Aṣṭadala Padma (Eight petal lotus) is the foundation of Hindu philosophy. It is based on the Kālachakra (wheel of time), which is composed of eight spokes and has the 28 constellations distributed in these spokes. Each of these spokes is in one of the cardinal or intermediate directions and is reckoned starting from the east and moving in the clockwise direction. Based on this we have the aṣṭadala padma and the aṣṭa-maṅgala kriyā.
1.1 Planar directions
Basically there are eight plane directions and two vertical directions that define all movement. The eight plane directions are subject to time-quality changes while the vertical always point upwards and downwards and are essentially, stable, non-changing over long time periods to merit the definition of being fixed like the pole star ‘Dhruva’. The eight planar directions are the two dimensional image of a map while the vertical directions add the third dimension. Kālachakra does cater to the three dimensional movement but for most practical purposes of Vedic astrology, we restrict the time quality change to the two dimensions – map having eight directions.
The four cardinal directions are the East, South, West and North that define the grand cross signified by the ‘+’ which is considered very auspicious and is the four junctions of time called gāyatrī. They are called Kālachakra ‘Kendra’ where kendra means pillar and the four kendra energies are four pillars of life. Sunrise is equated with the east and the Sun is the master of the four cardinal directions as the heavenly lamp enlightens the way for all karma to manifest. The four Kendra are guarded by the royals and the brāhmaṇa planets. Sun guards the east and Moon guards the north; Jupiter guards the south and Venus guards the west.
The four intermediate directions are called Koṇa (literally corner) and indicate sharp, destructive, hostile energy. The four Koṇa are guarded by ferocious Rāhu (NE), violent Mars (SE), hostile Saturn (NW) and mischievous Mercury (SW). The represent the time of high energy consumption or drainage and loss of energy. Together they are the fallen cross represented by ‘x’, the multiplication which shows rapid deletion of resources and unhindered exploitation. For example, at sunrise or 6.00am Sun starts the upward sine-curve while at 9.30am Mars starts the downward portion of the curve.
1.2 Order of Planets
The arrangement of the planets follows a definite order based on the tattva. Of the kendra, the tenth bhāva is the throne of heaven and shall manifest first. This is followed by Ākāśa and Pṛthvi tattva in Lagna – the horizon in the east where the sky father ‘Dyauṣ-Pitṛ’ and earth mother Pṛthvi meet to create. Finally the 4th and 7th house work in harmony with Jala and Vāyu tattva graha. The order of the planets after Ketu is à Agni [Sun, Mars], Ākāśa [Jupiter], Pṛthvi [Mercury], Jala-Vāyu [Venus, Saturn], Jala-Vāyu [Moon-Rāhu]. It is noteworthy that while Agni tattva is clearly marked and separated from other tattva in the tenth bhāva, Pṛthvi and Ākāśa share the Lagna bhāva with Ākāśa (Jupiter) preceding Pṛthvi (Mercury). Jala is in the sukha bhāva while Vāyu is in the Dārā bhāva, yet they are interlinked and jala graha is followed by vāyu graha.
This establishes an intricate link between the 4th and 7th bhāva or home and spouse. For example, a person with Moon in the 4th bhāva is likes good food (Moon signification) and is looking for a spouse (7th bhāva) who is a good cook. In another example which is a direct remedy from kālachakra, Rāhu is the 4th bhāva merits remedy by the worship of Durgā (Moon) during Rāhu Kāla for peace at home and more faith in relationships.
1.2.1 Agni Graha: Karma
The first are the Agni tattva graha Ketu, Sun and Mars are placed in the Vertical Upward, East and South-East directions respectively. These planets have directional strength in the tenth bhāva. Ketu is unchangeable with time and is relatively fixed like the pole star. It does not participate in the kālachakra time quality directly. The other eight graha from Sun – Rāhu who are the charakāraka planets are involved. It is evident then that this is the heart level chakra which is showing the manifestation of desires which caused the rebirth in the first place.
Sun takes the responsibility of the throne of earth and establishes the dharma in the Kālachakra. Mars manifests in the south-east as agni. In the positive this is Kārtikeya, the brāhmaṇa guru teacher of prāṇa and mahāvākya, and guru of Maharṣi Pippalāda. Of all the fires, anger is the worst. The anger (Ma) stemming from desire (Ve) is what is indicated by the kālachakra superimposed with the dṛg-chakra as the dṛg-chakra shows desire in the south-east direction while the kālachakra shows anger manifesting due to the karma done to satisfy the desire. This is the cause of rebirth in most philosophies of substance and is indicated by the 7th bhāva (Ve signification of dṛg chakra) and Mithuna rāśi (Ma signification of kālachakra). Conjunctions of Mars and Sun à See Chapter 3.
1.2.2 Pṛthvi-Ākāśa: Lagna
Thereafter the planets having directional strength in the Lagna bhāva follow. Jupiter is stationed in the southern direction guarding the longevity (and life itself – jīva graha) while Mercury is in the south-west direction struggling to bring the perfect order (Virgo trait) where complete disorder (Nirṛti) exists. This is the disorder of the mind which manifests as disorder in life. This is the disorder of the social material world which does not exist in the spiritual orders of various religions of the world. Disorder of every kind is symbolized by the direction of Nirṛti (SE) where Mercury causes a person to start learning the means to bring order (ṛta). The source of learning is Jupiter, the kendra graha just as the Sun (kendra graha) was the source of energy which the koṇa graha Mars consumed. The relationship between Mercury and Jupiter defines the ways to learn. Ignorance of every kind is akin to death (mṛtyu) and the enlightening wisdom of Bṛhaspati is the light that Mercury seeks. The time of Jupiter is akin to the mid-day when all evils are dispelled, one of the brightest sunshine.
The time of Mercury is the time for counting the money and thinking about one’s work and doing everything that will remove the disorder which creates losses an strife.
1.2.3 Jala-Vāyu: Venus-Saturn
Joys and sorrows go hand in hand. Venus shows the avenues for happiness, laughter, relaxation, enjoyments, relationships and connecting with everyone and everything in this world. Saturn is the reverse as in strength it gives sorrows, despair, stress, denials, loneliness and disconnecting with everyone and everything.
Venus (Lakṣmī) is the blessed daughter of the great āditya Varuṇa, god of the oceans. In some ways Varuṇa is like Oceanus but is actually much bigger as the latter is more restricted to the sign Pisces[i]. Who else but Viṣṇu, the giver of eternal bliss, could win Lakṣmī as spouse. The time of Venus is one where relationships are established, where friends spend time in café, relatives and business acquaintances meet in drawing rooms and the family sits in the living room. It’s the sunset or early evening energy.
The time of Saturn is where we face the punishment for our sins and those who forgot to ask for forgiveness will have to bear their sentences. The two planets Venus and Saturn work together as beings (souls) are constantly coming into one’s life and leaving when the karma experience is completed.
1.2.4 Jala-Vāyu: Moon-Rāhu
Moon is represents good thoughts and family definition while Rāhu indicates the boundary which keeps the non-family out. Rāhu causes suspicion, disbelief and screens everyone and everything. In the process, everything and everyone gradually gets excluded from family definition and this leads to loneliness and separation from everyone and everything that was dear at a previous point of time.
To understand this better, think of the relationship between the words ‘family à familial à familiar à fame’ which is the domain of the Moon. The Moon is like a big white circle (depending on your Moon at birth) which keeps adding people inside the circle, a plus ‘+’ for everyone who we have a likeness for. We group these people in the mind based on the reason for the liking them or familiarity. One such group can be the blood lineage where parents and siblings, spouse and children are included and the familiarity is due to a common ‘surname’ that they share (patrilineal). Since Moon rules blood, this group is very strong in the psyche of the individual.
In a way, these are the four major challenges of life.