In this article I plan to explain the concept of
Nakshatra from the point of view of gunas, In the Mahabharata-Aswamedha Parva-Sections XXXVI to XXXIX we get the clear explanations of the Gunas. “Brahma (Prajapati) said, “Darkness, Passion and Goodness – these are called the three qualities.”
Even though this article is not to explain the 3 qualities, which can be read from any good book on Hinduism or from the Internet web-sites, yet it is essential to have a basic understanding of the same to have it related to Nakshatras. I would advise readers to go through any good translation of the Mahabharata chapter given above, Darkness is TAMAS, Passion is RAJAS, Goodness is SATWA
Of the 3 gunas Tamas is the lowest followed by Rajas and Satwa. Tamas keeps us in a state of ignorance, laziness, inaction, delusion and darkness. Rajas is action to get the desires fulfilled. It is the passion that drives one into action, often not getting the expected results which leads to further action. Satwa is happiness and enjoyment irrespective of the results of our action. Satwa is knowledge, wisdom and the calm and quiet of the mind.
Each and every one of us has a varying combination of the three gunas. At any point of time one particular guna may be predominant which is subject to change. Chapter XIV of Bhagavad Gita also we find a clear explanation of the three gunas.
Now coming to the topic of discussion, since we, human beings are a mixture of the 3 Gunas, it must have a definite relationship with the planets, Rasis and Nakshatras. Let us take up what is in store with regard to Nakshatras.
Each Nakshatra has a certain guna which you will find in any basic characteristics of the Nakshatra table. For example Ashwini Nakshatra is Rajas, Bharani is Tamas and Krittika is Satwa. If you deeply look into the Guna table of Nakshatras you will find that these 3 qualities viz. Rajas, Tamas and Satwa repeat in the same order after every three Nakshatras.
Let us find out all the Nakshatras that have Rajas guna:
Ashwini, Rohini, Punarvasu, Magha, Hasta, Vishakha, Moola, Shravana, Purvabhadrapada making a total of 9 Nakshatras.
These Nakshatras coincide with the signs Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius.
Note also the nature of the signs – Fiery (Aries), Earthy (Taurus), Airy (Gemini), Watery (Cancer), Fiery (Leo), Earthy (Virgo), Airy (Libra), Fiery (Sagittarius), Earthy (Capricorn) and Airy (Aquarius).
Similarly you can list out the Nakshatras which have Tamas and Satwa Guna and their coincidence with the signs. I leave it for the readers to prepare the same.
The three levels of Nakshatra
1. Let us divide the 27 Nakshatras into 3 groups, each group having 9 Nakshatras. The first 9 Nakshatras from Ashwini to Ashlesha will be the first group. Incidentally these 9 Nakshatras fall within the first four signs namely, Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer-being the first Fiery, Earthy, Airy and watery signs.
2. When you take the next 9 Nakshatras from Magha to Jyeshtha, they will fall in the signs starting from Leo and ending in Scorpio-which will be the second Fiery, Earthy, Airy and watery signs.
3. The last 9 Nakshatras viz., Moola to Revati will be falling in the signs Sagittarius to Pisces-the last Fiery, Earthy, Airy and watery signs.
Rajas is the most active of the gunas, has motion and stimulation as its characteristics. Then next one is Tamas which is characterized by heaviness and resistance producing disturbances in the process of perception. Finally Satwa comes which is characterized by lightness, consciousness, pleasure and clarity.
Hence we will have this order throughout this article – Rajas, Tamas and Satwa.
Applying this rule to the above the three divisions of 9 Nakshatras each, the first group is of Rajas quality, the second group is of Tamas and the third group is of Satwa quality.
Readers at this stage will get a doubt – Why such specific qualities are to be attributed and is there any basis for this? Correct thinking. We have already seen that each human being is a mixture of all the 3 qualities and hence each Nakshatra also must have all the 3 qualities. Since the original order given by rishis is Rajas, Tamas and Satwa we will also stick to the same principle. All the divisions which we are going to make for each Nakshatra will have the order Rajas-Tamas-Satwa.
We have just seen one quality of the Nakshatra and the other two qualities are also to be fixed for each Nakshatra. So let us proceed to the next level.
Now let us take the first group of 9 Nakshatras – viz. from Ashwini to Ashlesha. We have already fixed one guna for this group which is Rajas. Now to fix the next guna for each of these Nakshatras, let us divide these 9 Nakshatras into 3 groups of 3 Nakshatras. So this group will be:
Ashwini Rohini Punarvasu
Bharani Mrigashira Pushya
Krittika Ardra Ashlesha
Applying the same rule of fixing the gunas as before the first 3 groups forming the Nakshatras – Ashwini, Bharani and Krittika will have Rajas quality and the next three Nakshatras Rohini, Mrigasirsha and Ardra will have Tamas quality and the last group of Nakshatras Punarvasu, Pushya and Aslesha will have Satwik qualities.
This is the original Guna which you will find in any Nakshatra characteristics table which has been explained in the beginning. That is to say that the Rajas, Tamas and Satwa gunas repeat for every 3 Nakshatras starting from Rajas for Ashwini.
The gunas at the three levels:
What we have seen here is a rather complicated system in which a Nakshatra represents certain gunas at certain levels.
I will explain, at the cost of repetition, the various levels for 3 Nakshatras. Readers are advised to compute the same for the rest of the Nakshatras to get a hold on the principle.
I Level is – Rajas
II Level is – Rajas
III Level is – Rajas
Hence for Ashwini we write Rajas-Rajas-Raja or in short RRR
The first level will be Rajas up to Aslesha Nakshatra and the 2nd level will be Rajas up to Krittika. But the third level will change for each Nakshatra.
I Level is Rajas
II Level is Rajas
III Level is Tamas
Hence for Bharani we write Rajas-Rajas-Tamas (RRT)
Similarly for Krittika it will be Rajas-Rajas-Satwik.
The second level change happens at Rohini Nakshatra
I Level is Rajas
II Level is Tamas
III Level is Rajas
For Mrigasirsha it will be Rajas-Tamas-Tamas (RTT)
I have constructed a complete table for all the Nakshatra Padas which is appended here: (Abbreviations have been used for Rashi and Rasi lords: Ar-Aries, Ta-Taurus, Ge-Gemini, Cn-Cancer, Le-Leo, Vi-Virgo, Li-Libra, Sc-Scorpio, Sg-Sagittarius, Cp-Capricorn, Aq-Aquarius, Pi-Pisces;
Su-Sun, Mo-Moon, Ma– Mars, Me-Mercury, Ju-Jupiter, Ve-Venus, Sa-Saturn, Ra-Rahu, Ke-Ketu, As.-Lagna)