Shodasa means sixteen and varga means a part or division. The shodasa vargas or sixteen divisional charts are a powerful technique used in Vedic astrology to understand the true nature of an individual. Each varga focuses on a different area of life and together they represent the complete picture, reflecting human consciousness from reality to the subconscious. The shodasa vargas are a specialized technique and it is essential for all students of Vedic astrology to study them. This book is an in-depth study of the sixteen vargas following Sage Parasara’s guidelines.
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Shodasha Varga may sound daunting, but that’s because it is the Sanskrit term for the 16 charts (including the natal chart) that are important components of Vedic astrology, the horoscopic system used in India for almost 2000 years. The two words literally mean 16 (shodasha) parts or divisions (vargas) and while the concept may sound complex, it is actually quite straightforward, and the charts are easy to compute, with or without the use of a computer program.
Komilla Sutton, an extremely knowledgeable and well-respected astrologer, author, and teacher, presents the material in a clear, concise, and well-written manner, making the calculations and interpretations easy to understand for any level even if this is your first foray into Vedic astrology. She explains each chart’s specific meanings with clarity and intelligence, exemplifying the simplicity yet complexity with which all Indian texts are written. According to Sutton: “The shodasha vargas or sixteen divisional charts are studied in Vedic astrology to understand the true nature of an individual. Each varga focuses on a different area of life and together they represent the complete picture. They reflect human consciousness, from reality to the subconscious.” (p. 1) These areas of life include but are not limited to money, siblings, parents, happiness, marriage, children, spirituality, education, career, mental strength, and general well-being.
The vargas are formed by dividing each zodiacal sign of 30 degrees by the number represented by the particular divisional chart. Take the example of the navamsha (ninth) divisional chart, which, aside from the natal horoscope, is the most important varga. We divide each sign into nine equal sections of three degrees 30 minutes called navamshas totaling 108 navamshas in the 360-degree zodiac. Each divisional chart is calculated in a similar fashion and is based on a similar concept as the system of Harmonics, formulated by the late John Addey and more recently popularized by David Hamblin. In fact, Addey and the late B. V. Raman, a very well-known Indian astrologer, author, and publisher of The Astrological Magazine, corresponded since Addey recognized the similarities between vargas and harmonic charts and expressed the hope that harmonics would lead to a unification of Eastern and Western astrological traditions. Sutton spends an entire chapter on each Varga chart, thoroughly explaining with diagrams and tables how to calculate each one, and another chapter on how to analyze the planetary periods ( dashas) and transits through the vargas. She shows how each divisional chart is interpreted on its own, and in relationship to the rashi (Sanskrit for “natal chart”) and navamsha. The author cannot emphasize enough how important it is to always use the natal and navamsha charts together.
Sutton explains: “The navamsha and rashi charts cannot be separated, like the flower and perfume, body and soul, physical and mental. Navamsha is described as the relationship chart but it is much more. It is the foundation on which the rashi rests as well as the position where one goes forward from the rashi. In the cyclical nature of Vedic astrology, the navamsha is both the past and the future, the foundation and the next steps. The rashi chart is never analyzed without the navamsha. While other varga charts are used to highlight specific areas of the chart, the navamsha is used to determine every aspect.” (p. 96)
The author utilizes many celebrity charts from politicians to movie stars to spiritual leaders to show how the position of the birth planets in each varga influences and defines the area of life that the varga represents. The interpretations are compiled from a variety of Indian classical texts but the icing on the cake is what Sutton brings to these explanations from years of experience as an astrological consultant. In the realm of astrology, nothing compares to the practitioner’s own ability to see how theories work in practice.
All told, Shodasha Vargas is well thought -out and beautifully written. It is presented in a way that students, practitioners, and teachers of any type of astrological system or technique can get something out of the wealth of knowledge contained within its pages. This book may be geared for those who are already familiar with Vedic or Indian astrology, but don’t be afraid to tackle it if you do not know the basics. If you are interested in learning more about Indian (Vedic) astrology the following beginning books are a great place to start and are available in paper and kindle editions.
James Braha. Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer.
Hart de Fouw and Dr. Robert Svoboda. Light on Life: An Introduction to the Astrology of India.
Ronnie Gale Dreyer, Vedic Astrology: A Guide to the Fundamentals of Jyotish.
Komilla Sutton. The Essentials of Vedic Astrology.
Ronnie Dreyer Horoscope Guide September 2021