NAVAMSHA – THE 9th DIVISION
Of all the vargas used in Indian astrology the navamsha is the most important and most commonly used one. If one should use only one varga, the navamsha would be the one. There is no classical text of Indian astrology that doesn’t emphasize the navamshas. In many cases they are treated almost as equally important as the signs themselves. As we’ve seen in the previous articles from this series, the instructions for using the vargas are scarce, but the greatest amount of information we have on this subject pertains to the navamsha. Since the total amount of navamshas in a circle is 108 it is no wonder that Indians give it such an importance, since 108 is an extremely important number in the Vedas.
A navamsha is a 3 degrees 20 minutes large portion of a sign and there are nine of them in one sign, thus the name navamsha (nava = nine, amsha = part). In the same way like the saptamsha which we’ve examined in the previous article, the navamsha is a meshadi parivritti varga or a harmonic division. If we simply want to know which navamsha a planet falls in we can determine this in two ways:
- Look at a navamsha table with all navamsha degrees listed (Google “navamsha table”)
- Calculate it to the degree in the same way as we did for the samptamsha, but multiplying by 9 instead of 7.
The navamshas in a circle look like this:
Picture no. 1: Navamshas
We can see a nonagon being formed when we connect the same navamshas. The nonagon is a geometrical shape of Ketu, whose number is 9, thus the navamsha has to do with the inner and the final.
There is a lot to pay attention to:
- Every sign starts with a movable navamsha.
- All the movable signs start with their own navamshas.
- All fire signs start with Aries navamsha.
- All earth signs start with Capricorn navamsha.
- All air signs start with Libra navamsha
- All water signs start with Cancer navamsha
Cardinality or movable quality is very much emphasized in the navamsha, more than in any other varga. If we combine Ketu’s symbolism with action and forward movement of cardinal quality it means that we’re looking at how a person is internally linked to the path they are walking on, what are their inner inspirations and what is the underlying inner nature. It is no wonder that Jaimini in his Upadesha Sutra gives so much importance to the position of atmakaraka in navamsha, takes this position as a very important alternative ascendant and introduces many yogas that have this ascendant as a basis. Jaimini’s Upadesha Sutra is one of the best if not the best source of navamsha techniques when it comes to interpretation of the navamshas in a separate chart. To my knowledge it is also the only text that suggests the construction of a separate navamsha chart.
JAIMINI AND SVAMSHA
In Upadesha Sutra Jaimini instructs us to look at the navamsha position of the atmakaraka (the planet with the highest degrees, signifying the self). He calls this position svamsha which translates to something like “the part of the self”. This svamsha becomes an important alternative ascendant and now we will look at some of the combinations or yogas from svamsha Jaimini presents.
First, Jaimini gives sutras for the svamsha being any of the twelve signs (Adhyaya 1, Pada 2, verses 2-13). Then in verses 14-38 he defines a career based on the planets in the svamsha.
“In that, the Sun – a chief in state afairs.
The full Moon and Venus therein – having and offering enjoyments and living by education.
Mars therein – a metallurgist, a spear fighter and living by fire.
Mercury therein – trade, weavers, artist/craftsman and legal knowledge.
Jupiter therein – devoted to work of wisdom and knowing the Veda.
Venus therein – kings’ servant, amorous and having a hundred senses.
Saturn therein – a life of accomplished deeds.
Rahu therein – archers and thieves as well as snake charmers and a maker of metal mechanical instruments.
Ketu therein – an elephant dealer and thief.
Saturn and Rahu in that – consuming/imparting betel leaves.”
Of course, trying to determine the career from only one isolated factor is not very wise, but unfortunately even when this technique is used together with other important factors in a horoscope it does not prove to be reliable or accurate. In fact, I’ve tested it on 50 charts of famous athletes, musicians, kings and actors, but it performed with less than 35% accuracy. I will probably present this in a separate article, because I went to great length and tested it with this yoga as read in the navamsha chart as well as from the svamsha in the main chart which many Jaimini astrologers also advocate. To my disappointment both performed poorly.
Jaimini, however, gives other svamsha yogas that produce various results. Since according to my understanding the navamsha shows the internal nature of the horoscope and how one is connected with their dharma or innate nature, their calling so to say, and would by its Ketu nature also suggest that it is important for spiritual matters we shall look at a few examples of spiritualists. It is in these topics that the navamsha yogas read in the navamsha chart itself seem to really shine.
First let’s look at a specific svamsha yoga for spirituality and liberation, for which we must look at the 12th sign from svamsha and if the svamsha is an even sign we count in reverse order of the signs. Below we have navamsha charts of four spiritualists who are practicing the path of devotion. In the examples I will strictly adhere to Jaimini’s principles and use only rashi or sign-based aspects as taught by Jaimini and the horoscope is drawn using the South Indian square chart which is designed for reading this type of aspects. If you are not familiar with them and would like to know more, please see my video interview with Vanita Lenka where I explain them in detail. For the purpose of this article I’ve chosen to show the aspects with red lines.
In Adhyaya 1, Pada 2 Jaimini says:
“Ketu therein (in the svamsha) – liberation.” (sutra 69)
“In Pisces and Cancer particularly.” (sutra 70)
“Venus (with Ketu)– (faith)in Lakshmi.” (sutra 74)
Since we’ll be looking at four horoscopes of bhakti-yogis or those who follow the path of devotion to God, it is important to look at conjunctions of Venus and Ketu and if they are in the 12th from svamsha or at least aspecting it. Venus with Ketu in general denotes detachment from sensual enjoyment and ones desires, so it is a very important combination for bhakti, where the ultimate goal is full surrender to God in love, which is manifested by Lakshmi Devi by her devotion to Vishnu or her more esoteric counterpart Radha with her pure love for Krishna.
Picture no. 2: Example chart 1
The first example navamsha chart has Taurus svamsha, because the atmakaraka, the Sun (red square) is in Taurus navamsha. Taurus is an even sign so we count 12 signs from it in reverse order and we come to Gemini where Venus and Ketu are placed (red circles). They are also aspecting the ascendant in Pisces navamsha which makes everything even more pronounced.
Picture no. 3: Example chart 2
The second example has Libra svamsha with Jupiter joined the atmakaraka Sun and the ascendant which shows us an interest in knowledge. We count 12 signs in the natural order of the signs and the 12th sign from svamsha is Virgo which holds Venus and Ketu. Venus is fallen in Virgo, so his devotional practice can be obstructed by their desire for understanding things intellectually.
Picture no. 4: Example chart 3
Our third example has Taurus svamsha because the atmakaraka is Saturn. The 12th from svamsha is empty, thus we have to look for planets that are aspecting it. We have Venus and Ketu together in Pisces, aspecting Gemini which is our 12th. We also have Mars and Rahu aspecting the 12th from svamsha. This person is generally very steady which is indicated by their atmakaraka in Taurus navamsha, a fixed earth sign. Venus and Ketu in Pisces are in the most suitable placement for devotion and liberation. But Mars and Rahu in Virgo bring a need for logic and reason, so this person has a challenge balancing the very irrational devotional, spiritual experiences with reason and logic.
Picture no. 5: Example chart 4
Our fourth, last example has Saggitarius svamsha as the Moon is the atmakaraka. The 12th from it is Scorpio which holds Saturn. In general this person desires to end this material existence due to suffering and we have Venus and Ketu aspecting the 12th from Cancer, a water sign which is preferred. There is also an aspect of an exalted Sun, which is of help and of Rahu, which is together with the ascendant in Capricorn. Rahu makes him not really fit anywhere and he can be quite a lonely person.
THE NAVAMSHA IN YAVANAJATAKA
»The navamshas, whose forms and actions (are taken into consideration) in genethlialogy, are (also) well known (as being useful) in making predictions, in calculating the periods of life (dashas), and in determining the length of life.« (Yavanajataka, chapter 1, verse 35, David Pingree’s translation)
»The influence (of the planets) in the degrees of their exaltations is complete; in their navamshas, as in their mulatrikonas; in their dvadashamshas, as in their houses; and in the degrees of their dejections or of their enemies, it is the least.« (Chapter 8, verse 1)
»If all the planets in their own navamshas are in their friends’ houses or if, in their friends’ navamshas, they are in their own houses, they produce a lord having power in their (the planets’) regions in the four continents on earth.« (Chapter 9, verse 4)
In these two verses the navamsha position of a planet is used to determine its influence and dignity. This is quite a very common way to use the navamsha and also the easiest one. Yavanajataka does not, by any means tell us to create a navamsha chart and read it as a separate chart. No such thing is mentioned anywhere in the text and the same is true for Brihat Jataka and Saravali. Instead what we see is the navamsha positions of planets being used for additional insight into dignity and in some cases we are instructed to also look at the navamsha ruler of a planet.
»If the Moon is in a navamsha of the Sun and if the benefit planets are in cardines (angles) while the malefic planets are not in conjunction with the Sun at dawn, the best (astrologer) predict the birth of kings.« (Chapter 8, verse 25)
»The Moon in a navamsha of Mercury, if it is aspected by Mercury, produces an eloquent man who knows such things as the meaning of the sciences and the crafts; if by Venus, an expert in singing, story-telling, and sexual intercourse; if by Jupiter, the counsellor (saciva) of a king, one who understands politics« (Chapter 32, verse 5)
The way the navamshas are used in Yavanajataka is very similar to the use of the bounds in Hellenistic astrology in the sense that we are concerned with the navamsha placement of the planet and how well it is dignified by it and the interactions between the planet and its navamsha ruler. If a planet is vargottama – being in the same sign in the navamsha as in the main chart, then those significations are being strongly affirmed and similar is true if the planet falls in its own navamsha.
In chapter 31 we can read descriptions of bodily features and personality traits as shown by the navamsha placement of the Moon at birth.
»One born in the first navamsha of the first sign (Aries) has a face shaped like a ram’s, little body hair, a thin, terrible form, and contracted eyes and lashes; the tip of his nose is thin, and his voice is fierce.« (Chapter 31, Verse 2)
»One born in the first navamsa in Libra is a fair-skinned man whose eyes are wide, tremulous, and black, whose face is long, and whose moustache is thick; a famous and haughty man who speaks nobly; one who knows about merchandise, and protects his money.« (Chapter 31, verse 56)
THE NAVAMSHA IN SARAVALI
Varahamihira’s Brihat Jataka is extremely scarce when it comes to techniques that involve the navamsha. He mentions it occasionally, most frequently when he is discussing child births, but not much elsewhere. Kalyana Varma’s Saravali, however, gives us much more information.
»If a planet is in exaltation, mulatrikona, own House, friendly House, or own navamsha and aspected by a benefic, it assumes strength.« (Saravali, chapter 4, verse 35)
»A planet in its own decanate confers virtues, while the one in own navamsha makes one famous.« (Saravali, chapter 5, verse 31)
Saravali, like Yavanajataka gives results of Moon in various navamshas, but does it a bit differently.
»MOON IN NAVAMSHA OF MARS ASPECTED BY OTHERS. If the Moon is in the navamsha of Mars aspected by Mars himself, one will win over his enemies and will be valorous. If the Moon is in the navamsha of Mars aspected by Saturn, one will be very cunning, deceiving and trifling. If the Moon is in the navamsha of Mars aspected by the Sun, one will be a thief, sometimes cruel and sometimes protecting and be courageous. If the Moon is in the navamsha of Mars aspected by Jupiter, the person will be a king, be famous and honoured by the learned. If the Moon is in the navamsha of Mars aspected by Venus, one will be a kings minister, be wealthy and be fond of women and cosmetics. If the Moon is in the navamsha of Mars aspected by Mercury, one will be a fast speaker and be fickle-minded.« (Saravali, chapter 24, verses 1-3)
In general this represents the most common navamsha use and if one wants to get more knowledge about this, Kalyana Varma’s Saravali and Yavanajataka are wonderful text to study. So far I’ve only peaked into Saravali, but it is a true treasure of astrological information.
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