorrespondswiththesignrulershipsusedinWestern
astrologyuntilthe20thcentury.Thesymmetryofpairedrulersisabeautifulthingtoobserve(clickheretosee
FigureOne:TheSymmetryofSignRulerships)andVedicastrologerswereverycareful,evenafterthey
introducedadditionalpointsintothechart,nottodisturbthisrulershipscheme.

Theabodeslistedinthetableareafewofthemanyphysicallocationsassociatedwitheachsign.Theselocations
wereusedforavarietyofpurposes,includingchoosingwheretobuildahouse,andthefindingofobjects.The
threedoshacomefromthefieldofAyurveda,andareusedtoassistastrologersinthediagnosisandcureof
disease,andinmakingnutritionalrecommendations.Pittahasafireyqualityindicatingtemper,heat,and
assertionVatahasawindyqualityindicatingsensitivity,nervousness,andsusceptibilitytocoldandKaphahas
awateryqualityindicatingheaviness,lethargy,andslowness.

Thesigns'directionsareusedforPrashna(Vedichoraryastrology)andVastu(theVediccounterpartofFeng
Shui),whilethefertilityattributeaddressesthelikelihoodofhavingchildren.Thewayasignriseshasbeenused
toassesswhethertheconditionsatthetimeofbirtharefavorableorunfavorable.

OneadditionalclassificationofthesignsiscentraltotheVedicconceptoftheaimsoflife.Therearefourbasic
aimsoflife,Dharma,whichindicatesintegrityandlifepurposeandcorrespondstotheFiresignsandhouses
(houses1,5,&9),Artha,whichindicateslivelihoodandsecurityneeds,andcorrespondswiththeEarthsignsand
houses(houses2,6,&10),Kama,whichindicatesinvolvementinrelationshipsandthepursuitofpleasure,and
correspondswiththeAirsignsandhouses(houses3,7,&11),andfinallyMoksha,whichindicatesthegoalof
enlightenmentandthelessonsinlettinggo,andcorrespondswiththeWatersignsandhouses(houses4,8,&12).

Anexcellentexampleofapersonwithstrongdharma,becausehehasplanetsintheirownFiresignsinFire
houses,isPaulNewman.Renownedforhisintegrity,hehasJupiterinSagittariusintheFirstHouseandMarsin
AriesintheFifthHouse.Onamoreshadowyside,CharlesManson'scharismagavehimtremendousinfluence
overothers,andhehadVenusandMercury(lordsofAirhouses)aswellastheSunandJupiter,allinVenus'sign
ofLibra,inthe7thhouse.Hemanipulatedandseducedhisfollowerswithdrugsandsex,powerfullyplayingupon
theirpursuitofpleasure.

C.TheStrengthandStabilityofPlanets

BothWesternandVedicastrologersseeplanetsasstrongintheirownsignsandsignsofexaltation,andweakin
theirsignofdebilitation.WhileWesternastrologersalsoseeplanetsasweakintheoppositesign(s)totheone(s)
ruled,Vedicastrologersdonot.

BesidesusingExaltationandDebilitationasindicatorsofplanetarystrengthandweakness,Vedicastrologers
groupplanetsasfriends,neutrals,andenemiestoeachother.Whenaplanetisinthesignofafriend,itisstrong
(butnotasstrongaswheninitsownsignorexaltation).Whenaplanetisinthesignofanenemy,itisweak(but
notasweakasindebilitation).Whenaplanetisinthesignofaneutralplanet,itsstrengthismediocre(i.e.
average).

TableofPlanetaryFriendships

Planet Friends Neutrals Enemies

Sun Moon,Mars,Jupiter Mercury Venus,Saturn


Moon Sun,Mercury Venus,Mars,Jupiter,Saturn None

Mercury Sun,Venus Mars,Jupiter,Saturn Moon


Venus Mercury,Saturn Mars,Jupiter Sun,Moon

Mars Sun,Moon,Jupiter Venus,Saturn Mercury


Jupiter Sun,Moon,Mars Saturn Mercury,Venus
Saturn Mercury,Venus Jupiter Sun,Moon,Mars

Tousetheabovetable,itisimportanttonotethatthesignsofexaltation,ownership,anddebilitationsupercede
theconsiderationsinthetable.E.g.eventhoughtheMoonisafriendofMars,MarsisdebilitatedinCancer.
Similarly,eventhoughJupiterisaneutralplanetforVenus,VenusisexaltedinPisces.

Knowingthestrengthofeachplanetisofmajorimportance.ItallowsVedicastrologerstodeterminethemost
influentialplanetinanyconfiguration(thestrongestplanethasthegreatesteffect,althoughveryweakplanets
canhavepotentdisruptiveeffects).Jyotishisalsoneedtoassesswhetheranyofthepositivecombinationsinthe
chart(thepositiveyogas)areofrealconsequence.Theruleofthumbisthatforayogatosignificantlyliftupthe
qualityofaperson'slife,atleastoneplanetinthecombinationshouldbestrong.InTomHanks'chart,for
example,VenusinitsownsignofTaurusintheTenthHouseisamajorindicatorofhisfameandsuccess.Infact,
Hankshasthreeplanetsintheirownsignsandtwoothersexchangingsignsinhischart(whichgivesthem
strength).(Yogasarediscussedatgreaterlengthinthenextsectionofthisarticle.)

AnotherwaythatsignsareusedbyVedicastrologersistoassessthestabilityofplanets.(Othercausesof
instabilityareplanetarywarswhereplanetsarewithinadegreeofeachother,retrogradation,combustion,and
theNewandFullMoon.)Whenaplanetisinitssignofexaltationordebilitation,thatplanetbecomesunstable,
exaggeratedininfluence,andthereforethethemesofthehousesitoccupies,rules,andaspectsaswellasthoseof
theplanetsitaspectsbecomedestabilized.AgoodexampleisthechartofAdolphHitler.Inhisseventhhouse,he
hadtheexaltedSuninAriesaswellasaplanetarywarbetweenVenusandMarsandhisprimary
relationships,thepeoplehewasclosestto,andhehimself,wereveryunstable,andheandhisgeneralswere
exaggeratedinselfimportance.

D.TheNetworkofRulerships.

PerhapsthemostimportantuseofthesignsinJyotishistheirroleinhouserulership.Asaforementioned,the
rulershipsystemsinbothancientWesternandinVedicastrologyareidentical.Theemploymentofhouserulers
indelineation,however,ismoredevelopedinVedicastrologythananywhereelse.

InJyotish,combinationsoftwoormoreastrologicalfactors(calledyogas)createconditionsthateitherraiseor
loweraperson'slifebeyondtheordinary.Ayogacanbeassimpleasaplanetstrongbyitssignplacementinone
ormorespecifichouses.Oritcanbeascomplexasaseriesofseveraldifferentcriteriathatmustallbemet.
ThousandsuponthousandsofyogasaredefinedinclassicalVedictexts,andthemajorityoftheseyogasusesign
rulershipsintheirspecifications.E.g.inHarrisonFord'schart,itistheruleroftheFirstHouseintheTenth
House(initsownsign)thatisoneofthemajorindicatorsofhisfame.

PleaserememberthatinVedicastrology,asinancientWesternastrology,eachhousewasequivalenttoonesign,
sothetermssignandhousebecamequiteinterchangeable.ThisiscalledtheWholeSignHouseSystem,inthe
West,oraRashichart,inJyotish.Forexample,iftheAscendantoccupiesanydegreeofTaurus,theentireFirst
HousebecomesthesignofTaurus.

TheintricacyandimportanceofthenetworkofhouserulershipsinJyotishcannotbeunderestimated.Tohave
therulerofasupportivehouse(allhousesexcept3,6,8,and12)inachallenginghouse(especially6,8,or12),
indicateschallengesforthethemesofthepositivehouse.Forexample,MarilynMonroehadherFifthLordinthe
EighthHouse,andshehadmanypregnancies,allofwhichwereterminatedbyabortion.

Similarly,tohavetwosupportivehouserulerstogetherinthesamehouseportendsparticularlywellfornotonly
thethemesofbothhousesruled,butalsoevenmoresoforthehouseoccupied.Inotherwords,therulerofa
housecarriesitsthemesintothehouseitoccupiesandaspects.InHarrisonFord'schart,his1St,4th,7th,10th,
and11thlordsareallinthe10th,asindicatorsofgreat10thhousesuccess,butbecausethe12thlordisalsothere,
hehadmanyobstaclesontheroadtofameandfortune.Fortunatelyforhim,thestrongestplanetwasthe1stand
10thlord,theaforementionedMercury.
Whilethisdiscussionofhouserulershipsmayseemdaunting,itactuallybecomesquiteeasytoapply.Iftheruler
ofachallenginghouseisstrong(andinahouseotherthanoneitowns)thenthethemesofhouseoccupiedbyit
becomesignificantlyobstructed.Forexample,ifthe6thhouselord(indicatingadversariesandillness)isstrong,
thenone'sopponentsorillnessesarelikelytobesignificant.Onecanevencomparethestrengthoftwohouse
lords.E.g.Ifthe7thhouselordisstrongerthanthe1sthouselord,thepersonislikelytomarry"above
themselves".InPrincessDiana'schart,her7thhouselord(VenusinTaurus)wassignificantlystrongerthanher
1sthouselord(MarsinLeo).

ExploringthechartofafamouspersonmayfurtherclarifytheVedicwayofusingthesignsinachart.Thechart
ofMarilynMonroe,previouslymentioned,illustratesseveralprinciples.ClickheretoseeFigure2:TheChartof
MarilynMonroe.

Let'sstartwithSaturninLibra,becauseitisthestrongestplanetinherchart.Itisthelordofhouses7and8,
anditislocatedinthe4thhouse.AsLordofthe7th,weseethatitrepresentsherpartners,whoindeedwere
exaltedintheeyesoftheWorld(includingJoeDiMaggio,ArthurMiller,J.F.K,FrankSinatra,MarlonBrando
andmanyothers).Thatsamestrongplanet,Saturn,inthehouseofhomeandmother(the4thhouse)expressed
itselfasthe8thlordwhenhermentallyillmothertriedtosmotherher,andhermotherwaslatertakenawaytoa
mentalinstitution.Itisnotgenerallydesirabletohaveastrong8thlord,asitsstrengthmagnifies8thhouse
themes,whichcanincludeincest,rape,sexualscandals,emotionalchallenges,andaddictionsallofwhich
playedamajorpartinherlife.

ThispowerfulSaturnalsoaspectstheFirstHouse(Vedicastrologyemphasizesthebackwardssquareor10th
aspectofSaturn),andMarilynexperiencedaprofoundsenseofisolationwherevershewent.

HerSun,ontheotherhand,isinaweakenedposition,inthesignofitsenemyVenus,andasthe2ndlord,Marilyn
livedinrinkydinkapartments,hada"partyline"(shared)telephone,andhadhugemoneybattleswiththe
studios,eventhoughshewasfamousandagreatmoneymakerforthem.

MarilynMonroehasapowerful"passioncombination"inherchart.Venusaslordofthe4thisoppositeSaturn
aslordofthe7th,andSaturnisbothverystrong(exaltedandretrograde)andbothsourcesofitsstrengthalso
indicateinstability.Thiscombinationexplainsbothherwidespreadsexualactivitiesandtheimpermanenceofher
primaryrelationships.Saturn'sdestabilizinginfluenceuponbothher4thhouseandher4thlordVenusalso
accountsforherhavinglivedinover45differentresidencesinherlife.

EventhoughneitherJupiternorMarshavemuchstrength(bothareinneutralsigns),andtheyareplaced
togetherinthe8thhouse,theirrulershipofthe9thand10thhouses(respectively)createsoneofthemostprofound
yogasforsuccess,whichcertainlymanifestedinherlife.Notethatherfamecamefrombeingasexsymbol,i.e.an
8thhousetheme.

Finally,MercuryinTaurushasbothstrengthandweakness.(Note:inVedicastrology,ifaplanetisbothstrong
andweak,bothareseentomanifest,insteadofnullifyingeachother.)Mercuryisinthesignofafriend,Venus,
givingitstrength,andveryclosetotheSun(combust),whichweakensit.Marilynwasknowntothoseclosetoher
ashavinganexcellentmind(showingMercury'sstrength),butwasoftenmisperceivedbythegeneralpublicas
beingditsy.(Thegiftsrepresentedbyplanetsincombustionareofteneitherdifficulttoexpressorunseenby
others.)

Notehow,intheentiredelineationofMarilynMonroe'schart,thesignswereonlyusedtodetermineplanetary
strengthandhouserulerships.ThisishowVedicchartanalysisistypicallydone.

VedicastrologersusetheSiderealsignseffectivelyusingmethodsthatdifferfromthoseusedbymanymodern
Westernastrologers.Jyotishisdonotfocusonthepsychologicalmakeupofthesignoccupiedbyeachplanet,like
manyWesternastrologersdo,butinsteadplacetheirattentiononhowplanetsarestrengthenedorweakenedby
thesignstheyoccupy,andwhatsignsandhousestheyrule.

1.PhalaDeepikaTranslatedbyS.S.SareenSagarPublications1992

ChartDatafortheArticle:

CreditforprovidingtheastrologicaldataforthisarticlegoestoAstroDatabank.

Diana,PrincessofWalesJuly1,19617:45pmSandringham,England

HarrisonFordJuly13,194211:41amChicago,IL

TomHanksJuly9,195611:17amConcord,CA

AdolfHitlerApril20,18896:30pmBraunau,Austria

CharlesMansonNovember12,19344:40pmCincinnati,OH

MarilynMonroeJune1,19269:30amLosAngeles,CA

PaulNewmanJanuary26,19256:30amCleveland,OH

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