The First House – Ancient Translation

Parashara’s Encyclopedic Scripture of Astrology

The Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra

Chapter 13, Verse 2

“The First House”

dehaM roopaM ca janma ca

varNaM caiva balaabalam

sukhaM duHkhaM svabhaavañ ca

lagna-bhaavaan niriikShayet

deha – body; roopa – form; ca – and; janma – birth; ca – and; varNa – class; ca-eva – and, certainly; bala-abala – strength & weakness; sukha-duHkha – enjoyment and suffering; sva-bhaavan – arising from the self; ca – and; lagna-bhaavaan – the house made by the ascendant: niriikShayet – should examine.

The house created by the Ascendant [the First House] clearly reveals one’s physical body, its specific form, its birth and class, its strength and weakness, its enjoyment and suffering… all the things which pertain to and arise from the manifestation of self.


The zodiac sign that is rising over the Eastern Horizon creates the First House. The Eastern Horizon is the “Ascendant.” Therefore we call the First House “the House created by the Ascendant” (lagna-bhaavaan).

What does this house reveal about one’s karma? Essentially, it reveals everything pertaining to the self.

Sva-bhaavan means “that which manifests from the self.” It is mistranslated in the popular English translation of this book as meaning “innate nature.” The word sva-bhavan does mean innate nature. The word used in this verse, however is not sva-bhavan but sva-bhaavan. The longer “aa” after the first consonant of a sanskrit word is similar to the english usage of the apostrophe to indicate possession of something: “That is Victor’s ball.” Bhava means our inner being. Bhaava (with a longer “aa” at the beginning) means the thing which our inner being possesses. What does our inner being possess? It posses an outer being, a body.

Thus the main indication of the first house is everything pertaining to the physical self, and tangible life of a person.

The author, Parashara, gives the primary examples of things which pertain to the physical self and tangible life:

Deha – the body. The 13th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita defines the “body” (deha) as the thing which the soul uses to interact with the physical world. The First House reveals the nature of our physical body, and thus the nature of the way we will interact with the physical world.

Roopa – the form. This world is most often used to refer to a person with a “beautiful figure.” To explain most of the connotations of this word, it expresses that the First House reveals the specific beauty or ugliness in the body, it’s specific shape (fat, thin, tall, short, etc.), and it’s unique mannerisms.

Janma – birth. The First House also reveals the way the physical self came into the world: the birth. It also reveals “beginnings” in a more abstract sense. Janma is also a word with a specific connotation in Hindu culture because it pertains somewhat to social class, as in the sense of “high born” or “low born” etc. This the social class of one’s parents can be seen in the First House. Naturally this also affects one’s own social class, though the 10th house plays a very significant role determining how a person may be greater or less than what they started with by birth.

This word is misrepresented in the popular English translation of the book. Instead of janma the word jñaana is used. Jñaana refers to logical philosophical knowledge is most peculiar to have found its way into this verse. Who knows where this error in manuscript started, but it is certainly an error, considering that “birth” is so highly important a facet of the First House and if the word truly should be jñaana then Parashara, the author, would have ignored this crucial facet in favor of introducing some very obscure and esoteric subtext. This would be highly uncharacteristic of him. Therefore I have no reservation in correcting the Sanskrit from jñaana to janma.

VarNa – In Hindu culture previous to the corruption of the “caste system” ones birth in a specific family (janma) did not determine his or her role in society. One’s role in society (varNa) was determined by the actual practical skills one possesses. The First House reveals the type of person on is, in a practical sense of what type of role one plays in society. Classically there were four main roles in society: the thinker (brahmin), the leader (kshatriya), the producer (vaishya), and the hand-on doer (shudra).

Bala-abala – The First House shows where one is strong (bala) and weak (abala) pertaining to the physical body. Therefore it is very essential in revealing one’s physical health – though of course the Sixth House is also important in this regard. It also shows where one is strong or weak pertaining to ones ability to use ones body – i.e. to successfully interact with the physical world to achieve ones aims and desires.

Sukha-duhkha – The First House therefore shows how much physical enjoyment one can get by successfully using ones body, as well as how much practical sufferings one will have to endure as a result of ones practical weaknesses.This does not refer to one’s actual happiness in an emotional sense. It simply refers to the quantity of sense gratification one is destined to aquire.

©2010 Vic DiCara – All Rights Reserved.