Shadbala - The Secrets of the Six Distinct Strengths of Planets: Part 1 - Sthana, Dig and Kala Bala
by Laura Barat
The Grandfather of Vedic Astrology, Parasara, in his heady tome, Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra, names six strengths of planets in the 29th chapter. In evaluating the character of a person, these strengths are of immense importance and MUST be evaluated BEFORE house and sign position of the planets are taken into consideration. A good analogy would be one of an elephant or a mouse. If the planet has the strength, according to Shadbala, of an elephant, then that planet will be able to fend off tremendous adversity. But, if according to Shadbala, the planet has the strength of a mouse, then that planet will fall under the adversity of bad house and sign placement. A planet that is weak in Shad bala will need remedies to strengthen it.
Parasara calls the Shad Bala “Spashta Bala” which means distinct strength. This gives light to the fact that each strength should be evaluated individually and that the sum total of the “Shad Bala” of the planets is less important than each distinct strength on its own. The mathematical calculations of each planetary strength are beyond the scope of this article and will not be included here. Most astrology softwares calculate the strengths, so in this age of computers, the astrologer is saved the tedious task of calculation.
It must be kept in mind that when reading the planets’ distinct strengths as regards to an individual’s character, the planets are grouped. Each group represents a theme so if one planet does not meet the requirement for a certain strength, another planet in the group will make up for it.
Jupiter, Mercury and the Sun form one group:
Jupiter, Mercury and the Sun have to do with identity, learning, communicating, management, confidence, faith and hope. When one of these planets is weak in one of the strengths, another planet of this group can help to salvage the damage done by weakness.
Venus and the Moon form another group:
These are the female, receptive planets and they have to do with comfort mainly, finding what is worthwhile to do and happiness. Venus evaluates and decides what will make a person the happiest, so Venus is the decision maker. Venus’ moolatrikona (root trine) sign, its source of power, is Libra, the Scales. The Moon is consciousness and as such will act on the decision making of Venus to make the consciousness comfortable.
Mars and Saturn form the third group:
These are the planets we need to have strong if we are to deal with the adversities of life effectively. Mars flies into action when faced with a problem and takes care of it, pronto. Mars is the planet that deals with problems that can be and need to be solved. Saturn deals with problems we can do nothing about and must suffer through, like when someone dies or we are in an accident or something that is cause by circumstances out of our control. When Saturn is high in strength we have a high tolerance for suffering and can weather the storm, so to speak.
The planetary strengths and their practical meanings are as follows:
Sthana Bala (Position Strength):
Sthana literally means “stance” or “standing”. When we look at a person, how they stand automatically tells us a lot about their character. Their stance is how they face the world. In martial arts, the first thing they teach you is a stance. This is how you face your opponent. The planet which has the highest points in Sthana Bala is very apparent in a person’s character. This strength is ruled by Mercury. Mercury is the planet a person uses to manage their life and in the classical texts, Mercury is called “the consciousness spoken”. Thus, the planet that has the highest points in Sthana Bala will be communicated by the native and the person will have trouble communicating through the planet that is weakest in Sthana Bala.
Sun highest in Sthana Bala: The person is extremely confident and is a natural leader. The person likes to be in charge and there is a natural authority radiating from them. The person is highly creative and acts on their inspirations. What inspires them is what guides their life and how they manage their life.
Jupiter highest in Sthana Bala: Their stance is one of learning, wisdom, happiness and faith in the greater good. The person will manage their life with higher knowledge and love to learn and dispense what they have learned. The person will be a natural with children. To others, they will appear to be highly intelligent. Faith in life will give them a natural optimism.
Mercury highest points in Sthana Bala: The person will be able to get things done effectively and manage their life very well. They are a great communicator and a great friend. He or she likes doing for other people. The person is easily able to practically manifest goals and ambitions. Mercury is the planet representing Lord Vishnu and he wants to help everyone. Mercury is also the most important planet to analyze when looking at Sthana Bala, so its strength will tell a lot about how a person manages their life.
Venus highest points in Sthana Bala: The native will manage their life through taking care of themselves and their body. They will enjoy beautiful things and gravitate towards relationships where there is mutual sharing. Their stance is one of the lover and they will be flirtatious and sensual. Venus looks for the worth in everything, so this native will always be calculating the worth of everything they do. Venus is the guru of the demons and was given the boon of bringing life back into the body, or rejuvenating. So this native will be able to revive lost causes and keep situations alive with vigor.
The Moon highest points in Sthana Bala: The Moon is the consciousness, changes and the comfort we feel. The native will be able to make changes in his life that will give him comfort, satisfaction and happiness. He will appear to change quite often to others. But in every change he makes, he will be very happy with the outcome. The Moon likes to feel comfortable and live in the moment. Others may see the person as “flaky” or a “drifter”, but this is how the native will manage their life, by constantly changing.
Mars highest points in Sthana Bala: The stance will be a Martian one. The native will manage their life by attending to crises with fervor and gusto. The person is no-nonsense and harsh. They get to the point of any issue right away and deal with it effectively. They are very logical and enjoy the thrill of adversity. Frivolity and luxuries are shunned and are of no use to this native.
Saturn highest points in Sthana Bala: The person will be a loner and love nature. He or she works very hard and is usually meticulously clean. They will have a humble stance and be uncomfortable with positions of authority. The native may appear psychologically wounded in some way. Stoicism and seriousness are very present in the personality.
The Components of Sthana Bala (Positional Strength):
1. Ucca Bala (Exaltation Strength): Assesses the strength of the planet by how close it is to its exaltation or debilitation point in the Rasi (birth chart)
2. Saptavarga Bala (7 Divisional Chart Strength): Assesses the strength according to dignity of the planet in 7 Vargas (divisional charts)
3. Sama/Visama Bala (Odd/Even Strength): Assesses the strength of planets as to whether feminine planets are in feminine signs and masculine planets are in masculine signs in the Rasi (birth chart) and navamsa (marriage chart)
4. Kendradi Bala (Angle Strength): Assesses strength based on the position of planets in angular, succedent, cadent houses.
5. Dreskana Bala (Decanates Strength): Assesses strength based on position of masculine and feminine planets in Decanates (drekkanas).
All of these components are based on the “position” of the planet within the horoscope and divisional charts. Thus, the name “Positional Strength: Sthana Bala”.
Dig Bala (Directional Strength):
The planet with the highest dig bala points will be the planet that most guides the person towards what they want in life. If a planet does not meet the minimum requirements for this strength, then that planet cannot guide the person towards fulfillment and there will be regrets in the end. Venus rules dig bala as Venus being desire, assesses the worth of any situation and then makes a decision. The decision then guides in the direction you want to go.
The Sun and Mars get their maximum dig bala when they are in the 10th house. The 10th house is the house of action and power. The Sun is the King and Mars is the warrior; these masculine planets perform the best when they are the most visibly seen as the 10th house is directly overhead when we look at the sky. Who can follow the King when he is invisible and how can a warrior lead others to victory if he is invisible? This is why these planets get no dig bala strength when they are in the 4th house, which is directly beneath the earth and cannot be seen. When the Sun and Mars are strong in dig bala, they are able to effectively guide the person to achieving his ambitions and goals, and will give a lot of power.
The Moon and Venus get maximum dig bala when they are in the 4th house and no dig bala points when they are in the 10th house. The Moon and Venus are female planets and as such are planets of being, not doing. They are planets of receptivity. The 4th house, among other things, represents happiness. The Moon is the planet of consciousness so it does best when it is in the place of happiness. Venus is the desire planet. As desire, Venus makes choices in life that will lead us to happiness and comfort. Venus asks, “What’s more worth it?” Venus is also the comforter and the nurse. The closer Venus is to the 4th house, the more it is able to provide comfort to the emotions (4th house). When the Moon and Venus are strong in dig bala, these planets will guide the person to be able to roll with the changes and change gracefully according to necessity.
Jupiter and Mercury get the maximum dig bala when placed in the 1st house. The first house is the individual person. Jupiter and Mercury are planets of individuality because they are planets of learning and speech. Jupiter as the planet of higher knowledge and faith distinguishes the person and gives these traits to his personality. When Jupiter is in the 7th house, he gets no dig bala, meaning that the person has faith not in himself, but in others, and optimism and higher knowledge is based on other people. Mercury is the planet of speech or “the consciousness spoken”. When Mercury is low in dig bala, then the person has a hard time expressing himself through word. It will take a long time for other people to get to really know the native, because he cannot effectively express what is in his consciousness. When Jupiter and Mercury are strong in dig bala, they guide the person to higher knowledge that will benefit the personality and towards communicating and managing their life effectively.
Saturn gets its highest dig bala in the 7th house. Saturn is the planet of suffering, but more specifically, it is the planet that gives us the ability to weather suffering. The 7th house is what is most unknown as it is the farthest from the 1st house. Saturn is also the planet of time and of death or longevity. The 7th house is a maraka or death inflicting house. When placed in the 7th house, Saturn gives a tremendous ability to weather whatever adversities life throws at us. When high in dig bala, Saturn will guide the person towards building security and staying steadfast.
Kala Bala (Time Strength):
This strength is based on the time a person was born and the planets gaining strength because of that time. Some planets are stronger when born during the day and some are stronger at night. The lord of the year, month and day also come into play. Time is the force that brings events to pass, thus the planets that are strong in Kala Bala, exert the strongest force in the horoscope while running their periods (dasas and antardasas). The native will feel the effects of these planets more than others and remember them throughout life. Saturn rules Kala Bala as Saturn in Kronos or Time personified and Saturn rules longevity, the individual’s time here on Earth.
The Sun: the person will take note of and remember those things having to do with power and authority, with inspiration and leadership. Events transpiring that have to do with the government and politics will mark the native very strongly.
Mars: events involving sports, prowess and logic will mark the native. The siblings and competition will also be remembered more than other things.
Jupiter: Events involving learning, religion, philosophy and children will strongly mark the native.
Mercury: Events involving humor, management, friendship and business will be remembered and will mark most strongly the native.
Moon: Life changes and emotional states will be most recalled by the native.
Venus: Comfort, luxuries, romantic partners and the give or take of partnership will strongly mark the native.
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