For the Students of Hindu Vedic Astrology by Dr. A. Shanker

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Planets, Signs and Houses: Essential Principle for Judgement of Horoscopy, Chapter IV, Part - 1

Dr. Shanker Adawal

The Basis of Differentiation – Between Signs and Houses:

There is a lot of confusion when dealing with signs and house or Bhava. Let us understand what exactly these are and how they differ from one another.

The twelve signs, into which the ecliptic and the zodiac have been divided,have been recognized since ancient times. The signs are all of 30o each and form a vast circle in the heavens. The Sun and all the planets go round this circle and spend varying periods in each of the signs. It is normal to begin with the sign Aries because the vernal equinox takes place when the Sun enters Aries.

A sign is a 30o division of the ecliptic beginning from a definite and unvarying point. Thus, there are 12 Signs in the 360o forming the circle of the ecliptic. The signs are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces, each of which is given a well defined character. Signs arise in the East as the earth rotates on its axis from West to East. The earth is nearly spherical but the axis of the earth is inclined in respect to the Equator, this inclination being 23o 27’. It is this inclination that causes summer and winter and it is due to it that some signs appear to be far to the north of the equator and some to the south.

The Earth moves at about 18 ½ miles or 30 kilometres per second in its journey around the Sun. As w also move along with the earth, therefore we are not aware of its motion. The Sun too moves at a speed of about 250 miles per second n its journey in the Milky Way. The Milky Way itself is in motion so are all other Nebulae. For two bodies moving along in parallel paths, one will not be conscious of motion. It is only when motion is not at the same speed or velocity and when there is an angular velocity that we become aware of motion. On Earth however, everything stays put as it were for the observer and for him therefore there is no motion.

We start counting the signs from the first degree of Aries onwards to the last degree of Pisces. The Sun enters Aries on the 21st March according to the Moving Zodiac and on the 13th April if we follow the Sidereal Zodiac. The signs in which the Sun is located is as under.

Tropical Zodiac

Sidereal Zodiac


Mar. 21 to Apr. 20

Apr. 14 to May 13


Apr. 21 to May 20

May 14 to June 15


May 21 to June 20

June 15 to July 16


June 21 to July 21

July 16 to Aug. 16


July 22 to Aug. 21

Aug. 16 to Sept. 16


Aug. 22 to Sept. 21

Sept. 16 to Oct. 16


Sept. 22 to Oct. 22

Oct. 16 to Nov. 15


Oct. 23 to Nov. 21

Nov. 15 to Dec. 15


Nov. 22 to Dec. 20

Dec. 15 to Jan. 14


Dec. 21 to Jan. 19

Jan. 14 to Feb. 13


Jan. 20 to Feb. 18

Feb. 13 to Mar. 15


Feb. 19 to Marc. 20

Mar. 15 to Apr. 13

These dates are relevant when readings of one’s chart on the basis of only the Sun signs are being made, as given in the newspapers and magazines.

Now let us consider the House of the horoscope, how are they calculated, and the latitude of the place of birth have a bearing with it.

There are 12 house or Bhava, each approximately of 30o extension (this varies with different systems of house divisions such as Placidus, Campanus, Ptolemaic system, Sripathi paddathi or Porphyry’s system etc.) any sign can be located in any house.

House are counted from the first or ascendant, i.e., the degree of the Zodiac arising on the Eastern Horizon at the moment of birth. This first house or ascendant will extend to the degree 30o beyond the ascending degree. (on the basis of the equal house division) a sper western system or for the followers of K P Paddathi. Thus, if, one says, the 18th degree of Cancer is rising, the first house will extend to 17th degree of the next sign Leo. The second house will be from the 18th degree of Leo to the 17th degree of Virgo and so on for the 3rd, 4th and all subsequent house up to the 12th or the last house in this system. While signs are numbered and counted from Aries, house or Bhava are counted and numbered from the Ascendant. While Aries is the first sign, the first house may have Aries in it or Taurus or Libra or Pisces depending on whether it was Aries that was rising in the Eastern horizon, Taurus, Libra, or Pisces similarly. The 5th house may or may not have the 5th sign Leo in it. The 10th may or may not have any connection with Capricorn, the 10th Sign.

In the natal chart house are numbered 1, 2, 3 and so on and these numbers should never be confused with signs given numbers 1, 2, 3 and so on, which stand for Aries, Taurus, Gemini etc as signs.

Another important point that has to born in mind when dealing with Sidereal charts, is connection with the Moon sign. Indians attach great importance to the Moon sign-even more than to the Sign sign-so much so that the Moon sign is called by its own name, the Moon Ascendant. When examining charts, the first thing an astrologer does is to examine the Moon Sign/Rasi. Here again one must bear in mind that the Moon at birth can be in any of the 12 house. The Moon sign positions will give us the sign in which one is born and the astrologer will normally commerce his analysis with this Sign.

If one says my sign is Virgo whish means that one was born when Moon was in Virgo. This Signs position will frequently decide his name beginning with a particular alphabet say P. This sign is no less important than the ascendant or the Sun sign. The Indian Astrologer gives most importance to the Moon Sign, next to the ascendant and least to the Sun sign, whereas most western astrologers will begin with the Sun sign and only thereafter come to the ascendant and the Moon sign in that order. The main reason for the importance given to the Moon sign is that Moon controls or governs the mind; it has much to do with the survival of the child, a weak Moon receiving adverse aspects, say, from the second house often acting against his or her chances of survival. This is also the case if Moon is located in the 6th house and is weak, i.e., close to its New Moon position.

Let us now proceed to assessment of the House and Signs in the concept of a House according to Hindu Astrology, the Ascendant is the midpoint of a house. A house may start in any degree of a sign and it may end in the next sign or in the sign and it may not end in the next sign but end at the succeeding sign. In between there will be a mid-points. These points are called house start point, house midpoint and house ending point. Sometimes in a sign; there may be two midpoints and therefore the lordship of a house is decided on the basis of mid-point, where it falls. In other words, one lord of a sign may become the lord of two houses. Therefore the lordships of the house are decided on the basis of midpoints where it falls.

There are two main methods of calculating House longitudes: Ptolemaic System or Modus Equalise and Sripathi paddathi or Porphyry’s system.

Ptolomic System or Modus Equalise: In this system all house are of equal distances and each house will have 30o . The Ascendant degree is to be found out from the Sun’s longitude at Sunrise and progressing one degree for 4 minutes up to the time of birth.

The Ascendant degree is the mid point and the same mid points hold good for all the House. On either side of the Ascendant, 15 degrees will give beginning and ending part of the House.

Sripathi, paddhati or Porphyry’s system: According to the Sripathi paddathi, which is in modern days called as Porphyry’s system of house division. (The degree position of ascendant is determined as the centre point of Ascendant or 10th house. For calculating the house the table of Ascendant of N C Lahiri or B V Raman can be conveniently used.). We will find the ascendant taking into consideration the local time of birth and to this figure, add sidereal time, which is generally given in all ephemeris or tables of ascendants. After all given corrections this total figure is called as sidereal epoch and the tables of ascendants will give us the Ascendant degrees according to the latitude of birth and sidereal epoch.

In the same way, the 10th house or M.C. is obtained from the tables making use of sidereal epoch and table of 10th house which is applicable to all places on earth. With these two points. i.e., the 1st and the 10th, we get the midpoints of the opposite house’s namely 1st and the 4th midpoints. With these 4 points, we can now find the midpoints of in between house, i.e., from 1st to 4th [i.e., 2 and 3] and from 4th to 7th [i.e., 5 and 6]. To find out these positions, we take the midpoints of the 1st and 4th, find out the distance and divide it by 3.

The division gives the distance from 1st to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd and 3rd to 4th. Similarly the distance from the 4th to 7th ought to be found out & the midpoints fixed. The same midpoints hold good to the opposite house, i.e., 8, 9, 11 and 12th house.

For finding out the house junction points, we have to divide the distance from one midpoint (Midpoints are known as house junction points/Bhava madhaya) to another by two, which gives house sandhi/junction points. We have to do the same for all house to get house junction points/Bhava sandhi.

Planetary longitudes are nothing but placing planets in degrees and minutes. When we insert the planets in a house charts with their degrees to house longitudes. Depending upon the house-junction points, if planets are placed behind a starting point of a house, it goes to the previous house in house chart. In some cases when planets are beyond the ending point of a House, they go to the next house though the planets may occupy the same sign. This gives us the placement of planets in house chart. When we compare the sign chart with the house chart, sometimes the planets may move to the next house and in some other cases, it may move to the previous house and in some cases there will be no difference between the sign chart and house chart, because planets will remain in the same house.

When we say a planet is moving to the next House, it doesn’t mean it has changed the sign. In other words, by remaining in the same sign, the planet may go to the next house or to the previous house. The planets which are together in the sign chart may get separated in the house chart. In the same way the planets which are not together in the sign chart, may come together in the house chart. These changing of house, joining and separating planetary combinations are the most important features in reading a chart. Hence the saying that the destiny links the unlinked and the same destiny de-links the linked. With this characteristic feature we embark upon the technique of reading a house. Conjunctions, aspect, trines, quadrants [trikona and Kendra] are all taken from the house chart/chakra and own house, exalted house, moolatrikona etc. are to be taken by sign chart/chakra only. The real test of an astrologer lies in making use of a sign chart and house chart in making a correct prediction. Yogas too are to be analyzed without overlooking the House chakra.

The combinations of planets are seen house wise and not degree wise. In the same way the aspect of planets are also taken into consideration as house to house and not by degrees as we do in western astrology and house chart gives a good help/indication to understand the above subtle matters.

The transit of major Planets whether malefic or benefic, when they are passing through the mid points of a house gives significant results at the time of transiting over it. While passing over the midpoints malefic give evil results, and benefic give good beneficial results. Similarly the aspects of benefic and malefic planets should also be accounted for.

Another important rule for assessment of a house/planet is-Every house has a lord and this lord should occupy a good house from the respective house and also from the Lagna to make the house flourish. Good house are angles and trines, as well as the 2nd and 3rd and the 11th house. The 6th, 8th, and 12th house are called evil house. When a House lord goes to an evil house from that House, it becomes weak. If it also goes to evil house from Ascendant the House becomes even weaker. The House lord should not become combust and, it cannot give good results when it is in a sign sandhi or House sandhi. It can only give specific and full results, when the lords are strong and closer to midpoints.


Shanker Adawal

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