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Jyotish -
the Systems of Vedic Astrology
- Meanings and Uses

Jyotish Star May 2017

By Vachaspati Christina Collins
One of America’s leading practitioners of Mundane Astrology explains the major types of Jyotish and clarifies confusing Sanskrit terminology.

Natal Astrology
Most people, both Individuals and Astrologers work within the “natal” branch of Astrology. A natal chart is the blueprint of an individual formed by the planetary configuration present at the moment of birth, of first breath.

Jyotish (Vedic astrology) employs a myriad of supportive divisional charts and systems in addition to the rasi or "main" chart, and twelve zodiacal houses of 30 equal degrees. Jyotish uses yogas or planetary configurations, of which there are hundreds, and timing systems called dasas. Jyotish uses the sidereal rather than the tropical system for its calculations.

Dasa Systems
Jyotish uses dasas as predictive tools for ascertaining possible future events, and when an incident or experience may occur. There are fifty or more planetary time period systems. Most commonly used is the Vimsottari which illumines the period affecting a person (or event) at any given time. The nine closest planets (grahas) calculated for a chart, which includes the lunar nodes (Rahu and Ketu), have their individual time periods indicating when they will influence life, when it’s their turn to play their card.

Each planet's cycle of influence is slightly different and varies in length from six to twenty years; it takes 120 years to complete the full cycle. We calculate the dasas from the position (degree) of the natal Moon at birth. This gives a probability factor for when particular types of events may occur, although this can be modified by possible free will decisions an individual makes as controller of their own destiny. It also gives a research tool for observation of past events in a life. Personal choice can lessen a negative tendency and increase a positive trend: it’s up to the individual. One can look both ways before crossing the street, or just walk into the street without looking. One can run smack into a wall, or just gently bump the nose—but if the discovery has been made that the wall may be there, one may miss it entirely! Or, at least be prepared for the obstacle, or the bump in the road.

The Sanskrit terms Maha Dasa, Bhukti, Antaradasa, Sooksma and Prana are names for the major period (Maha dasa) and sub divisional periods of time. In effect – the Mahadasa or “Mother” time period – is like the canvas, or the overall experience. The subperiods indicate the variables and changes to that experience. For the Prana level, or even the Sooksma to be observed – the correctness of the birth chart, or the horoscope in hand, must be correct to the second. So, for the most part Astrologers use the initial three.

A. Maha Dasa
1. Bhukti
a. Antaradasa
1. Sooksma
a. Prana

Predictive Astrology
In the branch of Predictive Astrology the following are just some of the techniques Jyotish employs

Transits (Gochara) reflect the daily movement of planets as related to the natal (Rasi), or divisional charts. After the initial foundation work with the Natal Horoscope, further observation of the chart takes place for the purpose of exploring current conditions and probable outcomes of an individual’s or a company’s, or even a country’s chart. The current sky’s planetary positions are observed superimposed over the natal horoscope to ascertain the combined influence. Transits exhibit particularly potent or significant effects, when their Dasa, or time period runs or operates.

Today's planets influencing the birth chart form aspects (or dristi – which means “to cast a glance,”) that render current meaning.

These transiting planets are read like conjunctions (two or more planets in a sign) when in the same sign as a natal planet, and the other aspects apply much as they do in the nativity. This is similar to having a second set of planets at all times connecting with your own. It's really like a weather report. Possible rain, take your umbrella. Possible accident, don't speed in the car. Possible love, get out and circulate.

Jokingly said, this illustrates a very important point. Humans have free will. If you were to have the chart of a president of a country, but you never leave your small town—guess who won't be president? Still, that chart will manifest its leadership, based on the current environment – giving the big fish in the small pond.

Truth states that there are certain parameters that can't be changed, but it is also true that when transits bring us into our potential, it is up to us to live up to that potential. Also, we, as Astrologers, must always keep in mind the totality of the natal chart and its tendencies, before making predictions. Is the chart accident prone? Love prone? The full picture gives us the general weights and balances, then we apply the transit connections.

Transits, combined with Dasa Time periods make the Vedic system unique in its predictive ability.

Horary / Prasna addresses a query; it’s a “Question Horoscope.” This predictive technique employs the concept that this is the chart of an idea or issue rather than of an individual. For instance, "Will I get fired from my job"? or "Should I go into partnership with this person?" There are many interesting forms of prasna in addition to calculating an actual rising sign for a horoscope. In some cases the person is asked to toss a coin or flower onto a chart to determine its ascendant (Lagna). This is not that common in the West where so much astrological work is done by telephone or over the internet using Skype. When the birth time is unknown a prasna chart is cast and a natal reading is given based on the moment the astrologer is approached by the person. Many Astrologers calculate the ascendant using the longitude and latitude where he or she resides when receiving the question.

Time and Date Determination / Muhurta
Murhurta is the technique for selecting the most auspicious time for an event to take place, such as weddings, engagements, announcements, business incorporation, court filing and appearance dates, dissolution of contracts (business or marriage), travel, medical procedures, or performing any important action desiring a good result. Just as positive placements in a natal chart give good results in life, a good chart for starting something important can give a good outcome.

Relationship Compatibility / Kuta
Synastry (kuta in Sanskrit) involves taking two or more natal charts and comparing them for harmonious aspects and agreement. It is most often used prior to marriage for determining the compatibility between two prospective mates, and in the West, extensively used for business for choosing Partners or Employees. In Jyotish, not only are the planetary positions and the divisional charts compared but the constellations (Nakshatras) of the Moon play a major role in determining marriage suitability. A special system called the Kuta Agreements compares each of the 27 nakshatras or lunar mansions to each other, ascertaining which pairing would prove most fortunate. The operating dasa systems are also taken into account for comparison.

This system can really help people understand why they do or don’t get along with their parents or children. Compatibility studies help the future married couple, and the already married pair to communicate, indicating strengths and weaknesses -- and if difficulties exist, what can be done to improve them. This is one of many places where remedial measures, such as gemstones or mantras, can be of assistance. Even Vastu (Vedic architecture) can be valuable…change the room, change the experience.

Propitiation / Remedial Measures
Ayurvedic and Medical astrology frequently make use of propitiation and remedial measures. This involves the use of gemstones, mantras, service, prayer, or sacred rituals for balancing the chart in a more hopeful direction. Most common is the recommendation of a gem for a chart to strengthen the person energetically. Even herbs and ingredients in Ayurvedic remedies are picked, gathered and concocted using an auspicious muhurta.

Most commonly we find a couple of basic schools of thought.

1. Strengthen the benefic planets so that weak benefics cannot cause harm. Often the stone for the ruler of the rising sign or Moon will be recommended.

2. Give a stone for a malefic planet, "feed the hungry beast so it won't eat you!" A stone for the ruler of the 8th house (house of longevity), or for a malefic dasa ruler is often given in this category. Until one has a great deal of experience with this, it is usually held that it is "safer" to recommend stones for the beneficial, or positive planets in a chart..

Medical / Ayurvedic
Medical astrology uses planetary influences to understand and diagnose potential health problems so that preventative measures can be taken to avert possible illness and increase longevity. It is also used when a chronic or difficult problem exists to aid health care professionals in diagnosis. Medical astrology can assist a person in understanding why health problems or accidents happen to them. It also helps them to know when there will be light at the end of the tunnel, and when they can expect improvement. People can bear their burden far more gracefully and with more hope if they know it isn't going to last forever. And, in the cases where it will, or when the disease is indeed life threatening, it can aid them to recognize that it might be time to get their affairs in order. This branch is closely aligned with Ayurveda, (the medicine of India) and many Ayurvedic physicians also practice Jyotirveda (Vedic astrology).

Each of the 27 nakshatras or Moon mansions is comprised of four equal parts or padas, and each pada has a sound allocated to it (108 sounds). The most common use of this sound system (nama nakshatra – and nama means “name”) is for naming people and businesses. The degree of the natal Moon determines the first syllable or initial sound chosen for an individual's name. In ancient and even sometimes in current day India where written records of birth times are not often kept or recorded, knowing this sound provides the approximate degree of the Moon, thereby ensuring the horoscope can be reconstructed when needed. Another potential use arises when an auspicious name sound is requested for someone’s new or existing business.

Mundane / World Events
Mundane Astrology involves observing the transits to the charts of a nation and its ruler, an event and its native, or events in nature, and their location.

For example:
1. Following political affairs by comparing the chart of a nation and its leader. Also for determining the broad outlook on a newly elected official’s run in office. This is done by doing a chart for the location and time when a new official utters their first word as holder of that office.

2. Predicting natural disasters and earth changes, or a country's economic or political climate.

3. Following the planets for their influence in financial affairs and money markets.

Study and mastery of this system also assists the Astrologer when consulting a natal chart. If you have learned that an aspect between Mars and Saturn causes war to break out, or that an eclipse of the Sun or Moon can manifest an earthquake, then when you see this occur in a person's chart, your depth of understanding of the individual increases. Or if you notice that the transiting Mars will soon aspect an individual's Saturn, you can give timely counsel.

Spiritual / Esoteric
This system illustrates the soul path of an individual or nation. It is used to determine life purpose, career, past life credit, and religious or spiritual tendencies. Here considerations such as caste and ganam (whether the person’s tendencies are “angelic, human or worldly”) are determined in order to assist the individual in finding or following their chosen path. A good way to observe spiritual tendencies of individuals is to study the charts of saintly persons or spiritual teachers. Another technique observes the Nakshatras of all of the planets of an individual, and determines their quality (ganam).

There are many other branches of Vedic astrology, some less commonly used than Natal Jyotish, such as meteorological (to predict weather), Financial (to predict the markets), and Agricultural (for planting and harvesting crops). Vastu – Vedic architecture and Astrocartography (the Map of your planets around the earth, and the relocation of a chart to another place on earth – thus changing the houses the planets occupy) and where observation of the current chart’s Dasa time period planets are particularly observed.

Components of a Vedic Birth Chart
Rising Sign / Lagna: Found along the ecliptic (the "apparent" path of the sun, or in actuality the orbit of the earth around the sun) are the twelve constellations of the zodiac, which we call "signs." Each of these twelve signs rise for approximately two hours. The sign rising in the east at the time of birth is known as the rising sign or lagna. Each sign belongs to a division called a house and each house division has 30 degrees in the Vedic Equal House system. In Jyotish, the rising sign and the Moon sign are the primary areas of focus, this is why it is so important to obtain the correct time of birth. If one is born just as a sign was changing, one minute can make a difference, changing the rising sign and the house placement of planets. Chandra lagna means using the sign the natal Moon is in as the rising sign. In Jyotish the Chandra lagna is often read in addition to the usual birth chart.

Rasi Kundali and Navamsa: The rasi kundali or natal chart is the primary chart calculated. It is the birth chart or blueprint of the native. The navamsa (ninth harmonic) chart, considered the "fruit of the tree," gives the hidden or subtle side to an individual's life, and clues to the person's partners. Where one natal chart could exhibit a positive outlook, (i.e. a strong and healthy tree), the navamsa may show "bitter fruit." Another person's natal chart may seem complicated and troublesome, yet portray "sweet fruit," portraying great hidden strength and more of a hopeful outlook in the navamsa chart. Supplementally, we employ many other divisional or sub charts for further specific life experience reference.

Rectification verifies the time of birth and is one of the many times where the Navamsa is of great assistance. If the Navamsa doesn't give correct results when questioning the individual, then the birth time should be corrected (called rectification) until the navamsa and other divisional charts (Vargas) ring true.

House Meanings
Each of the 12 houses contain many meanings. A brief synopsis of some of these interpretations follows:

House 1: The self, identity, personality, soul (Atman), physical health and the ego, and the physical head.

House 2: Personal finances, earnings by individual effort, early family life, the face, mouth, and the throat.

House 3: Creativity, courage, communication, younger siblings, short journeys, the arms, hands and chest.

House 4: The home, vehicles, Mother, agriculture, fixed assets, emotions, education and the stomach.

House 5: Pleasures, romance, children, intellect or mind, sports, speculation, meditation or spiritual practices, purva punya (past life credit), the heart and lower back.

House 6: Sickness, service of dharma or life purpose, servants, pets, medical connections, enemies and litigation or war, and the intestines.

House 7: Marriage, partnerships, contracts (business and other), the public, foreign connections, the bladder and kidneys.

House 8: Misery, hidden things (occult), inheritance, chronic conditions, longevity, unearned wealth (inheritance or other people’s money), reproductive and organs of elimination.

House 9: Religious nature, spirituality, long distance travel, the personal relationship with the Father, Personal Destiny or Dharma, the hips and thighs.

House 10: Career or expression of life purpose, occupation, the manifestation of destiny, the world's view of the Father, and the knees.

House 11: Prominent people, friends, cash flow and profit, shins and ankles.

House 12: Losses, moksha, enlightenment or liberation, institutions (hospitals, prisons and monasteries), abstinence or renunciation and “house of the couch,” or bed pleasures, and the physical feet.

House Rulers or Lordship:

Each house has a ruling planet. The position of the ruler of a house gives further meaning to a particular house. This rulership is taken into account even when planets are not posited in a house. Depending on planetary placement, a greater or lesser amount of focus may be spent discussing one house over another. Do not be concerned if a chart has a house without planets. We use nine planets and twelve houses. It does not mean that a house without planets will not have an influence. The ruler of the sign belonging to a particular house (and all houses have rulers) will be influencing from its own sign and house location.

Jyotish calculates the signs for the major planets, Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and includes the Moon's nodes Rahu (north) and Ketu (south), but does not include the Trans-Saturnian planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, who each transit from a greater distance. Slower moving planets appear to have more of an effect on large groups of people and world events. What was found to have a major influence on individuals though, were the nodes of the Moon – in Sanskrit, Rahu and Ketu. Known as the shadow planets, or upa grahas, these points were found by experience to have major effects and so were given full planetary value. These same points are known in the West as the shadows creating solar and lunar eclipses.

Additionally, each planet will be in one of 27 Nakshatras (also called asterisms, Lunar Mansions, constellations or "stars"). These stars form the distant background of the 12 signs of the zodiac.

In ancient cultures, astrology was as much a part of life as any other aspect. Wouldn't it be nice today, if at about the time children are taught to tell time, they were also started with planetary instruction? This would offer both a renewal of the past, and a future to dream for. I applaud you all in your perusal of this most ancient science, in the hopes that it will bring more "light" (Jyotish) into the world.

Revised article, and first printed in the Inaugural issue of the ACVA Journal 1:1 Page 12

Christina Collins Biography:

Christina CollinsChristina Collins, Jyotish Visharada, CVA, Jyotish Kovid, ICAS and CVA, Jyotish Vachaspati, ICAS, Jyotish Medha Pragya, ICAS and Jyotish Mahasagara from Raman and Rajeshwari Foundation 2013, is a third generation Astrologer specializing in the Vedic system. She received her honorary titles from the late Dr. B.V. Raman, former President of the ICAS (Indian Council for Astrological Sciences) in New Delhi and Bangalore, India, from CVA (Council for Vedic Astrology, USA), from the ICAS in Bangalore, from the Raman and Rajeshwari Foundation in 2013 and the Jyotish Navaratna from ACVA (American College for Vedic Astrology) in 2014.

From1997 to 2012, she was the first and sole American woman to be honored by the highly held title of Jyotish Vachaspati (Jyotish - the light bearer and Vachaspati - the one who speaks the truth and whose predictions come true. (In
Sanskrit, Vac = speech and Brihaspati is a name of Jupiter the planet of wisdom and truth. Her most recent honor from India, the Jyotish Medha Pragya title, means that consciousness has merged with Jyotish.

As a founding member, she currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American College of Vedic Astrology (ACVA online), and was former Editor of the ACVA News. President of Celestial Resource (The Timing Coach) she serves corporate and private clients from students to celebrities. For the Jyotish Star you can reach her in Boulder CO at, and for consultations:

Christina's Consultation Contact information:

Christina Collins, J.K., J.V.
Editor in Chief The Jyotish Star
Lafayette, (Boulder County) CO, USA
web site:
phone: 303-665-9996

See my interview on YouTube by Lissa Coffey

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