Ayurjyotish, karma and the 5 elements.

Karma, means “action” (including reaction or effect) and it can also be understood as “debt” or rena. All of creation including sentient life born on planet earth is constantly in a process of responding to external influences and in it’s turn affecting everything in the environment. Another way to look at the meaning of karma in our lives is that sometimes we have to pay a debt, and sometimes we get to collect a payment for a merit.

It is not that “the planets made us as we are” but it’s more accurate to say: “I am who I have become by the merit or detriment of countless choices – to be here, in this place at this time. And where is this here, why am I here and besides, who am I and in what condition and where do I want or need to go? These are questions where Jyotish can provide us with a map, a light to see by and a clock to keep track of the times of our seasons.

The 12 Zodiac signs and the 9 grahas residing in these celestial spaces are the coordinates within the map of our karmic condition and show the lay of the land. They also give us an inventory of our assets and flaws we have to work with. As individuals are responsible to use our “Will” wisely in the pursuit and choice of our goals, rather than praising or blaming the grahas or our fate of finding ourselves in this or that condition. It would be foolish for a traveler to blame the map for having strayed off course, when it was our own legs that got us here and learning how to use the map merely informed us where we’re at.

My purpose in this article is to explore the position of grahas in our rasi chart and see how their placement in particular zodiacal signs contributes to innate afflictions which constitute our karmic debt. Equal attention should also be given to our strengths and assets that can point us in the direction of how best to pay back our old karmic debts and avoid making new ones. Like a farmer mindful of the seasons and aware of the nature of the earth, we can learn where and when to plant our seeds. In this article, I will stay on the general and not delve into vargas or divisional charts which are essential for making predictions.

The rasis are the karmic patterns; rasi in Sanskrit means “a heap” of karma. One symbol that is used to characterize the 12 rasis is the Kalapurusa or “Cosmic Person.” This is the pattern of the human body. All human beings are restricted to the form of the Kalapurusa; 2 arms, one head, a stomach etc. and unless severely deformed, which is rare, we are born according to this pattern.

The grahas are the carriers of the elemental energies of the 5 Mahaabhuutas; called the panchatattvas or 5 elements earth, water, fire, air, ether which enhance or afflict the innate function of the rasis that also have a tattva. The grahas are the active agents operating within the rasis and influencing them; enhancing, blocking, limiting, controlling, expanding, burning, drying or moisturizing depending on the nature of the graha. If the rasi is the karmic pattern then it is the grahas interacting with the rasi and with other grahas that indicate what punishment or reward based on our karmic debt we will experience.

The imbalances we are born with are carried over from past lives due to our karmas. One way we can understand and therefore remedy them is by correct and early diagnosis before a full blow disease erupts.

The most fundamental imbalance is on the level of the tattvas. In Ayurveda there are 3 basic imbalances called dosa. They are created by the tattvas when there is too much of some element(s) or a lack of another.

To understand this and be able to apply this principle to our Jyotish chart we need to know the tattvas of the rasis and the grahas and how the tattvas interact with each other.

The Rasi Tattvas:

TAURUS PRITHVI-earth KAPHA- water & earth
CANCER JALA-water KAPHA- water
LEO AGNI-fire PITTA- fire
LIBRA VAYU-air VATA & KAPHA- air and water
SCORPIO JALA-water PITTA & KAPHA- fire and water
CAPRICORN PRITHVI-earth VATA & PITTA- air and fire
PISCES JALA-water KAPHA- water

The Graha Tattvas:


Elemental Comparability table:










AKASH goes with everything

Now that we see the basic relationships we can see how this works in a chart.

Let’s say that you have Moon in Aries. The moon is the mind, is a jala-kapha graha. Jala-kapha tends to be heavy and put on weight but Aries is pitta hot and energetic, so it will burn off the excess weight. The agni will also influence the mind to be active and possibly want to exercise.

Also, the mind thrives on peace and comfort. So when Moon or mind is in Aries it will cause the mind to be fiery creating activity and high energy. The Aries Moon person can feel some disturbance to the mind like over excitement or be prone to losing their temper since water and fire are not compatible.

If grahas join the Moon it will cause an increase or decrease of the fire energy. For instance, if the Moon in Aries is joined by another agni graha like Sun or Mars then this will add confirmation and enhance the fire energy. If the Moon in Aries is joined by a Jala graha, Venus for example, then the gentle Moon has an ally to support it’s watery nature and Aries will not be as strong a factor on heating and drying out the Moon as it was when Sun or Mars were conjoined. If the rasi is the karmic pattern then it is the grahas interacting with the rasi and with other grahas that indicate what punishment reward based on our karmic debt we will experience.

I will add some case studies so stay tuned………



About sueannmckean

My search for meaning in life turned serious in my late teens and included a sustained practice with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation in 1973 that I practice still today. In 1973 I also became a student of Aikido with Shihan Robert Nadeau Sensei in the Bay area of California, received a black belt (currently 6th dan) and have been teaching Aikido for the next 37 years, mostly at Bay Area dojos in Los Gatos, San Francisco, San Jose, Mountain View, Palo Alto and colleges : Hayward and San Jose State Universities, Sofia University, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) and De Anza College. I had a 6 year career as an international bodybuilder, was a finalist in the pro- world championships 3 times and in the IFBB Ms Olympia in 1986 & 87. I was introduced to the Enneagram in 1978 and became a certified teacher in the narrative tradition with Helen Palmer and David Daniels in 1993. I integrated the Enneagram with principles of Aikido in my teaching. In 1990 after a pilgrimage to India I reconnected to Vedic wisdom with a focus on Jyotish (Vedic Astrology), a study that really took off when I met my guru, Pundit Sanjay Rath in 2005. Since 2007 I went to the Himalayas yearly to study Jaimini Sutra Upadesa and Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra graduating in 2011 as a Jaimini Scholar from the 5 year Master's Course. For nearly 3 years, from Jan. 2010, I mentored in the Parasara Jyotish program created by Pundit Rath. I am a level 1 & 2 teacher in the AIAC (Ancient Indian Astrology Classes) founded by Chicago based Guru Souvik Dutta. (see the Ayurjyotish course in 2012, the Visesa Lagna course in Jan. 2014 and Panchanga course in Jan. 2015) Teaching what I am learning deepens understanding and joy. Currently I have a Level 1 foundation course going on skype (Sept. 2015 I live in the hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay with my husband Jack Labanauskas, publisher of the Enneagram Monthly, also a practitioner and student of Vedic wisdom.
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7 Responses to Ayurjyotish, karma and the 5 elements.

  1. sueannmckean says:

    Wow, Sarbani, I am honored. You are my first (and only) comment-er. Slowly but surely getting in gear…Thank you for the encouragement.

  2. Debra says:

    Very cool stuff, Sue Ann! Although complex, it is very interesting. I’ll look forward to your next post.

    • sueannmckean says:

      Hey Debra; thanks for checking in to my new blog! I will be writing something (hopefully) not so complex for the “lay”woman such as yourself ..( I hope you took that in the spirit it was intended)
      all the best to you and Mike.

  3. Mahadevi says:

    Very Nice!!

  4. sueannmckean says:

    Thank you Laxsmi… come by again…I am going to write more.

  5. Namaste madam, I love the way you have presented this article. Hoping to see more and may god bless you.

    ~Prakash Sundaramoorthy~

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