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Planetary Aspects in Jyotish

Western astrology proposes numerous aspects each with a specific interpretation. Aspects come with orbs-an aspect is only defined to work if it is within a certain orb, and the closer the orb, the more intense the effect of the aspect.

Jyotish defines aspects as well, but these aspects work differently than those in Western astrology, and coming to terms with this requires a shift in perception. Aspects play a vital role in interpretation, so understanding aspects well is crucial to successful interpretation.

The first and foremost difference is that in Jyotish planets aspect signs (houses). If a planet happens to be in the sign that is aspected, then that planet is aspected as well. And, traditional Jyotish has no notion of orb of aspect. That being said, practitioners of Jyotish do pay attention to exactness of aspects, giving a lot more importance to the very close ones.

I will illustrate the description of aspects that follow on the Dalai Lama’s chart, introduced in the first post on Jyotish.

All planets aspect the seventh sign/house from their position. So, if Mars is in Cancer, it would aspect all of Capricorn. If Capricorn happens to hold, say, the Moon, then the Moon would be aspected by Mars, irrespective of the difference in degree from the exact opposition.

See the 7th-house aspects in the Dalai Lama’s chart:

Conjunctions work in the same way. Two planets are said to be conjunct each other if they are in the same sign, no matter how far apart they may be. So Venus in the third degree of Capricorn is conjunct Saturn in the twenty-fifth degree of Capricorn. But this same Venus is not conjunct Mercury in the twenty-eighth degree of Sagittarius, since Venus and Mercury are in different signs. (In Western astrology, they would be treated as out-of-sign conjunct.)

In the Dalai Lama’s chart, the conjunctions are: Mer-Sun-Ket in Gemini, and Ven-Moo in Leo. (Remember, we don’t consider the outer planets in traditional Jyotish.)

In addition to the above, the planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn throw special aspects.

Mars also throws aspects to the fourth and eighth signs from itself. So, for instance, Mars in Cancer would not only throw its aspect on Capricorn (opposite), but also on Libra (fourth from Cancer), and Aquarius (eighth from Cancer). The fourth sign aspect is like a square in Western astrology, and the eighth is like an inconjunct.

Here are the 4th and 8th aspects of Mars in the Dalai Lama’s chart:

Jupiter also throws aspects to the fifth and ninth signs from itself. So, for instance, Jupiter in Leo would not only throw its aspect on the opposite sign of Aquarius, but also on Sagittarius (fifth) and Aries (ninth). This is akin to the trine in Western astrology.

These special Jupiter aspects are shown in the Dalai Lama’s chart below:

Saturn also throws aspects to the third and tenth signs from itself. So, for instance, Saturn in Aries would throw its aspect not only on Libra (opposite), but also on Gemini (third from Aries) and Capricorn (tenth from Aries). The third sign aspect is like a Western sextile, and the tenth is like a square.

These aspects that are special to Saturn appear below in the Dalai Lama’s chart:

The table here summarizes the aspects thrown by the planets:

PlanetSign Aspected
Mars7th, 4th, 8th
Jupiter7th, 5th, 9th
Saturn7th, 3rd, 10th

When a sign is aspected, the planets in the sign are naturally considered to be aspected as well. Like I said earlier, unlike Western astrology, there are no orbs that are applied on aspects. However there is a general agreement that very close aspects (to within a degree or two) function much more powerfully than other aspects. As an example, take the aspect of Jupiter on Gemini. Jupiter is at 20Lib30. The Sun in Gemini is at 19Gem58. Thus, Jupiter’s aspect on the Sun is within 32 minutes of exact – this is an extremely tight aspect and will function powerfully, much more so than the Jupiter aspect on Mercury or Ketu which are also in the Gemini, but at a distance from the exact aspect point. This tight Jupiter aspect to the Sun characterizes the divine radiance of the Dalai Lama more than anything else in the horoscope.

Aspects are the backbone of interpretation because every planet carries multiple significations that it carries into its aspects. In particular, if a sign/house receives aspects from several planets, its importance to the chart and the life rises significantly. In the Dalai Lama’s chart, the 7th, 9th, and 11th house each receives 3 aspects, the most for any sign/house. The 9th house, in particular, receives aspects exclusively from the benefics: Jupiter, Venus, and Moon. The 9th house signifies wisdom, learning, philosophy–in general, the higher mind. It is no surprise that with this full set of aspects from benefics, and none from the malefics, the Dalai Lama is celebrated globally for his wisdom. (As an aside, another strengthening factor in the 9th house is the presence of Saturn in its own sign of Aquarius, but more on that in a future blog where I will get into the sign rulerships of the planets.)