First, please read the previous posts on the main things represented by the planets and their main physical characteristics. In this post I am going to describe some rather specific and somewhat obscure things about the planets, which Mantreshwar describes in the 2nd Chapter of his Book, Phaladeepika – She Who Illuminates the Fruits.
Planets are either “malefic” or “benefic” – that’s that. But frankly 2% of the people who use these terms probably know what they mean. These are not even Sanskrit words, but they are used with such authority and finality! The Sanskrit words are krura and saumya, respectively, which literally means cruel and gentle. The real meaning of this whole shindig about “malefic” and “benefic” is that some planets have a harsh nature and some have a gentle nature. This has nothing to do with “good” and “bad”! It has everything to do with the personality of the planet.
Lets say you are overweight. A harsh (“malefic”) planet will come up to you and say, “hey, you are fat. What’s the problem? Can’t you stop eating, or are you just a weakling? Come on already, get with it!” A gentle (“benefic”) planet will instead say “you are so pretty today. You are looking better and better all the time. I think you’re starting to lose weight! Let’s buy some new clothes and get dressed up!” Neither of these is “good” or “bad” in any absolute sense. The harsh person could really be trying to help you, and the gentle person could really be trying to make you even fatter! Or it could be the harsh person who is just trying to hurt your feelings, and the gentle person is being your friend and trying to keep you inspired to look good and lose weight that way. The personality trait of a planet being “malefic” or “benefic” has nothing to do with the good or bad -ness of the planet for you! It has everything to do with their style of interacting with you.
The Malefic or Harsh planets are (in lessening order of harshness):
- Rahu & Ketu
- The Sun
The Benefic or Gentle planets are (in lessening order of gentleness):
- The Moon
Mercury and the Moon have to do with the emotions, mind and intellect, and those are often not super reliable things, that can change, right? Similarly, there are some conditions under which the Moon and Mercury will display a harsh attitude (“be malefic”) instead of their normal gentle attitude.
If the Moon is too dark she becomes harsh. “Too dark” generally means a few days surrounding the new moon. Mercury becomes harsh if he hangs around harsh people. So if you see Mercury in a strong conjunction with a harsh planet, or with harsh planets on both sides of him, he will become more harsh than gentle.
- Rahu (yes, mantreshwar says Rahu is a female, in his phaladeepika 2:27)
Female planets represent women, and they have a feminine approach to dispensing their karma. That is they are rather thoughtful, talkative, introspective, and look for group support and affirmation. Male planets literally represent men, and they have a masculine approach to dishing out their destinies. So they are selfish but ambitious and strong, extroverted and can give support. Androgynous planets represent those who are bisexual, bigendered, androgynous, etc. They are very flexible and open and dextrous in how they operate.
The inter-relationships of friendship, neutrality and enmity between the planets is extremely, extremely, extremely important to understanding how astrology operates. I’ve described this extensively in other articles.
Basically, the authority planets are all friends with one another: Sun, Mars and Jupiter. The Moon is also in this group, but she is not as adamant. The rebellious planets are also friends with one another: Saturn, Venus, & Mercury. The nodes (Rahu & Ketu) hold more allegiance to this group, of course. When planets are too close or too far, their relationship deteriorates. If the are at a good distance, their relationship improves. A “good distance” is 3 signs to either side of the planet, not including the sign the planet is actually in.
When a planet sit’s at one point in the sky, it influences other places as well, to different extents. It’s like having a stereo playing in a room. As you move about the room you will hear it differently due to the acoustics in different places – it doesn’t just affect the area where the stereo is located.
They system of aspects that Mantreshwar describes is the same system that most classics describe, but is really not followed by most astrologers. He says that every planet has the following aspects or influences to other places in the sky
Fully affects the opposite point in the sky as if it were there. (this is the 7th house / sign)
- Affects the 4th and 8th house from itself with ¾ of it’s power.
- Affects the trines from itself (5th and 9th) with ½ power.
- Affects the 3rd and 10th from itself with ¼ power.
There are three exceptions
- Jupiter’s influence on the trines is full-power, not the usual ½ power.
- Saturn’s influence on the 3rd and 10th is full power, not the usual ¼.
- Mars’ influence on the 4th and 8th is full power, not the usual ¾.
Those familiar with the aspect system popular in modern western astrology please pay careful attention to this. There doesn’t need to be a planet in the sign or house to receive the influence of the aspecting planet! The sign and house itself will absorb the energy of the aspect.
If you are wondering if squares, trines, etc. are in Vedic astrology the answer is that one can see how Vedic astrology influenced this system of aspects by noting that benefic Jupiter is the planet who casts trine aspects in Vedic astrology, and malefic Mars and Saturn are the planets who cast square aspects. Conversely one can see the influence of Persian and Mediterranean astrology on Vedic astrology if one includes tajjika aspects, which Mantreshwar does not make reference to in his book, but are identical to the western aspect system currently in vogue and have been used for centuries in Vedic astrology.
Every planet signifies a specific direction. If you are looking in a chart for an answer that requires a general direction, consult these details, as well as the directions indicated by the signs and houses relevant to what you are investigating in the chart.
The Sun concerns temples of male gods, while the Moon temples of female goddesses. Mars, connected with places of fire, can be connected to the alters of fire rituals. Mercury is specifically connected to temples of Vishnu-tattva (The transcendental forms of godhead, beyond the universe). Jupiter is the place where the priests and gurus reside. Venus, like Mars, doesn’t have a direct location in religious spaces, but by extension can be said to concern the areas where dance and music is performed in religious ceremonies. Saturn is specifically connected to temples dedicated to logic and debate, such as Buddhist and “jnanic” schools of Hinduism.
The Sun concerns open, bright spaces – well exemplified by deserts. The Moon concerns places of water, healing, and women. Mars concerns places of fire, and where there are ruffians, thieves, and other dangerous types. A battlefield is a great example of a place you will find Mars in full effect. Mercury dwells in playgrounds, arcades, amusement parks and schools. Venus dwells in places connected to sex, art, and pleasure – bedrooms, restaurants, and cinemas, for example. Saturn lives in dirty places, with people of “strange” culture. You will find Rahu & Ketu in the darkness, and in anthills and the holes of snakes.
The Sun = Doctors, kings, & ministers. The Moon = Women, farmers & washers. Mars = Soldiers & police, cooks and goldsmiths. Mercury = Teachers & students, artisans, mathematicians. Jupiter = Teachers, priests, advisors, astrologers, renunicates, important people. Venus = Musicians, artists, models, actors, and the wealthy. Saturn = Workers, servants, blacksmiths & iron workers, those who deal with oil. Rahu & Ketu = Snake catchers & those of foreign religions.
The Sun – tigers, deers, and turtle dove. The Moon – Fish, rabbits, antelopes, cranes, partridge. Mars = ram, cock, jackal, monkeys, vultures. Mercury = Vishnu’s personal eagle, Garuda. parrots, cats, other birds. Jupiter = Swan, horse, and pigeons. Venus = cows and parrots (note the connection of this most articulate and beautiful bird to both Venus and Mercury). Saturn = Elephants, cuckoos, and crows. Rahu & Ketu = owls, donkeys, wolves, camels, snakes, mosquitoes, insects.
The Sun = strong and tall trees. The Moon & Venus = creeping vines, flowering trees. Mars & Saturn = thorny trees and bushes. Jupiter = fruit trees. Mercury = fruitless trees. Rahu & Ketu = thickets.
Tons of Facts
There are just tons after tons of facts packed into the verses in the second chapter of She Who Illuminates the Fruits. And these facts are found nearly verbatim in most of the astrological scriptures and classics of India. Students used to memorize these as well as kids today know the characteristic minutia of various Pokemon monsters. I will try to reproduce them here is a table for ease of reference.
That’s a lot of facts. And I’ve left out a few. Let me give some comments on some of these that strike me. Jupiter controls Gold and Venus controls Silver. Thus the two most precious metals are controlled by the two most benefic and generous planets. As described elsewhere don’t forget that the Sun is always connected to Gold, and the Moon always connected to silver. They delegate these powers partially to their regents, Jupiter and Venus, respectively.
The Sun is a clear-headed leader, but Mars is a dark-minded leader. In other words the Sun makes a good king, while Mars makes a good general. Mercury is an artisan (shudra) because of his manual dexterity. Saturn is a misfit. People like me love Saturn. ;~)
Don’t be too confused by the family attributes of the planets. Remember that the Sun always represents dad and the Moon always represents mom. What this new information tells you is that if it is daytime, the Sun fully represents dad, but if it is nighttime, dad also gets represented by Saturn. If it is nighttime the Moon completely represents mama, but if during the day – Venus will be a co-indicator of dear old mom.
Duration information can be used largely for reading specific queries from a divination chart (“prashna”). You can also read it to understand the relative stamina of planets. Saturn has the highest stamina and the Moon has the least.
Maturity indicates when a planet really hits a human being. For example, Saturn – the force of death, matures at 100 years. Mars, the force of sexual hormones, matures at 16. The Sun, the force of natural leadership, hits at 50 and is followed by the Moon, indicating a more graceful and behind the scenes leadership.
Rahu and Ketu
Rahu and Ketu got ignored somewhat in all these tables and lists. Mantreshwara gives some compensating info. Rahu’s gem is hessonite garnet. Ketu’s is cat’s eye. Rahu is blue, huge, misfit, has skin problems, hates religious structures, get’s hic-coughs a lot (yes, that’s what it says!). She has a real tendency to lie and talk bad about other people
Ketu has red eyes and a ferocious glance. He has a serpent’s tongue, poisonous bite. He is lean, full of bruises and carries weapons. She’s a misfit, is the color of smoke, and always smokes (as in cigarettes or drugs). Don’t mess with him.
Rahu controls lead, and wears old and worn out clothes. Ketu controls earthen pots (like Mars) and wears multicolored clothes. Mars is the one authority planet who can tolerate Rahu and Ketu. This is because they serve as soldiers in his army. The rest of the authorities are dire enemies of Rahu and Ketu, especially the Sun and Moon. The rebels (Saturn, Venus and Mercury) get along well with Rahu and Ketu.
– Vic DiCara