The Four Aims of Life and the Houses of the Horoscope

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Jyotish, or Vedic Astrology, divides the twelve houses (or ‘bhavas‘) of the horoscope into four groups, each associated with one of the ‘puruṣārthas‘, or the Four Aims of Life.

Dharma (righteousness, morality) – 1st, 5th, 9th

Artha (wealth, material resources) – 2nd, 6th,10th

Kama (desires) – 3rd, 7th, 11th

Moksha (final liberation) – 4th, 8th, 12th

The idea that there are four aims of life is not specifically an astrological notion. It’s a basic tenet of Hindu or Vedic philosophy. This astrological correspondence is in fact an example of the close knit integration and ease of communication between Jyotish and other branches of Indian religion, culture and learning. It is similar, for example, with Jyotish and Ayurveda.

Western astrologers will recognize that these four groups distribute the houses into four triplicities that are normally associated with the four elements. Western astrologers may speak of ‘Fire Houses’ when referring jointly to the 1st, 5th and 9th Houses, and may describe the 2nd, 6th and 10th as ‘Earth Houses’, and so on. Some modern western astrologers have written on these house triplicities, and generally the elemental correspondences have guided their musings and observations.

This is all well and good, and many of those insights can complement and illumine what we can learn about these groupings from the Jyotish angle. It is worth noting, however, that the way Jyotish has linked these Four Aims of Life to the four house triplicities gives a more precise philosophical context, and arguably a greater importance, to this particular way of grouping the houses than you typically find in western astrology.