During their transitory motion, all planets among Navagraha (nine planets in Vedic astrology) keep moving from one sign to the next in a cyclic movement, according to their speeds of movement. The journey of each planet starts from Aries, it completes at Pisces and then the process starts again, as such planet enters Aries again. Looking at their speeds, Moon completes its transit in twelve signs in less than a month, being the fastest one. On the other hand, Saturn being the slowest to move among Navagraha, takes about 30 years to complete one cycle from Aries to Pisces. Similarly, other planets also have their own speeds and they complete this cycle accordingly.
As a planet travels through a sign, such sign becomes its home for the time being and the characteristics of that sign impact it in one way or another. Taking an example from real life to understand it, imagine you are on a journey of the world where you travel through many countries, stay in each country for some time and then move on to the next country. Let’s suppose your native language is English, your religion is X and the combination of your lifestyle, preferences and beliefs is Y. This is what your general or basic nature is or let’s say this is your basic theme. As you travel through a country during your journey say country A, you may find that this country has an overall theme which closely matches your basic theme. For instance, the people in this country speak English, most of them practice in religion X, this country may primarily dwell on same foods as you do, it may have a similar type of government structure that your country has, it may have similar laws and many other things that you feel comfortable with.
For as long as you are in this country during your journey; it is natural for you to feel like home and hence you may feel relaxed, expanding and capable of doing more with ease. During the journey, you reach another country say B which features an overall theme which conflicts with your overall theme though it may not be exactly opposite to that. For instance, this country may feature a language which is not English and which is far different from English; making it difficult for you to communicate. Though most of the remaining things may be similar to your theme but this factor or may be another added factor makes it somewhat difficult for you to feel relaxed, expanding and capable of doing more things with ease. You move on and enter a country C which features an overall theme which is almost opposite to your basic theme and you don’t like the changes. It is easy to understand that you are likely to feel uncomfortable here and you may not be able to relax or expand here.
Considering one more option, you travel through another country D which may have an overall theme which is different than that of yours in some aspects; but this difference is good. It means the people of this country may be more friendly than those of yours, the laws may be more relaxed, there may be foods different than you generally prefer to eat but then you like those foods a lot when you try them, this country features some beautiful places and scenic views that your place doesn’t have; and other things also. Though this country as well its general theme is different than that of yours, you are likely to feel even more relaxed, expanding and capable of doing more in this country. This is because your overall theme finds an option to upgrade itself in this country where your own country doesn’t feature such option.
This is almost what happens with planets also, during their transitory journey through different signs. Let’s consider a planet and try to understand this process in an even better way. Let’s consider the transit of Saturn through twelve signs. Capricorn is the home of Saturn and it closely matches its basic theme. It means that Capricorn is going to act as a standard which will be used to compare Saturn’s experiences in other signs. As Saturn travels through Taurus, Gemini, Virgo or Aquarius, it witnesses experiences like country A. It means these signs may be somewhat different from its basic theme but Saturn is relaxed and capable of doing more in these signs. The signs like Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are the ones which serve as country B where Saturn feels somewhat less relaxed but it can still do a number of things.
The third group features signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius which act as country C, where Saturn finds itself most uncomfortable and hence it is not able to do much or expand much in these signs. Among these signs also; Saturn finds maximum discomfort in the sign of Aries, relatively less discomfort in Leo and even less in Sagittarius. It means though all these signs make Saturn uncomfortable, it can still live with Sagittarius; it can try to survive in Leo and it feels choked in Aries. Moving on to the group four, Libra acts as country D as it is different from Capricorn but Saturn likes these changes and it feels even more relaxed and expanding in this sign. It naturally means that Saturn is capable of doing more work in this sign.
It is now easy to understand why Aries serves as the sign of debilitation for Saturn and why Libra becomes its sign of exaltation. Aries simply doesn’t let Saturn perform in the way it wants and hence its expressions are limited in this sign. On the other hand, Libra gives Saturn an extra push and it feels motivated, inspired and pumped to do even more work. The same happens to all other planets among Navagraha and by natural choices which means according to their experiences in different signs; there signs of exaltation as well as their signs of debilitation are chosen. Before moving on with this discussion, let’s look at the signs of exaltation as well as the signs of debilitation for various planets among Navagraha.
Sun gets exalted in Aries and it is debilitated in Libra.
Moon gets exalted in Taurus and it is debilitated in Scorpio.
Jupiter gets exalted in Cancer and it is debilitated in Capricorn.
Venus gets exalted in Pisces and it is debilitated in Virgo.
Mars gets exalted in Capricorn and it is debilitated in Cancer.
Mercury gets exalted in Virgo and it is debilitated in Pisces.
Saturn gets exalted in Libra and it is debilitated in Aries.
Rahu gets exalted in Taurus as well as in Virgo and it is debilitated in Scorpio as well as in Pisces.
Ketu gets exalted in Scorpio as well as in Pisces and it is debilitated in Taurus as well as in Virgo.
Now that we have understood what makes a planet strong or weak in a sign, let’s look at some important facts associated with exaltation and debilitation of planets in Vedic astrology. As we go through the explanations described earlier; we may naturally assume that each planet is benefic in its sign of exaltation and it becomes malefic in its sign of debilitation. As convincing as it may sound, it is not true. The ability of a planet to feel relaxed and expanded in a sign primarily tells about its working strength and this fact can’t be used to predict the working nature of such planet. Going back to the original example, if you feel like having the best experiences of your life in country D; that doesn’t actually make these experiences good for everyone and this fact holds for you alone.
Good and bad is relative which means what is good for you may not be good for someone else and it may even be bad for them. While imagining the journey through different countries, we naturally tend to assume ourselves as good human beings though the reality may be different; and let’s see how. Let’s change a variable here and assume that this native say G who is travelling around the world is a bad person with low moral values, a criminal or something like that. By changing this fact alone; the definition of good and bad changes when we look at the bigger picture. When this native G travels through country D where the language, lifestyle and most other things are according to his liking; his experiences in this country are good and hence he enjoys his stay here. Due to the comfort of language, foods, lifestyle and other things; G may find it easy to operate from here and do more and more work in this country. Hence this country is good from his point of view, which means when we are looking at the smaller picture.
But remember, G is a criminal. The fact that he is comfortable in country D means that he may engage in more operations in this country which further means that he is going to cause problems for the others. When you look at this situation from this bigger angle; it looks like a bad one. This is because a bad person is utilizing the comfort provided by a country to create evil. Hence this experience may be good for him but it is bad in the bigger sense. Likewise, when this native G goes to the country C where language, foods, lifestyle and other factors make it difficult for him to enjoy and expand; this country is bad according to his point of view. It means he may not be comfortable staying here and expanding his operations. When we look at it from a bigger angle; it is a good thing since G will not be able to spread negativity in this country. It means the discomfort felt by G is bad for him but it is good for the country because due to this discomfort only; he will spare this country and go somewhere else.
Consider another possibility; let’s suppose a native H who is good in most senses travels through country D. Since D gives him comfort; he may expand and operate in a better way in this country. As H is a good person; his operation will spread more positivity all around. It means in this case; his stay in this country is good for him as well as for the others. However, when H travels through country C which gives him discomfort and he is not able to expand and operate in a strong way; the equation changes. The country is not good for H since it is not giving him the scope to spread his goodness. Since he is not able to spread his goodness; everything around him also bears a loss as all the positivity he may have spread is not there now. In this case, both H and the surroundings are at loss.
The same thing happens in case of transits of different planets through different signs. The placement of a planet in its sign of exaltation primarily means that this planet will expand and thrive here; and it doesn’t tell much about the working nature of this planet. Likewise, the placement of a planet in its sign of debilitation primarily means that this planet will feel restricted and weakened here; and it doesn’t tell much about the working nature of such planet. It means when a malefic planet is placed in the most suitable sign, like malefic Saturn in Libra, it tends to expand and operate at its maximum strength. Hence we attach the word exalted with such planet, like Saturn in this case. It means Saturn is very happy in the sign of Libra, it expands itself and it gains maximum strength; justifying the meaning of being exalted.
However, as we already know by now, if a malefic person is very happy and strong in a specific place; it is very likely to cause more harm for everything around him. When a criminal is happy, strong and expanding; this is simply bad news for the law abiding world around him. Hence such malefic exalted Saturn is going to cause much more harm to the native; than malefic Saturn with average strength can cause. Therefore, the exaltation of Saturn in this case is not a blessing for the native but it is a curse. On the other hand, if Saturn is exalted as well as benefic in a horoscope; it is a blessing for the native. Benefic Saturn having so much strength may bring many more good things to this native; than benefic Saturn with average strength can. Similarly, if malefic Saturn is debilitated in a horoscope, it is good for the native in many ways; since such Saturn won’t be able to cause much trouble due to lack of strength or discomfort of operation. On the other hand, if benefic Saturn is debilitated in a horoscope, it is a loss for the native since this planet may not bring him much good now; even when it wants to.
Therefore, the presence of a planet in its sign of exaltation should be seen as a measure of its strength as well as its comfort of operations. Whether such operations will be benefic or malefic should not be judged from the presence of a planet in its sign of exaltation or in any sign for that matter. Similarly, the presence of a planet in its sign of debilitation should be seen as a measure of its weakness as well as its discomfort of operations. Whether such operations will be benefic or malefic should not be decided from the presence of such planet in its sign of debilitation. Vedic astrology provides various guidelines for analysing the benefic or malefic nature of various planets in a horoscope; and those guidelines should be used to do this job.
Let’s now discuss some other aspects related to exalted and debilitated planets; which can affect their strengths as well as change their operational comfort. If an exalted planet is placed in conjunction with a malefic planet; the malefic planet will afflict such exalted planet and hence the exalted planet may lose a part of its strength in fighting such affliction. How much strength is lost by an exalted planet in such situation is dependent on the strength of the planet which afflicts it as well as on the closeness of conjunction. For example, if benefic exalted Sun is afflicted by malefic debilitated Saturn in the sign of Aries; this affliction may not cause much harm to Sun since the afflicting planet which is Saturn is very weak in Aries. Looking at another possibility, if benefic exalted Sun is afflicted by malefic Jupiter in Aries; this is a stronger affliction since Jupiter is comfortable in Aries.
However, if malefic Mars afflicts benefic exalted Sun in the sign of Aries; this may become a serious issue. This is because Mars is strong in the sign of Aries and it can cause so much damage to the strength as well as some other significances of exalted Sun. In this case, closer is Mars placed to Sun in Aries; more damage or weakness may be rendered to exalted Sun. Therefore, this aspect should also be kept in mind; while assessing the strength of an exalted planet.
Moving to the next factor, if an exalted planet is placed in conjunction with a benefic planet; it may gain even more strength since the other planet may provide more strength to such exalted planet. This rule holds good only if both planets are benefic which means even the exalted planet is benefic. In case a malefic exalted planet is placed in conjunction with a benefic planet; the energies of these two planets may start counteracting each other. This is because malefic exalted planet may try to afflict the benefic planet and such benefic planet may try to counteract the energy of such exalted planet in order to protect itself. Through this process; both planets will lose a part of their energy and hence both will become weaker. When the exalted planet is also benefic, the strength gained by such exalted planet will depend on the strength of the other benefic planet. For example, if benefic exalted Mercury is placed in Virgo along with benefic debilitated Venus; Mercury may not benefit much due to weakness of Venus. However, if benefic exalted Mercury is placed in Virgo along with benefic Saturn, it may achieve more strength since Saturn is strong in Virgo. If benefic exalted Mercury is placed in Virgo along with benefic exalted Rahu; both planets may strengthen each other a lot; since both of them are benefic and strong.
If a benefic exalted planet is placed in conjunction with two planets one of which is benefic and the other one is malefic; the net strength of such exalted planet will depend on the strength of the other two planets placed in the same sign. For example, if benefic exalted Jupiter is placed in Cancer with benefic Moon and malefic Mercury; Jupiter may not lose much strength. This is because Moon is strong in Cancer and Mercury is uncomfortable with this sign. Hence the net resultant may be favourable. However, if benefic exalted Jupiter is placed in Cancer with malefic Moon and benefic Mercury; it becomes a cause of concern since malefic Moon is strong and benefic Mercury is weak. In the same way; this guideline can be used to assess the strength of an exalted planet when it is present with three or four other planets.
Similar guideline works in case of a debilitated planet. If a benefic debilitated planet is placed with a strong benefic planet; such debilitated planet will gain considerable strength. However, if it is placed with a weak benefic planet; such debilitated planet may not gain much strength. For example, if benefic debilitated Venus is placed in Virgo with benefic Mars; it may not gain much strength since Mars is not comfortable in Virgo. However, if benefic debilitated Venus is placed in Virgo along with benefic Saturn or benefic Mercury; it may gain considerable strength since both these planets are strong in Virgo. The same guideline will work for affliction to a debilitated planet by a malefic planet, which means stronger is the malefic planet; more weakness is rendered to the debilitated planet. For example, if benefic debilitated Sun is placed in Libra with malefic exalted Saturn; this troublesome combination may spell disasters for the native since Sun may become extremely weak due to this affliction. As Sun represents our immunity and lifeline among other important things; bad things can happen to this native; including death at a young age; if the rest of the horoscope is not strong. According to the same guideline, the strength of a debilitated planet can be calculated when it is present in combination with more than one planet.
The next factor on the list is the phenomenon of combustion which can cause additional weakness to 6 planets among Navagraha. When a planet gets closer to Sun than a safer distance, such planet gets combust and it loses some of its power. Except Sun, Rahu and Ketu, all six planets undergo this phenomenon. It means if one of these six planets is debilitated or exalted; we will need to check whether or not it is combust. Even if it is combust; the sign in which such combustion is happening is the key factor. For example, any planet will receive maximum combustion effect in Aries since Sun is exalted in this sign. As Saturn is the only planet that gets debilitated in Aries; this factor will render additional weakness to Saturn. For other exalted and debilitated planets, the general guideline should be used. For example, exalted Jupiter in Cancer may not lose much strength due to combustion; as Sun is not that strong in Cancer.
Moving to the next factor; the placement of an exalted or debilitated planet in Navamsha chart commonly known as D9, can also change the results to some extent though it is not a major factor. If an exalted planet is debilitated in Navamsha, it may not remain the same strong. For example, if exalted Sun is placed in Aries and it is placed in Libra in D9; it is weaker than the Sun placed in Aries in D1 and in Leo in D9 which is further weaker than the Sun placed in Aries in D1 and in Aries in D9. In the third case, Sun is exalted both in D1 which means the lagna chart or birth chart, as well as in Navamsha chart. Hence it becomes very strong in this case. Similarly, debilitated Sun in Libra in D1 is the weakest when it is placed in Libra in D9 also whereas it is partly relieved from debilitation when it is placed in Libra in D1 and in Aries in D9. This guideline can be used to measure the change in strength of other exalted and debilitated planets also.
Apart from this, any planet placed in first house of a horoscope tends to gain additional strength, whether such planet is exalted or debilitated, benefic or malefic. This is because the first house or ascendant is the core of a horoscope and any planet placed in the core tends to demand extra control over other energies.