Vedic Astrology Lessons

Vedic Astrology Terms and Definitions

Understanding how to practice Vedic Astrology is time intensive.  Understanding the terms and definitions used in the process helps.

When you participate in Vedic Astrology session, it can also help to understand the terms used.  Although, this is not necessary to have a good Vedic Astrology session, as a helpful astrologer can share the information you need without all the jargon.

For those interested, the following terms and definitions are most commonly used.

Amrita – One of the treasures emanated from the galactic churning.
The nectar of immortality.

Artha – One of the four goals of human life, to be able to procure
necessary wealth and resources.

Ascendant – The first house of the birth chart. The sign rising on
the Eastern horizon at birth.

Aspect – The infl uence of a planet directed at another area of the chart.

Ayurveda, meaning "life knowledge", is a way of life and medicine aiming at optimal health and well being.

Atma – Self. The absolute reality of the universe.

Ayanamsha – The longitudinal difference between the tropical
and sidereal zodiac.

Ayurveda– The natural medicine system of India based on the three doshic, or constitutional types called Pitta, Vata, and Kapha. “Ayur” means life and “veda” means knowledge.

Bhava – The Sanskrit term for “house” in Vedic Astrology.

Bhukti – The 2nd level of the Dasha sequence, after the Mahadasha.

Cardinal – The outgoing and enterprising signs: Aries, Cancer,
Libra, and Capricorn.

Chakra – Centers of life force energy along the spinal pathway.
This is also a term used in India for the Birth Chart.

Chara – Cardinal.

Combustion – The condition of a planet too close to the sun, often
weakening the signifi cations represented by the planet.

Conjunction – Commingling of planetary energies when two or
more planets occupy the same house.

Cusp – The middle of a house.

Dasha – A planetary cycle in which a particular planet will give
its results through time. The results depend on the situation
of the planets within the birth chart.

Dasamsa – The 10th divisional chart, the Dasamsa, provides additional
information regarding a person’s career.

Debilitation – A planet is in the sign of its fall. Here it is weak
and has little power to do good.

Dharma – One’s duty and purpose in the world.

Divisional Chart – These are similar to the Harmonic charts developed
by the astrologer John Addey, which were partially
inspired by his studies of the divisional charts of Vedic astrology.
Vedic astrologers can use up to 15 (sometimes 60!) divisional charts, all of
which are derived from the main (rashi) chart, each one giving
a deeper insight into a particular area of a person’s life.

Dosha – There are three basic constitutions, or doshas, which
arise out of the fi ve elements (earth, water, fi re, air and ether).
Earth and water give rise to Kapha, Fire gives rise to Pitta
and when air combines with ether it gives rise to Vata.

Drekkana – The Drekkana chart has affi nities the third house
in that it relates to brothers and sisters. It also indicates our
courage, energy, motivation and the ability to achieve our
goals and ambitions, particularly those that require enterprise
and initiative.

Drishti – Drishti is the ability of a planet to project its energy
to other areas of the chart by infl uencing signs of the zodiac
other than the one in which it resides.

Dusthana – The 6th 8th and 12th houses are considered inauspicious.
They carry negative energies related to, among other
things, disease (6th), death (8th ) and loss (12th). In Sanskrit
these three houses are referred to as Dusthana or Trik indicating
that they are houses associated with sorrow or suffering.

Dwadamsha – the 12th division chart provides insight into one’s
parents, ancestral heritage and past life karma.

Dwara – Mutable or dual signs.

Ephemeris – A table or book that gives the values of astrological
objects and their placements in the sky.

Exultation – The highest manifestation of a planetary energy
occurs when in the sign of its exultation. Here the planet is
strong and powerful.

Fall – See debilitation.

Fixed – Signs that are intense, steadfast and resistant to sudden
change, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.

Graha – Sanskrit term for planet. Means, “that which grasps or

Gyana – Wisdom.

Hora – Second divisional chart. The Hora chart has a connection
to the 2nd house of the Rashi chart, and for this reason is said
to be related to wealth.

House – One-twelfth division of the zodiac. The sign rising on the
Eastern Horizon at the time of birth indicates the 1st house.
The next sign indicates the 2nd house, and so on.

Jaimini – Sage and highly respected authority in Vedic Astrology.

Jyotish – India’s name for her science of Astrology. Loosely
translated to “science of light.”

Jyotishi – One who practices Jyotish.

Kama – One of the four goals of human life. Enjoyment.

Kapha – Ayurvedic Dosha created from the Earth and Water

Karaka – Planetary signifi cator for specifi c areas of life.

Karma – An infl uence that causes or may cause an effect. Accumulated
habits, tendencies and conditioning from repeated
ways of thinking and acting.

Kendra – Houses 1, 4, 7, and 10. The angular houses of the chart.
After the 1st house/Ascendant, the most vital and important
houses are the 4th, 7th and 10th. Any planets in the 7th and 10th
houses will have a direct impact on the Ascendant, although
planets in any of these four angular houses will have a considerable
infl uence on one’s life. Planets placed in the 10th house
are often the most infl uential planets in the whole chart and
their importance should never be underestimated.

Ketu – The south node of the moon. The body created when Rahu
was decapitated. Karaka of liberation.

Kona – Angular house.

Krishna paksha – The dark half of the month. Term used to indicate
a waning moon.

Kundali – The term used in India for Birth Chart.

Lahiri Ayanamsha – The most commonly used Ayanamsha. The
Lahiri Ayanamsha is also known as the Chaitrapaksha Ayanamsha.

Mantra – A sequence of sounds that have a vibrational infl uence
that modifi es the manner in which a planets energy becomes

Maraka – It literally means “killer” although its real meaning in
an astrological context is the propensity to cause death or to
be detrimental to our health or longevity.
The maraka houses are the 2nd and the 7th. This is because
the 7th house is 12th from the 8th (longevity).

Moksha – The fourth goal of human life, meaning liberation of

Moolatrikona – A planet in moolatrikona (moola, root; trikona,
triangle) is considered stronger than when its own sign but
not quite so elevated or as powerful as when in its exultation.

Mutable – Mutable (dwiswabhava) signs are variable and adaptable.

The Nakshatras, specific to Vedic Astrology, are the lunar constellations. They give deep insights into our soul course.

Nakshatra – In Vedic astrology the Zodiac also divided into 27
stellar constellations known as the Lunar Mansions, Astrims
or Nakshatras. These too have their initial starting point at 0°
Aries, which marks the beginning of Ashwini, the fi rst of the

Navamsha – Corresponds with the 9th Harmonic chart now used
by some Western astrologers. The Navamsha is nearly as important
as the Rashi or main sign chart, and gives additional
information regarding long term relationships. It is also used
to determine whether the indications of the natal chart is going
to manifest with diffi culty or ease. Esoteric astrologers
regard the Navamsha as the horoscope of the soul, and the
Rashi or main sign chart as representing the outer and more
mundane conditions of a person’s life.

Neecha – Another term used to indicate debilitation or fall.

Nodes – Rahu and Ketu are the north and south nodes of the
moon. They indicate the point in the sky where the moon’s
orbit around the earth intersects the ecliptic. These are the
points where eclipses occur.

Paksha Bala – The changing cycle of the moon’s strength. Paksha-
bala gradually increases and decreases over the course of
the lunar month, yet for practical purposes the Moon is considered
weak by some astrologers if its distance from the Sun
is less than 90 degrees. If the moon’s distance is greater than
120 degrees from the Sun it is considered very good.

Pitta – The Ayurvedic dosha ruled by the fi re element.

Prishtodaya – A sign that rises with its back. The back-rising or
prishtodaya signs are Aries, Taurus, Cancer, Sagittarius and

Prakruti – One’s natural constitution (prakruti), indicating the
aggravating dosha(s) and particular constitutional weaknesses.

Rahu – The North Node of the moon.

Raja Yoga Karaka – A planet owning both an angular house (1st,
4th, 7th or 10th) and a trinal house (5th or 9th) attaining a very
important and positive status.

Rashi – The main birth chart from which all other harmonic
charts are derived. The Natal Chart.

Retrograde – A retrograde planet refers to a visual phenomenon
that occurs due to different speeds of the planets in relation to
the earth. When this happens to a planet its speed decreases
until it appears to become stationary. It will then appear to
be moving backwards (retrograde) through the zodiac for a
period of time.

Rising Sign – See Ascendant.

Sandhi – Any planet found in the very beginning or end of a sign
(0º or 29º) is considered to be weakened due to being placed at
the junction point of two signs. If the junction point occurs between
a water and a fi re sign this is considered to be particularly
inauspicious, this area being referred to as gandanta.

Sanskrit – The religious and classical ancient language of India.

Sanyasi – One who lives in the world without any material attachments
or possessions.

Shadvarga – The most used of the division charts are the Hora,
Drekkana, Navamsha Dwadamsha and Trimsamsa. Of these
five the most important is undoubtedly the Navamsha chart,
which, in a Vedic horoscope, is nearly always shown alongside
the main Rashi chart. Including the Rashi chart these are referred
to as the Shadvargas or six divisional charts.

Shirshodaya – A sign that rises with its front. The front-rising
or shirshodaya signs are Gemini, Virgo, Leo, Libra, Scorpio
and Aquarius.

Shukla paksha – The bright half of the month when the moon
is waxing.

Sidereal Zodiac – Vedic astrology uses the Sidereal or “fixed”
zodiac, which is the one that corresponds to the actual star

Sign – A constellation of the Zodiac.

Sthira – Fixed (sthira) signs are intense, steadfast and resistant
to sudden change.

Tajika – Tajika aspects were expounded in detail by Neelakantha, an Indian astrologer who lived during the 16th century.
These are the very same aspects as the five major aspects
(conjunction, opposition, square, trine and sextile) used in
Western astrology, which measures aspects from planet to
planet rather than from planet to sign. The orbs (the allowance
of deviation from an exact aspect) used by Neelakantha
are exactly the same as those recommended by William Lilly,
the 17th century English astrologer.

Trik – The 6th 8th and 12th houses are considered inauspicious.
They carry negative energies related to, among other things,
disease (6th), death (8th ) and loss (12th). In Sanskrit these three
houses are referred to as Dusthana or Trik indicating that
they are houses associated with sorrow or suffering.

Trimamsa – The Trimsamsa (or 30th Harmonic) is rather different
from the other divisional charts. For a start it seems to
have little to do with the division of a sign by 30. It consists of
5 unequal division and lacks any reference to Cancer or Leo.
Never-the-less this is an important division chart for understanding
major health issues or periods of misfortune.

The Zodiac is the 12 fold division of the sky. Each 30 degree division has its own influence and energy.

Tropical Zodiac– The “moving” zodiac used mainly in Western Astrology, that does not take into consideration the natural
precession of the constellations.

Ubhayodaya – Pisces is said to have the characteristics of both
front and back rising signs and is known as “both-ways rising”
or ubhayodaya.

Upachaya – The 3rd, 6th,10th and 11th houses are also referred
to as upachaya, a Sanskrit term which means “increasing”or
“improving,” as any planets placed in these house tends to
increase in strength and infl uence with the passage of time.
This especially applies to the 11th house, where planets gradually
strengthen and improve in quality and infl uence.

Uucha – See Exultation.

Vata – The Ayurvedic dosha ruled by the combined air and ether

Vedic – Meaning of the Vedas. Self-revealed knowledge.

Vimshotari Dasha – The most widely used method is the Vimshotari
Dasha system, also known as Udu Dasha. Sage Parashara,
the great authority on Vedic astrology describes a
variety of dasha systems (over 30) in his classic ”Brihat-Parashara-
Hora-Shastra”, yet gives the greatest attention to expounding
the Vimshotari system

Yoga – In Jyotish, a yoga means a combination. Usually this is
a particular combination of two or more planets, although it
can also mean a combination of a planet and sign or a planet
and house, often involving the aspect of another planet. Sometimes
more than two planets are involved, so that if one where
to list all the various yogas given in the classical texts the
number would run into thousands.