Mysteries of the Vedic Dasha system

By Edith Hathaway

(See notes at the end for birth info. and other items)

Transiting planets set the tone for the birth chart, and astrologers assess all aspects of life from the freeze-frame of the planetary patterns at that moment. As those planets continue to make their orbits, they affect the birth chart, and predictions can be made from those patterns. Further, in Vedic  astrology – the astrology of India, major predictions can be made using only cycles called Dashas. Over 55 of them exist, but the most important one is the Vimshottari, meaning 120. A 120-year cycle starting at birth, and based on the exact portion of the nakshatra where the birth Moon is placed, Vimshottari Dashas use the sidereal (or constellational) zodiac. Vedic seers – wise men with enlightened powers – from ancient times are credited with inventing this and other Dasha systems. Based on the sequence of planets and how those planets are placed and influenced in the birth chart (and the Navamsha, or 9th harmonic chart), the destiny of the individual can be seen in advance, and can be read independently from transiting planets, though the latter can add supporting information.

Looking at the life of a well known individual, we can see how this works, provided we have reliable birth data, and an Ascendant of which we can be certain. In the case of Albert Einstein (1879-1955), we know his Vedic chart contains a Gemini Ascendant. We can see at a glance from his Vimshottari Dasha sequence that by far the most creative period of his life would be his 20-year Venus Dasha (Dec. 13, 1895 to Dec. 15, 1915), and favoring certain sub-periods within those 20 years. Major recognition would come in the subsequent 6-year Sun Dasha, and indeed it did. First, in March 1914, he became Director of Physics at the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, Germany (up to Dec. 1932). He received the 1921 Nobel prize in Physics, for work he had done in 1905-06 (his “Annus Mirabilis,” or Miracle Year), and refined 10 years later. Though he was revered and recognized for the rest of his life, essentially the major creative part of his life in physics was completed within the Venus Dasha, ending in 1915.

For Gemini Ascendant, Vedic astrology considers Venus as the best planet. By examining his entire chart, especially the condition of natal Venus, we will know how this 20-year Venus Dasha is likely to turn out. In Einstein’s case, natal Venus is exalted in sidereal Pisces in the 10th house of status and career. It is also exalted within two degrees of its maximum or “deepest” exaltation; thus it has to give extraordinary results. But unless subsequent Dashas are equally extraordinary, they cannot exceed the creative promise of Venus, especially for a Gemini Ascendant chart. The Sun-Venus sub-period would bring worldwide recognition. It ran from Dec. 14, 1920 up thru Dec. 14, 1921. The Nobel prizes have been awarded annually on Dec. 10th (since 1901). But Einstein’s fame preceded his 1921 Nobel prize, and could come any time within the 6-year Sun Dasha, starting Dec. 15, 1915.

On Nov. 7, 1919 Einstein became a world celebrity overnight with a lead story in The Times (London). The headline read: “A Revolution in Science.” Delayed for several years by World War I, 1914-1919, two expeditions set off in May 1919 in which astronomers studied a total solar eclipse in Brazil and the Gulf of Guinea. Their findings were reported at the Royal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society in London on Nov. 6, 1919 and were considered to verify Einstein’s Theory of Relativity about space and time, viewing them as no longer separate. He was in the Dasha of Sun-Mercury from Oct. 2, 1919 for the next 10 months. With Mercury as his Ascendant lord (planetary ruler of Gemini) and Sun as significator of worldly status, both planets are situated in the 10th house of status and career visibility. On this day, tr. Mars, Jupiter and Venus all aspected (influenced) Einstein’s 10th house, with tr. Sun near his 5th house cusp.

However, the transiting planets alone do not explain this instant fame. It is the lifetime Vimshottari Dasha scheme, together with favorable transits which support what would likely come from the fruits of the 20-year Venus Dasha, followed by the rewards of the 6-year Sun Dasha. This 26-year time window was especially auspicious for him, and it came earlier in his life. He was age 26 during his most creative year (1905), and age 40 when he became an instant celebrity. When his 1921 Nobel prize for physics was announced, he was 42.   All of his scientific work after that date is considered of less importance. He died in 1955 at age 76.

By contrast, the famous Master Chef and television personality Julia Child (1912-2004) came to her career success and visibility later in life. At age 49, Julia Child’s long public career in cuisine was just beginning. She was active in the field until shortly before her death at age 92. She worked for 10 years (1949-1958) on her famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in fall 1961.   This coincided with transiting Jupiter and Saturn both in Capricorn her 9th house of publishing. Both planets had just turned Stationary Direct in late September 1961, giving them added power. Tr. Jupiter was already in Capricorn and tr. Saturn re-entered the sign on Oct. 8, 1961. This resonated with Child’s natal Jupiter-Saturn opposition across her Ascendant axis. However, the start of Saturn Dasha in April 1957 was close to the actual completion of the book in 1958.

With her Taurus Ascendant, Saturn would be an excellent planet, far better than Jupiter for career success. Her 16-year Jupiter Dasha (April 9, 1941 to April 9, 1957) brought her foreign travel and residence and first meeting with her future husband Paul Child in July 1944, in her Jupiter-Saturn sub-period. (Her natal Jupiter is situated in the 7th house of marriage and also foreign residence.) Paul’s love of fine cuisine, especially French food and wine, changed Julia’s life. They married Sept. 1, 1946. But the 19-year Saturn Dasha (April 9, 1957 to April 9, 1976) would bring her career success, after some initial delays and setbacks. How do we know this? And how do we know it would have to wait until the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of 1961?

We can learn from Saturn’s name in Sanskrit: Shani, meaning “slow,” also Shanishchara, “slow-moving.” Saturn’s results do not come to fruition quickly, as Saturn moves the most slowly of all the planets in the visible solar system, i.e. visible to the naked eye. After six years of negotiating with Houghton Mifflin publishers, Julia received their final formal rejection on Nov. 6, 1959: “… too expensive to print, no prospects of a mass audience.” But by spring 1960 she began negotiations with Alfred A. Knopf publishers, who did publish Julia’s 734-page cook book on Oct. 16, 1961. Other factors coming to completion included Paul Child’s career in the Foreign Service, which ended in summer 1961, coinciding with the couple’s return to the United States from their last post in Europe. Her television series began in Feb. 1963, becoming highly successful and the longest running program in the history of public television. Though Paul Child had intended to retire to do his own art work, instead he became his wife’s agent, closest advisor, general factotum, and designer of all her kitchens. Paul was born close to the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of 1901, and with his natal Sun and Jupiter within one degree of the 1961 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Capricorn. The year 1961 was a major turning point in the launching of a career that would radically change both their lives, Paul always preferring the background role to that of his wife.

While foreknowledge of the cyclical patterns is important, just as important in the Vedic view is an understanding of the life purpose, or “dharma.”   In the West this is often confused with personality and with a seeking for fame. But in Vedic astrology the birth chart, especially shown by the sign on the Ascendant, describes our true nature, our major modality and what will focus our lives more than anything else. This is amplified by the house position of the Moon, as well as the placement of all the planets, notably the Ascendant lord and the Sun. The sign on the Ascendant provides a description of the destiny we are meant to live in this life. Vedic philosophy considers it to be one of many, but that is less important than understanding the purpose of this life time. If that purpose is understood and honed, then the various life periods can be used to further one’s goals, though not every period (Dasha) will be as favorable, and there may be a string of less favorable ones. If the most auspicious Dashas occur early in life, as with Einstein, it is sometimes difficult for the person to accept what comes next, as more setbacks can come later, with the accompanying need for patience and resilience. If the best periods come later, as with Julia Child, then the challenge is not to lose faith in one’s gifts and goals before they come to fruition.

Sanskrit word pronunciations:

Dashas (DAH – shas)

Nakshatra (nak – SHAH – trah)

Navamsha (nah – VAM – shah)

Vedic (VAY-dik)

Vimshottari (vim – SHOW – tah –ree)

Whole sign houses: All of House 1 is seen as Gemini in the case of Einstein, and all of his 10th house is considered as Pisces.

Birth data:

Albert Einstein: Friday, March 14, 1879, 11:30 am LMT, Ulm Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Long. 10E00 00, Lat. 48N24 00, Class AA data, from birth certificate. Ascendant: 19:28 Gemini (Vedic chart). Sidereal zodiac, Lahiri ayanamsha.

Julia Child: Thursday, Aug. 15, 1912, 23:30 PST, Pasadena, CA, USA, Long. 118W08 37, Lat. 34N08 52, Class AA data, from birth certificate. Ascendant: 13:16 Taurus (Vedic chart). Sidereal zodiac, Lahiri ayanamsha.

 Paul Cushing Child: Wed., Jan. 15, 1902, Montclair, NJ, USA, Long. 72W12 34, Lat. 40N49 33. 12 noon used (No time available). Source: Wikipedia.


  • Albert Einstein and Julia Child and are discussed among the 31 biographies with astrological analyses in Edith Hathaway’s book, In Search of Destiny: Biography, History & Culture As Told Through Vedic Astrology, 2012.
  • This article appeared previously in the NCGR E-News Commentary [National Council of Geocosmic Research], Issue no. 171, April 14, 2013. The Vedic Dasha system, notably its most famous one, the Vimshottari Dasha, is a significant marker of the unfolding of life events. In this article Edith focuses more closely on how the Dasha scheme can indicate talents coming to fruition earlier in life versus later in life. For this purpose, she looks at the lives of two well-known individuals: Albert Einstein and Julia Child. Each of them is covered more extensively in her book, In Search of Destiny, 2012. While not an excerpt from the book, this article is based on material researched for the book and available in their biographical segments, 18 pp. on Albert Einstein and 14 pp. on Julia Child.
  • On April 24, 2013 the Astrology News Service posted an article by Ed Snow — based on this one by Edith Hathaway. To read his article, “Author Demystifies Astrological Method Developed by Seers in Ancient India,” View ANS article here. (Link )

Copyright © 2013 by Edith Hathaway. All rights reserved.