( 6 ) The Jyotir and Nimitta Shastra (Section One)
In both ancient and modern Hinduism, astrology plays an important role in every aspect of life from birth to death. Religious ceremonies, child conception, birth rites, marital arrangements, business ventures, political conquests, journeys, health concerns, funerals, etc. are all meticulously planned according to the Jyotir Shastra or scriptures describing the science of the celestial luminaries. It is therefore significant that people of the third sex appear throughout Vedic astrology, particularly in regard to the napumsaka planets Mercury and Saturn. Third-gender topics such as childlessness, aversion to marriage, impotence, same-sex attraction and gender variegatedness are all clearly included within the Vedic conception of the natural cosmos. Directly related to the Jyotir Shastra is the Nimitta Shastra or scriptures describing the science of omen reading.
General Indications: In the Jyotir Shastra, the following astrological components are associated with the third sex: 1) the planets Mercury, Saturn and Ketu; 2) the fifth, seventh and first houses; 3) the signs Gemini, Virgo, Capricorn and Aquarius; 4) the third division or drekkana of any sign (21-30 degrees); 5) the sign divisions or amsas ruled by Mercury and Saturn; 6) the stars Mrgashira, Mula and Satabhisa, and 7) the non-luminous planets Gulika (or Mandi) and Dhuma.
The strongest indicators of third-gender influence in a person’s astrological chart will concern the three houses mentioned above. The fifth house governs progeny, the seventh one’s marital partner and the first or ascendant a person’s bodily constitution. When strong or numerous third-gender planets lord over, occupy or aspect the fifth house, the native will be impotent and childless. An afflicted eighth house can also indicate impotency, especially in terms of damaging the native’s sex organs. When strong or numerous third-gender planets lord over, occupy or aspect the seventh house, the native will be neutral in regard to marriage and without a partner. Furthermore, if strong or numerous male planets lord over, occupy or aspect the seventh house in a man’s chart, attraction toward male partners is indicated and vice versa in a woman’s. When strong or numerous third-gender planets lord over, occupy or aspect the first house, the native is likely to be third gender by constitution. Additionally, if strong or numerous male planets lord over, occupy or aspect the first house in a woman’s chart, a cross-gender nature is indicated and vice versa in a man’s.
Third-gender indications can also be derived through inference, which is helpful in cases where they are not specifically mentioned. For example, if a prediction states that the native will have good dealings with people associated with Mercury or Saturn, this can be understood to include people of the third sex since they fall under the jurisdiction of those planets. These are some of the basic points to consider when determining third-gender influences in a person’s Vedic astrological chart.
Napumsaka Planets and the Third Sex: Mercury is the planet most strongly associated with the third sex in Vedic astrology. It indicates third-gender people who are intelligent and multi-talented in the arts and sciences including everything from dancing, poetry, music, painting, fashion, decorating, writing, religious observances, mathematics, alchemy, medicine, and so on. Such people are also recognized as loyal servants and efficient secretaries. They may be sexually active or celibate and are inclined to the worship of Lord Vishnu. Their bodily features are attractive and their spirits youthful and gay. They are gregarious, energetic and reaping the result of previous good karma. Saturn, on the other hand, governs third-gender people who are less fortunate in life, disrespected, poor, unattractive and engaged in difficult or menial work. They are often solitary, melancholy and reaping the result of previous bad karma. Natives of Saturn may be of low character or, if favorably aspected, hard workers and devoted ascetics. They are inclined to lower types of intercourse or are otherwise sexually impotent and celibate. Those aspiring for material advancement and progeny are drawn to the worship of Lord Brahma. Ketu’s association with the third sex is emphasized mostly in the Jaimini system of Vedic astrology and affects people in two different ways. When favorably aspected, natives of Ketu are devoted to asceticism, occult practices and the worship of God but when unfavorably aspected they are licentious, criminal or atheistic.
It is significant that the Jyotir Shastra assigns the third-gender planet Mercury to the worship of Lord Vishnu. This is because Vishnu is transcendental to all gender considerations. Saturn is generally attributed to the worship of Lord Brahma although some later texts associate it with Sri Ayyappa, a Hindu deity popular with the third sex and typically associated with asceticism. The Sun and the Moon, as purely male and female planets, represent the worship of Lord Siva and goddess Durga, respectively.
The Jyotir Shastra was transmitted orally in ancient times but written down by great preceptors such as Vyasadeva, Bhrgu, Vasistha, Jaimini and Garga at the end of the Vedic age. Many of the original texts have since fallen into obscurity and only portions remain today. The essence of their knowledge, however, was consolidated and preserved in later classics such as the Brihat Jataka, Brihat Samhita, Saravali and so on. All of these works acknowledge the third sex and references from some of the more important texts are cited below.
Bhrgu Sutram: The Bhrgu Sutram is an ancient Jyotir Shastra text attributed to the sage Bhrgu, a son of Brahma. Only a small portion of the original text is available today, a section discussing the effects of each planet within the twelve astrological houses or bhavas. In regard to the third sex, the Bhrgu Sutram states that when Mars is posited in the seventh house and aspected by Saturn, the native will “touch with his mouth” the private parts of other men; if Mars is posited in any house and associated with Mercury, the native will be impotent unless aspected by a benefic planet (3.54-65). The Bhrgu Sutram further mentions that when Saturn is posited in the seventh house and associated with Mars, the native will likewise “kiss” the sexual organs of other men using his mouth (7.35).
When Mercury is in the fifth house, the Bhrgu Sutram states that it will be difficult for the native to conceive children since Mercury is a third-gender planet and thus sexually neutral; if Mercury is weak or associated with malefic planets, the native will have no children whatsoever and require adoption (4.38-40). The same is true in regard to Saturn in the fifth house (7.22). Ketu posited in the fifth or ninth house similarly indicates childlessness according to Bhrgu Sutram verses 8.11 and 8.24.
Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra: The Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra is dated to the end of the Dvapara Yuga (approximately 3000 B.C.) and attributed to the sage Parasara Muni, a disciple of Saunaka Rsi and father of Srila Vyasadeva. Specific references to the third sex in the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra are as follows: When Dhuma occupies the fifth house, the native will be of the third sex (napumsaka) (25.3); the same is true if Gulika occupies the second house (25.66). When the lord of the fourth house occupies the eighth, the native will be “equal” to a person of the third sex (24.44). If Venus occupies the seventh house and is in a sign or navamsa (one ninth of a sign) ruled by Saturn or aspected by that planet in any way, the native will “kiss” the private parts of other men (18.13).
In regard to women, the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra states that when a woman’s ascendant (first house or lagna) and Moon are in male signs, she will be masculine in form and bearing (80.6). If one of these is in a male sign and the other in a female, the woman will have both male and female characteristics (80.7). When her ascendant or Moon is in a sign belonging to Mercury and she is born in a trimsamsa (one thirtieth of a sign) of Saturn, the woman will be third-gender by nature (80.10). If the ascendant or Moon is in Leo and posited in a trimsamsa of Mercury, the woman will have masculine features (80.13). Should Mercury and Saturn occupy a woman’s seventh house, her husband will be an impotent man of the third sex (80.18). When a woman’s ascendant is Taurus or Libra, her rising navamsa Capricorn or Aquarius, and the planets Venus and Saturn aspect each other or occupy one another’s navamsa, “the woman will be of great passion and satisfy herself through other females acting as men” (80.50-51).
Nearly a dozen verses from the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra refer to astrological indications of childlessness (anapatya yogas), which may or may not involve people of the third sex. For example, when Mercury or Saturn governs the fifth house, which is also occupied or aspected by both Saturn and Gulika, the native will find it necessary to adopt children (16.9). In regard to worshipable deities, the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra assigns the third-gender planet Mercury to the worship of Lord Vishnu and Saturn to Brahma (3.18).
Garga Hora: The Garga Hora is an astrological text attributed to Garga Muni, the head priest of the Yadu Dynasty and contemporary of Lord Krsna. As with the Bhrgu Sutram, only a small portion of the Garga Hora is available today—a section dealing with the indications of multiple planets in the twelve astrological houses.
The Garga Hora provides four alignments indicating people of the third sex: 1) the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury and Saturn posited in the fifth house (527); 2) the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Jupiter posited in the sixth house (614); the Sun and Mercury in the seventh house (676), and the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter in the same (765). All of these indications are negative in context since Mercury, in the presence of Saturn or other malefic planets in multiple combinations, is said to produce harmful effects. Two additional verses mention that a person will be impotent when the Sun, Mercury and Jupiter are posited in the fifth house (465) and that a native will be “similar to the third sex” when the Moon and Mercury are in the eighth (801). The Garga Hora further notes that a native will be “devoid of manliness” when the Sun, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus are all posited in the second house (202) or if the Moon, Mars and Mercury are in the fifth (471). Eight verses cite indications of childlessness, such as having the Sun, Mercury and Saturn in the fifth house (467), and nine verses cite alignments indicating lack of sex desire, such as having the Moon and Saturn posited in the sixth house (564). Over a dozen verses cite planetary indications of having no wife, a barren wife, or a barren daughter, such as having Mars, Mercury and Venus in the fifth house (483). Thus the Garga Hora cites numerous indications of the third sex, impotence and childlessness found in Vedic astrology. Unlike the ancient works of Parasara and Bhrgu, Garga’s text contains no specific statements regarding homosexual behavior.
Jaimini Sutram: Sage Jaimini, a disciple of Srila Vyasadeva, compiled the Jaimini or Upadesha Sutram approximately five thousand years ago. His unique method of calculating horoscopes represents an alternative system in Vedic astrology although most of the qualities attributed to the planets and signs remain the same. Mercury and Saturn, for instance, remain third-gender planets under the Jaimini system and govern the same signs. Rahu and Ketu, however, play a somewhat larger role. Ketu is viewed as a moksha karaka (liberation indicator) and treated like Mercury in the sense that it is considered benefic unless associated with harmful planets (4.4.24-25). In regard to worshipable deities, the Jaimini Sutram states that when Mercury and Saturn are with Ketu in the twelfth house from the karakamsa lagna (the sign occupied by the birth ascendant’s ruling planet), the native will be a worshiper of Lord Vishnu (1.2.76).
The first reference to the third gender in the Jaimini Sutram states that when Ketu is posited in or second from the karakamsa lagna and aspected by Mercury and Saturn, the native will be impotent and unable to procreate (1.2.34). Indicators of childlessness under the Jaimini system are determined when the planets Mercury, Saturn or Venus are associated with the seventh house from the janma, navamsa, karakamsa, or upapada lagnas (1.4.24). In a chapter dealing with the birth of children, the Jaimini Sutram states that when neither the father’s or mother’s karaka (indicator) conjoins or aspects the Sun or ascendant, the child born will be either illegitimate or of the third sex; the same is true if the Sun or ascendant is six signs away from the parent's karakas (4.1.23, 25). In his notes on these two verses, author Sanjay Rath (Upadesa Sutras, 2002) comments that if Mercury is associated with the above-mentioned indications, the child will be of the third sex rather than illegitimate. In a related chapter it is stated that when the adhana lagna (the ascendant in a chart drawn up at the time of conception) is in a navamsa of Mercury or Saturn, the child will also be of the third sex (4.3.12). In his notes on this verse, Rath comments that the planet Mercury indicates a third-gender girl whereas Saturn, a third-gender boy.
In a chapter devoted to women, the Jaimini Sutram states that when Mercury is in a trikona (fifth or ninth house) from the woman’s navamsa lagna she will never beget any children (4.3.79). Should Saturn be posited in the navamsa lagna, the woman, although female, will behave like a man (4.3.84); similarly, when Saturn is posited in a trikona from the navamsa lagna she will behave like a man and be sexually passionate (4.3.85).
Brihat Jataka: The Brihat Jataka is one of the most respected classics on Vedic astrology. Compiled in the first century B.C. by Varaha Mihira, a brahmana of Avanti in central India, this text is based on the earlier works of sages such as Bhrgu and Parasara. The Brihat Jataka assigns the planets Mercury and Saturn to the third sex and declares their primary deities or adi-devatas to be Keshava (Vishnu) and Kaha (Brahma), respectively (2.5-6). In a chapter describing various types of pregnancies and births, the Brihat Jataka mentions people of the third sex as follows:
When the Sun, the Moon, Venus and Mars occupy their own navamsas and Jupiter is in the ascendant, fifth or ninth house (trikona), conception will take place. When this combination is present among the impotent, however, it is as useless as moonlight to a blind man. (4.3)
When the Sun and Moon aspect each other; when Mercury and Saturn aspect each other; when Mars in a male sign aspects the Sun in a female sign; when the Moon and ascendant are in male signs and aspected by Mars in a female sign; when the Moon is in a male sign, Mercury in a female sign and both are aspected by Mars; and when Venus, the ascendant and the Moon are all posited in male amsas—in all six of these cases, offspring of the third sex (kliba) will be born. (4.13)
The Brihat Jataka further mentions that a person will belong to the third sex when the navamsa ascendant is posited in Virgo; if the birth ascendant also falls in Virgo, the native will be a leader or chief among such people (21.7).
In a chapter discussing Moon signs, the Brihat Jataka (17.3) states that a native with the Moon in Gemini will be skilled in the science of sex, fond of women, music and dancing, and sport with men of the third gender (kliba). When the Moon is posited in Virgo, the native will have few or no children (17.6). With the Moon in Capricorn or Aquarius, the native will be attracted to lower types of intercourse and illicit relations (17.10-11). In a chapter discussing the indications of other planetary signs, the Brihat Jataka states that a native with the Sun in Taurus will sell scented products and clothing, be clever in drumming or music and dislike women (18.1). With the Sun in Virgo, a man will possess a feminine physique and be skilled in the arts and sciences (18.2). Having Mercury in Leo indicates childlessness (18.10) as does having Saturn in Gemini, Virgo, Cancer or Leo (18.17-18). Varaha Mihira further states that the above-mentioned indications also apply to a person’s ascendant (18.20). In the succeeding chapter, the Brihat Jataka declares that having the Moon posited in a navamsa of Sagittarius or Pisces and aspected by Venus is an indication of impotence (19.7). Similarly, when the Moon is in a navamsa of Leo and aspected by Venus, the native will be childless, and when Venus and the Moon are conjunct in any sign with Saturn and Mars in the seventh house from them, the native will have neither wife nor child (23.5).
In a chapter concerning women, the Brihat Jataka states that a woman will be masculine in temperament and form when her ascendant and Moon fall in male signs. If these two are aspected by malefic planets, the woman will be sinful and without good character (24.2). When a woman’s ascendant or Moon falls in Gemini or Virgo and occupies a trimsamsa of Saturn, she will be of the third sex (kliba) (24.4). When her ascendant or Moon falls in Leo and occupies a trimsamsa of Mars or Mercury, the woman will be masculine in temperament. When her ascendant or Moon falls in Capricorn or Aquarius and occupies a trimsamsa of Venus, the woman will be childless (24.5). When Saturn and Venus occupy each other’s navamsas and aspect mutually, or when the ascendant falls in Taurus or Libra with the navamsa rising in Aquarius, the woman will get sexual satisfaction from other females dressed in male attire (24.7). When Mercury and Saturn occupy the woman’s seventh house, her husband will belong to the third sex (kliba) (24.8).
Brihat Samhita: The Brihat Samhita is considered by many to be the foremost treatise on the Nimitta Shastra. Compiled in the first century B.C. by the same author of the Brihat Jataka, this work is a vast collection of omens taken from various Vedic resources and astrological texts. The Brihat Samhita declares the planet Mercury to be the foremost ruler of the third sex along with people expert in music, writing, comedy, perfumes, painting, grammar, mathematics, medicine, sculpting, juggling, poetry, magic, message delivery, dancing, religious ceremonies, and so on (16.18-19). It also associates Saturn with the third sex although more in terms of impotence and lack of virility. Ketu is rarely mentioned in the Brihat Samhita and not specifically associated with any gender. In a section regarding the proper construction of Siva deities, verse 58.43 mentions that “the left half of the deity may be made of half the body of Parvati,” a clear reference to the divine form of Sri Ardhanarisvara.
In a chapter discussing planetary conjunctions, the Brihat Samhita states that when Venus overpowers Jupiter, people of the third sex “will suffer great miseries” (17.21-22). The purport of this alignment is that since Venus represents materialistic priests and Jupiter signifies those who are magnanimous and equal-visioned, people of the third sex will naturally suffer when the former types overshadow the latter. The Brihat Samhita also mentions that it is a bad omen when a third-gender person is seen in the western direction (86.46).
In a chapter describing planetary years, the Brihat Samhita (19.12) states that people of the third sex will prosper during any year when Mercury is lord, along with the other types of talented persons previously mentioned. A planetary year is determined by whichever weekday falls on the new-moon day of Chaitra (March-April), with Wednesday being the day governed by Mercury.
In a chapter concerned with reading omens through a person’s bodily limbs (angavidya), the Brihat Samhita states that if the querent touches his head or forehead, the question will involve a person of the third sex or else end unsuccessfully (51.10). If the question involves pregnancy and the same bodily parts are touched, a third-sex child will be born (51.36). Two other verses from the Brhat Samhita foretell the birth of a third-gender child: “If the woman’s blood exceeds, the child will be female; if the man’s semen exceeds, the child will be male. If both are equal, the child will be of the third gender. It is therefore necessary to take aphrodisiacs for the increase of the man’s semen” (76.1). “If the fetus is on the right side [of the woman’s abdomen], the child will be male; if it is on the left, female. If a fetus is on both sides there will be twins or, if situated in the middle, a child of the third sex” (78.24). The Brihat Samhita also mentions that if a man’s hand nails resemble the husk of paddy, he will be of the third gender (68.41).
Concerning unusual births among humans and animals, the Brihat Samhita states:
If women should give birth to children of unnatural form, or if cows, sheep, horses, deer or birds should do the same, or if leaves, sprouts or creepers should be of unnatural appearance, there will be prosperity in the land. (46.95)
In regard to animals and birds as omens, the Brihat Samhita (86.8-9) describes the distinctive traits of both male and female creatures and mentions that some belong to neither sex. It states that animal omens increase in strength and effect according to whether the creature is third-gender, female or male, respectively (86.18). Conversely, third-gender elephants are mentioned as inauspicious omens. She-elephants with male features, or he-elephants found to be non-rutting, without virility or possessed of defective or extra organs, are all said to produce misery and should be driven away to foreign lands (67.9-10). The Brihat Samhita further mentions that if an omen is observed involving a third-gender animal, along with certain other occurrences, the native will meet up with a person of the third sex (96.9).