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ACVA News December 2009 Letters

December Letters to the Editor

By Christina Collins

Dear Christina,

Neechabhanga for debilitated retrograde planets is one of many complex issues facing Vedic astrologers who are constantly confronted with countless often contradictory rules. I have heard so many opinions about retrograde and read so many rules about neecha bhanga that I am sure I will never remember a quarter of them. I have a couple books by the brilliant Komilla Sutton that have taught me so much, but which nonetheless contain some rules that seem rather odd to me. For example, there is the rule that exalted retrograde planets become debilitated and debilitated retrograde planets become exalted. Not that I am any match for Komilla but I think we have to guard against what can be a fundamental error in our approach to all these rules. The planets do not follow our rules! We have invented all these complex rules in an attempt to understand planetary behavior. I remember working on a particularly complicated situation in a chart and asked my teacher what the applicable rules were. He answered "Forget the rules. The chart is an energy pattern. Feel the planets."

This is really not that difficult to do since the planets are archetypes. Planets feel and behave like people and people feel and behave like planets. In my evening meditation I invoked the appropriate mantras and prayers and did my best to become a planet. I saw before me 12 houses. Two of them I owned and felt very comfortable there. There was a third house that was dark, dingy and had a very hostile feel to it. I felt very uncomfortable and drained of my energy there. Then there was a fourth house, a veritable palace where I felt exhilarated and also quite important. I was king there. There was even a certain point in that palace where my throne stood. Sitting in this throne I was untouchable and unbeatable.

Now I imagined myself walking backwards through my palace. That certainly changed things. It changed my direction, my momentum, my perspective and my confidence.. Walking backwards was certainly more difficult. I could have stumbled. I felt nervous and snapped at my servants. But I was also somehow empowered. I was forced to concentrate more and everything became more intense. However aside from these changes, one thing did not change. I was still in my palace! I hadn´t been suddenly transported to that scary house in the ghetto.. As I walked backwards through this marvelous house, there came a point where I approached my throne and that felt really good. The worst of it all was when I neared the threshold to the next house and had to "change boats" going backwards.

I could have repeated this excercise in my sign of fall, no doubt with corresponding results. Even if I had been in a Kendra, with Dik Bala, conjunct the house lord aspected by the lord of the ninth house and the ascendant lord etc. I would still have been in my house of fall. I would have felt their support but the house still would have had its effect on me. And going backwards would not have made me king there. Now, maybe I just have a strong misguided imagination, but MY rule for neecha bhanga is that such a thing doesn´t exist.

Om Namah Shivaya


Dear Devananda,

Thank you so much for your wonderful letter. I agree with you on many of your points. I do not believe that Retrograde "cancels," the debilitation and makes the planet exalted instead. What I do lean towards is that Retrogradation makes the planet "act," as if exalted. For instance, I know many people with Mercury in Pisces in Retrograde motion who are completely and intellectually brilliant, yet still are troubled by indecisiveness due to the qualities of Pisces, two fish, tied together going in two different directions.

Another example:

I know of a chart with Mars in Cancer and Moon in Scorpio. That neecha banga (because of the parivartana yoga), did indeed make him rise in life. He was a health caregiver, who went on to marry a very famous celebrity giving him a brilliant and wealthy exciting life, worldwide travel, and many wonderful children. However, he can slip easily into a discomfort zone where he is mean, angry, impatient and rough in his personality. So of course it did not give him a sweet Taurus Moon or a Capricorn Mars with their respective exalted qualities, but it did give him a better life involving less struggle and vicarious rise to fame. So, there is a gradient or a gray zone of (how much better is it?), and that of course depends upon the chart in its entirety.

Another example is that I personally like to collect the charts of astrologers, and many of them (in sidereal) have Mercury in Pisces. Retrograde. One of them even wrote a Panchanga. And, another wrote a Jyotish software program! That is not a classic Mercury in Pisces person who can't decide whether to swim north or south!

1. A brilliant famous woman astrologer I know has Mercury in Pisces in house 10. That is Lagna Pati (ruler of the rising sign) in supposed debilitation. I believe that Mercury's position in an angle from the rising sign definitely cancels debilitation. Because, over the years, I have seen it in action, repeatedly. The same thing with the retrograde Jupiter in Capricorn. This is especially true of some people born in 1949. This was a difficult year because Rahu was transiting Pisces, and its Dispositor, Jupiter was in Capricorn. Generally speaking, the parts of that year when Jupiter was in Capricorn produced difficult health problems, many of which I am seeing now in my practice as a Medical Jyotish astrologer. Knee replacements, Crohn's disease, and colon cancer predominate.

Regarding your comments on your meditative experiences, and the instruction by your teacher to "feel," the planets, for some of us, as Astrologers, we do learn in this way. As an Uttarabhadrapada Moon myself, I experience dreams, and visions and I work with the great Bhrigus (who I used to refer to as those teachers who float seated in lotus, in a night sky in white dhoties) in dream visions while sleeping where they paint charts (round by the way) made of light, in the sky and teach me. For many years I did not know who they were, until a student of Narendra Desi relayed to me that they had told him (he evidentially worked with them as well) that they were also working with me. He wondered to her, at that time, as to "how is that possible, as they did not speak any English? " I told her, that they communicate with me by the charts in the sky, and what I choose to call encapsulated telepathy. I did not know they were the ancient Bhrigu astrologers. I relay more of this in my book (almost done!)

What is important here, is that not all astrologers, or students of astrology, have horoscopes that show learning and expression through feeling or metaphysical and psychic experiences. Astrologers with the predominance of Water signs, Libra (who can be very intuitive), planets in houses 8, 9 and 12, and / or in signs Scorpio, Sagittarius, Pisces - all will be on the dream/vision/intuitive side. Other signs, especially the air signs bring us the brilliant intellects in astrology, who in a very visionary way (produced by the grandness of their minds and intellects) consult with many people and are quite adept at speaking with them in effortless communication. Something that the intuitive type astrologer must constantly work at to acquire.

We have received several letters on neecha bhanga rules and have listed the rules in use below.

Warm regards,

Christina Collins, Editor ACVA News

Dear Christina,

I am a relative newcomer to astrology and have read the ACVA News for the first time, so please bear with me if I repeat what you´ve already heard a thousand times. I would like to comment on the November Letters to the Editor. Firstly concerning Neechabhanga and debilitated retrograde planets, a wonderful topic dear to my heart because it encapsulates so much about Jyotish. Again and again I have read how important decades of experience are in Vedic Astrology, as if that somehow leads to the Truth. I have carefully studied about a dozen of the books high on the standard reading list for Vedic astrologers and it seems to me that all these highly-educated, extremely experienced astrologers have all come to different conclusions. Needless to say they all present countless charts of famous people that confirm their contradictory points of view. This connects to one of the main problems with astrology; you can almost always find indications to prove anything. If its not in the Rasi, well, there´s always the Navamsha. Not in the Navamsha either? Well, perhaps in the Chandra Lagna etc. Neechabhanga, planetary war, orbs of combustion, effect of retrograde motion, exaltation signs of Rahu and Ketu? Where are the Rishis when we need them?

I´m sure most of us long for a Vedic Astrology that we can all agree on - One Truth instead of a myriad of individual perceptions of that One Truth. While we´re waiting for that to happen, something else that is almost as good does seem to be on the way and I would whole-heartedly support it. This has to do with a comment made by Julianna´s (one n or two?) fan Charlotte. The first two Jyotish books that I read used North Indian style charts. I got accustomed to their geometry and direction. Looking at a South Indian chart is a nightmare for me. Since most Vedic astrologers in the West seem to be "Neo-Vedic" anyway, why not risk taking the big step, break with tradition, and use round charts which make SOOO much more sense. While you´re at it, put in Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, since we all know that they do in fact count.

Don´t get me wrong, I´m not advocating intercultural goulash. I know very little about traditional Western astrology and probably never will. I find the tropical zodiac somewhere between limited and absurd but, Oh, that round chart and those other planets! Even if we´re not quite sure where our zodiac actually starts, lets at least make it round. Thank you for your time and attention.

OM Shanti


Dear Brian,

Yes there are many conflicting rules and systems in Vedic Astrology or Jyotish! I have heard it said that it takes at least three lifetimes to learn it! (When my students ask me, “what lifetime am I in?´-- I say This one!) There are many layers to the proverbial onion skin. The more we learn, the more we don’t know, the more we teach, the more we see where the gaps in our knowledge occur. What we understand in fullness becomes different in different levels of consciousness, in different ages – in different yugas. To respond to the outer planets – I often put them in the Newsletter (you may have noticed) for those vedic astrologers who make use of them and their meaning, and then, I have had other letters where I was asked to remove them, as they were too confusing as they (a Jyotish beginner with much advanced Western astrology experience) learned the basics of Jyotish. Sigh. So, hang in there with us as we all learn together. Everyone, at some level is always a student.



Classic rules for Neecha Bhanga that most people use today.

A yoga or union of planets can cancel the debilitation of a planet lifting and elevating it to the status of exaltation. They are said to cancel the debilitation and difficult problems, giving instead benefic results equal to that of raja yoga (union like a King). [I would add here, that the potency of the resultant yoga is ascertained by whether or not the individual’s Lagna is associated with the yoga in any way.]

Neecha Bhanga Raja Yogas (cancellation of debilitation)

  • The ruler of a debilitated planet residing in an angle (Kendra) from the rising sign or Moon (Lagna or Chandra Lagna)

  • The exaltation ruler of the debilitated planet is in an angle from the Lagna or Moon
    • Example, Mars in Cancer is Debilitated. Mars exalts in Capricorn. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn. Saturn is the exaltation ruler of the debilitated planet. When Saturn is in an angle from the rising sign or Moon, when Mars resides in Cancer, Mars receives Neecha Banga Raja Yoga. (Cancellation of debilitation equal to a King).
    • Some people also use when the ruler Moon (for Mars in Cancer) who exalts in Taurus, who is ruled by Venus – the planet ruling the exaltation of the Moon when residing in a Kendra from debilitated Mars as cancelling the debilitation.
      • Example – Mars is in Cancer, Moon rules Cancer, Moon exalts in Taurus, Taurus is ruled by Venus. So when Venus is in an angle (especially Libra) from Mars in Cancer – the debilitation of Mars is cancelled. This would be Venus in Libra, Capricorn, Aries and Cancer.

  • The debilitated planet is associated with or aspected by its debilitation lord.
    • Mars in Cancer, its debilitation lord is Moon, Moon in Cancer or in Capricorn would be the aspects of note.
      • Association can mean different things to different astrologers. It can mean that another planet aspects the Moon and its ruler resides in a Nakshatra ruled by the Moon (Hasta, Shravana, Rohini).

  • The debilitated planet is associated with or aspected by its exaltation ruler or lord.
    • Example – Mars is in Cancer, Mars exalts in Capricorn, Capricorn is ruled by Saturn. When Saturn is in Taurus (even stronger when in Rohini moon’s Nakshatra) – and Saturn aspects by 3rd aspect the Mars in Cancer, or when Saturn resides in Capricorn and opposes Mars in Cancer or better yet, when Saturn exalts in Libra and throws its 10th aspect on Mars in Cancer. [Saturn in Cancer with Mars would also cancel the debilitation, but I have seen this Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer cause much more trouble than even the parivartana in Scorpio.]

  • The debilitated planet exchanges houses with its debilitation lord.
    • Using Mars in Cancer again, this is when Mars is in the sign of the Moon, and Moon is in the sign of Mars. Moon in either Aries or Scorpio. As above mentioned, many challenges can come when Moon resides in Scorpio, for it is also the debilitation of the moon. They weaken each other Mars and Moon – because they debilitate in each other’s signs, but when they are both involved (in parivartana yoga) they become very power raja yoga makers.

  • Two debilitated planets aspect each other.
    • Once again we use the planet Mars in Cancer. When Jupiter is in Capricorn (once every 12 years for a year – as it has been for the past year) and it aspects Mars by opposition.

  • The debilitated planet is conjunct an exalted planet.
    • Mars in Cancer, Jupiter in Cancer

  • The ruler of a debilitated planet is exalted.
    • Mars in Cancer – Moon in Taurus

  • The ruler of a debilitated planet is aspected by a planet in exaltation.
    • Mars in Cancer -- Jupiter in Cancer, or Saturn in Libra

  • The Lord of the ruler of the debilitated planet is aspected by an exalted planet.
    • Mars in Cancer – Moon is in Virgo aspected by Mercury in Virgo. Moon is in Libra or Aires conjunct or opposite Saturn, Moon is in Aries conjunct the Sun. You can see the variables and which would be stronger and weaker.

  • The debilitated planet is exalted in the Navamsa.
    • Mars is in Capricorn in Navamsa

  • The debilitated planet is Retrograde in Motion
    • Mars when Retrograde in Cancer
This is simple to learn. First learn the signs of exaltation. Their opposite signs are the debilitation signs.

AriesSun exalts
TaurusMoon exalts (and Rahu)
CancerJupiter exalts
VirgoMercury exalts
LibraSaturn exalts
CapricornMars exalts
PiscesVenus exalts
ScorpioKetu exalts

i.e. the Cardinal signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn plus Taurus and Virgo for Moon and Mercury respectively. Then check those signs in any horoscope for cancellation, along with the navamsa for exaltations reflected there.

Astrologers have a variable experience with the nodes. Some take the nodes to exalt in other signs. I go with Parashara here.

Medical Jyotish webinar letters

Thank you to all the people who wrote me the wonderful emails with their enjoyment of the Medical Jyotish webinar. I really do appreciate all of your comments. And yes, we will be sending the PowerPoint presentations to you. For those who were not able to make the live call, you can still go to the website ( to purchase the webinar, and we will send you the PowerPoint as well!

Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Warm regards,


Editor Christina Collins, Jyotish Kovid, Jyotish Vachaspati

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