Mars - Challenge & Opportunity Indicator

by Dr. Bangalore Sureshwara

from The Astrological eMagazine, January 2014 issue

Vedic Astrology is based on the individual's Prarabdha Karma.  Prarabdha Karma is the accumulated Karma that an individual inherits in the current life from Karma that has been generated in previous life or lives. The horoscope, based on Prarabdha Karma, is not a deterministic information document, but an indicative map of the individual’s potential in life. The key to success is that by human effort, often referred to as willpower, an individual may convert the indicated potential to positive reality.  Let us recollect that Dr. B. V. Raman had time after time emphasized that Vedic Astrology is an indicative field.

Malefic and Benefic: Yesterday's Words
An incomplete impression or belief exists in limited number of people who are involved in Vedic Astrology, either as professionals, consultants or clients, that among the nine planets, Jupiter and Venus are always "benefic" or good, while Sun, Saturn and Mars are always "malefic" or bad. Again, Full Moon is considered benefic and New Moon is a malefic. Mercury is good or bad depending on its specific association with one or more of the benefics or malefics. It is said that the words benefic and malefic have their origin or were derived from Latin language. The word benefic implies positive. It may mean advantageous, beneficial, favorable, good, or helpful. On the other hand, the word malefic implies negative. It may mean destructive, disastrous, evil, fatal, harmful or poisonous.

Words are powerful, especially words such as "malefic" or "benefic" that are used to identify a specific planet. The use or association of the term malefic as a prefix to a planet (ex: malefic Mars or malefic Saturn), possibly and primarily resulted because of the limited or narrow understanding of Sanskrit language, Vedic Astrology, and/ or English by those who initially translated the original classical Sanskrit texts to English. Even in the unlikely event, the term malefic is a "reasonable" translation of the original Sanskrit word, it indicates a negative and troubling approach and more importantly, it is likely to have an unhelpful influence or impact on the individual who is either reading the text or the one who hears the words.

Widely recognized and acceptable references or text books and well-known scholars have not explicitly indicated that out of the nine planets considered in Vedic Astrology, some of the planets are exclusively good or bad. Similarly, none of the twenty-seven stars are considered exclusively good or bad. All the planets and stars considered in Vedic Astrology provide for most of the horoscopes indications that are partially positive or encouraging and partially negative or challenging. Practically, there are areas of astrology in the twenty-first century that need to finesse their terminology and adopt positive terms to ensure that the public is free of fear and are comfortable when they consult an astrologer or refer to an astrological literature. The use of terms such as "benefic" and " malefic", at best, is a little misleading. As an example, if a practitioner says that "Saturn bhukthi is bad", " Malefic Saturn bhukthi is starting... ", " As Mars is evil, so its bhukthi will cause problems", etc. to a client who has specifically come to seek solace, comfort or solution to a family problem or difficult situation, it is very likely that the client instead of feeling better will end up feeling worse. An opportunity has come to remove words such as "malefic", "evil" and "bad" from the entire vocabulary of astrologers and astrological texts. When an astrologer sees an indication for a potential problem or difficulty, it is reasonable and desirable to use the term "challenge" or "challenging" in lieu of the inappropriate and uncomfortable words such as "malefic", "bad", " evil'', etc. These words have little relevance today and astrology may have inherited such words over many hundred years ago. In fact, a "challenge'' provides or creates an "opportunity"  for the individual to use his or her free-will to successfully overcome a problem. Similarly, the more appropriate word for "benefic", etc., is to use "encouraging", "opportunity indicated", "favorable indications" etc.

Planets Are Team Players
The horoscope is an information document covering nine planets, twelve rasis, and a host of other astrological factors. The interpretation of a horoscope is difficult as well as challenging. The fact-of-the-matter is that each planet in a horoscope is not evaluated as an individual planet that exists in isolation. It is also not common for one or two planets to significantly influence the entire astrological indications. The horoscope is a detailed document that shows the locations of each planet in one of the twelve signs and enables the astrologer to examine and then extract the information covering various astrological relationships (conjunction, opposition, aspects, etc .) that exist among the nine planets. Vedic Astrology involves systematic integration of both mathematical or quantitative data and subjective or qualitative information. One can consider the horoscope as the playing field. The planets are players on the team and work together. Their goal is to provide opportunity and encouragement to the owner of the horoscope. Appropriate effort helps in reducing, minimizing, or even eliminating any challenging indications, while fulfilling or enhancing any favorable indications. Thus, one can possibly convert a challenging or encouraging potential into a positive or reasonable reality.

The great seers and sages have indicated that the cumulative effect of the various geometrical locations and mutual relationships of the planets in the horoscope of an individual may indicate that the person has a "challenging" or an "encouraging" situation during a specific bhukthi and dasa. Jupiter is generally considered as a helpful or encouraging planet while Saturn is considered a challenging planet. Among all the planets, Jupiter is the most significant planet in neutralizing challenging or negative indications and enabling or enhancing opportunistic or positive indications. As regards aspects, the aspect from the 7th house is more effective than special or other aspects that are attributed to Jupiter (5 and 9), Saturn (3 and 10), and Mars (4 and 8).

But, depending on their locations in the chart and the influence of other planets on them, the basic nature of planets is modified to various levels. In some cases, as an example, it is likely that Jupiter may end up as just a neutral planet while Saturn may end up being less challenging than normally expected. A significant number of people seem to be worried about two "malefics", Mars and Saturn, and not too much about Sun, the other malefic. Somehow, people seem to be more comfortable when they associate Sun with royalty, its glamour and wealth. From now on, we will avoid the use of " malefic" and other negative terminologies. One must particularly see Mars and Saturn as planets that sometimes "challenge" the individual, which in turn creates an " opportunity" to successfully face and possibly overcome the challenge.

Now, instead of looking at Mars from merely a negative perspective, one can consider it as a planet of opportunity.  Mars, for poorly informed old-fashioned "pessimists”, is planet of gloom and doom, but for the optimistic now­ generation, it is a planet of challenge and opportunity. It will open the eyes of the people—when they are told that a wide world of opportunity exists. A loser is likely to become a winner. It is not only astrology but the astrologer who may be able to bring comfort and joy to the people. The dreaded Mars becomes the delightful dreamed Mars.

Auspicious Planet Mars
Auspicious means favorable. The 5th and 9th houses are known as triangular houses and are considered auspicious. A planet owning a quadrant (1, 4, 7 & 10) and a trine is considered a yoga karaka. Yoga karakas are planets that enhance positive aspects such as honor, fame, prosperity, etc. The level of enhancement depends on the location of various planets and their geometrical relationships. Yogas resulting from conjunctions (zero angular distance) or aspects (typically 180 degree angular distance) of planets still occur when the planets are within eight degrees.

It is through Mars that one observes relation to siblings, bravery, assertiveness, strength, or generosity.  Among the planets, Sun, Moon and Jupiter are permanent friends of Mars. Venus and Saturn are neutrals. Mercury is an opponent. It is encouraging that five planets are friendly or neutral to Mars and Mercury is its only opponent. It is more likely that natural or permanent friendships among planets are more significant and relevant than the temporary friendships.

Mars is lord of the 5 and 10 for Cancer. He is the lord of 4 and 9 for Leo. He is the lord of 3 and 10 for Aquarius. He is the lord of 2 and 9 for Pisces. Mars is auspicious planet for Cancer, Leo, Aquarius and Pisces ascendants. In the case of the other eight ascendants, the location of Mars or Jupiter in their exaltation positions can enhance to varying favorable or auspicious levels of Mars. That is, in many situations the challenging influence of Mars weakens or just disappears and is replaced by the opportunistic influence. This results in Mars being a tool of energy generation and not energy dissipation for the horoscope.


Mars and Marriage
We will briefly review the role of Mars in marriage, which is an important and significant part of an individual's life. There is a lot of confusion and uncertainty in the many minds about the role of Mars in marriage compatibility. Mars indicates aggressive or assertive personality. depending on its location and the geometrical influences it has from other planets. Jupiter in the ascendant or Cancer is auspicious and is much desired in any horoscope.

In addition to various other astrological considerations, the locations and the geometrical relationship between Mars and Venus is a significant issue that has to be carefully considered in evaluating marital compatibility. Venus represents spouse, family, happiness and other aspects of married life. Mars signifies energy and aggressiveness. However, Jupiter’s positive influence indicates that the individual is less likely to be aggressive and more attuned to be an assertive person.  Plain aggressive behavior by an individual is a troubling characteristic that is likely to explode in any situation or environment and therefore is less desired, while assertiveness is generally associated with firmly standing up for the right cause or reasons and also ensuring that the situation or the environment is calm and is under control.

The conjunction or opposition (7th house aspect) between a fiery Mars and a sensual Venus may result in an undesirable situation that challenges a normal family life, unless there is a positive or calming influence of Jupiter or the fiery-sensual planets’ conjunction or aspect occurs in the stars of Jupiter or Mercury. Also, appropriate value-based nurturing of the growing youths by parents may reduce the level or intensity of challenge of Mars and Venus that can adversely impact the life of a couple in the future. 

It is to be observed that in every horoscope, Mars is located in one of the houses. His mere presence in the charts is no reason to press a panic button. It only calls for careful evaluation of the charts. Mars energies are to be properly channeled as indicated above. 

Challenge of Kuja Dosha 
Kuja Dosha is affliction of Kuja, based on its specific location in the rasi chart. Its usefulness in the compatibility of horoscopes is often misunderstood and sometimes over-emphasized. Kuja Dosha is one of the many considerations that are a part of the overall evaluation of marriage compatibility of two charts. The Kuja Dosha or affliction in the husband's or wife’s chart indicates possible death or loss of spouse. The affliction results if Mars is in 2, 12, 4, 7 and 8th houses from Ascendant, Moon or Venus. There are some exceptions or circumstances under which Kuja Dosha is considered to be neutralized or minimized.

Here is a list of the few exceptions covering no Kuja Dosha for Mars. Mars in Leo and Aquarius; Conjunction of Mars with Jupiter or Moon; Mars joins with Rahu or Ketu; Mars aspected by Saturn or Mercury. Many details covering Kuja Dosha can be found in classical astrology texts and references. There is also some controversy among the astrological fraternity about the intrinsic value of Kuja Dosha as one of the factors to be considered in marriage compatibility.

Kutas, The Objective Index
Although "Kutas” are not directly related to Mars, it is another tool used in the comparison of two horoscopes for marriage. Kuta is a rough indicator, based on certain factors. It is a popular and objective approach used for quantitative evaluation of the compatibility of the two horoscopes. Kutas are primarily based on birth stars and signs. There are twelve Kutas. However, only eight of them are considered significant. The compatibility requirement for certain individual Kutas needs to be satisfied. The total value obtained from adding the values of all Kutas is considered as "index" value that estimates the potential harmony or discord between the two horoscopes. Each astrologer calculates the total values or "index" and compares it to a reference value or "index" to ascertain if compatibility exists between the two horoscopes or not.

Concluding Thought

Sri Bhagavad Gita is a great guide. Verse 47 of Chapter Two indicates that one has to perform one's work or duty to the best of his or her ability or capacity and then not to have concern for the results. Sri Krishna says one has to avoid inaction and insincere effort in life. This means that every individual needs to make a sincere effort or apply free will in every aspect of life. The horoscope indicates the "Prarabdha" Karma or the effects of the actions of previous life or lives. The individual action in life, as Bhagavad Gita indicates, is the human effort or "free will".