Planets are generally divided into 2 groups – Shubha (Benefic) and Paapa (Malefic) on the basis of their natural tendencies.
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Benefic and Malefic Planets in Astrology
Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Moon are natural benefic while all the others – Sun, Mars, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu are natural Malefic planets.
However for Mercury and Moon there are certain conditions when they become malefic. If birth takes place when the position of the Moon is opposite to that of the Sun (that is full Moon) the Moon is said to be most powerful and the strength becomes gradually lower and lower when it approaches the Sun. When the Sun and the Moon join the same Sign (New Moon) the latter is in its weakest state. From the new Moon to the full Moon, the Moon will be gradually gaining to brightness and on the full Moon day it is completely illuminated by the Sun. This transit takes 14 days and the particular day after the new Moon represents a certain phase of the Moon. Each day is denoted by a name – the Thithi or phase of the Moon. The first day after new Moon is the Prathama (Prathipada), the second (Dwitheeya), the third (Thritheeya), the fourth (Chathurthi), the fifth (Panchami), the sixth (Shashti) the seventh (Sapthami), the eighth (Ashtami), the ninth (Navami), the tenth (Dasami), the eleventh (Ekadasi), the twelth (Dwadasi) the thirteenth (Thrayodasi), the fourteenth (Chathurdasi) and the fifteenth day would be the full Moon (Poornami).
This period is the “bright half’ (Shuklapaksha) during which the Moon gradually gains. So during each “Paksha” or half-months there will be each of the Thithis. For instance there will. be a Panchami Thithi in the shuklapaksha and one in the ‘Krishna-paksha’, similarly for each of the Thithis, except the Pournami and Amavasya, which appear only once in the respective fortnight (paksha). So the Shuklapaksha is the period following new Moon till pournami (full Moon) and the Krishnapaksha is the period following full Moon (pournami) till new Moon (amavasya).
The Thithi will be marked in the almanac, for each day. Moon is said to be having Paksha-bala (phase-strength) in proportion with the brightness it is having on that day. Thus on Poornami day it is having full paksha-bala and on new Moon it is totally devoid of Paksha-bala. Astrologically, during the days from the Ashtami (eighth day) on Krishnapaksha (dark Ashtami) till the Ashtami on the next Shuklapaksha (bright Ashtami) the Moon is considered to have no paksha-bala (phase strength).
If the period in between the Suklapaksha Ashtami till the next Krishnapaksh”a Ashtami (Suklaashtami to Krishnashtami) Moon is considered to posses Paksha-bala.
(There are slightly varying opinions in this matter).
The Moon has no light of her own and as she merely reflects the light of the Sun; the capacity of the Moon to nourish and provide growth is only a reflection of the creative energy of the Sun. From new moon to the waxing half-moon, the Moon has a creative urge and desire but finds it difficult to focus enough energy to bring desire into reality, therefore, the areas she affects are frustrated. From waxing half-moon to waning half-moon, the Moon is full of nourishing, growth producing energy and therefore enhances the areas she affects. From waning half-moon to new moon, the Moon is loosing her light and lack is felt in the areas she affects. Those things the malefic Moon influences do not fulfill one’s needs.
Now Moon, though naturally benefic; it would be so only when it is having paksha-bala, otherwise Moon has to be treated as a malefic or a paapa.
In the case of Mercury, it is a benefic by itself and if is joined by a malefic (natural) planet it has to be grouped as a malefic. So ‘Paapa-yoga’ or the joining with a Paapa / malefic planet, would make Mercury a malefic.
Benefic and Malefic by Lordship
We learned that same Planets are by nature benefic and others malefic. But these natural benefic would become malefic by the lordships of certain houses, in each horoscope. And similarly natural malefic may become benefic by virtue of lordship in specific cases.
The following principles govern the ‘beneficity’ and ‘maleficity’ of planets on account of lordship. However this is applicable only for and with respect to the particular birth chart under consideration.
- The lords of trine houses i.e. 5th and 9th house in a horoscope are benefic irrespective of their natural beneficity or maleficity.
- Natural benefic (Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Moon) become malefic when they are the lords of Kendra Houses (quadrant house – the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses). This is also called Kendradhipati Dosha. Natural malefics become benefics if they are the lords of quadrants. (1, 4, 7, 10).
- The lord of the Ascendant ( lord of the first house) is always a benefic for the subject.
- The lords of the 3rd, 6th and 11th houses will be malefic, irrespective of their natural beneficity, in each horoscope.
Note: 1. The maleficity due to lordship of quadrants is very intense in the case of Jupiter and less so for Venus and still less for Mercury and very little for Moon.
2. Rahu and Ketu are always malefic as they do not own any Sign.
So, we can conclude:
Saturn, Mars, the Sun, waning Moon, Rahu and Ketu are malefics. Jupiter, Venus. Mercury and waxing Moon are benefics. Mercury, however, is a malefic if he joins a malefic.
Planets behave as natural benefics or malefics due to their nature. Some planets by their very nature damage those areas they affect and are, therefore, termed as malefic. Other planets enhance those areas they affect and are termed benefic.
Saturn is a malefic because he causes delays and separation from the areas he affects. He causes these difficulties because he indicates where we suffer the results of our poor karmas, and he will not allow us to reap the benefits of the areas he affects until the law of karma has been fulfilled. Saturn is the cross that each of us bears.
Mars is a malefic because he tends to break things, cause accidents, and create quarrels with others.
The Sun is a malefic because he separates us from the areas he affects. Those things the Sun is influencing are sacrificed to obtain spiritual growth and a deeper individuality.
Rahu is a malefic because he causes delays and separation from the areas he affects. He causes delays because he indicates where we have little knowledge, and therefore have much to learn before things will work out. Rahu causes separation because he indicates where we act with a lack of forethought and may therefore get caught up in something not in our best long-term interest that we must leave sometime in the future. He also causes separation by creating longings that are not fulfilled even when the desired object is acquired, thereby creating the tendency to leave one thing for another.
Ketu is a malefic because he hides those areas he affects in addition to destroying, and, thereby, freeing us from attachments. Ketu hides the areas he affects by causing feelings of doubt and creating discontentment that prevents an individual from putting forth the necessary effort. He destroys those areas he affects through self-destructive actions stemming from intense discontent and deep, unfulfilled feelings.
Jupiter is a benefic because he provides fortune. blessings, and abundance. He expands and provides more of the good aspects of whatever he affects. He shows where we have been virtuous, forgiving and kind, and therefore have good karma to reap Most importantly, Jupiter is the good merit that protects us from other adverse influences.
Venus is a benefic because she provides all comforts, pleasures and luxuries. She gives refinement, and social grace. Most importantly, she gives the diplomacy so necessary for dealing with others.
Mercury is a benefic because he provides the capacity to understand the areas he affects in a clear and impartial manner. This allows us to behave with balance and discrimination. Mercury is a mutable planet and takes on the nature of the planets he associates with. When with a malefic he becomes malefic in nature; his normal, impartial nature instead favors the views and desires of the malefic. Mercury does not become malefic on account of being with Rahu or Ketu; he maintains his benefic status because Rahu and Ketu are shadowy in nature and they themselves tend to take on the nature of other planets.
From new moon to full moon the Moon is waxing and her light is increasing. From full moon to new moon the Moon is waning; and her light is decreasing. The amount of light determines the Moon’s beneficence. As her light increases, she gains greater beneficence. As her light decreases, she looses her beneficence. From the waxing half-moon phase, which occurs when the Moon is 90 degrees from the Sun, to the waning half-moon phase when the Moon is 270 degrees away from the Sun, the Moon is a benefic. From 270 degrees to 90 degrees, the Moon is a malefic.
According to Brihat Parashara Hora Sastra, the Moon must have an AyanaBala of 40 virupas to be considered strong, therefore. the Moon is an effective benefic when it is 120 – 240 degrees from the Sun. at which point its AyanaBala is 40 virupas or greater. Half of 40 virupas is 20 virupas: the Moon has 20 virupas or less of AyanaBala when it is 300 – 60 degrees from the Sun, at which point it becomes an effective malefic.
The planets additionally gain temporal status as a benefic or malefic depending upon which houses they rule in a horoscope. This often creates many confusing contradictions for the beginning astrologer. A good thumb rule is that the natural tendency of a planet affects any area or combination it influences in the horoscope according to its natural benefic or malefic nature. The temporal nature indicates the motivation and goal of a planet.