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The 27 Nakshatras of Vedic Astrology

The first 9 Nakshatras are covered on this page: Ashwini, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrigashira, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pushya, Ashlesha. The rest will be covered on subsequent pages so it isn't so overwhelming long.

  • Nakshatras 10 - 18: Magha, Purva Phalguni, Uttara Phalguni, Hasta, Chitra, Swati, Vishaka, Anuradha, Jyestha
  • Nakshatras 19 - 27: Mula, Purva Ashada, Uttara Ashada, Shravana, Dhanistha, Shatibishak, Purva Bhadrapada, Uttara Bhadrapada, Revati

Nakshatras 1 - 9 of Vedic Astrology
notes complied by Julene Packer-Louis

Nakshatras are the 27 divisions of the zodiac based on the moon's daily motion of 13 degrees and 20 minutes. The Moon travels the zodiac in 27.3 days spending roughly one day in each Nakshatra. Of course the Moon does not move at a constant apparent speed because of things perigee, apogee and the ability to go out of bounds in declination, and there is a extra one third of a day for a lunar sidereal cycle. So the Moon does not spend a strict 24 hours in each Nakshatra. The time spent in each Nakshatra is roughly one day.

The Nakshatra of your Moon is extremely important. It is called your Jama Tara (birth star) and the planetary ruler of your Moon's Nakshatra is what begins your planetary periods (Dasas) used in prediction. The 27 Nakshatras have a three fold repeating rhythm of 9 planetary rulers. The order of planetary rulers through the Nakshatras beginning with the entrance into the fire signs is: Ketu (south node), Venus, Sun, Moon, Mars, Rahu (north node), Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury.

It is important to use the sidereal zodiac when working with the Nakshatras. Most Nakshatras have a bright primary star associated with it. Therefore the Nakshatras are connected the fixed stars. They are not seasonal based, so it makes no sense to use the tropical zodiac with the Nakshatras. The planets in their Nakshatras are where you would actually observe them in the heavens - against the stars that set the meaning and tone for the Nakshatra along with many other things. The difference between the tropical (seasonal based) zodiac and sidereal (star based) zodiac is called ayanamsha which is Sanskrit word meaning part of the path that is different. While there are a few different calculations for ayanamsha, it is the Lahiri Ayanamsha that is sanctioned by the Indian Government. That is the one I use when working with Nakshatras.

Below is an at a glance look at many of the important considerations for contemplating or meditating on the richness and depth of meaning of the nakshatras. I have also included the mythology and a brief bit about the indications. This is what I typed up for myself as a study guide for learning the Nakshatras. Please excuse the sentence fragments when they arise. Originally this is just my notes, but I decided that others might find it useful.

Start by looking up your Moon's Nakshatra (your Janma Tara) so you can see how that correlates to you. Also if you look up the Nakshatra of your Lagna (Ascendant) you can see the Nakshatra through which you attached to the wheel of time. You can read about the Nakshatras of all of your planets for added insight beyond sign placement alone. I hope you find this helpful.
Namaste,
Julene

The First 9 Nakshatras of Vedic Astrology
(sidereal zodiac degrees - Lahiri Ayanamsha)

The first nine Nakshatras are Rajasic in nature and concerned with creating and moving forward. Notice the rhythm of the gunas in each set of nine. Only the first Nakshatra is purely Rajasic, on the rest secondary and tertiary understones of tamasic and sattvic come forth.

Nakshatra 1: Aswini
Symbol: horse head
Zodical Degrees: 0:00 - 13:19:59 Aries
Sex & Gana: Male Deva
Fixed Stars: El Sheratan & Hamal in Aries
Ruling Planet: Ketu
Hindu Deity: Ashwini Kumaras
Guna: rajas/rajas/rajas
Animal: male horse
Keynote: transport
Disposition: light & swift
Primary Motivation: dharma
Shakti: speed & quick result

Mythology: The Surya (Sun) married Sanja (Tvashtri) daughter of the Celestial Archetect Vishvakarma (Tvashtar). But his effulgence was too much for her to bear, and she couldn't' do her own dharma in his presence. So she put her handmaid Chaya (shadow) in her place and went off to persue her dharma. When she returned she realized that Surya had fallen in love with Chaya thinking it was her. She felt hurt & betrayed, turned herself in a mare, and left. Surya realizing the truth, went after her in the form of a horse. They mated and the 2 horse twins were born and placed in the heavens as Ashwini. (Then Vishkarama reduced the sun's effulgence.)

Indications: The Ashwini Twins are the celestial physicians, association with healing. Creative energy that moves in 7 channels, 7 eternal flames of manifestation, 7 horses the pull the chariot of the Sun, form, power, stamina, vitality (horse qualities). The impulse of Ashwini is fierce activity, dynamism, activation of inertia to activity. It can bring radical transformation, overpowering thirst for life, leadership, exploration of new experiences, impulsiveness, aggression, lust, indiscretion, avoidance of unpleasant responsibilities.

Nakshatra 2: Bharani
Symbol: Yoni
Zodical Degrees: 13:20 - 26:39:59 Aries
Sex & Gana: Female Manusha
Fixed Stars: Almach of Andromeda & Menkar of Cetus
Ruling Planet: Venus
Hindu Deity: Yama
Guna: rajas/rajas/tamas
Disposition: fierce
Keynote: restraint & vitality
Primary Motivation: artha
Animal: elephant
Shakti: power to carry things away

Mythology: While the Sun was with Chaya, they gave birth to Saturn. After Sun & Sanja had the Ashwini twins in horse form, they had 3 children in human form: Manu (projenator of man), Yama (god of death), Yami (goddess of Yamuna River) Yama rules Bharani. In Vedic philosophy the two primary powers are Shiva (active) & Shakti (passive). Ashwini is represented by Shiva & Bharani by Shakti. Bharani is represented by the womb, a vessel or channel for creation. Yama here represents the passage of a soul from one from to another. Yama is also associated with Yogic practices such as breath retention & meditation.

Indications: Bharani is a conduit or channel for creative forces, artistic abilities, gifts , talents. Yama guides the soul to the astral plane to experience result of karma. It is the star of restraint due to being entangled in the desires & illusions of the world; and the yogic practices that help untangle that. It gives qualities of sacrifice, discipline, truthfulness, virtue, also vanity, narcissism, and sexual indulgence along with primal creativity & power to cleanse & remove impurities. Can make for extreme morals & judgments.

Nakshatra 3: Krittika
Symbol: flame, razor, axe, or knife
Zodical Degrees: 26:40 Aries - 9:59:59 Taurus
Sex & Gana: Female Rakshasa
Fixed Stars: Pleiades in Taurus, Algol in Perseus (head of Medusa)
Ruling Planet: Sun
Hindu Deity: Agni
Guna: rajas/rajas/sattva
Disposition: sharp & dreadful
Keynote: fire
Primary Motivation: kama
Animal: female sheep
Shakti: power to burn or purify

Mythology: 7 sisters of the Pleiades are the 7 wives of the 7 Rishis (big dipper stars). Agni, god of Fire symbolizes the fire of creation and the 7 flames. When demons were destroying the world & its creatures, and it seemed they would defeat the gods themselves, the gods obtained the seed of Shiva to defeat the demons. The seed of Shiva was so powerful that no ordinary womb could hold it, so it was cast in fire and protected by water. The Krittikas were charged with nourishing it in their collective womb. Karttikeya was born on the 7th day and defeated the demon Taraka, delivering the gods from the demons.

Indications: Determined & tenacious will for greatness and to fight for social causes. To burn or cut away negativity, to build divine qualities over demonic forces such as egotism and destructive tendencies that get in the way of our evolution. Indicates the purification to cut away worldly attachments & sow seed of spiritual consciousness. Agni as the deity associates this nakshatra with fire rituals and cooking, therefore diet & eating habits as well. The Krittikas did not give birth to their own seed; it is passive and requires other forces to activate it, and then becomes highly charged. Bridges Aries & Taurus, the subjective active impulse with the creative impulse under motherly nurturance.

Nakshatra 4: Rohini
Symbol: ox cart or chariot
Zodical Degrees: 10:00 - 23:19:59 Taurus
Sex & Gana: Female Manusha
Fixed Stars: Aldebaran in Taurus
Ruling Planet: Moon
Hindu Deity: Prajapati
Guna: rajas/tamas/rajas
Disposition: fixed
Keynote: ascent
Primary Motivation: moksha
Animal: cobra
Shakti: power of growth

Mythology: Mythology I already discussed in Ashwini. Also Rohini as consort of Rohit (one of the 108 names for the Sun) & foster mother of Balarama, Krishna's older brother. A demon Kamsa tried to slay all the children of Vasudeva (lord of celestial light) so Balarama was transferred to Rohini's womb and was protected & nourished by Rohini until Krishna was born and his true identity was revealed so Balarama could assist Krishana in his mission. Connection to Krishna indicates the arousal of cosmic awareness, and a channel for divine energy in the world. Rohit is producer of heaven & earth, measurer of space & atmosphere, the very life force that gives form to manifestation and makes it solid and measurable, related to circulation of blood that maintains vitality.

Indications: Powerful procreative force, paves the way for divine potential, but can become caught up in the indulgence of worldly pleasures that lead to the suffering, which in turn leads to cycles of karma, death, & rebirth. Symbol is a chariot lead by horses which represents the transport of universal life force that is protected and nourished until it is strong enough to meet adversaries with a sense of mission, while being drawn into intoxicating situations, whims & fancies, and experiencing repercussions for lower actions.

Nakshatra 5: Mrigashira
Symbol: Antelope's or Deer's Head
Zodical Degrees: 23:20 Taurus - 06:39:59 Gemini
Sex & Gana: Female-Neuter Deva
Fixed Stars: Bellatrix in Orion
Ruling Planet: Mars
Hindu Deity: Soma (Chandra - Moon)
Guna: rajas/tamas/tamas
Disposition: soft
Keynote: star of searching
Primary Motivation: moksha
Animal: female serpant
Shakti: power to give fulfillment

Mythology: Soma is the Moon god, also known as Chandra, son of Varuna the lord of the oceans. Originally Soma was the god of ecstasy, whose nectar was amrita, the food of the Gods. Soma and amrita is similar to Dionysus and wine. During the waxing moon 36,000 gods feed on Soma's amrita. This exhausts Soma and he becomes depleted as the waning moon. Then Surya (the Sun) feeds him from the oceans (this is the new moon) and he gains his strength again to grow full. Soma is depicted riding a chariot pulled by either an antelope or ten white horses. The crescent symbol behind his head and on his chariot represents the moon. Krishna associates himself with Mrigashira in the Bhagavad Gita. Shiva's consort Uma (Shakti) was born under Mrigashira, and they were also married here. Presiding deity is Soma, and the attribute here is the mystic nectar that gives enlightenment. Brahisphati (Jupiter) was married to Tara but unable to give her a child or enlightenment. Soma became infatuated with Tara, tricked Jupiter into leaving her alone, and stole Tara who did not want to return to Jupiter because she was getting enlightenment from Mercury. The gods intervened and made her return but she was pregnant with Buddhi (Mercury) by Soma. Jupiter found Mercury charming and decided to father him anyway. Represents the dawn of intelligence as the bridge between Taurus & Gemini.

Indications: Antelope is elusive, quick, graceful, agile, and represented as a golden deer. Thus it can be a search for the golden deer that gets caught in the form of comforts & pleasures of worldly life chasing after non-existent things that can only be held in the moment. Deer arouses love & romance as its symbol. Mrigashira represents quick radical change, and spirit revealing itself through illusory nature of matter; searching for enlightenment, curious, sensitive, outward directed intelligence, while seeking or investigating spiritual evolution inwardly.

Nakshatra 6: Ardra
Symbol: Tear Drop
Zodical Degrees: 6:40 Gemini - 19:59:59 Gemini
Sex & Gana: Female Manusha
Fixed Stars: Betelgeuse in Orion
Ruling Planet: Rahu
Hindu Deity: Rudra (a form of Shiva)
Guna: rajas/tamas/sattva
Disposition: soft & sharp
Keynote: star of storms
Primary Motivation: kama
Animal: female dog
Shakti: power of effort

Mythology: Rudra is the god of storms, lightening and a provider of medicine. He is fierce looking god that is gold in color with gold adornments and he wields a lightning bolt, bow and arrow. As an aspect of Shiva he can instill fear on men and other gods. However he is also a protector against enemies. Rudra shot down Prajapati (Orion) to save Rohini (one of the 27 sisters and Soma's favorite wife) from being raped and thus destroyed the unity of the cosmos.

Indications: Ardra translates to "the moist one" and its symbol is a tear drop. Sadness is associated with this nakshatra as well as destruction to save grace for the future. It can bring the dark night of the soul, a violent temperament and the tendency to wreak havoc. It also bestows the ability to create things out of destruction and an inclination toward renovating old houses or restoring old cars. Hardships are overcome by gaining truth and realization through suffering, whereby a sense of gratitude and appreciation heals wounds.

Nakshatra 7: Purnavasu
Symbol: Quiver of Arrows
Zodical Degrees: 20:00 Gemini - 3:19:59 Cancer
Sex & Gana: Male Deva
Fixed Stars: Castor & Pollux in Gemini
Ruling Planet: Jupiter
Hindu Deity: Aditi
Guna: rajas/sattva/rajas
Disposition: moveable
Keynote: star of renewal
Primary Motivation: artha
Animal: female cat
Shakti: power of prosperity

Mythology: Aditi the personification of sky and space. She is the mother of the gods and all creatures. She is abundant, vast and limitless. Originally she was the wife of Dakasa, grandfather of all living forms. Later she became the daughter of Dakasa and wife of Kashyapa, the progenitor of the human race.

Indications: Punarvasu follows the nakshatra Ardra (the storm) and literally translates to "return of the light". This denotes the ability to bounce back from difficulty, limitless inner resources, and charming and forgiving character. It bestows a deeply philosophical, inspirational, and spiritual nature with a genuine understanding that brings wisdom. Its symbol a quiver of arrow indicates a love of travel (arrow) but with a home base or family to return to (quiver). This is a very prosperous nakshatra, ruled by Jupiter and prosperity tends to double as you give back to the world.

Nakshatra 8: Pushya
Symbol: circle or wheel
Zodical Degrees: 3:20 Cancer - 16:39:59 Cancer
Sex & Gana: Male Deva
Fixed Stars: Acubens, Asellus Borealis, Asellus Australis, in Cancer
Ruling Planet: Saturn
Hindu Deity: Brihaspati (Guru - Jupiter)
Guna: rajas/sattva/tamas
Disposition: light & swift
Keynote: star of nourishment
Primary Motivation: dharma
Animal: ram (male sheep)
Shakti: power of spiritual energy

Mythology: Originally Brihaspati of the Vedas was the same as Brahma of the Hindu trinity. Later, Shiva made him the teacher of the gods, lord of speech and prayer, and guardian of the planet Guru (which is Jupiter). He gives wisdom & wealth, heals disease, protects the physical body, gives wealth, increases agriculture and protects heroes in battle. He is a priest of heaven. Brihaspati was married to Tara. Soma (moon god) stole Tara from him and a child, Budha (Mercury) was born from the affair and Brihaspati raised him as his own.

Indications: Pushya indicates a religious, spiritual, devotional, helping and caring nature. It often indicates a close knit family, abundant wealth, philosophers, preachers and professors. The theme of nourishment and abundance can lead to weight problems. The abundance is both material and spiritual and sharing inner wealth can sometimes lead to arrogance or smugness about beliefs.

Nakshatra 9: Ashlesha
Symbol: coiled serpant
Zodical Degrees: 16:40 Cancer - 29:59:59 Cancer
Sex & Gana: Female Rakshasa
Fixed Stars: ring of stars in Hydra's head
Ruling Planet: Mercury
Hindu Deity: Nagas/Sarpas
Guna: rajas/sattva/sattva
Disposition: sharp & dreadful
Keynote: clinging
Primary Motivation: dharma
Animal: male cat
Shakti: power of poison

Mythology: Naga the serpent king as the presiding deity represents the embodiment of wisdom arising from spiritual enlightenment but poisonous and capable of ending life with a single bite. Also represents a dangerous power known to ancient yogis and seers, similar to Eve's temptation in the Garden of Eden. Thus the role of Kundalini in cosmic evolution is described in an concealed manner in ancient teachings. The world is balanced on the head of Shesha-Naga the celestial serpent. He is the cosmic float for Vishnu. In the creation myth where the gods & demons churned the ocean of milk, Shesha Naga was the rope tied to the mountain that churned so the amrita (nectar or immortality) would float up. Poisons also floated up from the oceans depths. The serpent is capable of both good and bad. Nagas are spiritual teachers concerned with propagation of wisdom.

Indications: Deeply philosophical nature, thoughtful, austere, self reliant and reclusive quality. Also indicates a hypnotizing, attractive quality with personal magnetism. Can behave in crude, harsh, selfish & venomous manner and cannot tolerate personal humiliation. Snakes shed their skin, so there is the quality of renewal when endeavors are outgrown, absorbing new vitality for new endeavors and intellectual development. The ability to change the perception of life can catapult the person into radically different conditions of existence that can happen unexpectedly.

Continue reading about the second nine Nakshatras.




© Julene Packer-Louis 2013