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Shadbala, measuring planetary strength in Jyotish / Vedic Astrology

Shadbala analysis, part of Email Course Applied Vedic Astrology

 

4. QUANTITIVE VEDIC ASTROLOGY: SHADBALA

This is an example lesson from the advanced course Applied Vedic Astrology. For more information click here.

Questions? roeland@dirah.org

In Vedic astrology there are methods which especially in this age of computers can give a quick insight in the state of planets and houses. One such method is treated here. This is the method of Shadbala. It gives a value to each planet. The more points a planet gets in Shadbala the stronger it is.

It is important to have some insight in how the Shadbala value is calculated. Only if you know the method followed by this system of calculation you can have an opinion about the value of it.

When you started the first course you were given a printout of your chart. In this printout you see an overview of the Shadbala calculations. Now I will explain these. There are slight variances on how Shadbala is calculated. In this course I will follow the method of the late B.V. Raman as explained in his book ‘graha and bhava balas’. If you use Haydn’s Jyotish and you want to follow B.V. Raman’s method go to the options menu and select ‘B.V.Raman’ under Shadbala style.

It is possible that other astrologers in the future will develop their own version of Shadbala. Personally I welcome new and innovative approaches. However, before we can develop something new we should exactly know how the traditional system works. I would suggest you have the printout of the Shadbala calculation of your personal chart in front of you while I explain the calculations. This makes it much easier to follow the explanations.

1. STHANA BALA

We start with calculating the sthana bala of a planet. This is the positional strength of a planet. Sthana Bala consists of five components:

  1. The first one is called Ocha Bala. In the first course you learned that in Vedic Astrology all planets have exact degrees of exaltation. Like the Moon is exalted at 3 degrees Taurus. When a planet occupies it exact degree of exaltation the planet gets 60 Shashtiamsas (Shashtiamsas are points). When it occupies the opposite point, its exact point of fall, it does not get any Shashtiamsas. Of course most of the time a planet will occupy a position somewhere in between these points. In that case the points that it will get will be calculated according to its position from the point of exaltation and fall. Example: The Moon at 3 degrees Scorpio will get 0 Shashtiamsas. The Moon at 3 degrees Leo will get 30 Shashtiamsas (this is exactly between 3 degrees Scorpio and 3 degrees Taurus).
  2. The second one is called Saptavargaja Bala. To calculate this we will have to look at the following seven harmonic charts: Rasi, Hora, Drekkana, Saptamsa, Navamsa, Dwadasamsa and Trimsamsa. In all these charts we look at what kind of sign a certain planet is located. If a planet occupies in the rashichart its Moolatrikona sign it gets 45 Shashtiamsas (this is a special rule for the rashi chart only), if it is in its own sign (of whatever varga) it gets 30 Shashtiamsas, in the sign of a great friend 22.5 Shashtiamsas, in the sign of a friend 15 Shashtiamsas, in a neutral sign 7.5 Shashtiamsas, in the sign of an enemy 3.75 Shashtiamsas and in the sign of a great enemy 1.875 Shashtiamsas. The concept of friends and enemies has been explained in the first course. This is one of the most important parts of Shadbala because Saptavargaja bala can give a lot of Shashtiamsas.
  3. Ojayyugma Bala The idea behind this concept is that a planet gains strength because it is in an even or uneven sign or navamsa. The Moon and Venus get 15 Shashtiamsas when they are in an even sign. These planets also get 15 Shastiamsas when they are in an even navamsa. In totality the Moon or Venus may gain 30 Shashtiamsas if they are located in an even sign AND even navamsa. The reason behind this is that the Moon and Venus are female planets and are strong when they are in female (even) signs or navamsas. Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn get 15 Shastiamsas when they are in an uneven sign. They also can get 15 Shashtiamsas when they are in an uneven navamsa. These planets are male or neutral and are strong in male (uneven) signs.
  4. Kendra Bala A planet in a kendra house (1,4,7 and 10) gets 60 Shashtiamsas, a planet in the house 2,5,8 or 11 gets 30 Shashtiamsas, a planet in the house 3,6,9 or 12 gets 15 Shashtiamsas. The reasoning is that planets in kendrahouses can easily express themselves and are therefore strong.
  5. Drekkena Bala To calculate this the planets are divided into masculine planets (Sun, Jupiter and Mars), neutral planets (Saturn and Mercury) and female planets (Venus and the Moon). If a male planet is in the first drekkana (0-10 degrees) of whatever sign it gets 15 Shashtiamsas. If a neutral planet is in the middle drekkana of whatever sign (that means it is located between 10-20 degrees of whatever sign) it gets 15 Shashtiamsas. If a female planet is located in the last drekkana (the last 10 degrees) of whatever sign it gets 15 Shashtiamsas. The reasoning is that the first drekkana of each sign is good for male planets, the middle drekkana for neutral planets and the last drekkana for female planets.

Now we have to add up all the Shashtiamsa values. The result is the total Sthana Bala. You are in the priviliged position that you do not have to calculate all this by hand. You can see it on the computer printout. When you know what the different strengths and weaknesses mean you can easily assess the strengths and weaknesses of your chart just by looking at the Shadbala printout.

2. DIG BALA

This principle has similarities with the principle of Ocha Bala. Only now the decisive factor is not the location of the planet in a certain sign, but in a certain house.

Each planet is powerful when it is located in a certain direction. Dig Bala means directional strength. The Sun and Mars are powerful in the South. These are planets which function especially well in the tenth house (the tenth house is the Southern part of the sky). Saturn is given maximum Dig Bala when it is in the West, the seventh house. Moon and Venus get maximum Dig Bala when the are in the North (fourth house). Mercury and Jupiter function well in the first house (the East).

A reason for this is that the morning is a great time for studying and learning. That is why Mercury and Jupiter, planets which have to do with studying and learning, are strong during that time of day (at that time the Sun is near the ascendant).

The Sun and Mars are energetic planets which need the energy that is available around noon (at that time the Sun is in the tenth house).

Saturn is the planet of shades, which are at its maximum during the evening (when the Sun is opposite the ascendant).

Moon and Venus are soft planets which function good during the time that is meaned for sleeping and making love (at midnight the Sun is in the fourth house).

A planet gets maximum Dig Bala when it is in middle of the bhava (house) where it functions especially well. If for example the Moon is located right in het middle of the fourth house he gets maximum Dig Bala and is given 60 Shashtiamsas. If the Moon is in the middle of the tenth house it is given 0 Shashtiamsas.

A slight complication is that for determining this BV Raman works with the bhava chart and not with the rashi chart. The midpoint of the houses in the bhava chart may differ from the midpoint of the houses in the rashi chart (which is always 15 degrees of a certain sign).

The Bhava Chart is a chart which has unequal houses. It is comparable to the way we work with houses in Western Astrology (and in particular the Porphyry house system). The Bhava Chart is explained later.

Dig bala gives a good indication for how strong a planet is in its house.

3. KALA BALA

This has to do with the strength which a planet has because of the time of the day. It is strength of time.

It consists of different factors:

  1. Divaratri Bala According to this system the Moon, Saturn and Mars are powerful during midnight. At noon they are powerless. These are the natural malefics + the Moon. The Sun, Jupiter and Venus are powerful during noon and are powerless during midnight. These are the natural benefics + the Sun. Adaptable Mercury is considered to be always powerful. This means that in every chart Mercury gets the maximum of 60 Shashtiamsas which can be gained by this factor. The Moon, Saturn and Mars are given 60 Shashtiamsas only if the person is born at midnight and 0 if the person is born at noon. Sun, Jupiter and Venus get 60 Shastiamsas if the person is born at noon and zero if he is born at midnight. Of course if the person is born at a time somewhere in between the value is interpolated.
  2. Paksha Bala A Paksha is equal to 15 lunar days. When the Moon is increasing it is Sukla Paksha. When the Moon is decreasing it is Krishna Paksha .The benefics are Jupiter, Venus, Moon (from the 8th day of the bright half of the lunar month to the 8th day of the dark half of the lunar month) and good influenced Mercury. These beneficial planets are powerful during Sukla Paksha. The malefics are Sun, Mars, Saturn, badly influenced Mercury and the Moon (from the 8th day of the dark half of the lunar month to the 8th day of the bright half of the lunar month). They are powerful during Krishna Paksha. The benefics get more Shastiamsas if a person is born on Sukla Paksha and the malefics less. If a person is born during Krishna Paksha the malefics get more points. The maximum amount of Shashtiamsas to be gained is 60. The value of the Shastiamsas of the malefics + the value of the Shastiamsas of the benefics is always 60. The Shastiamsas of the Moon are always doubled.
  3. Thribhaga Bala Sometimes in Shadbala you see things which look a bit curious. This is an example. The day (that means the period of daylight) is divided into three equal parts and the night (the period without daylight) is divided into three equal parts. In this system Jupiter is always given 60 Shastiamsas. In addition, if someone is born during the first part of the day Mercury gets 60 Shashtiamsas. If someone is born during the second part of the day the Sun gets 60 Shashtiamsas. If born during the last part of the day Saturn gets 60 Shashtiamsas. If born during the first part of the night the Moon is given 60 Shashtiamsas. If born during the second part of the night Venus gets 60 Shashtiamsas. If born during the last part of the night Mars gets 60 Shashtiamsas. I see some connection between this system and the system of Dig Bala. In the reasoning behind Dig Bala the first part of the day is seen as particularly good for Mercurial activities. Noon is seen as good for activities which have to do with the Sun. Saturn is strong when he is opposite the ascendant (at the place of the evening Sun). Also the Moon and Venus are strong during nighttime. However, the value attached to the late night Mars is something which cannot be found in Dig Bala.
  4. Abda Bala The planet which is the lord of the year will get 15 Shahtiamsas. The lord of the year is the planet which belongs to the first day of the year. For example if the first day of a certain year is Sunday the year is ruled by the Sun, which receives 15 Shashtiamsas according to this method. However, because Mr. Raman does not look at the calender but tries to find this planet by making a calculation (in which he uses the 360 day year) it is very well possible that the year began on another day then is seen on the Abda Bala printout.
  5. Masa Bala The planet which is the lord of the first day of the month in which a person is born receives 30 Shashtiamsas. In finding this planet more or less the same problems appear as when calculating Abda Bala. Mr. Raman uses a duration of the month of 30 days.
  6. Vara Bala The planet which rules the day at which the person is born receives 45 Shashtiamsas. This planet is found without calculations.
  7. Hora Bala A day is divided into 24 hours or horas. Each hora is ruled by a planet. The first hora is ruled by the planet which rules the day. For example at Monday the first hora is ruled by the Moon. Then the order is according to the days of the week (next hora will be of Mars then of Mercury and so on). If you are born at some distance from the equator the horas are not of equal length. The period of daylight contains 12 horas and the period without daylight contains 12 horas. The ruler of the hora when you were born gets 60 Shashtiamsas.
  8. Ayana Bala This is a somewhat exotic concept in Shadbala. To really explain it would take a lot of space. The value a planet gets according to Ayana Bala has to do with the declination it has from the equator. If a planet has 0 declination the ayana bala is 30. For Venus, the Sun, Mars and Jupiter the Northern declinations are added to his value and the Southern declinations subtracted (the consequence of this is that a planet has a low ayana bala if the planet has a Southern declination and a high ayana bala if the planet has a Northern declination). For Saturn and the Moon it is the other way around. For Mercury declinations are always added. The maximum amount of Shashtiamsas to be gained is 60. The ayana bala of the Sun is always doubled. I have not succeeded in finding an explanation why these rules are the way they are.
  9. Yuddha Bala This concept has to do with planets which are in war. Therefore we only encounter Yuddha bala values if there are planets at war in the chart. First we have to calculate the total Sthana bala value + Dig Bala + Kala Bala till Hora Bala of the two fighting planets. Then we must calculate the difference between these two values. This difference must be divided by the difference between the diameters of the two planets as seen in the sky. The result of this calculation is the Yuddhabala. This must be added to the Kala Bala total of the winning planet and subtracted to the Kala Bala of the loosing planet. Maybe you experience this to be a difficult concept. You can also look at it simply from the point of view that a planet which wins a war gets some bonus Shashtiamsas, while the planet which looses the war looses some Shashtiamsas.

After everything has been calculated we add it all up and get the total Kala Bala.

4. CHESTA BALA

Again we encounter a concept which is not easy to explain without a lengthy introduction about astronomy. I suggest we take a shortcut. Planets which are relatively slow (among them retrograde planets) get a high Chesta Bala value. Planets which are relatively fast get a low chesta bala value. The reasoning is that slow moving planets are able to focus their energy more because they stay in one place. The maximum amount of Shashtiamsas to be earned is 60. I would like to stress that it is the relative speed I am talking about here: relative to the average speed of a planet. Therefore it is possible that a relatively fast moving Saturn gets a low Chesta Bala, while a relatively slow moving Mercury gets a high Chesta Bala. On the computer outprint of Haydn’s Jyotish you see the average speed (at the top of the printout). When you see a 1 behind a planet it is moving at its average speed. When you see a value higher than 1 it moves faster than its average speed, when you see a value lower than 1 it moves slower.

The Sun and Moon do not get Chesta Bala values. They move in a fairly regular pattern and do not go retrograde ever.

5. NAISARGIKA BALA

Each planet gets a certain amount of Shashtiamsas according to the luminosity it has. Because the Sun is the brightest planet it is given 60 Shashtiamsas. Saturn is the faintest and gets 8.57 Shashtiamsas. This means that the amount of Shashtiamsas a planet receives according to Naisargika Bala is in every chart the same.

6. DRIK BALA

Drik Bala is called aspect strength. If a planet is aspected by benefics the planet receives a positive Shashtiamsa value. If a planet is aspected by malefics than it gets negative Drik Bala points. See paragraph 3.2 for which planets are considered benefics and malefics.

The calculation of the Drik Bala value is a bit complicated because we also take partial aspects in account.

I will give one example of this. We know that the Sun, Moon, Venus and Mercury aspect the planet in the seventh sign from it. Now for this purpose we say that these planet aspect the zodiacal degree in opposition (180 degrees from it). The point which is 120 degrees from these planets get a partial aspect of 50%, the point which is 90 degrees from the planet gets a 75% aspect, the point which is 60 degrees gets a 25% aspect and the point which is 30 or 150 degrees from the planet gets no aspect at all.

Most Jyotishis only work with full (100%) aspects, but for this purpose we work with partial aspects (that means aspects which are weaker than full aspects). This makes the calculation of Drik Bala quite cumbersome. Thank God we have computers.

What is important to know is that if a certain planet has a negative Drig Bala value than it is mainly under the influence of malefics and if it has a positive Drig Bala value it is under the influence of benefics. Therefore I think the Drig Bala value is very interesting. By looking at the Shadbala printout we can immediately see if a planet is mainly under the influence of benefics or malefics and how strong this influence is.

7. TOTAL SHADBALA

Finally, the Shashtiamsas are added up. We get the Shadbala value in Shashtiamsas. Next they are divided by 60. Then we get the Shadbala values in Rupas. At the printout you can see the Shadbala value in Rupas.

It is important to realize that the influence of certain Shadbala factors is much greater than others. Simply because the amount of Shashtiamsas to be gained by certain Shadbala factors is much greater than by others. As an example: the amount of Shashtiamsas which can be gained by the factor Sthana Bala is a lot more than what can be gained by Dig Bala. Therefore the six Shadbala factors are not equally important.

Something else happens. According to the Shadbala rules every planet needs a certain amount of Rupas to be strong. According to these rules Mercury needs 7 Rupas, Jupiter needs 6 � Rupas, The Moon needs 6 Rupas, Venus needs 5 � Rupas, Saturn, the Sun and Mars need 5 Rupas. These values are seen as the minimum requirement for a certain planet to be strong. I have never seen an explanation of why this is so.

The total Shad Bala in Rupas is divided by this minimum requirement and then we get the Shad Bala ratio. The most interesting about this Shad Bala ratio is to see whether a planet has more or less than the minimum requirement and how much that is.

In general most astrologers attach more value to the total Shad Bala. Because I have some difficulties in seeing the logic behind the minimum requirements I also attach more value to the total Shadbala.

8. EXAMPLE: BILL CLINTON

As an example let us take a quick look at the Shadbala printout of Bill Clinton (chart is shown in the section about the Nakshatras). The strongest planet according to Shadbala is the Sun, which has a total Shadbala of 8.66. This is something to be expected from a person who is president of the USA. Next comes Mercury, which is also fairly strong and indeed he always seems to talk his way out of problems.

If we look at the planets which have a low Shadbala value we see Venus and especially Saturn. Indeed, a lot of his problems have to do with sexuality, lovemaking and financial deals (Venus). It also seems that he has a difficulty in keeping limits (Saturn).

 

+--------------------------------- Shad Bala ----------------------------------+

       FULL SHADBALA PRINTOUT IS GIVEN IN THE COURSE MATERIAL

                                  SUN       MOON  MERC.   VENUS MARS     JUPITER   SATURN 

Total Shad Bala :        8.66       6.17     7.47     5.62     6.51     6.53         3.25

Shad Bala Ratios :      1.73       1.03     1.07     1.02     1.30     1.00         0.65


9. ISHTA PHALA AND KASHTA PHALA

On the printout you see some other factors mentioned. It is good to know what they mean.

The Ishta Phala value of a certain planet is calculated as follows: the Ocha Bala (see paragraph 1.1) is multiplied by the Chesta Bala (see paragraph 4). Then the square root of the product is extracted. We get a value between 0 and 60.

The Sun and the Moon do not have a Chesta Bala. Yet we need to have a Chesta Bala value for these planets otherwise we cannot calculate the Ishta Phala. To get a Chesta Bala value for the Sun and Moon we make the following calculation: we add 90 degrees to the Sun’s longitude. If the value we get is more than 180 degrees it will be subtracted from 360. The result is the Sun’s Chesta Bala value (at least the Chesta Bala value for this purpose). This value is divided by three. Then we get the Chesta Bala value in Shashtiamsas.

To calculate the Chesta Bala value of the Moon we make another calculation. The Sun’s longitude is subtracted from that of the Moon. Again if the value we get is more than 180 degrees it will be subtracted from 360. The result is the Moon’s Chesta Bala value for this purpose. Again to get the value in Shastiamsas the value is divided by three.

I hope by this time you are not overwhelmed by calculations. Personally I feel Ishta Phala/Kashta Phala is perhaps not one of the most interesting points of Shadbala but you should have some idea of way it is calculated.

Anyway, we have to explain the Kashta Phala. We calculate 60-Ocha bala and 60-Chesta Bala. Next we calculate the product of this and then the square root of this product will be the Kashta Phala value.

The idea is that if a planet has a higher Ishta Phala than Kashta Phala value it is inclined to do good in its dasa and bhukti and if it has a higher Kashta Phala than Ishta Phala value it is inclined to do evil in its dasa and bhukti. The logic of this may be clear. Of course it is good if a planet has a big Ocha Bala and Chesta Bala value. Then the value of Ishta Phala will also be large and the amount of Kashta Phala value will be small.

However, as the Shadbala system shows there are more factors to be considered how a planet performs. It may be wiser to evaluate the functioning of the planet in its dasa and bhukti by looking at the Total Shadbala value.

10. RESIDENTIAL STRENGTH

This is the last factor we have to consider. For this we have to calculate the Bhava Chakra (House Chart) which is dealt with in another tutorial.

The Bhava Chart is a Chart which works with unequal houses which are comparable to the housesystem of Porphyry.

The reasoning is that if a planet is close to the midpoint of a certain Bhava (house) it is given a high Residential Strength and if it is located at the edge of a Bhava (house) it gets a low Residential Strength. A planet with a high Residential Strength is powerful while a planet with a low Residential Strength is weak.

Ishta/Kashta Phala values and Residential Strength are values which stand on their own and are not used to calculate the total Shadbala.

11. CONCLUSION

It is my opinion that Shadbala is a useful and interesting system. All kinds of different strenghts are summarized in a single figure. We can look at the total strength of a planet and analyze from which factors this strength comes from.

However I consider some factors of Shadbala to be more useful than others. Factors which I consider to be especially interesting are Ocha Bala (1.1.), Saptavargaja Bala (1.2), Kendra Bala (1.4), Dig Bala (2), Chesta Bala (4), Drik Bala (6).

If I would be so bold as to redesign the system I would skip some factors (like Naisargika Bala, which is the same in all charts and probably Thribhaga Bala) and probably add one or two new factors. For example: there is no Shadbala factor which considers whether a planet is in a dushtana house (houses 6,8 or 12) or not, while it is generally known that this is important for a planet. I would also like to modernize the way factors like Abda Bala and Masa Bala are calculated. As far as Ishta/Kashta Phala and Residential Strength is concerned I would skip Ishta/Kashta Phala and integrate Residential Strength in the calculations of the Shadbala ratio.

Vedic Astrology is traditional. Of course this has its advantages, but we should always evaluate whether a system could be improved. Indeed I am aware of some astrologers (like Ranjan Bose) who have come up with other systems to measure the strength of planets. These other systems can also be found in Tajika Astrology (which will be dealt with later in this course). In that system of Indian astrology we find systems which have the same goal that Shadbala has (to measure the strength of planets) but are quite different. Also there are authors which have developed slight variances of Shadbala.

However, the alternatives are not necessarily better. Most systems that can be an alternative to Shadbala are simpler, therefore easier to calculate, but also have characteristics, which can be criticized.

In fact, untill this day Shadbala is the most complete and sophisticated system to measure the strength of planets and therefore highly useful.

12. EXERCISE

  1. Look at the Total Shadbala values of the planets in your chart. Put them in an order of strength. The weakest planet first and the strongest planet last and the others in between. Are the results surprising or do you recognize the results in the way you experience the planets.
  2. Look at the Shadbala ratios and again put them in order of strength. Look especially at which planets have a value bigger than one and which planets have a value which is less than one.
  3. We are going to look at some particular interesting factors of the Shadbala factors. Look at the following factors: ocha bala (1.1.), Saptavargaja Bala (1.2), Kendra Bala (1.4), Dig Bala (2), Chesta Bala (4), Drik Bala (6). For each of these factors look at which planet has the strongest value and which planet has the weakest value. Do not do this exercise by ‘automatic pilot’, but when you analyze a certain factor try to realize what this factor means.
  4. Take a look a the total Kala Bala value (3) of the planets. Sometimes I wonder whether this factor does not weigh to heavily in the system as the amount of Shashtiamsas to be gained by this factor are sometimes very high indeed. Again make an overview which planet has the highest Kala Bala and which planet has the least. Try to realize that if the differences are extreme this may have a big influence on the endresult (the total Shadbala ratio).
  5. Look also at the Residential Strength. Put the planets in order of Residential Strength (9). We will deal with the Bhava Chart later, but untill now you have to realize that planets which have a high Residential Strength can disperse their energy better in the houses then planets which do not have much Residential Strength (it is possible that planets are located in a different house in the Bhava Chart than in the Rashi, this will be explained in a later tutorial).

copyright: Roeland de Looff, nothing on this site is allowed to be reproduced without written permission of the author. 

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