Essentials of Vedic Astrology Block 1: Static Horoscope
Lesson 3A: Planetary portfolios

Sri Raahu Baghwaan [& consorts]. Depiction of Murthi at Sri Naganatha Swami Temple, Thirunageshwaram, Tamil Nadu, Sth India
Murthi of Kethu Baghwaan at
Keezhaperumballam, Tamil Nadu, Sth India

Planetary portfolios

SEIZING, Overshadowing, passion, rigidity, rough behavior/speech
Insatiable appetite for material realm
Paternal Grand-father Vehemence
unexpected events, Uproar, Calamity
[like Sani]
(planetary army)


INDOLENCE, secrecy, liberation [moksha/enlightenment] detachment Maternal Grand-father

fortuitous events
Like Mars
(planetary army)


Rahu and Ketu are intersection points of 2 orbital planes. One plane is described by the Sun's apparent path around the earth [ecliptic]; the other plane is defined by the Moon's actual orbit around the earth. Where these 2 planes intersect they form the Nodes - north and south - Rahu and Ketu. Because, astronomically, they are essentially mathematical points of intersection, they are commonly referred to as 'shadow' or 'bodiless' planets. The practical upshot of this bodilessness is that when associated with other planets, they take assume much of the nature and characteristics of these planets over and above their own natures.

The first important point that emerges from there astronomical definition is that they are always 180 degrees apart which means they are always exactly opposite one another in the zodiac and in every horoscope. The astrological interpretation of this opposition is that they are exactly opposite in their natures. For the sake of economy, we will begin with a description of Rahu and then we can appreciate Ketu by virtue of its opposite nature from Rahu.

There is a celebrated story from the Puranas: they relate that when the divine nectar [amrit] emerged from the churning of the primeval ocean, Rahu [a demon] stole a sip of it and acquired immortality. So, he survived even when Vishnu cut off his head. Thus Rahu is the Dragon's head and Ketu the Dragon's tail. They were both immortalized as 'planets' as a result of quaffing the divine nectar.

This legend from the Puranas is useful in understanding the essential nature of Rahu/Ketu. The essence of demon nature as depicted in the Vedic legends is that Demons or Asuras are enamored by the material realm - the realm of the senses. Only that which you can see, or taste, or smell or touch has interest to them. Constantly engaged in fierce battles for power and wealth they are characterized by greed, lust and passion. The demon nature has no subtlety or sensitivity or interest in the inner subjective realm. Everything about them is directed outward into the more manifest and grossest levels of creation.

Subsequently Rahu, the demon's head [without the body] is the repository of the demon's sense organs. All of those faculties which bind it to the realm of the senses - the gross planes of existence. So when Rahu is lively in the life of the native, there is a lust or greed for more and more experience. The point to note here is that the lust for experience is insatiable, because the demon has no body. So it consumes but when it swallows there is no satisfaction because there is no belly or body to receive that which has been consumed. Hence the need to consume is insatiable or endless. Nothing can slake the thirst that Rahu gives the native—if he is powerful in the horoscope. It follows from this that insatiable desire causes intense heart burning, sorrow and pain, and to satisfy desire the native would stop at nothing; the strong Rahu would sweep away virtue and vice alike if it stands in the way. He would not bat any eyelid to do anything that is likely to advance his cause: truth, politeness, civility included. A powerful Rahu and propitious would give the native great wealth. It is an attribute of Rahu to enhance or aggravate the characteristics and properties of the houses which it occupies or aspects. If favorable, the result is better than what would have been without Rahu's and if unfavorable worse.

So Rahu is the appetite for sensory experience. It should be noted that depending on its association, Rahu can give the native an insatiable thirst for inner or spiritual experience - but left to his own nature, Rahu drives us into the material realm.

Ketu on the other hand is opposite of all this. Ketu is completely oblivious and detached to all notions of gain and acquisition and sensory experience so much lusted for by Rahu. If you consider the demon nature - completely given over to the gross material and sensate realms, and that the faculties for this kind of experience mostly residing in the head. If the demon has no head [Ketu - headless body] then what does that mean?

It means that the demon nature is turned in on itself. Its still driven with the energy or natural inclination of the demon but it has no avenues for expression in the relative or gross layers of existence and so it is driven inward. Accordingly, Ketu is associated with occult perception, intuition, clairvoyance etc. - all due to this turning inward because of no avenue for outward expression. Hence Moksha or liberation - all sensitivity and flow of awareness towards the inner with complete indifference to the outer. Indeed, in its own nature, Ketu causes obstruction and hiding and hindrance and degradation in the outer, phenomenal planes of existence. So it hides and obstructs the outer while directing all energy to the inner. It bears reminding though that if associated with strong planets, even Ketu can bring progress in the material. This is due to its bodiless nature and tendency to take on qualities of planets it associates with. But left to its own devices, Ketu is the opposite of Rahu - loss, indolence, inward turning.

Disease : Indigestion, disease due to accumulated gas or wind in stomach or intestine. Color : Rough black.

contents table
planetary overview

Essentials of Vedic Astrology - Lesson 3A Planetary portfolios ©2006 Astrosalon p/l