Lesson 1: The purpose & the division of the Zodiac
The ancient Hindu way of life, based on the Karma theory, looked at the progress of the human
soul based on three essential macroscopic parameters. They are: The Karma acquired from your
past life, the karma you acquire by virtue of your actions in your present life and based on these
your future life. They classified our present life into four broad aspects. Dharma or right living,
Artha or the monetary aspect, Kama or the desires and finally Moksha or spiritual progress and
liberation. They recognized the importance of balancing these four aspects of life for the proper
progress. To understand and improve all these four aspects they gave us various Shastras. The
Veda shastras for spiritual progress, the Dharma and Nyaya shastras for the legal and social
conduct, the Artha ( finance), Ganita (mathematics), Vanijya (trade) shastras for earning money,
Sangeeta (music) Nritya (dance) Shilpa (art) Kama (sex) Paka (cooking) shastras for pleasure.
Finally the Jyotishya ( Jyoti=light+ Isha=God meaning the light of God to remove ignorance) was
given to us as a guide, to get the best results during the most suitable times, in each of the above
four areas of life. The entire basis and theology of our astrology is based on these principles.
The Division of the Zodiac:
From the astrological point of view, for the purpose of charting the planetary positions and
calculations etc, the 360 degrees of the zodiac was divided into 12 equal parts, called Rasi or
sign, of 30 degrees each. This is the 1st basic division. In the Vedic astrology there are 9 Grahas
or planets which influence our lives. Out of these seven – the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury,
Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn – are actual heavenly bodies. The other two – Rahu and Ketu – are
shadowy planets whose positions are calculated mathematically. Vedic astrology ignores
Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto.
These 9 planets own certain rasis, represent several things in our life, have several inherent
qualities and influence certain facets of our life. It all depends on how these planets are placed
and in which rasis they are placed. Let us understand these basics first.
The names of the 12 Rasis (Zodiac signs) in their natural order and their rulers:
1. Aries or Mesha is ruled by Mars. It extends from 00:00 degrees to 30:00′ in the zodiac.
2. Taurus or Vrishabha is ruled by Venus. It extends from 30:00 degrees to 60:00′
3. Gemini or Mithuna is ruled by Mercury. It extends from 60:00 degrees to 90:00′
4. Cancer or Karka is ruled by the Moon. It extends from 90:00 degrees to 120:00′
5. Leo or Simha is ruled by the Sun. It extends from 120:00 degrees to 150:00′
6. Virgo or Kanya is ruled by Mercury. It extends from 150:00 degrees to 180:00′
7. Libra or Tula is ruled by Venus. It extends from 180:00 degrees to 210:00′
8. Scorpio or Vrischika is ruled by Mars. It extends from 210:00 degrees to 240:00′
9. Sagittarius or Dhanu is ruled by Jupiter. It extends from 240:00 degrees to 270:00′
10. Capricorn or Makara is ruled by Saturn. It extends from 270:00 degrees to 300:00′
11. Aquarius or Kumbha is ruled by Saturn. It extends from 300:00 degrees to 330:00′
12. Pisces or Meena is ruled by Jupiter. It extends from 330:00 degrees to 360:00′
So it is clear that the sun and the moon own one house each and all the other 5 planets own 2
houses each. Rahu and Ketu do not own any houses.
The rasis are further divided into several categories. The categories are:
The Trikona or Triangular groups.
The 1st triangle formed by Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are Agni-Tatwa or Fire signs. They are
active, aggressive, adventurous and dominating by nature and are good leaders and
administrators. These signs, and people with these signs strong, have the Dharma aspect
The 2nd triangle formed by Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are Bhu-Tatwa or Earth signs. They are
down to earth, practical and careful by nature and have a good sense of money. These signs, and
people with these signs strong, have the Artha aspect predominant.
The 3rd triangle formed by Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are Vayu-Tatwa or Air signs. They are
intelligent, carefree, jovial and social by nature and enjoy life more than the other signs. These
signs, and people with these signs strong, have the Kama aspect predominant.
The 4th triangle formed by Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are Jala-Tatwa or Water signs. They are
emotional, sensitive, romantic, artistic, nature loving and spiritual by nature. These signs, and
people with these signs strong, have the Moksha aspect predominant.
2. The Kendra or Quadrangular groups
Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn forming the 1st quadrangle are Chara or Movable rasis. They
are active by nature, like change and direct in their approach. Normally people with Chara rasis
dominating in the birth chart travel a lot.
Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius forming the 2nd quadrangle are Sthira or Fixed rasis. They
take their time to act, do not like change, and have a fixed views and ways of doing things.
Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces forming the 3rd quadrangle are Dwichara or Dual rasis.
They are very intelligent and like exploring new ways and theories.
The Grahas or Planets and what they signify
Sun or Surya is a royal planet and the king in astrology. He represents the soul, will power,
father, paternal relations, the king or the high officials. Its hot and angry, colour is red, metal is
gold and gem is ruby. Sun represents the eastern direction.
The sun stays in each rasi for one month and takes one year to complete the round of the zodiac.
Its motion is quite fixed and a lot of Indian festivals are as per the suns entry into the various
signs. For example on January 14 it enters Makara and this day is celebrated as Makara
Sankranti, On April 13th/14th it enters Mesha and this day is celebrated as Baisakhi. The change
in seasons is also linked to the suns entry into various signs and nakshatras. He is the
Pitrukaraka or planet connected with father.
Moon or Chandra is also a royal planet and is the queen in astrology. He represents the mind,
emotions, sensitivity, the mother, house and domestic comforts, milk, sea and all things
connected with the sea, hotel and food industry, textiles and apparels. Its cold and calm, Its color
is white, direction north-east, metal is silver and gem is pearl. The moon is the fastest moving of
the 9 planets and takes approximately 2-1/2 days to travel a sign. When the sun and moon are in
the same rasi it is called Amavasya or new moon day or the 1st day of the dark fortnight. The
lunar days or Tithi changes with every 12 degree difference between the sun and the moon.
When the sun and the moon are in the exact opposite signs or 180 degrees apart, it is called
Poornima or the full moon day or the 1st day of the bright fortnight. He is the Matrukaraka or
planet connected with mother. The sign in which your Moon is placed in the birth chart is called
your Janma Rasi. The star constellation in which your Moon is placed is called your Janma
Mars or Mangala is the commander in astrology. He represents, energy, courage, younger
brothers & sisters, armed forces, the police forces, commanders, administrators, men in high
position, land, engineering, metals, real estate agents and surgery. Its metal is copper and gem is
coral, color is red and direction south. Mars takes about 45 days to travel one sign. He is the
Bhratrukaraka or planet connected with brother.
Mercury or Budha is the prince in astrology. He represents speech, intelligence, maternal
uncles, short journeys, medical profession, trade, computers and the web, astrology and
knowledge of the shastras, accounts, mathematics, journalism, printing and publishing. Its metal
is bronze, gem is emerald, color is green and direction north. Mercury takes about a month to
travel a rasi. It is always within 27 degree distance from the sun from astrological point of view.
Jupiter or Guru is known as the “Devaguru” or the guru of the Gods. He represents higher
knowledge, spirituality, priests, temples, teachers, research & scientists, layers & judges, children
and knowledge of the shastras and astrology. Its color is yellow, metal gold, gem yellow sapphire
and direction north – east. Jupiter takes about one year to travel a sign. He is the Putrakaraka or
planet connected with children.
Venus or Shukra is the “Daityaguru” or the guru of the demons. He represents spouse, sex life,
kidneys and sex organ, dance, music, arts, gems and jewelers, wines, bars, gambling places,
acting, fashion, cosmetics and beauty products. Its metal is silver, gem is diamond, direction is
south-east and colour is white. Venus takes about a month to travel a sign and completes the
round of the zodiac in 12 months. From astrological point of view it is always within 48 degrees of
the sun. He is the Kalatrakaraka or planet connected with spouse.
Saturn or Shani is the servant in astrology. He represents hard work, sorrow, old men, servants
and the lower level workers, people in the iron and steel industry, municipality and drainage
works. A well placed Saturn can bestow excellent power, prestige, name and fame and a badly
placed Saturn can devastate you. Its metal is iron, color is blue, gem is blue sapphire and
direction is west. Saturn is the slowest moving of the 9 planets and takes approximately 2-1/2
years to transit a sign and completes the round of the zodiac in 30 years. He is the Udyogakaraka
or planet connected with profession.
Rahu or Dragons Head or North Node represents foreigners, foreign countries, foreign travel,
engineering and the technical trades, smoke, old men, grand parents, theft, gambling, drinking,
nonconformists, the underworld and the bad elements in the society. Its color is black, metal
mixed-metal and gem is Gomedh. Rahu takes approximately 1-1/2 years to travel a sign and
hence completes the round of the zodiac in 18 years.
Ketu or Dragons Tail or South Node represents grand parents, technical trades, spiritual
inclinations, superstitions and electronics. Its colour is brown and gem is cat’s eye. Ketu is always
in the opposite sign to Rahu, i.e., exactly 180 degrees away. Ketu also takes approximately 1-1/2
years to travel a sign and hence completes the round of the zodiac in 18 years.
Each of these 9 planets produce different results, and at times totally opposite results, while
placed in the 12 different rasis. Again each has some good results and some bad results in each
sign. This is an important aspect of astrology which must be remembered. You will learn about
these results later.
While placed at various specific distances from the sun, the planets Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus
and Saturn become retrograde or appear to move in the backward direction. Sun and moon do
not have any retrograde motion. The motion of Rahu and Ketu is always opposite to that of the
other planets.
The seven main planets rule the seven days of the week.
Sun rules Sunday.
Moon rules Monday.
Mars rules Tuesday.
Mercury rules Wednesday.
Jupiter rules Thursday.
Venus rules Friday.
Saturn rules Saturday.
Rahu and Ketu do not rule any day
Normally while referring to the qualities etc of the planets, they are referred to in this sequence,
i.e., sun to Saturn in the week day sequence. Remember this important fact.
The Nakshatras or Star constellations
First the zodiac was divided into 12 main rasis, to study the effects of the planets placed there.
Then the ancient seers added another sub divisional system of breaking down the zodiac into 27
Nakshatras or star constellations. Each nakshatra has a span of 13 degrees and 20 minutes.
After that each nakshatra was further subdivided into 4 Padas, or quarters, of 3 degrees and 20
minutes. Hence the first zodiac sign Aries, which has 30 degrees, contains the entire 4 padas
(13:20′) of the 1st star constellation Ashwini, the entire 4 padas (13:20′) of the 2nd star
constellation Bharani and the 1st pada (3:20′) of the third star constellation Krittika. So each rasi
contains total 9 padas. These nakshatras belong to three main groups: Deva or divine, Manusha
or human and Rakshasa or Demonic. They have different ruling deities, owned by different
planets and have divergent qualities. Hence while studying the effects of a planet placed in Aries,
it is also studied in which nakshatra it is placed and in which pada of that nakshatra it is placed.
This system of analysis exists only in Indian astrology.
The nakshatra in which your moon is placed at the time of your birth is called your Janma
Nakshatra. This Janma nakshatra has also got its influence on you.
The following table shows the names of the 27 nakshatras in their zodiacal order..