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How Bad Can A Good Planet Be?

The Natural and Temporal Status of Planets

By Angela Pennington

Students of Jyotish frequently have challenges with the concept of the natural and functional status of a planet. The purpose of this article is to clearly explain these concepts to our beginning students.

The “Natural” status of a planet never changes. Jupiter is a benefic planet, and will always display a certain level of positive and supportive qualities. Saturn, a malefic, will always present a level of challenge or obstacles.

How a planet actually operates in an individual chart is called the “Functional” or “Temporal” status of a planet. This changes according to house rulership. Basically, by Lagna.

Before moving forward, It’s important to understand that planets fall into one of two families:

Family 1Family 2
Sun, Moon, Mars, JupiterMercury, Venus, Saturn

Rahu and Ketu are not included because they do not rule any houses.

The members of each family respectively, enjoy each other’s company and like to visit. They are friendly and supportive in their own groups. This is demonstrated in the trikona houses 1, 5 and 9. Whatever lagna we are examining, notice the trine lords are always in the same family. They support each other in these dharma houses. The trinal lords for any given lagna are considered the functional benefics of the chart. All other planets will be considered functional malefics. Here is an example using the chart of Albert Einstein:



The chart Lord is Mercury, fifth Lord Venus and ninth Lord Saturn; all belonging to the same family. As a supportive group they offered Albert Einstein the opportunity to fulfill his dharma.

The common question we all have at some point is “when a natural benefic planet becomes a temporal malefic or vice versa what happens?” A powerful question with many variables. Let’s address this systematically by using the chart below:



The Moon, Mars and Jupiter as lords of the trinal houses are the functional benefics for this chart. Mercury, Venus and Saturn are considered functional malefics. As a rule, the Sun is malefic based on association.

To understand how a temporal planet will act, examine strength and favorableness. These factors provide necessary indicators on planetary behavior:

Jupiter a natural benefic and functional benefic, very strong and favorable. During the Jupiter Maha Dasha this individuals career excelled, a strong increase in financial investments and spiritual awakening. In the natal chart, Jupiter is in the twelfth house. Toward the end of the Maha Dasha investments had to be sold off, business closed, relationships ended.

Venus a natural benefic and functional malefic, very strong and favorable. Venus has always guaranteed nice homes and cars while at the same time loss of relationships in the home and difficulties through the mother. These challenges decreased as Venus reached maturity in the chart.

Mars a natural malefic and functional benefic, very strong and favorable. During the full length of the Maha Dasha the father served in the military. There was a house fire with little damage. A strong temperament at a young age, native learned to focus the highly active energy into positive endeavors.

Saturn a natural malefic and functional malefic, strong and favorable. At the onset of the Maha Dasha the native’s mother died and their house was robbed. These experiences forced the native to look at life through new eyes and become less attached to the material world. As the Maha Dasha has progressed, the native has become very organized and has developed a focused approach to creating long term stability and success.

As you can see, the temporal state brings unique opportunities for personal development especially with strong and favorable planets. Lets see how an unfavorable planet can effect the character in the chart below:



Mercury, Saturn and Venus as lords of the trinal houses are the functional benefics for this chart. Mars, Jupiter, Sun and Moon are considered functional malefics.

Jupiter a natural benefic and functional malefic, strong and favorable. A strong relationship with the father who is a consistent source of financial support. Poor relationship with the mother. The native’s natural tendency is to have extreme emotional reactions.

Venus a natural benefic and functional benefic, very strong and unfavorable. Venus is a “Morning Star” giving an independent or warrior nature. Having a special needs child, proper channeling of these qualities may have helped overcome obstacles. Difficult qualities became apparent during the Maha Dasha as the native spontaneously moved long distances frequently for relationships which ended badly. In addition, native gets too involved and takes responsibility in other peoples problems. A welcoming demeanor and great sense of humor.

Mars a natural malefic and functional malefic, strong and unfavorable. Challenges with siblings. A penchant for drama and avoids confrontation.

Saturn a natural malefic and functional benefic, strong and unfavorable. Constantly changes homes, trouble maintaining a good credit rating. This has improved as the planets have matured.

Understanding the difference between the various modes is vitally important to the quality of our judgements.

We invite you to give us your comments on articles and anything you would like to see in the ACVA Quarterly Newsletter!

Angela Pennington


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