Essays & Facts on Vedic Astrology

The Veda as the instruction manual of the universe The three in one structure of consciousness Jyotish in Rigveda The holographic structure of the universe Free will and predestination Qualities and characteristics of the 27 nakshatras
in terms of personality traits Keywords for rashis: the twelve signs of the zodiac Keywords for grahas: the nine planets Keywords for bhavas: the twelve houses Keywords for the nakshatras - the 27 lunar mansions A model description of our solar system/universe home

The stars are within us !

Qualities and Characteristics of the 27 Nakshatras
in Terms of Personality Traits

"Human beings embody 
the totality of Natural Law,
they are the embodiment of  the
Constitution of the Universe."

- Maharishi -

In this expression of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the essence of the whole vedic wisdom is contained. The whole purpose of the vedic teaching is to bring home to man that he is essentially one with the universe. In essence, we all share the same identity, the same eternal and cosmic consciousness, the Atma, the self of all beings - the unified field of all the laws of nature. Nevertheless, we do observe that each one of us expresses this same unbounded field of transpersonal consciousness in a unique and personal way.

Jyotish or vedic astrology, one of the six vedangas or limbs of the Veda, not only provides a practical demonstration of the fact that we are one with the universe, but also explains why certain qualities of the unified field express themselves more in one person, while other qualities are more manifest in other persons. These personal differences are explained in terms of the enlivenment of certain parts of the kalapurusha (personified time; in western astrology referred to as the zodiac) by the placement of Sun, Moon, planets, and the ascendant, at the time of birth of each and every individual. In the sanskrit language Sun is called Surya, and the Moon is called Chandra.

This chapter concerns itself with the division of the kalapurusha in 27 parts, called nakshatras, each of which comprises 13 degrees and 20 minutes of arc in the kalapurusha or zodiac. This ancient division of the kalapurusha, which preceded the division into the more commonly known twelve rashis or signs of the zodiac, has a special reference to the movement of Chandra, the Moon. Nakshatra literally means 'indestructable one', and is referring to the assumed indestructable nature of a star. Hence the regular translation of nakshatra is 'star'. In English translations the nakshatras are usually referred to by the term 'lunar mansions.' In vedic astrology the division of the zodiac in 27 nakshatras serves a variety of functions.

As is the case with the 12 rashis, the 27 nakshatras possess certain qualities and characteristics which can be expressed in terms of personality traits. The presence of Chandra in a certain nakshatra enlivens the qualities of that nakshatra. In other words, the person born 'under' a certain nakshatra, will exhibit the personality traits belonging to that nakshatra. The nakshatra in which Chandra is placed at the time of birth is usually the most prominent factor in reflecting the personality of the concerned native. In Jyotish literature the nakshatra in which Chandra is placed at birth is commonly referred to as janma-nakshatra or 'birth-star'.

Furthermore, the ascendant in the birthchart, which symbolizes the eastern horizon as seen from the time and place of birth, enlivens that part of the kalapurusha in which it falls. In the 24 hours that the earth turns around its axis the rising sign passes through each of the 12 signs of the zodiac and by the same token through the 27 nakshatras of the kalapurusha. In vedic astrology the ascendant is called lagna. The qualities and characteristics of the nakshatra that is rising on the eastern horizon will find their expression in the personality.

Note that I don't say that this nakshatra causes the qualities and characteristics of the individual in a certain way. The planets and the stars simply form a cosmic mirror for what is happening here below. The ancients expressed this principle in the famous dictum: 'As above, so below'. It is to be understood once and for all by all students of any kind of astrology that both levels - above and below - are the simultaneous expressions of the unified field of all the laws of nature, and are connected to each other on the level of infinite correlation - the cosmic principle of synchronicity. For an elaboration of this wonderful principle of life see the chapter on the holographic nature of the universe.

The nature and characteristics of the nakshatra that is enlivened by the lagna, will be found to be coexistent with the qualities and personality traits, belonging to the nakshatra enlivened by the Moon.

Thirdly, the placement of Surya, the Sun, in the kundali or birth chart of a person, serves as a major factor in enlivening that area of the kalapurusha in which it is placed. In other words, the nature and characteristics of the nakshatra in which Surya is placed at birth, will form an integrated part of the nature and characteristics of the person concerned.

Of the three nakshatras, enlivened respectively by Chandra, lagna and Surya, the one in which Chandra is placed usually shows up most clearly in the nature of the person. In cases where the ascendant is clearly the strongest factor in a chart the nakshatra in which the lagna is placed shows itself most clearly in the personality. In some exceptional cases the nakshatra enlivened by Surya will prove the most dominant factor in the personality structure of the native. It all depends on the relative strength of these three basic factors in the horoscope. In cases where two or three or even more planets occupy one single nakshatra then the personality traits indicated by that nakshatra may prove to be a very strong aspect of the nature of the individual if not the strongest.

As a student of Maharishi's vedic science I have trained myself to interpret a birthchart in the light of the natural process of evolution towards enlightenment. I read a chart in the light of the consciousness of the individual. The soul of an individual is essentially free from any impurities caused by the ignorance of the personality. I believe that the primary function of any form of astrology should be to help the person tune in to his own soul. The soul by nature is a field of inifinite wisdom and bliss.. According to vedic science the soul consist of three qualities, namely sat, chit and ananda or truth, self-referral consciousness and bliss. Vedic science asserts that the sole cause of human suffering lies in forgetting one's own soul, which equates with one's full potential as a human being.

The soul or the atma is a field of pure potentiality, a field of all possibilities, free from ignorance and a fountainhead of energy, courage and joy. The goal of everyone's life, the goal of every human being, born on this planet, whether he or she knows it or not, is to realize his soul's potential. All branches of vedic science are geared towards this goal. Vedic astrology is no exception to the rule. The primary duty so to speak of every (vedic) astrologer is to help his client tune in to his soul, because only by realizing one's soul one realizes one's full potential and hence one's life-purpose. Gary Zukav has said it beautifully in his recent book Seat of the Soul: ''When a personality is in full balance, you cannot see where it ends and the soul begins. That is a whole human being.'

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his lessons on vedic astrology emphasized once that 'Jyotish should never be taken on any other level than the level of vedanta'. Vedanta is the science of the soul. Vedanta teaches that there is only one soul, the soul of the universe, which all of us embody. By interpreting a chart on the level of vedanta we automatically help the client to realize his true identity, as an infinite eternal blissful soul, free from the consequences of ignorance and suffering.

In the science of creative intelligence formulated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1972 and in all his more recent explanations of the 40 branches of vedic science, it is made clear that the whole purpose of life is to gain enlightenment. Being born on planet Earth usually implies that one is not fully aware of one's unbounded, cosmic nature. While we are in reality one with the entire cosmos, we usually start our planetary adventure by regarding ourselves as an individual human being, bound in time and space. This incomplete and therefore incorrect image of our self automatically results in certain imbalances of the personality, leading to ignorance, frustration and suffering, etc.

In ayurveda, this loss of memory of one's infinite nature is called pragya aparadha, which is said to be the ultimate cause of all doshas or impurities in mind and body. Since the doshas are rooted in such a deep level of consciousness, they naturally pervade our mind, body, and behaviour. Being born with a certain set of imperfections and weaknesses however, does not mean that we are supposed to live with them for the whole of our life. Vedic science says that the normal course of life would be, that one gains full enlightenment - unity consciousness - as soon as the body gains full maturation.

Per definition, enlightenment means that one has reached perfection and that one is eternally established in sattva: 'nitya sattvastho' (Bhagavad Gita, 2:45), freed from all doshas. This means that in enlightenment we are free from all impurities and stresses.

Jyotish textbooks however, generally mention many imperfections when they describe the nature of the several grahas, bhavas, rashis and nakshatras. From the perspective of vedic science, as given above, it is clear that wherever these doshic descriptions are provided, they should be understood as referring to those stages of human evolution, where one has not yet fully realised one's own unbounded nature, one's cosmic status in life. It is clear that in the case of persons who have realised their true nature, their infinite and eternal soul, and have become one with themselves, these doshic descriptions no longer apply!

This point should be kept in mind when studying Jyotish books and for that matter any kind of astrology books. Otherwise these very texts - which may have been written for the purpose of assisting the individuals to reach enlightenment, and to create a heavenly life on Earth - in themselves become a further means of bondage by perpetuating the pragya aparadha of the individuals. When we do not take an evolutionary perspective on the nature of human life, as delineated by the vedic wisdom, one could even find excuses and reinforcements of one's own stresses, depressions and aggressions by blaming the stars for it!

No doubt, every nakshatra, as well as every graha, bhava and rashi, contains within its nature a certain proneness to a specific mode of stressful or doshic behaviour. However, we should be aware of the inherent limitations of these descriptions and apply them only with great discretion and wisdom. This means that we should keep in mind that everyone's life is meant to blossom into enlightenment by nature, and that every society is naturally evolving to experience a state of heaven on earth.

In contrast to most of the jyotish books available on the market today, the subsequent descriptions of the personality traits related to each of the 27 nakshatras provide the student of vedic astrology with a list of dosha-free descriptions, depicting the full potential that is inherent in each of the 27 nakshatras. The personality traits mentioned below have been derived from over a dozen Jyotish books. The purpose of these dosha-free descriptions is to inspire every individual to whom they apply to tune in to their full potential as an unbounded soul, free from the chains of ignorance. These 27 descriptions are designed to indicate the full potential of the 27 modes of consciousness represented by the 27 nakshatras. The idea is that these evolutionary qualities of the 27 nakshatras will express themselves more freely and fully as we become more and more free from stress. According to the vedic literature, stars are the physical expressions of the devas or gods. Deva literally means 'shining one.' Thus, by tuning ourselves in to the inspiration coming from the stars, we are actually tuning ourselves in to the galaxy of the gods. In this way we tune in to and realize our cosmic nature in which we understand that the gods are nothing but our own good qualities! May this chapter on the nakshatras (stars) help us in realizing how good we are, and how many evolutionary qualities we do posses! May the galaxy of the stars be a constant reminder to us of our true cosmic status, which is filled with an infinite number of positive and creative tendencies. May the stars be an inspiration to us, calling us to come home to our cosmic self, that per definition we all share in common.

It is hoped that these dosha-free descriptions will serve as an inspiration to all students of vedic astrology. May these cosmic indicators serve us as a guide on our way home, on our way to unity consciousness.



Copyright © 1998. Drs. Frans Langenkamp, Ph.D. All rights reserved.