Help Clarifying Hou...
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Help Clarifying House Related Terminology

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The subject is: Terminology for referring to those parts of the chart that contain things.

The relevant lessons I am drawing from are:

  • The Horoscope lessons 1 (Charts) and 3 (Houses)
  • Jyotish Building Blocks lessons 2 (The Horoscope Chart), 3 (The Rasi and its Purpose), and 7 (Bhava Systems)


As far as I can tell there are four terms that may be used: sthana (place), bhava (existing existence), griha (house), and rasi (sign).

Rather than pose questions, I would like to make a series of statements (of understanding) and ask for correction or feedback. My aim is to ensure that I am using the above terms correctly.


S1. Each square (of a South Indian Chart), diamond or triangle (of a North Indian Chart), or slice of pie (of a wheel chart) is most generally, technically, and correctly referred to as a sthana (meaning place).

However, depending on the context, sthana may properly refer to either a "house" (bhava/griha) or a sign (rasi). However, since one is nearly always going to be speaking specifically within context of either rasis or  bhavas, there are few instances where using sthana helps to clarifying rather than obfuscate.


S2. Although griha is the term that actually means what house means in western astrology- that is, a space that may be inhabited by a graha- the term is not commonly (or at all?) used in Vedic astrology. The focal aspect and key connotation of what is called a "house" is not that it is a sectioned space inhabited by planets and points, but rather that it contains a collection of native- and earth-centered significators for what may concretely manifest on Earth in the native's life. Thus, the term bhava - existing existence- is preferred by Vedic astrologers. This term (bhava) points up the preferred connotations, and deemphasizes those captured by the term house. However, the western concept of house technically includes mostly the same connotations as bhava, thus Vedic astrologers already familiar with the term house will use it interchangeably with bhava. However, as I point out in the question at the end of S5 below, I wonder if this is really just confusing things.  


S3. Every bhava and every rasi is exactly 30 degrees (0-29.59). In Vedic astrology, all 30 degrees of a rasi overlap exactly with all 30 degrees of some bhava; where the specific bhava number falls out in order from the first sign in the chart- the rising sign. So, all 30 degrees of the first or rising sign is also the entire 30 degree portion of the chart which makes up the 1st bhava, and so on through the following eleven bhavas and signs.


S4. Since there is perfect overlap in degrees between some rasi and some bhava, and since rasi technically means a portion of 30 degrees, there is the possibility for some confusion if one is not careful to make their context clear when using these terms too loosely. For example, using "3rd bhava" interchangeably with "3rd rasi" or just "3rd" might cause unnecessary confusion. 


S5. A graha (planet or node) being anywhere in the 3rd bhava is not actually interpreted as "being in" the 3rd bhava (in the western sense) unless the sphuta (exact point) of the 3rd bhava (as calculated by the Campanus House System or some other Bhava Chalita system) also falls anywhere in the third bhava. In other words, a planet being in the 3rd bhava does not by itself indicate that that planet has an interpretive impact on the things denoted by the 3rd bhava. However, if a graha and the 3rd bhava's sphuta ("cusp") were in the same bhava, the 3rd bhava can be read as if that planet were "in" the 3rd house (in the western sense). This conjunction of graha and bhava sphuta is the western equivalent to a planet being "in a house." For this reason, it becomes less confusing simply to refer to the planet as being "in the 3rd conjunct the 3rd Bhava", or "in the 3rd shtana conjunct the 3rd bhava sphuta", rather than being "in the 3rd Bhava and conjunct the 3rd Bhava." 

This raises a question: if what a bhava denotes is impacted only by the sign its sphuta is in, along with any conjunctions and aspects to it, then what is gained by referring to the 3rd shtana as the 3rd bhava? If it's sphuta is in the 2nd or 4th shtana, there seems to be little gained from the confusing terminology. It would be like saying, "the 3rd bhava is in the 4th bhava." Confusing.


S6. Bhava sphuta is technically the same point in space as a western house cusp. However, since a bhava sphuta does not mark the first degree of a portion that makes up a bhava (or any other type of shtana), it is only a cusp in the sense that it would or could be a cusp if it were to be used in the western way- which it will not be. 

This goes back to my question: if what is important and denoted by a bhava is contained entirely in its point or sphuta, what is the good in referring to the shtanas as bhavas? I have seen that in some techniques the 7th shtana also denotes what is elsewhere denoted only by the 7th bhava sphuta. So, that is still confusing me. It would be nice to have a clear and definitive list of which Vedic techniques treat the shtanas as if a planet, aspect, or point in one the whole sign bhavas they contain is impacting that which is denoted by the bhava sphuta. In short, under which condition do the shtanas take on the meaning of the bhavas for the purpose of interpretation. In some cases, only what is affecting the bhava sphutas impacts the interpretation of a bhava, and in other cases (not sure which) it appears that whatever is in or impacting anything in the entire 30 degrees of a shtana is also impacting whatever is denoted by the bhava it contains.


S7. In Vedic astrology we are always using the Whole Sign Bhava System along with some type of Bhava Chalita (changeable house system), preferably Campanus. However, any house system that is not Whole Sign can be designated as a Bhava Chalita, not just Sripati or Campanus.


S8. Two important points regarding the term Bhava Chalita: (1) Bhava-Chalita is also the Vedic name of the Sripati Bhava System (also known as the Porphyry House System in the west), (2) Kala Software uses the term "BhavaChalita" (no hyphen) to refer to the bhava sphutas as determined by which ever changeable house system one chooses. So, the table "Aspects to BhavaChalita" will contains a list of the bhava sphutas for whichever house system one is using. Finally, (3) Kala software also uses "Bhava-Chalita" to designate the chart based on the Sripati/Porphyry Bhava System.

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Ernst Wilhelm
Posts: 2403
Joined: 10 years ago

These terms are completely interchangeable in the current time period of what things are called. And yes, that makes no sense and so we can only know what is meant from the context of the conversation or technique. Possibly at one time these were each more specific in meaning, but it's very possible it never was. Terms are and were very loose and always required understanding the context. 

Its also possible the terms started to have all the same meanings due to only the rasi chart being used and no bhava chalita chart every being used by the majority of astrologers. 

Sri pati is called bhava chalita because that was the only bhava chalita chart that we have any record of from India. The never spent anytime developing a bhava chart in india as rasi chart was almost exclusively used. Bhava chalita simply means different sized bhavas. 

Even the oldest books from india interchange these terms. So we can only guess at what, if any specific meanings these words have. Brihat Jataka from the 6th century gives a list of these terms and say they all mean the same thing. 

I think that Bhava should only mean the CUPS of a Bhava Chalita chart.

Griha should mean the placement from 1-12 of a planet in a Bhava chalita bhava. 

Rasi should mean aries, taurus, etc. Bha should also only mean a Rasi. 

Sthana should mean a place 1-12 in a rasi as counted from the lagna. 

There is not a particular way in which vedic astrologer does any of these things or what it uses for any technique, that is up to each individual astrologer. NOTHING is standardized, not even terms as you are pointing out. The few that user a bhava chalita use sri pati unless they do krishnamuhurti who uses placidus. I am the only one who is using campanus or those who learned it from me. Even in the western world campanus is a little used system. 

All vedic astrologers I know who use a bhava chalita system, use bhava placements, so of course they need terms to put a planet in a bhava chalita. I don't. With that said, there may be some value to it in respect to something.. more perhaps on that later. 

Will we ever have conformity in vedic astrology? Maybe one day, but not in our lifetime... 

Most of the techniques found in the classical vedic astrology books rely on the rasi chart and so bhava chalita is not neccessary for most things that most astrologers do. 




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Eminent Member
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Although there is no standardized use of the key terms mentioned, for the purpose of pedagogical clarity and local standardization (within the present school), can we agree on the following stipulative definitions? 

Bhava Chalita: the specific non-whole-sign house system in use in a chart by which is determined the exact points for the bhava sphutas. It may refer to any changeable or movable bhava sphuta system; that is, to any and all “house systems” other than whole sign. 

  • Traditionally, the only bhava chalita in use in Vedic Astrology was the Sri Pati [Porphyry] “house system”. For this reason, the term bhava chalita came to be synonymous with the Sri Pati system. [Question: If Sripati is the same as "Porphyrius", why are they listed as separate house options in Kala?]

Bhava: a category of associated subjects as determined by tradition and deduction; e.g. the fourth bhava includes the subjects mother, real estate, vehicles, bank deposits, etc. In the context of discussing a horoscope, bhava may be used as a shorthand for bhava sphuta; in that, the "4th bhava sphuta" just is the "4th bhava" for a given native.

Bhava Sphuta: the exact degree (point) in a chart that represents the things of a given bhava as determined by a bhava chalita. So, the 4th bhava sphuta in a chart represents all things associated with the 4th bhava as it relates to the native of the chart. Some use bhava for short.

  • These exact degree points (and NOT the degrees between them) constitutes a "house" in Vedic astrology. There are no "planets in houses"; there are only planets conjunct (meaning: in the same rasi as) bhava sphutas.)
  • The 12 bhava sphutas are not fixed to the 0th degree of some sign as is the case with the whole Sign bhava system, plus the distance between bhava sphutas may be greater or lesser than 30 degrees.

Griha: the distance in degrees between two bhava sphutas taken together as a unit and counted from the bhava sphuta in the lower degree. So, the 4th griha begins at the 4th bhava sphuta and ends just before the 5th, etc. [When or under which techniques would the griha of a planet come into play?]

Rasi: one of twelves ordered “zodiac signs” designated by a 30 degree portion of both a chart and the ecliptic. The first rasi in any chart is always Aries, and the last is Pisces. The term bha is synonymous with rasi. [Is there any subtle distinction in meaning between bha and rasi? Is there any contexts under which one might choose one term over the other?]

Sthana: one of twelve spaces (or places) overlapping a rasi exactly and counted from the lagna. So, the 1st sthana is a chart is always commensurate with the lagna rasi, and counts from there in the standard direction. So, this allows us to say things like, "the 1st rasi is in the 4th sthana" or place from the lagna. Whenever a Vedic technique presupposes or requires the whole-sign bhava system (which is built into Vedic astrology), the "4th shtana" becomes synonymous with the "4th bhava".

  • There are Vedic techniques that treat the shtanas as if their entire space in degrees represented a bhava in the chart. So, the entire 4th shtana becomes the 4th bhava sphuta, and any planet in the 4th shtana impacts the interpretation of the 4th bhava sphuta. Thus, the 4th shtana and the 4th bhava become one and the same when using certain techniques. [In this school, when will we treat planets as being "in" bhavas like this?]
  • One place this word might find good use is when presenting the North Indian Chart. Each diamond and triangle represent fixed shtanas from the lagna. 
  • In the case of explaining why certain shtanas are good or bad, the bhava meanings are brought in. So the 6th, 8th, and 12th shtanas are bad according to the meanings of the 6th, 8th and 12th bhavas. So here it gets a little confusing regarding how to separate bhava from shtana.
  • In Vault of the Heavens: The avastha of a planet indicates how one feels and experiences those things indicated by the house the planet is in. [So, for situations like this where are are clearly using Vedic concepts and techniques, how do we argue for the idea that at some points the shtanas take on the meaning of bhavas in a very western sense?]