Nakshatras have a very special place in Vedic astrology. They are the axis on which Vedic astrology revolves. The moon stays in one Nakshatra for one day. They are mentioned in the ancient Indian Texts- the Artharva and Yajur Veda which lists all 27 of them. Kalaprakashika is the standard ancient text which forms the base of the study of Nakshatras.
In mythology, the Nakshatras are considered to be the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati, the Cosmic Helper charged by Brahma to help him in the evolution of the whole cosmos. These 27 daughters of Daksha married the Moon and became special repositories of astrological influences. Which is why the Nakshatra are feminine impulse which needs the positive- male impulses of the planets to complete their polarity.
In India, the lunar calendar is decided by the nakshatras. The rising nakshatra at the time of the new moon decides the rulership of the lunar month. 12 nakshatras rule the lunar months.
Naksha– means to approach and Tra means to guard. Each Nakshatras has a mythological god whose duty it to guard and guide the cosmic evolution. The location of the planets in specific nakshatras completely alters their significations. The zodiac comprises of 360 degrees. The twelve zodiac signs rule 30 degrees each.
There are 27 Nakshatras, each Zodiac sign compromising 2 1/2 Nakshatras. Though the Zodiac has been divided into 27 groups of Nakshatras. These are only the principal members of several groups of fixed stars.
Beginning at 0′ Aries, each Nakshatra compromises 13′ 20″ of the ecliptic.-the degrees covered by the Moon in a 24 hour Day. Each Nakshatra is further divided into four parts known as ‘padas’ or feet. The 27 nakshatras are divided into 3 groups, known as paryaya which means cycle. The seven planets and the nodes of the moon have the rulership assigned to each Nakshatra. They repeat themselves in the same sequence.
The start of each paryaya (one cycle of 9 nakshatras) is always ruled by Ketu the mystical south node. Planets positioned in Sandhi areas- the junction points of the paryaya, the last quarters(padas) of Pisces- Aries.
Cancer- Leo. Scorpio- Sagittarius is especially powerful in giving Karmic effects. They are known as Gandanta. The belief is when life crystallizes at a certain point then we journey towards the higher manifestation of the soul and the consciousness. We have to go through a particularly trying time to prepare our minds for the next step in the journey of our soul.
Moon has a special relationship with the Nakshatras. The Nakshatras give 108 positions for the placement of the Moon. The Moon first comes under the influence of the zodiac sign where it is placed, then the influence of the nakshatra ruler and lastly it is influenced by the lord of the pada. The triplicity of varying planetary influences alters the signification of the Moon. It is from the location of the Moon in a specific nakshatra that we can decide the start of our life cycles – the Dasha system which is unique to the Vedic astrology. The ruler of the nakshatra at the time of our birth is the ruler of the first dasha of our life and ruler of the pada is the first antar dasha of our life.
The Nakshatra position of the Moon plays an important part in Muhurtha- election astrology. In India where the timing of important functions in life is very important, the placement of the transiting Moon in specific Nakshatra is considered very auspicious. Marriages, education, house building, agriculture, farming, travel, starting new businesses etc. all should be started on the correct day and the astrologers look to the fixed stars to find that auspicious time so that the best possible cosmic help is available in whatever you are starting.
Nakshatras with their cosmic powers rule and direct life towards its karmic path, subtly influencing to bring about changes in the psyche. The power of Nakshatras should never be underestimated. Their capacity of changing our life patterns is of prime importance in the Vedic astrology. For predictive and election purposes the knowledge of the Nakshatras is very important.
Although it is significant to know of the lunar placement in Nakshatra, others planets change under the influence of Nakshatras. It is important for those trying to look into the deeper meaning of life to look into the nakshatra placements of key planets and you will have a much better understanding of the inner motivations of planets in your chart. When studying the dashas, one should look at the ruler of the dasha as well as the placement of the ruler of the Nakshatra of the Dasha ruler. That makes all the difference in finding how the Dasha will effect us.
In India, a most Vedic astrologer will put the number of the Nakshatra by the planet on the chart. That way they can see immediately what degree of the Zodiac the planet is placed. According to the ancient Vedic Philosophy, our consciousness is affected by three different qualities or gunas. The cosmic energies that radiate around us give us the predominance of one of these gunas. These are very important in Yoga and in astrology, it is important to understand the impulses (gunas) of the planets and their Nakshatras which give them their unique behavior patterns. These gunas are,
- Sattva – the illuminating, pure or good quality. Truth, purity of purpose and self-righteousness and the path towards eternal consciousness is important to Sattvic people. They are fearless, generous and self- controlled. They are tranquil, charitable and generally have an open mind. Sattvics find it hard to hurt others. Water is pure Sattva. Vegetarians are sattvic by nature-choosing to eat what is provided by nature rather than killing to fulfill their appetites.
- Rajas – the quality of mobility or activity. They have great inner thirst. They are passionate and ambitious. They want to achieve. They are restless and insecure. They want everything. They are active, want recognition and respect but are never satisfied. They find themselves clinging to pleasant tasks but avoiding the difficult situations. They can be fickle, easily distracted and unsteady.
- Tamas – the dark restraining quality. They are generally sensuous, in love with all the good things in life which restrain them from higher learning and knowledge. They are materialistic in nature. Maya -the illusionary world of self-gratification and sensual living ties them to their desires. Tamasic people have to try very hard to get out of the ignorance that surrounds them. They are held down by their own needs. Yoga and meditation are required to strengthen their inner being if they want to move towards higher consciousness.
The Nakshatras radiate these qualities on primary, secondary and tertiary levels. It helps to find out on what sub-conscious level we react to this world.Each of the Nakshatra has its own motivation. Vedic philosophers considered 4 basic motivations which guide us. They are:
- Artha – meaningful action. Artha relates to wealth, financial matters and the practicalities of life.
- Dharma – righteous action. Dharma is the purpose of our life. The duty towards ourselves and others to do the right thing.
- Kama – passionate behavior The Kama is about passion for people, causes, and living.
- Moksha – the need for spiritual salvation. Moksha means Nirvana. The need to find the highest truths and move towards self-realization.