The Roles of the Navgrahas

These are some general pointers related to the Navagrahas (nine significant planetary bodies of Jyotish) that I have learnt from various teachers and texts over the years — please don’t apply these principles literally (apply them liberally) as these meanings can vary in degrees and effects across individual charts due to the many variables involved in Jyotish.

Lord Shani (Saturn):

Take note of the Bhava where natal Saturn is placed — one will learn to bow their head there, one will learn to become grounded there, one will learn humility, patience and work-ethic in relation to the significations of that Bhava with time (with maturity). There is no place for pride or hubris where Saturn is involved as he will grind that out of a person with time through various lessons and struggles. Saturn will rob one’s sense of confidence in relation to that particular Bhava where he is placed — there will always be some sense of inferiority complex (either minor or major in scale) or a feeling of scarcity or some sense of lack in relation to the Bhava significations connected to Saturn’s placement. If Saturn is afflicted or inimically placed then the process of learning will be more painful, i.e. involving more challenging life lessons. If he is favourably placed then the person learns with less suffering and struggles. Let’s suppose if Saturn is inimically disposed in the 5th house then one loses confidence in relation to 5th house matters such as creativity, academic learning, application of intellect, healing from diseases or love relationships or romantic pursuits, etc. Here, life lessons may involve dealing with challenging love relationships or difficulties connected to education or children or lessons connected to learning patience over matters of recovering from diseases, etc. A person will lack patience in relation to that Bhava where Saturn is placed unfavourably. When favourably placed in the 5th house, for example, a person has good work-ethic and practical sense and abilities in relation to 5th house significations. They will be hardworking, diligent and dedicated in that area of life which in the case of 5th house may mean a hardworking student.

These general indicators are based on the fact that Saturn is Karaka (natural significator) of sorrow, darkness, time, fears, poverty, scarcity, justice, diseases, death, karma, work, lethargy, depression, boundaries, etc. Saturn’s aspects and placement will delay the significations of that Bhava concerned when he is unfavourably placed or when he is acting as a functional malefic. His aspects can be especially harmful as in Vedic stories his sight is said to have cost Lord Ganesha’s head. Shani is also Karaka for longevity and old age, so one experiences slow and gradual growth in relation to the Bhava he influences. Shani gives results as per his clock, not as per our demands, so patience is the supreme lesson here. A strong and favourable Shani in the chart shows that the native has dedication, commitment, patience, strong ability to withstand or endure the harsher or challenging elements of life with an equanimous mind. Shani also represents seriousness and deep thinking ability especially when he is conjunct with the Moon. It can make a person drawn towards the life of asceticism or renunciation of material desires when placed in trines to Moon and Ketu. It gives wisdom of a different nature — a wisdom born from suffering, experience, practical learning and understanding of life’s limitations. Being the Karaka of limitations and restrictions, it teaches us lessons that we experience in relation to the Bhava he influences. He causes delays and hurdles to teach us patience. He causes restrictions and obstacles to help elevate the mind towards a higher soul calling. He imposes struggles to teach one humility as narrated in different Vedic stories. His lessons are rarely pleasant but the rewards are high if the individual is willing to learn (mature). As Saturn is the significator of Karma and justice, he bestows results that are fair and in proportion to one’s accumulated Karma. Shani gives fondness for old things so one likes old objects connected to the Bhava it is placed in — so when placed in the 5th house it makes one interested in learning history since 5th house deals with education and learning.

Lord Chandra (Moon):

Take note of the Bhava where natal Moon is placed — one cannot think rationally or practically in relation to that Bhava significations. One’s thinking in relation to that Bhava will always be influenced by one’s emotions and feelings and one’s desire for emotional contentment and comfort. Rationality, logic, objective analysis and practicality will have to take a backseat in relation to that particular Bhava significations. Essentially what some people describe as the “Left-brain” mentality will not function well in relation to the Moon Bhava indicators. One’s decision-making and thoughts in relation to that particular Bhava will always be based on one’s feelings, emotions and needs for inner comfort. Chandra is a gentle planet and it desires comfort, peace, nurturing, nourishment, warmth and emotional understanding above all else and it projects these needs in relation to the Bhava she is placed in. So one desires to explore those particular Bhava significations from the place of feelings and emotions rather than reason and logic. So the feeling faculty is more prominent than logical thinking when that Bhava comes into play. One also experiences lots of ups and downs, emotional upheaval and periodic changes in relation to that particular Bhava as the Moon waxes and wanes (fluctuates). So one has a fickle nature in relation to those Bhava significations and cannot sustain a firm conviction there for long. There is no constant or stable perspective in relation to the Moon Bhava significations. But if the natal Moon is favourable and strong (strength has to be first measured from Tithi, not Rashi where Moon is concerned) then one is less emotionally torn in relation to the Bhava significations. If let’s suppose the Moon is in the 5th house, one’s decisions on love matters or education matters are emotionally influenced, driven by feelings and desires, and not based on reasoning, weighing up pros and cons, calculated analysis or any practical concerns. The mind is drawn to deriving pleasure, contentment, comforts, peace and meaning from the significations of the Bhava where Moon is seated. If let’s suppose the Moon is in the 11th house, one struggles to find peace and contentment when one’s desires or income-related goals go unfulfilled. If the Moon is seated in the 9th house then one cannot find emotional contentment, peace or clarity unless one explores religion or philosophy or higher learning in some manner (either superficially or deeply). If the Moon is in the 10th house, professional satisfaction is directly linked to one’s emotional well-being and the lack of one will create an imbalance in the other.

Lord Surya (Sun):

Take note of the Bhava where natal Sun is placed — one feels naturally confident, having a sense of pride, dignity, vitality, self-esteem, regality and authority in relation to those specific Bhava significations. When Sun is afflicted, especially by Rahu, it gives overconfidence and boastfulness in relation to those Bhava significations. When Sun is conjunct Saturn it gives a mixed or paradoxical effect as the winner of the Planetary War will decide the outcome of the nature here, since Saturn and Sun represent very opposing qualities. But if Sun is favourably placed having strength then it gives confidence, natural leadership ability and pride — but without the added element of boastfulness, hubris or arrogance. Sun shows our intelligence, our creativity and innate leadership qualities so its Bhava placement shows where we express our intelligence, creativity and authority in life. An exalted and unafflicted Sun implies good intelligence as Sun is the natural 5th lord of Kalapurusha and the 5th house represents how we apply our Buddhi (intellect) and our discerning abilities (Viveka Shakti) in life. A strong Sun shows good health or capacity to heal from issues since Sun is the natural 5th lord of healing. Sun is also the giver of knowledge (the knowledge of Astronomy comes from Surya — the book Surya Siddhanta is knowledge handed down by Surya to a demon). Sun illuminates the house he sits in — so a person in time gains some measure of knowledge connected to the Bhava where Sun is placed. For example: If the Sun in the 11th house — the native in time gains creative knowledge on how to earn money lawfully, how to grow his wealth through work and other channels, how to build important connections, how to create lasting networks, how to create communities and sustain large groups, how to creatively fulfil one’s desires, etc. If the Sun is favourably placed in the 3rd house then it gives knowledge connected to 3rd house significations — which can mean skills of various kinds, artistic talent, musical talent, knowledge related to utilising one’s strength, one’s communicative intelligence, or business skills, etc.

Lord Brihaspati (Jupiter):

Jupiter represents that quality of happiness that cannot be bought or gained from any external sources. Jupiter is the significator of optimism, faith, ethics, higher vision, truthfulness, philosophy, children, wealth and wisdom. Mercury is considered highly knowledgeable and highly skilled but it lacks the Jupiterian wisdom which allows one to see the “bigger picture”. The curious English Idiom: “We miss the forest for the trees” is essentially the philosophical difference between Jupiter and Mercury. While Mercury focuses on scrutinising the parts separately, analysing the minute details, Jupiter sees the big picture at a holistic level. Mercury is Duality, Jupiter helps transcend Duality through wisdom and integrated understanding of the world (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — the world is one family — is Jupiter’s vision). So where Jupiter is placed in the chart, we are able to see the “big picture” in relation to that house significations. We have a wider or broader outlook of life in relation to that particular Bhava significations. It is for this reason that the classics say that Jupiter in Lagna in good dignity is a Raja Yoga that mitigates all evils (negative doshas). The happiness that one finds on an innate level, which cannot be bargained or bought or gained through any external rewards or objects or validation or sensory gratification is what Jupiter represents. The School of Advaita Vedanta describes God as “Sat-Chit-Ananda” — Jupiter is the “Ananda” element which shows the happiness or joy we derive on an innate level which doesn’t come from the senses. So where Jupiter is placed, there is a natural contentment or joy that we derive from the significations connected to that Bhava. For example: if Jupiter is placed in the 9th house in a friendly sign and is unafflicted then we derive that joy naturally from learning philosophy or religion or higher studies (PhD, etc) or through one’s relationship with father or teacher figures, etc. If Jupiter is beneficially placed in the 10th house then we find joy through leadership, through work, through engagement in karma (actions), through achievement in the world, etc. It also gives a broader perspective of life in connection to the house significations. When it is afflicted or weak, a person may lack a reliable Guru-figure in their life or they may attract the wrong kind of teachers or they may develop trust issues in connection to authorities or teachers. There is a lack of confidence in their own wisdom in relation to that Bhava when Jupiter is weakly placed. Jupiter when afflicted by Rahu can give over-confidence or arrogance in relation to one’s knowledge pertaining to that Bhava significations, but this only happens when Rahu overpowers Jupiter in the Planetary War. If Jupiter wins the war then it can control Rahu.

Lord Budha (Mercury):

Mercury represents duality, multiplicity, sculpting, Shilpa (arts and crafts), intellect (Buddhi), skills, one’s communicative ability, academic or formal learning, friends, the opposite-sex, young people in general, childhood, maternal uncle or aunt, one’s interests, hobbies, business intelligence, etc. Mercury is one of the Karakas of the 10th house of profession, apart from Saturn and Sun. When favourably placed in the natal chart — Mercury gives youthful charm, humour, wittiness, ability to enjoy life, ability to take things in a lighthearted tone, the ability to learn in a structured environment (like schools) and the ability to pick up all forms of worldly knowledge quickly (i.e. quick grasping ability). When Mercury is ill-placed or weak there are struggles related to getting or completing formal education, struggles connected to communicating abilities (issues related to language skills, speech and/or writing forms of expression), struggles related to handling paperwork, etc. When Mercury is weak there is a lack of discerning ability, lack of reasoning capacity and potential for skin diseases. Weak Mercury shows poor retentive ability and weakness in grasping information, nervousness or anxiety issues (as Mercury represents the central nervous system). The Bhava where Mercury is placed shows where we apply our so-called “Left-brained” qualities and forgo our so-called “Right-brained” nature. We are able to apply our logical faculties and reasoning skills in relation to the Bhava where Mercury is placed. So a favourable Mercury in the 9th house, for example, would show someone who takes a more calculative or logical or analytical approach to the study of religion, philosophy, higher knowledge, Guru-teachings, etc. They may take a more formalised learning approach in matters of 9th house, such that they may pursue higher knowledge through university environments or other structured mediums of learning (Eg. taking a university course in Theology). Mars is also Karaka for logic and reasoning (as Mars represents Nyaya-shastra, i.e. science of reasoning) so a favourable Mars and Mercury in the chart shows strong reasoning and logical abilities. Mercury also governs wealth (more specifically currency — refer BV Raman’s texts) as it deals with commerce, trading class, merchants and businessmen. One of the deities associated with Mercury in Vastu Shastra is Lord Kubera who is called the Lord of Wealth. Strong Mercury shows ability to acquire multiple skills, learn multiple languages and communicate effectively. Mercury is one of the most important Grahas with regards to succeeding in the material affairs of life as Mercury gives knowledge, skills and capacity to manage the daily mundane and practical aspects of life. Where Mercury falls in the chart, we become stingy, critical, calculative, analytical and discriminating in that area of life. Mercury focuses on the minute details and looks to take things apart and study them as fragments because it is more invested in analysing the part as opposed to seeing it as an integrated part of the whole. The ability to scrutinise fairly, offer constructive criticism, calculate, measure, review, reason, analyse and discern rightly is all indicative of a good natal Mercury.

Mercury also has a childlike nature to it as He is the Prince among the Grahas — so he brings youthfulness, charm and playfulness into the house he sits in. When the intellect is used in service to noble values, ethics and Dharma (Jupiter), it serves as a wonderful tool to understand the physical dimensions of life and to navigate through the many challenges imposed by life, but when misused it can become a force of cunning intelligence, engaging in deception, manipulation, selective or biased reasoning and displaying guile. So where Mercury is placed and depending on its dignity we apply our communicative and intellectual faculties there and put them to good use in relation to the Bhava significations. So for example: Mercury in the 8th house in a favourable condition shows that the native is investigative in nature, communicative about secret matters, unable to perhaps keep secrets, interested in digging and acquiring knowledge connected to 8th house significations — such as hidden knowledge, psychology or transformative tools or knowledge pertaining to handling others’ finances, etc. A favourable Mercury in the 10th house shows that one can succeed in profession by applying one’s intelligence effectively. Where Mercury is placed in the chart, we are open to communicating about those significations. So if Mercury is placed in the 4th house, a person enjoys talking about their home environment, homeland, their roots or other significations of the 4th house.

Lord Shukracharya (Venus):

Venus represents material comforts, desires, pleasures, relationships, semen, lustre in the eyes, Ojas, happiness through marriage, partnership, wealth, women, sexuality, artistic and creative expressions, poetry skills, sense of aesthetics (eg. dressing sense), scriptural knowledge, healing abilities, etc. Maharishi Vyasa describes Shukra as ‘Sarva-shastra-pravaktaram’, i.e., one who is able to eloquently narrate all the Shastras. Shastras represent the field of knowledge (Veda). Venus is one of the Gurus apart from Jupiter, and Venus is said to be as knowledgeable (in fact more so) than Brihaspati. Venus represents devotion and unwavering focus and resolve to complete a task of one’s undertaking because in the Vedic stories Shukra was devoted to completing his Tapasya (spiritual discipline) even though there were forces obstructing him and conspiring to make him lose focus on the task. So where Venus is placed in our chart, we are able to focus and dedicate our attention to the significations of that Bhava. Venus also signifies knowledge of healing and regeneration as Shukra in the stories possesses the power of Mrita Sanjeevani Vidya, which gives him the ability to revive the dead. So where Venus is placed in our chart, we are able to heal and regenerate ourselves in relation to those significations. As Venus also represents pleasures and sensory indulgences, we try to attain pleasures in relation to the Bhava indicated by Venus. Since Venus indicates wealth we can attract wealth in relation to the Bhava it is placed in. For example, in the 8th house, if Venus is favourably placed, a person can gain wealth through legacies or through the death of others (i.e. inheritance).

As Venus also points to our artistic nature, we try to express our artistic side in relation to the Bhava it is placed in. For example, if Venus is placed in the 9th house or in the sign of Sagittarius (natural 9th house) — a person likes religious works of art or music or paintings connected to deities, they may enjoy visits to cathedrals or temples having aesthetic value, even if they are not religiously-inclined. If Venus is unfavourably placed in the chart, a person experiences lack of material comforts and pleasures in life. They may develop issues connected to wealth, or experience problems in relation to women, vehicles, relationships, partnerships, marriage, dealings or interactions with others in general (as Venus is the natural 7th lord of Kalapurusha). They may exhibit an introverted nature or show an inability to engage more comfortably with others, and so. When Venus is favourably placed, a person has a graceful appearance, having nice lustre in their eyes, having an attractive body odour and appearance, dressing sensibly, attracting fine clothing, wealth, cars and luxuries in their life. A favourable Venus also gives stability in relationships and gives pleasure or satisfaction through union. Where Venus is placed in our chart, we desire knowledge, pleasures, aesthetics, finer things (luxuries), regeneration and dedication in relation to those Bhava significations. We have or expect high standards in relation to that Bhava. A weak or afflicted Venus shows that (especially in a male’s chart) the native is highly critical or expects a lot in matters of relationship and may never find anyone who lives up to his unrealistic expectations. The reason can be inferred from the fact that Venus is debilitated in the critical, argumentative and intellectual sign of Virgo, whereas it is exalted in the devoted and surrendering nature of Pisces. Love when made into a transaction loses its essence and thus when Venus is weak in the natal chart it shows that the person has a lot to learn in matters of relationship. Another name for Semen in Sanskrit is Virya which means strength. Hence Shukra also relates to the strength and vitality of the native and thus relates to the conservation of Ojas (sexual energy).

Lord Mangala (Mars):

Mars represents fire (Chidagni, Jnanagni, Brahmagni and so on). Mars represents dexterity or skills of hand (usage of weapons, using medical or surgical equipments, or handling technical or mechanical tools), engineering skills, etc. Mars is a soldier and a warrior. Where Mars is placed in the chart, we tend to become rather battle-ready in connection to those significations. Supposing Mars is placed in the 4th house, we tend to become rather highly defensive and protective in matters related to home, domestic environment, homeland, etc. Mars, as mentioned earlier, is Karaka for Nyaya-shastra, thus Mars’ placement and dignity shows our ability to logically approach the significations of that Bhava. In the classical text Phaladeepika authored by Mantreswara (refer Chapter 27), Buddhism is associated with Mangal. Many consider Lord Buddha to have adopted a more practical or rational approach, rather than a devotional approach, to the study of metaphysics and self-realisation. So if Mars is in the 9th house for example, in a favourable sign it may show a person leaning more towards adopting a scientific approach to the study of philosophy or religion. Mars is also called a celibate planet as it represents Brahmacarya — so in certain conditions it makes a person more driven to explore chastity as a means to spiritual evolution. Mars represents fiery temperament, short-temper, aggression or anger (krodha), argumentation, strength, capacity to fight, willingness to act, etc. So the placement of natal Mars shows our inclination or willingness to fight to defend matters in relation to that Bhava — either for rational reasons or irrational reactions. When Mars is favourably placed in the chart, a person loves to work with the soil, gardening, etc, and desires the preservation of the natural world as Mars is Bhumi Karaka.

A favourable Mars gives strength and capacity to fight obstacles and enemies for reasons that uphold Dharma as opposed to fighting to fulfil one’s selfish desire for retribution or retaliation. It makes one channel the energy towards fighting the inner enemies (Arishadvargas or the six internal demons) when the wisdom of Jupiter guides the spirit and energy of Mars. Where Mars is placed, we are ready and willing to expend our energy there without the need for external compulsion or pressure. So if Mars is placed in the 11th house, a person has a lot of energy to offer in relation to engaging with their network circle or in matters of gains (income), etc. When Mars is in the 9th house, a person has a lot of energy in relation to the study of 9th house matters such as religion or philosophy or the higher sciences. When Mars is in the 3rd house a person has a lot of energy to devote to the gain of new skills or activities that demand courage (eg. rock climbing). When Mars is placed in the 6th house, a person has energy to devote towards winning in competitive environments or engaging in arguments (debates, courtrooms, etc) or fighting an enemy threat. Mars gives the inner fire or the spark to act in relation to the Bhava he influences. A favourable Mars shows the ability to act for right causes and not get entangled in expending energy for trivial matters. On the flip-side, where Mars is placed, a person can display their aggressive nature in relation to those Bhava significations.

Lord Rahu & Lord Ketu (Nodes):

Rahu shows our obsession and insatiable desires and the Bhava he sits in points to that area of life that we have neglected to explore in our past lives and are thus forced to explore in the present. As we weren’t able to devote our time or energy in the past to learning those significations in the right way (i.e. in a comprehensive manner), we are presented in this lifetime with the opportunity to explore that arena of life. Rahu is described as the “personified ego” in the Jyotish classical text Saravali by the author Kalyana Varma. So essentially, where Rahu sits, we display overconfidence and obsession in relation to those Bhava significations. We lack humility in matters connected to that Bhava and lack a sense of a holistic understanding there because our approach is characterised by impatience. Rahu can adopt shortcuts in matters of that Bhava and thus there is a superficial understanding of those Bhava significations. If Rahu and his dispositor are favourably placed then the person applies their intelligence in the right sense to understand the significations connected to that Bhava. When poorly placed, Rahu can lead to a misuse of intelligence (adopting cunning intelligence) or showcase a fake exhibition of those Bhava significations. Rahu in the 4th house for example can make one interested in psychology, the study of the mind, devoted towards exploring motherhood or domestic-life, etc. Rahu in the 5th house can show a desire to learn mantras, explore foreign languages, experience romantic relationships or engage in creative pursuits or chase after some means to achieving quick fame or prominence, etc.

Ketu shows that area of life which represents our conquered territory, implying it is something that we have already explored in our past lives to some adequate degree. It is for this reason Ketu represents flags. Where Ketu is placed there is an innate sense of knowing some things connected to that Bhava since they represent knowledge carried over from past lives into the present. So if Ketu is in the 3rd house, as an example, a person may have innate business skills or artistic or musical or communicative abilities which may be a part of their past life exploration. Ketu in the 10th house shows an ability to handle work-related pressure, deal with the challenges of leadership or ambition or fame and other work-centered tasks, but it simultaneously creates a sense of detachment and dissatisfaction in relation to the Bhava significations as we are trying to move away from those significations in this present lifetime. Ketu represents Fakir (ascetic) and Moksha (liberation) and where Ketu is placed, we desire freedom and a shattering of illusion to set us free. We also exhibit detachment, disinterest and a feeling of stoic discontent in relation to those Bhava significations. Ketu in the 9th house, for example, can show a person desiring to move away from the more orthodox or rigid expressions of faith and religion and desires a more fun and intellectual exploration of these matters since 3rd house is the original Mercury house of Kalapurusha. As the nodes don’t act independently, their dispositors hold the key to examining their true behaviour.

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