Monday, March 07, 2005

Interpreting Parasara's Dreshkana Definition

by Shree Narasimha P.V.R. Rao

Here are the verses from Santhanam's version of BPHS.

Verses 6-7, 6-8

raasi tribhaagaa dreshkaanaaste cha shattrimsadeeritaah |
parivrittitrayam teshaam meshaadeh kramaso bhavet ||
swa pancha navamaanaam cha raaseenaam kramasascha te |
naaradaagastidurvaasaa dreshkaanesaah charaadishu ||

Literal Meaning: The one-third parts of rasis are called dreshkanas. There are 36 of those. There are three repetitions of those, starting from Aries and going in the regular order. They are of 1st, 5th and 9th of signs in the regular order and dreshkana lords are Naarada, Agastya and Durvaasa, in movable signs etc.

As you can see, this literal meaning is not too helpful and it needs some interpretation. There are three possible interpretations. I will go through them one after the other.

* * *

Interpretation 1:

If you go from the beginning of Aries and take 36 equal parts of the zodiac, you get 0-10 Ar, 10-20 Ar, 20-30 Ar, 0-10 Ta, 10-20 Ta, 20-30 Ta and so on. These are mapped to signs in such a way that the 12 signs in the zodiac repeat 3 times. We take the 1st, 5th and 9th from signs. So, for the 3 parts of Ar, the mapping is Ar, Le and Sg. For the 3 parts of Ta, the mapping is Ta, Vi and Cp. For the 3 parts of Ge, the mapping is Ge, Li and Aq. For the 3 parts of Cn, the mapping is Cn, Sc and Pi. For the 3 parts of Le, the mapping is Le, Sg and Ar. And so on.

The problem with this interpretation is that we get Ar, Le, Sg, Ta, Vi, Cp, Ge, Li, Aq, Cn, Sc and Pi for the first 12 dreshkanas, Le, Sg, Ar, Vi, Cp, Ta, Li, Aq, Ge, Sc, Pi and Cn for the second set of 12 dreshkanas and so on. This is not exactly a repetition of the same thing three times. The word "parivritti trayam" is not exactly upheld. However, argument can be made that parivritti trayam ("cycling thru the zodiac three times") does not exactly mean repetition of the same sequence 3 times, but covering the zodiac three times (possibly in different order each time). This is a tenable argument.

Another problem with this interpretation is the word "charaadishu". This term means "in movable signs etc". It implies that certain order given earlier applies to movable signs and the orders in fixed and dual signs are expected to be understood by the reader intelligently. However, one can argue that this term applies to the assignment of Maharshis only and not to "swa pancha navamaanaam". One can argue that Narada, Agastya and Durvasa are the lords of the 3 dreshkanas in movable signs and there are other orders in fixed and dual signs. This view is acceptable.

This interpretation is what Santhanam basically used in his translation of BPHS (though he seems to have erred on maharshis and totally ignored the term "charaadishu") and this interpretation is the most common one. Most software programs find drekkana (D-3) chart this way.

In JHora, this chart is called "Parasara Drekkana", simply because the most common interpretations of Parasara give this chart.

* * *

Interpretation 2:

In this interpretation, the term "charaadishu" is applied to "naaradaagasti durvaasaah" as well as "swa pancha navamaanaam"! So the 3 drekkanas of a sign go into 1st, 5th and 9th from it, if it is movable. Parasara hints that the orders are different for fixed and dual signs, but does not specifically mention them. He expects to work that intelligently.

Now the big clue is the term "parivritti trayam". Now we can interpret it very strictly, unlike in the above interpretation. We can define the sequence for fixed signs as "9th, 1st and 5th" and for dual signs as "5th, 9th and 1st". With this definition, if we write down the signs corresponding to the 36 drekkanas, we get

Ar, Le, Sg, Cp, Ta, Vi, Li, Aq, Ge, Cn, Sc, Pi,
Ar, Le, Sg, Cp, Ta, Vi, Li, Aq, Ge, Cn, Sc, Pi,
Ar, Le, Sg, Cp, Ta, Vi, Li, Aq, Ge, Cn, Sc, Pi.

In other words, we do have a strict repetition three times!

So this is a very logical interpretation. This also fits with what Chandra Kala Nadi says in verse 5752: "chare svaputranavapaah sthire dharmasvaputrapaah. putradharmasvapaajneyaa drekkaanam vinyaset kramaat".

Though one can definitely argue that this is the correct interpretation of Parasara, we want to respect the majority who use interpretation 1 and we call this variation "Jagannatha Drekkana" in our tradition. In JHora also, it is shown as "Jagannatha Drekkana".

You may recall that the above is basically Vishnu's progression. Progressing by one sign is Brahma's progression and Narayana dasa progresses like chara dasa (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc) if lagna is in a movable sign. Progressing by 6 houses is Shiva's progression and Narayana dasa progresses as 1st, 6th, 11th (6th from 6th), 4th (6th from 11th), 9th (6th from 4th) and so on. Progressing thru dharma, artha, kama and moksha trikonas is Vishnu's progression and Narayana dasa progresses as 1st, 5th, 9th, 10th, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 11th, 3rd, 4th, 8th and 12th if lagna is in a dual sign. You can notice that the above progression of signs is like Narayana dasa progression for dual signs. So it has the stamp of Vishnu on it. So we call it "Jagannatha Drekkana" in our tradition.

* * *

Interpretation 3:

One can interpret "parivritti trayam teshaam meshaadeh kramaso bhavet" as "there is a repetition by three times of those starting from Aries and going in the regular order. The word "meshaadeh" can be interpreted in two ways. It can mean "starting from Aries" or "from the starting of Aries". In the above two interpretations, we used the latter. So we used "meshaadeh" as a cue for deciding the 10 deg parts whose drekkanas we are talking about. We interpreted the line as saying "if the drekkanas of the 36 parts starting from 0-10 Ar and going regularly are arranged in an order, there is a repetition of the zodiac three times".

We can also interpret "meshaadeh" as "starting from Aries". Now this is being used as a cue for deciding the drekkanas themselves! So this means "there is a repetition by three times of the signs starting Aries". This implies that the 36 drekkanas are

Ar, Ta, Ge, Cn, Le, Vi, Li, Sc, Sg, Cp, Aq, Pi,
Ar, Ta, Ge, Cn, Le, Vi, Li, Sc, Sg, Cp, Aq, Pi,
Ar, Ta, Ge, Cn, Le, Vi, Li, Sc, Sg, Cp, Aq, Pi.

Here "parivritti trayam" is interpreted in the most straight-forward and strict way.

Now the third line "swa pancha navamaanaam" becomes tricky to interpret. That is the weakness of this definition.

But one can argue that the 3rd and 4th lines go together. One can argue that the first two lines define the drekkana mapping and the next two lines define the ruling Maharshis!

Now the last two lines can mean "if you start from movable signs and take 1st, 5th and 9th, lords are Narada, Agastya and Durvasa."

In other words, here we are not deciding the maharshis based on which one third of which sign. After finding the drekkana, we simply find the maharshi associated with that drekkana sign.

Thus the last two verses are interpreted for maharshi assignment and the drekkana mapping is exclusively derived from the second line.

This variation is called "Parivritti Traya Drekkana" in JHora.

* * *

In my judgment, all the three interpretations given above are valid interpretations of Parasara. All of them are used by some group of astrologers or the other. In our tradition, we use all the three charts and we use them for different purposes. I will not at all be surprised if Parasara intended us to read the verses in 3 different ways and he intended all the three meanings. As somebody who understands the old Vedic paradigm of writing and the tradition of transmitting secrets in verses, I will not at all shocked or surprised by the idea that three different meanings could be buried in the same verses. But I am sure it will sound weird to some.

There is another variation known as "Somanatha Drekkana", which does not seem to have a basis in Parasara's teachings.

I hope the above interpretations make sense to the erudite among you.

May Jupiter's light shine on us,

Brihaspati Gayatri, Vishwamitra/Gaathina Rishi Rig Veda 6.62.6