continued from Starlit Sky: 25. Pisces and Aries

Nakshatra and Raasi

Over these several episodes of this series, I have referred to Nakshatra or star and Raasi or constellation in the Indian Astronomical System.

There are 12 Raasis (the 12 zodiac signs) that the Sun seems to travel in throughout the year. The Moon too travels the same path. There are 27 main stars in all these constellations put together that are of importance to this system.

Scientific study of this astronomical system involves many calculations that are meticulously done and lead to the Lunar calendar that Hinduism follows. These calculations slowly derive into the Astrological calculations leading to the Indian Astrology, which is a whole different thing and it is not in the scope of this topic.

I am not an expert in the Astrological system nor am I an enthusiast of Astrology. As such, I am not going to talk on that at all.

All of us who practice Hinduism are familiar with the terms “my nakshatra” and “my raasi”. How does one nakshatra from among 27 and one raasi from among 12 become “yours”?

I shall try and explain all this and a bit more in this episode.

I will now try to explain the how 27 stars are divided into 12 raasis or constellations.

But, first a recap. Here is a table to refresh your memory from all the previous episodes. See if you can remember all of them.

Sl NakshatraWestern nameConstellationRaasi
2Bharani41 ArietisAriesMesha
5Mrigashiralamda orionisOrionKaalapurusha
8PushyamiAsellus AustralisCancerKarka
17Anuradha Dschubba ScorpioVrischika
20PoorvashadaKaus AustralisSagittariusDhanu
27Revathizeta piscicumPiscesMeena

Your janma nakshatram (birth star) is the one from among these 27 that is nearest to the moon on the day of your birth.

Your janma raasi (birth constellation) is the one from among these 12 that was near that nakshatra. This is used only during plotting of your horoscope.

Your horoscope is written based on these two facts. Predictions are based on the charts where the movements of the planets are tracked.


Now for another concept from the Indian Astronomical system.

As you have seen there are 27 stars and 12 constellations to distribute them in. So we are presented with a mathematical problem because stars cannot be divided into bits. To solve this issue, each nakshatra is envisioned as having 4 padas or divisions.

So 27 nakshatras, each with 4 padas is: 27×4 = 108

Now this 108 is divisible by 12 (the number of raasis). So each raasi has 9 padas from the stars. Each raasi has the following nakshatra padas.

Sl noRaasiNakshatras with paadas
1MeshaAshwini (4), Bharani(4), Krithika (1)
2VrushabhaKrithika(3), Rohini(4), Mrigashira(2)
3MithunaMrigashira(2), Arudra(4), Punarvasu(3)
4KarkaPurarvasu(1), Pushyami(4), Ashlesha(4)
5SimhaMagha(4), Pubba(4), Uttara(1)
6KanyaUttara(3), Hasta(4), Chitta(2)
7TulaChitta(2), Swati(4), Visakha(3)
8VrischikaVisakha(1), Anuradha(4), Jesta(4)
9DhanuMoola(4), Poorvashada(4), Uttaraashada(1)
10MakaraUttaraashada(3), Shravana(4), Dhanista(2)
11KumbhaDhanista(2), Shatabhisha(4), Poorvabhadra(3)
12MeenaPoorvabhadra(1), Uttaraabhadra (4), Revathi(4)

As you can see, some nakshatras span 2 raasis. So, your and your friend may share a same janma nakshatra but if they have different paadas, then you may not share the same raasi.

When you go to any temple, the purohita (priest) asks for your gotra (forefather lineage), your nakshatra and your raasi. At this time, tell your janma nakshatra and depending on the paada, tell that raasi.

Lunar Calendar

Hindu calendar follows the lunar movements. The 12 lunar months of the Hindu calendar are named after the star near which the new moon of that month occurs.

Chaitra (Mar-Apr)Chitta
Vaishakha (Apr-May)Visakha
Jesta (May-Jun)Jesta
Ashada (Jun-Jul) Uttarashada
Ashweeyuja (Sep-Oct)Ashwini
Kartheeka (Oct-Nov) Kritthika
Maargashira (Nov-Dec)Mrigashira
Pushya (Dec-Jan)Pushyami
Phalguna (Feb-Mar)Uttaraphalguna

A lunar month or maasam has two parts. First fifteen days starts from a day after new moon (amavasya). Those 15 days is called Shukla paksha or the bright part of the moon. The next 15 days starts from a day after full moon (poornima). Those 15 days are called the Krishna paksha or the dark part of the moon.
A paksha is 15 day time period.

As you all know, the moon does not take exactly 30 days to complete a rotation around the Earth. It takes only 27.3 days. So, every month about 2-3 days are carried forward and every 13 months an extra maasam is added to the calendar. That extra month is called Adhika maasam.

During the Adhika maasam, there will be two full moons associated to the same star. For example, if the full moon occurs with Jesta nakshatram, then the Adhika maasam will be called Adhika Jesta. The consequent Jesta will be called Nija Jesta maasam.

Random gyaan:
A small story from the mythology. King Daksha Prajapathi had 27 daughters. Yes, they were the 27 nakshatras. They were all married to Chandra, the moon. But Chandra liked his wife Rohini more than his other wives. All the sisters complained to their father about this injustice. King Daksha was enraged and he cursed his son-in-law that all his radiance will be destroyed. Chandra is aghast and he prays for forgiveness. Daksha then relents and modifies his curse saying that the original curse cannot be reversed but the radiance of Chandra will vary over a period of 15 days. The radiance will wax and wane throughout the month for eternity. That is why we have a moon that grows and diminishes!

This completes my series on Starlit Sky. My work of love for my Dad. I started this almost 2 years back. You can read the first one here. It has taken me 2 years to give it a completion. My only regret is that my dad who wanted me to write this, is no longer here with me to read it. But, I am sure he was there with me throughout to help me complete it.

Dedicated to dad with love and respect.