The cluster of 27 stars could be divided into three groups of nine each. The first group starts from

Ashwini and ends with Ashlesha. In this article we take up for discussion, Ashlesha which is the last star in the first group and its significations. The star occupies the fag end of the sign Cancer.

In navamsa , this star can get connected to only two planets viz Jupiter and Saturn. Hence scholars on Astrology opine that a person born in this star will have lots of trials and tribulations in their early part of their life while the fag end will produce happiness. Since Ashlesha happens to be the last star in the first group and Makha happens to be the first star in the second group, a person born in the “junction point” between these two stars comes under a dosha technically called as “gandandha”. They could either undergo hardships or even be subjected to death at a very early stage . It is believed that King Ravana , the demon- king of Ceylon , destroyed himself and his entire clan due to his birth in the gandandha time presiding over Revati-Ashwini junction point. It is suggested by the textbooks on Dharma Sastras that in order to neutralize the evil attributable to the gandandha, one should perform “Ashlesha Nakshatra Janana Shanthi”,which is a remedial measure prescribed by textbooks.

“Shanti Ratnakaram” not only makes a mention of this rite but also gives explanations about its procedure .Once this ritual is performed and the evil neutralized , a person born in gandandha lives a long life and becomes wealthy.A Person born in the first quarter of Ashlesha is famous; one born in the 2 nd quarter is wealthy; Person born in the 3 rd quarter of Ashlesha loses his mother while the one born in the last quarter loses his father.

There is a misconception mainly in southern parts of India that a girl born in Ashlesha will prove fatal to her mother -in -law. I have personally come across cases where boys and girls otherwise eligible for marriage get rejected on this count. Longevity, as we all know is determined by the planetary disposition in one’s own chart. An alien chart cannot influence one’s chart. If the converse were to be true, is there any need to do analysis of longevity from planets in one’s chart?

Paramacharya , the sage of Kanchi , once exhorted astrologers to issue a message saying that nobody should attach any taboo to Ashlesha , Moola, Vishaka and Jyeshta. His message should be understood in the context of many eligible brides and grooms facing disappointment in matrimonial matters due to flimsy grounds.

According to Varahamihira, a person born in Ashlesha happens to be a secret sinner , is reckless in food habits ,does harm to public property and indulges in evil deeds.Serpents move in crooked fashion. Likewise a person born in Ashlesha Star is a crook. That person is given to anger and revenge. That person happens to find delight in sufferings of others . Some scholars hold the view that a person born in Ashlesha shares his wealth with others . Ashlesha borns help people in distress. Please note that all these are generic traits which undergo modifications based on Moon’s placement and influence of the other planets.Astrologers should keep these rules at the back of their mind and issue predictions only after due weightage is given to all planetary influences. If a person is born in Ashlesha star and the planetary positions also indicate that the person will only be a crook then unhesitatingly one can conclude that the person is a crook. On the other hand if planetary positions appear favourable and Moon is under the influence of Jupiter then the evil attributable to Ashlesha star stands neutralized. Astrology is a science which makes sense only if we consider all rules and their exceptions in totality.

According to Brihat Samhita one born in the first quarter of Ashlesha has obstacles to progeny . One born in the second quarter will live on hard work. One born in the third quarter will tend to fall sick while one born in the last quarter will become poor though born in affluence. In matters such as Mantra and Tantra, Ashlesha is beneficial. In overcoming enemies, casting spells, and producing enmity between friends, this star is helpful. Ashlesha borns seldom keep up their word. Behind the scenes, they work to destroy their foes. . They are untrustworthy. Money lent on Ashlesha will not come back . Tonsure in Ashlesha brings physical grief. Wearing new clothes in Ashlesha brings disease. Jupiter in Ashlesha on Thursday forms a good yoga to commence house construction . Ashelesha is a good star to seek escaped prisoners.It is a good star for movement of cattle. A disease which commences on Ashlesha could prove fatal. Surgery- oral, dental or cosmetic are favoured by Ashlesha . This star particularly favours treatment of Ascites. Ashlesha is an unfavourable star for commencing journey especially for those born with their natal Moon in Pisces .Journey in the forenoon is to be avoided in Ashelsha Star. Troop Movements are favoured by Ashlesha Star.

On Ashlesha star a rite called “ Ashlesha bali” is performed in the famous Kukke Subrahmanya temple in Karnataka to neutralize “ Sarpa Dosha”. Sarpa Dosha also known as Naga dosha.It has acquired lot of significance in Hindu Astrology as it is said to be caused due to curse of Serpents. Some of the major reasons that are attributed to be cause for Sarpa dosha are (a) killing of snakes or its off-springs or its eggs, (b) abusing snakes ,(c) digging or dismantling of a snake pit either in recent times or in previous births(d) desecration of a place of worship of serpents.I believe that Sarpa Dosha could also refer to sins ,which in essence, constitute a moral violation, tantamount to killing of a snake. Snake god is the presiding deity of Ashlesha. Doing harm to snakes is considered a major sin according to scriptures. Serpents are fit to be worshipped. Snake pits are protected in our country by installing “naga idols” and worshipping them. In many temples one can find women offering milk and eggs to snake pits. I feel these concepts have an ecological angle too.We know rats can damage crops and can become a source of menace to the world.Snakes feed on rats and therefore play an important role in maintaining ecological balance.Mongoose,which is an enemy of snakes keeps snake population in check.Likewise we have so many features in Nature to maintain the ecological balance.Our Rishis understood these concepts well and in order to protect snakes gave it spiritual significance and helped Man live in communion with Nature.

Affliction due to Sarpa Dosha emanates mainly from Rahu ,the malefic planet who is known as Sarpa

Graha. Astrologically several interpretations are given for Sarpa Dosha; They are as follows:-

  1. Placement of Rahu in Lagna, 2nd, 5th, 7th, or 8th house;

  2. Placement of malefic planets (Rahu, Ketu, Mars, Saturn and Sun) in the quadrants (1, 4, 7 and 10)

  3. Affliction to the 5th house (Putra Bhaava/Poorva Punya Sthaana) when 5 and associated with or aspected by Mars

  4. 5 th house being a sign of Mars (Aries/Scorpio) is occupied by Rahu

  5. 5 th lord in conjunction with Rahu and Saturn in 5 th house aspected by or associated with Moon.

  6. Weak Jupiter associated with Mars , Rahu in Lagna and 5 th lord in a dustana (6, 8 and 12 th house).

  7. 5 th house being a sign of Mars is occupied by Rahu and associated with Mercury.

  8. Relationship of Rahu/Kethu with 5 th house (Puthra bhaava).

  9. Rahu in Badhaka Sthana.

  10. Jupiter in 6,8, or 12 in relationship with a Badhaka lord.

  11. Rahu in Kendra or dustana associated with a Badhaka lord or Badhaka house.

  12. Rahu with Gulika or in 5,7,9 from Gulika.

  13. Mars and Saturn in quadrant from Rahu.

  14. Rahu or Ketu in Badhaka sign or in 4,7,6,8 or 12.

Note: Sarpa Yoga should not be confused with Kaala Sarpa Dosha(Yoga which is formed by the placement of all the planets including lagna within the axis of Rahu and Kethu). If Rahu is in Aries and Ketu is in Libra all planets should be in Taurus to Virgo.Rahu moves in counter clockwise direction.After Aries Rahu will move to Pisces.Rahu is the head and Ketu is the tail.In a figurative sense Kala Sarpa Dosha is formed when all planets are placed in the belly of the snake.

Effects of Sarpa dosha are lack of progeny or loss of progeny, delay and obstacles to progeny , obstacles to marriage, lack of prosperity or progress in life, chronic ill-health, skin diseases, accidents, total dissatisfaction and disillusionment in personal life.

Time tested remedy for Sarpa Dosha (Naaga Dosha) is performance of Sarpa Shanti viz., Sarpa Samskaara with Aslesha Bali and Naaga Devatha Pratishta at Kukke Subramanya temple in South Kanara District of Karnataka state.

Nagadevatha Pratishta can also be performed at any of the sacred Naga/Subramanya Kshethras .They are as follows:-

  1. Ghaati Subramanya Kshethra (near Doddaballapura in Karnataka State) where Lord Subramanya is in the form of a snake (where He received blessings from Lord Naarasimha).
  2. Kudupu (near Mangalore) :- Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple is a very ancient temple believed to be in existence since Krita Yuga days.
  3. Sarpa Shanti at Trayambakeshwar (Naasik) temple;
  4. Rahu-Kethu pooja along with Rudraabhishekam to Lord Shiva at Sri Kaalahasthi temple,near Tirupati In Andhra Pradesh.
  5. Rudraabhishekam/Sarpadosha nivaarana pooja at Kapila Theertham temple on the way to Tirumala Hills;
  6. Mahanyaasa Poorvaka Ekaadasavaara Rudraabhishekam with Sarpa Sooktham.
  7. Those who cannot afford to perform Sarpa Shanti as said above due to economic reasons can resort to a cost effective remedy. Worship Nagadevatha by performing abhishekam with milk on Naga Devatha idol installed under the shade of an Aswatta Vruksha (Banyan/Peepal Tree) at any temple for a period of one Mandala (41 days) without break and perform seven rounds pradakshina (circumambulations) around the Naga idol and the Banyan tree reciting Sri Subramanya/Naaga Devatha slokas. This should be performed in the morning as early as possible. A portion of the milk should also be poured at the roots of the tree. Commencement of this austerity should be made preferably on a Tuesday or a Sunday. On completion, visit any Lord Subramanya temple; perform Ksheeraabhishekam( Milk offering) and donate one pair of silver Naga Prathima ( snake idol in silver)to a deserving person (preferably a Vedic Pundit) along with 11/4 kg of blackgram and horse Gram along with fees(dakshina). While performing this austerity one should take only Satwic food and observe celibacy.

There are two distinct rituals performed in reverence to the snake. They are, Ashlesha Bali and Nagamandala. Nagamandala depicts the divine union of male and female snakes. It is generally performed by two priests. The first priest, called as patri inhales the areca flower (Supari Phool) and becomes the male snake. The second priest, called as Nagakannika or the female snake dances and sings around an elaborate serpent design drawn with natural colours on the sacred ground. The ritual is supplemented by playing an hour glass shaped instrument called as Dakke. The drawings in five different colours on the sacred ground are white (white mud), red (mix of lime powder and turmeric powder), green (green leaves powder), yellow (turmeric powder) and black (roasted and powdered paddy husk). Ashlesha Bali is similar nature to the funeral rites performed in Hindu tradition. Lord Subramanya is known as the protector from Kaalasarpa dosha ,Sarpa Dosha and Kuja dosha. Aslesha Bali puja is performed on Aslesha nakshatra in each month. It is believed that this puja , if performed on stars ,other than Ashlesha, yields no benefits. Shravana masa, Karthika masa, and Margashira masa are the most auspicious months to perform Aslesha bali puja.