What Is a Horoscope and Who Am I? Purpose of Phalitha Jyothish (Predictive Astrology)- Part 2
This is the continuation of my previous article on the subject. That article can be found here (click on the link).
In that article we discussed the purpose of predictive astrology and, we left the article with a few questions for follow up discussions.
Here’s the first question.
How do they draw the horoscope?
What is a horoscope (aka Jataka Chakram or Kundali) as per Jyotish? Vedang Jyothish (aka Vedic Astrology) uses what we call horoscope to read and interpret karma (specifically prarabda karma and sanchita karma) of the individual and the major events in that person’s life that are conducive to burn off that karma. Horoscope is the true description of the sky as seen from the place and time of birth of a given individual. Specifically, the Indian Horoscope describes the sky in terms of the positions of 9 grahas (in terms of longitude) wrt 27 nakshatras.
Now, what is a graha? A graha is any celestial object that grabs another object. For the purpose of the horoscope, positions of the following 9 grahas are tracked: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu, and Ketu. Out of these, Rahu and Ketu are not physical objects, but they’re specific points in the zodiacal belt, where when the earth, moon, and sun come in straight line, eclipses occur. Rahu and Ketu are known as ‘chaya grahas”, i.e. ‘shadow grahas’.
Now, what is a nakshatra? The 360-degree sky as seen from any point on the earth is divided into 27 equal parts of 13.33 degrees each, and these parts are called Nakshatras. Each nakshatra, In turn, is divided into 4 padas each. Pada means leg in Sanskrit. So each pada is 13.33/4= 3.33-degree space. So there are 27*4=108 nakshatra padas in Vedic astrology.
Note the significance of this number 108 in Vedic Sciences. This number repeats in many shastras (sciences) in India. Will discuss the significance of number 108 in some other article in the future.
These nakshatras can be identified from anywhere on earth based on the brightest star in that 13.33-degree space. But the actual nakshatra is 13.33-degree space, not just one star. And these nakshatras are named based on the characteristics they indicate to easily remember the astrological significance of the position of the grahas in that particular part of the sky. So Ashwini -1 means, Ashwini Nakshatra, 1st pada. Ashwini means horse and there is a puranic story associated with each nakshatra enabling the Jyothishis to remember the interpretation of a graha’s placement in that nakshatra. This, i.e. Katha (story) is a very popular technique in India to teach certain theories. Storytelling concept as a teaching aid is still in use today.
You can find more about the astronomy side of Jyothish in my previous articles that are posted on this website by clicking here.
Sample horoscope and the corresponding sky image is given below.
Date, Time and Place for this sample:
28th June 2018 00:06:54 am from Hyderabad, India. (midnight).
Actual Sky position
This is the screenshot taken from the Stellarium Astronomy software for the given time and place.
Given below is the corresponding horoscope.
Refer to the sample horoscope given above. Notice how that horoscope accurately describes the position of the various grahas with nakshatras as background including the longitudes.
First, refer to the the Rasi chart. Rasi corresponds to a constellation in the sky. In this chart, the grahas are shown as spread across 12 different Rasis, i.e. Zodiac signs as per their actual positions in the sky. Now see, how Jyotish is tightly coupled to astronomy in India?
Notice that Moon is in Moola nakshatra and in Dhanush Rasi. Dhanush literally means ‘bow’. And notice the bow shape where the moon is placed in the sky as seen from the Stellarium screenshot (in the image of the sky). But Rasi is not exactly the shape of that constellation. It’s the 30-degree space close-to/around that constellation. Btw, Rasi literally means group.
Now notice the Bhava chart in the sample horoscope.
In addition to the Rasi chart, the horoscope also includes the Bhava chart, which again is divided into 12 bhavas (aka houses) where the positioning of the grahas are shown. So each bhava is 360/12=30 degrees in size, just like Rasis.
Notice the term ‘As’ in pink in the Bhava chart. This is known as the Ascendant or Lagna in Jyotish. Lagna is counted as the first house, i.e. first bhava. The first bhava indicates your true self, your head and your physical appearance for this life. The house next to it. I.e. the 30-degree space next to it indicates the 2nd house and it represents your family, your voice, your family wealth etc. in this life. And so on.
Note: Bhava Chart and Rasi Chart are not one and the same. Rasi chart uses the Ascendant zodiac sign (which is a 30-degree space in the sky) to calculate the graha placement. Whereas the Bhava chart uses the degree of the Ascendant, not just the Ascendant sign to calculate the house the grahas are placed as opposed to which Zodiac Sign. Hence Bhava Chart is more accurate when it comes to counting the houses, but this also requires a more accurate time of birth.
Btw, Bhava Chart is a very useful tool for ‘twin birth analysis’ as Ascendant degree changes every 4 minutes. In natural births as opposed to c-section births, twins are usually born more than 4 minutes apart and by then the Ascendant degree changes. This is because earth moves by a degree in 4 minutes. Twins horoscope analysis uses other techniques in addition to the bhava chart, which we’ll cover in the ‘twins’ question article next.
References: A good description of the difference between Rasi chart and Bava chart are explained in the reference video below (Video is done by Sri Dhilip Kumar).
Another reference: Various ways of calculating the Bhava Chart are listed in the video below again by Sri Dhilip Kumar.
Btw, Bhava Chart calculation is mentioned in Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra 5th chapter which itself was estimated to be written around 3200 BCE (5,000 years ago). They were calculating the position of the grahas to the degree then. (If this is not science, then what is?). However, the use of the software in recent times made astrologer’s life easy as the software calculates the horoscope for us as opposed to us doing manually saving time. But the interpretation of the horoscope has to be done manually. Only certain points can be automated that too with less accuracy.
Food for thought. As we can see by now, yes. Ancient Indians knew very well the spherical shape of the earth and the zodiac. They also knew very well by how many degrees earth and other grahas move in a minute by carefully following the grahas positioning wrt stationary (relatively speaking) nakshatras as background. Astronomy and hence Trigonometry thrived in India and those ancient techniques are still followed to predict the image of the sky wrt to the positions of the grahas with nakshatras as background thousands of years into the future accordingly. This is the significance of the Indian Panchang. Refer to the Appendix section in this article for an interesting tidbit about Ramayan.
Who Am I
Now back to what does a horoscope indicate? Many things. One of the interesting aspects of the horoscope is understanding the “Who am I’ question. Vedic Astrology throws some light onto the above question.
Let’s go back to our sample chart.
Consider the Bhava Chart.
Now notice that the Ascendant, i.e. lagna is in a certain box in that horoscope. As we discussed before, we count that as the first bhava. From there, we can interpret the kind of the person this horoscope belongs to and how this person’s life unfolds. For example, in someone’s chart: If their first house happens to be in ‘Simha Rashi”, then that person is like a lion. Will have leadership qualities but can have harsh speech etc. We count the second house to be the house next to it in the clockwise direction. Based on the grahas in each of this houses in which nakshatras they’re in at what degree, we can analyze this person’s persona in addition to the likely events in his life. Let’s focus on the persona first. From their 3rd house, we can see their communication abilities. From their 7th house, we can see their relationships. From their 5th house, we can see their creative abilities and so on. So taking the box tagged as ‘As’, i.e. Ascendant as the first bhava/house, we can study the personality of this individual. This is the actual persona of this person. Also, we can see certain events in his life. Like he’s likely to inherit wealth from his family. He’s also very likely to be successful in getting wealth from speculative activities like stock market investments, lotteries etc. Similarly, we may see that he’s likely to get a working spouse. Now, don’t ask the question that, did the ancient people have stock markets? The idea is that the ancient interpretation of speculative wealth is translated to be things like ‘stock market’, ‘lottery’ etc. in modern times. Vedic astrologers are smart enough to translate the old interpretation wrt the modern economy and societal conditions.
Now let’s see where the moon is. Moon represents emotions. In the sample chart, we can see that the moon is in 10th house from the lagna. If we count the moon’s house/bhava as the first house as opposed to the lagna as the first house, from there we can see how the person views his persona to be and what kind of emotional impact the life events on him going to be. The kind of the emotions he has got and who thinks he is and how he responds to those events.. For example, In some horoscopes, we can see that the person is actually very romantic considering lagna as the first house. But the person may see himself as more neutral as seen by considering moon’s placement as the first bhava. So we can actually interpret the horoscope from 2 different perspectives. In addition, we can see the emotional impact of certain events. For example, counting lagna as the first house, if we see that this person is likely to inherit family wealth, from his moon chart, i.e. counting moon’s house as the first house, we can see the emotional impact of inherited wealth on his life. Similarly, the Lagna chart may say that his spouse is a working individual and moon chart tells us his emotional response to having a working spouse.
Who that person is and what events are likely to occur in his house (using Lagna as the first house) and
Who that person thinks he is and what kind of emotional impact those events are going to be on him(using Moon’s placement as the first house).
Side note: A person’s persona can be described using lagna, lagna nakshatra, the grahas in the lagna, moon nakshatra, rasi etc. But this is for astrology students. This article is not aimed at astrologers or astrology students. It’s more for non-astrologers to understand how astrology works conceptually. So not going into those details here.
Now, it gets more interesting. We can not only see how the person sees himself, but we can also see how others view him by analyzing the horoscope with ‘Arudha Lagna’ as the first house. In the sample horoscope, notice the term ‘AL’ in the 3rd house from Lagna (i.e. As). That AL is called Arudha Lagna. If we take that as the first house, then can we see how others view this person.
So we can see 3 different images of this person’s persona.
Who this person actually is.
Who he thinks he is.
Who the world thinks he is.
Or put another way
What is happening in his life.
How he views those events, and
How the world views those events in his life.
In general isn’t it the case for a good percentage of the people? They’re actually one thing. ‘Who they think they are’ is another thing. And how the world views them is quite different from both the images. Or what is happening to a person is one thing. How they view that event is another thing and how the world interprets that is quite different. For example, a person gets a working spouse. This is just an event. No judgment here. That is studied from the Lagna chart where Ascendant is taken as the first house. But that person may view having a working spouse as a pain, as they need to adjust their routines on daily basis. This is learned from the Moon chart where Moon’s bhava is taken as the first house. The world may view this event as a lucky one for him, as he gets financial support from his spouse. This can be understood by studying Arudha Lagna.
Once we understand these 3 images from the horoscope analysis, we’ll understand that all the 3 images are simultaneously correct. For example, we can understand that some of the issues that are arising in our relationships are because of our interpretation of the relationship is different from reality. Not only that, but we also realize that others are viewing our relationship in a way that’s different from our image of the same. For example, Some one’s spouse may be very logical and practical in reality. But that person may view their spouse more as old-fashioned and traditional. Whereas the world may view this person’s spouse as boring. So horoscope analysis helps us to understand that the image of our life is different from the reality and the world’s image of us is again a different thing.
So in summary, from Lagna analysis, an event is an event. Neither bad nor good. From Moon chart analysis, we can see how that event is viewed by that person. And from the Arudha Lagna, we can see how the world views that event. All these together answer the ‘Who am I’ question.
For someone to have realized this in ancient times and included this in the horoscope analysis, they clearly must have had a good idea about the psychological aspect of the human nature vis-a-vis societal interactions. Psychoanalysis as a subject was of interest to our ancestors as well. It’s not just a modern phenomenon.
Btw, Vedic Astrology is much more than psychoanalysis. There are techniques and methods to interpret the likelihood of certain events occurring in one’s life or certain events happening in a country and the approximate timing of those events.
Coming up next:
Famous Twins Question: When twins were born at the same time, wouldn’t their horoscopes be the same although their lives unfold differently? We’ve got a glimpse of a technique called ‘Bhava Chart” in this article for the same to draw twins horoscopes. We’ll see more techniques in the next article.
Why do some people live in slums/on footpaths? Is it their karma? This is another question that people tend to ask to refute karma theory. We’ll see the answer to the above in the next article. Sneak peek into the answer: No, They don’t have to live on the footpaths to burn off their karma. The concept to understand is ‘relative poverty’, not ‘absolute poverty’. `Will discuss this in more detail in the next article.
That article can be found by clicking here.
In this article, we’ve discussed how to draw the horoscope. As we’ve seen, it’s completely astronomy. It describes the position of the grahas wrt to the nakshatras at a given point of time in a given place. So this is sensitive to the place and time of birth. This is the reason, Vedic Astrologers want to know your time and place of birth. This is the reason, in India, why kings used to get their children’s horoscopes done as soon as they’re born accurately noting down the time. So it’s like their birth certificate accurately describing their place and time of birth along with the description of the positions of the grahas and nakshatras in the sky.
Interesting Tidbit: In Ramayan and Mahabharat (two main Itihasas, Itihasa literally means ‘that’s verily happened’), Sri Ram’s and Sri Krishna’s birth chars are described in terms of their horoscope in sloka format. Literally saying “When Sri Ram was born Moon was in this nakshatra”, Jupiter was close to the moon around that time and so on. Similar info for Sri Krishna was given. Using that information, modern astrologers are able to estimate the actual date and time of birth of these historical figures. Not only the birth chart, but Valmiki also described the timing of the different events in Ram’s life using this astronomical phenomenon and eclipses. Since the sky image and celestial events like eclipses are unique to a given place and time and they do not repeat in thousands of years. with the new software available that allows us to map the sky for a given date and time, scientists are able to find out on which date and time in the past that sky description matches with the description given in Ramayan. This is another proof that Ramayan and Mahabharat were not fiction. Some stories may have been added later, but when they were originally written they were the recordings of the historical events. As per that information, Ram’s birth was timed to be a little over 7 thousand years ago wrt 21st century as per a number of experts. If Valmiki made up the whole thing along with the actual description of the sky at various times accurately matching Ram’s age at those events as described in Ramayan, he must have had very powerful software then. Or there is a simpler explanation. He recorded the events as they happened.