Signs part-1 Introduction

Categories: Signs, VedicAstrology
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Published on: July 14, 2013

Introduction to Signs

A Graha is an entity that has influence on other things. There are 9 Grahas Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangala (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Guru (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu (Ascending node) and Ketu (Descending node). In most general translations, the term ‘planet’ has been used to translate Graha into English. So when the term planet is used in Astrology, it should be understood as Graha.

We know that Earth revolves round the Sun. Did our ancestors also know this? Yes, because they described the path of the earth around the Sun as Bhachakra (elliptical). If they had thought that Sun revolved round the earth, they could not have given that name. Second question that comes to our mind is, why the elliptic (Bhachakra) has been divided into 12 parts? Their first aim was to explain the effects of planets that wield high influence on Earth, particularly Moon and the Sun, especially on human beings. As they observed, the more influential planets Moon and Sun, come in the same axis 12 times and came in the opposite axes 12 times, during the time it took the Sun to complete one round around the Earth’s elliptic. They were able to observe this through the full moon and new moon cycles. During these 24 days, they found the maximum effect on all living beings, including water and plants. So they might have come to a conclusion that dividing the bhachakra into 12 parts is the best way to explain the influence. They also noticed that among the stars, Polaris (Dhruva nakshatra) was easily recognizable and was fixed. So they took it as the starting point to divide the bhachakra into 12 parts. Since it is similar to a circle each part becomes equal length and of 30 degree each. So they have taken 30 degree portions for all their further sub divisions.


Their aim was to explain the effect of planets on earth. For ease of explanation, they considered Earth as center point, as it appears in the picture and took Sun as revolving round the earth and explained all other aspects. If we interchange Sun and Earth in the Solar System, we get the order of the planets as  follows — Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun (it is the point in opposition to Earth’s position), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn in the anti clock wise direction [the Ascending node (Rahu) and Descending node (Ketu) are not included in the sign division of the bhachakra. This is because they represent the intersection of Moon’s elliptic with Earth’s elliptic]. Note that all the planets align on one side of the bhachakra. Hence, if we count in clock wise direction, with Moon first, we get the planets in the same order. They might have considered the clock wise for the day time and anti clock wise for the night time. But one problem this creates is that, the elliptic has to be divided into 14 signs. However, 14 does not equally divide a circle into a whole number. So they retained only 12 signs and gave only one sign to moon and the other to Sun — all other planets have 2 signs each. As a result, each planet gets lord ship of 2 signs, and Sun and Moon get lord ship of only 1 sign. As Sun is at the center of the Solar System and as Earth revolves around it, the Sun appears to be directly opposite from most places on Earth, although in reality it is not directly opposite from that position. Also, the Sun illuminates all the other planets during daytime and Moon illuminates all other planets during night time, they decided to give one of Moon’s position to Sun. With this they avoided this imaginary place for Sun and could retain only 12 Signs. Since they have thought Sun and Moon are the only two most influential luminaries, they have given the place of chest (Hridaya sthana) to Moon and place of past deeds (Purvapunya sthana) to Sun in Kalapurusha chakra (It is the bhachakra counted from Mesha or Aries). Also they have allotted Movable sign to Moon since the Moon moves and Fixed sign to Sun since the Sun is fixed.  If you ask where these explanation is available in old treatises, the answer is no or I have not come across them. But we get the clue that they might have thought in similar lines.

The explanation also has some basis from “Varaha” (the sage who authored ‘Brihad Jataka’ – a treatise on Astrology). He says that Sun and Moon are the only two luminaries. Sun illuminates other planets in the day and Moon illuminates the planets in the night. That is why he has given equal importance to the Ascendant (Lagna), i.e. both Moon Ascendant and Sun Ascendant for delineating the birth chart. Apart from it he has also given two very important places to Sun and Moon in Kalapurusha Chakra. That is Heart for Moon (Hridaya sthana) and Past Deeds (Purvapunya sthana) for Sun. He has also said that while analyzing the many divisional charts (Varga Kundalis – there are 16 of them), the moveable signs (Chara rashi) must be counted clock wise and fixed signs (Sthira rashi) must be counted anti clockwise. Because Earth moves anti clock wise, we see the Sun and other planets moving clock wise – in reality this only appears so due to Earth’s movement but they do not really move in clock wise direction.  So he said that we should clock wise counting for moveable signs and anti clock wise counting for Fixed signs. This also seems to be more logical. If I am able get the original Verses of Saints, I will publish it in my future writings.

Note that Indian astrology gives more importance to Moon signs and Western astrology gives more importance to Sun signs. The position of Moon at the time of birth is known as Moon sign and position of Sun at the time of birth is known as Sun sign. The signs used in this blog are based on Moon signs and Karma Siddhanta. Karma Siddhanta is not completely accepted by Western astrology. Please note that if a person’s Sun sign is Aries, the Moon sign may not be Aries. So do not correlate the signs in this blog directly to signs from Western astrology.

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