Beginners in Vedic astrology get exposed to so many different Vedic techniques, but a lot of novices may wonder how many of them “actually work”. This is a good question from a sharp mind – because Vedic wisdom was collected from respected sages over the centuries in India, but it was also a racket in which techniques of questionable value were passed down from father to son in order to preserve the reputation of families who did astrology for a living. Over the centuries, useful techniques got mixed up with those that don’t appear to work very often, and it is now a challenge for modern Vedic astrologers to figure out the difference.
The problem is that a lot of Vedic students are more interested in learning all the obscure features of a tradition than learning whether or not they actually work. James Braha writes about this phenomenon, and James Kelleher mentions it frequently as well. To get respect in Vedic astrology, you need to be familiar with all of the intricacies of the system. To appeal to clients who want a traditional reading with all of the typical Vedic techniques interpreted in the context of their horoscope, you need to know the jargon. But it also helps if you “don’t outsmart your common sense” - these techniques actually have to work for them to be valuable, and unless you’ve made careful comparisons on at least a couple of hundred charts you may not be certain about some of them.
So, here’s a quick guide to what works and what doesn’t:
WHICH TECHNIQUES WORK?
1. Ruling planets, exalted planets, and fallen planets work. Understanding how these planets impact the house they reside in and the houses they rule is the most crucial skill needed to accurately interpret a horoscope. Try to remember that there is no such thing as a “debilitated” planet, at least not in the western sense of the term. Vedic astrology uses fallen planets, but not debilitated ones.
2.Traditionally, the navamsa is a chart that describes a woman’s first husband. In a modern context, it has been shown to represent a general description of the lives of both men and women from the age of 35 to roughly retirement. This technique is one that I have used often enough that I would stake my reputation as an astrologer on its accuracy.
3.The nakshatras are an amazing technique for pulling out small details that will be very meaningful to the individual born under each asterism. The novice would do well to study the nakshatras thoroughly, before even thinking about learning other Vedic techniques.
WHICH TECHNIQUES DON’T WORK?
1. The degrees of exaltation do not appear to make a planet any more exceptional in a native’s life. Example: The Moon is said to be exalted at 2 to 3 degrees Taurus. I have also read that the Moon is considered exceptionally powerful in the last degrees of Aries, because it is so close to the degrees of exaltation in early Taurus. In practice, I haven’t seen any difference between a native who had the Moon in its degree of exaltation, and those who have the Moon anywhere else in Taurus.
2.The concept of “moolatrikona” does not work. James Braha first observed this, and he appears to be correct.
3.Rahu is not “exalted” in four different signs; it probably isn’t exalted in any of them. This is a modern technique that doesn’t hold up. In traditional Vedic astrology, Rahu and Ketu had no lordships at all.
Rahu does have a strong association with air travel and advanced technology. Originally, it was said to be especially strong in Gemini, and many astrologers do feel that Rahu has a particular strength in the third house. Unfortunately, astrological “creep” set in after this. Rahu is said to be “like Saturn”, so folks started saying that Rahu must have special strength in the air signs of Libra, where Saturn is exalted, and in the air sign of Aquarius, where Saturn is lord. Then came the idea that Rahu must be powerful in Scorpio, because the western associations of Scorpio are so similar to Rahu’s qualities.
There is no traditional basis for any of this. This author has Rahu in Aquarius, and has compared it against other charts with Rahu placed in average signs, and also in the air signs or Scorpio. No difference is apparent. Rahu will manifest more strongly when it is tightly conjunct a planet or an angle. The sign has nothing to do with it.
A WORD ABOUT YOGAS…
They work. That’s not the point.
During traditional Vedic instruction, students had to memorize hundreds of yogas before they were ever allowed to interpret a horoscope – mastery of the jargon shaped the discipline and became its overarching principle. The “common sense” approach to interpretation got lost somewhere during the centuries – many yogas are combinations of two planets in a ruling, exalted, or fallen position. It’s not the yoga that matters in many cases – it’s all about the underlying planets.
The student who really understands how a ruling, exalted, or fallen planet behaves in the house that it resides, and also in the houses that it rules, is ahead of the game. He or she can accurately interpret a Vedic chart without ever resorting to a single yoga. I would never say that it is a waste of time to learn the formal intricacies of the Vedic system with regard to yogas. That said, I have never memorized even fifty yogas, and I probably never will.
Being familiar with yogas helps to preserve the tradition in it entirety – they were such an important part of traditional astrology that forgetting them does a disservice to the profession. Yet it is possible to competently interpret a Vedic horoscope without knowing a Satkalatra yoga from a Downward Dog – I do it all the time.
Yogas do yield up some very specific insight if we know the lore associated with each one. For example, I have some obscure yoga which promises that I will “maintain the archives for the common man” at age 39. Sure enough – I started this blog right on schedule. But I also have a yoga which should have brought about a marriage at age 24 – and this never happened. Knowing how to determine which yogas are true for the native and which are never destined to manifest is the real issue behind using yogas. The gap in our knowledge in this area is huge.