Nakshatras - Why from the Moon?

Hello all,

Namaste! Hope all of you had a great week where you were able to integrate your shadow as well as light side to work towards your purpose for your life. We have been discussing a lot of subjects for some time like philosophy, spirituality, mythology, and metaphysics. Now, how about some Vedic astrology and underlying philosophy for this week?

We discussed the Vedic horoscope and how the planets in a particular house affect the chart, as well as that house and other houses. Now, for the chart signifying the body, it is always started from the Lagna or the ascendant or the zodiac sign that was rising at the eastern horizon during the time of the birth. We also discussed that in a Vedic chart, the Moon represents the mind, or in Sanskrit terms Manas. Here we are discussing the houses and planets. This is the literal, bare bone structure of the chart.

Now, let us go to another layer, which overlays this chart. These are called the 'Nakshatras'. What are Nakshatras? (I will explain this as I have understood. If there is anyone who can shed more light and explain it more elaborately, would love to read their viewpoint). Nakshatras are the lunar mansions in Vedic Astrology and they are twenty-eight divisions along the ecliptic. Ecliptic is the apparent plane of the path of the Sun in the celestial sphere in the course of a year. The twenty-eight divisions are named in Astrology after the notable group of stars or asterisms. Now, the asterisms can be part of a major group of Stars called Constellations. For example, the group of seven brightest stars in the sky that make a pattern called The Big Dipper is part of the major constellation 'Ursa Major'. Modern Constellations are recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and are 88 in number.

Ecliptic, Sun, Moon, Stars, Lunar, mansions,constellations, asterisms
Ecliptic path of the Sun. The constellations, the Sun and the Earth can be seen
By Tauʻolunga [GFDL],CC-BY-SA-3.0  or CC BY-SA 2.5, from Wikimedia Commons

Some people tend to say the nakshatra as the Star in English. But, nakshatra is more like a huge division on the ecliptic of Sun, where there can be prominent stars present, or in other words, nakshatra is more like the department where the star is sitting. For example, say an IT professional in a computer sciences division. IT professional is the star and the computer sciences division is the nakshatra. There can be other IT professionals in the division. Same way there can be other stars in the nakshatra. For example, the star 'Regulus' is a prominent star in the nakshatra of Magha.

So, once more to reiterate nakshatras are lunar mansions and twenty-eight in number. Actually, in normal  Vedic astrology, it is twenty-seven (The twenty-eighth one is called Abhijith, which is considered a Muhurtha, or a small time period.) The nakshatras are Ashwini, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrigasirsha, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pusya, Aslesha, Magha, Purvaphalguni, Utharaphalguni, Hasta, Chitra, Swathi, Visakha, Anuradha, Jyeshta, Moola, Purva Ashadha, (Abhijith), Uthara Ashadha, Shravana, Dhanishta, Satabhishak, Purva Bhadrapada, Uttara Bhadrapada, and Revathi. We are not going into a detail on these nakshatras as there is any number of websites and books that discuss them in detail. So, one can refer to any one of those websites. In this post, we are going to analyze why they are considered lunar mansions and why the Moon?

Why lunar mansions? Why they are called lunar mansions? This is because in Vedic astrology the natal chart is drawn according to the time the Moon was in a particular nakshatra when the baby was born. So, the nakshatra of the natal charts is calculated according to the path of the Moon through the lunar divisions. So, if a child is born on a day when the Moon was in Uthara Phalguni Nakshatra, the baby is considered as Utharaphalguni nakshatra or Utharaphalguni native.

We have to remember the Moon waxes and wanes. Waxing is the period when the Moon grows in size from our Earthly perspective and waning is the period when it decreases in size. The waxing period is known as the light phase or Shukla Paksha and the waning period is known as the dark phase or Krishna Paksha.

Why the Moon? The next question is why from the Moon? It is the tiniest among the seven Grahas (loosely planets) in Vedic astrology. Of, course Rahu and Kethu are shadow points of the Moon. For those who don't know the nine grahas, they are Sun (Surya), Moon (Chandra), Mars (Kuja), Mercury (Budha), Venus (Shukra), Jupiter (Guru), Saturn (Shani), Rahu (almost the nature of Uranus in Western Astrology), and Kethu (similar nature as Neptune in Western Astrology). 

So again back to the question. Why the Moon? There are the humongous planets like Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter is so big, we can fit 1300 Earths inside it. Same way Saturn also is huge, so that 764 Earths can be fit inside. So instead of taking these gigantic planets, why are we taking the Moon, that in the real scientific sense is only a satellite of the Earth and is only 27% of the Earth? Doesn't it makes sense to use Saturn or Jupiter as the basis for the nakshatras??

In our previous post on horoscope, we discussed the cosmic man (Kalpurusha.) Same way in Rig Veda (the oldest sacred book of Sanatana Dharma/Hinduism), in the hymn of Purusha sukta (hymn about Purusha, the divine masculine) there is a mantra in which it is said, "Chandrama manaso Jatha". Meaning-The Moon was created from the mind of the Purusha or the Brahman or ultimate reality took the form of a man or divine masculine. So here itself it shows the connection between the mind and the Moon. Now, we will come back to this later. Before proceeding further, let us look at some Mythology about the Moon.

Moon as per Mythology: As we have discussed in the Samudra Mathanam post, Moon (Chandra) first came out of the churning of the milky ocean or Samudra Mathanam. After Moon, as the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi also came out of the ocean, she is considered the sister of the Moon. Now let us go back to last week's post on Kali. Remember, there the father of Sathi, Daksha?

Now as per my inkling, Daksha may be a post for a divine being or a literal position. So there could have been many Dakshas. Anyway coming back to the story of the Moon, in this story Daksha (most probably another one) had twenty-seven daughters, whose name were the names of the nakshatras. Daksha married all the twenty-seven daughters to Moon and all the ladies happily married him. (In Mythology husbands can have several wives and sometimes ladies can have several husbands, like Draupadi).

During the marriage, Daksha asked a promise from Moon or Chandra that he would be impartial to all his wives and would love and treat all of them with equal care. Moon agreed that he would be impartial to every wife. As per the agreement Moon was supposed to spend one night each with every wife and go to the next wife the next day. First, he was very impartial with every wife and treated all of us with equal care and used to keep his promise of spending one night with one wife. 

But after some time he became too much attached to his fourth wife, Rohini. She was considered the most beautiful of all the twenty-seven ladies. So instead of going to all the other wives, he started spending every day at Rohini's mansion. This went on for a long time. Then the eldest among the wives, Jyeshta (the eldest) became jealous and angry of her younger sister, Rohini, and went and complained to her dad, Daksha. Daksha came and warned Moon. But Moon was in no mood to listen and continued his merry ways with his dear wife, Rohini. This is why Moon is considered exalted in Rohini nakshatra.

Seeing the sadness of his other daughters and not able to tolerate, Daksha cursed Moon that he will keep on waning and would disappear eventually. Hearing this, a very terrified Moon rushed to Brahma (the creator God) and asked for his help. Brahma said he cannot help and asked Moon to go to a river called 'Prabhasa Teertha' and asked to do penance there to Shiva (another powerful God). Shiva became happy at Moon's penance after some time and asked what Boon he wants.
Chandra, Moon, Daksha, Shiva, nakshatras
Chandra or the Moon as the graha
By E. A. Rodrigues [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Moon narrated all the story and asked for the boon of not waning. Then, Shiva said that cannot be done as a curse cannot be negated and told him instead after waning and the new moon day where Moon would disappear, he would start again back growing to become the Full Moon. Then again he would start waning and this cycle of waxing and waning would continue. This is how Moon started waxing and waning according to Mythology. Now, as Moon totally loves Rohini, in Vedic astrology Moon is exalted (or in its highest strength) in the nakshatra of Rohini. ;-))) 

Again, why Moon? Now, back to the question of why Moon, and not Jupiter or Saturn or other planets for the lunar mansions? Because what does Moon represent in Vedic astrology and even in Philosophy? The mind. We have before discussed in 'Samudra Mathanam' how it is our mind that is getting churned to bring the blessings that are hidden deep in the subconscious. So Moon or the mind is the most important thing in astrology, especially in Vedic astrology.

Moon or the mind or the perspectives are the filters each of us wears on our eyes, not the literal eyes, but the mental eyes or the mind, and it is using these filters that we take decision for our lives. So Moon is the filter through which we feel our experiences for our life. So, in the case of the houses, that is the first level of experiences we have. Then above that comes the next level of Nakshatras.

Let us elaborate with an example, of how this comes into our physical reality. Let us say, there are four people. All of them have their Moon in the third house as per their ascendant (Lagna). But for one it is in Gemini (Mithunam), second in Scorpio (Vrishik), and third in Sagittarius (Dhanu), and fourth in Capricorn (Makara). Four very different signs. The elements underlying all four signs are very different; Gemini is air, Scorpio is water, Sagittarius is fire, and Capricorn is Earth.

Gemini: The third house is the house of communication, technology, intellect, writing, email, social media, internet, and everything connected to real or telecommunication, or internet communication. Now, Gemini is the air element sign. Air is information, every kind of it. Literally, think about it. Radio waves used to come through the air. Television signals come through the air from the television towers. Now, the internet is also even though many times it comes through optical fibers, it is represented by air. So air is information, every kind, data, big data, metadata, statistics, news, politics, internet, social media, everything. 

So here, Moon being in Gemini and in the third house is a double dose of communication and information. That person is so much interested in information, would embrace information from every place. They would take it, analyze it, try to make sense of it, rationalize it, use logic to remove chaff from the grain. So here, the activity is all mental. How can I make sense of it mentally or intellectually? So, now above this comes the layer of Nakshatras in Gemini. Mrigashirsha, Ashlesha, and Punarvasu.

So persons born in all these three nakshatras have Moon in these nakshatras. Now being in the third house, all three use the Gemini Moon as described before. But according to the nakshatra, the flavor becomes different. Mrigashirsha loves information and use it as their lively hood. Ashlesha, being a Rahu nakshatra thrives in information. It would be always what is the next news, what is the next news, always looking to the future. (Rahu=future). Punarvasu, takes the information, then using a laser focus, uses the information to focus on what they want for their life. The symbol of Punarvasu is an arrow kept ready to be shot from a bow, laser-sharp focus. So, the same third house Gemini Moon, but the use of information plays out very differently according to the nakshatras and the mind (Moon) that is kept in the third house.

Scorpio: Here, the Moon is again in the third house, but in Scorpio, water element. So here when the information, by virtue of third house Moon, comes, the person does not think intellectually. But being, water, he/she would think emotionally. What does that information mean to me, my family, my kids? Would the information topple our safety? How can I use that information to keep ourselves safe and thriving? So, it is all about emotional response to the information. This Moon is very deep. They thrive in the deep ocean of emotion if they are mature in their mind. Otherwise, the deepness of the emotion can bring their mood down, if they are not able to handle the deeply emotional nature.

This sign contains the nakshatras of Visakha, Anuradha, and Jyeshta. According to the nature of the nakshatras here also the person with a third house Moon behaves. Visakha, usually have two options always to choose from the information, Anuradha, being a Saturn star, think how to solidify their foundation, using the information, and Jyeshta takes a leadership or egotistic agnostic view about the information. (It is always the leadership quality when used negatively becomes ego and arrogance. The great leader turns into a dictator, later). So, here also the nakshatra through the Moon or the Mind plays its part.

Sagittarius: Now, Sagittarius is the pure fire energy. Fire is always the energy of creation. How can I use the information to create something, so that the information gets used effectively? Here also they take the information that comes through the third house Moon. But they don't mentalize or emotionalize it. Instead, they take it, turn it into something they can use, and use it to their advantage creatively. Sagittarius also is the world traveler through the mind and body. They love to travel.

So they travel either physically, or mentally through books, reading, and sites. Then collect the information, and then use it to produce something creative. This is the person, who learns a skill, then reads up on it and then creates an institution to creatively take it to the people. Here also the flavor differs according to the Nakshatra. Sagittarius has Moola, Purva ashada, and Uthra ashada. All three are firebrand stars, and Moola is the most intense fire of all of them. (I would be writing a specific post on Moola soon to negate some of the social negative beliefs there is above Moola. It also has a lot of beautiful innate qualities).

Moola uses the information to their advantage with the intensity of the wildfire. Purva Ashada uses the information, to make changes in their life during the first half of their life, while Uttara Ashada uses the information in their second or later part of the life. But all three stars use the information to create something for the world. Sagittarius as a house also is very creative. 

Capricorn: Finally to Capricorn, the Earth element, solid material reality. Here also the third house Moon bring the information. Now, here the person uses the information to build some structure, like an organization, structure, or company using that information. As discussed before Capricorn is the CEO or the business executive. They think, how can I use this information to bring something solid to the material realm.

Capricorn has Uthra Ashada (some parts), Shravana, and Dhanishta in its fold. All three nakshatras use the information to bring solid things, but according to the flavor of the star. So, see how each element, each house, and how each nakshatra, makes the Moon different. All these factors come into the picture of how a person behaves.

So, Moon: Moon is the filter through which, the houses, the nakshatras, and even the higher realms come into play in our life. It is literally a filter (Remember, the old-time funnels, with a wide mouth at one end and the narrow tube for a nozzle at the other end?). All the information, life experiences that sit as potential in higher realms, nakshatras, house, all come through that wide mouth and gets totally concentrated into the house where the Moon/the mind sits in a horoscope. Now by virtue of how we think, what actions we take, and how we process the information, the potential flows through the mind into the whole horoscope. 
Chandra, Moon, mind, nakshatra, thought
Moon is the filter through which experiences are felt!
Base image courtesy - Pixabay.com

That is why Moon is the underlying factor for the Nakshatras. It is through our mind filter that the experiences come into our lives. That is why it is said a 'Person who can control his/her mind is the master of their own mind'. The whole physical life plays through our mind. That is why all the Yogis and the Ascended Masters like Buddha, Ramana Maharshi, Vivekananda all ask to control our mind and emotions. Because the whole set of planets, houses, placements, nakshatras and every other thing come to play in our life through our mind.

Taking this one step further, a person who has won over his/ her mind doesn't even need a horoscope. They only need their mind, that guides them totally and properly. But that mind should be mature, turned from unformed ore into gold by the constant pounding of life experiences in the big goldsmith metal cauldron of the physical realm. Otherwise, the mind would be totally under the control of ego, jealousy, greed, and every other vice that interferes with its stellar performance.

So, let us all capture our mind and use it towards our full potential to bring in exactly what we want for our life!

I wish you a good weekend and I'll see you next Friday! 😉

Next week: Hanuman - The light side!

Note: Images from Wikimedia Commons, and Pixabay.com.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, "There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance ; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried".  

 
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