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What are the lunar mansions?
The classical sun signs that have originated in Mesopotamia serve today as the basis for most of the world’s astrological systems including the Western, the Hindu, and even the Chinese. However, all of the systems which adopted the classical zodiac have other zodiacs embedded in then that have been preserved in one way or another in older interpretation methods and techniques.
In western astrology one finds the Decans, which originate in the zodiac of ancient Egypt, and the fixed stars of Arab astrology. In Vedic astrology the equivalent to these is an entirely separate zodiac similar to the one used in ancient Egypt, which was incorporated into the classical one over the years. The 27 signs comprising this zodiac are called Nakshatras in Hindi and in the west are usually known as the Lunar Mansions.
These Lunar Mansions represent the greatest difference between western and vedic astrology, as they form the basis for most of the unique calculations and interpretations in its charts.
The 27 Lunar Mansions:
The script of our lives
In contrast to the homogeny of the sun signs in modern western astrology, in vedic astrology each sign is divided into quite different flavors which correspond to the underlying lunar mansion. It can even be said that in vedic astrology the sun sign serves as the stage while the lunar mansion is the actual script.
As an example, if the lord of the 10th house falls in Taurus the traditional significance is a Taurus related career like food venues or financial institutions. At the same time, in vedic astrology that ruler can fall into one of three different lunar mansions – Krittika (critical), Rohini (beauty) or Mrigashirsha (Chase).
If that ruler falls in Krittika, the career will most likely involve working with fire, knives or other dangerous instruments, like in the case of a cook, a butcher or a security guard. In Rohini the career can include dealing with beauty or the human body, like in the case of jewelry, cosmetics, modeling or martial arts. And if that ruler falls in Mrigashirsha, the career can involve mail delivery, waitressing or trade.
The D9 Chart
An important element of vedic astrology that doesn’t exist in other astrological systems is the 9th divisional chart, known as the Navamsha in Hindi. To calculate this map, each lunar mansion which is 13 degrees and 20 minutes long is divided into 4 equal parts of 3 degrees and 20 minutes called Padas (legs). Each of these legs represents a different solar sign from Aries to Pisces, hence every three mansions represent an entire zodiac. The resulting D9 chart looks the same as the birth chart but uses the legs in which the planets are placed as the sign in which they fall. It is this chart instead of the birth chart that dictates the strength of the planets (exaltation, debilitation etc.) in vedic astrology, and it is also used to analyze the persons marital life. This chart has many other uses and is sometimes known as the soul chart due to its significance in the analysis of a person’s horoscope.
Another vital element of vedic astrology not found in other systems is the use of planetary periods. In contrast to the significance given to the planetary transits in western astrology, in vedic astrology these periods serve as the main predictive tool for events in a person’s life and they are the reason for the legendary predictive abilities of the most famous vedic astrologers.
The main planetary period used in vedic astrology is the Vimshottari Dasha (the 120 period), which represents a cycle of 120 years that outlines the planetary influences throughout a person’s life. Both the 120 period and the other types of planetary periods used in vedic astrology are all calculated using the lunar mansion in which the moon is located at the time of birth, showcasing once again their immense importance.
The Original Hindu Astrology
Unlike the classical solar zodiac which originated in the middle east, there is little doubt that the origins of the lunar mansions lie in India itself and they are even mentioned in the Rigveda – one of the oldest religious texts in the world.
And despite them being used today as mostly secondary aids in natal chart analyses, the lunar mansions play a vital role in electoral astrology which is used for finding the best time for different activities both private, such as weddings, and public such as holidays and festivals. In addition, the lunar mansions were traditionally used in India for choosing the name of a newborn. There are of course a myriad of other astrological and cultural uses for the lunar mansions, and in recent times quite a few researchers started studying them and discovering new methods and interpretations involving these powerful astrological elements.