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When a planet comes closer to Sun, more than a safer distance to be maintained, such planet may become weaker as Sun may burn out some of its strength. Such planet that loses some of its strength by virtue of being too close to Sun is called a combust planet.
While depicting such planet in a horoscope, the alphabet ‘c’ is written along with it, which is an indication for the person who studies such horoscope, that this planet was combust at the time of birth of the native who possesses such horoscope.
For example, Mercury gets combust when it comes within a distance of 14 degrees or less from Sun. It means that if Mercury is placed in Leo along with Sun where Mercury has travelled 10 degrees in Leo and Sun has travelled 20 degrees in the same sign, the net distance between Mercury and Sun is 10 degrees which is less than the safe distance of 14 degrees in case of Mercury. Hence it becomes combust.
The natives who are born during this phase of time will have combust Mercury in their horoscopes, which may be depicted by adding ‘c’ with Mercury. Similarly, other planets also become combust when they come within a certain minimum distance from Sun. Among all nine planets in Vedic astrology, six planets except Rahu and Ketu; namely Moon, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Mercury and Saturn become combust when they enter a certain distance from Sun.
This minimum distance is different for different planets. A couple of these planets have different degrees of safe distances from Sun before they get combust, depending on the fact whether they are in forward motion or in retrograde motion. For example, in forward motion, Mercury becomes combust when it enters a distance of 14 degrees from Sun whereas in retrograde motion, it becomes combust when it enters a distance of 12 degrees from Sun. Rahu and Ketu never become combust by virtue of their closeness to Sun as they are shadow planets, and they don’t have physical attributes like combustion.
Before moving on with this discussion, let’s take a look at the distance from Sun after which, each one of these six planets becomes combust.
Moon becomes combust when it comes within 12 degrees on either side of Sun.
Mercury becomes combust when it comes within 14 degrees on either side of Sun provided Mercury is in forward Motion. When Mercury is in retrograde motion, the degree of closeness for combustion of Mercury becomes 12 degrees.
Venus becomes combust when it comes within 10 degrees on either side of Sun provided Venus is in forward motion. When Venus is in retrograde motion, the degree of closeness for combustion of Venus becomes 8 degrees.
Mars becomes combust when it comes within 17 degrees on either side of Sun.
Jupiter becomes combust when it comes within 11 degrees on either side of Sun.
Saturn becomes combust when it comes within 15 degrees on either side of Sun.
Though a planet which becomes combust may lose strength, how much strength it may lose is dependent on many factors in a horoscope, and it is not decided on the basis of combustion only. The first one among these factors is the distance that a combust planet has travelled closer to Sun. The closer a planet gets to Sun after entering a certain minimum distance, the more combust it gets. For example, suppose Sun is placed in Leo at 20 degrees and Mercury is placed in the same sign at 10 degrees. Though Mercury is combust as it has entered the minimum required distance for its combustion to take place, it may not lose much power since it is not very close to Sun.
However, if Sun is placed in Leo at 20 degrees and Mercury is placed in the same sign at 18 degrees, the combustion of Mercury will be much stronger than that in the first case. This is because Mercury has come much closer to Sun, compared to the first case, as the distance between Sun and Mercury is 10 degrees in the first case whereas the distance between Sun and Mercury is 2 degrees in the second case. Similarly, if Sun is placed in Leo at 20 degrees and Mercury is also placed in the same sign at 20 degrees, the combustion of Mercury may become the strongest among all these cases since Mercury has got as close to Sun, as it can.
Moving on to the next factor, the sign of placement of a combust planet and that of Sun is an important factor, while discussing the intensity of combustion for such planet in a horoscope. For example, if a combination of Sun and Saturn is placed in Gemini, and Saturn becomes combust by coming within 15 degrees of Sun, it may be a regular type of combustion as both Sun and Saturn are comfortable in Gemini. However, if the same combination of Sun and Saturn is placed in Aries and Saturn becomes combust, this combustion is much stronger than the one that happens in Gemini.
This is due to the fact that Sun gets exalted in Aries and hence it gains maximum strength in this sign, which means it has more power to burn any planet that comes closer to it. On the other hand, Saturn gets debilitated in Aries, which means it is already weak and it may not be able to fight such combustion in a good way. Hence, more weakness may be rendered to Saturn in this case. However, if a combination of debilitated Sun and exalted Saturn is placed in Libra and Saturn becomes combust, the result may be altogether different. Sun is debilitated in Libra and hence it may not be able to burn out much strength of Saturn which on the other hand is very strong by virtue of being exalted in Libra. Hence it is more capable of fighting such combustion, rendered to it by very weak Sun or so to say, debilitated Sun.
You see how the change in placement alone changes the intensity of combustion of a planet to a great extent, though it may be distanced from Sun by the same number of degrees in different signs. Though there are no exact measures through which such things may be factored in, but for the sake of convenience, let’s have an approximate idea. The intensity of combustion received by Saturn at 10 degrees from Sun in Aries may be more than the intensity of combustion received by Saturn at 5 degrees from Sun in Libra. This is because Sun doesn’t have much strength in Libra and hence it can’t burn Saturn very much. At the same time, Saturn is the strongest in Libra and hence it can fight the burning effect initiated by Sun in a much stronger way.
The situation is opposite in Aries where exalted Sun is the strongest and debilitated Saturn is the weakest. Therefore, such exalted Sun may burn debilitated Saturn more from a distance of 10 degrees in Aries, compared to the burning effect caused by debilitated Sun to exalted Saturn in Libra from a distance of 5 degrees. Hence the sign of placement of Sun as well as that of the planet to be burnt is an important factor and it should be considered properly before predicting the amount of weakness received by a particular planet by virtue of combustion.
The next factor deals with the working nature of Sun in a horoscope, and it also deals with the working nature of the planet which becomes combust due to its closeness to Sun. If in a horoscope, benefic Sun is conjunct with a planet, it is likely to do far less damage to that planet by means of combustion, than the damage done by Sun when it is malefic in the horoscope. It should be noted that when a benefic planet becomes combust by benefic Sun in a horoscope, there are two processes going on at the same time. The first process is the process of combustion, and the second process is the process through which two benefic planets interact with each other in the same house as well as in the same sign. Hence, they provide strength to each other, and they also complement each other in many ways. Therefore, the combustion of this planet is not as damaging in this case as it may be in some other cases, since this planet is also receiving positive energy from Sun, along with going through the process of combustion.
However, if a benefic planet becomes combust by malefic Sun in a horoscope, the damage may increase as in this case also, two processes are in effect at the same time. The first process is the process of combustion, and the second process is the one through which malefic Sun afflicts the benefic planet involved in the combination. Sun sends negative energy to such planet through the process of affliction, apart from burning out some of its strength through the process of combustion. The benefic planet at the receiving end loses a part of its positive energy in order to counteract such negative energy sent by Sun and in the process; this benefic planet may lose more strength in the form of positive energy. Hence malefic Sun can burn a benefic planet and it can also afflict it due to its malefic nature, which results in more weakness due to combustion as well as due to affliction.
Likewise, there are two more possible combinations for combustion where in the first combination, Sun is benefic and the planet to be combust is malefic. In the second combination, Sun as well as the planet to be combust are both malefic. Both these cases may deliver results which are different from the first two types of cases discussed earlier. For example, if a close combination of benefic debilitated Sun and malefic exalted Saturn is placed in Libra; Sun may receive much more damage as well as weakness compared to Saturn. This is because Saturn is very strong and malefic whereas Sun is very weak and benefic. Hence Saturn may not suffer much, and it may form Pitra Dosh in the horoscope, by afflicting debilitated Sun; causing problems related to the general as well as specific significances of Sun.
Moving on to the next factor, the presence of other benefic and/or malefic planets in the sign of combustion can change the results significantly. For example, if Sun is placed in Pisces with benefic Moon and benefic Jupiter, causing combustion to both these planets; the effect may not be very strong. This is because both Moon and Jupiter are strong in Pisces and they will strengthen each other, thereby reducing the weakness caused by combustion. If benefic exalted Venus is also placed in Pisces along with these three planets; the effect of combustion may reduce further, since exalted Venus will provide more strength to this combination. It means whether it is one benefic planet, or more than one benefic planet placed in the same sign with Sun; makes a significant difference towards the end result of combustion.
Looking at it from the opposite angle, if Sun is placed in Pisces along with benefic Moon and malefic Jupiter; the overall weakness of Moon may increase due to the combined effect of combustion as well as affliction from Jupiter, or even from Sun, if Sun is also malefic in this combination. The significances of Moon may be severely hit in this case and if there are no grace saving factors; the native may face serious problems related to his mother. If another malefic planet enters this sign and joins this combination, weakness of Moon may intensify. As a result, the native having such combination may lose his mother, soon after his birth or during his young age, depending on his overall horoscope.
Therefore, all important factors should be duly studied when assessing the amount of damage done to a planet by virtue of combustion as the results may vary in different cases. For example, a combination of Sun and Mercury in Gemini in one horoscope may result in combustion of Mercury, and Budhaditya Yoga may be formed at the same time due to Sun and Mercury both being benefic in the horoscope.
However, in a different horoscope, the same combination of Sun and Mercury may result in the formation of Pitra Dosh, as malefic Mercury may afflict Sun in this case. In yet another possible combination of Sun and Mercury placed in Gemini, malefic Sun may cause serious damage to benefic Mercury by virtue of combustion as well as by virtue of affliction caused by it to Mercury.