Doshas and Planets

Modern Ayurveda

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Vedic astrology uses the seven classical planets visible to the naked eye—the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. To these it adds the two lunar nodes, the north node or Dragon's head called Rahu, and the south node or Dragon's tail called Ketu. These points in the Moon's elliptical orbit at which eclipses occur are very important in the Vedic system. Some Vedic astrologers also use Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, but few afford them the importance of the other planets.

The term for planet is Vedic astrology is graha, meaning something that holds or seizes us. The planets are carriers and transmitters of cosmic influences. They reflect karmic and pranic energies on both individual and collective levels. They can be described as doshas because like the biological humors they not only sustain us through their proper function but cause decay and death when in excess or out of* balance.

The main correlation between Vedic medicine and Vedic astrology is that between the doshas and the planets, with three planets corresponding to each of the three doshas.

Saturn like Vata dosha is a cold, dry and nervous planet that brings about completion or decline. Saturn indicates Ayus or the term of life in the birth chart and so is a key to the Ayurvedic interpretation of the chart. The Sun like Pitta dosha is a hot and penetrating planet governing digestion, combustion and transformation. The Moon like Kapha dosha is a cold and damp planet that allows for the consistency and cohesion of our bodily tissues.

vata planets: saturn, rahu and mercury

Satum governs over both disease in general and longevity, which is the result of how we handle disease. It rules over all Vata systems as a whole, and specifically over elimination, including the colon, which is the main site of Vata's accumulation behind the disease process. Saturn causes most Vata disorders from arthritis to nervous system disorders and all manner of chronic diseases and conditions of debility. Saturn is the general significator of disease and bad health, which in Ayurveda result mainly from Vata dosha, said to cause the most numerous and severe diseases of all three doshas. An inimical Saturn in the chart must be carefully examined for its health implications.

Rahu, the north node of the Moon, is said to be like Saturn in energy, only having a subtler action. Rahu causes mental and nervous system disorders as well as mysterious and degenerative diseases, often with a rapid onset or quick development. It strikes us down in an unpredictable manner that is hard to prevent or reverse. Combined Saturn and Rahu influences appear behind severe Vata conditions and major health disorders from cancer to nervous breakdowns or severe mental disorders. These two planetary influences must be watched very closely in medical astrology.

Mercury is a mutable and impressionable planet that takes upon itself the influence of the other planets it is associated with. This is why often in Vedic astrology it is related to all three Doshas. However; Mercury in and of itself is more of a Vata or airy planet, with its correspondence to the nervous system, the mind, communication and rapid motion. We might say that Mercury represents the youthful and healthier form of Vata, while Saturn is the older and generally un-healthier form of Vata. Owing to its connections with the mind, afflictions to Mercury are crucial factors for psychological Ayurveda. As representing the state of childhood, Mercury is an important indicator for the health of children as well.

pitta planets: sun, mars and ketu

The Sun governs the fire element in the body, providing light, heat and color on all levels. It rules over all Pitta systems as a whole from the digestive system to the eyes and the perceptive aspect of the mind. The Sun is the general indicator of our physical vitality and the positive reflector of our Prana or vital energy, which comes from the Sun as the bestower of all life. A well-placed and strong Sun in the birth chart indicates good health and strong resistance to disease, while a weak or afflicted Sun causes health and vitality problems, generally of a chronic or persistent nature starting with weak digestion and poor metabolism.

Mars governs Pitta more specifically, particularly through male energy, which is fiery and aggressive in nature. Mars, being a more malefic planet, is more likely to cause Pitta type diseases than the Sun, and indicates fever, inflammation, infection and acute conditions. It also causes reckless action and accidents, including those that require surgery, causing health problems for people who are otherwise constitutionally strong. Mars is the main planet to examine for Pitta disorders and second only to Saturn as the most disease-promoting of the planets.

Ketu is said to resemble Mars in its influence, but just as Rahu with Saturn, in a more subtle way. It governs diseases of a nervous and mental nature like Rahu, but with Ketu involves coordination or strength of the muscular system, including the onset of neuro-muscu-lar problems. Like Mars it is connected to fevers and infections, particularly of a deep-seated or chronic nature, including those that are hard to cure. It can also indicate accidents, injuries or wounds, particularly those owing to collective factors like wars or catastrophes. When Mars and Ketu combine their influences in the chart, severe Pitta problems or violence are likely.

Kapha Planets: The Moon, Jupiter and Venus

The Moon governs the water element, the bodily fluids in general and all Kapha systems as a whole. It rules over our emotions or feeling nature which is mainly a Kapha activity15, as water allows us to be receptive and to nurture. A strong Moon contributes to good Kapha in the body and to a Kapha constitution. However, the Moon has some airy or Vata qualities by its changeable nature, particularly when it is close to the Sun and lacking in brilliatice, as a new Moon. Afflictions to the Moon impact health in infancy as well as can disturb the psychology (even more so than in the case of Mercury).

Venus governs Kapha in a more specific way, just as Mars does Pitta, particularly through female energy, which is watery in nature, and through the reproductive system with which it has a special connection. Like the Moon it also has some Vata or airy qualities, including changeability. Venus endows us with a Kapha or watery type of beauty and grace. It causes diseases mainly through luxury, dissipation or self-indulgence, even when the basic constitution may not be weak.

Jupiter is a planet that creates bulk in the body and so is a Kapha planet, although it represents more the active side of Kapha energy. Opposite Saturn as the planet of disease, Jupiter is also the planet of positive health, which in Ayurveda occurs owing to good or healthy Kapha in the body. Jupiter indicates the benefic influence of the soul and its healing energy. Jupiter also governs the mental aspect of Kapha, giving a steady and profound intelligence along with emotional sensitivity, calm and faith. Like Venus, however, it can cause disease through self-indulgence or complacency.

Uranus, Neptune and Pluto

We can correspond the distant planets of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto to Vata, Pitta and Kapha at a deeper or more collective level. Uranus has an electrical energy and erratic action like Vata. Neptune has a watery and imaginative energy like Kapha. Pluto has a Mars or fiery energy like Pitta. This is an area for further research.

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