Kāraka in the ancient texts

When learning from an ancient tradition, the re-reading of the ancient texts on Astrology always brings new questions, thoughts and a never ceasing pondering. On this occasion a reading of Astrology’s Gospel, Bṛhat Parāśara Horā Śastra, and one of its popular English translations by R. Santhanam, gives me pause and a desire to share some of the teachings of the tradition, and an impetus to question how we read the texts of the Ancients.

On the picture featured at the top of this post, an image of the fold of page 222 has been captured by me to highlight both the broadness of Parāśara and the lacking thereof in discussing its interpretation.

Herein, what is striking from an avid reader of the ancient texts, is Parāśara Muni’s ability to pan across a vast subject in solely 32 sounds, the length of a sentence or śloka in many ancient texts. E.g. one single śloka is dedicated to the topic of livestock. The same length is dedicated each to predicting mutism (aphasia), maternal happiness and mother’s longevity.

At this stage, some find it easy to conclude that either there was a lack of exposure to cases of mutism, livestock ownership, etc. at the time of Parāśara, or that the Sage simply didn’t dedicate enough time to the topics. However, neither conclusion would justify Parāśara’s role as a Sage of Astrology! We can therefore offer a third conclusion, namely that Parāśara has compiled the entire individual subject matter into the condensed sentences which the student needs to unravel, hopefully with a qualified teacher. A simple example is given from the context of maternal happiness.

sukheśe kendrabhāvasthe tathā kendrasthito bhṛguḥ|
śaśije svoccharaśisthe mātuḥ pūrṇa sukhaṁ vadet||7||

Santhanam: If the Lord of the Fourth House and Venus are situated in a Kendra or angle and Mercury is in his exaltation sign there will be full happiness of the mother.

Alternative Translation: The fourth lord placed in a kendra; Venus in a Kendra; Mercury in own or exaltation sign; these give the complete happiness from mother.

The simple change of the translation to consider each of the three principles of a) fourth lord in a kendra, b) Venus in Kendra and c) Mercury in own or exalted sign, as parallel principles changes the approach of the Astrologer to the śloka and begins to derive meaning from the śloka. Herein, the tradition teaches that these three principles are three aspects of the mother and divine mother, and we learn about the kāraka or significator’s of the Divine mother.

4th lord is our own mother and if placed in:
i) kendra to lagna, she supports the native, despite disagreements which occur if in 7th house,
ii) she is also available because of being well placed from the 4th house.

Venus is the blessing of the divine mother, in the form of Durgā, and its placement decides the extent of affection in our life, not only from spouse, seen from seventh house from Venus, but affection in all facets of life. Specifically, this affection comes from women whom may not be one’s biological mother, and Venus in kendra ensures support from women, as in koṇa we need to pray for the same. Venus’ beneficence indicates how the person has treated women in their past life, e.g. how much sorrow have women seen at one’s hand.
As Venus is the kāraka for the seventh house, it also signifies mothers-mother, i.e. maternal grandmother.

Mercury indicates Bhu-devī, or earth mother, and decides how many toys we are allowed to play with or have access to in this life. She further decides our wealth and its placement shows to what extent we have manipulated the earth mother in this life. Specifically, how one has manipulated all animate objects is decided from Mercury. Unlike Venus who governs the emotional impact one has imparted on women, Mercury indicates the physical impact, and these are both examined in the Khaveḍāṁśa (D-40) chart to discern the persons true character. Therein, Mercury in Kendra shows a very respectful person towards women, whereas in Dusthāṇa (6/8/12) speaks against this.
As Mercury is kāraka for the tenth house which is fourth from the seventh house, it also signifies the maternal-great grandmother, i.e. mothers-mothers-mother.

Virgo is also mentioned by Parāśara in the context of examining Mercury, but on its own also holds sway in ascertaining if the earth mother is happy (benefics) or sad (malefics) with the native. 

Kendra despite being governed by Śrī Viṣṇu (ref Parāśara) are also pivotal in examining the flow of the three Nāḍī, also named after the divine mother. Gañgā is examined in the seventh house, Yamunā in the first house, and Sarasvatī in the tenth house. These celestial rivers are the ideal or pivot that we seek to establish through Yoga in our body in the Iḍā, Piñgalā and Sarasvatī Nāḍi respectively.

Concluding, the single śloka of Parāśara needs to be expanded for real interpretation, and entire books could be printed on just one śloka therein.