The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 192, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Freedom Cole
Episode originally released on February 18, 2019
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released June 16, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode was recorded on Thursday, February 14, 2019, starting at 6:48 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 193rd episode of the show. In this episode, I’m going to be talking with Vedic astrologer Freedom Cole about the Vimshottari dasha system and its use in Indian astrology.
For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. Hey, Freedom, thanks for joining me today.
FREEDOM COLE: Thanks for having me here, Chris.
CB: Yeah, I’m really excited about this. So part of the genesis of this episode is I just did Episode 192, an introduction to a lost, ancient, Western time-lord system or a timing technique that divides the life up into chapters and subsections.
And for many of the Western astrologers, this is a brand new concept, but one of the things I tried to mention briefly in that episode but couldn’t go into is that that approach to timing–of having these broad techniques that divide the entire life–that’s actually a very common concept that’s still regularly used in Indian astrology, and that’s what the dashas are, right?
CB: Standard, okay. So that’s why I wanted to have you on. We’re going to talk about one of the most common dasha techniques that’s used in Indian astrology, by most Indian astrologers today. But first, since this is your first time on the show, I thought maybe we should introduce you and talk a little bit about your background. I met you at UAC, I think, for the first time in 2012.
CB: But more recently, my good friend Austin Coppock, and friend of the show, has been taking some of your classes and just really raving about them; and he really loves your book and your teachings
FC: Yes, I teach two, one-year-long classes and then a five-year-long class; and I’ve been teaching since 2006 now.
CB: Okay. How long have you been studying astrology in general?
FC: I started studying astrology in ’98 and fumbled around with a handful of teachers for a while, and at the same time, I was studying Ayurvedic medicine, Indian herbal medicine. And I was in India exploring, looking for different teachers, and it was in 2000 that I met my teacher and found the traditional lineage to study with.
CB: Brilliant. So you found a specific guru and a specific lineage that you really wanted to master in terms of the teachings and the transmissions, primarily from his school.
FC: Well, before meeting him, I had read everything available in English; and so, when I talked to other astrologers, literally, I could quote where that material came from that they were discussing. And when I met my teacher–before I was somebody very wise to astrology, and then when I met him, I was a preschooler and it was a world of difference.
CB: I was talking to James Braha recently and he said there’s a huge difference between the academic, book-learning approach to astrology versus the wisdom that you get from an experienced teacher that’s been doing this for a while and actually applying the techniques and practice.
FC: And not just somebody who’s been doing it for a while, but somebody who’s from a family of astrologers, who was trained by their uncle, who was also trained by their grandfather and just a family tradition.
And so, my guru talks, and sometimes we’ll take a verse from a text, and we’ll talk about it for two days, from 8:00 in the morning till 5:00 in the evening–one verse digging that deep into ‘so-and-so’s’ opinion in this text, and this is how this tradition is using it. “An uncle used to use it like this, and grandfather used to say this, but I’m using it like this.”
So this one verse–it’s not a simple, “This is how it is,” but it’s this whole exploration of everybody’s opinion, and how it’s used, and how it works. Because sometimes you can use something in more than one way, but you’re just going to get different results for that more than one way of using it.
CB: Right. Yeah, I mean, that whole idea of lineage is so much different in the Indian tradition, where you can have that transmission from actual generations of astrologers versus just one person.
So often in the West, just learning it out of nowhere and not having any connection to even the prior generation that learned it, but instead just picking it up from books, that’s a much different approach having that available.
FC: Exactly. So when I found that, I surrendered to it, and just continued to go deeper.
CB: Brilliant. And eventually, you published your first books. You’ve published two books so far, but the title is Science of Light: An Introduction to Vedic Astrology, Volumes 1 and 2.
FC: The first one is an introduction; the second one is a foundation.
FC: A slight difference, but there’s a theoretical difference between them, because one is just the intro; it’s welcome to the terms. The second one is what is the underlying philosophy of astrology that makes it work, and how did the ancient world believe that it worked.
FC: And so, the whole first part of Volume 2 goes into that, and the second part of Volume 2 goes into advanced techniques, utilizing all those concepts.
CB: Okay, brilliant. And are you still working on other volumes, or is it going to remain a two-volume set?
FC: There’s a third volume that will eventually come out as part of that series, but I’m working on a few other texts at the moment; so we’ll see what evolves when.
FC: The second chapter in Volume 2 though, the whole chapter is just focused on time and the ancient concept of time. And I go deep into that because when we talk about timing, it’s such a different concept of time than us, as Americans, utilize.
We have this thing where there’s people who say, “Oh, time doesn’t exist,” or “I don’t believe in time,” or “Time’s only real if you believe in it.” And the Indian reply to that is like, “Yeah, we’ll see how old you look in 20 years.”
FC: It doesn’t matter whether you believe in that or not believe in it, time is happening.
FC: And so, instead of calling it an illusion or not real, it’s kind of the opposite. There’s nothing that’s permanent. Nothing is permanent; everything is going to go away. Our only guarantee is that everything is going to go away.
And so, in that, our only consistent reality is the fact that time is moving forward. There’s nothing else that we can be sure of, but we can definitely be sure that time is moving forward and it’s not moving any other way. And in that, time is considered a divinity that is manifesting reality.
So when we take that concept of time manifesting reality, then timing in an astrological chart enters this whole different plane of existence, because the planets themselves are deities. The planets are the gods, both in the Vedic system and in many of the other systems, and those gods are manifesting through the movement of time and giving you the results of your time.
And if we look at the English language, I don’t know how much you know about how much language impacts just how we frame reality, but English is a very noun-based language–so there’s things and things have places. So those who are speakers of the English language, we have this tendency to think in ‘thing and place’; that’s just our go-to.
FC: When you enter Sanskrit, it’s a ‘verbal’ language and everything is about a verb. Even a book is a place where words are being; there’s a communication happening. So every noun is just a verb that’s been ‘densified’ into a noun, but its root is a verb. And in that realm of happenings, the fourth dimension of time is inherent in the verb that’s not inherent in the noun, and that’s the other thing. So timing in a chart allows our relationship to the chart to be fourth-dimensional.
The chart is a four-dimensional reality. There’s the planets, and then those planets are expanding in time; they’re giving fruit in time. So when we use timing techniques in a chart, we’re taking this two-dimensional thing and we’re turning it into a four-dimensional reality of unfolding a person’s life. So it’s a very different concept than saying that time isn’t real.
CB: Right, definitely. And that brings up two points, one of which I loved about your book is that you know Sanskrit and you actually translated a bunch of passages from Parashara, one of the oldest Indian astrological texts for this book. So then when you cite and when you’re teaching specific things about dashas or other techniques, you’re actually citing and translating the passages directly from that ancient text.
CB: Okay, that’s just really brilliant and unique because you don’t see that in a lot of astrological texts, especially in the West until recently, when people started actually translating some of these; but they usually don’t know the language firsthand, so that gives you a really unique, direct insight into some of the authors and some of the texts. But anyway, looping back to the point you’re making about timing, we’re going to talk about timing today.
And part of the premise of this, as you were saying, the birth chart indicates various things, but it’s kind of like a snapshot in time of the alignment of the planets at the moment of your birth. But the dashas and other timing techniques introduce a more dynamic component, as you were saying, about the unfolding of things throughout a person’s life as they move forward in time.
FC: Yes, fourth dimension; time is this unfolding. And the chart itself, the Sanskrit word for the chart, if we personify the zodiac, it’s called the Kalapurusha, meaning time personified. That is the zodiac; the zodiac is time; and with that time, the present moment is contained; the past and the future. And so, when we take that picture of the sky at the moment we’re born, that is giving this whole picture of what brought everything into being at that moment and what will come of that.
If we just look externally at the sky, whenever we look at where any of the planets are, we know where they were before and where they’re going. And in the same way, when we take that snapshot of the astrological chart, instead of just the linear dimension, we’re opening it up to another direction and we’re expanding our own life and karmas and the desire of the gods into the dimension of time, in the unfolding of our life.
CB: Right. You actually had a statement at the beginning of the section on timing in your chapter that I really liked where it sounded really similar to this statement I remember reading in a 12th century text of Guido Bonatti, but it was interesting how you phrased it. It was something to the effect that, “The purpose of astrology was to understand the past, to correctly perceive the present, and to predict the future,” and I thought that was a great encapsulation of something that seems true in most traditions of astrology in terms of what their primary goal is.
FC: Trikala gyana is the Sanskrit word for that. One of the goals of the astrologer is to become ‘the knower of the three times’: the past, the present, and the future.
CB: Right. That’s brilliant, I love that. That’s so common and that runs through so many different traditions. And it seems like it should be so obvious when somebody points it out to you, but that’s not commonly how astrologers talk about it; they usually talk more about something else that’s not as primary or fundamental as that.
FC: From the Indian perspective, time is the fundamental–every other element is evolving from time.
CB: And that brings in the dashas. So the dashas are a collection of techniques–or how should we define this actually? Because I usually use the term dasha to mean a specific set of techniques that work in a certain sort of way. But when we were talking the other day, it seemed like you might have a broader usage of that term.
FC: So the word dasha itself literally means ‘ten’.
CB: Ten, okay.
FC: That’s literally what it means, and it’s bringing up this concept of compartments: 10, 20, 30, 40. We have ten fingers and everything is evolving after that number ten; so it’s a way of encapsulating time.
And the big thing when we talk about encapsulating time is just as I was putting all this emphasis on how real time is, in that same way, just as we go to a place and I can explain, “Hey, over in Denver, there’s mountains and there’s snow on them,” and I can explain what Denver looks like, and over here in California, we can explain what California looks like, time is also qualitative and it has qualities to it.
And so, there’s a different nature to time. And when we look at dasha, it’s this encapsulation of these different, qualitative time periods where the time will be a different energy than a different time.
FC: And I often bring it up: we’ve had good times of our life, we’ve had bad times of our life. We have times that we’ve loved a lot, times where everything is working well; times where nothing can work out. And so, when we reflect on it, everybody can connect to this experience of, “Yeah, there’s good times and there’s bad times, and then there’s neutral times.” And when we look at dashas, there’s multiple dashas: sometimes everything is bad; but sometimes it’s just a relationship that’s bad and money’s good; and sometimes it’s just health is bad, but career is okay.
And so, there’s these multiple dashas that are kind of giving you the ‘time quality’ of these different areas of your life. Similar to how different houses are representing different areas of your life, these different dashas are representing these different qualities of time in these different areas.
CB: Yeah, I love that. It’s also interesting to conceptualize that there’s different ways of dividing time. And we’ll sort of get into that in terms of different dasha techniques that divide time in different ways, and each of those attributes certain qualities to different eras of time.
But one of the things that’s different and requires almost a reorientation for a Western astrologer is they’re often used to thinking of time in terms of specific, discrete events. But this is instead dividing time up into almost blocks of time that have duration for a while, rather than just thinking about it as a singularity or something.
FC: And we would never think about space as a singularity. We don’t look at the Earth as a bunch of islands, but there are continents. So there’s these different blocks of land masses that have different natures and qualities, and there is the division between them; but there’s a coherence in the qualitative nature of time.
FC: So our topic today is the Vimshottari; and when we look at the Vimshottari, the Vimshottari is a type of dasha that relates to the Moon. And so, the Moon is about the qualitative nature of how we are experiencing reality; if we take the big scene of the dasha, there’s a division into three different primary dasha types.
We have Iyer dashas, which are about longevity and health. And in the ancient world, there were astrologers who that was the only thing they did; you came to them and they’d tell you when you’d be sick and when you were going to die and there was a name for that type of astrologer. And then there’s the Rashi dashas, which are more about what’s happening qualitatively outside of us; and then there’s the Udu dashas that are more about what’s happening in our experience of reality.
And so, the Vimshottari is the most popular, most common, and most commonly-used. They call it a ‘universal’ dasha; it’s one that can kind of give you a little bit of all of those dashas. Even though it’s primarily based on experience, you can get some stuff about health out of it, you can get some stuff about the environment out of it; and so it’s gained popularity beyond all the other dasha systems.
CB: Sure. It seems like the one dasha system that just about everybody who practices Vedic astrology is familiar with and has used on some basic level. And for many people that seems to be their–maybe I’m going too far. But I want to say a lot of the Western practitioners, it seems like they often use that. That might be a good distinction to make.
FC: In the West, it is the number one.
FC: For Western Vedic astrologers, it’s the number one dasha. I remember the first time I was traveling in Nepal; and over there, you tell somebody you’re an astrologer, and they’ll pull out of their pocket their horoscope and say, “Look, what do you see happening right now?” People keep it in their wallet; it’s like that common.
FC: I mean, I’ve been on train rides in India, and the judge, like the supreme court judge of the state, was in the cabin with me. And I mentioned I’m an astrologer, and he pulls out his chart from his wallet, and he says, “I’m thinking of running,” for basically what would be governor in our country, “what do you think?” And I’d sit there and I’d say, “Ah, I don’t think this is the right year. Next year is going to be a better time for you.” And he’s like, “Okay,” you know, that’s the level.
But you go to some of these places, like Nepal, Vimshottari dasha is not the number one dasha. They have a dasha called Yogini dasha, which is a very, very different type of dasha. And so, different areas lean more towards one than another. If we go to South India, South India leans more heavily into sign-based dashas–they’ll tell you it’s a Taurus time period or a Gemini time period–where if Vimshottari is a ‘planet’ dasha; it’s telling you it’s a Saturn time period or a Venus time period.
FC: But the Vimshottari is number one in the West. And on a certain level, until about maybe 12 years ago–I would even say till about 20 years ago–there were only one or two astrologers that I knew who were using anything other than that, and they were considered weirdos for using something different, but it’s becoming more popular to know more than one dasha.
CB: Sure. And this technique, specifically in terms of how far back we can trace it, seems to go back at least to the text of Parashara, which is, at the latest, the 8th century or earlier.
FC: Around that time period.
FC: And so, when we look at Parashara, it’s been dated to around the 8th century because of the language–we can see that the techniques in it are much later–but the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra was written somewhere around the 8th century. So that’s a way for me to balance the realm of myth and the realm of the modern scholarly approach to it. I balanced that it was written sometime around the 8th century–how old it is another debate–but that’s the oldest text that I’ve seen it arise in.
When we look at Varāhamihira, he’s using a system called Mula dasha and Naisargika dasha. And Naisargika dasha is a biological timing where from 0 to 1, you’re an infant; you’re just a baby. As soon as you start walking, from 1 to 3, you’re a toddler, and there’s a certain energy at that time. So it’s the same for everybody. At 13, you hit puberty, and then you change timing.
Then he also uses this dasha called Mula dasha. We call it Mula dasha–he doesn’t give a name for it–but basically you take the strongest kendra and that’s the first dasha, then the next strongest and you go through them. Then you take the cadent and the houses and then you do the strongest cadents, and each one of those is given a different timing. But in Parashara, as I said, my understanding is it’s the first time it shows up. And in the texts in the Varāhamihira tradition, we see it also being incorporated, around the 10th century, into their usage.
CB: Okay. So later authors who followed Varāhamihira’s approach later started mixing them together in the later traditions.
CB: I got it. And in Parashara, that’s not even the only dasha system, right? There’s other dashas introduced.
FC: Yeah, he lists 32 different dashas.
FC: For example, in 1 of those 32, it can be started from the lagna, the lagna lord, or the highest-degree planet. So all of a sudden that one dasha just became three different dashas, and we differentiate it. The one that’s coming from the lagna lord, the Ascendant lord–I’ll speak in English terms–that one is used to see the unfoldment of the person, what their purpose is in life; where if the one that is from the highest-degree planet, that’s looking at the soul’s purpose: what has the soul come for and why; different spiritual experiences and soul development. So all these different timings have a utilization in some areas of our life.
CB: Sure. I like that. So it’s like using different dashas or different timing techniques for different purposes or different contexts to study. Some of them are highly-specialized to do specific things, whereas one of the reasons we’ll talk about Vimshottari is it’s more general.
FC: It’s more general, exactly.
CB: Okay, brilliant. All right, well, why don’t we jump into it then at this point and just talk a little bit about how to calculate it and how it’s calculated to give people an idea, as well as some resources for where they can get their dashas calculated; and then after that we’ll jump into interpretation.
FC: Yeah, and how much to differentiate or not differentiate when we talk about calculation. So Vimshottari literally means the ‘120-year cycle’; and there’s also a 108-year cycle; there’s a 100-year cycle; there’s a 60-year cycle. And the 60-year cycle is only used on a chart that has the Sun in the rising sign; if you don’t have the Sun in the rising sign, you don’t use the 60-year cycle. So there’s this concept of what’s special about a person that has the Sun in the rising sign that we’d only use that.
So each of the nakshatras is given a length of time and it’s given a planet correlation. And sometimes a lot of Western–for lack of a better term–‘neo-Vedic’ astrologers, they use that planet lord of the nakshatra to interpret the nakshatra. But the thing is that the planet connected to the nakshatra is only connected to the Vimshottari dasha; if I used the ‘100-year’ dasha, I actually correlate a different planet to the nakshatra, so there’s this variation. So the planet connected to the nakshatra is not a standard; it changes depending on the dasha.
CB: Okay. But for the purpose of this technique, we have the 27 lunar mansions, which are the nakshatras, and they’re basically 13-degrees-and-20-minutes in length each; and each of those, for the purpose of this technique, is associated with a specific planet.
FC: With one planet, and each planet has a number of years that it gives.
FC: And so, there’s nine planets used in the Vedic system: the standard seven, plus Rahu and Ketu.
CB: The North Node and South Node.
FC: Exactly, and they are repeated three times throughout the nakshatras. So it’s 9-times-3, and it starts at the beginning of the first Fire sign, moves all the way through, and then, again, starts at the next Fire sign. So there is this sequence of 9, three times. Did you follow that?
CB: Yeah. And I have a diagram a friend made for me years ago. Could I share it?
CB: Can you tell me if this is correct? All right, so I will just share that really quick for those watching the video version. So it’s supposed to be a diagram that shows the nakshatras, and then the names of them on the outside, and then the planet associated with it, if this is correct.
FC: Yes. And notice that the nakshatras are breaking in random places compared to the Sun. So we can call the nakshatras Moon signs, and they’re breaking in random places compared to the Sun signs, except in three places: in between Pisces and Aries, they’re in alignment; in between Leo and Cancer, they’re in alignment; and in between Scorpio and Sag, they’re in alignment.
So those are the three places where this nakshatra sequence starts again. And because of this break between both the Moon sign and the Sun sign, those are considered dangerous degrees in the Vedic system because you’re both in transition between the Moon sign and the Sun sign; where if we look between the first nakshatra and the second nakshatra, they’re changing, but they’re still in the same Sun sign. And if we move from Aries to Taurus, you’re moving to the Sun sign, but you’re still in the same Moon sign, so they’re considered safer transition points. These major points, where both are changing, are considered more dangerous, and it’s where there’s this restart happening.
So each of these nakshatras is given a different number of years.
FC: And if we look at the second nakshatra in Aries, this is called Bharani. And so, Bharani is ruled by Venus and it’s given 20 years. If we look at the next one, it’s ruled by the Sun and that’s given 6 years. We look at the next one, it’s ruled by the Moon, which is given 10 years; so each of these is allotted a certain number of years.
What we do is we look at where the Moon is at the moment of birth. If the Moon was–and just for ease of calculation–exactly halfway through a nakshatra ruled by Venus, it was halfway through Bharani, which is the second nakshatra in Aries; that would mean Bharani gives 20 years. If it’s halfway through that means the person has already passed 10 years and their life will begin with the first 10 years being in Venus. And once that first 10 years of Venus is done, they enter the Sun time period and they have 6 years of that Sun.
And so, all of us were born with the Moon somewhere, and it’s very rare to be born with the Moon right on a transition point, but some people are; and if they’re born right in that transition, they’ll have the full timing of that first sequence. Otherwise, we’re using a remainder and then we start utilizing each of these time periods after.
Now one of the things that I was studying was Ayurveda and yoga, and I had a friend who was studying Jyotish and he kept trying to get me into it. And I was like, “Meh, astrology. I’m doing this Ayurveda. This is grounded and real.”
CB: I always like the archetype of the reluctant astrologer I run into from time to time.
FC: Yeah, I was too logical.
FC: And I was 19, turning 20 at that point, and I had played around a little bit with astrology, but I just didn’t feel the validity or–I don’t know, it didn’t call me to study. And at that time I had been in my Venus time period for my first year of college, and my first year of college, I went to school for art and I was a design major. And then the next year, I just had some strange feeling, and I was like, “Ah, I’m going to change schools,” and I changed schools and I transferred to be a psych major; and I didn’t really know why, I just was listening to my heart and it didn’t make sense otherwise.
And later, he pulled out the Vimshottari dasha and he showed that I had changed from Venus and went into the Sun. And I was like, “Oh, of course!” I was in design and then I went to school for psychology instead; it was like all of a sudden it made sense. I started looking a little deeper; everything else started lining up. It was like, wow. Fortunately, or unfortunately, my life has been devoted to astrology since.
CB: So just bringing it back around to the calculation thing…
FC: Yes, the calculation.
CB: …the simple thing is just that in order to calculate this technique, this dasha technique, you just find out what degree and what sign your Sun is located in the sidereal…
FC: Moon, Moon.
CB: Sorry, not the Sun, the Moon in the sidereal zodiac, and you figure out what nakshatra it’s in.
CB: Whatever nakshatra it is in is associated with a specific planet that has a certain number of years.
CB: But you don’t use the complete years of whatever that is because it’s proportional based on how far through that nakshatra the Moon is at the moment of your birth.
CB: So if it’s like halfway through then you would use half of the years.
FC: Half of the planet.
CB: And so, once that number of years is up for that first chapter of your life, you then move to the next nakshatra in zodiacal order?
FC: And so, you’re just zodiacally going through the nakshatras, and normally, you’ll stay in a certain zone. You’re not going all the way around the zodiac because one of those major transition points to the next is 120 years.
FC: And so, you’re only going, maximum, a third of the way round the zodiac with the Vimshottari system.
CB: Okay, during the course of a 120-year-life, basically.
FC: Exactly. And there’s one story of a certain saint who lived more than 120 years, and he was into astrology, and they showed how after 120 years, it started repeating. Things that had happened earlier in his life started repeating again, but that’s another–those are called mahadashas, meaning the larger time periods.
CB: Okay, so that’s like the upper level, the most general level of the years.
FC: The most general level.
CB: And I don’t know–I use the analogy in the Western system that it’s like the chapters of your life. Do you use that analogy, or do you use some other analogy?
FC: Chapters, chapters–I guess chapter could work.
CB: Because if the life was a book, like if you picked up a biography about your life that’s written in retrospect, it’s usually divided into chapters–let’s say 10-20 chapters.
CB: And you almost kind of have that with a technique like this if you’re only making it through, what, nine signs? If you live a pretty long life, that’s a good nine-chapter-long book.
FC: Yeah. You could call it chapters.
CB: Okay. I don’t want to push any foreign, conceptual structure on it.
FC: The thing is when I look at dashas, I’m also looking at them like the cogs of a watch, and there’s multiple, different cogs running at the same time. So sometimes those chapters get messy and there’s part of some chapter in the next chapter…
CB: Right, that’s a good point.
FC: …so that’s my only hesitation with calling it a chapter.
FC: Instead, it’s a qualitative field of time in your life.
CB: Okay, so each of them is a certain number of years.
FC: Yeah. So each of those mahadashas is broken down into what are called in North India antardashas, which means ‘inner time periods’; in South India, they’re called bhuktis, which means ‘that which is being enjoyed’. And so, each of these time periods is proportionally broken down in the same proportion as the major time periods: so Venus is 20; Sun is 6; Moon is 10; Mars is 7.
So in that same ratio, each of these planets, again, plays out within the mahadasha, and it always starts with the same time period. So if we start out in a Jupiter-Jupiter time period, then after that we get a Jupiter-Saturn time period, and after Jupiter-Saturn, we get a Jupiter-Mercury, and those time periods are proportional to what the Vimshottari proportion is.
And so, the average astrologer just uses these two levels. You can take it and break it down all the way into six levels, so that you’re getting time periods that are almost like three-four days in length.
CB: Okay, so most people just use the general period and sub-period, but theoretically, you could break it down into smaller increments of time.
FC: Yeah. And so, the ‘maha-period’, in my tradition, we connected to the Sun; so by connecting it to the Sun, we say it’s this bigger thing in your life that’s showing the resources and what the bigger stories are. The second-level dasha is connected to the Moon; so it’s showing more the interpersonal relationships that are happening in that time period of life. The next time period down, we connect to Jupiter, which is the decision-making: how a person is planning, what they’re deciding, how their brain is working. And so, each of these dashas, as we break down into smaller components, each one has its own qualitative energy that’s influencing a different area of your life and fine-tuning what the results of that time period are.
And one of the stories that my guru once told–and this is when he was a little kid–when he was between ages 6 and 8, he had to memorize all these astrological texts. He didn’t even know what they meant, he just had them memorize them, and then later they taught him what it meant. But he went with his grandfather to the train station, and someone in his family left for college, and his grandfather did a few calculations and rectified his chart to the sixth level based upon the time that the train left…
FC: …so there’s that level. Now most people use a computer to do these calculations; his grandfather did it in his head. And a lot of the older Indians still do all these mathematical calculations in their head very easily. These old people are doing these complex mathematical calculations in their head, and then you have these younger people who need computers to do it, so it’s a different world between then and now.
CB: Yeah, I appreciate, at least in your book, that in Volume 1, when you deal with dashas and you introduced this technique, you do at least outline how to do the calculations so that a person could learn how to do it if they want to, and not just be reliant on on computers.
FC: Yeah, and I make all my students learn how to do it. That way, they have this deeper understanding of how it works, why it works, how it’s unfolding, and then they can use the computer afterwards. But just to get how they were thinking and to be able to figure it out themselves, the more we understand these systems of timing, the better we are able to understand what they mean and how they mean and how to interpret them.
CB: Right, brilliant. Yeah, that’s probably good advice for all astrologers in general.
CB: It’s one of the real generational divides that’s just happened out of nowhere in the past few decades. At no other time in history could you learn astrology and become an astrologer without knowing how to calculate the charts on your own, to some extent at least…
CB: …so there’s some interesting discussions to be had. But do you mind if I share an example chart just to show people visually what this looks like?
FC: Sure, go for it.
CB: So I just pulled out a random chart–and I could pull out a different one if you want–but I have the data. This is George Lucas’s chart, who’s like a common chart example that I use sometimes in my books. And do you prefer the North Indian chart style or the South Indian style? Is this okay?
FC: I’m more either North Indian or East Indian.
CB: What’s the East Indian look like?
FC: East Indian looks like a tic-tac-toe board.
CB: Okay, I don’t think I’ve seen that. I’ve got either the North or the South Indian one I can do.
FC: Go ahead and throw up the North.
FC: So here if we look on the side–for those who are looking visually–you can see how we have that Moon-Mercury and then after that he goes into Moon-South Node. Then he goes into Moon-Venus, Moon-Sun, and after Moon-Sun, he changes into Mars. And in this software, it just says Mars, but it would generally be stated as ‘Mars-Mars’; and after that he goes into Mars-North Node. So we can see that there’s the mahadasha and then the antardasha, the ‘inner’ dasha.
CB: Right. And what nakshatra is he born into? It looks like he has the Moon at 18 degrees of Capricorn. And this is used in the Lahiri ayanamsa. What ayanamsa do you prefer?
FC: Lahiri is fine. I use one called Chitrapaksha. The Lahiri is a standard, moving one, and Chitrapaksha just uses the most up-to-date NASA mathematics to keep the movement of the ayanamsa as accurate as possible.
CB: Okay. I can see if they have that built into Solar Fire.
FC: It’s fine. Lahiri is just fine.
CB: Okay. So just to, again, describe this for those listening to just the audio version, his Moon is in mid-Capricorn; so it’s in a specific nakshatra that is actually ruled by the Moon. So he starts out in a Moon-ruled, dasha period in the first part of his life. But because the Moon is already several degrees into that nakshatra, he doesn’t live out the entire general period of the Moon, instead, he’s born part of the way through it.
And within that period, that Moon dasha that lasts from his birth in 1944 until 1948, he goes through different sub-dasha periods or sub-periods where the Moon is activated as the general ruler and then Mercury is the sub-period ruler, then the Moon activated as a general ruler, and then the South Node activated for a year as the sub-ruler, and so on and so forth, until eventually it switches and Mars becomes activated as the general ruler for a long period of time, from 1948 until 1955. So that’s a pretty long dasha period when Mars gets activated.
FC: Seven years for Mars.
CB: Seven years, okay.
CB: Just in terms of, I don’t know, other periods that people are usually more used to working with, in transits that sometimes tend to be shorter.
FC: Yeah, much, much longer than a transit period.
CB: Yeah. So then it goes into a general Mars period for that seven years, and then he goes through, first, a Mars-Mars sub-period, then Mars-North Node, then Mars-Jupiter, then Mars-Saturn, and so on and so forth, until he switches out of that and goes into a North Node general period starting in 1955, and so on and so forth.
So it keeps going through different general periods where it’s activating one of the planets for a decade or two, and then sub-periods where it’s activating the planets for a few years or something like that. Is that more or less accurate, or is there anything else you would say about that in terms of just generally presenting for those that are…
FC: I think that’s a good way to present it.
CB: Okay. So yeah, this is the basis of the calculation, and it means if you live a relatively long life, up to 120 years, you’ll go through all seven of the visible planets plus the North Node and the South Node at some point as a general period in your life.
FC: Yeah. And when we look at this–you want to talk about interpretation at all, or are we still just focusing on…
CB: No, we should move on. I’m trying to think–is there anything else we need to touch on about calculation, or is that pretty much it? I mean, that’s how it’s calculated, right?
FC: That’s pretty much how it’s calculated.
CB: Okay, brilliant. Well, I did want to mention one other thing. So for those that aren’t going to break out the tables and calculate this by hand, most major astrology software programs like Solar Fire will calculate it; there’s a page style. If you open up a chart and then click ‘Pages’ and scroll down in the categories to ‘Vedic’, they’ll have a page design that will calculate the dashas for you; otherwise, there’s plenty of other programs that do.
You actually have a freeware program for Vedic astrology that will calculate the dashas for you, right?
FC: It’ll calculate all the dashas.
CB: All dashas. Every one of them?
FC: Yes, it’s from one of my guru brothers in the Vedic astrology world, and his website’s vedicastrologer.org/jh. ‘J’ as in Jagannatha and ‘H’ as in Hora is the name of the software. And it’s a free software that can be downloaded, and it calculates probably a few hundred different dasha sequences, but you can pull up and calculate the Vimshottari on this.
CB: Okay, brilliant. So that is at, like you said, vedicastrologer.org/jh. All right, so we’ve got the calculation down. We now understand the general thing, that it divides the life up into these general periods that are ruled by a planet, and for the entirety of that general period for a decade or two. And then there’s sub-periods that are ruled by a secondary planet for a much shorter duration of time.
So now the question is, if we’ve calculated this and we’re looking at our general periods and our sub-periods, how do we interpret it and what does it mean? What’s the starting point here?
FC: So the first–and there’s many different rules–but the first rule is just the intrinsic nature of the planet. So in a Mercury time period, it’s going to be more playful, you’re going to be more in touch with the inner child. You’re going to be more creative. There’s going to be more writing happening. In a Venus time period, there’s going to be more art, so just that intrinsic value of the planet itself.
CB: So whatever the nature, whatever the significations of that planet…
FC: Of that planet.
CB: …those are the types of things that will become awakened in your life at that time.
FC: Exactly–most likely. And because of this first rule, a Western astrologer, anybody really, can find their Vimshottari dasha, print it out. And there is the fine-tuning that goes with it, but you can print that out, have it next to you, put it in a calendar and know what mahadasha/antardasha you’re in.
And if you’re debating, “Should I take off this winter and write my next book?” or “Should I take off the summer and write my next book?” you can look at that sequence and be like, “Oh, the summertime, I have this Mercury time period coming, I’ll wait till then,” and it’s going to be a more productive writing time period.
CB: Right. Or if you’re thinking about getting married and you see you’re going into a Venus period next spring…
FC: Venus, Moon, Jupiter–any of these like benefic, harmonious planets would be a great time, a better time for getting married.
FC: So even without knowing anything more, the average person or astrologer can print out these time periods and just begin utilizing them. And I always tell people who aren’t going to be diving into the whole Vedic system, just print them out, have them on the fridge or something of that nature, and just look at your life, look at how they correlate to things that happened in the past. And as you understand how they correlated to things in the past, you can start to understand how they’re going to correlate to things in the future.
FC: And so, that’s the intrinsic nature. Then we bring in the placement and the strength–and those are two different conditions.
CB: Right. Because that first rule that you introduced, while it’s true, you actually have expressed some concern that sometimes people get too stuck on that, and that’s only the starting point and that you shouldn’t overemphasize it.
FC: Exactly. And so, the thing is people who aren’t going to dig into the system, I tell them look back, what were the bad time periods in your life, see where they correlate. Because Venus, in general, is a good time period; but if you have a Venus conjunct the North Node and Saturn in the 6th house, your Venus time period might not be that good.
FC: And so, without even knowing that you can just look at them and be like, “Wow, that was a bad time period for me,” and then you know when the next Venus comes, it’s not going to be the best time period–or vice versa, Saturn.
So many people are afraid of Saturn. But if somebody has Saturn exalted in the 10th house, their Saturn period could come, and all of a sudden, they start a big company and the company does so well. And so, they know that the next Saturn time period that comes, it’s a successful time for them. So not even knowing anything, just by going back and seeing what was good and not good, they can just begin predicting into the future.
CB: Sure. So the condition of the planet in the chart really matters, and people shouldn’t necessarily get freaked out if they see they’re going into a Saturn or a Mars dasha because, ultimately, it is going to partially come down to how that planet is situated in the chart.
FC: Exactly. And just a little example, I had a client who worked for the CIA, had Saturn and the North Node in the 10th house, and he knew enough about astrology that he was afraid. He was like, “Oh, my gosh, I’m about to enter this Saturn-North Node time period.” And I mean the guy–like what he did for a living was to go to foreign countries and plot these terrible things, and I said, “This is going to be a wonderful time period for you. What are you talking about?” He got a double-raise during that time period, and got uplifted to this very high level. So, also, there’s the nature of the planet and then there’s the nature of what you’re doing in your life.
FC: You know, a monk, a Venus time period might be a terrible situation for them because they don’t want a relationship. Somebody who is in the Mars, it might be a dangerous time period to some person, but somebody who is a soldier or police officer, it might be the best time period of their life.
FC: So there’s the nature of the planet in the chart, as well as what are you doing with that planet in your life. And generally, if the planet is well-placed, it means the planet is prominently and positively showing up in your life, and thereby, it’s going to enhance those beneficial results. If a planet is not well-placed and causing suffering in your life, when that planet gets activated that suffering all of a sudden is getting activated in your life.
CB: Mm-hmm, that’s brilliant. I mean, that makes a lot of sense. I hadn’t thought about it that way, that the person who has a challenging planet, or let’s say a malefic, but it’s well-situated and prominently-placed in the chart might gravitate sometimes towards utilizing that planet in constructive ways in their career or what have you. So when it gets activated, of course, that might be not just the highest point in their career, but they might be utilizing things that are natural to that planet.
FC: Exactly. So it ends up enhancing them and being a beneficial time period. So we can’t just use the intrinsic nature; we have to use the intrinsic nature with a sense of discernment.
CB: And that statement is made basically right at the top of that chapter. You quote this verse from Parashara that says both of those things basically, right? Do you mind if we read it really quick?
FC: You want me to read it or you want to read it?
CB: I did write it out here, but you’ll probably read it better than I would, I would suspect, so if you want to.
FC: And so, this is my translation of Parashara, and this is his first verse in the chapter on interpreting the dashas. He says, “The dasha gives two particular types of results: that based on the planet’s intrinsic nature and that based on the place of residence. Know the results of the dasha to manifest according to the nature of the planet’s strength.” So now that brings in this strength element because we just were talking about intrinsic nature and its place.
And so, if a planet is well-placed but weak, the tradition says it’ll happen only in the person’s dreams. And how that shows up–let’s say Venus is in the 10th house, well-placed, but in its debilitation. So the person will dream of being a movie star, and in that dasha, they’ll maybe watch lots of movies, dreaming of being a movie star, learning lots of facts, but they don’t actually become a movie star.
FC: So that strength impacts how much that planet is going to manifest or not manifest in the life.
CB: And really quickly, I think I interrupted you before we actually introduced a house placement, because that was the second condition in your book that you mark. So maybe we should touch on that really quickly before we continue with the full enumeration, different strength conditions.
FC: Yeah. So we have ‘intrinsic nature’, then we have ‘house placement’. Every planet is going to be altered by where it’s showing up in your life. So where it’s showing up–Mercury in the 1st house, Mercury in the 10th house, and Mercury in the 5th–it’s giving totally different results in your life; so this house placement is altering, and the dasha is going to activate the results of what that planet is giving.
CB: So first, we’re looking at the intrinsic nature of the planet, but then the second thing is what house is that planet located in; because I think you wrote that the significations of the planet will be channeled through the house that it’s in, and therefore, the significations of that house will become relevant at that time as well.
FC: Exactly. So just as an example, I was using Mercury in the 5th, 1st, 10th. Maybe in the 10th, somebody gets a job at a newspaper if they enter a Mercury time period with Mercury in the 10th, where if Mercury is in the 5th and that gets activated, the person might get a lot of students, might be teaching at a university. 5th house is connected to students in the Vedic system; so that difference between getting a job with Mercury versus teaching Mercury.
FC: So it’s going to be implemented through the house that the planet’s placed in and then we bring in the strength of that planet.
CB: Okay. So then this is consideration three–what is the strength or the condition of the planet.
FC: Exactly. And when I say ‘condition’, there, the term used in Sanskrit is avastha, meaning its ‘state’. Is it happy? Is it sad? If that planet was combust, a combust planet in the Vedic system is an angry planet. So if an angry planet gets activated, it’s a time period of your life where there’s a lot of anger happening–you’re upset a lot; there’s things not working out; there’s a lot of frustration–where if a planet that is conjunct the benefic or aspected by a benefic, that’s a planet that has a lot of joy.
So in a time period where that planet gets activated, there’s going to be a lot of happy things happening; there’s going to be a lot of joy. And the thing is whether that job–let’s say it’s Mercury in the 10th house–and they get a job at a newspaper. If it’s combust the Sun, they get a job at a newspaper, but they’re completely angry: things aren’t working out; there’s frustration. Where if Mercury was conjunct Jupiter in a healthy relationship there, then they’d get the job at the newspaper and they would love it: they’d be fulfilling themselves; there’d be so much joy from the work. So in this way the strength and condition are the third thing that we look at.
CB: Okay. So it doesn’t negate the first consideration, where the general significations of the planet comes into play, but it really comes down to that question of is that planet auspiciously-placed in your chart or is it the opposite, is it more inauspicious-placed, let’s say.
FC: Exactly. And it’s very much sequential; they each build on each other. So we have the intrinsic nature, and that intrinsic nature is coming out in a certain area; and then we look at how that is coming out in that certain area.
CB: Sure. And this is a pretty broad topic obviously, because you spend a good chunk of your book talking about it.
CB: But maybe we should talk about what some basic criteria are for determining planetary condition in Vedic astrology.
FC: Yeah, as you said, it’s a big topic.
CB: Yeah, right.
FC: So certain planets give exaltation, debilitation. What’s the Western terminology for that? Is that the same?
CB: Yeah, a planet in the sign of its exaltation versus a planet in the sign of its fall.
FC: And then whether it’s in a sign of a lord that’s friendly to it or in a sign that its lord is inimical to it; and so, this is giving it a certain status. And then there is conjunction or aspect by benefics and conjunction or aspect by malefics.
FC: And we put a lot of emphasis also on is it in the very beginning of a sign or very end of a sign, or is it strong in the middle of the sign.
CB: So a planet is conceptualized as very ‘young’ and sort of weak at the beginning and then ‘mature’ at its peak in the middle, but ‘old’ and dying or something towards the end.
FC: Exactly, just like a human life itself and in its capacity to achieve its goals. Like a child that six-years-old can only achieve so much; so if it’s in its really early degrees, it’s going to give only a certain amount. Often planets in the sidereal first degree, like that 1 degree of the sign, they often give really wonderful financial results, but they’re so immature. That’s where we get these rich people that the smarter of us say, “Well, if we had that much money, we would do so many good things with it,” but they don’t because the planet that’s giving them the money is immature.
CB: Sure, that makes sense.
CB: So that’s another one. Another one, being combust versus being free from the rays of the Sun as another contrast. And being in a favorable house versus being in an unfavorable house, that’s another one, right?
CB: What would be considered favorable versus unfavorable?
FC: Favorable houses? It depends. For example, Moon in the 6th house is not beneficial, but Saturn in the 6th house is wonderful. Moon in the 6th house, the person has digestive issues, food sensitivities. They pick things apart in their life; they have a hard time being content. Saturn in the 6th house makes a super hard worker, the person overcomes any obstacles that’s put in front of them. So when the benefic and the malefic switch houses, what is good or bad for each of them changes.
And the big thing with the Vedic system is there’s always something good about everything–even Moon in the 6th house; I just talked about the negative. But on the positive side, it makes an incredible doctor or an incredible lawyer; somebody who’s looking for what’s the problem and fixing the problem that Moon and the 6th house is great for; so, yes.
CB: Can we set up at least a general distinction–that there’s a tendency for the 6th, 8th, and 12th to be interpreted more negatively, generally speaking, than the 11th, the 5th, or the 10th?
FC: 6, 8, and 12 are the toughest houses for any planet to be.
FC: And then 1, 5, and 9 are the most auspicious places for a planet to be; and then second to that is 1, 4, 7, and 10.
CB: I should write that down: 1, 5, and 9, and the 6th, 8th, and 12th.
FC: 1, 5, and 9 are the most beneficial for any planet to be. Now it might not be beneficial for everything; so there’s that variation that, as I said, shows up there. For example, Mars is happy in 1, 4, 7, and 10, but in 4 and 7, he causes all kinds of problems in the life. In 7, he causes relationship problems, in the 4th, he causes a lot of fighting in the home, but he still is giving beneficial results in other areas.
CB: And what’s the name for 6th, 8th, and 12th? Isn’t it dushtana houses or is that something else?
FC: Dushtana. Du means ‘bad’, shtana means ‘place’; so they’re the bad places.
CB: The bad places.
FC: It’s literally what it means, yeah.
CB: Yeah, that’s what they’re called in Hellenistic astrology as well. Okay, so those are some good starting points. Though the last one we didn’t mention–a planet being in its own sign would be considered auspicious, right?
FC: Auspicious. A planet in its own sign is auspicious. And if it’s in 1, 4, 7, 10 in its own sign, it becomes even better than auspicious; that’s when the planet is in its full, complete power. To be in its own sign, in what we call the kendra–1, 4, 7, 10–that planet gives full results and will impact change on many people in the person’s life.
CB: All right, so these are some great starting points of different distinctions you could make for determining if the actual condition of the planet in the chart is auspicious and how that’s going to manifest regardless–or maybe let’s say in conjunction with the intrinsic nature of the planet.
CB: All right, brilliant. So I think that’s a good starting point there. And then after that, in your book, you move onto the topic of yogas and different planetary yogas being activated by the dashas.
FC: And just before we move on, beginner astrologers, because there’s all these rules, sometimes they might think something is good or bad when its dasha comes–then you know whether it’s actually good or bad.
CB: Yeah, right.
FC: If there’s a doubt, it’s just a matter of when that dasha comes, and it makes it very clear whether that planet is well-placed or not.
CB: Yeah, I mean, that’s probably a good thing we should talk about, especially towards the end: just how using some of this stuff in your life, and how you you deal with some of that knowledge, and good ways to use it versus maybe not healthy ways to use it and things like that.
FC: Yes, sounds good. So the next big thing that we use in interpreting the Vimshottari is what they call yogas in Sanskrit; and yoga means ‘two things coming together’. So this is just the Sanskrit word for ‘conjunctions. So it’s some type of conjunction, whether between two planets or a planet in a house in a certain way; so this coming together. And when a planet gets activated, it’s conjunction gets activated.
And just as an example, Mercury and Sun conjunct in a sign of Mercury creates a great scholar. So if it’s a Mercury time period or a Sun time period, and a person has this scholarly combination, then when that dasha happens that is going to get active in the person’s life, that combination.
CB: That’s really important. So when a person goes into a Mercury period, if they have the Sun and Mercury conjunct, then it’s also activating that conjunction with the Sun at the same time.
FC: Exactly. so when a planet gets activated, the conjunction it’s in is also getting activated.
CB: Okay. So that’s really important because then6 that starts bringing together other pieces of the chart that are working in combination or in unison with any one placement.
FC: Exactly. And all these different interpretation tools, I’ve done my best in my book to list them in order of importance, so that you know if you start looking at the combination and you’re not taking in the intrinsic value, the placement, and the strength, the interpretation can go wrong. All of those build on each other; so we’re taking each of these things into account in order of importance.
CB: Okay. Yeah, I mean, you do actually an amazing job of outlining this in your book. So I just have to recommend for anybody–especially newer students who are just getting into this–that you outline it very clearly and sequentially in the book. And you actually had an interesting discussion about a rule. When the malefics and the benefics are interacting in the same sign, you actually had an interesting interpretive rule about that.
FC: Yes. And so, this is a rule that only is applied in Vimshottari dasha. So a lot of times, when there’s three or four planets conjunct, people start getting confused: “Oh, my gosh! How do I interpret this?”
FC: So the rule goes that the most benefic planet in that conjunction is interacting with the most malefic planet in that conjunction, and then the next-most malefic is interacting with the next-most benefic. Even if they’re farther apart, it’s still this malefic/benefic interaction. And now this is a rule specific to Vimshottari dasha. We don’t use this outside of Vimshottari dasha.
CB: So when you say ‘interacting’, you mean like affecting or influencing; that it’s the malefic that’s doing something to the benefic.
FC: So let’s say Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn were conjunct and the person entered a Saturn time period. That whole conjunction would not be completely activated, but primarily it’d be the Saturn and Jupiter relationship that would be coming forth. And from the Vedic tradition, Saturn-Jupiter is considered a–we call it Brahma yoga: trying to understand how things work, where things came from. So during that time period, a person gets very inquisitive and wants to research and dig deeper.
Where if that combination was just Venus, Mars, and Saturn, and that Saturn time period got activated with no Jupiter there, then it’d be Saturn-Venus that are primarily interacting. And so, Saturn-Venus is a very nature, religion, ecology, plant-based magic kind of combination. And so, the person would start digging into that realm and taking on, exploring, and practicing things of that nature.
FC: So like this, when we interpret these combinations with multiple planets, how are we seeing how these planets are most impacting each other?
CB: Okay. So there’s a whole prioritization in terms of which planetary interactions would be more prominent?
FC: Exactly. And that rule is an ‘80%’ rule; it works 80% of the time.
FC: There’s always those time periods where there’s something else going on, yeah.
CB: Sure. And the idea of yogas–I mean, for me, when I hear yogas, I think of other, more complex yogas where you have the rulers of houses coming together into play. And that’s where the next rule comes in, right?
FC: So when a planet gets activated, the houses it ‘lords’ are also getting activated. So for example, if it’s a Gemini rising person and their Vimshottari dasha of Mercury starts, the 1st house and the 4th house are becoming very active; and so, self-care, home, land, property, things of that nature are getting activated. So in this way, the houses that the planet ‘lords’ are also being awoken, and a part of the primary focus of the life during that time period.
And as I said, these rules are very much in order that I’ve placed them; so intrinsic value is most important. So after we see the combinations, the conjunctions, then we’re getting into the house lordships and seeing these areas of life that are getting primarily brought into the person’s sphere.
CB: Sure. And this is, again, taking it back to that idea of what is the condition of the planet in the chart and how it is placed. And this sort of naturally comes with that because that’s part of its natural condition in the chart of what houses it rules.
FC: Exactly. And just a way that that’s used, let’s say somebody wants to know when they’re going to get married. Generally, I would look for the sub-period of Venus, Moon, or Jupiter, these benefics that have a potential to bring a relationship in; but I would also look at the dasha of the lord of the 7th house. So even if the lord of the 7th house is Mars, that Mars sub-period could bring marriage if the transits are supporting that.
CB: Sure. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense because it becomes Mars. Even though it doesn’t have that natural affinity with relationships, if it’s ruling the 7th house, it becomes one of the primary planets that signifies that topic in the chart.
CB: Brilliant. So you would look for the dasha in which Mars is activated, in some instances, as a potential ‘time window’ when that could occur.
CB: Okay. And then there’s actually a lot of considerations in the house rulership condition.
CB: One that was interesting is you almost had a ’derived-houses’ type of consideration there as well–or I’m not sure how you would frame it.
FC: Say that again?
CB: There was almost like a ’derived-houses’ type thing of looking at houses relative to the planet that was activated, if I was understanding that correctly.
FC: Oh, that’s getting into a complex…
CB: Too much, okay.
FC: Yeah, that one’s a little too complex.
CB: All right, so people can save that for the book. There’s only two last ones: one of them was the relationship between the ‘general-period’ lord and the ‘sub-period’ lord.
FC: Yeah, so there’s two elements to looking at the maha-lord and the sub-lord. In the first, let’s say somebody is running Jupiter-Saturn; that time period is as if it’s a conjunction between those two planets.
CB: Okay, so the relationship between its ‘general-period’ lord and the ‘sub-period’ lord, you interpret it as if it’s a conjunction between those two.
FC: As if it’s a conjunction, exactly.
FC: So if you’re in a Moon-Jupiter time period, this is considered a really beneficial conjunction. We can assume that there’s going to be more beneficial things during that time period as long as all those other things we mentioned are supporting it; and as I said, there’s order of importance here.
And in the same way, if it’s a, for example, Moon-North Node time period, it is the highest likelihood of anxiety; Moon-Saturn or Saturn-Moon, highest likelihood of depression. Moon-Saturn is more likely to have a depressed outlook on life, so that time period, the person is going to experience some depression during that time period. That Moon-Rahu conjunction is more likely to produce anxiety. Even if they’re not conjunct in the chart, that time period will bring more anxious situations into the life.
So that’s one level of the maha-lord to the sub-lord. The other is something that we call bhava sambandha; it means ‘the planetary relationship’. And we have this understanding that if planets are conjunct, most likely it’s beneficial. They’re already a combination that’s working together, so it’s just activating them.
Let’s say it’s that Moon-Rahu time period. If Moon is in the 1st house and Rahu, the North Node, is in the 2nd, one is 2, the other is 12; so that’s a ‘2/12’ relationship. And the ‘2/12’ relationship is considered to be a more friction-creating situation. Now if the Moon was in the 1st and Rahu was in the 3rd, that would mean they have a ‘3/11’ relationship because one is 3rd from, one is 11th from, and it can be reversed.
FC: Either way, they are, if a planet is 3rd from the other planet, the other planet is 11th. And so, ‘3/11’ is a neutral relationship where the two planets are getting something from each other.
CB: Okay. In the West, we have ‘derived houses’. The problem with those would be one of them in the 12th house, which is almost like an inimical relationship, versus the other is an 11th house, friendly relationship. Is that sort of how it works conceptually, or is it just different?
FC: I don’t know the Western technique, so I can’t say exactly, but it sounds similar.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I guess I just was wondering if you were directly associating ‘enemies’ with the 12th from a planet versus ‘friends’ with the 11th from a planet or what have you.
FC: So planets that are trine each other or square each other, I think is the right word; I don’t think square–we call it kendra. So if it’s 1, 4, 7, 10 from the other planet or trine, they work together really well.
FC: And so, even if the planets aren’t ‘friendly’, they still will give some good results, where if they’re in a ‘6/8’ relationship or these more negative house relationships from each other, then they’re going to be bringing more problems.
So for example, I had a client, it was a Sun-Mercury time period. He thought it was going to be really good, but they were in a ‘6/8’ relationship, and he had all kinds of legal issues during that time period because of that relationship the two planets had between each other.
CB: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And that, though, is conceptualized as different from the concept of aspect because you use the special aspects that the planets have, right?
CB: Is that true where it’s like each planet has, especially the outer planets, two specific aspects that they make, as well as the conjunction and the opposition?
FC: Yes. And talking about aspects, that brings a whole–we didn’t talk about aspects in this, but the planet’s aspects also become more powerful during its time period.
FC: So if Jupiter is aspecting the Moon during Jupiter’s time period, the aspect on the Moon becomes stronger and more powerful; where if Saturn is aspecting the Moon during Saturn’s time period that aspect is going to be activated and become more strong.
CB: Right. So it’s really everything associated with the natal condition and placement of a planet in a birth chart is becoming awakened when it becomes activated through the dasha technique.
CB: Brilliant, that makes sense. All right, so the very last thing, which is at the very bottom of your list which is so interesting…
FC: I’ll just add one thing onto that.
FC: In the beginning, I mentioned that there’s multiple, different dashas, and in those multiple dashas, we are activating everything. But the muladasha that Varāhamihira used–first, the Vimshottari that we see show up in Parashara–in the muladasha, if a planet is afflicting, if a malefic is afflicting a planet, we see the tough time periods as the time periods of the malefics. Where in the Vimshottari dasha, the malefics might not be a negative time period, even if they’re afflicting a benefic, but the benefic that’s afflicted–that’s actually more the time period of suffering.
So the Vimshottari is activating everything that you experience of yourself, not what is outside being put on you. You get the slight difference there?
CB: So maybe a more subjective versus objective experience?
FC: So it’s activating everything subjective about the planet.
CB: And maybe that’s some byproduct of the fact that we’re starting from the Moon. And the primary starting point for the entire technique is the nakshatra, the Moon, isn’t it?
FC: Exactly. The muladasha starts from the strongest kendra: 1, 4, 7, or 10. And so, there, it’s irrelevant to the Moon and it’s much more a practical objective approach to timing. Hence, understanding how the dashas are calculated impacts how we interpret them.
CB: Brilliant. All right, that’s really good information to know.
CB: And then at the very end of all of this, or towards the end at least, you introduce one of the final pieces, which is transits which is so interesting because that’s where the ancient traditions were so different.
In the modern West, transits are the primary timing technique and it’s the one that people often look to first. But in these approaches of the ancient timing systems, both in the Greek and the Indian traditions, transits are always the last thing you look at because you don’t know which planets are going to be activated by transit until you know what the dashas are.
FC: Exactly. And so, there’s a few different ways we use the transits with the dashas: one of them is the transits of the active dasha lord become more powerful transits. Mercury or Venus are these faster-moving planets and they don’t have that same weight that Jupiter and Saturn and the North Node often have. Yet, in the dasha of Mercury, all of a sudden, Mercury becomes this very strong impact on wherever it’s moving in the sky.
So that’s one way that we integrate the dashas and the transits. Then for predictive purposes, as I mentioned before, if I was going to predict when somebody was going to get married, I might look at Venus sub-dasha; where I might look at the sub-dasha of the planet ruling the 7th, even if it’s Mars. But then I have to pick: Is it going to be Venus or is it going to be Mar?
And so, with that then I look at the transits in those two time periods. Even if the transit supported marriage, but the time period running was the 8th house, I wouldn’t predict that that transit would give the result of marriage.
CB: Let me translate that for a second. So if something like Jupiter was going through the 7th house, but the person was in an 8th house dasha period, you would not predict marriage because that transit through the 7th is not going to be as active if it’s not activated as a dasha.
FC: Exactly. The dasha literally blocks that transit from giving its full fruit.
CB: Okay. I like that terminology, ‘blocks’, because it’s like the potential is there. Because the planet’s going through the 7th house, you would almost otherwise expect it, but if it’s not activated as a dasha lord at that time, it’s not really turned on, or there’s some sort of blockage that’s stopping the potential manifestation of that transit.
FC: The transit of Jupiter through the 7th, you’d meet some really awesome partner. But because the 8th house is active, you’re dealing with some debts and loans, and the debt collectors are coming, and that awesome partner says, “I don’t want to marry this person.”
FC: Where if it was running the 7th house time period and Jupiter was transiting that time period–or it was running Venus, a planet that intrinsically supports relationship–then all of a sudden there’s all this extra love energy, and it doesn’t even matter what else is going on because the love is being supported while that transit is happening.
CB: Sure. So it goes back to that whole thing you mentioned at the beginning of potential versus something that’s almost just imagined. And you gave an analogy at the very beginning of somebody dreaming of success during that time, but not actually achieving it.
FC: Exactly. Though the dasha and the transits they bring–the potential is all of a sudden in the life. Jupiter through the 7th house, there’s going to be this potential person in your life; whether it turns into something more than a potential, that’s a whole other story.
CB: Okay, interesting. I mean, that’s a really important distinction.
FC: Yeah, it’s an important distinction, whether it’s there or it’s just a dream. Because the transits are always bringing something, it doesn’t mean that it fructifies into its completeness, bringing it to another zone of health: for example, Saturn; so we use a 10th house aspect from Saturn.
So I had a client today–Saturn is transiting the 7th and the North Node is about to enter the 4th. And so, I looked and she’s in a good dasha, but there’s these two malefics hitting the 4th. If she was in a negative dasha, I could guarantee that there would be some breast cancer type situations. But because she was in a good dasha, that dasha is protecting her; it’s putting her in the right place, right time, right things happening.
So the dasha can protect from the transits or enhance. If she was in a negative dasha and those transits were happening, guaranteed, we would have a situation where there was something going on in the chest region.
CB: Right, because sometimes there’s the situation of a person that falls into trouble or gets sick, but then also has a recovery or is able to pull out of that.
FC: Simple recovery, exactly.
CB: Sure. Okay, brilliant. And you mentioned Saturn’s aspect to the 10th. Saturn always has its full power or full aspect on the 10th. What’s the other sign that it aspects?
FC: The 3rd, 7th, and 10th.
CB: Okay, 3rd, 7th, and 10th signs relative to the sign that it’s in.
FC: Relative to Saturn’s whole sign aspect.
CB: Right. Okay, just wanted to mention that really briefly because that’s another different concept in terms of how aspects work that people will want to explore more. At some point, I know you go into that in your book.
CB: All right, brilliant. So obviously that’s not everything, we could go into other things, but in a nutshell that’s kind of…
FC: That’s a nutshell.
CB: Yeah, that’s the basic approach to interpreting dashas in terms of that. So I have just a few other miscellaneous questions–several of them you’ve already mentioned or answered–and one of them is can you use dashas and bhuktis to rectify a chart?
And you already used a story of that, where you noted how that person who was an astrologer–he was dropping off his grandson at the train. And because of when the train departed, he realized that that meant the time of the birth was actually a little different because a certain sub-period was starting at that time.
So you can see because of how the technique has very definitive periods–where one period starts and another stops, which can sometimes be very dramatic and their differences–how you could use this as a rectification technique.
FC: So a lot of astrologers in the West, Vedic astrologers in the West, use the dasha as their primary rectification technique.
FC: In my tradition, our primary rectification technique is the divisional charts. And so, we primarily rely on the divisional charts because in the divisional charts, the person is an engineer or they’re not, the person is a psychologist or they’re not; there’s a lot of really hard kinds of things that we use to rectify and they often change in three-four minutes. Then we secondarily in my tradition use the dasha sequence primarily much more for big rectification.
Let’s say we’re not sure exactly the hour somebody’s born. And so, their Ascendant could be a little this way or a little that way, which a lot of times people from South America or Russia, we have a very generalized time. And in those charts, we can see that they entered a certain time period and if that planet is either ruling the 7th or ruling the 8th, and so, it makes it really clear. When they entered that time period, did an 8th house-type situation get activated or did 7th house-type situations get activated? So in this bigger scale of rectification, we utilize that.
And some people use the smaller dasha. But the thing is you can sometimes go wrong with those dashas because there’s multiple things that could have activated it, so we use it as a secondary rectification, not as a primary.
CB: Okay, that makes sense. Another question is what can a person do to mitigate things if they’re going into a challenging dasha period?
FC: Yeah, so there’s a few things, and the first to bring up is the most practical–and that means it’s always best to just align with the planets. That client who was in the CIA, what he was doing aligned with Saturn and Rahu, so he didn’t even need to do anything. A person who’s going into a Mars time period, how can they bring Mars into their life? Maybe they need to do more cooking. Maybe they need to join some martial arts and get the martial arts in their life–something that brings that planet in, in a healthy way.
FC: Parashara discusses if the planets have a negative relationship–like they are 6/8 or 2/12 from each other, or it is lording the 8th house or lording the 12th house. There’s a whole chapter in Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra that he gives for each of these dasha sequences. So for Jupiter-Saturn, Jupiter-Mercury, if any of them are in a negative situation, let’s see. I have right here Parashara opened–because I knew we’d be talking about this topic–and he gives results of the antardasha of Mercury in the mahadasha of Jupiter.
Actually it’s easier to find right here the mahadasha of Jupiter, antardasha of Saturn. He says that if there is this negative relationship or negative house lordship, “in order to mitigate the evil effects of the afflictions, chant the Vishnu Sahasranam,” which is a particular prayer, “and donation of a black cow or female buffalo be given in charity with the blessings of the Supreme Saturn.”
So he gives this whole list of things to donate and prayers to to give. And in the tradition that I study in, we use that as a stepping-stone, not as a dogmatic situation. Because it’s saying the Vishnu Sahasranam, that’s letting us know that this Jupiter-Saturn conjunction has this energy of Vishnu. And what does Vishnu do? Vishnu’s a purifying energy; so we make sure that the remedies being done are purifying remedies. So in that way, we construct the remedies for what’s going on based on these indications that Parashara has given.
CB: Okay. And is this also…
CB: Go ahead.
FC: Or we integrate that planet in a healthy way into our life.
FC: So it’s practical. And if we don’t want to change to do what that planet wants, there’s other ways to work with that planet.
CB: Right. I mean, it reminds me a little bit of what you mentioned earlier in Ayurveda, where sometimes if a person has a certain propensity for a certain type, or a certain medical type, that you’ll do offsetting things in order to counteract and balance things out. And that the idea is to move away from extremes because when you go to extremes that’s when the body gets out of balance; but instead, you’re trying to find balance in some way in the life.
FC: Exactly. So there’s a concept that this energy has to be in the life; it has to be there in some way. And so, if we don’t bring it in, then–like today, for example, I had a woman who had an afflicted Venus conjunct the Sun. And so, I had her do a donation to women who are trapped and needing self-empowerment.
So I had ‘self-empowerment’ Sun, ‘women’ Venus, and it was in the 12th house, so there’s this trapped energy. So women who were maybe trafficked or abused, or something where they’re trapped, donating to an organization that’s helping liberate them and empower them. So that energy of this afflicted Venus with the Sun is in her life, but it’s in her life as a donation; it’s not in her life as something she’s suffering.
CB: Sure. So that’s the whole philosophy underlying remedial measures or mitigating things in Vedic–in Indian astrology, that the energy is going to manifest some house, so you might as well find a way to do that actively yourself by doing something that matches the symbolism of the placement that’s being activated in your chart. And if you do that then you may have more control over it versus just letting it happen to you in a way that might be not as personally what you might want subjectively versus something else.
FC: Exactly. So these are ways that we work with dealing with the negative situations that the planets bring up. And as I mentioned at the beginning, how people can just print out the Vimshottari dasha, put it on the fridge, and just pay attention–in that paying attention, if they’re about to enter a Mercury time period, they can donate to kids’ education. If they’re about to enter a Venus time period, they can donate to just a women’s shelter. It’s good to be donating, no matter what, to positive things in society, and it’s a nice way to guide that donation in a way that’s going to make your life more pleasant.
CB: Right. Saturn might be like an old folks’ home or something like that?
FC: Old folks’ home, homeless center, the poor, yeah.
CB: Brilliant. So that brings up a related question which is, how much is predetermined versus how much room is there for free will when it comes to techniques like this?
FC: Yeah, so it’s interesting; there’s a few different ways to talk about free will and predetermined, and the first place I often start with that is even in us, we have this little kid. Some people have a bully that lives inside, some people have this angry part that lives inside; so we’re filled with all these different parts of ourselves.
So when people start talking about freewill, it’s like which part of your freewill? And we have different time periods in our life where these different parts of ourselves are more in charge, and even throughout the day there’s different parts of ourselves that are in charge. So when we talk about freewill, who is it that has that free will?
And in the Indian yoga tradition, so much is about cultivating self-mastery. How often is this lower, less mature part of ourselves getting in the way of our life and disturbing our relationship, or disturbing other parts of our life that we wish weren’t happening? So free will in and of itself is a big discussion of how that plays in.
When we look at it in the context of the dasha, the dasha is showing the qualitative nature of time. And if you and me were going to go camping in Alaska in the wintertime, we would want to bring a certain quality of clothing and gear with us. If we were going to go swimming in Cancun, we wouldn’t want to bring the same gear as if we were going camping in Alaska. So when we look at the dasha, whether we’re going to Cancun or Alaska is less in our control; there is this certain situation that’s coming; there’s a certain qualitative element that’s unfolding and it’s there.
And when we bring up freewill, we at some point chose it. Our soul chose that this point was going to come at this particular time, so it is this deeper ‘I’ that is quite happy that this is coming. Now whether these little parts of ourselves enjoy or not enjoy it, that’s another story. But what we can control is do we have the equipment that we need to be in Alaska, or do we have what we need to have fun in Cancun. So in this way, we can control how we are working with the time period, and being that we have a map, it gives us better control.
Just as an example, sometimes I mention the Moon-Rahu time period being an anxious time period; sometimes people will go on medications during that time period. And then when that time period’s done, they’re still on the medications because they don’t even realize that they’re not anxious anymore; the medication itself is making them anxious. Sometimes I say, “Hey, I get that you’re anxious now. After July that’s going to calm down. Let’s do this mantra or remedy now, and just know that that’s going to go away. And so, knowing the terrain gives us this ability to have more control over what we’re doing, know what’s unfolding, and work with it better. Did that answer the…
CB: Yeah, I think that was a great answer, especially within the context of, earlier, how you set up this entire discussion of talking about durations, different durations of time having different qualitative properties, and the idea that you’re going to experience, once you calculate it, certain qualities during certain periods of time. But there may be some degree of negotiability and that’s where the remediation measures and other things come through, where you can at least attempt, even if you’re not fully successful to sort of choose deliberately one manifestation of that quality of time versus another.
CB: So one sub-note to that since it’s a question that would naturally come up. Since this is Indian astrology and it’s coming from the context of Hinduism, how do concepts like karma and reincarnation play into this?
I mean, you mentioned briefly something about the soul choosing the life theoretically, but how overt is that philosophy in the actual practical astrology versus are you really just focused primarily on figuring out what’s happening in this life and that other stuff is sort of more background philosophy?
FC: It could be either depending on the astrologer.
FC: I, myself, like to focus on the present and prepping for what’s to come, but those same combinations can all be interpreted as literally what you were doing in your last life that created that situation. There is nothing in the chart from the Vedic perspective that isn’t indicating something that you did in the last life.
CB: Okay, so the birth chart itself is a combination of indications for this life that conceptually are the results in some sense of past life karmas.
FC: So one of the beginning things in the Vedic astrology world that most teachers start with are that there are certain rules of karma and the doctrine of karma, and what’s ‘fixed’ karma and what’s ‘changeable’ karma, and what’s the ‘reserve’ of karma, how hard is it going to be to change certain karmas.
So when we look at the chart, everything is kind of in that frame of reference. And when we talk about freewill and destiny, or freewill and karma, certain combinations are what they call ‘fixed’ karma; it means that no matter what you do that’s going to happen. And for a disease, two malefics aspecting a house and the negative dasha, it’s a ‘fixed’ karma that there’s going to be a disease during that time. Two malefics aspecting a house, it’s a beneficial dasha, that’s an ‘unfixed’ karma. It’s possible that there could be disease, but it’s not guaranteed; and we do a few remedial measures and there won’t be any disease.
Similarly with marriage. If there’s no transit happening, no dasha happening to bring marriage, it doesn’t matter what we do; we’re not going to be able to bring marriage during that time period. If we have one of them and we do a remedial measure, we might be able to bring a relationship into that time period. So in that way, the whole Vedic system, I could say it’s built around, but it is the laws of karma, if that makes sense.
CB: Yeah, I think that does make a lot of sense, especially in this sense of thinking about karma as like a reaction to something from the past.
CB: All right, brilliant. Well, this was really good. I’m really glad we had a chance to have this discussion. Thank you so much. This was amazing. This is all largely based on the chapter on dashas in your book which goes into much, much more detail. Where can people learn more information about this?
FC: About the dasha?
CB: About the dashas, but also about Vedic astrology in general. I mean, I have to plug your book which Austin’s been raving about for a few years, but now I fully understand why. And you can find it on Amazon; it’s titled, Science of Light: An introduction to Vedic Astrology.
FC: So I teach. My first year is a year-long–it’s about 10-months-long–and it starts this year. It starts the end of March and goes till the Thanksgiving time period and that’s year one; and at the end of that people are fully reading a Vedic chart. And even somebody like Austin, who is this incredible astrologer in so many different systems, he put everything aside and completely read a chart with no other rules except the Vedic rules; so incredible versatility there, an incredible mind.
So I work on ensuring that people can read the chart. That way, when we go in, if people choose to do a second year, everything has been laid on and they’re reading charts in the Vedic system and utilizing that. And the website to learn more about that is scienceoflight.net.
CB: Okay, and that’s your primary? Because you’ve got a few different websites, but that’s the primary one for your courses?
FC: For the courses, it’s scienceoflight.net. For readings, I don’t even want to give that one because I’m booked out enough that I don’t want more clients.
CB: Right, okay.
FC: And I’m from a tradition, and so, I have multiple guru-brothers, and my guru himself. Some people try and jump right to my guru, and they often walk away completely confused because he’s teaching a very high level of Vedic astrology. But those who study with me, they’re entering a whole tradition. So once they learn the material, there’s also various guru-brothers, guru-sisters, everybody teaching in the same lineage that’s sharing certain concepts.
If somebody is going to learn Vedic astrology, to come into a lineage of traditions that’s coming from the textual source and gurus and people that hold various knowledge bases, I can’t just do anything I want. I’m held to account by my guru-brothers and guru, and in that way, all of us are held to account accordingly. And so, it creates a lot of integrity in the knowledge, how it’s shared, and how we work with it.
CB: Yeah, that entire idea of lineage and the community and the connections surrounding it, and the ongoing nature of it is just so important and it’s so interesting to see that in a much broader sense in the Indian tradition and as something you’re a part of.
Brilliant. All right, well, thanks a lot for joining me tonight. Are there any final things we should end with, or are we pretty much good? I want to make sure if there was anything you meant to say that you know did.
FC: To end, I think I’ll just come back to time. Time really is the only thing that we can fully depend on. Everything is going to change. We can depend on that everything is going to change, and in that way, time is a reality; it’s a divinity. Instead of coming from a place of saying, “Oh, I don’t believe in time,” I’m not exactly sure where that concept comes from, but to really approach time with respect and this thing that is manifesting reality. And as astrologers, we have been invested in being able to read time and how time is manifesting reality; and it’s just a deep meditation and deep respect for that divine play of time itself.
CB: I love that. That’s brilliant, and that really helps to wind down this episode which is sort of a companion piece to the one I just did, which was on the ‘time-lord’ techniques, which in Greek were said to be the techniques for the division of time or for dividing time up. So thank you for helping me to complete this by not just showing a Western system for doing this, but showing this other approach to doing it, which has this very long lineage.
And people like yourself have been using techniques like this for many centuries, or in your case, many decades, and therefore, have so much more experience. There’s a lot that Western astrologers have to learn from them, both in studying Indian astrology unto itself is something that’s valuable and worth studying, but also, in some instances, there might be ways that things that you’re doing could enhance things that Western astrologers should be doing, but just aren’t at this point in time. So thanks for helping me to explore that today.
FC: Thanks for having me on here, Chris.
CB: All right, brilliant. Well, thanks everybody for watching or listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast. Thanks to all the patrons who supported us. You can find out more information about the show at theastrologypodcast.com. So thanks for watching and we’ll see you again next time.