Planetary Lordship and the Nature of Karma

Brendan Feeleyby Brendan Feeley MA

The science of astrology has always had an association with the notion of karma.

In the opening verse of the 5,000 year old vedic text, Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra, the ancient Sage, Maharishi Parasha, tells us that:-

“The Unborn Lord has incarnated as the nine planets, the Nava Grahas, to bestow on the living beings the result due to their karmas. He assumes the auspicious form of the Grahas (planets) to destroy the demons and to sustain the divine beings.”

The great Sage then goes on to describe to us the eternal science of astrology and effect of the planets on the destiny of the incarnating soul.

This work is said to be the fountain head of Vedic astrology. It is the bible of this ancient subject and is an indispensable study for both student and practitioner. It would take a lifetime of dedication to master the astrological rules outlined in this great work, and indeed, it is doubtful if one would ever master it, for the true mastery of astrology can only be accomplished by one who has transcended the three gunas, the ego, and the limitation of human thought processes.

The entire subject of astrology is a description of our karmic destiny and the vicissitudes of our temporal existence in this world. If we are not firmly anchored in the stability of divine truth, then we are subject to the fluctuations and fickleness of our own minds.

Astrological principles tell us that our moment of birth defines our temporal experience in this world according to the temporal disposition of the planets at birth. The planets operate as guiding impulses from the archetypal world of the Self and they represent our samskars, the mental impressions created from our own past actions. They indicate our talents, good fortunes, state of health and disease, as well as the traumas we are destined to experience.

A well-trained astrologer is able to determine the timing of these influences in the natal chart and early in the course of study, a student must master an understanding of lordships before he/she can proceed with chart analysis. Planets have their eternal significations and their temporal significations and they deliver their karmas to the native according to these significations.

Classification of Houses

It could be said that each of the planets has a specific intention for us in life and this can manifest in a variety of ways according to the lordship of the planet as well as its strength and placement in the chart. They indicate our spiritual inclinations, our mental emotional patterns and responses that we must hone and temper throughout our lives, and on the physical level in terms of the multitude of possibilities that can manifest on the physical plane. They operate as invisible guests always beckoning us towards the transpersonal unconscious in our path towards ego building and individuation.

This of course is not always a path towards introversion. As we well know, the human world requires working on one’s relationships to partners, family and community, for a great deal of self-knowledge comes from this work if we have the maturity to view these relationships as an important path towards self-development.

The houses or bhavas represent states of consciousness or states of awareness that represent our attitudes towards these relationships as well as the timing of important challenges that trigger these attitudes.

Now we will examine the classification of the houses and their lords. An understanding of the houses and the intention of the house lord is critical in this predictive science. As I already pointed out, it is extremely important to bear in mind that each planet has a preordained intention for the native throughout the life.

The astrologer must be able to evaluate this intention, based on a set of consistent astrological rules, to make sound judgements for the native. This is a fundamental formula in the science of Vedic astrology. A general classification of the bhavas is as follows:


The trikonas, houses 1, 5, and 9, and their lords, are the most auspicious houses in the chart. The trikonas are dharmasthanas. They bring spirituality, knowledge, goodness, generosity, wealth and fame, especially if they are well endowed.


The kendras, or angular houses (1, 4, 7, and 10), and their lords, represent the pillars of the horoscope. They represent some of the most important and fundamental aspects of our lives – body and persona, home and mother, marriage and relationships, and career. The kendras and their lords are considered to be auspicious.


Houses 6, 8 and 12 are considered to be the three evil houses of suffering or dusthanas. These houses and their lords bring difficulties, suffering, loss, anxieties, worries, obstacles, disease, incarceration, impediments, enemies, lawsuits, accidents, injuries, surgeries, and death like experiences into our lives. The are said to be evil and malefic houses. The third house is a mild dusthana and even then only in some respects, but houses 6, 8 and 12 are extremely malefic.

Tri-shadya Bhavas

Houses 3, 6 and 11 are malefic houses.


Houses 2 and 7 are marakas (killers). Houses 3 and 8 are houses of longevity, and since houses 2 and 7 are 12th to these houses, they cause a loss of longevity. Planets occupying or owning these houses cause death if the longevity of the individual is exhausted. If they operate before the time of death is promised, they can cause a disturbance of the health.

There are other classification of the houses, but these are the most important for predictive work.

The Nature of the Lordships

As I pointed out earlier, planets have their eternal nature and temporal or functional nature. We know that Jupiter is eternally a natural benefic planet signifying all good things in life. In Vedic mythology he is known as Brihaspati or Guru, the “remover of darkness.”

He is Deva Acharya or teacher of the gods and he brings righteousness, justice, and self-illumination into our lives. He brings children, education, prosperity and optimism. He is indeed a great planet, but let us assume that he becomes the lord of so called malefic houses in the natal chart, then how does he behave?


Let us take the case of a Taurus lagna (ascendant) and remember, for the study of lordships, we always use the equal house system or bhava chakra in Vedic astrology. In the case of a Taurus lagna the natural benefic Jupiter lords over the 8th and 11th houses and he will bring all the significations of these two houses into the life in his dasa or bhukti periods. We know from the above classification of houses that the 8th house is a trikasthana and therefore represents miseries, obstacles, accidents, scandals, chronic diseases and even death or at least death like experiences.

The 8th house is often said to be the most evil house in a chart and indeed it can bring the most undesirable results into life when activated. The quantity of misery that the 8th house promises in the native’s life will depend on the planets associated with the 8th house and its lord in a given chart and a thorough analysis must always be made to fully determine the outcome.

The main point here is that Jupiter, the eternal benefic, now becomes the planet that brings all the significations of the 8th house into the life. Jupiter also lords over the 11th house in this case, but the 11th house also has some affliction associated with it. It is a tri-shadya bhava. It does represent gains but they are rarely stable and long lasting. In this sense, Jupiter becomes a functional or temporal malefic for a Taurus ascendant, and although that Jupiter may bring some of his significations into the life of any Taurus ascendant, his overall impact will not be beneficial during his dasa or bhukti.

You will notice that even the transit of Jupiter will not be beneficial for this rising lagna. It will bring false hopes and promises. You can begin to apply these principles on the charts of your family and friends for your own study. You will find consistency in these principles although it must be emphasized that a full analysis must be carried out for a complete understanding of a given chart. Nonetheless, you should begin to experiment.

Now let us examine the nature of Saturn for the same Taurus ascendant using this theory of lordships. Saturn invariable receives very poor representation in astrology both east and west. He is the ruler of darkness and the natural enemy of the lights, the Sun and the Moon. He is the eternal significator of grief, misery, obstacles, dejection, difficulties, depression, humiliation, pessimism, chronic disease, or we could simply say, bad karma. He is known as Shanaishchara, meaning the slow moving one.

For the same Taurus lagna, the natural malefic Saturn, has lordship over two extremely beneficial houses – the 9th and the 10th, a trikona and kendra. Thus Saturn brings all good things into the life of these individuals during his dasa or bhukti periods, provided of course he is strongly placed by house and sign position in the natal chart. He will bring a spiritual teacher, foreign travel, initiation into higher knowledge, benefits through father (all 9th house significations), or advancement in career and possibly fame and recognition in the profession (10th house).

Certain planets are said to be yoga forming planets for each lagna in Vedic astrology. In the context of astrology, the term yoga means union of planets, so when the lords of kendras and trikonas conjoin in a chart, they confer on the native beneficial karmas associated with the areas of life represented by the nature of the planets and their lordships. If those yogas are strong and appear in auspicious hou to then they are certain to bring success to the native in their planetary periods.

The astrologer reads the prarabdha karmas, the portion of sanchita karmas that we are destined to experience in this present life. The chart reveals the positive and negative aspects of our prarabdha karmas. All of us must experience our prarabdha karmas. The moment of birth determines the prarabdha karmas. These karmas can be either sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic, depending on the nature of the planets involved. In addition, these karmas can have different levels of intensity, and here we have the following three classification:

Dridha Karmas

These karmas are extremely difficult to change and are represented in the chart by serious afflictions or impediments caused by the poor placement of house lords and the influence of malefic planets. An example of this would be the level of wealth of poverty in an individuals life or the level of success in his/her career.

Dridha/Adridha Karmas

These are less serious and can be changed only through determined effort, especially through spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, and sincere devotion to God(ess) and charitable contributions for a good cause.

Adridha Karmas

These can easily be changed by cultivating good attitudes and through good actions.


Astrology is a deep and penetrating subject and it can have wonderfully healing effects in helping us understand the meaning of life and the experiences we are destined to have in this world. My astrological work with clients over the past several years has shown me that people are often relieved when they discover the reason why certain areas of life seem to bring on endless challenge and suffering. We tend to be obsessed or preoccupied with the areas of our chart that promise those challenges and proper astrological guidance can put it all in proper context. Remedial measures can be prescribed or our attitudes can be redirected to other areas, while not entirely neglecting the areas of challenge.

To neglect the areas of challenge in life would be akin to cheating ourselves out of some important life experiences, but astrology has the unique capacity to help us differentiate the real from the unreal and to tone our expectations so that we are able to see that we are the creators of the very complexity that we too often project onto the world, to those around us or even to our God(ess).

Once we have overcome the human habit of blaming others for our own shortcomings, we are well on our way to self-understanding and the development of those enviable human traits such as generosity, kindness, and selflessness. Astrology gives us a connection to the soul’s intention for us and in this sense it can helps us develop a relationship with the spiritual dimension. It can help us overcome spiritual impoverishment and a sense of meaninglessness in life that the dry religions are often unable to address.

Combined with yoga, ayurveda, and spiritual practices, it offers us access to a world of hidden and mysterious influences that helps us master our relationship with mind, body and spirit – a world that transcends the so called normal scope of human intelligence, a world that brings an awareness of the Divine energies that penetrate our soul and personality in our daily walking.

Brendan Feeley

Brenda is a Vedic Astrologer with a professional practice in Washington, D.C. He is a founding member and tutor of the American Council of Vedic Astrologers and he is a regular presenter at the ACVA conferences. Along with his busy professional practice, he is a dedicated researcher in the application of the predictive principles of both Parasari and Jaimini astrology.