Ashtakavarga — Philosophy
The first step in Aṣṭakavarga is to prepare individual Aṣṭakavarga of the 7 Grahas and the Lagna, that is 8 bodies in total. These are called the Prastāra Aṣṭakavarga, which literally means spread out Aṣṭakavarga. Prastāra means spreading-out. In Prastāra Aṣṭakavarga of a body (Graha or Lagna), the favourable and unfavourable positions are determined from the positions of 8 pivotal points. For instance, in Sūrya’s Aṣṭakavarga, Candra is favourable to four places from his own position, viz., 3, 6, 10 and 11.
To understand Aṣṭakavarga, let us imagine that there are eight different Kingdoms each governed by a Graha or the Lagna. The kingdoms are Sūrya’s kingdom, Candra’s kingdom, Maṅgala’s kingdom, Lagna’s kingdom and so on. In a kingdom there is one king and 7 ministers. Say, in Sūrya’s Kingdom, Sūrya is the king and 7 other bodies, viz., Candra, Maṅgala, Budha, Bṛhaspati, Śukra, Śani and Lagna are the ministers. Likewise, in Candra’s kingdom, while Candra is the King, Sūrya is one of the ministers along with 6 others. In a kingdom, the matters of the state and the state policies are segregated into 12 portfolios or ministries, ranging from health, wealth and others, each governed by a minister. The 12 portfolios represent the 12 Bhāvas, where the King denotes the Lagna. For instance, in Sūrya’s kingdom, Sūrya’s Rāśi becomes the Lagna, governing the portfolio of health, vitality and reputation, Sūrya’s 2nd Bhāva governs wealth and family matters and so on. In a Kingdom, the king and the ministers are favourable to only few of the portfolios depending on their own position in the kingdom. For instance, in Sūrya’s kingdom, Candra is favourable to four Bhāvas viz., 3, 6, 10, 11from himself. If say, in a Kuṇḍalī, Sūrya is in Siṅha Rāśi and Candra Vṛścika, in Sūrya’s kingdom, the Lagna is Siṅha. Candra is favourable towards 3, 6, 10 and 11 from Vṛścika Rāśi, i.e., Makara, Meṣa, Siṅha and Kanyā. From Sūrya’s position or the Lagna, they represent the portfolio of Bhāva 6 (diseases, weaknesses), Bhāva 9 (religion, faith, temple and shrines), Bhāva 1 (health, reputation) and Bhāva 2 (wealth and family) respectively. Therefore, in this Kuṇḍalī, we can say that Candra is favourable towards Bhāva 1, 2, 6 and 9 from Sūrya, the king. Candra being favourable to certain Bhāvas from himself implies that, he shall favour the matters of these Bhāvas.
We notice that Candra is favourable to only 4 Bhāvas in Sūrya’s Aṣṭakavarga, however his favourability varies in the world of different Grahas. For instance, in Maṅgala’s kingdom (Maṅgala’s Bhinnāṣṭakavarga), Candra is favourable only to 3 Bhāvas from himself, viz., 3, 6 and 10. Like Candra, every Graha is favourable towards different sets of Bhāvas from himself in the eight Kingdoms. This is the foundation of Aṣṭakavarga. In Sūrya’s kingdom, Sūrya is the king, and everything that he governs should be judged from his position. In that kingdom, Candra is favourable towards 3, 6, 10 and 11 from his own position. Whatever portfolios that fall in these four Bhāvas reckoned from Sūrya’s throne (the Lagna), secures the blessings of Candra. If Candra is in 4th from Sūrya, he is favourable towards 6, 9, 1 and 2 from Sūrya. This means that, in this Kuṇḍalī, Candra is favourable towards Sūrya’s Kārakatva that are mapped to the four Bhāvas 6, 9, 1 and 2. Sūrya is father, so Bhāva 1 in Sūrya’s kingdom can represent father’s health and reputation, 2 — father’s wealth and so on. We can say that Candra is favourable to these matters!
The Aṣṭakavarga system the Graha Kārakatvas are the most important factors. For instance, in Sūrya’s kingdom, the matters governed by Sūrya are of utmost importance, viz., father, status, power, influence, kingdom, physical strength, joys and sorrows etc. In his kingdom, his several Kārakatvas are differentiated into 12 different Bhāvas reckoned from the king’s throne. For instance, in his kingdom, Father is judged from the 9th from Sūrya, physical strength and vitality 1st, sorrows and troubles to the skeletal system 6th, good fortune or Bhāgya 9th, influence and followers 5th etc. Here, we are trying to superimpose the Bhāva Kārakatvas to the Grahas’. For instance, 6th is the house of injuries — therefore, in Sūrya’s Aṣṭakavarga, 6th house can indicate fire hazards or injuries from fire weapons etc.
The extent of favourability of different Grahas in the eight kingdoms from Sūrya to Lagna are shown in the below table. We notice that, in Sūrya’s kingdom, the king Sūrya and his two ministers Maṅgala and Śani are highly favourable, as they contribute their blessings to eight Bhāvas from themselves, in the forms of Rekhās. On the other hand, in Sūrya’s kingdom, Śukra is least favourable as he contributes his blessings to merely 3 Bhāvas. If we compare the different kingdoms among each other, we notice that Budha’s, Bṛhaspati’s and Śukra’s kingdoms are relatively more favourable as the king and the ministers contribute more than 50 Rekhās, in the form of their blessings. We know that these three Grahas, Budha, Bṛhaspati and Śukra are the Śubhagrahas. On the other hand, Maṅgala’s and Śani’s kingdoms are the least favourable, as they have meagre 39 Rekhās contributed by the king and the ministers. Verily, Maṅgala and Śani are the Krūragrahas. The kingdoms of Sūrya, Candra and Lagna are in between and they represent a balance between the two worlds, Śubha and Krūra. They represent the 3 Lagnas.
The above table when broken down into individual Bhāvas in which a Graha contributes Rekhā in the eight kingdoms, it is transformed into the table below. In the below table, the figures against a Graha denote the Bhāvas counted from that him to which he is favourable. We must remember that the Bhāvas are the Rāśis counted from the Grahas and not the Bhāva as per Bhāva Calit as some scholars suggest. For instance, 2nd Bhāva from Candra is the 2nd Rāśi from his position. In the table below, for the sake of brevity and ease of reference, the Bhāvas 1 to 9 are indicated as such, but the Bhāvas 10, 11 and 12 are denoted by A, B and C respectively. For instance, in Sūrya’s Aṣṭakavarga, Sūrya is favourable towards eight Bhāvas, which are 124789AB. This means that Sūrya’s contributes a Rekhā each in 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 (A) and 11 (B). Likewise, in Sūrya’s Aṣṭakavarga, Śukra is given 67C, indicating Śukra contributes a Rekhā in 6, 7 and 12 ©. The table summarizes the entire Aṣṭakavarga computation in a capsule form and is the only table that one would need for creating Aṣṭakavargas. In the table below, A = 10, B = 11, and C = 12. The first table is from Bṛhatparāśara Horā Śāstra, along with which I have given the tables from other important classical texts as each of them have some differences. While reconciliation of these differences would take considerable effort, it is better to be aware of these differences, so that one uses them knowingly.
In the kingdoms, the King and the ministers have their own unique characteristics. For instance, Sūrya as the king or minister in his own kingdom and that of others has a specific characteristic behaviour compared to another Graha say, Śani. The table above shows Maṅgala and Budha contribute the most Rekhās across the 8 different Kingdoms as they contribute to as much as 53 Rekhās. Maṅgala is most favourable towards Sūrya’s and Budha’s kingdoms and least towards Lagna’s. On the other hand, Budha is most favourable towards Candra’s, Guru’s and his own Kingdom and least towards Śukra’s. These minute nuances help in understanding the underlying currents in Aṣṭakavarga analysis.
Now, whose kingdom is the most favourable place to be in? This depends on the Graha whose kingdom has the highest number of Rekhās contributed by the kings and ministers. Noticeably, Guru’s kingdom is the most favourable, followed by Budha’s and Śukra’s. This makes Bṛhaspati (56) the most Śubha among the Grahas, followed by Budha (54) and Śukra (52). On the other hand, the kingdoms of Śani (39) and Maṅgala (39) are full of challenges, as they are most Krūra among the Grahas. Now, what does a favourable or unfavourable kingdom mean? It means that the matters governed by the kings of the favourable kingdoms viz., Guru, Budha and Śukra generally give success, happiness and prosperity to the native. This is because in these kingdoms, most Grahas are very supportive to the king’s mandate (Graha’s Kārakatvas).
To understand this clearly, let us imagine that we all are surrounded by 8 concentric resplendent spheres (of 8 different colours), each governing certain aspect of our life. These spheres are governed by 7 Grahas and the Lagna. Three of these spheres are full of happiness, joy and optimism, whereas two are filled with misery and gloom and the remaining 3 are somewhat moderate. Each of these spheres have 12 segments governing 12 Bhāvas, corresponding to different aspects of our life. We can say that the 8 spheres governing 8 * 12 = 96 segments of our life. For instance, 2nd Bhāva represents food, family, wealth, speech etc. In the sphere of Candra, 2nd Bhāva represent food and family, in Bṛhaspati’s sphere, the same 2nd Bhāva represents wealth, and in Budha’s sphere, it represents speech. Likewise, the 6th house represents diseases, court cases, accidents, maternal uncles etc. But, they are segmented into 8 segments corresponding to the 8 spheres. For instance, in Śani’s sphere, the 6th Bhāva denotes diseases, in Budha’s, maternal uncles and legal battles, in Maṅgala’s, debts, accidents and injuries. One may refer to the chapter on Bhāva Analysis to have a thorough understanding of the matters governed by the combination of Bhāvas and Grahas.
The places that are not favourable (Karaṇaprada) does not imply that they are neutral. For instance, we know that in Sūrya’s Aṣṭakavarga, Candra is favourable to 3, 6, 10, 11. This does not mean that Candra is neutral towards the other Bhāvas. On the other hand, we can say that Candra is hurtful to the other Bhāvas, viz., 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 12. From a contributing Graha’s standpoint, Aṣṭakavarga is all about Binary results, 1 or 0, “Yes or No”, “Good or Bad”, “White or Black”. They do not represent the shades of grey, such as “May be this” or “May be that” — there is no uncertainty or probabilities in Aṣṭakavarga. However, at an aggregated level, the several shades of grey come into existence. From a Bhāva standpoint, when the Rekhās and Karaṇas from several Grahas are aggregated, we arrive at the shades of grey. For example, the 2nd Bhāva from Sūrya has a Rekhā from Candra, but a Karaṇa from Maṅgala — this indicates a mix of good things from Candra and bad things from Maṅgala. Therefore, in a real life Kuṇḍalī, we must reconcile and blend the influences arising from several Grahas and the Lagna and estimate the probabilities of good and bad.
In the charts of Aṣṭakavarga Karaṇa is signified by a bindu, a dot (.), or a zero (0) and Sthāna by a Rekhā, or line (1). Karaṇa is inauspicious, while Sthāna is auspicious.
According to Maharṣi Parāśara, the auspicious places are indicated by a Sthāna, Rekhā, Line or numeral “1”. On the other hand, the inauspicious places are indicated by a Karaṇa (bindu), a dot, cipher or numeral “0”. There is deep philosophical meaning behind the concept of Rekhā and Karaṇa. The Karaṇa represents the un-manifested world, whereas the Rekhā signifies the manifested. This is probably the basis on which the Hindus discovered Zero and its significance long before the world came to know about it. The concept of binary, 0 or 1 is based on the principle of the un-manifested or manifested, absence or presence, Sūrya or Candra, Puruṣa and Prakriti, inertness and action. A Rekhā represents a blessing of the contributing Graha, while a Karaṇa represents absence of it (or a curse). When the blessings of a Graha is absent from a Bhāva, it is marked with a cipher, “0”. On the other hand, where the blessing is present, it is marked with a Rekhā, “1”.
Zero or Cipher is considered inauspicious according to Maharṣi Parāśara, while Rekhā is considered auspicious. This convention is still followed in the northern part of India. Whereas in southern India, the notation is reversed, i.e., Karaṇa is considered auspicious, while Rekhā otherwise. In this book, I have followed the convention of Maharṣi Parāśara, i.e., Rekhā = auspicious and Karaṇa = inauspicious. Maharṣi Parāśara is very particular about the places of Karaṇas and Rekhās. He envisioned that the knowledge might get corrupted at the onset of the Kaliyuga, which is why he didn’t leave any scope for speculation. He not only stated the favourable places (Rekhās) for the Grahas in different Aṣṭakavargas, but also the unfavourable places (Karaṇas). In this chapter, for the sake of consistency and clarity, I have mentioned all the good places as Rekhās and bad places as Karaṇas. I have also appropriately adjusted the verses from classical texts such as Praśna Mārga to reflect the same.
Om Tat Sat