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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Sanskrit word yoga has multiple meanings including “union” and “join.” However, in the context of Vedic astrology, the following two definitions are especially useful. Hart de Fouw defines yoga as “a union of a multitude of astrological factors into a meaningful pattern” and K. S. Charak describes it as “any specific planetary disposition capable of producing some specific result.” In a sense, the unique planetary pattern of every chart is a yoga of sorts. However, in practical terms, there are certain well-defined yogas that occur with regularity in charts. These yogas are widely accepted, specifically named and universally applied in the modern practice of Jyotish.

The importance of yogas in Vedic chart interpretation cannot be overemphasized. Experienced practitioners of Vedic astrology scan the chart for yogas as their first priority because the presence of important yogas is one of the most reliable indicators for predicting whether the level of life of a native will be above or below typical human experience. The amplitude in either direction will depend upon the confluence of the yogas, the strength of the component planets to express their indicated themes, and whether the native will experience the dashas (planetary periods) of the planets involved in the yoga combinations at appropriate times of life.

Descriptions of yogas are scattered throughout the ancient texts. Astrologers may never encounter many of these in their practice. By convention, however, yogas can be categorized as follows. Meanings given below represent one possible translation of the Sanskrit word or root:

Raja Yogas: Yogas that give rise in life often interpreted along the lines of status and position. Raja means “king.”

Dhana Yogas: Yogas for wealth and prosperity. Dhana means “wealth.”

Daridra Yogas: Yogas for penury and poverty. Daridra means “poor.”

Arishta Yogas: Yogas for misfortune that includes poverty but also illness, loss of loved ones, and other forms of suffering. Arishta means “suffering.”

Pravraja Yogas: Yogas that incline someone towards spiritual life or renunciation. Vraja means “wandering.”

Ravi or Solar Yogas: A set of yogas organized around combinations involving the Sun.

Chandra or Lunar Yogas: A set of yogas organized around combinations involving the Moon.

Vividha Yogas: A huge category of miscellaneous yogas. Vividha means “various.”

Nabhasa Yogas: Combinations that involve specific clusters or patterns of planets giving a visual impact upon examination of the chart. Nabhasa means “sky.”

Yogas can be formed by a single planet meeting certain conditions, but more commonly they are formed by multiple planetary combinations. Sometimes the conditions for forming yogas are a function of the relative positions of specific planets in a chart. An example of such a yoga is a commonly occurring pattern involving an angular relationship between Moon and Jupiter known as a Gajakesari Yoga, which is often given the contemporary interpretation of being good at networking. Many other yogas are formed by planets being the lords of specific houses in certain associations. One of the most easily recognizable forms of the Raja (“rise”) Yoga, exemplifies this type of yoga. The condition for its formation is that the lord of an angular or kendra house (houses 1, 4, 7 or 10) must have a mutual relationship with the lord of a trine or trikona house (houses 1, 5, 9). This relationship can be defined by any of the following: mutual association (conjunction), mutual aspect, or an exchange of houses. This latter condition is also known as a Parivartana Yoga.

In order to give some feeling for the breadth and color of this application of Vedic astrology, an example of a yoga in each of the aforementioned categories follows, in a translation of the language of Maharishi Parashara, author of one of the most widely used Vedic scriptures, known as the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra.

Raja Yoga: “Should the lord of the 4th house or of the 10th house join either the 5 th lord or the 9 th lord, the native will obtain a kingdom.”

Dhana Yoga: “If the 2nd lord is in the 11th while the lord of the 11th is in the 2nd, wealth will be acquired by the native. Alternatively, these two lords may join in an angle or in a trine.”

Daridra Yoga: “If the ascendant lord along with a malefic is in the 6th, 8th or 12th houses while the 2nd lord is in an enemy’s sign or in debilitation, even a royal scion will become penniless.”

Arishta Yoga: “The native will be afflicted by illness throughout life if Saturn is with Rahu while the 6th lord and 6th house are conjunct malefics.”

Pravraja Yoga: “The yoga for ascetism is formed when four or more planets possessed of strength occupy a single house.”

Ravi (Solar) Yoga: “Barring the Moon, if a planet among Mars etc. be in the 2nd from the Sun, Vesi Yoga is formed. One born in Vesi yoga will be even sighted, truthful, long-bodied, indolent, happy and endowed with negligible wealth. Benefics causing this yoga will produce the above mentioned effects while malefics will produce contrary effects.”

Chandra (Lunar) Yoga: “If benefics occupy the 8th, 6th and 7th counted from the Moon, Adhi Yoga obtains. According to the strength of the participating planets, the native concerned will be either a king or a minister or an army chief.”

Vividha Yoga: “If there be exclusively a benefic in the 10th from the ascendant or the Moon, Amala yoga exists. Amala Yoga will confer fame lasting till the moon and stars exist and will make the native honoured by the king, enjoy abundant pleasures, be charitable; fond of relatives, helpful to others, pious and virtuous.”

Nabhasa Yoga: “If 3 angles are occupied by benefics, Maala yoga is produced while malefics so placed will cause Sarpa yoga. These yogas respectively produce benefic and malefic results.”

The study and application of yogas in contemporary astrological practice must include an understanding of the nature of the language of the scriptures. Many of the combinations are worded in language that is hyperbolic. This is a common device pervasively found in the oral tradition of India. It is an effective tool for teaching and memorization but the exaggerated indications are not necessarily meant to be rigidly applied in interpretation and certainly not out of the context of the rest of the chart.

—Penny Farrow


Charak, K. S. Yogas in Astrology. New Delhi: Systems Vision, 1995.
Parahara, Maharishi. Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. New Delhi, India: Ranjan Publications, 1989.
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