4. QUANTITIVE VEDIC ASTROLOGY: SHADBALA
This is an example lesson from the advanced course Applied Vedic Astrology. For more information click here.
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 Haydns Jyotish and you want to follow B.V. Ramans 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:
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:
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 Haydns 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 ½ Rupas, The Moon needs 6 Rupas, Venus needs 5 ½ 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 JUP. 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 Suns longitude. If the value we get is more than 180 degrees it will be subtracted from 360. The result is the Suns 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 Suns 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 Moons 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.
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.
copyright: Roeland de Looff, nothing on this site is allowed to be reproduced without written permission of the author.
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