What comes to mind when we say Planets is "Navagraha" or Nine Planets. These Nine Planets play a major role in Horoscope. Forecasting the future of a person primarily depends on understanding the Planets dignity and their significances.

Unlike Zodiac Signs or Stars, there is no order for Planets. However, the convention to write them is based on the days it represents. So, the Navagraha or the nine planets based on the day it represents are :-

Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu

Some key facts about Planets :

  1. Sun and Moon are Luminaries. Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Mars and Saturn are Non-Luminaries. Rahu and Ketu are Shadow Planets
  2. Fire, Earth, Ether, Water and Air are ruled by Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn respectively (Pancha Bhootham or Five elements of Nature)
  3. Sun is the King amongst all planets. But, Saturn is the most powerful planet
  4. All planets, from Sun to Saturn, orbit in the clockwise direction. But, Rahu and Ketu orbit in the opposite or anti clockwise direction
  5. In Astrology, Rahu and Ketu are said to be Head and Tail of a great Snake (Sarpa). Rahu and Ketu do not have Mass like rest of the planets. Rahu is called as North Lunar Node and Ketu is called as South Lunar Node. Hence, Ketu will always be diagonally opposite to Rahu
  6. In a horoscope, if Moon is placed between 2nd to 6th house or sign from Sun then it is Waxing Moon. If Moon is placed between 8th to 11th house from Sun then it is Waning Moon. If Moon and Sun are in the same house, then it is either New Moon (Amavasya) or close to New Moon. And if Moon is in the 7th house to Sun (diagonally opposite to Sun), then it is either Full Moon or close to Full Moon
  7. Jupiter is also known as Bruhaspathi (बृहस्पति) or Devaguru or Guru of Devas
  8. Venus is also known as Shukracharya or Asuracharya or Guru of Asuras
  9. The time taken by each planet to pass through a Zodiac sign differs from planet to planet. For instance, Moon takes approximately 2½ days to pass through a sign, where as Saturn takes 2½ years to pass through a sign
  10. While the horoscope is the Snapshot of Planetary positions taken at the time of birth of a person, the current planetary position is known as Gochara (गोचर / Transit). Thus, Gochara Shani or Transit Saturn means, the current position of Saturn

Dignity of Planets : Before judging a horoscope, the dignity or the strength of all planets must be calculated because it tells the capacity of Planets in providing result to the Native. Based on the conditions, the strength of the planet may vary between 0% to 100% and so will be the result pronounced.

Some important factors to be considered in calculating the dignity of a planet :-

  1. Group among Planets
  2. Natural Qualities of Planets
  3. Friendship among Planets
  4. Relationship between Planets and Stars
  5. Relationship between Planets and Signs
  6. Aspect of Planets
  7. Auspicious and Evil Houses
  8. Exaltation and Debilitation
  9. Retrograde and Prograde Motion
  10. Combustion, Directional Strength and Moolatrikona

Now, let us discuss them one by one.

1. Group among Planets

The 9 planets form two groups among themselves viz.,

  1. Sun, Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Ketu form one group
  2. Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Rahu form another group

Planets within the same group help each other in providing good result to the native.

2. Natural Qualities of Planets

Among the 9 planets, some planets are Natural benefic and some are Natural Malefic. Benefic planets, as the name implies, are Good-Doer and hence they will provide good results. Where as Malefic planets will provide bad results.

Natural Benefic : Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Moon (Suklapaksha or Waxing Moon which grows until Full Moon or Purnima). The natural benefic are also known as Subhar, meaning Good-Doer.

Natural Malefic : Saturn, Mars and Moon (Krishnapaksha or Waning Moon which decreases until New Moon or Amavasya). The natural malefic are known as Asubhar or Papi.

Rahu acts like Saturn and Ketu like Mars. Sun is not a generic malefic like Saturn and Mars. But, based on the Placement and Dignity, the result of Sun will vary.

Among the 9 planets, Jupiter is 100% Benefic, Venus and Mercury are 75% Benefic and Sun is 50% benefic. Saturn is 100% Malefic and Mars is 75% Malefic. Depending on the Phase of the Moon (Waxing and Waning), the Quality of Moon will vary from 100% Benefic to 100% Malefic.

Planets also play Functional Benefic and Malefic role. This is discussed elaborately under "Houses" or "Bhavas".

3. Friendship among Planets

Among the 9 planets, some are rival to each other, some are Friend to each other and some are neutral to each other. But, yet they are bound to fulfill certain responsibilities together.

For instance, Jupiter and Venus are arch rivals. Jupiter is the mentor of Devas and Venus is the Mentor of Asuras. But, at the same time Venus (Kalathra Karaka - Responsible or Marriage), and Jupiter (Puthra Karaka - Giver of children) must work together for the expansion of Family of the native.

The table below shows the Friendship among Planets

4. Relationship between Planets and Stars

We know already all planets rule a Sign or two except Rahu and Ketu. Similarly all 9 Planets including Rahu and Ketu, rule stars. There are 9 planets and 27 stars. So, each planet presides over 3 stars situated at trine from each other. The set of 3 stars is known as Natchatra Saram. Thus, every Planet has its own Natchatra Saram (set of 3 stars) and every Star is ruled by a Planet aka Star Lord.

For instance Ketu rules Aswini, Magha and Mula. The Star lord for Rohini, Hasta and Sravana is Moon.

Every planet will do good to the Stars it rules and counter the results if the Star pertains to an unfriendly planet. So, it is important to remember the Stars ruled by each Planet as it will be extensively applied while forecasting a horoscope.

The table below shows the Stars and the ruling Planet, aka Starlord.

5. Relationship between Planets and Signs

Every sign is ruled by a Planet aka Sign lord. We can also say that every Planet rules is a sign or two. Except Sun and Moon, the rest of the planets rule two signs. The signs are often referred as Houses.

Sun rules Leo, Moon rules Cancer, Mars rules Aries and Scorpio, Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo, Jupiter rules Sagittarius and Pisces, Venus rules Taurus and Libra, Saturn rules Capricorn and Aquarius.

There are multiple versions available about the house or sign ruled by Rahu and Ketu. Most of the Vedic astrological text says Rahu and Ketu do not have house or rule any sign as they are shadow planets. However, as per Kalidasa Text, Rahu co-rules Aquarius along with Saturn and Ketu co-rules Aries along with Mars.

When a planet is posited in its own house or sign, it will be strong. Same goes with when it is placed in its friendly house. But, when it is placed in its inimical house, then it will lose its dignity or strength.

For instance, if Saturn is posited in Aquarius or Taurus then it will be strong because the former is own house and the latter is a friendly house. But, if Saturn is posited in Leo, then it will be weak as the house Lord Sun and Saturn are arch rivals.

Planetary War : Planetary War or Graha Yuddha is a phenomenon which occurs when two or more non-luminary planets are posited in the same house and they are rival to each other.

For instance, if Mercury, Venus and Jupiter are posited in Aries, then there will be a War among the planets. The planet lost will provide worst result during its Dasa Period (discussed later).

The picture below depicts the Planets and the Signs ruled or Houses owned by them.

6. Aspect of Planets

This is one of the important factors to be considered while judging a horoscope. The aspect of Benefic planet will do good and the aspect of Malefic planet will not.

For instance, the 2nd house from Ascendant (Lagnam) represents Family. If the 2nd house gets the aspect of Jupiter, then the family of the native will be filled with happiness. But, if Saturn aspects the 2nd house, there will be turbulence in the family.

The aspect of Saturn and Mars damages everything and the aspect of Jupiter does good. But, this is a general rule because there are many exemptions to this rule. Under certain conditions, the aspect of Saturn and Mars will do good and that of Jupiter will damage. The exemptions will be discussed later.

All planets aspect the 7th house, diagonally opposite to them. Some planets (Saturn, Mars and Jupiter) have additional aspects. The table below shows the aspect of all planets.

The picture below depicts various aspect of Jupiter from Gemini.

7. Auspicious and Evil Houses

In Vedic Astrology, there are some Auspicious houses such as Trine, Quadrant, Houses of Growth and Evil houses. The Lords of such houses and Placement of Planets in such houses are highly capable of altering the result in either direction. Hence, these houses assume greater importance. These houses are not fixed houses but positional houses with respect to Ascendant.

Ascendant : In a horoscope, we can see placement of Ascendant in addition to planets. It will be marked as "Asc" or "Lag". The Ascendant, also known as "Lagnam" or "Rising Sign", is determined based on the Date, Time and Place of birth and Sun rise time at the place of birth. It is discussed in detail under "Ascendant". For now, let us understand how various houses such as Trine, Quadrant are formed with respect to the Ascendant.

Trine : The 1st, 5th and 9th houses from Ascendant are called Trine or Trikonam. Their Lords are known as Trine-Lords or Trikonathipathi. Trikonam are the most auspicious houses and among them 9th house is the strongest house.

Quadrant : The 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses from Ascendant are called Quadrant or Kendram. Their Lords are known as Quadrant Lords or Kendrathipathi. If a planet is posited in 1st or 4th or 7th or 10th house to Lagnam, then the planet is said to be in Lagna Kendram. 10th house is the strongest house among the Quadrant or Kendram.

The picture below shows Trikonam and Kendram. The Ascendant is placed is Scorpio sign whose Lord is Mars. So, the Ascendant Lord or Lagnathipathi is Mars. The Trine Lords or Trikonathipathi are Jupiter and Moon. The Quadrant Lord or Kendrathipathi are Saturn, Venus and Sun.

The Trine Lords or Trikonathipathi are meant to do good to the native always. So, the dignity of Trine Lords must be calculated first.

If Subhar (Benefic) is placed in Trikonam, it will bring fortune and provide good result to the Native (Jathakar).

Evil Houses or Dusthanas : 6th, 8th and 12th houses from Lagnam are considered as Evil houses. Planets placed in these houses become weak. Hence, placement of Asubhar in these house will be good. But for Venus this rule does not apply. Venus becomes weak in 3rd and 8th house and not in 6th & 12th house. Among the Evil houses, 12th house is the most evil house.

Badhaka House and Maraka houses : Badhaka house and Maraka houses are formed with respect to Ascendant sign and the nature of the Ascendant viz., Chara, Sthira and Upaya. The table below shows the Badhaka and Maraka houses.

Badhaka Means hindrance. The Lords of Badhaka house will create hindrance in producing good result, even if it is Subhar.

Maraka means Killer. The Maraka house Lord may cause death or spoil relationship or create financial problem.

For example, for Aries Ascendant, 11th house Lord Saturn will be Badhakathipathi and 2nd & 7th house Lord Venus will be Marakathipathi. The effect of these planets depends on their dignity.

Houses of Growth : 3rd, 6th and 11th houses from Ascendant are known as Houses of Growth or Upachaya houses. Upachaya means growth. The result of these houses improves with time. These houses represent Kama (Desire), Krodha (Anger) and Lobha (Greed) respectively. Obviously, placement of Benefic planets in Upachaya houses is not desirable. If Sun, Saturn, Mars or Rahu with good dignity are posited in such houses it will provide good results.

8. Exaltation and Debilitation

A Planet gains high strength in certain house and becomes very weak in certain house. Such status of a Planet is known as "Exaltation" and "Debilitation" and such houses are called "Exalt House" and "Debilitate House" of the Planet.

A planet which gets "exalted" in a house, will always get "debilitated" in diagonally opposite house (7th house).

For instance, Mars will be ruling in Aries and Scorpio, gets exalted in Capricorn and gets debilitated in Cancer.

An exalted planet becomes strong and provides its result to the maximum extent. Where as a debilitated planet becomes very weak and provides no result at all.

When a natural benefic like Jupiter becomes functional benefic too and gets exalted as well, it will give positive result to the maxium extent.

For instance, consider Cancer Ascendant and Jupiter is posited in Cancer itself. Now, Jupiter being natural benefic and also functional benefic (Trine lord or 9th house lord), and it is exalted in Cancer, it will give maximum result to the native.

Similarly, when natural malefics like Mars or Saturn becomes functionally malefic like 6th, 8th or 12th house Lord, and they get exalted too, the result pronounced will be very bad to the maxiumum extent. But, if Mars or Saturn gets the aspect of benefic or in conjunct with benefic, it will pronounce positive result, moderately.

So, obviously a functional benefic should exalt and functional malefic should debilitate for a better result.

The table below shows the Planets and the houses they rule and houses they get exalted and debilitated.

As Rahu and Ketu do not own any house, it rules the house it posits.

Shown below is the horoscopic view of Planets and Houses they rule and Houses they get exalted and debilitated. Of all the planets, only Mercury exalts in his own house. Mars debilitates in Moon's house Cancer and Moon debilitates in Mars' house (Scorpio).

There are differences in opinion about the house of Exaltation and Debilitation for Rahu and Ketu. However, Parashara Rishi in his Horasastra explains that Rahu exalts in Taurus and Ketu in Scorpio.
राहोस्तु वृषबं केतो र्वृच्श्रिकं तुग्ङसंज्ञकम् ! (Ch 47.35)

In General, if a Subhar is debilitated the result will not be good. However, conditions of all planets must be carefully analyzed before forecast.

Neechabhangam : We mentioned that when a planet is debilitated, it becomes weak. But, under certain circumstances, the Debilitation of the Planet gets cancelled and it brings Fortune to the Native. It is known as Neechabhangam.

So, while judging a horoscope, if we notice a planet is debilitated then we should check whether the debilitation is cancelled because the debilitated planet becomes stronger when the debilitation is cancelled. The various conditions for Neechabhangam is discussed under "Yoga and Dosha".

9. Retrograde and Prograde Motion

Also known as Vakram and Athisaram, it refers to planet traveling in Backward or Westward direction (Retrograde) and in Forward or Eastward direction (Prograde). Similar to Sun appears to rise in East and sets in West, the Retrograde and Prograde motions is also optical illusion of a planet traveling in backward or in forward direction.

Le us say, we are travelling on highways and trying to overtake a vehicle. As the other vehicle is also moving, at the time of overtaking it may appear that the other vehicle is travelling in backward or in opposite directions, though both the vehicles are travelling in the same direction.

Now, consider Earth as our vehicle and Planets as other vehicle. When Earth is traversing close to Sun, a far away Planet may appear travelling in backward direction (Retrograde). But, in fact Earth is moving fast due to proximity to Sun. Similarly, when Earth is closer to the planets, they may appear travelling in forward direction (Prograde). This can be understood better by looking at the picture shown below.

When a planet is far away, it will not be under the control of Sun. Such planets may not provide any result at all or may provide negative result upon the native. Hence in Astrology, Retrograde is considered as an important event, especially retrograde of Saturn and Jupiter. The duration of Retrograde varies from planet to planet, from 3 to 6 months.

Debilitation and Retrograde : We know a debilitated Benefic Planet will be weak and it cannot provide any result on the native. Now, what happens if that planet is in Retrograde as well? Let us say, Jupiter was in Retrograde at the time of birth of a person. And, let us say Jupiter was in Capricorn, where it is debilitated. As per Astrolgoy, a Planet in retrograde and debilitated too will bring great fortune to the Native.

So, Retrograde is another influencing factor in the calculation of dignity of the planet.

10. Combustion, Directional Strength and Moolatrikonam

Combustion : When a planet comes close to Sun, it loses its strength to Sun. This mode of conjunction is known is as Combustion or Asthangam. The limits of combustion, in either direction, are :

  1. Moon within 12 degrees of Sun
  2. Mars within 17 degrees of Sun
  3. Mercury within 14 degrees of Sun in Prograde and 12 degrees in Retrograde
  4. Jupiter within 11 degrees of Sun
  5. Venus within 10 degrees of Sun and 8 when retrograde
  6. Saturn within 15 degrees of Sun
  7. Rahu combusts Sun and Ketu eclipses the Moon

The extent to which a planet loses its strength depends on how close it is to Sun and also the dignity of Sun.

For instance, Let us say Saturn and Sun are in conjunct in Aries and Saturn is very close to Sun. Here Sun gets exalted and Saturn gets debilitated. Saturn being weak, it cannot fight the combustion rendered by the Strong Sun. It will simply surrender to Sun. But, if they conjunct in Libra where Sun gets debilitated and Saturn gets exalted, then Saturn is capable of fighting combustion rendered by the debilitated Sun.

Directional Strength : Also known's as Digbala, is one of the 6 types of strength of planet viz., Sthanabala, Digbala, Drikbala, Kalabala, Chestabala and Naisargikbala. Digbala or Directional strength refers to the strength acquired by a planet on the basis of its occupancy of different directions.

In Vedic astrology, each house represents certain direction and each planets are strong in certain direction. For instance, Ascendant or Lagnam represents the East direction. And, Jupiter and Mercury are strong in East direction. So, when Jupiter or Mercury is placed in Ascendant, they get full directional strength and the result pronounced by them will be very strong.

A malefic, without the aspect of or conjunction with benefic, when exalted will provide a very bad result. But, with Directional strength it will pronounce better result. So, Digbala or Directional strength goes well with Malefic.

The table below shows various planets and the house in which they gain Digbala

A planet which gains its full directional strength in a Digbala house will lose its strength in exactly opposite house to Digbala house. The house where a planet lose its strength is known as Nishbala house. Thus, Jupiter and Mercury will lose its Digbala in 7th house, Moon and Venus in 10th house, Saturn in Lagnam or Ascendant and Mars and Sun in 4th house.

Moolatrikona : Mool means Root. Trikona means Trine or the 5th and the 9th house. Each planet has root in a particular sign, within certain degrees, based on its nature. The 5th and 9th house, forming Trine with that sign will also have the same nature. This sign is known as Moolatrikona sign.

For instance. The Moolatrikona for Mars is Aries, a fiery sign. The 5th and 9th house of Aries, which are Leo and Sagittarius respectively, will also have the Fiery nature.

The result pronounced by a Planet in Moolatrikona will be the second best to Exaltation.

The table below shows the Planet, its Moolatrikona house and Moolatrikona Degree.

Guideline for calculating Dignity of a Planet : By now we know the various factors which affect the dignity of a planet. Here is the guideline for calculating the dignity of a planet. The result pronounced by a planet will be

  1. 100%, when Exalted
  2. 90%, when in Moolatrikona
  3. 80%, when in Digbala house
  4. 60%, when Ruling
  5. 40%, when in Inimical house and
  6. 0%, when debilitated, in Nishbala house or combust

Significance or Karakatwa of Planet

Thus far, we have seen the result pronounced by a planet completely depends on its dignity and hence it must be calculated carefully before judging any horoscope.

Now, let us discuss about the Significance or Karakatwa of Planets. Each planet is assigned with certain duties and depending upon its dignity it will be capable of executing its duties and delivering the result.

For instance, Mercury is the significator of Intelligence. If the dignity of Mercury is good, then the native will be intelligent, strong in studies especially in Mathematics. But, if the dignity is not good, then the native will be a dull person and poor in studies.

Karaka means Significator. Given below are the important Karakatwa of each planet :

  1. Sun - Significator of Soul, Father, Right eye, Law, Pride, Power, Ego, Diplomacy, Government, Government Job, Government Support, Self realization, East direction and Old age.
  2. Moon - Significator of Mind, Mother, Emotions, Mental status, Heart, Left eye, Epilepsy, Foreign Travel, North West direction and Middle age.
  3. Mars - Significator of Courage, Younger Brother, Valor, Anger, Personality, Weapons, Blood, Uniformed Services like Police, Military, Engineering, Administration Skill, Confidence, Acquisition of Property, Minister, Controversies, Foreign Travel, South direction and Adolescence.
  4. Mercury - Significator maternal Uncle, Intelligence, Speech, Diplomatic Speech, Eloquent Speech, Witty Speech, Astrology, Communication, Publishing, Business, Neck, Education, Mathematical Skill, Writing Skill, Logical and Analytical Skill, Memory, Witty mind, North direction and Childhood.
  5. Jupiter - Significator of Knowledge, Wisdom, paternal Grandfather, Savings, Property, Banking, Teacher, Duty, Fame, Philosophy, Luck, Children, Husband, Elder brother, Astrology, Religious perception, Holy places, Thigh and North East direction.
  6. Venus - Significator of Marriage, maternal Grandfather, Love, Wife, Sexual pleasure, Sensual pleasure, Fine arts, Music, Dance, Perfumes, Vehicles, Buying and Selling, Jewellery, Ornaments, Elder Sister and South East direction.
  7. Saturn - Significator of Longevity, Karma, Poverty, Losses, Diseases, Theft, Trouble, Oil, Machineries, Workers, Servants, Dishonor, Prison, Laziness, Handicap, West direction and old age.
  8. Rahu - Significator of Hurdle, Foreign Travel, Fallacious Arguments, Harsh Speech, Ruining Others, Widow, Mating widow, Gambling, Mystery, Wickedness, Learning Foreign Language, Black Magic, Atheism, Pilgrimage, Wandering in rough places, Excessive sexual desire, Intercaste Marriage, Bone and South West direction.
  9. Ketu - Significator of Detachment, Moksha, Feeling Suicidal, Black Magic, Pilgrimage, Frustration, Prostitution, Imprisonment, Maternal Grandfather, Acute Stomach pain, Wound, Occult Knowledge, Interreligious Marriage and South East direction.

Now that we know about Zodiac Signs, Stars, Planets and their significances, Calculating Dignity of planets, we have covered almost one third of what is needed to forecast. Let us now discuss about the two important parts of astrology, the Houses and their significances and Planetary periods (Dasha Bhukthi).

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