The determination of longevity is a difficult question and dependent upon a large number of factors. The astrological principles which attempt to illuminate the issue must address the very root of the life-force which vivifies the human individual and which finally, at his death, ebbs out. Hindu astrology distinguishes between three aspects of the problem, i.e. the duration of one's life-span, the actual cessation of the life-force, and the manner in which one leaves this mortal coil. The death-inflicting planet determines the manner of death, i.e. whether a person dies of fever, drowning, accident, disease, etc. Whether an individual will die at his own house among his family or at a distant place in unknown surroundings can also be determined astrologically, though these are details in which one is not always interested; the most important task is the determination of longevity and of the death-inflicting planet. The classical texts have given a large number of rules concerning the subject, from which it is difficult to draw clear-cut guidelines, but the following is a brief rendering of some of the basic principles.
Any distinction between longevity and death may seem like an exercise in semantics but Hindu astrology does, for its own reason, assign different houses to them. The Ascendant is the house from which one deduces the quantum of life-force with which a person is bom, while the Eighth house shows his longevity.
Death or the cessation of life is revealed by the disposition of the twelfth from each of these houses, i.e. the Twelfth house (after-death experiences) and the Seventh (the ebbing out of the life-force). The basic principle of 'bhavat bhavam' suggests that the disposition of any house is to be deciphered by considering that house as an ascendant and examining the house which is similarly placed in relationship to it. For instance, if we want to study the Tenth house in a horoscope, we should also consider the tenth house to the Tenth, which will be the Seventh house; if the Fifth house is to be studied, the fifth from it, i.e. the Ninth house, will also be examined. On this principle, when we consider the disposition of the Eighth house, then the eighth from it, i.e. the Third house, also becomes relevant. And in order to consider the Third house as far as the question of longevity is concerned, the eighth house from it, which happens to be the Tenth, will also need consideration.
hi addition to this principle, the rule that the seventh phase shows the final culmination of any aspect of life requires that the seventh from the Eighth house, i.e. the Second house, will be taken into account. The Second house happens to be twelfth from the Third, and the Seventh house is twelfth from the Eighth; these two houses are very important when considering death.
Thus the determination of longevity depends on careful consideration of several related houses. All of them have subtle differences among themselves, the understanding of which helps us assign the proper weight to their importance. The Ascendant and the Eighth houses are basic, but because they relate to the Second, Seventh, Twelfth, Third and Tenth (as well as the Fifth), and as the subject is also intimately related to the Sun, Moon, and Saturn, clarity regarding the precise impact of ah" these factors on one's longevity is essential. The rationale for such consideration becomes clear on an understanding of the nature and disposition of these houses and planets.
The Twelfth house, as mentioned before, signifies outflow, expendi ture, dissolution, or disappearance for that house to which it is the twelfth; the Twelfth house stands for the end of the result. In this sense, the Twelfth house in a natal chart stands for the end of life, the dissolution of that life-essence contained in the First house. The Eighth house stands for longevity, and the Twelfth from it, i.e. the Seventh house, will stand for the dissolution of longevity, that is, death. The eighth house from the Eighth house (i.e. the Third) will be a significator for longevity, and the twelfth from that, i.e. the Second house, will stand for the termination of longevity or death. The Second is seventh from the Eighth house, so the Second house, for this reason also, signifies the end of longevity. The Second and the Seventh houses are of paramount importance for deciding the question of death.
Saturn is the greatest killer, whereas the Sun and Moon are connected with life-giving energy, so these three planets cannot be overlooked in the present context. The planetary positions of the Ascendant lord, the lord of the Eighth house, the lord of the Tenth house and Saturn are important in determining the longevity of an individual.
While considering the nature of these planets, general astrological principles should not be overlooked. If a planet is positioned in a quadrant, it reinforces the auspicious nature of the houses it rules. If the lord of the Eighth house is so placed, it assures long life. But this situation must be studied in relation to the Ascendant lord as well. If the Eighth house lord is in a quadrant but the Ascendant lord is weakly disposed, the individual may be short-lived. This influence is intensified if the lord of the Eighth is debilitated and the Eighth house itself occupied by a malefic. The weakness of the Ascendant, the debilitation of the lord of the Eighth house, and the occupation of the Eighth by malefics will shorten the life-span. A special rule affirms that the debilitated lord of the Eighth house in the Ascendant with malefics in the quadrants or trines and benefics in the Sixth or Eighth will make the person die young. The individual may also become short-lived if the Fifth or Eighth house is afflicted by malefics or if the lord of the Fifth is associated with a malefic. Very early death occurs if the lord of the Eighth house is in the Eighth itself, the Moon is associated with a malefic, and there is no strengthening aspect from any benefic on the Moon.
The Ascendant lord, the lord of the Eighth house, and the lord of the Fifth house in then- own signs, their own navamsha, or in friendly signs make the individual long-lived. The placement of the Ascendant lord in a quadrant house with aspects from benefics makes the individual learned and wealthy and gives him a long life. If the Ascendant lord is exalted, the Moon is in the Eleventh house, and Jupiter in the Eighth, the individual also lives long. The same is the result when the lord of the Sixth or the TWelfth is in the Sixth, Eighth, Twelfth, or Ascendant. In fact, there are many combinations influencing the longevity of a person and which require the astrologer to take a broad view of the horoscope before deciding the question of longevity.
The first task in the determination of one's life-span is the examina tion of the broad parameters of one's longevity. For this purpose, the longevity of any individual may be divided into three categories, namely:
1. Those who die young
2. Those who live an average life-span
3. Those who live long
The exact duration of such categories will be different for different societies; this categorization should be adapted to the life expectancy prevalent in the culture of the native under consideration. As a general rule, the first category goes up to 32 years of age, the second from 32 years to 70 years, and the third beyond 70 years of age. Whether the individual falls in the first, second or third category depends upon the signs occupied by:
1. The Ascendant and the Moon
2. The Ascendant lord and the lord of the Eighth house
3. The Ascendant sign and the Hora-sign of the Ascendant
The zodiacal signs are classified as Movable (Cardinal) (1), Fixed (2), and Common (Mutable) (3), which can be represented by the numerals 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Each of the three pairs of signs mentioned above can therefore be examined by way of the table shown below.
There will be three sets of results. First ascertain whether the Ascen dant is in a Movable, Fixed, or Common sign. If it is in a Cardinal or Movable sign, the first row will apply; if it is Fixed the second row will apply, and if Common, the third row will apply. In whichever row the Ascendant falls, the sign of the Moon will have to be superimposed. For example, if the Ascendant is in Sagittarius, which is a Common sign, then the third row will apply. If the Moon-sign is Libra (1), a Movable sign, the first column of the third row will be applicable and will indicate a short life-span.
Similarly, the second pair of determinants, namely the Ascendant lord and the lord of the Eighth house have to be examined. The third pair is the Ascendant and the Hora-sign of the Ascendant. As the Hora-sign is either for the Sun (Leo) or the Moon (Cancer), there will be no Common sign for the same. Therefore, the first column in the first row, the third column in the second row, and the second column in the third row will not be applicable.
We can also use the number of the sign of the zodiac instead of the numbers 1,2, and 3. The essential thing is to divide the result by 3. This, in fact, is how all the results are obtained for all pairs of determinants. If the result is 0, it equals a medium life-span; if 1, a short life; if 2, a long one. For instance, if the Ascendant is Sagittarius and the Hora-sign of the Ascendant is Leo, this is expressed as 9 + 5 = 14. We divide 14 by 3 and get a result of 4, with a remainder of 2, signifying long life. Similarly, we may call Sagittarius a 3 because it is Common or Mutable, 3 + 5 (Leo) = 8, which again gives a remainder of 2.
When the longevity determined on the basis of all three pairs is identical, there is no difficulty in accepting the result. If the conclusions on the basis of two pairs are identical and the third one differs, one has to accept the former, i.e. the two similar results. But in case all three conclusions are different from one another, the result based on the Ascendant and Hora-sign of the Ascendant should be considered decisive.
TABLE FOR LONGEVITY DETERMINATION
Movable 1 Common 3
Common 3 Movable 1
70 Years and Above
Movable 1 Movable 1
Common 3 Fixed 2
The above method of determining longevity is very rough and indic ative only of the likely duration of one's life-span. The span of one's life depends upon the quantum of life-essence or life-force apportioned to the soul for that specific birth. It also takes into account the special mission assigned to the individual to be completed during his life-span. Ordinarily, only after the completion of his mission will an individual leave this world. With the free will inherent in human birth, an individual can take up various options available to him at different stages of his life's pilgrimage as a result of which his life-span may, in exceptional cases, be altered. From a spiritual perspective, it is necessary to consider how the individual has used his vital energy or life-essence. But it is also necessary to have an idea of which planet plays the death-inflicting role. The decision regarding the death-inflicting planet is as complicated as the determination of longevity, but, broadly speaking, the basic principles can be summarized as follows:
1. The Second house, as already indicated, is important in determining the death of a person. Any planet occupying the Second house is the most important factor in this regard. A malefic in association with a planet in the Second will have the primary role in inflicting death.
2. The next in importance is the role of any planet occupying the Seventh house.
3. A malefic occupying the Third house comes third in order of importance.
4. Next in order of importance comes the lord of the Second house, which is followed by the lord of the Seventh house.
5. The lord of the Twelfth has death-inflicting potential of a lower order, and is followed by malefics associated with the lord of the Twelfth house. The lords of the Third and Eighth houses come next. These planets are followed by the lords of the Sixth and the Eleventh houses. Finally comes the consideration of malefic planets in general.
In considering the question of death-inflicting planets it may be useful to reiterate some of the basic principles of astrological prediction which are important in the present context. First, it is necessary to emphasize that benefics as the lords of quadrants acquire a malefic nature unless they are posited in the quadrants themselves. The malefics as lords of the quadrants acquire a benefic influence, but all planets occupying the quadrant houses become auspicious. The planets which acquire lordships of trine houses are always, irrespective of their becoming malefic or benefic, considered auspicious. But the Fifth is stronger than the First (which is considered a trine and a quadrant house), while the Ninth house is stronger than the Fifth. Among the quadrants, the Fourth is stronger than the First, the Seventh is stronger than the Fourth, and the Tenth is stronger than the Seventh.
The lords of the Second, Sixth and Eleventh houses are always inauspicious, though the Sun and Moon do not suffer from this infirmity. If the lord of the Ascendant, as in the case of Aries and Libra, also becomes the lord of the Eighth house, the weakness arising from ownership of the Eighth house does not pertain. Benefics such as Jupiter and Venus, when they become lords of quadrants and do not acquire exceptions to the general rule, become strong death-inflicting planets. Among the death-in flicting benefics, Mercury has less power than Jupiter and Venus, and the Moon has even less power than Mercury. In association with a death-in flicting planet, Saturn acquires tremendous power for precipitating the final blow.