Key features of Vedic Astrology – Part 1

All the chief Vedic astrological features should be taken into account for the accurate interpretation of various opportunities that would arise in one’s life and predictions of future events. Below mentioned is the point wise classification of different key features of Vedic Astrology. Without a proper understanding on these points, it is impossible to read a Vedic birth chart.

  • Introduction
  • Chakras, Kundalis or Vedic Chart Styles
  • North India Chart
  • South India Chart
  • Geocentric System
  • Grahas or Planets
  • Planetary Strength/Favorableness Indicators
  • Planetary Weakness Indicators
  • Drishtis or Planetary Aspects
  • Special Aspects
  • Angles Kendra
  • Shad Bala
  • Stana Bala or Positional Strength
  • Dig Bala
  • Kalabala
  • Chesta Bala
  • Naisargika Bala
  • Drik Bala
  • Upagrahas
  • Kala or Time
  • Solar Day
  • Lunar Day
  • Sidereal Day
  • Solar Month
  • Lunar Month
  • Sidereal Month
  • Synodic Month or Lunation
  • Nakshatra Month
  • Lunar Year
  • Sidereal Year (Nirayana)
  • Nakshatra Year
  • Solar Year also Tropical Year (Sayana)
  • Makara Sankranti Transition
  • Ayanas
  • Kali Yuga
  • Neechabhanga
  • Reference

Chakras, Kundalis or Vedic Chart Styles

North India Chart

This is a square chart where every sign is a triangle and the chart is read from right to left. Used by North Indian astrologers, it was also widely used by astrologers of middle ages in Europe. The angular houses i.e. 1, 4, 7 and 10 are in the center, promptly visible and easy to track in the chart. This form of mandala chart has some spiritual benefits as well. Here, the houses stay fixed in position, and the 12 signs rotate as per to the rising sign. The zodiac sign names are not mentioned on the chart only their numbers are mentioned. For specific calculations, astrologers using north Indian style also prepared in a separate chart, pointing the Moon as an ascendant point.

South India Chart

A square shaped chart, where each sign is placed in a box, mostly used by astrologers in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. The chart is read from left to right or clockwise. The signs remain fixed on the chart and the house positions move.

Geocentric System

In angular degrees, the distance from the earth to the planets is calculated. The terminus a quo is calculated from the earth (geo) center (centric) outward. Some astrologers also calculate planetary positions from the earth’s surface, aligning the slight variations a surface calculation will generate. A school of thought also says that geocentric or earth-observer based system forms the basis of Vedic astrology. In spite of being clear about earth’s rotation around the Sun, our ancient astrologers formed an observation system that was easy to perceive for a common man while standing on the earth and looking upward towards the sky.

Grahas or Planets

Planets are not just the physical or celestial clusters present in the space. They are indeed the cosmic energy and each planet influences our lives on the basis of our karmas (the effect of one’s actions that determines his fate and incarnation). As per Vedic studies, each planet represents certain cosmic energy. These are as follows –

  • Surya, Ravi or Sun = vital outer behavior, authority, father, ego, heart;
  • Chandra, Soma or Moon = Mind, fluids, Mother, emotions, breasts, inner behavior;
  • Budha or Mercury = Intellect, communication, mental ability, respiration, relatives, skin;
  • Shukra or Venus = Mate, relating ability, love, sensuality, luxury, genitals, affection, beauty, reproduction;
  • Kuja, Mangala or Mars = Fierceness, courage, blood, movement, siblings, muscles, energy, passion,;
  • Guru, Brihaspati or Jupiter = Wisdom, counseling, fats, liver, growth indulgence, knowledge, children, expansion;
  • Shani or Saturn = focus, longevity, restriction/blockage, lessons to be learned, discipline, structure, knees, joints, elimination;
  • Rahu = Detoxing, oddity, shadow or secret behavior, poisons, continuity, foreigners, material gain;
  • Ketu = Change, reorganization, hypersensitivity, discontinuity, spirituality, enlightenment

Planetary Strength/Favorableness Indicators

Planets are in favorable positions when formed in angles and trines and specifically when located in the 2nd and 11th houses. The 3rd house is malefic (unpleasant in functioning), however good in outcome. Terminologies associated with planets in Sanskrit are Moolatrikona Vargotama, Varga Bala, Neecha Banga, etc. The influence of a planet is positive when it is present on one’s own sign or that of a friend in the astrological birth chart. Conjunct or aspected benefics and in between benefics all are equally taken into account while considering the strength of a planet and its favorable aspect.

Planetary Weakness Indicators

In Dusthana houses i.e. 6th, 8th, and 12th houses the influence of planets becomes weaker. A debilitated planet is the one that is present in an enemy sign showing a conjunct or aspected malefic or between malefic. Sandhi (at the juncture between signs) and retrograde also indicate negative effect of the planet.

Drishtis or Planetary Aspects

Each and every planet transmits its power to other planets in conjunction i.e. when in the 1st house and in opposition i.e. in the 7th house. The count starts from the house which the planet occupies not the next immediate house. Other important aspects of the planets are –

  • Panaparas – 2, 5, 8;
  • Apoklimas – 3, 6, 9;
  • Shashtashtaka – planets 6th and 8th from each other;
  • Thrithiya-ekadasa – 3rd and 11th from each other;
  • Dwirdwadasa -2nd and 12th from each other

Special Aspects

  • Special aspects counts are made in the following manner –
  • Mars aspects à planets 4th and 8th houses from it;
  • Jupiter aspects à planets 5th and 9th houses from it;
  • Saturn aspect à planets 3rd and 10th houses from it;
  • Jaimini aspects à planets from one to another rasi

Angles Kendra

An angle or quadrant signs i.e. 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses are considered the strongest. Trikona (three angled) or trine is very important to mention here. It indicates 5th and 9th places from the rising signs or any planet. The starting sign is counted as one, then one proceeds forward. Some astrologers opine that aspects should specifically be used only in the rasi chart, not in other divisional charts such as navamsa. This is because aspects are derived by longitudinal distances along the great circle constituting the apparent annual path of the Sun called ecliptic.

Shad Bala

It is a six-fold planetary strength system that provides a point value to each planet. This calculation is performed on computer programs meant for Vedic astrological calculations. More the bindus (points) stronger the influence of a planet as maintained by ancient astrologers. A minimum amount of points (around 6) is required for a planet to be strong enough to make an influence. Tallied as shastiamsas, the points are then divided by 60 to earn rupas. Minimum requirement for six fold planetary strength is as follows –

  • Saturn, Sun and Mars = 5 Rupas,
  • Moon = 6 Rupas,
  • Mercury = 7 Rupas,
  • Jupiter = 6 ½ Rupas,
  • Venus = 5 ½ Rupas

The constituents of Shad Bala are mentioned as follows:

  1. Stana Bala or Positional Strength: It constitutes of Uccha Bala which means the points as per the position from the point of exaltation or debilitation.
  2. Saptavargaja Bala: It is counted in points derived from a planet’s friends/enemies as viewed and measured from the seven vargas namely Drekkana, Rasi, Hora, Saptamsa, Dwadasamsa, Navamsa and Trimsamsa;
  3. Ojayyugma Bala: It is considered as the strength gained from being in an even/uneven navamsa (sign);
  4. Kendra Bala: A planet in a kendra house (1st , 4th, 7th and 10th) gets enhanced value;
  5. Drekkana Bala: The first drekkana of each sign is beneficial for male planets, the middle drekkana is beneficial for neutral planets and the final drekkana is beneficial for female planets.
  6. Dig Bala: It is a type of directional strength determined by the house position
  7. The Sun and Mars in the South – 10th house
  8. Saturn in the West –  7th  house
  9. Moon and Venus in the North – 4th house
  10. Mercury and Jupiter in the East – 1st hous
  11. Kalabala: The strength of a planet according to divisions of time. It comprises of –
  1. Divaratri Bala –  strength as per time of day;
  2. Paksha Bala – strength as per phase of the Moon;
  3. Thribhaga Bala – strength by one of three divisions of the day and night;
  4. Abda Bala – strength as per to which planet is the ruler of the year, i.e. the one which belongs to the first day of the year;
  5. Masa Bala – strength from the planet which is the ruler of the first day of the month of birth;
  6. Vara Bala – strength for the planet which rules the day of birth;
  7. Hora Bala – strength from the planet which rules the hour or hora of birth;
  8. Ayana Bala – strength from to its declination or distance from the equator;
  9. Yuddha Bala – deals with planets which are in close proximity and are waging a war. The planet winning the war earns points on their Kala Bala total, the loser’s points gets deducted.
  1. Chesta Bala: It is relative to the average planetary speed and is considered as motional strength. A planet gets more strength while moving slower as in retrograde and less while moving faster. It should be noted that Chesta Bala does not apply to the Sun and the Moon.
  2. Naisargika Bala: It is natural strength. It has been proved that a planet gets strength as per its brightness. Since the Sun is the brightest of all its strength is the greatest amongst all. It is same for all charts.
  3. Drik Bala: It is an aspectual strength. A planet gets positive points if it is aspected by benefics Ishtabala and negative if it is aspected by malefics Kashtabala.


An auxiliary planet is called an upagrahas in Vedic system and it exhibits tendencies towards inauspicious results. Upagrahas are mathematically derived degrees that portray sensitivity towards adverse events that could possibly arise in one’s life. One of the most frequently traced upagraha by all astrologers is Gulika. Other Upagrahas are mentioned as below –

  1. Kala (Sun),
  2. Paridi or Parivesha (Moon),
  3. Dhuma or Mrityu (Mars),
  4. Adrhaprahara (Mercury),
  5. Yamagantaka (Jupiter),
  6. Indrachapa or Kodanda (Venus);
  7. Mandi and/or Gulika (Saturn—note some authors opine Mandi and Gulika are the same, while many others argue they are two distinct Upagrahas),
  8. Pata or Vyatipata (Rahu),
  9. Upaketu or Sikhi (Ketu)

Kala or Time

The three primary methods of time keeping are defined as follows –

  1. the year (one orbit of the Sun),
  2. the month (one orbit of the Moon),
  3. and the day (one axial rotation of the earth)

Solar Day

The unequal speed of the earth on its orbit makes the day plus or minus by 24 hours to spread across and even out the course of the year. A day’s span is standardized at 24 hours. This method is fixed to maintain consistency in time keeping across the world.

Lunar Day

It is also known as Tithi. It is a moving average separation of around 12 degrees between the Sun and Moon’s motion every day. There are in total 30 tithis in a lunar month,

  • counting 1 to 14 and the full Moon being 15 – the shukla paksha i.e. bright half of the Moon’s passage (New to Full Moon), and
  • counting 1-14 ending with 15 again – the krishna paksha or dark half of the Moon’s cycle (Full to New Moon).

Tithis are conventionally marked from one Sunrise to the next. They have an average duration of about 23 hours, 37 minutes and 28.096 seconds.

Sidereal Day

As marked against the start and return to a fixed star, a full rotation of the earth takes place. It runs for an average 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.091 seconds, around 4 minutes short of an average solar day.

Solar Month  

It signifies the entrance (also called ingress or sankranti) of the Sun into a rising sign of the zodiac and this is specifically mentioned in Vedic astrology. The solar months being as per the standard Vikram Samvat (solar year) from January 14th when the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn. The 14th of January is thus called Makara Sankranti. The solar months are as follows –

  • Magha (Jan 14),
  • Phalgun,
  • Chaitra,
  • Vaishakh,
  • Jyeshtha,
  • Ashadha,
  • Shravana,
  • Bhadrapad,
  • Ashwina,
  • Kartika,
  • Margasis, and
  • Pausha

Lunar Month

One lunar month comprises of the number of days taken by the Moon to revolve once around the earth. This is more or less 29 days, 44 minutes and 2.9 seconds.

Usually, the lunar month commences with the new Moon called ‘amavasya’ comprising two fortnights.

  • The first is of the waxing Moon; known as the bright fortnight; and considered to be the auspicious fortnight.
  • The second one is of the waning Moon; known as the dark fortnight; and considered inauspicious

Northern Indian conventions and Southern Indian conventions are as follows –

  • Northern Indian convention, i.e. Purnimata, is to start counting the Moon cycle from one full Moon to the next.
  • Southern India convention, i.e. Amanta, is to measure the Moon cycle from one New Moon to the next.

Amanta method is followed by the Muslim and Hebrew conventions. It is more comfortable to see the first silver lining of the emerging New Moon just after Sunset on the western horizon. This helps one understanding when exactly the Moon is at its fullest point. It is from the nakshatra region that the names of the lunar months are derived starting from the Moon located on purnima (the full Moon day). The 12 lunar months are as follows –

  • Chaitra (March-April),
  • Vaishakha (April-May),
  • Jyeshtha (May-June),
  • Ashadha (June-July),
  • Shravan (July-August),
  • Bhadrapad (August-September),
  • Ashvin (September-October),
  • Kartik (October-November),
  • Margashirsha (November-December),
  • Pausha (December-January), Magha (January-February), and
  • Phalguna (February-March)

It is to be noted that if the full Moon occurs in Ashwini nakshatra, the month is known as Ashwin. The spellings of the months vary from region to region. The start of the Lunar Year is marked from the first tithi or pratipada or lunar day in the bright half (shukla paksha) of Chaitra month also known as Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. The traditional method is to start from the full Moon i.e. shukladi lunar month.

Sidereal Month

A full gyration of the Moon around the earth as scored against the start and return to a fixed star runs approximately for 29 days, 12 hours, 43 minutes and 4.7 seconds.

Synodic Month or Lunation

This is the time for the Moon to make a full transition from one full or new month to the next. The average duration is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.9 seconds.

Nakshatra Month

  • After a period of 27 1/3rd days the Moon comes back to a fixed marker star, i.e. exactly from where it once started its cycle.
  • This passage makes the path for 27 lunar constellations or nakshatras.
  • There is an offset between the actual 27 1/3rd days. The Moon departs and returns to a marker point. The actual span/boundaries of the 27 Moon nakshatras.
  • Finally, this creates a situation where the Moon does not precisely stay in each nakshatra for 24 hours.

Lunar Year

It comprises of 12 months of about 29.53 days each or a total of 354.37 days. A lunar year falls short of the solar year by around 11 days. In order to set off this irregularity, adhika masa or an extra month is added to the lunar year every three years or so. As per the present Hindu calendar, the year starts off from the month of Chaitra (March-April).

  • This time of the year, the Sun enters Mesha (Aries) or Mesha Sankranti which comes after the spring equinox.

Another tradition is to start the new Lunar Year as Shakra New Year.

  • This is the time of the year when the new Moon occurs in the sidereal sign of Pisces.

The Shaka era is also followed by the Indian Government.

Sidereal Year (Nirayana)

This is a full gyration of the earth in its orbit as marked against the start and return to a fixed star. The standard length is 365 days, 6 hours, 48 minutes and 45.2 seconds.

Nakshatra Year

A nakshatra year is a year that consists 12 nakshatra cycles totaling about 324 days (27 x 12 =324).

Solar Year also Tropical Year (Sayana)

Solar Year or a Tropical Year or Sayana is a full revolution of the earth in its orbit that starts from one vernal equinox ends in the next. Most Western nations use this calendar. The standard duration is about 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45.2 seconds (365.242190 mean solar days).

Makara Sankranti Transition

Makara Sankranti Transition of the Sun from sidereal Sagittarius to Capricorn during Uttarayana, the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, is known as Makara Sakranti. Actually, there are various methods of calculating the Hindu solar calendar; hence its date may vary by up to one day in various regions of India. This calculation depends on whether local custom promotes the use of the old or new Hindu calendar (astronomical charts and tables). Thus, the date reported as a holiday is sometimes the 1st of Makara and sometimes the eve of Makara. It always occurs amid the 14th and 15th of January.


The year is divided into two phases or ayanas. The Sun’s passage towards the northward above the equator (from Capricorn through Gemini) – starting from the winter solstice point in the tropic of Capricorn – is called Uttarayana. It includes the following ritus or seasons

  • Shishira (cool – Jan/Feb – Capricorn and Aquarius),
  • Vasant (spring – Mar/Apr – Pisces and Aries) and
  • Grishma (May-June – summer Taurus and Gemini).

Dakshinayana is the Sun’s passage southward below the equator (from Cancer to Sagittarius) starting from the summer solstice at the Tropic of Cancer. Dakshinayana includes the ritus or seasons of

  • Varsha (rainy – Jul/Aug – Cancer and Leo),
  • Sharad (autumn – Sep/Oct – Virgo and Libra), and
  • Hemant (winter – Nov/Dec – Scorpio and Sagittarius).

In most parts of India we experience wet summers and dry springs; while on the contrary, in the West the springs are wet and the summers are dry. Thus, in the Indian climate, the seasonal logic of the tropical system is not applicable.

Kali Yuga

Kali Yuga can only be described on a grand scale. As mentioned in the Indian scriptures, the Vedic time is divided into Mahayugas or epochs. Each of these Yugas is separated into four parts namely Sat Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yugas. Present is the time of Kali Yuga which is described as the fourth part of a Mahayuga. Kali Yuga commenced with the symbolic death of Lord Krishna. As per the records, it corresponds to midnight between February 17th and 18th, 3012 BC.

If we follow ancient scriptures, religion, literature and archeological chronology, this is the 6th millennium of the Kali era. In this era, the year 1900 corresponds with 5002. At present, we are living in 5000 years into the 432,000 year Kali Yuga series.


Neechabhanga is also called ‘cancellation of debilitation’. When an incapacitated planet’s sign ruler is in an angle from the Moon or is exalted, the debilitation is better cancelled.

Published On: 25-11-2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *