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Glossary of Astrology & other terms   



Eighth position, either from a sign or a planet. Such positions are considered inauspicious.


Occultation or obscuration of a planet by the Sun. It is formed when a planet is hidden by the rays of the Sun. When other planets do the same, it is known as Samagama, meaning union or association.


One who believes in God. An ancient sage, son of Jarat-Karu by a sister of the great serpent Vasuki (q.v.). He saved the life of the serpent Takshaka, when Janamejaya sacrii-ficed the serpents. Astika induced the king to forego his persecution of the serpent race.


Rasta = setting) + udaya = rising]. Helical setting and rising of a planet.


A system of Dasa calculation (q.v.). Only 8 planets, instead of 9 under the popular Vimshottri system (q.v.), are taken into consideration under it to qualify for a cycle of 108 years of total planetary ruler ship (as against 120 years under Vimshottri). Depending upon the position of the Moon in different blocks of 3-4 asterisms in which even Abhijit, which is not considered in other systems, is included, the initial ruler ship of a planet is decided. Table 3 indicates the order of precedence of the planets, years of their ruler ship and the blocks of asterisms in which the placement of Moon qualifies initial ruler ship of a planet.


A concept similar to sidereal light of Paracelsus and other Hermetic philosophers. It has been popularised in modern times by occultists like H.P. Blavatsky, Eliphas Levy and others. Physically, it is the ether of modem science; metaphysically and in its spiritual sense, "it encloses within its shoreless waves not only promise and potency of every quality of life, but also the realization of the potency of every quality of Spirit." Blavatsky describes it as a subtle essence visible only to a clairvoyant eye, and is the lowest but one of the seven Akashic or cosmic principles. Eliphas Levy calls it the Great Serpent and the Dragon from which radiates humanity on every evil influence. Esoterically, it corresponds to the Vedantic concept of Mahashunya, the Great Void, from which everything arises and to which everything ultimately merges. This Great Void refers to the beginning of creation while the Astral Light corresponds to the 'thought of God' or the reflection of Mahashunya surrounding our terrestrial globe containing the life story of everything on this earth.

Asterisms and Planetary Rulership under Astottri Dasa System

Blocs of Asterisms  No. of 
in the bloc
Ruler ship 
of the planet
Duration of 
Ruler ship in years
Aridra, Punarvasu, Pushya, AshleshaMakkha , Purva Phalguni 4 Sun 6
Uttara Phalguni  3 Moon 15
Hastha, Chitta, Swati, Vishakha 4 Mars 8
Anuradha, Jyestha, Moolam  3 Mercury 17
Purva Ashadha, Uttara Ashadha,Abhijit, Shravana 4 Saturn 10
Dhanistha, Satbhisag, PurvaBhadrapada  3 Jupiter 19

Uttara Bhadrapada, Revati,Ashwini, Bharani 

4 Rahu 12
Kxittika, Rohini, Mrigshirsha 3 Venus 21
Total 28 8 108


Vedic astronomy was part of ancient occult tradition. It gave precise magnitudes, positions, motions, etc., of heavenly bodies based on their functioning over millennia. Their observation, if yogic methods of studying the stellar realm is included under it (See Patanjali Sutra, III. 27, 28 and 29), extended over innumerable yugas, manvantaras and kalpas. They fixed the calendar (both lunar and solar), described the zodiac and asterisms in great detail, calculated precisely the precession of the equinoxes, established the general laws of the stellar movements and observed and predicted the eclipses. They described the wobbling of the polar axis and even reported complete reversal of the poles. The earth was known to them as a sphere rotating on its axis and revolving round the Sun. Our world belonged to a heliocentric system, but the Sun derived its life essence from the Milky Way; it passed a portion of it to the Moon, which disseminated the same, according to its brighter and darker phases, nourished different kinds of entities and vegetation. The Sun was the ultimate dispenser of energy to the solar system, but it depended for its stability and existence on the Saptarishis, represented by the Ursa Minor. The ancient seers had detailed knowledge of visible and invisible satellites of different planets, extra-Saturnian planets, comets, nebulas, and galaxies connected with our solar system. The Puranic details of the stellar realm veiled much of the deeper knowledge of the heavenly world from the common readers, yet the available information in ancient Siddhantas displayed the accuracy of the ancient information.

The ancient astronomical knowledge, as reflected in observances, prescribed for sacrificial rites (Yajnas), temple architecture and the location of temples, and the various astrological impulses exposed the seers' perception of supra-physical forces intimately related with the physical astronomical system. They gave these details so as to enable the human individual to work effectively for his self-development and self-transcendence with a view to attaining divine perfection.


[(i) (a = not) + (sura = god); (ii) (asu= breath) + (ra = to bestow)]. In the oldest parts of the Rig Veda, the term was used for the Supreme Spirit, the bestowed of beneficence to the world. As a benefic power, it was applied to several of the chief deities, e.g., Indra, Agni, and Varuna. In later times, the word acquired the opposite meaning and came to signify a demon or the enemy of gods. It was in this later sense that later Vedic and the still later Puranic periods applied the word to those who opposed divine and benefic powers. The churning of the ocean, samudramanthan, in which the gods and the demons took opposite sides, applied Pe word Asuras in the malefic sense.

The Taittiriya Brahmana states that the breath (asu) of Prajapati (Brahma) became alive, and with that he created the Asuras. In another part of the same work, he is said to have become pregnant and thus he created Asuras from his abdomen. The Taittiriya Aranyaka represents Brahma as the creator of gods, men, Pitris, Gandharvas, and Apsaras from water, and that the Asuras, Rakshasas and Pisachas sprang from the drops, which were spilt. The various other scriptures also attribute a divine origin to Asuras.

Blavatsky states that the word changed its meaning when ritualism and dogmatism got better of wisdom and the initial letter a was adopted as a negative prefix. It has now come to mean enemies of gods. Yet the Asuras cannot be outright condemned as unspiritual beings. There are many kinds of divine beings who are not necessarily gods. Many Daityas and Danavas and other descendants of sage Kashyapa from his several wives are opposed to gods, and at times usurped their kingdom, but they are not considered outright as devils. Rakshasas, who were the descendants of Sage Pulashya, belonged to a different category; their greatest weakness was greatly inflated egotism, which led them to much mischief and grief.

In Vedic astrology, presently Asura stands for Rahu which represents impediments (analogous to the Vedic Vritras (q.v) arousing spirituality in the individual.


The sacrifice of a horse. It was performed by kings. It implied that he who instituted it was a conqueror and king of kings. It did not entail the killing of a horse, but the horse was let loose to wander in different directions without any restraint; he who stopped the horse had to fight the king who had let it loose or to accept his suzerainty. It was believed that the performance of one hundred such sacrifices would enable a mortal king to ascend the throne of Indra, and to become the ruler of the universe and the sovereign of gods.


[(a = without) + (tala = surface, roof, bottom)]. Bottomless, unfathomable. One of the 7 islands or the lokas (q.v.) belonging to the nether world. Antipodes. One of the 14 realms of existence. Blavatsky states Atala loka to exist on the astral plane; it was once upon a time, according to her, a real island on the earth.


Accelerated motion of a planet, especially during its passage from one sign to another. Such an acceleration occurs after the planet's recovery from retrogression.


Meaning soul, Brahman, essence, the natural temperament. Atm refers to one's own Self; Atma to Self-awareness, and Atman to the state of being supremely aware. Atmajnana is Self-knowledge, or knowledge of the soul; Atmatattwa is the true nature of the spirit, and Atmavidya the wisdom of the Self or Divine Wisdom. The Vedas spoke of Atmanam atmane pasya, meaning see Thyself by thyself. The Supreme Self can be known by itself and any knowledge about it based on any other source is only illusory and deceptive. Atma alone is the one real and eternal substratum of all, the essence and absolute knowledge, the Kshetrajna (q.v.), the knower of the field. It is the central core of pure awareness; it neither forgets, nor remembers. It is the ever-present substratum of the consciousness of egoism, it witnesses the experiences of three stages of consciousness, viz., waking, dreaming and the dreamless slumber. It is different from the five sheaths, viz., physical, pranic, sensational, mental, and blissful. Atman perceives all but it is not perceived by others. It is like the eternal ray of light which shines upon and through the darkness of matter, when the latter is able to reflect the same, but light itself cannot be penetrated by anything else.

Atma's relationship with Jivatma and Paramatma refers to the relationship of the subjective, noumenal individual scintilla with the noumenal universal fire on the one hand and the same life essence enmeshed in matter on the other. fivatma, the individual soul, is enshrined in individ-ual sheaths to which it constantly imparts the urge for liberation while experiencing the materialisation process and the resulting thraldom. On achieving pure awareness, liberation, the individual consciousness merges in the universal conscious-ness, Paramatma.

The philosophy of Vishistadvaita assigns a different status to Atman. When the individual has attained Moksha (q.v.), liberation, and the body dies at different levels of material existence, Jiva has already passed through several stages; on death, it goes with Sukshama Sharira, or the dreamlike illusive body, from the heart of the body to the Crown Chakra, Brahmarandra, located in the crown of the head, traversing the Sushumna Nadi, a nerve connecting the heart with the Crown Chakra. Jiva breaks through Brahmarandra and goes to the region of the Sun, Surya Mandal, or the aura of the Sun through the solar rays. Then it goes through a dark spot in the Sun to Paramapada, the source of Supreme Light. liva is directed on its passage by Atmajnana acquired by yogic discipline. Jiva thus proceeds to Paramapada with the assistance of Adhivahikas, the bearers in transit by various names, e.g., Archi, Ahas, Adityas, Prajapatis.

On attaining Paramapada, the source of Supreme Light, the individual attains the awareness of himself as the emanating spark from the uncreated ray. Atma is then combined with the Universal Spirit and becomes a part of it, yet as Atma it retains its individual identity. The status attained at this level is that of Pratyeka Buddha, the individual enlightened being. The soul's journey proceeds further when this individual awareness completely loses its distinctive character and merges wholly in the Universal Spirit to become Atman, the Supreme Soul, Brahman.

Currently, the word Atma or soul is used in many different senses. It is used as the word soul or anima mundi (q.v.), animal soul, spiritual soul, etc. These words merely refer to the central animating core of the being expressing itself through different sheaths at different levels of its existence.

The relationship between Atma, Buddhi, and Manas is astrologically represented by the disposition of the Sun, Moon, and Mercury.


The planet representing Atma; the Sun is the Karaka, dir the causative agent, of Atma. Atma Karaka planet in a horoscope is decided on the basis of the highest longitudinal progression of a planet, irrespective of the sign in which it is placed. The nodes of Moon in this reckoning due to their permanent retrogressional motion are counted from the end of the sign.

In predictive astrology, Atma Karaka planet attains great importance; all other planets are expected to bestow their support to it. The harmony between natural Atma Karaka planet, the Sun, and the special Atma Karaka position attained by a planet represents the unity of purpose or otherwise between the permanent nature of the individual, his soul and the course earmarked for him in the present birth.


A patronymic from Atri. A son or descendant of Atri (q.v.).


A Vedic sage is said to have composed many hymns in praise of Agni, Indra, the Ashwins and the Vishwa-Devas. He was also considered one of the ten Prajapatis assigned the task of human generation. He is described as a mind born son of Brahma, and one of the seven gages related with several Manus, e.g., Swayambhu, Swarochitha, and the Vaivasvata. According to the Puranic stories, when Brahma asked them to create the universe, he went into deep meditation for several thou-sands of years, at the termination of which a drop of water fell from his eyes which took the form of the sage; Soma, or the Moon was born from this sage and his wife Anasuya, one of the daughters of Daksha, and she was considered as one of the most pious ladies. Rama along with Sita and Lakshman visited Atri's hermitage during his exile from Ayodhya.


An ascetic who has renounced all worldly attachments and connections.


Disposition of a planet. It is classified in 10 categories, viz., (i) Deeptha, illuminated or exalted; (ii) Swastha, healthy, owning its own sign, (iii) Mudita, joyous, owning a friendly sign; (iv) Shanthi, quiet, placed in auspicious subdivisions (v) Shakta, powerful, NO Vakra, in retrogression, (vii) Peedya, tormented, occupying the last quarter of a sign, (viii) Vikal, mutilated, when a planet is combust, (ix) Khala, mischievous when it is debilited, and (x) Ashubha, inauspicious, when the planet is in its atichara (q.v.) or accelerated motion.


A descent. It refers to the descent of a deity, especially of Vishnu, or of some exalted being who has progressed beyond the necessity of involuntary reincarnations. These are of two kinds, viz., those -born from women, or appearing on the earth without any parent. The first indication, not of an avatara but of what subsequently developed into an avatara is found in the Rig Veda in the "three steps of the unconquerable preserver who strode over this (universe) and in three places planted his steps". This has been variously interpreted. The early commentators understood the three places to be the earth, the atmosphere and the sky; in the Earth, Vishnu was fire, in the air lightning and in the sky the solar light. Another sage interpreted it to mean the three positions of the Sun, viz., at its rising culmination, and as at setting.

The most common 10 avataras, according to Puranic stories are: Matsya, fish; Kurma, tortoise; Varaha, boar; Narasimha, man-lion; Vamana, dwarf; Parasurama, Rama with an axe; Rama, the son of Dasharatha, the ideal king, Krishna, the Lord who functioned as the charioteer of Arjuna enlightened him about the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita; Buddha, the son of Suddhodhana who finally became the enlightened Sakyamuni; and Kalki, who will appear at the end of Kaliyuga.

The Bhagavata Purana which greatly glorified the role of Vishnu enumerates 22 such incarnations: (1) Purusha, the male, the progenitor, (2) Varaha, the boar, (3) Narada, the great celestial musician, (4) Nara and Narayana, Vishnu floating on a serpent couch on the infinite water, (5) Kapila, the sage philosopher, (6) Dattatreya, the three-deities in one, (7) Yajna, the sacrifice, (8) Rishabha, the righteous king and father of Bharat, (9) Prithu, a king of the solar race, (10) Matsya, the fish, (11) Kurma, the tortoise, (12 & 13) Dhanwantri with nectar, the physi-cian of the gods and the drink of immortality, (14) Narasiniha, the man-Ijon, (15) Vamana, the dwarf, (16) Parasurama, the sage with axe, (17) Ved Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas, (18) Rama, the king of Ayodhya, who killed Ravana, (19) Balarama, the elder brother of Krishna, (20) Buddha, and (22) Kalki. After this listing, the Purana however mentions that the avataras of Vishnu are innumerable.


A planetary combination formed by (i) the ascendant occupying a cardinal Sign, i.e., Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn, and 00 Venus and Jupiter also in Angles, i.e., 1st, 4th, 7th or 10th houses, and (iii) Saturn in exaltation. The combination bestows spiritual blessings uplifting the individual's mind and heart enabling him to attain mystic awareness and inner wisdom. He becomes an erudite and deep student of religious and esoteric literature with psychic susceptibilities. The combination also bestows high status in society, renown for meritorious deeds and pilgrimages to religious and historical places. He shapes the character of the age in which he is born.


See Yoga Bindu.


(Meaning ignorance, want of spiritual wisdom.) The Vedantic concept of illusion created by Maya (q.v.). Avidya makes an individual perceive the (unreal) phenomenal universe as real. The concept is based on the assertion that Brahma alone is Real and everything else is illusory.


The Sun's monthly speed.


The difference between the Tropical (Sayana) and the Sidereal (Nirayana) longitudes. The beginning of the zodiacal circle under Sidereal system is always the fixed 00 of Aries; the Tropical System assumes the point of intersection of the celestial equator and the ecliptic at Vernal Equinox when the Sun begins its journey in the northern hemisphere as the 00 of Aries or the beginning of the (moving) zodiacs. It is estimated that in about A.D. 285 the two points were coincident. The gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon produces retrogression to the-Equinoctial point leading to divergence in the two systems. In about 26,000 years this point is expected to complete the circle to meet the earlier point. This gives an annual divergence of 50.3". The Precession of Equinoxes is defined as the earlier occurrence of the equinoxes in each successive sidereal year because of the slow retrograde motion of the equinoctial points along the ecliptic.

The division of zodiac into various Signs in the western Tropical system does not refer to the same portion of the zodiac as the Sidereal or Nirayana system. As the referral 00 does not mark the same portion of the ecliptic, the zodiacal signs, though given the same name, are not identical under the two systems.

When we speak of converting a Western chart into the Hindu equivalent, it implies subtracting the Ayanamsa from the Tropical longitude. It suggests bringing into focus the same portion of the ecliptic, and the same name of the zodiacal signs while discussing the nature of planetary impulses.

Differences have arisen in the estimates of Ayanamsas. All the estimates do not agree on A.D. 285 as the year of nil Ayanamsa. The Western Sidereal astrologers usually use the Ayanamsa developed by Cyril Fagan and Donald Bradley, while in India, the two best known estimates are of N. C. Lahiri and B. V. Raman. For 1990, Lahiri's Ayanamsa is estimated as 230 43' 14", B.V. Raman's 220 16', 20", and Fagan-Bradley's 240 23' 46"; the same for A.D. 2000 will be 230 51' 11", 220 24' 44" and 240 44' 11" respectively.


Producer of longevity. (See Karakas)

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