A study of the finest udu dasa system taught by Parasara and other authors of classical jyotish literature. Let us pray to Sarasvati with the following Sarasvati Gāyatri Mantra from the Rig Veda (Mandala-1.Hymn-3.Mantra-10) before starting the lesson.
पावका नः सरस्वती वाजेभिर्वाजिनीवती। यज्ञं वष्टु धीया वसुः॥
pāvakā naḥ sarasvatī vājebhirvājinīvatī| yajñaṁ vaṣṭu dhīyā vasuḥ||

Word meanings

Sarasvatī: derived from ‘Sarasah’ meaning (a) full of Rasa or nectar (Sa+Rasa). There are seven Rasa’s which lead to the physical creation of all beings. These seven Rasa are the Lords of the saptāṁśa (one-seventh division) of a sign. Thus, Sarasvatī is the mother of all creation and is also referred to as BHU Devi or the Earth Mother. (b) Commendable enlightening speech borne from perfect knowledge and truthful countenance. Thus, Sarasvatī is the giver of such exemplary speech [arising from truthful countenance and knowledge (of all arts, crafts and sciences)].
Pāvaka: Pure, clear, bright and shining like Agni (fire); illuminating; n. Pavakā illuminator.

The Best Udu Daśā

दशाबहुविधास्तासु मुख्या विंशोत्तरी मता।
कैश्चिदष्टोत्तरी कैश्चित्‌ कथिता षोडशोत्तरी॥ ३॥
daśābahuvidhāstāsu mukhyā viṁśottarī matā |
kaiścidaṣṭottarī kaiścit kathitā ṣoḍaśottarī || 3||
Parāśara teaches that vimśottari is the foremost Udu Daśā because in Kaliyuga[1] the maximum period of the vimśottari daśā system (120 years) is equal to the Pūrṇa Āyus (Full longevity: 120 years) of the human being.
विंशोत्तरशतं पूर्णमायुः पूर्वमुदाहृतम्‌।
कलै विंशोत्तरी तस्माद्‌ दशा मुख्या द्विजोत्तम॥ १४॥
viṁśottaraśataṁ pūrṇamāyuḥ pūrvamudāhṛtam |
kalai viṁśottarī tasmād daśā mukhyā dvijottama || BPHS 14||
This complete longevity of 120 years is represented by 120 degrees of the zodiac based on the Time-space equation from Manu [2] Smṛti [3] whereby one day of the Deva is equal to a year in the life of human beings. By the term Deva (derived from Diva [4]) the Sun is referred to and its average daily motion of one degree in the zodiac. Thus 120 human /earth years would correspond to 120 degrees in the zodiac. There are three Brahma Nābhi [5] in the zodiac at zero degree Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. These navels are 120 degrees apart. These navel represent the end or a new beginning and is conceptualized as Gaṇḍānta. Their separation of 120 degree is the longevity span of the human being. There are other dictums which refer to other transits of the Sun as the 21/2 Degree transit. However, these shall refer to beings other than human or for other purposes.
Lesson #01: The first step in vimśottari daśā is to determine the Param Āyus (maximum longevity) of any body, both animate and inanimate.

Nakṣatra
The angular span of 120 degrees is divided into nine mansions of the Moon called Nakṣatra or simply constellation. Each Nakṣatra has an angular span of 13o20’ (or 800’) and is composed of four parts called Pada. Each Pada, being one-fourth of a constellation is 3°20′ (or 200’). The first Nakṣatra is Aswini which is reckoned from zero degree Aries and spans the range 0°–13°20’ Aries. The second Nakṣatra starts from 13°20’ Aries and extends till 26°40’ Aries. In this manner nine Nakṣatra cover the span of 120° from 0° Aries to 30° Cancer. Similarly two other sets of nine-Nakṣatra span the space from 0° Leo to 30° Scorpio and 0° Sagittarius to 30° Pisces respectively (Fig1-1). The Navagraha in the order of Ketu, Venus, Sun, Moon, Mars, Rāhu, Jupiter, Saturn & Mercury are the lords of the nine constellation as reckoned from Aswini. This order of planets also determines the lordship for the other two complimentary sets of nine constellation (Table 1-1).

Daśā Period

Daśā periods have been spelt out by Parāśara [6] for the planets as Sun – 6 years, Moon – 10 years, Mars – 7 years, Rāhu – 18 years, Jupiter – 16 years, Saturn – 19 years, Mercury – 17 years, Ketu – 7 years and Venus – 20 years. These have also been indicated in the Table 1-1.

Order of Daśā

The daśā follows a definite sequence in the regular order of the constellations. The Daśā are furnished by the planets owning the constellations. For example, if the first daśā is reckoned from Bharaṇī (2), then the first daśā shall be initiated from Venus, the lord of Bharaṇī. The order of the constellations are Bharaṇī (2) Krittikā (3) Rohiṇī (4) Mṛgāśiras (5) Ārdrā (6) Punarvasu (7) Puṣyā (8) Aśleṣā (9) Maghā (10) etc. Thus, the order of the Daśā shall be Venus (Bharaṇī), Sun (Krittikā), Moon (Rohiṇī), Mars (Mṛgāśiras), Rāhu (Ārdrā), Jupiter (Punarvasu), Saturn (Puṣyā), Mercury (Aśleṣā) and Ketu (Maghā).

Applicability

Parāśara has advised the use of this vimśottari daśā for all purposes as it is the best Udu daśā.
कृष्णपक्षे दिवा जन्म शुक्लपक्षे तथा निशि।
तदा ह्यष्टोत्तरी चिन्त्या फलार्थञ्च विशेषतः॥ २३॥
kṛṣṇapakṣe divā janma śuklapakṣe tathā niśi |
tadā hyaṣṭottarī cintyā phalārthañca viśeṣataḥ || 23||
Whereas he has given a very specific rule (Criteria-1) for the use of aṣṭottari Daśā (108 years) by stating[7]4 that Rāhu in a quadrant or trine from the Lord of Lagna determines the applicability of aṣṭottari daśā, subsequently he gives the following advise (Criteria-2):

“If birth is at day in kṛṣṇa pakṣa[8] or at night in śukla pakṣa[9], the use of aṣṭottari daśā is advised.” If this advice is to be taken at face value, then by implication the vimśottari daśā would apply only if birth is at night in kṛṣṇa pakṣa or at day in śukla pakṣa. Considering Criteria-1 & 2 together, aṣṭottari daśā will be applicable in about 25% charts. Thus, vimśottari daśā is applicable in about 75% birth charts[10]. Summing up, check the following:-
1) Whether Rāhu is placed in a Kendra or Trikoṇa from Pāka Lagna (i.e. the sign occupied by the Lord of Lagna).
2) Whether birth at day time is in kṛṣṇa pakṣa, OR Whether birth at night time is in śukla pakṣa.
3) If both of (1) or (2) above is applicable, then use aṣṭottari daśā, else apply vimśottari daśā.

Determination of Starting Daśā

It has become a common practice to initiate the vimśottari daśā from the constellation occupied by the Moon. However specific rules exist for determining the starting constellation. Determine the following five constellations: –
(i) Lagna Nakṣatra: the constellation, which houses the rising degree of the ascendant.
(ii) Janma Nakṣatra: the constellation, which is occupied by the Moon in the horoscope (Birth chart).
(iii) Name Nakṣatra: the constellation/Pada indicated by the first letter in the name of the person (refer Table – at Appendix I).
(iv) Praśna Nakṣatra: the constellation occupied by the Moon at the time of query or examination of a chart, and,
(v) Utpanna[11] Nakṣatra[12]: the fifth constellation counted from the constellation occupied by the Moon in the birth chart.

Lesson # 2:
1. stronger amongst Name Nakṣatra and Praśna Nakṣatra is used to determine the daśā related to a horary (Praśna) chart, and
2. the stronger amongst Lagna Nakṣatra, Janma Nakṣatra and the Utpanna Nakṣatra is used to determine the daśā’ s for natal chart (horoscope).
Although there maybe many methods to determine the relative strength of constellation, a few rules are given here.
(i) Determine the number of planets in Kendra (quadrants) to the signs occupied by the constellation[13]7. Larger number of planets in quadrant shall determine the stronger.
(ii) If they are equal or if the constellations are in mutual quadrant, then the association or aspect of Jupiter, Mercury or Lord of the constellation is a source of strength[14].

Lesson # 3: Whenever in doubt prefer the Moon constellation in Manuśya Jātaka (horoscope/charts relating to human beings) as the Manas (Mind) signified by the Moon shall determine the fortune.

Lesson # 4: In case there are four or more planets in quadrant to Lagna, then Tara daśā (a modification of vimśottari daśā) shall apply.
In the case of Tara[15] daśā, the strongest planet in Kendra initiates the daśā, which is followed by other planets in the Kendra[16]. Thereafter planets in paṇapara[17] and Apoklimas[18] furnish the daśā. The daśā periods are the same as for vimśottari daśā.

Calculation of Daśā Balance
After having determined the strongest constellation that will initiate the vimśottari daśā, the next logical step is to determine the balance of daśā.
Step 1: Determine the exact longitude of the Lagna/Moon as the case maybe. (Say M)
Step 2: Expunge the longitude of the starting point of the constellation (Say N) from it. Thus we have (M-N) the progress in the constellation.
Step 3: Since the span of the constellation is 13°20′ or 800′, expunge the progress in the constellation determined from previous step from the span to determined balance of constellation to be covered i.e. 13o20′ – (M-N).
Step 4: the balance of daśā is obtained by multiplying the daśā period of the lord of the constellation with the ratio of balance of constellation to be covered (Step 3) and complete span
i.e. Daśā Balance = Daśā period X {13°20′ – (M-N)} / 13°20′
or, Daśā Balance = Daśā period X {1- [(M-N)/13°20′]}

Illustrations


Example 1 Let us determine the starting daśā, daśā balance and vimśottari Daśā of Male born on 12 November 1934 at 6:20′ PM IST at Lat: 20N30′, Long:85E50′, India. The birth chart as follows:-
Determination of Starting Daśā
(i) Lagna Nakṣatra: Rohiṇī (4) in Taurus.
(ii) Janma Nakṣatra: Uttara Āsāḍha (21) in Capricorn
(iii) Utpanna Nakṣatra: 5th from Janma Nakṣatra: Pūrva bhadra (25) in Aquarius.
Seven planets are placed in quadrant to the Moon sign and this is the strongest. Thus the Moon shall determine the starting constellation as Uttar Sadha (21). The lord of this constellation is the Sun, which shall furnish the first daśā at birth.
Calculation Daśā Balance.
Daśā Period of Sun = 6 Years
Longitude of Moon = 10s 5° 51′ 13.00″= 305° 51’13″(M)
Longitude of starting point of Uttara Āsāḍha = 9s 26° 40’=296° 40′ (N)
Thus, balance of daśā = Daśā period ´ { 1- [(M-N)/ 13°20′] }
= 6 X {1- [(305° 51’13” – 296°40′)/13°20′]}
= 6 X {1- [9011’13″/13°20′]}
= 6 X {1- [33073”/48000”]}
= 6 X 0.31098[19] = 1.865875
= 1 Year 10 Months 11 Days 17hr-9min-36sec.
Thus the vimśottari daśā ending date of the Chart 1 is as follows:
The starting date of the Moon Daśā is 24 September 1937 and starting time of 11-29′-36″ AM should be noted separately for drawing the Daśā Praveśa Chakra (Daśā Initiation Chart).
vimśottari Daśā table of Chart1

Starting Date Ending Date
Dasa Planet Period Y M D Y M D
1 Janma Sun 1-10-11 1936 11 12 1937 9 24
2 Sampat Moon 10 1937 9 24 1947 9 24
3 Vipat Mars 7 1947 9 24 1954 9 24
4 Kshema Rāhu 18 1954 9 24 1972 9 24
5 Pratya Jup 16 1972 9 24 1988 9 24
6 Sadha Sat 19 1988 9 24 2007 9 24
7 Vadha Merc 17 2007 9 24 2024 9 24
8 Mitra Ketu 7 2024 9 24 2031 9 24
9 Ati-mitra Ven 20 2031 9 24 2054 9 24

Example 2

Determine the daśā for Male born on 7 August 1963 at 9:15’ AM IST at Lat:21N28’ Long:84E01’, India.
The Rasi Chart is as follows:
Date of Birth: August 7, 1963; Time of Birth: 9:15:00 pm (21N28 84E01′)
In Chart 2, all four quadrants are occupied by four planets. Normally the conjunction of four or more planets in a Kendra gives Pravrajya (renunciation) Yoga and in this case, they are in separate signs and as per Lesson#4, Tara Daśā is applicable in the chart.
Step 1: Determination of the strongest planet
The four planets in quadrants are Jupiter, Rāhu, Ketu and Mars. The nodes Rāhu & Ketu are exalted in Gemini & Sagittarius respectively and are stronger than Jupiter in own sign (Pisces) or Mars in an inimical sign. Both nodes are equally aspected as per Rāśi dṛṣṭi by Jupiter and are not conjoined any planets. In such a scenario we can use bhāva bala[20] wherein the tenth house has a total strength of 10.53 Rupa and the fourth house has 9.37 Rupa. Thus Ketu is the strongest planet.
Step 2: Order of Daśā
The order of the daśā is based on Kendrādi daśā. The planets in Kendra furnish the initial daśā’s on the basis of their strengths. This is followed by the daśā of planets in paṇapara & then Apoklimas. Thus the order of Daśā for Chart 2 is as follows:-
Ketu, Rāhu, Jupiter, Mars, (Kendra)
Sun, Venus, Saturn (paṇapara),
Mercury, Moon (Apoklimas).
NOTE: This is the beginning of undoing the fixed concepts that many of you may have developed and in trying to make the mind more flexible to think. However, I will end this PART LESSON on vimśottari Daśā with the words that all the Daśā function simultaneously (which includes the various types of vimśottari). It is only a question of dominance of one over the other.


[1] Kaliyuga refers to one of the four eon’s which is the present Age of Iron. It started with the disappearance of Bhagavan Sri Kṛṣṇa in 3102 B.C.
[2] One of the fourteen sons of Brahma in one life of Brahma and the progenitor(s) of the Human race.
[3] Vedic Literature can be broadly classified as the Smriti and Sruti. Sruti means that which was heard (by the Maharishi’s) and is the voice of God. These include the Veda etc. Smriti means that which is remembered and can be commented or generally adapted.
[4] Diva means light and hence Deva is a giver of light of knowledge or enlightenment or a giver of energy. The Sun is the source of all energy in the solar system. Thus, it is not only the Deva, but also the Ātmakāraka or soul personified.
[5] navel of Brahma signifying a new beginning
[6]
[7]
[8] kṛṣṇa means dark; pakṣa means fortnight. Thus kṛṣṇa pakṣa means Dark fortnight or waning phase of Moon.
[9] śukla means bright; pakṣa means fortnight. Thus śukla pakṣa means Bright fortnight/waxing phase.
[10] Let us see the Mathematics. If we use the pakṣa Criteria, then 50% are for vimśottari and the other for 50% aṣṭottari. Now, for aṣṭottari the second criteria is not in EXCLUSION, but in INCLUSION. Thus, out of the 50%, another half (Kendra + Kona=6 signs out of 12) shall be excluded as Rāhu will not be in Kendra/Kona to Pāka Lagna. Now 50% of 50% is 25% applicable for vimśottari daśā.
[11] Kṣema is the 4th Star, Ādhana is the 8th Star and Utpanna is the 5th Star/ Nakṣatra as reckoned from the Nakṣatra occupied by the Moon.
[12] The Moon’s longitude is used for calculating the daśā balance as these are only relative positions of the Nakṣatra from their overlord – the Moon.
[13] Constellations could span over two signs and the position of the Lagna or Moon should be the deciding factor about the sign being referred to. For example if the Constellation is Punarvasu (Gemini 20o to Cancer 3020’), and if the Moon is in Cancer 20, then the sign for checking planets in quadrants is Cancer.
[14] Similar to the second source of strength given by Jaimini and later explained by Varāhamihira (Bṛhat Jātaka).
[15] Tara is the spouse of Jupiter (Bṛhaspati) who is the Guru of vimśottari daśā. That is why the periods of the Sun & Moon are equal to the period of Jupiter {i.e. Sun (6) +Moon (10) = Jupiter (16)}. On the other hand Venus (Śukrācārya) is the Guru of Aṣṭottari daśā as the periods of the Sun (6) and Moon (15) equal the period of Venus (21) in Aṣṭottari daśā.
[16] Kendra are the Cadent houses i.e. the 1st, 4th, 7th & 10th house.
[17] Paṇapara are the Succeedent houses i.e. the 2nd, 5th, 8th & 11th houses.
[18] Apoklimas are the precedent houses i.e. the 12th, 3rd, 6th & 9th houses.
[19] This ratio is called Nakṣatra Balance
[20] Refer to Graha & Bhāva Bala by Dr B V Raman. Although some would suggest Graha Bala instead of Bhāva Bala, this cannot be computed for the nodes