Meaning of Dashas?
The Horoscope or birth chart, gives the basic indications for an individual or event. For example, Mars in the 3rd house (bhava) means success through one's own efforts. The question then arises as to when this will occur; in one's youth, middle-age, old-age, or in a mixture of these timeframes?
It may also happen that contradictory indications occur. How can these occurrences be reconciled? If Mars is indicating success, but Sun indicates obstructions, how do we integrate these opposing forces to arrive at a consistent picture of the birth chart?
The answers to these questions can be found in the dashas, which are systems used for timing of events in Jyotish. If two grahas show opposing indications, it may indicate that each will occur, but at different times. Part of one’s life may show success and rise in career, while other parts may show obstructions and struggle. The dashas allow a determination of when these periods will express themselves, and to what degree. Both influences may also occur simultaneously (success, but with much effort).
There are many dasha systems available in Jyotish. Based upon the birth chart each system has its own particular uses and rules for when they should be used. The most popular dasha system is Vimshottari. This belongs to a class of dasha systems that are nakshatra-based . Nakshatra-based systems use the nakshatras to calculate the start of the dasha cycle.
Vimshottari dasha, is calculated based upon the nakshatra position of Moon at birth which determines the start of the dasha, and each graha from Sun - Ketu has a dasha period associated with it. Suppose Moon is in Pisces at 16-10 (16 degrees, 10 minutes of arc) at birth. Since there are 27 nakshatras of extent 13-20, this corresponds to the 26th nakshatra, which is Uttara Bhadrapada, whose ruler is Saturn. Hence, this person was born into the Saturn Vimshottari dasa period.
Life consists of cycles within cycles within cycles. This is reflected in the dasha scheme through the sub-dashas or sub periods known as Bhukthi or Antardasha. Just as there are 9 major dasha periods, called mahadashas (maha means great, so mahadasha means great period), there are also sub-periods. There is no limit to the number of sub-periods that can be considered, but in most cases 2-4 are considered.
Each sub-period consists of the 9 graha periods, in the same order as shown above, starting with the mahadasha period. For example, the Mercury dasha starts with the Mercury sub-dasha, followed by Venus, Ketu, Sun, Moon, Mars, Rahu, Jupiter, and ending with Saturn. After this the Ketu mahadasa begins, with the sub-periods being Ketu, Venus, Sun, Moon, Mars, Rahu, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury.
The length of each sub-period maintains the same ratio as the length of the mahadasha period. For example, the Mercury mahadasha lasts 17 years, which is 17/120 of the entire Vimshottari dasha cycle. The Mercury sub-period of the Mercury mahadasha is therefore 17 x 17/120 = 12 months. The Venus sub-period of Mercury lasts 17 (length of Mercury mahadasa) x 20 (length of Venus mahadasa)/120 = 2.83 years. In a similar way, the lengths of all the sub-periods, sub-sub-periods, and so on can be calculated.
Dasa Periods and the Cycles of Unfolding Karma
The dasa shows how our karma unfolds in Astrology. There are many dasa systems in Vedic Astrology that allow us to se karma unfolding here on Earth. The most prominent is the Vimshottari dasa system. It is a system that uses a 120 year cycle where each planet rules a certain number of years, which is also broken down into sub periods from there. The sub periods (called bhuktis) are in the same order and divided relative to the dasa length below. For instance Ketu dasa starts with Ketu / Ketu, then Ketu / Venus, then Ketu / Sun, etc. Very accurate results are possible using this dasa system to predict what karmas will unfold at what time.
The planetary dasas in the Vimshottari dasa system unfold in this order.
1. Ketu 7 years
2. Venus 20 years
3. Sun 6 years
4. Moon 10 years
5. Mars 7 years
6. Rahu 18 years
7. Jupiter 16 years
8. Saturn 19 years
9. Mercury 17 years
There is much speculation about why they are in this order. I have heard many theories and I like them all. There is a strange harmony to this dasa order that seems to work. It is relevant to view the dasa system as a microcosm of the human life.
The dasa system starts with Ketu, as it is the planet where we are closest to God, where the soul is not yet rooted in the body as we often observe in very young children. Ketu is the dasa where we become aware of all that we do not need. Just as the infant only needs breath and minimal sustenance, beyond that he is more essence than substance.
Relative human age 0-1 years
Venus dasa is when this baby is nurtured and cared for by Venus, the nurturer. Venus is the dasa that feeds the fat baby. Hers is the longest dasa as on Earth as we come here to learn to care for each other, in a body first. So this body needs care and courtesy while it is learning. This is the most important time in our lives, when our mind and perceptions about the world are forming.
Relative human age 1 -3 years
Sun dasa shows the emergence of our individual identity, ready to shine from his light, no longer feeling the need to be supported by others. This necessary ego-centricity allows a healthy sense of self to emerge, a healthy ego is one where we feel positively empowered, not allowing others to run over our boundaries or us to over run theirs.
Relative human age 4-12 years
Moon dasa is the need to connect this individual experience with others in a meaningful way. It is no longer enough to just feel ourselves shine; we must learn to see ourselves as a reflection through the eyes and experiences of others and reflected back to us in society. We become sensitive like the awkward teenager in the Moon dasa.
Relative human age 13 - 19 years
Mars dasa is when we learn to compete with others in the world and learn to make allies instead of enemies out of our competitors; through courage and disciplined action we test our principles in a world of consequence through the gregarious and raucous energy of Mars.
Relative human age 20 - 27 years
Rahu shows our worldly life and our material existence. With the exuberance of youth behind us we are in the world, enmeshed in Maya and accumulation. Marriage, Children, career, and all the trappings of adult worldly life and its ability to veil our higher intelligence is the soul in Rahu dasa.
Relative human age 28 - 40
Jupiter dasa is where we can reclaim our inherent wisdom after Rahu runs us crazy! It is a time when we feel our load has been lightened or at least we feel back in control of our mind. Jupiter comes to provide insight, maturity and life lessons, as he is also Guru, teacher, so we can share some of our wisdom with others.
Relative human age 40-55
Saturn dasa is when we will become aware of our limitations and learn to be practical about them. After the enthusiasm of Jupiter, Saturn will bring us back to Earth and make us face reality. Reality is not the optimism of Jupiter it is the cold hard facts of Saturn. Those facts are the death of our body and the temporal nature of all material life. Saturn will give us the time to work through our karma in isolation.
Relative human age 55 - 65
Mercury dasa is when we can become like a child again, playful and non-judgmental, but through knowledge and clear thinking, not through ignorance. After the practical heaviness of Saturn our mind is clear and open and capable of discrimination, jnana yoga.
Relative human age 65 - ?
Transition Periods Between Dasas
When these dasas change, major shifts in energy occur. This is why people seem to change overnight, the dasa are what change. To prepare us for these radical shifts the preceding bhukti period is always a preparatory time, whose energy is similar to the next dasa period. Observe:
The last Bhukti of Ketu dasa is Ketu / Mercury. Mercury Bhukti prepares the worldly mind for the approaching Venus dasa, as Mercury is the builder and the planet that wants to tangibly manifest a worldly life, he helps to bridge the otherworldly Ketu to worldly Venus.
The last Bhukti of Venus dasa is Venus / Ketu. Ketu Bhukti prepares the mind for the purgative nature of the Sun dasa. After 20 years of accumulation in Venus dasa the last 14 months Ketu starts to take the things away we no longer need.
The last Bhukti of Sun dasa is Sun / Venus. Venus Bhukti prepares the mind for the Moon Maha dasa, as the Moon is where we will seek worldly connection and happiness through family and the public and the Sun dasa is where we may have been reclusive or interested in more soul (and sole) pursuits.
The Last Bhukti of Moon dasa is Moon / Sun. Sun Bhukti helps to prepare the mind for the upcoming Mars dasa, as the independent nature of the Sun is similar to that of Mars. Mars is the time when we will find our worldly strength and courage; the Sun Bhukti begins that fiery transformation in the mind.
The Last Bhukti of Mars dasa is Mars / Moon. Moon Bhukti prepares the material mind for the approaching Rahu dasa and his attachment to the world. The Moon is the archetype of the Soul's descent into form, Rahu is the subconscious attachment to materiality and its ability to eclipse the mind, (the Moon) thus the Moon is helpful here.
The last Bhukti of Rahu dasa is Rahu / Mars. Mars Bhukti prepares the inspired and gracious mind for Jupiter with his courage and discipline. The end of Rahu illusions is spent with the general of God's army clearing a path through courage, clarity and mental innocence so Jupiter will have the room to teach us his higher lessons.
The last Bhukti of Jupiter dasa is Jupiter / Rahu. Rahu Bhukti prepares the practical and realistic mind for Saturn by reattaching itself to stress and worldly concerns. Jupiterian optimism must give way to Saturn realism. Rahu represents our worldly attachments and bring the stress of Saturn in a subconscious way.
The last Bhukti of Saturn dasa is Saturn / Jupiter. Jupiter Bhukti prepares the mind for the Mercury dasa through increased optimism and hope. This renewed optimism clears a path for Mercury through which he can use to develop our skills, experiment and play. Mercurial play is how we learn about the world.
The last Bhukti or Mercury dasa is Mercury / Saturn. Saturn Bhukti prepares for the approaching Ketu dasa by focusing and constricting the energy of Mercury. Much has been built and discovered in the 17 years of Mercury dasa, we must learn to focus in Ketu, Saturn teaches us to concentrate.
Then it starts over again.
The Moon in the Dasa Scheme.
The start of the first planetary dasa cycle is reckoned from placement of the Moon at birth. The Lord of the Nakshatra (corresponding star in the Moon sign) will determine the 1st dasa period. The percentage of the amount of distance traversed by the Moon through that Nakshatra is deducted from the balance of the mean dasa length to determine the first dasa length. Example - if the Moon had traveled ¼ through the Nakshatra of Bharani, ruled by Venus, then ¼ of the length of Venus dasa would be deducted from it's mean length of 20 years. Thus the first dasa would be Venus for 16 years.
The Vimshottari dasa is shown from the Moon because it is from the Moon that everything grows, first in our consciousness then later in the world. The Moon is the consciousness; it is the mind that has been with us for time immemorial. It is where our deep mental impressions (called samsaras) reside. When a planetary dasa runs, first we get the samsaras from that planet, based on our past karma with it, and then we act upon those samsaras, creating new karma. If we have misused that planet's energy in past lives or this one, we get those difficult samsaras when the dasa runs, thus attracting the experiences we must in order to experience our mistakes and learn from them. If we have used that planet well, we get those samsaras also.
It is important to note that assessing dasa periods in a general way can be dicey. There are as many possibilities with dasas as there are charts. Venus for instance is a first rate benefic, yet as a dusthana lord or debilitated, her periods can seem like hell. This is because of what is mentioned above. A debilitated planet will show the difficult karma associated with it. In that case the themes stated below will be the areas of loss and suffering experienced. As an example if Venus is harmed we will especially feel pain in relationships, wealth, happiness, etc, when her dasa runs, because those are the things she rules. The planets have an innate quality and energy and when their period runs we will feel that energy for good or ill. When referring to these dasa periods we are also referring to their sub periods.
Ketu - 7 years. First and foremost the Ketu's job is help us complete the karmas we are finishing in this life. His job is to give us only what we need and take everything we do not need in order for our soul to develop. Worldly success is just as possible in Ketu dasa as any other, but much of the time they are things that only last through his dasa and no further. Again, this is because he gives it so we can finish with it, then he takes it when his dasa is finished. Of course losing things in life usually does not feel very good, so many times on either end of Ketu dasa, people are suffering, as something is about to end. But Ketu only hurts us if we are too attached to things that are unnecessary. Ketu supports esoteric and healing careers like Astrology, Yoga or other sacred healing practices. Mostly though, his dasa is hot and fast and can make life seem out of control. People should always avoid making long-term commitments at the end of Ketu dasa, as life is about to change drastically. If we are too attached to a meaningless life of materiality, Ketu can hurt us deeply. His dasa follows Mercury who is a very worldly planet and a builder, so often times the worldly gains of Mercury are parsed by the South node and his need for a Spartan existence. Ketu is a malefic planet and a cruel one so his energy will feel harsh, even when he is giving good things.
Medical indications: Ketu can give Mars type of accidents and diseases as well as mysterious illnesses, muscular or nervous system disorders. Psychologically he gives self-doubt as well as a hyper criticism of all he is associating with.
Venus - 20 years. Venus is a time when we will mainly seek worldly happiness and a loving partnership. Coming after Ketu dasa, Marriage is often a theme in Venus dasas or a marriage that has more loving qualities of Venus. Wealth is also an important theme as are Women, children and other people in general. Venus as a benefic will want to give things to us and we must be careful not to fall into the worldly quality of her charms and sensual pleasures. Although Venus is Mother Lakshmi, the Goddess of beauty and wealth, Venus is also the great caretaker and her dasa will make us take better care of people or ourselves or make us aware that we are not doing a good job in that area of life or that we are not being treated with the courtesy and respect that we deserve. She is a Brahmin, a teacher, and she would like to teach us in a gentle way, but unfortunately, we do not learn life's deep lessons when we are happy in the world, as Venus would like us to be. We generally only learn when we are suffering. In being a caretaker she would like us to be of service and that also means service to God, as Venus is also the main planet of devotion and a higher path of surrender. This great benefic would like to give us the kingdom of God an a silver platter (with a good meal!) Even when we suffer during her dasa there are lessons to learn and it is as gentle as possible.
Medical indications: As a kapha planet she can give illnesses related to internal organs, mainly of the reproductive system, STD's, as well as the kidneys, diabetes.
Sun - 6 years. The Sun dasa shows the time when the Souls energy burns deeply into the life. We would like to purify and hone our expression down to only that which serves to take us to the heights we have imagined. It is the time when we are finding our true selves. We may experience a crisis of confidence, which spurs the need to seek inner truth. Education, spirituality, politics, business, affecting the world in a big way, can also be themes of the Sun dasa. If the Sun in weak, we will feel hurt by the inability to project the confidence we need to blaze a path to truth and light that we have envisioned. The Sun is the planet of confidence and charisma, and also the planet with the most inherent strength as he lights up the entire chart. His strength and forbearance will likely have us sacrifice something, especially after the excess and hedonism of Venus dasa. The nature of the Sun as a cruel Graha is that he will separate us from those things extraneous and in the way. Power is the theme of the Sun dasa, the power to shine as truth and to express our unique Soul nature. But we may also suffer, as the Sun will burn the impurities we have gathered along the way and separate us from those who do not support or comprehend our new and unique path.
Medical Indications: The Sun rules the basic vitality and energy in the body, so if he is weak in the chart his dasa period may show an overall decline in vitality. Also he rules the heart and can give heart attacks in his dasa period.
Moon - 10 years. The Moon dasa is a time when we seek connection. Marriage, family and Motherhood (especially for women) will be themes. But also activities involving us with the public and other people will be themes. Starting a business, buying a home, staking a claim in the tangible world will be important. A strong or well-supported Moon can make it s dasa the best time of our lives. A weak Moon can make us feel that everyone else has that "normal life" that we don't. If the connections to family and children and home are absent, there could be much suffering in Moon dasa. It is also a time when memories of our own childhood can become major themes as the Moon rules our memories. We will likely revisit our own childhood through the evolution of our growing family or lack of. How were nurtured and how we nurture others will be played out and this possible loss experienced. If indicated we may experience some deep mental crises at this time as the Moon is the main planet of mental illness and insanity. The Moon is a gentle Graha, so even if we are suffering there is no cruelty to her energy. Yet she is fickle and lovesick, needy and totally impressionable. Just as the Moon itself is the most sensitive part of who we are, so too the Moon dasa can be the most vulnerable part of our life.
Medical Indications: The Moon shows the overall constitution and water in the body, the water that maintains our tissues. If the Moon is weak we will have excess vata, which makes for nervousness and anxiety in her dasa period. The Moon also rules the breasts and can show breast cancer or tumors when harmed.
Mars - 7 years The Mars dasa is another hot and fast dasa. It is a time when we will be involved in pursuing our goals with energy and passion. There will likely be a sense of excitement and energy during this time as well as a daring course through the 7 years of Mars dasa. Sports, competition and other interests will be important at this time. Mars is the planet that makes us want to improve our life through disciplined action. His dasa will either bring us closer to that improvement, or when Mars is compromised, we will suffer, noticing our lack of strength, courage and inability improve. This will either bring complacency, or bring us into conflict with others through arguments, fighting and power struggles. It is the nature of Mars to fight for what is right, but we will be overtaken by our enemies, suffering due to our perceived powerlessness if he is weak. Associates, allies and those that we do battle with will also be themes in Mars dasa, as well as siblings and business relationships and entanglements of all sorts with them. Mars also rules landed property so buying a home may be important. Mars is a malefic planet so even when he gives things, there is a harsh quality to it.
Medical Indications: He brings stress, hypertension and overexertion, so health problems like heart attacks and other stress related ailments might appear during his dasa. Also problems with the blood, like leukemia are possible as Mars rules the marrow.
Rahu - 18 years. Rahu dasa is a time when our material life can spin out of control. Rahu is the planet of our material attachment. Rahu is associated by sign, house and planetary conjunction and aspect with the qualities we are most in need of developing in this lifetime. As his energy eclipses our mind on a subconscious level, his dasa period can feel like things we do not understand are compelling us. Mysterious scenarios will unfold and put us in places we would have never imagined. Then unexpectedly, everything changes and we are doing something totally different. His energy is similar to Ketu, (the other half of the Node) but with Rahu it is our subconscious obsessions that are controlling us, compelling us to develop those parts of ourselves that are in need of developing. Yet Rahu can bring enormous success during his dasa period as he will be focused and determined to explode the worldly quality of whatever he is associating with. There is also psychic events and kundalini experiences possible with Rahu. But in general, during his dasa periods we are likely to feel out of control as we accumulate or experience without wisdom or maturity.
Medical Indications: Rahu creates mysterious illnesses, often time of the nervous system like weird allergies, toxic poisonings and environmental diseases. Physical ailments that occur during Rahu periods are especially hard to cure because of the obscuring nature of this node. Many times a person will not become cured until Jupiter dasa, when suddenly something changes and they are better.
Jupiter - 16 years. After 18 years of Rahu we get the dasa of the great benefic Jupiter. As guru, Jupiter will always teach us something and give us something. His dasa periods bring children, marriage, wealth as well as titles and honors. Jupiter is the planet of hope, faith and optimism that allows us to keep going because we believe our best days are yet to come. He can make us religious, put us in touch with our Guru, and give the right moral conduct and the awareness to do the good rather than the bad. When Jupiter is weak his dasa may make us unrealistic, overly optimistic or have a sense of self-entitlement or a haughty view. He may bring bad teachers or problems with them. Also when weak, Jupiter will deprive health, wealth, children and many other things, forcing the native to find a deeper fulfillment without them. However, Jupiter is a gentle Graha and though we may suffer, he will give usually give knowledge and right understanding of the problem. He has a way of putting us into situations that increase our understanding of life and our problems. Suddenly we will meet a person who introduces us to our Guru, or some random event will change our lives for the better. Jupiter is God's grace, that ineffable force, that good karma that is always leading us higher.
Medical indications: As a planet of expansion and a kapha planet, Jupiter can create obesity. Also he has to do with allergies and excess phlegm. As ruling tissue he can be the excess mass that is shown by the body producing cancer cells. Psychologically, Jupiter brings optimism and
Saturn - 19 years. The expansive nature of Jupiter gives way to the practical persevering quality of Saturn dasa. Saturn dasa is a time when we will face our limitations. The inescapable truth is that our limited body and mind will perish one day. Saturn makes us aware of this through the aches and pains in our body; the death of our loved ones, chronic illness and the resulting fear of these things getting worse. The more attached we are to worldly gain and pleasures; the more Saturn dasa may hurt us. However great success is also possible, as Saturn is a planet of practical efforts and perseverance leading us toward our goals. He gives a very responsible nature and high levels of ambition. However, much of this external focus is an avoidance of the inner work that must be done in order for the mind and heart to settle. In such cases, Saturn may bury us beneath a mountain of responsibility until we relent or break down physically and emotionally. His dasa can place us in hospitals; make us deal with old people, death, legacies and inheritance. Insurance, wills, banks, things attached to legacies and family history are relevant. Saturn is the planet of pressure, internal and external. He is the great karmic taskmaster who rules with an iron grip, bringing suffering commensurate to our avoidance of truth. As such, a Saturn dasa is also a time when enormous spiritual growth and progress is possible through perseverance and facing the truth alone, which is the only possibility. He teaches us to thrive in isolation rather than crave worldly distractions. He teaches us to get by with less and simplify our lives. And, he teaches us humility and sensitivity to others. Because when we suffer we develop compassion for others who suffer.
Medical indications: Saturn is the indicator of chronic illness. He is a vata planet that brings pain to the joints and drying to the body. Arthritis, paralysis, constipation, cancer as well as problems with the knees, teeth and bones are possible in Saturn dasa. Psychologically, he brings depression, anxiety, fear, cynicism, bitterness and depression.
Mercury - 17 years. The limitations and restrictions that define Saturn dasa give way to the playful and curious energy of Mercury dasa. Mercury dasa is a time of learning, experimentation, curiosity, mental stimulation and pursuing our interests. But he can also be a time of excessive stimulation and unfocused action. The neutral quality of Mercury is always a potential problem. He does not judge he builds. It is his job to find the right details necessary to succeed and build our life. Saying the right things, making the right decisions, talking to the right people, are what allow us to succeed, or not succeed as well as show how we will go about it. Whatever is influencing Mercury will show how we go about things and how they will manifest in the world. Thus Mercury dasa is a time when our career and worldly life could skyrocket or plummet. We can either ascend to the heights by devising an effective plan or become overwhelmed by the many tasks and details of life, which can spiral into mental escapism, lethargy and fantasy. He is the lightning fast quality of the mind. That speed is necessary for the equanimity that he brings. The capacity to see all possibilities at once and prioritize and assess them accurately is what makes Mercury the God of discrimination. More than any other planet, Mercury gives us detachment from our emotions, which is truly discrimination in action
Medical indications: Lungs, allergies, skin problems, Speech defects, Mercury is a planet of the mind, like the Moon, serious afflictions to him can manifest as mental illness.
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