There are 7 grahas (planets) in Vedic astrology: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. There are two more chaayaa grahas (shadow planets): Rahu and Ketu. Rahu and Ketu are mathematical points. They are also called the north and south nodes or the head and tail of dragon. They are based on the points at which the orbit of Moon around earth cuts the orbit of earth around Sun. Rasis represent situations that develop in one’s life and influences that enter one’s life. Planets in a chart represent human beings that play a role in one’s life. Just as the whole zodiac represents Lord Vishnu and rasis represent His limbs, planets represent Vishnu’s avataras (incarnations).
Characteristics of Planets
This world contains two essences – jeevaamsa (living essence) and paramaatmaamsa (absolute and supreme essence). Planets are the manifestations of different aspects of these essences. Vishnu’s incarnations happened with these essences taken from various planets. Meena/Matsya avatara (fish) came from Ketu. Koorma avatara (tortoise) came from Saturn. Varaaha/sookara avatara (boar) came from Rahu. Narasimha/Nrisimha avatara (half-man, half-lion) came from Mars. Vaamana avatara (learned dwarf) came from Jupiter. Parasu Rama/Bhaargava Rama came from Venus. Rama came from Sun. Krishna came from Moon. Buddha came from Mercury.
Benefics and Malefics
(1) Jupiter and Venus are natural benefics (saumya grahas or subha grahas). Mercury becomes a natural benefic when he is alone or with more natural benefics. Waxing Moon of Sukla paksha is a natural benefic.
(2) Sun, Mars, Rahu and Ketu are natural malefics (kroora grahas or paapa grahas). Mercury becomes a natural malefic when he is joined by more natural malefics. Waning Moon of Krishna paksha is a natural malefic. This information is important because the results given by planets are based on their inherent nature.
Sun governs soul. Moon governs mind. Mars governs strength. Mercury governs speech. Jupiter governs knowledge and happiness. Venus governs potency. Saturn governs grief.
Planets and Colors
Sun shows blood-red color. Moon shows tawny color. Mars shows blood-red color. Mercury shows grass green color. Jupiter shows tawny color. Venus is variegated. Saturn shows black color.
These colors can be useful, for example, when predicting the color of one’s car. For now, readers should just memorize these characteristics.
Sun and Moon are kings. Mars is the leader (army chief). Mercury is the prince. Jupiter and Venus are the ministers. Saturn is the servant. Rahu and Ketu form the army.
Ruling deities of various planets are as given below: Agni (fire god) for Sun, Varuna (rain god) for Moon, Subrahmanya (army chief of gods) for Mars, Maha Vishnu (supreme sustaining force) for Mercury, Indra (ruler of gods) for Jupiter, Sachi Devi (Indra’s wife) for Venus, Brahma (Creator) for Saturn.
Sex of Planets
Sun, Mars and Jupiter are male. Moon and Venus are female. Saturn and Mercury are female.
This information can be used for predicting the sex of children based on one’s chart.
For example, if the house ruling the first child is influenced by Jupiter, Mars and Mercury, we may predict a son. If it is influenced by Moon and Mercury, we may predict a daughter.
Planets & Five Elements
(1) Agni tattva (fiery element) is ruled by Mars. Sun also has the same nature.
(2) Bhoo tattva (earthy element) is ruled by Mercury.
(3) Vaayu tattva (airy element) is ruled by Saturn.
(4) Aakaasa tattva (ethery element) is ruled by Jupiter.
(5) Jala tattva (watery element) is ruled by Venus. Moon also has the same nature.
These rulerships throw light on the basic nature of planets. Being a fiery planet, Mars governs leadership, enterprise etc. Being an earthy planet, Mercury governs memory, logical abilities etc. Being an airy planet, Saturn governs wandering and free spirit. Being a watery planet, Venus governs imaginative and creative work. Being an ethery planet, Jupiter governs wisdom, intelligence and perceiving knowledge.
Planets & Varnas
Jupiter and Venus are Brahmanas (learned). Sun and Mars are Kshatriyas (warriors). Moon and Mercury are Vaisyas (traders). Saturn is a Sudra (worker). Learning and intelligence is the forte of the learned class. Bravery is the forte of the warrior class. Getting along with others well is the forte of the trader class. Hard work is the forte of the working class. In this manner, we should understand varnas to show one’s basic nature rather than the caste of one’s family.
It should be noted that Moon, who was earlier classified in the planetary cabinet as a king, is said here to be of Vaisya varna. Sun is a king who is also a warrior. He is a brave king, who asserts himself. But Moon is a king who gets along well with everyone.
Planets & Gunas
Sun, Moon and Jupiter are saattwik planets. Mercury and Venus are raajasik planets.
Mars and Saturn are taamasik planets.
NOTE: There is a misconception today that sattwa guna means patience and not hurting others. An aggressive response to an offender is often thought to be raajasik. However, sattwa simply means “the state of being true”. Pleasing others with artificial goodness is not sattwa guna. Punishing a person for his mistakes is not necessarily rajo guna. If there is some passion and impurity in one’s energetic response, then it shows rajo guna. But, if a warrior fights a sinning person with no passion or ego, it can still be a saattvic act. Lord Sri Rama and Sun are examples for this. Sun is a king of the warrior class and yet he is saattwik. Lord Rama, who was born with his amsa, is a saattwik person despite killing Ravana and other demons. Sattva guna simply means purity and truthfulness in one’s thoughts and action. Rajo guna shows some passion, energy and impurity in thoughts and actions. Tamo guna shows a dark, mean and depraved spirit in thoughts and actions.
Sun lives in a temple. Moon lives in a watery place. Mercury lives in a sports ground. Jupiter lives in a treasure house. Venus lives in the bedroom. Saturn lives in a filthy area.
Sapta dhaatus or 7 matters make up human body. The planetary rulerships are as follows: Sun rules bones. Moon rules blood. Mars rules marrow. Mercury rules skin. Jupiter rules fat. Venus rules semen (materials related to the reproductive system). Saturn rules muscles. If Sun is afflicted, it can show some problems related to bones. Weakness of Moon may give blood related problems. And so on.
Planets & Time Periods
Sun rules an ayana. Moon rules a minute. Mars rules a week. Mercury rules a ritu.
Jupiter rules a month. Venus rules a fortnight. Saturn rules a year. These periods are very useful in prasna or horary astrology.
Planets & Tastes
Sun governs the pungent taste (e.g. onion, ginger, pepper). Moon governs the saline taste (e.g. sea salt, rock salt). Mars governs the bitter taste (e.g. karela/bitter melon, dandelion root, rhubarb root, neem leaves). Mercury governs a mixed taste. Jupiter governs sweetness (e.g. sugar, dates). Venus governs the sour taste (e.g. lemon, tamarind). Saturn governs the astringent taste (e.g. plantain, pomegranate). The 2nd house shows one’s preference in food. The planets influencing it may decide one’s favorite taste. In addition, one should avoid the tastes of the planets who are likely bring disease. Suppose one is running a dasa or antardasa of a sign containing Moon as per Shoola dasa (a dasa that shows suffering). Then some suffering related to Moon is possible. Moon can give problems related to blood pressure as he governs
5 There are 2 ayanas in a year. During Sun’s transit from Cp to Ge, we have Uttara (north) yana.
During Sun’s transit from Cn to Sg, we have Dakshina (south) ayana. 6 Ritu roughly means a “season”. There are 6 ritus in a year. They are – vasanta (spring), greeshma (summer), varsha (rain), hemanta (dew), seeta (winter), sisira (fall). Each ritu consists of 2 months.
Mercury and Jupiter are strong in the eastern direction (lagna). Sun and Mars are strong in the southern direction (meridian – 10th house). Moon and Venus are strong in the northern direction (nadir – 4th house). Saturn is strong in the west (7th house). These are the digbalas (strengths associated with direction) of planets. These show the direction taken by one in one’s life, as we will see later.
Moon, Mars and Saturn are strong in the night time. Sun, Jupiter and Venus are strong in the daytime. Mercury is always strong.
Natural malefics are strong in Krishna paksha. Natural benefics are strong in Sukla paksha.
Natural malefics are strong in Dakshina ayana7. Natural benefics are strong in Uttara ayana.
Planets & Ritus
Planetary rulerships over ritus (seasons) are as follows: Venus governs vasanta ritu (spring). Mars governs greeshma ritu (summer). Moon governs varsha ritu (rainy season). Mercury governs hemanta ritu (season of dew). Jupiter governs seeta ritu (winter). Saturn governs sisira ritu (fall)