How Good or Bad is a Planet in a Sign or House?

This article will be a detailed analysis of an astrological technique called varga-viṁśopakaṁ – a 20-point system of rating a planets positivity or negativity by taking into account some or all of the subdivisions influencing the exact zodiac degree the planet occupies. This technique is recorded in Chapter 8 of the controversial but rather biblical tome of ancient eastern astrology: Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra.

The first 8 texts of Chapter 8 are really on a different subject. They are just talking about what each different division pertains to, and they give a suggestion about how to use the d60 and d16 in fundamental house interpretation.

So, the discussion of the 20-point system really begins at text 9 and 10, “By considering 20-point strength you can clearly understand the positivity or negativity of the planets and ascendant in the various houses and signs.”

Then 11 gives what should be the first rule of the 20-point system:

गृहविंशोपकं वीक्ष्यं सूर्यादीनां खचारिणाम् ।
स्वगृहोच्चे बलं पूर्णं शून्यं तत्सप्तमस्थिते ॥११॥
gṛhaviṁśopakaṁ vīkṣyaṁ sūryādīnāṁ khacāriṇām |
svagṛhocce balaṁ pūrṇaṁ śūnyaṁ tatsaptamasthite ||11||

gṛha – location/sign; viṁśopakaṁ – 20 point system; vīkṣyaṁ – wonderful; sūryādīnāṁ – the planets, beginning from the Sun; khacāriṇām – which move about. sva-gṛha – own sign; ucce – elevated; balaṁ – strength; pūrṇaṁ – full; śūnyaṁ – nothing; tat-saptama – seventh from there; sthite – situated.

The wonderful 20-point system of sign strength for the moveable planets is: In it’s own sign it is raised to full strength, and in the seventh sign from it there is no strength.

There is confusion regarding the word uccha to refer to the exaltation sign, but this can not be. The next text makes this clear:

“If a planet owns two signs, full strength occurs in the sign it owns that has the same gender as the sign it occupies. In between the full and nil strength positions, calculate the strength proportionately.

No planet has two exaltation signs, but most have two “own-signs.”  So taking 11 and 12 together it seems to indicate that full strength is not in the exaltation sign, but in the own sign.

Then we come to 13-16 which tell how to calculate the strength of planets in the Hora, which has no signs, only lordship via the Sun and Moon. The proportionality in the Hora is judged by a ratio of how close the planet is to the beginning of the Sun or Moon’s division. The closer to the beginning the more full the effect. So, for example, it defines Mars as having full Hora strength if at the beginning of the Sun’s section of the hora. At the opposite point, the beginning of the Moon’s hora, Mars has nil hora strength.

13-16 goes on to specify that for the other divisions the regular calculation described in 11-12 should be used.

Then texts 17-24.5 give the mathematics for how to weight the various divisions in different schemes for considering them in groups of 6, 7, 10 and 16.

24.5-25 then give us another very important rule, which seems to contradict what we have already been told in 11-12!

पूर्नं विंशोपकं विंशो धृतिः स्यदधिमित्रके॥२४॥
मित्रे पंचदश प्रोक्तं समो दश प्रकीर्तितम्।
शत्रौ सप्तधिशत्रौ च पंचविंशोपकं भवेत्॥२५॥
pūrnaṁ viṁśopakaṁ viṁśo dhṛtiḥ syadadhimitrake||24||
mitre paṁcadaśa proktaṁ samo daśa prakīrtitam|
śatrau saptadhiśatrau ca paṁcaviṁśopakaṁ bhavet||25||

Full 20 of the 20-point system is held when in the sign of a great friend. It is said there are 15 when in a friend’s sign. It is declared that there are 10 in a neutral sign. In an enemy’s sign there are 7, and in a great enemy’s there are 5. This is how the 20-point system unfolds.

There seems to be a prevalent idea among astrologers that 20 points goes to the own sign, 18 goes to a great friend. I cannot see that at all in the Sanskrit, so I consider it an error.

The big mystery is: What does the definition of strength given in 11-12 have to do with this system of assigning points based on friendship? The answer will come out soon…

First, texts 26 and 27 give more simple mathematical details of how to calculate the system.

Then 28 and 29 give an interesting point which shed light on the main question just raised. These texts say that “I will tell you ANOTHER way to figure out the strength. A planet conjoined with the Sun has zero strength, while a planet opposite the sun has full strength.”

I take this to mean an alternative to the method given in 11-12. And this is my clue to resolving what 11-12 is all about. In my estimation it is like this:

  1. We should begin by by getting the value of a planet’s sign placement in each varga we are working with, as defined in 24 and 25.
  2. For each division we have to then modify the score by multiplying it against a percentage of how close the planet is to its own sign – as defined in 11 and 12, and for the divisions in 13-16.
  3. Then we should work out the 20 point score by taking the numbers we have from the first two steps and applying the math given in 17-24 and 26-27.

As an option to step 2 we could instead multiply the base numbers against an inverse  percentage of how close the planet is to the Sun.

Most people think, “huh, what is all this math?” If anything they think, “oh, my software does all this for me.” The problem is, does your software use the correct formulas? You will never know unless you learn the math yourself.

Vic DiCara