The purpose & the division of the Zodiac
The ancient Hindu way of life, based on the Karma theory, looked at the progress of the human soul based on three essential macroscopic parameters. They are: The Karma acquired from your past life, the karma you acquire by virtue of your actions in your present life and based on these your future life. They classified our present life into four broad aspects. Dharma or right living, Artha or the monetary aspect, Kama or the desires and finally Moksha or spiritual progress and liberation. They recognized the importance of balancing these four aspects of life for the proper progress. To understand and improve all these four aspects they gave us various Shastras. The Veda shastras for spiritual progress, the Dharma and Nyaya shastras for the legal and social conduct, the Artha ( finance), Ganita (mathematics), Vanijya (trade) shastras for earning money, Sangeeta (music) Nritya (dance) Shilpa (art) Kama (sex) Paka (cooking) shastras for pleasure. Finally the Jyotishya ( Jyoti=light+ Isha=God meaning the light of God to remove ignorance) was given to us as a guide, to get the best results during the most suitable times, in each of the above four areas of life. The entire basis and theology of our astrology is based on these principles.
The Division of the Zodiac:
From the astrological point of view, for the purpose of charting the planetary positions and calculations etc, the 360 degrees of the zodiac was divided into 12 equal parts, called Rasi or sign, of 30 degrees each. This is the 1st basic division. In the Vedic astrology there are 9 Grahas or planets which influence our lives. Out of these seven – the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn – are actual heavenly bodies. The other two – Rahu and Ketu – are shadowy planets whose positions are calculated mathematically. Vedic astrology ignores Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto.
These 9 planets own certain rasis, represent several things in our life, have several inherent qualities and influence certain facets of our life. It all depends on how these planets are placed and in which rasis they are placed. Let us understand these basics first.
The names of the 12 Rasis (Zodiac signs) in their natural order and their rulers:
1. Aries or Mesha is ruled by Mars.It extends from 00:00 degrees to 30:00′ in the zodiac.
2. Taurus or Vrishabha is ruled by Venus. It extends from 30:00 degrees to 60:00′
3. Gemini or Mithuna is ruled by Mercury. It extends from 60:00 degrees to 90:00′
4. Cancer or Karka is ruled by the Moon. It extends from 90:00 degrees to 120:00′
5. Leo or Simha is ruled by the Sun. It extends from 120:00 degrees to 150:00′
6. Virgo or Kanya is ruled by Mercury. It extends from 150:00 degrees to 180:00′
7. Libra or Tula is ruled by Venus. It extends from 180:00 degrees to 210:00′
8. Scorpio or Vrischika is ruled by Mars. It extends from 210:00 degrees to 240:00′
9. Sagittarius or Dhanu is ruled by Jupiter. It extends from 240:00 degrees to 270:00′
10. Capricorn or Makara is ruled by Saturn. It extends from 270:00 degrees to 300:00′
11. Aquarius or Kumbha is ruled by Saturn. It extends from 300:00 degrees to 330:00′
12. Pisces or Meena is ruled by Jupiter. It extends from 330:00 degrees to 360:00′
So it is clear that the sun and the moon own one house each and all the other 5 planets own 2 houses each. Rahu and Ketu do not own any houses.
The rasis are further divided into several categories. The categories are:
The Trikona or Triangular groups.
The 1st triangle formed by Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are Agni-Tatwa or Fire signs. They are active, aggressive, adventurous and dominating by nature and are good leaders and administrators. These signs, and people with these signs strong, have the Dharma aspect predominant.
The 2nd triangle formed by Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are Bhu-Tatwa or Earth signs. They are down to earth, practical and careful by nature and have a good sense of money. These signs, and people with these signs strong, have the Artha aspect predominant.
The 3rd triangle formed by Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are Vayu-Tatwa or Air signs. They are intelligent, carefree, jovial and social by nature and enjoy life more than the other signs. These signs, and people with these signs strong, have the Kama aspect predominant.
The 4th triangle formed by Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are Jala-Tatwa or Water signs. They are emotional, sensitive, romantic, artistic, nature loving and spiritual by nature. These signs, and people with these signs strong, have the Moksha aspect predominant.
2. The Kendra or Quadrangular groups
Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn forming the 1st quadrangle are Chara or Movable rasis. They are active by nature, like change and direct in their approach. Normally people with chara rasis dominating in the birth chart travel a lot.
Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius forming the 2nd quadrangle are Sthira or Fixed rasis. They take their time to act, do not like change, and have a fixed views and ways of doing things.
Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces forming the 3rd quadrangle are Dwichara or Dual rasis. They are very intelligent and like exploring new ways and theories.
The Grahas or Planets and what they signify
Sun or Surya is a royal planet and the king in astrology. He represents the soul, will power, father, paternal relations, the king or the high officials. Its hot and angry, colour is red, metal is gold and gem is ruby. Sun represents the eastern direction.
The sun stays in each rasi for one month and takes one year to complete the round of the zodiac. Its motion is quite fixed and a lot of Indian festivals are as per the suns entry into the various signs. For example on January 14 it enters Makara and this day is celebrated as Makara Sankranti, On April 13th/14th it enters Mesha and this day is celebrated as Baisakhi. The change in seasons is also linked to the suns entry into various signs and nakshatras. He is the Pitrukaraka or planet connected with father.
Moon or Chandra is also a royal planet and is the queen in astrology. He represents the mind, emotions, sensitivity, the mother, house and domestic comforts, milk, sea and all things connected with the sea, hotel and food industry, textiles and apparels. Its cold and calm, Its color is white, direction north-east, metal is silver and gem is pearl. The moon is the fastest moving of the 9 planets and takes approximately 2-1/2 days to travel a sign. When the sun and moon are in the same rasi it is called Amavasya or new moon day or the 1st day of the dark fortnight. The lunar days or Tithi changes with every 12 degree difference between the sun and the moon. When the sun and the moon are in the exact opposite signs or 180 degrees apart, it is called Poornima or the full moon day or the 1st day of the bright fortnight. He is the Matrukaraka or planet connected with mother.
The sign in which your Moon is placed in the birth chart is called your Janma Rasi. The star constellation in which your Moon is placed is called your Janma Nakshatra.