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Vedic Astrology with Vaughn Paul Manley


Lesson #5:
The Essential Meaning of the Houses (Bhavas)


By Vaughn Paul Manley, M.A.

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Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved.


In the previous two lessons we learned about the essential meaning of the planets and their key indications. We also learned some basic first glance skills for interpreting the planets in a horoscope. We are now ready to discuss the locations that the planets are placed in the chart - the houses.

The Houses - The Twelve Locations in the Sky

A house is a place of residence. In astrology, the houses, also called the “Bhavas” in Sanskrit, are the locations in the sky where the planets reside. The sky is divided into 12 houses consisting of 30 degrees each, like pieces in a pie, that encircle the earth: 30 degrees x 12 houses = 360 degrees. In the Vedic system each house is equivalent to one sign as discussed in Lesson 3.

The 1st house is located at the Eastern horizon and the rest of the twelve houses follow counter clockwise as shown. The 1st house is also called the "Ascendant" or "Rising Sign" because just as the Sun ascends or rises on the eastern horizon so do all the planets and signs as they follow their path in the sky along the zodiac belt. Please see Lesson 2 to review these concepts.

Each house represents a different domain of activity in our lives as we shall see in this lesson. A planets' placement in a house will therefore energize that house with the qualities of that planet.

The Powerful Angles (Kendras)

The Angular houses, also called the "Kendras" in Sanskrit, are the houses 1, 4, 7, 10 in the chart. They take up the prominent regions in the sky – the eastern and western horizons, overhead, and down below. If you understand these 4 houses then it will be much easier to understand the other 8 houses.

The first principle that will help you to understand the Angular houses is that they are the four “Pillars” of the chart. They give strength, protection, and power, for better or for worse, depending on whether there are benefic or malefic planets located there. If a chart has natural benefic planets in the Angular houses, like Jupiter or Venus, then it will give overall protection to the chart. This alone will help to minimize the negative effects that may be indicated in the chart, while maximizing the positive effects. The person will generally be protected against ill health, have positive character traits, progress well in his or her lives, be influential etc. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi had 4 benefic planets in Angular houses. Of course, there are other planetary positions that can reveal these qualities but benefics on angles is a primary way.



If there are malefics on angles then the person will generally experience ill health, have negative character traits, misuse his or her power by dominating others, thereby provoking conflict and opposition. For instance, Adolf Hitler had 3 malefic planets on angles. Again, there are other planetary positions that can reveal these qualities but we should look for malefics on angles as sources of potential difficulty and conflict.

How can the power of Angular houses be explained? First of all, the 1st house (also called the lagna in Sanskrit) represents “The Self” or "You" in your natal chart. From the 1st house, the 4th house and the 10th house form 90-degree angles and are squared to “You.” Think of a karate master who can break a board in two with his bare hand when he hits the board at a perfect 90-degree angle. He’s able to be that powerful because he’s hitting the board precisely at a 90-degree angle. If the angular position is off then the board will not break. Likewise, the houses that form a precise 90-degree angle to “You,” the 4th and the 10th houses, represent power in relation to "You." That power can either be used to protect or harm.

The 7th house also becomes powerful in relation to the 1st house or "the self" because it’s exactly 180 degrees in opposition. Think of two magnets held exactly opposite one another. They are either attracted or repelled when they are in exact alignment. This forms a very powerful polarity of opposites.

Consider also how the angular houses form a cross, which is a universal symbol of protection and power that pre-dates Christianity. You will find the cross symbol employed by firefighters and other organizations like the Red Cross that protect the people. The diagram above resembles a Maltese cross, used by the military order of the Knights of Malta. This further illustrates the concept that the Angular houses are places of power and protection.

The North Indian chart style displays the Angular houses clearly with large squares in the center of the chart as shown in the diagram below.

The Two Sets of Polarities

The Angular houses represent two sets of polarities:

1st house "The Self" - 7th house "The Other"
10th house “Outer Public Life” - 4th house “Inner Private Life”

We can learn a lot about the Angular houses and their polarities by considering the movement of the Sun throughout the day. Here are some descriptions of the Angular houses and their polarities based on this concept:

1st house:  When the Sun enters the 1st house at sunrise it's the beginning of the day. We generally take personal time and attend to our physical body needs. The 1st house therefore represents the beginning of life for "The Self," our physical bodies, appearance, and character traits. It sets the tone for our entire lifetime.

7th house:  When the Sun enters the 7th houses at sunset it represents a social or romantic time with “The Other.” Watching a sunset is generally considered a time to be with friends or your romantic partner. The 7th house is therefore a social house that represents relationships and particularly intimate relationships and marriage.

10th house:  When the Sun enters the 10th house it is directly overhead at midday. It's a time when most people are in full swing with their active lives. The 10th house therefore represents our "Outer Public Life," and is an active, career oriented house.

4th house:  When the Sun enters the 4th house it is below the horizon at midnight and represents our “Inner Private Life.” It's generally the time when we're the least active and the most internal. Most people are at home sleeping or doing quiet activities that connect them to their thoughts or feelings. The 4th house therefore represents our home, domestic life, mother, the mind (not intellect) and emotions.

The Four Quadrants

The four Angular houses generally represent four quadrants, with each quadrant consisting of three houses. The “Self” quadrant, or rising hemisphere, consists of the 12th, 1st, and 2nd houses. The “Other” quadrant, or setting hemisphere, consists of the 6th, 7th, and 8th houses. The “Outer Public Life” quadrant, or upper hemisphere, consists of the 9th, 10th, and 11th houses. Lastly the “Inner Private Life” quadrant, or lower hemisphere, consists of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th houses.

When first analyzing a chart it is helpful to look for clusters of planets in the quadrants. Since the locations of the planets represent "focalized" energy, this first glance method allows us to quickly see in what quadrant a person is likely to be focused. This will immediately tell us something about the person.

Here are descriptions of the four quadrants:

The "Self" Quadrant (12, 1, 2) - When there are clusters of planets in the “self” quadrant these planets were rising on the eastern horizon at the time of birth. This quadrant represents the dawn of personal inspiration, new beginnings, initiating new directions. The person will tend to be self-focused, driven, independent, and self-motivated. He or she may also tend to be selfish and self-centered.

The "Other" Quadrant (6, 7, 8) - If there are clusters of planets in the “Other” quadrant these planets were setting in the western horizon at the time of birth. This quadrant represents the end of day, when our work is finished, and we are able to be social. The person will tend to be focused on others, sociable, and relationship-oriented. He or she may also tend to lack personal motivation, and be needy or "co-dependent" in their relationships.

The "Outer Public Life" Quadrant (9, 10, 11) - If there are clusters of planets in the “Outer Public Life” quadrant these planets were visible overhead at the time of birth. This quadrant represents midday when we are the most active, and focused on our public, professional lives. The person will tend to be career driven, active, influential, and extroverted. He or she may also tend to be workaholic, overly active and ambitious.

The "Inner Private Life" Quadrant (3, 4, 5) - If there are clusters of planets in the “Inner Private Life” quadrant these planets were not visible at the time of birth. This quadrant represents midnight when we are the most inactive, and focused on our private, domestic lives. The person will tend to be domestically oriented, private, quiet, emotionally sensitive, and reflective. He or she may also tend to lack career motivation, be inactive, and moody.

The 2nd and 12th Houses - Bhavat Bhavam


The 2nd house or the next house from any given house represents the gains, accumulations, or further fulfillment of the indications of that house. Likewise, the 12th house or the previous house from any given house represents the losses, endings, or undoings of the indications of that house. With this principle we can understand the adjacent houses to each of the 4 Angular houses.


For instance, the 2nd house represents money, earning, wealth, assets, accumulation of resources because it represents the "gains" of the self (1st house). Likewise, the 11th house represents the gains of the career (10th house), and the 8th house represents the gains of the spouse (7th house), etc.

The 12th house represents debts, expenses, isolation, illnesses because it represents the "losses" of the self (1st house). Likewise, the 6th house represents conflicts and loss of relationship (7th house), and the 3rd house represents communication and networking with others or the loss of one's private inner life
(4th house).

By understanding this fundamental logic, we can see how many of the common indications of the houses are derived. This method is called "Bhavat Bhavam" which literally means from "house to house." By reflecting on this principle, we can continually deepen our understanding of the houses.

Another use of Bhavat Bhavam is to take the same house number and add it to itself. For instance, the 3rd from the 3rd is the 5th house (always count from the house itself as 1). The 5th house shares similar indications to the 3rd house, like writing and the fine arts, because it is the 3rd from the 3rd. Likewise, the 9th house shares similar indications to the 11th house, like financial gains, because it is the 11th from the 11th. This house-to-house principle can be extended to every house and reveals that there is a harmonic relationship between such houses.

The Four Elements and The Four Aims of Life

The next principle that will help us understand the houses is that each house is related to one of the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water. These also correspond to one of the four aims of life, or purusharthas in Sanskrit: Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha. There are 3 houses for each element/aim of life as shown in the following diagram:



When first analyzing a chart it's very helpful to see which of the four house groupings or triads that the planets are clustered in. This is another important first glance method that will immediately tell us something about the person.

Here are descriptions for each of the four triads:

The Fire or Dharma Houses (1, 5, 9) - Keywords: Spiritual and Inspiration. These are houses of purpose and meaning. They relate to the signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius respectively. Dharma is translated as "duty" or "purpose," and if there are clusters of planets in these houses then the person will generally make the most progress if they have a sense of meaning or purpose. This person will value personal growth, inspiration, creative expression, and ethics. He or she could also be self-righteous, idealistic and dogmatic.

The Earth or Artha Houses (2, 6, 10) - Keywords: Physical and Resources. These are houses of material work and manifesting what you value. They relate to the signs Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Artha is translated as "resources," and if there are clusters of planets in these houses then the personal will generally be practical, productive, and work-oriented. This person will value material security, accumulating resources and generating wealth. He or she could also be materialistic, superficial, and "fussy."

The Air or Kama Houses (3, 7, 11) - Keywords: Social and Desire. These are houses of relationship, communication, and networking. They relate to the signs Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Kama is translated as "desire," and if there are clusters of planets in these houses then the person will generally have strong desires for relationship, social involvement, and to be well connected. This person will value sharing information and ideas. He or she could also be scattered, unfocused and pulled by many desires.

The Water or Moksha Houses (4, 8, 12) - Keywords: Emotional and Mystical. These are houses of the mind, feelings, and perceptions and are the most subtle, deep, and hidden houses. They relate to the signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Moksha is translated as "liberation" and if there are clusters of planets in these houses then the person will generally be interested in psychological transformation, deep thinking, and the path of liberation. This person will value psychology, altered states of awareness, occult studies, metaphysics and mysticism. He or she could also be dreamy, impractical, and unproductive.

The sequence of the houses through the zodiac represent a developmental pattern. In other words, the highest house number in each triad represents the fullest and most powerful expression of that triad. For instance, the 9th house is the fullest expression of the Fire/Dharma houses (1, 5, 9); the 10th house is the fullest expression of the Earth/Artha houses (2, 6, 10); the 11th house is the fullest expression of the Air/Kama houses (3, 7, 11); and the 12th house is the fullest expression of the Water/Moksha houses (4, 8, 12).

The Balance of Polarities

You'll notice by the above list of descriptions that every house is balanced by and is a mirror reflection of its opposing house. The Fire/Dharma houses balance the qualities of the Air/Kama houses and the Earth/Artha houses balance the qualities of the Water/Moksha houses. This was pointed out at the beginning of this lesson with the descriptions of the angular houses and their polarities.


Dr. David Frawley

I was taught this principle In 1994 while tutoring with Dr. David Frawley, author of The Astrology of the Seers. He pointed out that the Kama houses (3, 7, 11) represent what we "want to do" while the Dharma houses (1, 5, 9) represent what we "should do" in order to fulfill our life purpose. Likewise, the Moksha houses (4, 8, 12) represent mystical, altered, or otherworldly experiences that need to be balanced by the practical and grounding influences of the Earth houses (2, 6, 10).

We can learn a great deal about the houses by reflecting on their qualities and their polar opposites within the varied contexts of our everyday lives.

The Three Qualities of the Houses

The last principle that will help us understand the houses is that each house is related to one of the three qualities or modes: Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. These are also called the Angular, Succedent, and Cadent houses. Each quality has 4 houses each which form 2 sets of polarities as shown in the diagram below.

The Cardinal or Angular houses are the houses 1, 4, 7, 10. They are equivalent to the powerful Angular or Kendra houses that we've already discussed.

The Fixed or Succedent houses are the houses 2, 5, 8, 11, and are also called Panapara in Sanskrit. They are the 2nd houses from the Cardinal houses so they represent the "gains" of the Cardinal houses.

The Mutable or Cadent houses are the houses 3, 6, 9, 12, and are also called Apoklima in Sanskrit. They are the 12th houses from the Cardinal houses so they represent the "losses" of the Cardinal houses. Cadent literally means to "fall away."

When first analyzing a chart it's also very helpful to see which of the three house groupings are the planets clustered. This is another important first glance method that will immediately tell us something about the person.

Here are descriptions for each of the three house groupings:

The Cardinal, Angular or Kendra Houses (1, 4, 7, 10) - Keywords: Initiating Power. When planets are clustered in these houses they are in an active, dynamic, creative phase and are able to manifest power. The person will be outgoing, strong, assertive and good at initiating projects. He or she could also be aggressive, impulsive, and insensitive. These are the strongest house placements and relate to the Cardinal signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. The 4th house is the weakest in this group because it's also a moksha house. The 10th house is the strongest.

The Fixed, Succedent or Panapara Houses (2, 5, 8, 11) - Keywords: Stabilizing Resources. When planets are clustered in these houses they are in an accumulating, consolidating, sustaining phase and are able to establish security. The person will be stable, able to persevere, earn money and maintain a project. He or she could also be possessive, rigid, and conservative. These are moderately strong house placements and relate to the Fixed signs of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. The 8th house is the weakest and most malefic house in this group because it's also a moksha and dusthana house. The 11th house is the strongest.

The Mutable, Cadent or Apoklima Houses (3, 6, 9, 12) - Keywords: Adapting to Change. When planets are clustered in these houses they are in dispersive, unstable, dissolution phase and are able to manage change. This person will be flexible, adaptable, introspective, sensitive, and good at assessing and modifying a project. He or she could also be unreliable, impressionable, insecure, and indecisive. These are the weakest house placements and relate to the Mutable signs of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. The 12th house is the weakest and most malefic in this group because it's also a moksha and dusthana house. The 9th house is the strongest.


Summary of House Categories

Here is a list of all the house categories we've covered thus far in this course. Also included is a description of their basic rules for chart interpretation:

Angular Houses (kendras) - 1, 4, 7, 10

Trinal Houses (trikonas) - 1, 5, 9
The angular and trinal houses are the most beneficial house placements for natural benefic planets. If the natural malefic planets are placed in these houses it could indicate areas of challenge and difficulty. The angular houses also represent the four quadrants that are used for basic chart interpretation as discussed in this lesson.

Upachaya Houses - 3, 6, 10, 11
The upachaya houses are the best house placements for the natural malefic planets. These are also considered "increasing" or "growing" houses because they get better with time as the person gets older.

Dusthana Houses - 6, 8, 12
The dusthana houses are the three most malefic houses. Both natural benefic planets and natural malefic planets are harmed when located in these houses (except the 6th house for malefic planets since it's also an upachaya house).

Fire (Dharma) Houses - 1, 5, 9
Earth (Artha) Houses - 2, 6, 10
Air (Kama) Houses - 3, 7, 11
Water (Moksha) Houses - 4, 8, 12
These four house groupings are used for basic chart interpretation as discussed in this lesson. The fire (Dharma) houses 1, 5, 9 are also called the trinal houses.

Cardinal (Kendra) Houses - 1, 4, 7, 10
Fixed (Panapara) Houses - 2, 5, 8, 11
Mutable (Apoklima) Houses - 3, 6, 9, 12
These three house groupings are used for basic chart interpretation as discussed in this lesson. The fire (Dharma) houses 1, 5, 9 are also called the trinal houses.

Lesson #6 Exercise – 1st Glance House Interpretation Skills

We will now review the key chart interpretation methods covered in this lesson. These constitute the first glance house interpretation skills that should ideally become second nature whenever you study a chart.

Materials needed:
1) Your South Indian chart
2) Green and Red Pen and Paper

Identifying The Clusters of Planets in the 4 Quadrants
Begin by locating the angular houses in your chart - 1, 4, 7, 10. Review the quadrants that the angular houses represent:

12th, 1st, 2nd houses - "The Self" Quadrant
6th, 7th, 8th houses - "The Other" Quadrant
9th, 10th, 11th houses - "The Outer Public Life" Quadrant
3rd, 4th, 5th houses - "The Inner Public Life" Quadrant


Next, identify which quadrant has the largest cluster of planets in your chart. Put a circle around these planets in your chart as shown in the example chart. What does this tell you about where you tend to be focused in your life?



In this example, the 1st house is Leo, the 4th house is Scorpio, the 7th house is Aquarius, and the 10th house is Taurus. The 10th house quadrant of the "Outer Public Life," consisting of the 9th, 10th, and 11th houses have the largest number of planets clustered. There are 4 planets - Mercury, Sun, Venus, and Mars, therefore, these planets are circled.

Identifying The Clusters of Planets in the 4 Elements
Identify the Fire or Dharma houses (1, 5, 9), the Earth or Artha houses (2, 6, 10), the Air or Kama houses (3, 7, 11), and the Water or Moksha houses (4, 8, 12) in your chart.

Next, create your own table by listing the 9 planets vertically and the 4 house elements horizontally above them as shown in the table below.           

Place an X in the column of the element that each planet is placed in. Count the totals for each column and circle the highest number(s) as shown.

What does this tell you about yourself? Make a list of qualities.

In this example, both the Fire (Dharma) houses and the Air (Kama) houses have the most number of planets with 3 each, and therefore are circled.



Identifying The Clusters of Planets in the 3 Qualities
Now, identify the Cardinal, or Kendra houses (1, 4, 7, 10), the Fixed, or Panapara houses (2, 5, 8, 11), and the Mutable, or Apoklima houses (3, 6, 9, 12) in your chart.

Using the same table add 3 more columns for these qualiites. Place an X in the column of the quality that each planet is placed in. Count the totals for each column and circle the highest number as shown in the table below.

What does this tell you about yourself? Make a list of qualities. How do these qualities compare with the qualities from the previous two exericises? Do you see any pattern(s) emerging?

In this example, the Cardinal (Kendra) houses have the most number of planets (4), and therefore is circled.   



These exercises of identifying the quadrants, elements, and qualities of each planet will help train your mind to look for patterns in a chart. You will find that you get an initial, first glance feel for the chart which will assist you as you progress to more advanced interpretation skills.

In the following lesson we will be studying the key indications of the houses based on the fundamental logic that we've discussed in this lesson.



Jai Sri Ram