SAPTAMSHA – THE 7th DIVISION
In previous articles we’ve looked at three divisions:
HORA – one sign split in two parts
DREKKANA or DECAN – one sign split into three parts
TRIMSAMSHA and BOUND – one sign split into five unequal parts ruled by five non-luminaries
As we’ve seen, various astrologers of antiquity constructed these divisions in different ways and for the most part there are specific rules for each division in regards to the rulership of a particular portion of a sign. Between trimsamsha and saptamsha there are two other vargas we find in Indian astrology and these are:
CHATURTHAMSHA (TURYAMSHA in Tajika system) – one sign split into four parts which are ruled by the ruler of the sign and the rulers of the three angles from the sign (4th, 7th, 10th). Chaturthamsha seems to be specific to Brihat Parashara Hora and is not mentioned by either by Varahamihira, Kalyana Varma or Sphujidhvaja in their famous texts. For this reason I have chosen to skip this division.
PANCHAMSHA – one sign split into five equal parts, ruled by the five non-luminaries; Mars, Saturn, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus. The order reverses for even signs. Panchamsha appears rarely, to my knowledge only in Tajika Neelakanthi and Phala Dipika, therefore I will skip this division, too.
SHASTAMSHA – one sign split into six parts which are ruled by the rulers of the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th sign from the sign we are dividing. This division is specific to Tajika (North-East Persian) system and it doesn’t appear in other classical texts, therefore I will skip this one, too.
We will look at harmonic versions or parivritti panchamsha and shastamsha after we finish our study of the seven commonly used vargas, also known as saptavarga, which include:
D1 – Rashi or radix chart
D2 – Hora
D3 – Drekkana
D5 – Trimsamsha (yes, D5 and not D30, because it is a division of a sign into 5 and not 30 parts)
D7 – Saptamsha
D9 – Navamsha
D12 – Dvadashamsha
These are the vargas we find in Brihat Jataka, Saravali and Yavanajataka, although Yavanajataka briefly mentions that there are also 60 sauras in a sign and Kalyana Varma when he describes the seven divisions or saptavarga tells us that we can calculate other vargas and he gives a formula by which we calculate what we call a harmonic or parivritti varga. Unfortunately he doesn’t give a single hint of how to use them. I was delighted by this discovery as it hinted towards an older and pretty much a lost tradition of calculating vargas as harmonics that has been present in India but feel out of favor or has been forgotten during the middle ages and only a few harmonic vargas have survived and one of them is the samptamsha. Or is it?
SAPTAMSHA IN YAVANAJATAKA
»There are portions (bhaagas) (of each sign), they say, belonging to the seven planets, and these (saptamshas) undergo modifications according to the planet.« (Yavanajataka, chapter 1, verse 35, David Pingree’s translation)
»From those which they declare the portions of the seven planets, the changes are explained of those possessed of the planets [referring to the saptamshas of a zodiac sign]. (Yavanajataka, chapter 1, verse 35, Michael Douglas Neely’s translation)
»They say that the saptamshas belong to the lords of the signs (in order) beginning with the lord of the sign itself and excluding repetitions« (Yavanajataka, chapter 1, verse 40, David Pingree’s translation).
»Those beginning with the lord of the zodiac sign are declared the seven of the lords of the zodiac sign, excluding the indicated repetitions.« (Yavanajataka, chapter 1, verse 40, Michael Douglas Neely’s translation)
To sum it up, the first saptamsha is ruled by the lord of the sign and the rest are ruled by the lords of other signs in order, but repetitions are excluded. The saptamshas in Yavanajataka are unique and we don’t find them elsewhere.
Picture no. 1: Saptamshas as found in Yavanajataka
Although Yavanajataka differs in saptamsha construction from texts like Brihat Parashara Hora and Saravali it illustrates the use of the saptamshas quite elaborately. In chapter 30 we can read descriptions of appearance and qualities of a person who is born when the Moon is in various saptamshas.
»In the first saptamsha of Aries is born a thin and weak man who has a mustache and the corners of whose eyes are red; a fierce and aggressive man who is clever at stealing and desires battles and wounds; the best of men who is well versed in sexual acts.« (Chapter 30, verse 10)
»One born in the seventh saptamsha in Libra is a hero with big eyes and a thick row of teeth, a bony man with limbs as soft as lotuses, purplish eyes, and soft, brown hair; he wears a huge garland.« (Chapter 30, verse 58)
We can see how a Martian influence is present in both descriptions as both saptamshas are ruled by Mars. The Libra saptamsha belonging to Mars is a combination of Venusian and Martian traits, a hero with a bodily features that are quite Venusian.
Yavanajataka gives such vivid descriptions for every saptamsha of every sign. The usefulness and accuracy of these descriptions should of course be tested in practice. In chapter 31 we can read descriptions of bodily appearance and qualities of a person born when the Moon is in each one of the navamshas. This immediately prevents us to use saptamshas in isolation and it is natural to blend what is given by saptamsha and navamsha positions of the Moon. What is obvious is that this is not a varga, but we’re only dealing with amshas – parts, as is the case with decans, bounds and trimsamshas. We actually look at the placement of a sign in a part in the sign, see which planet rules that part and then take the symbolism of that planet along with the sign symbolism and by synthesis of symbols get a picture of how a particular planet gets colored. I am heavily leaning towards opinion that the hora, drekkana and caturthamsha as found in Brihat Parashara Hora also belong to this family of divisions and are not meant to be combined into a varga chart, but we should only take the ruling planets into the account in order to assess dignity and coloring of a planet.
THE COMMON SAPTAMSHA
The type of saptamsha that is the most common in Indian astrology is the first of the harmonic vargas or parivritti vargas amont the saptavarga. I’ve mentioned the Sanskrit word parivritti a few times in this article and some explanation of its meaning is necessary. Vritti means turning or whirlpool or cyclical motion or oscillation. Pari means fully. So parivritti means something like fully turning and in the context of vargas for which it is said that the signs are meshadi (from Aries onwards) it simply means that the natural order of the signs from Aries to Pisces is repeating cyclically as many times as we have divided the circle, much like a sine wave.
It is interesting to note that before saptamsha all the other vargas we have examined are non-harmonic, which means that the order of the signs in these vargas is not repeating naturally and if we connect the same instances of a sign when we draw a varga chart it doesn’t create a geometrical pattern which would indicate a particular geometric relationship of two planets. It is easy to find some rationale for the triplicity drekkana where the lords of the three portions of a sign are its lord and the two trine lords. And it is also easy to assign four lords to the four portions of a sign or chaturthamshas, which are the angle lords. The division into five portions is also not that difficult as we have five non-luminaries. But what do we do when we want to divide a sign into 6, 7, 8, 9, etc portions? Then, the medieval authors suddenly switch to the parivritti type. The common saptamsha is such a varga. What we have in jyotish today is mixing of apples and oranges, because the two types of vargas do not share the same rationale, but are being used together in the same dignity pointing system like varga vimshopaka. I will write more on this after we will examine the seven common vargas, and we will go deeply into the parivritti or harmonic vargas as it appears from the research I’ve done so far that these have a long history, but fell out of favor or were forgotten during the middle ages.
The common, meshadi (from Aries onwards) parivritti saptamsha looks like this:
Picture no. 2: The common saptamsha.
As we can see, the order of the signs flows naturally and if we connect the seven instances of the same sign we get a perfect septagon. Thus if two planets are conjunct in saptamsha chart they are either conjunct or have a spatial relationship of approximately 51 degrees or a multiple of this. This is called a septile aspect in modern Western astrology which is an angle of 51 degrees 25 minutes 43 seconds. It is important to pay attention to number 7 here, which is the number of Saturn and a septagon is a geometric form of Saturn. We read in Brihat Parashara Hora, that we should look to the saptamsha for children. A natural question arises: »What does Saturn have to do with children«? Directly, Saturn is of course not a significator of children or sexual union. However, it is a planet that signifies responsibility and commitment. Thus the saptamsha shows how much are we able to accept responsibility for outcomes of our actions and how much are we able to commit. Thus it gets a much broader interpretative use than only in regards to children. Many astrologers link the saptamsha to the 5th house, some because it is the 5th varga mentioned by Parashara (which is a very unsatisfactory reason) and some because it’s supposedly there for reading the topic of children in a horoscope. The connection to the 5th house might be there, because the 5th holds children, pleasures and even sexual pleasure, so Saturn’s sense of responsibility applies here, but I believe that when Parashara says »children« that he does that in a symbolic way and makes us think deeper about the meaning of the saptamsha.
Let’s look at an example of a person who is very responsible and committing in her relationship to husband and children, but before we dive into it I want to introduce the formula for calculating the saptamshas to the exact degree by hand. The procedure is as follows (in our case for Saturn as an example):
1. Measure the zodiacal longitude of the planet from 0 degrees Aries in degrees. Saturn is at 22 deg 50 min Virgo, so it is 172 deg 50 minutes from 0 Aries.
2. Multiply 172 degrees by 7 (because we’re looking for the position in the 7th harmonic). This gives us 1204 degrees.
3. Multiply 50 minutes by 7. This gives us 350 degrees.
4. Convert 350 minutes into degrees. This gives us 5 degrees and 50 minutes.
5. Add 5 degrees and 50 minutes to the longitude of 1204 which gives us the total of 1209 degrees and 50 minutes.
6. Subtract 360 from 1209 as many times as needed to get below 360. What remains is 129 degees 50 minutes , thus the saptamsha position of Saturn is at 9 degrees 50 minutes Leo.
Please note that we didn’t add seconds in this calculation and thus the multiplication of seconds adds 2 minutes to the longitude, but for the most part accuracy within a degree is perfectly sufficient. Planetdance software I’m using and highly recommend calculates it down to the seconds.
We have the radix chart and the saptamsha positions of planets around it which we will call H7 from now on. I’m using whole sign houses which are numbered in the wheel. The thick black lines with dots on the ends are the two quadrant meridians. I’m including Uranus, Neptune and Pluto as I’ve been starting to use them again lately in a limited way. I’m also using Jaimini’s changeable significators or charakarakas. We see that her ascendant lord Jupiter is in the 7th house in Virgo, conjunct the North Node or Rahu and conjoined Saturn who does rather well in Virgo. Right away we can see that her partnership area has a conflicting situation. Saturn is definitely showing great seriousness and a great sense of responsibility towards relationships, Jupiter brings good ethics , but is being destabilized by the North Node due to which her relationships presented a challenge for her and came to a sudden end. I often see that Rahu in the 7th, especially when conjunct or in aspect to an important significator shows a great deal of obsession or we could say excess appetite not unlike a person trying to squeeze ten liters of juice from one orange. In her case she is squeezing too much out of herself when it comes to relationships and is obsessed by being perfect in this (Saturn + Virgo + Jupiter + Rahu). Of course we should not neglect the 7th lord Mercury (the atmakaraka or significator of self) who is in the 9th, with the Sun which is the darakaraka, the significator of the spouse, the sect Light and Venus, who is in an exact conjunction with Uranus. She almost got married to a man from a foreign land, with a highly religious background, but the relationship came to a sudden not well understood end. The sign of Scorpio adds to the intensity and transformative nature of it all. Later she married a man who is very inclined towards travel and is very much involved in spirituality. So, we have a rough picture regarding her relationships.
Now we can look at her H7 positions. I am experimenting with superimposing the varga positions on the radix chart. This is how the 12th parts are used in Hellenistic astrology and some Indian astrologers use the navamsha in a similar way.
Venus conjunct Uranus comes to the 7th house by her H7 position. This affirms the previously noticed theme. By H7 Venus falls in Virgo, where she looses her enjoying propensities, but prefers to be practical and serving. It is actually not a bad position for Venus at all if we think about it, although she is in a sign of her fall. Venus is conjunct radix Saturn by her H7, which gives her an immense sense of servitude, forbearance and responsibility, but the influence of Uranus and Rahu create unexpected disruptions. Mercury, the 7th lord and atmakaraka comes to the 9th house by his H7 position, so this theme gets amplified by H7.
Now, let’s examine her relationship towards her children. Her lord of the 5th house of children, the Moon is in Capricorn in the 11th, which is also the house of children because it is the 5th from the 7th, thus it indicates children of one’s spouse. She is very responsible towards her children, albeit emotionally not quite there for them due to the cold and hardened Moon. Saturn is receiving the Moon and overcoming it with an exact trine aspect and Jupiter, the ascendant and the midheaven lord is aspecting her with a loose trine. This adds to the sense of responsibility and an inclination to teach. She is working with children professionally. Her putrakaraka, the significator of children is Mars who is in the 6th in Leo. Her children are strong willed, but tend to have frequent health problems. Mars and Moon are conjunct in H7, and conjunctions are the most important of all things to look at in these harmonic vargas, because the two planets that conjoin in this way, but are not conjunct in the radix chart have a specific geometric relationship and are connected together in the theme that the division symbolizes, in this case responsibility and commitment. This beautifully connects the 5th lord Moon and putrakaraka Mars and places them in her 10th house, house of her profession. This affirms her work with children in a powerful way. Saturn has his H7 position in the 6th in Leo. This makes her want to define the limits of her level of authority over her children and also the limits of her responsibility. Remember that Saturn is generally an important planet in H7 as the division carries his number and geometrical structure.
Let’s look at another example. This person is also professionally involved with children as a kinder garden teacher.
Here we see Saggitarius rising and Jupiter in the 7th together with the Moon (sect Light) and Mars who is the putrakaraka, the significator of children and also the ruler of the 5th house of children. Their ruler Mercury who is also the atmakaraka is in the 5th, so we have powerful mutual reception by sign between Mars and Mercury, linking the topic of children and others. This is further reinforced by the sextile aspect and an exalted Sun in the 5th. Mars, Moon, Sun and Mercury (atmakaraka) are all powerfully approaching angles by quadrant division. Furthermore, Venus, the 11th lord joins and connects both houses that signify children. It’s also apparent that she has an ambition to become a leader in her field. The radix chart talks very loudly about her involvement with children. But are there any indications in H7 that would strengthen this, add responsibility or give us any additional hints?
The atmakaraka Mercury, the putrakaraka Mars and 2nd and 3rd lord Saturn are conjunct in H7 and they are in Libra, which is her 11th house of organizations and other’s children. The three planets are connected in the theme of the H7 – responsibility and commitment. The Moon disposes Jupiter in H7 and comes to the 1st. Here we have another mutual reception, this time by H7. Venus, the ruler of the 11th has her H7 position in the 10th house of profession in practical and serving Virgo.
We see that the two charts have quite a bit in common and the H7 positions of planets strengthen the indication of the main chart considerably.
This is what I currently feel is a good approach to utilizing harmonic vargas. Here we read the varga as a chart, but not isolated from the main chart. Some are of an opinion that the vargas should be used only to see the position of a planet in a sign and assess its dignity and others advocate the use of vargas as entirely separate charts. I don’t think using a varga as a separate chart is a wrong idea, though, because if we stop thinking about vargas as boxes within signs and think in terms of harmonics or waves, then these harmonic positions fall in the radix chart and have their zodiacal longitudes degrees and minutes, thus a spatial relationship. We will go deeper into the harmonic vargas after we examine the navamsha and dwadashamsha in the next two articles.
An important note: Illustrating such principles through example charts is something I’m not very fond of, because the chart is a network of various influences and we should keep in mind that illustration of such principles in quite a bit of isolation should only serve to give an approximate picture. In the delineation of the above horoscope I used some Jaimini astrology terms like darakaraka and putrakaraka and if you are not familiar with them, please search online for Jaimini astrology basics.
Thank you for reading! Please, subscribe to my newsletter and get notified about future articles!