What is Nakshatra and Why is it Important?
What is Nakshatra?
Have you ever looked at the stars and felt that Western astrology seems to lack the beauty and symmetry of the natural universe? Then you should pause to consider ancient Hindu, or Vedic, astrology, which pre-dates Western astrology and succeeds in encapsulating the wonderment of the universe. Where the West is concerned with 12 zodiac signs, the Nakshatra incorporates 12 signs, or house, and 27 additional moon houses. Don’t worry, this will make sense in a minute.
If you’re like me, you may have come to a point in your life where Western astrology, or even modern science, doesn’t seem to hold the answers to your questions. I hit a bad patch in my life, where nothing made sense, where confusion dominated, and then I discovered Vedic astrology. But what is it and how does it capture the essence of the universe?
The Meaning of Dasha
Picture a perfect 360-degree circle. This circle is divided into 27 sections, each section represents a sun or moon house. The sections comprise planets in our system. According to Vedic texts, the planets control or dictate our behavior, and we can predict certain outcomes by understanding the good and bad effects of the heavenly bodies and their relation to the circle.
By understanding Dasha we can understand these effects.
To put it simply, Dasha signifies the best or major period of any given planet. Ancient texts refer to as many as 42 Dashas but only two are prominent: Vimshottari and Ashtottari. Since there are 9 planets, the Dasha is determined mathematically. Understanding how to read and interpret them can give you insight into your life and the universe.
The number 120 is crucial to the Vimshottari Dasha. In fact, “Vimshottari” in ancient Sanskrit is used to signify “120.” This number is important because it denotes the lifespan of a person. This number is derived from the span of the various periods of all nine planets. But what are planetary periods? In short, they signify the stages of life.
Literally “moon” in Sanskrit, Chandra represents one of the houses of the Moon in Vedic Astrology. It signifies mental peace or happiness. It also symbolizes emotional well-being. The relation of the moon in your horoscope, especially its relation to the other houses when you were born, plays an important role throughout your life.
As effects of planets range for good or bad, from weak or strong, the conditions of these planets play a crucial role in your life. If you’re fortunate to have a strong moon occupying an important place within your horoscope, then you have a stronger chance of experiencing good blessings and emotional symmetry.
Picture yourself standing in a field in the middle of the night. You’re nowhere near a city or man-made light. What do you see? More importantly, how do you see? By light from the moon. It not only helps to gauge your surroundings, it can also bless you with guidance. So, too, in Vedic astrology. We can’t overstate the importance of the placement of Chandra in your horoscope. As the moon illuminates your way in a dark field, it also illuminates or blesses the overall trajectory of your life.
In ancient Hindu tradition, Chandra was a god who married the 27 daughters of King Dakshan. Not only is Chandra as symbolized by the moon important to astrology, he’s also, in a sense, the anchor around which the entire system stays afloat.
Remember the circle we mentioned above, the one divided into 27 sections? Now it’s time to consider those sections, which collectively we call the houses. Here’s the picture again so that you won’t have to scroll back.
This circle represents the star field overhead. It’s divided into sections of constellations. If we imagine a point in the center of the circle, and the circle divided into 27 pieces, then we can use this center, and each division to calculate the value of each house at 13 degrees and 20 minutes. Added together, all 27 houses equal 360.
As the Moon is the anchor of the celestial map, and since it revolves around the Earth, it passes every celestial body, thus completing the circle. Chandra’s strength ebbs and strengthens depending on its placement in the houses.
According to the story of Chandra and the wives of King Dakshan, the King eventually cursed Chandra, causing him to weaken and diminish before his wives intervened. They persuaded their father to reverse the curse. Corresponding to the celestial sphere, this story also reflects the trajectory of the moon. As it passes all planetary objects in the course of a month, it’s weakened, then strengthened. Where it falls on the constellation chart—whether it’s strong or weak—might determine the trajectory of your life, or of your emotional well-being.
Names of the Houses
Ashwini – a male horse, symbolized by a horse’s head, denotes competence (positive) or rashness (negative).
Bharani – is symbolized by the female reproductive system. It can denote cleverness and skill (positive) or stubbornness and apathy (negative).
Krittika – is often depicted as an axe, a razor, a flame, or a sharpened edge. It can denote tenacity or fame (positive) or impatience or aggression (negative).
Rohini – is symbolized by a chariot or an ox cart, or a combination of both. It can denote truthfulness (positive) or deception (negative).
Mrigcira – symbolized by an antelope’s head, can denote intelligence (positive) or helplessness (negative).
Ardra – symbolized by a human head, can denote curiosity (positive) or sadism (negative).
Punarvasu – symbolized by a bow and arrow, can denote a caring nature (positive) or easily bored (negative).
Pushya – is symbolized by a cow’s udder, a flower, a circle, or an arrow. It can denote creativity (positive) or selfishness (negative).
Ashlesha – is symbolized by a snake, a circle, or a wheel. It can denote cleverness (positive) or depression (negative).
Magha – symbolized by a royal throne, can denote emotional balance (positive) or jealousy (negative).
Poorva Phalguni – symbolized by a hammock or a bed, can denote generosity (positive) or promiscuity (negative).
Uttara Phalguni – symbolized by a bed or 2 legs of a cot, can denote ambition (positive) or egotism (negative).
Hasta – symbolized by a hand, can denote attractiveness (positive) or substance abuse (negative).
Chitra – symbolized by jewelry or a pearl, can denote artistic leanings (positive) or self-centeredness (negative).
Swati – symbolized by coral, can denote morality (positive) or shyness (negative).
Vishaka – symbolized by a tree or a gateway, can denote determination (positive) or greed (negative).
Anuradha – symbolized by a lotus, can denote spiritedness (positive) or co-dependence (negative).
Jyeshta – symbolized by an earring or talisman, can denote musical ability (positive) or immortality (negative).
Moola – symbolized by tree roots or a lion’s tail, can denote good fortune (positive) or insecurity (negative).
Poorvashadha – symbolized by a fan or basket, can denote the ability to influence others (positive) or immaturity (negative).
Uttarashadha – symbolized by elephant tusks or a bed, can denote gratefulness (positive) or self-indulgence (negative).
Sharavan – symbolized by an ear or footprints, can denote cordiality (positive) or extremism (negative).
Dhanishta – symbolized by a drum, can denote frankness (positive) or pride (negative).
Satbhij – symbolized by an ox cart or a circle, can denote emotional balance (positive) or instability (negative).
Poorva Bhadrpada – symbolized by a sword or a two-faced man, can denote spiritual depth (positive) or anxiety (negative).
Uttara Bhadrapada – symbolized by the rear legs of a bed, can denote good discipline (positive) or gossipy (negative).
Revati – symbolized by a drum, can denote luck (positive) or volatility (negative).
The examples of negative and positive traits given above or a tiny percentage of the wealth of information, both positive and negative, that each house can provide. You can find more information online if you’re interested in further exploring them.
The Mahadasha represents the division of the circle, how the lives of people are segmented, where the 120 years of a human lifespan is broken down into segments represented by the 27 houses. Think of the Mahadasha as a point in the house into which you were born. If you’re born with the Revati prominent, for example, then the Mahadasha for your birth will be represented by the corresponding planetary body. The span of your life will then cycle through the 27 houses beginning with the Revati.
Every Nakshatra has a specific planet at its “lord.” Think of this in terms of the ancient world, how every region had a Lord presiding over it. In Vedic astrology, Lord Planets preside over the sun and moon houses.
The Lord Planets are Ketu (an imaginary planet that represents the lunar cycle), Venus, the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, and Rahu (another imaginary planet, it’s paired with Ketu).
The Lord Planet is critical in determining the house into which you were born. By understanding the relation of the moon to the lord of the house, you’re one step closer to understanding your life cycle, and how to analyze and interpret it. As with the intricacies of Vedic Astrology, we encourage you to explore the nuances and characteristics of the Lord Planets.
Navamsa (D-9) and Padas (3,20)
The Navamsa Chart (D-9) is a chart distinct from the birth chart. It’s where you’ll find depth and a greater spiritual understanding of yourself and the people in your orbit. Navamsa charts take your 30-degree sign and divide it into nine sections, each 3.20 degrees. These sections are called Padas and this help to unite the houses with traditional astrology. In creating your Navamsa chart and understanding how each pada relates to planetary objects and your life in general, you’re one step closer to developing a greater understanding of your place in the universe.
Knowing how to formulate this chart and how to read it might lead you to a place you could call enlightened. While it’s too nuanced to get into any depth here, you can find great resources to better understanding these charts, how to create them, and how to read them.
I encourage you to work toward fully understanding and appreciating the nuances of these charts and divisions. It could lead you to great spiritual places.
Practical Uses of Vedic Astrology
If your goal is to use astrology to win the lottery or determine the cause of your death, then you’ll probably be disappointed. As with all spiritual endeavors, you should focus on employing astrology to develop a greater understanding of yourself—this, after all, is its true power.
Using Vedic Astrology in everyday life can have long term benefits. You could use to better understand your spouse, or possible spouses, by developing your Navasmas to determine if you’re compatible or not. You might even consult it when considering a job change, or a change of scenery, or even if you should get a new pet. While the possibilities are limitless, your road to a greater understanding of yourself might occur as long as you focus on smaller or more intimate details of your life.
The Power is in Your Hands
As you have seen, Vedic astrology is rich with depth, the product of geniuses born from a stunning cultural heritage. It may seem daunting, even confusing, at first, but once you grasp each concept, you might experience positive spiritual change. It’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t focus on racing through any single article or book while attempting to chart your existence. Mastery takes time.
The best approach to learning Vedic Astrology is to break it down into chunks, to divide it into easily digestible segments, and focus on mastering each segment. This may seem tedious if you’re eager to jump in and do everything, but it will be worth it in the long run. Your power will not diminish. It can only grow. Sure, you’ll stumble along the way—who hasn’t?—but you’ll probably learn a thing or two from stumbling. Feel free to comment if you have a question. We’re always here to help.
Remember, when learning a new skill or understanding, it’s best to
• Asses it as a whole
• Figure out how to break it into easily digestible parts
• Focus on understanding each part
• When you move to the next part, keep the previous part in mind, and how to connect it with the part you’re working on
• And, most importantly, have fun.
Again, leave a comment if you have any questions. Now glance up at the sky, at the moon, and smile. Its blessings shower on you whether you know it or not.