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Nakshatra (Sanskrit: नक्षत्र, IAST: Nakṣatra) is the term for lunar mansion in Hindu astrology. A nakshatra is one of 28 (sometimes also 27) sectors along the ecliptic. Their names are related to the most prominent asterisms in the respective sectors.

The starting point for the nakshatras according to Vedas is "Krittika" (it has been argued because the Pleiades may have started the year at the time the Vedas were compiled, presumably at the vernal equinox), but, in more recent compilations, the start of the nakshatras list is the point on the ecliptic directly opposite to the star Spica called Chitrā in Sanskrit, which would be Ashvinī, an asterism that is part of the modern constellation Aries, and these compilations therefore may have been compiled during the centuries when the sun was passing through the area of the constellation Aries at the time of the vernal equinox. This version may have been called Meshādi or the "start of Aries".[1] (Other slightly different definitions exist). However, both starting points for a list of nakshatras are now out-of-date, as the sun now passes through Pisces at the time of the vernal equinox, so a current list should start with Pūrva Bhādrapadā or Uttara Bhādrapadā or Revatī at the vernal equinox. But some Hindu calendars are based on the older versions (i.e. the Indian national calendar).

The ecliptic is divided into each of the nakshatras eastwards starting from this point.

The number of nakshatras reflects the number of days in a sidereal month (modern value: 27.32 days), the width of a nakshatra traversed by the Moon in about one day. Each nakshatra is further subdivided into four quarters (or padas). These play a role in popular Hindu astrology, where each pada is associated with a syllable, conventionally chosen as the first syllable of the given name of a child born when the Moon was in the corresponding pada.

The nakshatras of traditional bhartiya (Indian) astronomy are based on a list of 28 asterisms found in the Atharvaveda (AVŚ 19.7) and also in the Shatapatha Brahmana (II.1.2).[citation needed] The first astronomical text that lists them is the Vedanga Jyotisha.[2]

In classical Hindu scriptures (Mahabharata, Harivamsa), the creation of the nakshatras is attributed to Daksha. They are personified as daughters of the deity and as wives of Chandra, the Moon god, or alternatively the daughters of Kashyapa, the brother of Daksha.

Each of the nakshatras is governed as 'lord' by one of the nine graha in the following sequence: Ketu (South Lunar Node), Shukra (Venus), Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangala (Mars), Rahu (North Lunar Node), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shani (Saturn) and Budha (Mercury). This cycle repeats itself three times to cover all 27 nakshatras. The lord of each nakshatra determines the planetary period known as the dasha, which is considered of major importance in forecasting the life path of the individual in Hindu astrology.

In Vedic Sanskrit, the term nákṣatra may refer to any heavenly body, or to "the stars" collectively. The classical concept of a "lunar mansion" is first found in the Atharvaveda, and becomes the primary meaning of the term in Classical Sanskrit.

In the Atharvaveda[edit]

In the Atharvaveda (Shaunakiya recension, hymn 19.7) a list of 28 stars or asterisms is given, many of them corresponding to the later nakshatras:[3]

Position of the Hindu Nakshatra Mandala as per the coordinates specified in Surya Siddhantha.

Interestingly enough, the term "nakshatra" has a different meaning as demonstrated in the Surya Siddhanta, which is an ancient text on astronomy. In the early chapters, the author Mayasura or Mayan, describes various time units. He writes that a "prana" is a duration of 4 seconds. He then continues with a discussion of a number of time units with progressively long durations made up of the shorter time units all composed of a number of pranas. Amongst those time units are something he calls "nakshatra". For example: 15 pranas are in a minute; 900 pranas in an hour; 21600 pranas in a day; 583,200 pranas in a nakshatra (month). According to Mayan, a nakshatra is a time unit with a duration of 27 days.[4][better source needed]

This 27-day time cycle has been taken to mean a particular group of stars. The relationship to the stars really has to do with the periodicity with which the Moon travels over time and through space past the field of the specific stars called nakshatras. Hence, the stars are more like numbers on a clock through which the hands of time pass (the moon). This concept was discovered by Dr. Jessie Mercay in her research on Surya Siddhanta.[5]

List of Nakshatras[edit]

The classical list of 27 nakshatras is first found in the Vedanga Jyotisha, a text dated to the 600-700 BCE. The nakshatra system predates the Hellenistic astronomy which became prevalent from about the 2nd century CE.

In Hindu astronomy, there was an older tradition of 28 Nakshatras which were used as celestial markers in the heavens. When these were mapped into equal divisions of the ecliptic, a division of 27 portions was adopted since that resulted in a cleaner definition of each portion (i.e. segment) subtending 13° 20' (as opposed to 12° 51 3/7’ in the case of 28 segments). In the process, the Nakshatra Abhijit was left out without a portion.[6]:179 The Surya Siddhantha concisely specifies the coordinates of the twenty seven Nakshatras[6]:211

The following list of nakshatras gives the corresponding regions of sky, following Basham.[7]

No. Name Associated stars Description Image
1 Ashwini
β and γ Arietis
  • Astrological Mate: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol : Horse's head
  • Rigvedic name: Ashwins, the horse-headed twins who are physicians to the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 0° - 13°20' Mesha
  • Western zodiac 26° Aries - 9°20' Taurus
Aries constellation map.svg
2 Bharani
"the bearer"
35, 39, and 41 Arietis
  • Astrological Mate: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Yoni, the female organ of reproduction
  • Rigvedic name: Yama, god of death or Dharma
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20' - 26°40' Mesha
  • Western zodiac 9° 20' - 22° 40' Taurus
Aries constellation map.svg
3 Krittika
an old name of the Pleiades; personified as the nurses of Kārttikeya, a son of Shiva.
  • Astrological Mate: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Knife or spear
  • Rigvedic name: Agni, god of fire
  • Indian zodiac: 26°40' Mesha - 10° Vrishabha
  • Western zodiac 22° 40' Taurus - 6° Gemini
Taurus constellation map.svg
4 Rohini
"the red one", a name of Aldebaran. Also known as brāhmī
Aldebaran Taurus constellation map.svg
5 Mrigashīra
"the deer's head". Also known as āgrahāyaṇī
λ, φ Orionis
  • Astrological Mate: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Deer's head
  • Rigvedic name: Soma, Chandra, the Moon god
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20' Vrishabha - 6° 40' Mithuna
  • Western zodiac: 19°20' Gemini - 2°40' Cancer
Orion constellation map.svg
6 Ardra
"the moist one"
  • Astrological Mate: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Teardrop, diamond, a human head
  • Rigvedic name: Rudra, the storm god
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40' - 20° Mithuna
  • Western zodiac: 2° 40' - 16° Cancer
Orion constellation map.svg
7 Punarvasu (dual)
"the two restorers of goods", also known as yamakau "the two chariots"
Castor and Pollux
  • Astrological Mate: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol : Bow and quiver
  • Rigvedic name: Aditi, mother of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Mithuna - 3°20' Karka
  • Western zodiac 16° - 29°20' Sagittarius
Gemini constellation map.svg
8 Pushya/Tishya
"the nourisher", also known as sidhya or tiṣya
γ, δ and θ Cancri
  • Astrological Mate: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol : Cow's udder, lotus, arrow and circle
  • Rigvedic name: Bṛhaspati, priest of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 3°20' -16°40' Karka
  • Western zodiac 29°20' Cancer - 12°40' Leo
Cancer constellation map.svg
9 Ashleshā
"the embrace"
δ, ε, η, ρ, and σ Hydrae
  • Astrological Mate: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: Serpent
  • Rigvedic name: Sarpas or Nagas, deified snakes
  • Indian zodiac: 16°40' - 30° Karka
  • Western zodiac 12°40' - 26° Leo
Hydra constellation map.svg
10 Maghā
"the bountiful"
  • Astrological Mate: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol : Royal Throne
  • Rigvedic name: Pitrs, 'The Fathers', family ancestors
  • Indian zodiac: 0° - 13°20' Simha
  • Western zodiac 26° Leo - 9°20' Virgo
Leo constellation map.svg
11 Pūrva Phalgunī
"first reddish one"
δ and θ Leonis
  • Astrological Mate: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol : Front legs of bed, hammock, fig tree
  • Rigvedic name: Aryaman, god of patronage and favours
  • Indian zodiac: 13°20' - 26°40' Simha
  • Western zodiac 9°20' - 22°40' Virgo
Leo constellation map.svg
12 Uttara Phalgunī
"second reddish one"
  • Astrological Mate: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Four legs of bed, hammock
  • Rigvedic name: Bhaga, god of marital bliss and prosperity
  • Indian zodiac: 26°40' Simha- 10° Kanya
  • Western zodiac 22°40' Virgo - 6° Libra
Leo constellation map.svg
13 Hasta
"the hand"
α, β, γ, δ and ε Corvi
  • Astrological Mate: Chandra (Moon)
  • Symbol: Hand or fist
  • Rigvedic name: Savitr, the Sun god
  • Indian zodiac: 10° - 23°20' Kanya
  • Western zodiac 6° - 19°20' Libra
Corvus constellation map.svg
14 Chitra
"the bright one", a name of Spica
  • Astrological Mate: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Bright jewel or pearl
  • Rigvedic name: Tvastar, Vishwakarma
  • Indian zodiac: 23°20' Kanya - 6°40' Tula
  • Western zodiac: 19°20' Libra - 2°40' Scorpio
Virgo constellation map.svg
15 Swāti
"Su-Ati (sanskrit) Very good" name of Arcturus
  • Astrological Mate: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Shoot of plant, coral
  • Rigvedic name: Vayu, the Wind god
  • Indian zodiac: 6°40' - 20° Tula
  • Western zodiac 2°40' - 16° Scorpio
Bootes constellation map.png
16 Visakha
"forked, having branches"; also known as rādhā "the gift"
α, β, γ and ι Librae
  • Astrological Mate: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol : Triumphal arch, potter's wheel
  • Rigvedic name: Indra, chief of the gods; Agni, god of Fire
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Tula - 3°20' Vrishchika
  • Western zodiac 16° - 29°20' Scorpio
Libra constellation map.svg
17 Anuradha
"following rādhā"
β, δ and π Scorpionis
  • Astrological Mate: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol : Triumphal archway, lotus
  • Rigvedic name: Mitra, one of Adityas of friendship and partnership
  • Indian zodiac: 3°20' - 16°40' Vrishchika
  • Western zodiac 29°20' Scorpio - 12°40' Sagittarius
Scorpius constellation map.svg
18 Jyeshtha
"the eldest, most excellent"
α, σ, and τ Scorpionis
  • Astrological Mate: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol : circular amulet, umbrella, earring
  • Rigvedic name: Indra, chief of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 16°40' - 30° Vrishchika
  • Western zodiac 12°40' - 26° Sagittarius
Scorpius constellation map.svg
19 Mula
"the root"
ε, ζ, η, θ, ι, κ, λ, μ and ν Scorpionis
  • Astrological Mate: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol : Bunch of roots tied together, elephant goad
  • Rigvedic name: Nirrti, peak of material achievement and the beginning of the spiritual impulse
  • Indian zodiac: 0° - 13°20' Dhanus
  • Western zodiac 26° Sagittarius - 9°20' Capricorn
Scorpius constellation map.svg
20 Purva Ashadha
"first of the aṣāḍhā", aṣāḍhā "the invincible one" being the name of a constellation
δ and ε Sagittarii
  • Astrological Mate: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Elephant tusk, fan, winnowing basket
  • Rigvedic name: Apah, god of Water
  • Indian zodiac: 13°20' - 26°40' Dhanus
  • Western zodiac 9°20' - 22°40' Capricorn
Sagittarius constellation map.svg
21 Uttara Ashadha
"second of the aṣāḍhā"
ζ and σ Sagittarii
  • Astrological Mate: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol : Elephant tusk, small bed
  • Rigvedic name: Visvedevas, universal gods
  • Indian zodiac: 26°40' Dhanus - 10° Makara
  • Western zodiac 22°40' Capricorn - 6° Aquarius
Sagittarius constellation map.svg
22 Abhijit
α, ε and ζ Lyrae - Vega Astrological Mate: Brahma
  • Indian zodiac: 6°40' Makara - 10°53' Makara
Lyra constellation map.svg
23 Shravana
α, β and γ Aquilae
  • Astrological Mate: Chandra (Moon)
  • Symbol : Ear or Three Footprints
  • Rigvedic name : Vishnu, preserver of universe
  • Indian zodiac: 10° - 23°20' Makara
  • Western zodiac 6° - 19°20' Aquarius
Aquila constellation map.svg
24 Dhanishta
"most famous", also Shravishthā "swiftest"
α to δ Delphini
  • Astrological Mate: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol : Drum or flute
  • Rigvedic name : Eight vasus, deities of earthly abundance
  • Indian zodiac: 23°20' Makara - 6°40' Kumbha
  • Western zodiac 19°20' Aquarius - 2°40' Pisces
Delphinus constellation map.svg
25 Shatabhisha
"Comprising a hundred physicians"
  • Astrological Mate: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol : Empty circle, 1,000 flowers or stars
  • Rigvedic name : Varuna, god of celestial waters
  • Indian zodiac: 6°40' - 20° Kumbha ; Western zodiac 2°40' - 16° Pisces
Aquarius constellation map.svg
26 Purva Bhadrapada
"the first of the blessed feet"
α and β Pegasi
  • Astrological Mate: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol : Swords or two front legs of funeral cot, man with two faces
  • Rigvedic name : Ajaikapada, an ancient fire dragon
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Kumbha - 3°20' Meena ; Western zodiac 16° - 29°20' Pisces
Pegasus constellation map.svg
27 Uttara Bhadrapada
"the second of the blessed feet"
γ Pegasi and α Andromedae
  • Astrological Mate: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol : Twins, back legs of funeral cot, snake in the water
  • Rigvedic name : Ahir Budhyana, serpent or dragon of the deep
  • Indian zodiac: 3°20' - 16°40' Meena ; Western zodiac 29°20' Pisces - 12°40' Aries
Andromeda constellation map (1).png
28 Revati
ζ Piscium
  • Astrological Mate: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol : Fish or a pair of fish, drum
  • Rigvedic name : Pushan, nourisher, the protective deity
  • Indian zodiac: 16°40' - 30° Meena
  • Western zodiac 12°40' - 26° Aries
Pisces constellation map.png

Padas (quarters)[edit]

Each of the 27 Nakshatras cover 13°20’ of the ecliptic each. Each Nakshatra is also divided into quarters or padas of 3°20’, and the below table lists the appropriate starting sound to name the child. The 27 nakshatras, each with 4 padas, give 108, which is the number of beads in a japa mala, indicating all the elements (ansh) of Vishnu:

# Name Pada 1 Pada 2 Pada 3 Pada 4 Vimsottari Lord Ruling Deity
1 Aśvini (अश्विनि) चु Chu चे Che चो Cho ला La Ketu Aswini Kumara
2 Bharaṇī (भरणी) ली Li लू Lu ले Le लो Lo Venus Yama
3 Kṛttikā (कृत्तिका) अ A ई I उ U ए E Sun Agni
4 Rohiṇī (रोहिणी) ओ O वा Va/Ba वी Vi/Bi वु Vu/Bu Moon Brahma
5 Mṛgaśīrṣā(म्रृगशीर्षा) वे Ve/Be वो Vo/Bo का Ka की Ke Mars Moon
6 Ārdrā (आर्द्रा) कु Ku घ Gha ङ Ng/Na छ Chha Rahu Shiva
7 Punarvasu (पुनर्वसु) के Ke को Ko हा Ha ही Hi Jupiter Aditi
8 Puṣya (पुष्य) हु Hu हे He हो Ho ड Da Saturn Jupiter
9 Āśleṣā (आश्लेषा) डी Di डू Du डे De डो Do Mercury Rahu
10 Maghā (मघा) मा Ma मी Mi मू Mu मे Me Ketu Pitr
11 Pūrva or Pūrva Phālgunī (पूर्व फाल्गुनी) नो Mo टा Ta टी Ti टू Tu Venus Bhaga
12 Uttara or Uttara Phālgunī (उत्तर फाल्गुनी) टे Te टो To पा Pa पी Pi Sun Sun
13 Hasta (हस्त) पू Pu ष Sha ण Na ठ Tha Moon Savitr
14 Chitrā (चित्रा) पे Pe पो Po रा Ra री Ri Mars Vishwakarma
15 Svāti (स्वाति) रू Ru रे Re रो Ro ता Ta Rahu Vaayu
16 Viśākhā (विशाखा) ती Ti तू Tu ते Te तो To Jupiter IndraAgni
17 Anurādhā (अनुराधा) ना Na नी Ni नू Nu ने Ne Saturn Mitra
18 Jyeṣṭhā (ज्येष्ठा) नो No या Ya यी Yi यू Yu Mercury Indra
19 Mūla (मूल) ये Ye यो Yo भा Bha भी Bhi Ketu Varuna, Nirriti
20 Pūrva Aṣāḍhā (पूर्वाषाढ़ा) भू Bhu धा Dha फा Bha/Pha ढा Dha Venus Viswadeva
21 Uttara Aṣāḍhā (उत्तराषाढ़ा) भे Bhe भो Bho जा Ja जी Ji Sun Brahma
22 Śrāvaṇa (श्रावण) खी Ju/Khi खू Je/Khu खे Jo/Khe खो Gha/Kho Moon Vishnu
23 Śrāviṣṭhā (श्रविष्ठा) or Dhaniṣṭhā (धनिष्ठा) गा Ga गी Gi गु Gu गे Ge Mars Vasu
24 Śatabhiṣā (शतभिषा)or Śatataraka गो Go सा Sa सी Si सू Su Rahu Varuna
25 Pūrva Bhādrapadā (पूर्वभाद्रपदा) से Se सो So दा Da दी Di Jupiter AjaEkPada
26 Uttara Bhādrapadā (उत्तरभाद्रपदा) दू Du थ Tha झ Jha ञ Da/Tra Saturn Ahirbudhanya
27 Revati (रेवती) दे De दो Do च Cha ची Chi Mercury Pooshan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Radiant Words of Love & Wisdom By Vashisht Vaid, 2012". 
  2. ^ Nakshatras and Upanakshatras. American Institute of Vedic Studies  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ trans. Ralph T. H. Griffith, Hymns of the Atharva Veda, 1895[]. Original text via GRETIL from Gli inni dell’ Atharvaveda (Saunaka), trasliterazione a cura di Chatia Orlandi, Pisa 1991, collated with the ed. R. Roth and W.D. Whitney: Atharva Veda Sanhita, Berlin 1856.
    1. citrā́ṇi sākáṃ diví rocanā́ni sarīsr̥pā́ṇi bhúvane javā́ni | turmíśaṃ sumatím ichámāno áhāni gīrbhíḥ saparyāmi nā́kam
    2. suhávam agne kŕ̥ttikā róhiṇī cā́stu bhadráṃ mr̥gáśiraḥ śám ārdrā́ | púnarvasū sūnŕ̥tā cā́ru púṣyo bhānúr āśleṣā́ áyanaṃ maghā́ me
    3. púṇyaṃ pū́rvā phálgunyau cā́tra hástaś citrā́ śivā́ svātí sukhó me astu | rā́dhe viśā́khe suhávānurādhā́ jyéṣṭhā sunákṣatram áriṣṭa mū́lam
    4. ánnaṃ pū́rvā rāsatāṃ me aṣādhā́ ū́rjaṃ devy úttarā ā́ vahantu | abhijín me rāsatāṃ púṇyam evá śrávaṇaḥ śráviṣṭhāḥ kurvatāṃ supuṣṭím
    5. ā́ me mahác chatábhiṣag várīya ā́ me dvayā́ próṣṭhapadā suśárma | ā́ revátī cāśvayújau bhágaṃ ma ā́ me rayíṃ bháraṇya ā́ vahantu
  4. ^ Mayasura or Mayan (date unknown). Surya Siddhantha. Ancient text on astronomy.
  5. ^ Mercay, Jessie (2012). "Fundamentals of Mamuni Mayans Vaastu Shastras, Building Architecture of Sthapatya Veda and Traditional Indian architecture." Mercay, 2006 - 2012, AUM Science and Technology publishers.
  6. ^ a b Burgess, Ebenezer (1858). Translation of the Surya Siddhantha, a Textbook of Hindu Astronomy. The American Oriental Society. 
  7. ^ Arthur Llewellyn Basham, The Wonder that was India, 1954, appendix II: Astronomy, p.490
  8. ^ ||ζ and σ Lyra Its longitude starts from 06° 40' to 10° 53' 40 in sidereal Capricorn i.e. from the last quarter of Uttra Ashadha to first 1/15 th part of Shravana.[citation needed] Its span is 4° 13' 40.[citation needed] The span of 27 mean daily lunar motions totals 355.76167 degrees, and together these total 359.98945 degrees. Considered an "intercalary" lunar mansion.[citation needed]

External links[edit]

Indian Astrology[1]