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The 27 ‘Nakshatras’ in the Hindu System of Astrology

The ‘Nakshatras‘ or constellations form the most important element of the Hindu Astrology and ‘Muhurtha‘ streams of knowledge. Without these, our knowledge would be incomplete.

Nakshatra means ‘something that never decays’. It has been referred to as ‘constellation’ or ‘asterism’ and also at times as ‘lunar mansions’ by astrologers from the west. Among these, the word ‘asterism’ comes closest to the meaning of ‘Nakshatra’.

The Nakshatras represent a cluster of stars. For instance, the first Nakshatra in sequence known as ‘Ashwini Nakshatra‘ is made up of three stars, which looks like a Horse. Hence the name ‘Ashwini’, which is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Ashwa’, which means a Horse. The Horse thus becomes the symbol of this asterism. As the Horse represents physical power and stamina, those born in this Nakshatra are always active, tenacious, dynamic and full of energy.

The sky is considered as a stage and the planets are said to be the players on the stage. The screen behind the players represents the backdrop of the sky, which keeps on changing with every new act in the play. The Nakshatras form the designs on this screen. The situation is similar to a singer singing on the stage while projections on the screen behind him can be changed with different colours or scenes, which the director of the program decides. When we talk of the Moon in an individual’s birth chart, the rising asterism nearest to the degrees of Moon at the time of one’s birth in the backdrop of the sky, will be considered as Janma Nakshatra‘, or the Asterism in which ones Moon is placed.

  • The Nakshatras form a major ‘anga’ or a major element of the Hindu Panchanga. They are used while choosing a Muhurtha in Electional Astrology.
  • They guide us to the first letter of an infant’s name at the time of ‘Naamkaran’ or naming ceremony of an infant. The Nakshatras also guide us during matchmaking. They are help us find how each planet in the horoscope will function. This forms the study of another domain of astrology known as ‘Nakshatra Paddhaty’.

The Moon placed in a particular Nakshatra decides the mental bearings of the Native they would be, and if they are not in required levels, then the remedial measures of the Moons Nakshatra Lord Owner have to be undertaken for pacifying and strengthening the Moon so as to decrease the malefic effects and bring an increase in the benefic one.

In Astrology, there are umpteen uses of the Nakshatras for gauging celestial influences on human lives. This can produce many hard paperback volumes if one decides to write a thesis on it.

Those who are aware of the Hindu rosary or the ‘Japa Mala’ for counting of Mantras must be aware that there are 108 beads in the mala, and it has a staunch reason behind it.

A circular pizza may be compared to the sky. Cutting a pizza into 27 equal parts would cover a span of 360 degrees correspondingly in the sky which we address as the zodiac. Each Nakshatra too would thus measure an arc of 13.20 degrees in the Zodiac.

The ancient Indian astrologers have always preferred precision in their studies. They have further subdivided this arc of 13.20 degrees into four parts of 3.20 degrees each known as ‘Padas’. So we now have 27 x 4 = 108 Padas. This is the reason for 108 beads in the ‘Japa Mala’. It is a belief that when a person recites one full mala of 108 mantras, he asks for forgiveness and also requests for blessings from each part of the zodiac which influence every small and big affair of human existence. In short, asking for grace from the Omnipresent, Omniscient and the Omnipotent Lord under whose domain the whole zodiac is contained. In same way, in the scriptures, the Nakshatras too are considered to be divine beings, worthy of being worshipped through the Lords of these Nakshatras who are the Navgrahas or the nine planets in Hindu Astrology.

In other words, we have 27 Nakshatras with four charans each. Multiply 27 x 4 and you get 108. So when you take 108 names of the Lord, you are practising remedial measures for every planet in your chart, because all the Lords of these charans are nothing but manifestations of the Supreme itself. 108 Padas mean all the degrees of the Zodiac covered. By taking 108 names of the Lord, you have paid obeisance to all the portions of this Universe.

  1. The Zodiac of 360 degrees divided into 12 parts each of 30 degrees are named as the Zodiac signs in the order- Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces owned by the 7 + 2 = 9 planets, where the seven planets comprise of the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn while the other two are shadowy planets (Invisible) called as Rahu, Ketu or the Dragon’s Head and the Dragon’s Tail respectively in western astrology. They are the Northern and Southern nodes of the Moon.
  2. Further, the divisions are followed by the 27 Nakshatras each measuring 13.20 degrees arc of the Zodiac. This is then followed by 108 Charans or Padas as explained above.
No. Nakshatras (Constellations) Lord Yoni Guna Presiding Diety
1 Ashwini Ketu Horse Deva Gana Ashwini Kumar
2 Bharani Venus Elephant Manushya Yama
3 Krittika Sun Goat Rakshasa Agni
4 Rohini Moon Serpent Manushya Brahma
5 Mrigshirsha Mars Serpent Deva Soma
6 Ardra Rahu Dog Manushya Rudra
7 Punarvasu Jupiter Cat Deva Aditi
8 Pushya Saturn Goat Deva Brihaspati
9 Ashlesha Mercury Cat Rakshasa Ahi
10 Magha Ketu Rat Rakshasa Pitragana
11 Purvaphalguni Venus Rat Manushya Bhagya
12 Uttaraphalguni Sun Cow Manushya Surya
13 Hasta Moon Buffalo Deva Savita
14 Chitra Mars Tiger Rakshasa Vishwakarma
15 Swati Rahu Buffalo Deva Pawan
16 Vishakha Jupiter Tiger Rakshasa Satragni
17 Anuradha Saturn Deer Deva Mitra
18 Jyeshtha Mercury Deer Rakshasa Indra
19 Mula Ketu Dog Rakshasa Nirriti
20 Purvashadha Venus Monkey Manushya Toya
21 Uttarashadha Sun Mongoose Manushya Vishwadeva
22 Shravana Moon Monkey Deva Hari
23 Dhanishtha Mars Lion Rakshasa Vasu
24 Shatbhisha Rahu Horse Rakshasa Varuna
25 Poorvabhadrapada Jupiter Lion Manushya Ajapada
26 Uttarabhadrapada Saturn Cow Manushya Abhibadhnu
27 Revati Mercury Elephant Deva Pushan

Note that the above list has to be applied with caution while delineating results and not clinging strictly to the literal dictionary meanings of the words mentioned above. For instance, a person who is born in a Nakshatra whose symbolic representation is a tiger, it has got certain denotations which only an expert astrologer would be able to guide on and one must not stick to the literal translated meaning of these. For example, in matchmaking the Yonis representation will guide the astrologer as to how well the partners are compatible. Same goes with the Gana ‘Rakshasa’. For instance, in matchmaking again the astrologer would see whether the Ganas match or not between the partners and whether the prospective bride and bridegroom have each ‘Rakshasa’ and ‘Dev Gana’ then the matchmaker may deny the match because a God and a Demon cannot marry or live happily. Of course, this would be subject to other conditions too.

A deeper study of the Nakshatra system will allow us to draw additional inferences.

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With Ganesha’s Grace,
Dharmeshh Joshi,