The first thing to remember is that Jyotish uses a whole-sign house system, where each house is one whole sign. The 1st house contains the sign of the ascendant, and the ascendant itself falls somewhere in the 1st house, unlike the Western tropical system with Placidus houses where the 1st house cusp is the ascendant position. I am going to use the horoscope of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the U.S. Congress house representative from New York, whose Western chart I had presented in an earlier post on the grand square.
Here’s the Jyotish horoscope for AOC:
You might also recall that the first house is called the lagna, and the same term is used for the ascendant degree itself.
For interpretation, houses are categorized in various ways.
Kendra and kona houses
In this classification, the angular houses–1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th–are called the kendras, and the trinal houses–1st, 5th, and 9th–are called the trikonas, or simply konas. (So this grouping doesn’t apply to all houses, but only to a subset of them.) Notice that the 1st house has the unique distinction of being both a kendra and a kona. These houses are generally regarded as the most auspicious houses of a horoscope. A kendra house is a house of karma, or action.
The following figure marks the kendras and konas in AOC’s horoscope:
There is another way to group the houses, and that is according to element: fire, earth, air, and water. We do this is in Western astrology when we classify the signs according to element, but in Jyotish, the classification also applies to the houses.
Dharma, artha, kama, and moksha houses
This classification groups houses into sets of 3:
- Dharma houses: These are the natural fire sign houses. In other words, the fire signs in the natural zodiac sequence where Aries is the first, Leo is the fifth, and Sagittarius is the ninth. Correspondingly, the 1st, 5th, and 9th houses in a chart are the dharma houses. Dharma houses signify the life purpose of the individual, the thing they are here to do. Living according to one’s dharma means discharging the duties that you are meant to do in this lifetime, which is said to be the path of righteousness.
- Artha houses: These are the natural earth sign houses, corresponding to the natural zodiacal positions of Taurus (2nd), Virgo (6th), and Capricorn (10th). Being earth houses, they signify all the practical things that sustain life in its material form.
- Kama houses: The word kama means desire, and this is attributed to the 3rd, 7th, and 11th houses, corresponding to the sequence of air signs in the natural zodiac, namely Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
- Moksha houses: Moksha means liberation, attributed to the 4th, 8th, and 12th houses, corresponding to the sequence of water signs in the natural zodiac, namely Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
This categorization is shown in AOC’s chart below:
Unless the ascendant is a fire sign–Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius–the sign of a house will not be in the same element as the nature of the house. For instance, in AOC’s chart, the dharma house are in water signs, the artha houses are in fire signs, etc.
Yet another classification of houses that follows is not really a full classification because it does not divide all houses into certain groups.
The word dussthana is a compound word, composed of the parts sthana meaning place, and dus meaning troublesome. So these houses have the dubious distinction of being troublesome places, and the houses that belong to this club are the 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 12th. Here’s AOC’s chart with the dussthanas marked:
Lo and behold, there is one more grouping of a subset of houses.
The 3rd, 6th, 10th, and 11th houses are called the upachaya houses, which means that these houses signify improvement over time. So the sixth house, for instance, may be troublesome, but over time, its positive significations will grow and the troublesome effects may be overcome or transcended.
Since a house may be in more than one of these specialized groupings, it is useful to have one view that shows all the categories to which each house belongs. This is shown in the following table.
|1st||Dharma Kendra Kona|
|3rd||Kama Dussthana Upachaya|
|6th||Artha Dussthana. Upachaya|
|10th||Artha. Kendra. Upachaya|
In the blogs to follow, I will get into the detailed significations of all the houses. You will see some similarities in the house descriptions to the Western houses, but there are a few significations that are unique to Jyotish that you will learn about as well.