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Short description: Lunar mansion in Hindu astronomy

Nakshatra (Sanskrit: नक्षत्रम्, romanized: Nakṣatram) is the term for lunar mansion in Hindu astrology. A nakshatra is one of 27 (sometimes also 28) sectors along the ecliptic. Their names are related to a prominent star or asterisms in or near the respective sectors. In essence (in Western astronomical terms), a nakshatra simply is a constellation. Every nakshatra is divided into four padas (lit. "steps") related to the Char Dham, a set of four pilgrimage sites in India.

The starting point for the nakshatras according to Vedas is "Krittika" (it has been argued because the Pleiades may have started the year at the time the Vedas were compiled, presumably at the vernal equinox), but, in more recent compilations, the start of the nakshatras list is the point on the ecliptic directly opposite to the star Spica called Chitrā in Sanskrit, which would be Ashwinī, a part of the modern constellation Aries, and these compilations therefore may have been compiled during the centuries when the sun was passing through the area of the constellation Aries at the time of the vernal equinox. This version may have been called Meshādi or the "start of Aries".[1][full citation needed]

The first astronomical text that lists them is the Vedanga Jyotisha.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag They are personified as daughters of Daksha and as wives of Chandra, known as the Moon God (who reluctantly married the 26 other nakshatras on Daksha's request even though he was only interested to marry Rohini), or alternatively the daughters of Kashyapa.

In the Atharvaveda

Nakshatras in a circle

In the Atharvaveda (Shaunakiya recension, hymn 19.7) a list of 27 stars or asterisms is given, many of them corresponding to the later nakshatras:[2][lower-alpha 1]

This 27 day time cycle has been taken to mean a particular group of stars. The relationship to the stars really has to do with the periodicity with which the Moon travels over time and through space past the field of the specific stars called nakshatras. Hence, the stars are more like numbers on a clock through which the hands of time pass (the moon). This concept is described by J. Mercay (2012) in connection with Surya Siddhanta.[3]

List of Nakshatras

Positions of the Nakshatras on the celestial sphere

In Hindu astronomy, there was an older tradition of 28 Nakshatras which were used as celestial markers in the heavens. When these were mapped into equal divisions of the ecliptic, a division of 27 portions was adopted since that resulted in a clearer definition of each portion (i.e. segment) subtending 13° 20′ (as opposed to 12° ​51 37′ in the case of 28 segments). In the process, the Nakshatra Abhijit was left out without a portion.[4]:{{{1}}} However, the Abhijit nakshatra becomes important while deciding on the timing of an auspicious event. The Surya Siddhantha concisely specifies the coordinates of the twenty-seven Nakshatras.[4]:{{{1}}}

It is noted above that with the older tradition of 28 Nakshatras each equal segment would subtend 12.85 degrees or 12° 51′. But the 28 Nakshatra were chosen at a time when the Vedic month was recognised as having exactly 30 days. In India and China the original 28 lunar mansions were not equal. Weixing Nui provides a list of the extent of the original 28 Nakshatras expressed in Muhurtas (with one Muhurta = 48 minutes of arc). Hindu texts note there were 16 Nakshatras of 30 Muhurtas, 6 of 45 Muhurtas, 5 of 15 Muhurtas and one of 6 Muhurtas.

The 28 mansions of the 360° lunar zodiac total 831 Muhurtas or 27.7 days. This is sometimes described as an inaccurate estimate of our modern sidereal period of 27.3 days, but using the ancient Indian calendar with Vedic months of 30 days and a daily movement of the Moon of 13 degrees, this early designation of a sidereal month of 831 Muhurtas or 27.7 days is very precise.[lower-alpha 2]Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

The following list of nakshatras gives the corresponding regions of sky, per Basham (1954).[5]

No. Name Associated stars Description Image
1 Aśvini
β and γ Arietis
  • Astrological Mate: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol: Horse's head
  • Rigvedic name: Ashvins, the horse-headed twins who are physicians to the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 0° – 13°20′ Mesha
  • Tropical zodiac: 26° Aries – 9°20′ Taurus
Aries constellation map.svg
2 Bharani
"the bearer"
35, 39, and 41 Arietis
  • Astrological Mate: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Yoni, the female organ of reproduction
  • Rigvedic name: Yama, god of death or Dharma
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20′ – 26°40′ Mesha
  • Tropical zodiac: 9° 20′ – 22° 40′ Taurus
Aries constellation map.svg
3 Kṛttikā
an old name of the Pleiades; personified as the nurses of Kārttikeya, a son of Shiva.
  • Astrological Mate: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Knife or spear
  • Rigvedic name: Agni, god of fire
  • Indian zodiac: 26°40′ Mesha – 10° Vrishabha
  • Tropical zodiac: 22° 40′ Taurus – 6° Gemini
Taurus constellation map.svg
4 Rohiṇi
"the red one", a name of Aldebaran. Also known as brāhmī
  • Astrological Mate: Chandra (Moon)
  • Symbol: Cart or chariot, temple, banyan tree
  • Rigvedic name: Prajapati, the Creator
  • Indian zodiac: 10° – 23°20′ Vrishabha
  • Tropical zodiac: 6° – 19°20′ Gemini
Taurus constellation map.svg
5 Mṛgaśīrā
"the deer's head". Also known as āgrahāyaṇī
λ, φ Orionis
  • Astrological Mate: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Deer's head
  • Rigvedic name: Soma, Chandra, the Moon god
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20′ Vrishabha – 6° 40′ Mithuna
  • Tropical zodiac: 19° 20′ Gemini – 2° 40′ Cancer
Orion constellation map.svg
6 Ārdrā
"the moist one"
  • Astrological Mate: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Teardrop, diamond, a human head
  • Rigvedic name: Rudra, the storm god
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40′ – 20° Mithuna
  • Tropical zodiac: 2° 40′ – 16° Cancer
Orion constellation map.svg
7 Punarvasu (dual)
"the two restorers of goods", also known as yamakau "the two chariots"
Castor and Pollux
  • Astrological Mate: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol : Bow and quiver
  • Rigvedic name: Aditi, mother of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Mithuna – 3°20′ Karka
  • Tropical zodiac: 16° – 29°20′ Cancer
Gemini constellation map.svg
8 Puṣya/Tishya
"the nourisher", also known as sidhya or tiṣya
γ, δ and θ Cancri
  • Astrological Mate: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol: Cow's udder, lotus, arrow and circle
  • Rigvedic name: Bṛhaspati, priest of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 3° 20′ – 16° 40′ Karka
  • Tropical zodiac: 29° 20′ Cancer – 12° 40′ Leo
Cancer constellation map.svg
9 Āśleṣā
"the embrace"
δ, ε, η, ρ, and σ Hydrae
  • Astrological Mate: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: Serpent
  • Rigvedic name: Sarpas or Nagas, deified snakes
  • Indian zodiac: 16° 40′ – 30° Karka
  • Tropical zodiac: 12° 40′ – 26° Leo
Hydra constellation map.svg
10 Maghā
"the bountiful"
  • Astrological Mate: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol: Royal Throne
  • Rigvedic name: Pitrs, 'The Fathers', family ancestors
  • Indian zodiac: 0° – 13° 20′ Simha
  • Tropical zodiac: 26° Leo – 9° 20′ Virgo
Leo constellation map.svg
11 Pūrva Phalgunī
"first reddish one"
δ and θ Leonis
  • Astrological Mate: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Front legs of bed, hammock, fig tree
  • Rigvedic name: Aryaman, god of marital bliss and prosperity
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20′ – 26°40′ Simha
  • Tropical zodiac: 9° 20′ – 22°40′ Virgo
Leo constellation map.svg
12 Uttara Phalgunī
"second reddish one"
  • Astrological Mate: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Four legs of bed, hammock
  • Rigvedic name: Bhaga, god of patronage and favours
  • Indian zodiac: 26° 40′ Simha- 10° Kanya
  • Tropical zodiac: 22° 40′ Virgo – 6° Libra
Leo constellation map.svg
13 Hasta
"the hand"
α, β, γ, δ and ε Corvi
  • Astrological Mate: Chandra (Moon)
  • Symbol: Hand or fist
  • Rigvedic name: Savitr, the Sun god
  • Indian zodiac: 10° – 23° 20′ Kanya
  • Tropical zodiac: 6° – 19° 20′ Libra
Corvus constellation map.svg
14 Chitrā
"the bright one", a name of Spica
  • Astrological Mate: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Bright jewel or pearl
  • Rigvedic name: Tvastar, Vishwakarma
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20′ Kanya – 6° 40′ Tula
  • Tropical zodiac: 19° 20′ Libra – 2° 40′ Scorpio
Virgo constellation map.svg
15 Svātī
"Su-Ati (Sanskrit) Very good" name of Arcturus
  • Astrological Mate: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Shoot of plant, coral
  • Rigvedic name: Vayu, the Wind god
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40′ – 20° Tula
  • Tropical zodiac: 2° 40′ – 16° Scorpio
Bootes constellation map.png
16 Viśākhā
"forked, having branches";
α, β, γ and ι Librae
  • Astrological Mate: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol: Triumphal arch, potter's wheel
  • Rigvedic name: Indra, chief of the gods; Agni, god of Fire
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Tula – 3° 20′ Vrishchika
  • Tropical zodiac: 16° – 29° 20′ Scorpio
Libra constellation map.svg
17 Anurādhā
"following Indra"
β, δ and π Scorpionis
  • Astrological Mate: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol: Triumphal archway, lotus, bamboo
  • Rigvedic name: Mitra, one of Adityas of friendship and partnership
  • Indian zodiac: 3° 20′ – 16° 40′ Vrishchika
  • Tropical zodiac: 29° 20′ Scorpio – 12° 40′ Sagittarius
Scorpius constellation map.svg
18 Jyeṣṭha
"the eldest, most excellent"
α, σ, and τ Scorpionis
  • Astrological Mate: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: circular amulet, umbrella, earring
  • Rigvedic name: Indra, chief of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 16° 40′ – 30° Vrishchika
  • Tropical zodiac: 12° 40′ – 26° Sagittarius
Scorpius constellation map.svg
19 Mūlā
"the root"
ε, ζ, η, θ, ι, κ, λ, μ and ν Scorpionis
  • Astrological Mate: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol: Bunch of roots tied together, elephant goad
  • Rigvedic name: Nirrti, peak of material achievement and the beginning of the spiritual impulse
  • Indian zodiac: 0° – 13° 20′ Dhanus
  • Tropical zodiac: 26° Sagittarius – 9° 20′ Capricorn
Scorpius constellation map.svg
20 Pūrva Āṣāḍhā
"first of the aṣāḍhā", aṣāḍhā "the invincible one" being the name of a constellation
δ and ε Sagittarii
  • Astrological Mate: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Elephant tusk, fan, winnowing basket
  • Rigvedic name: Apah, god of Water
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20′ – 26° 40′ Dhanus
  • Tropical zodiac: 9° 20′ – 22° 40′ Capricorn
Sagittarius constellation map.svg
21 Uttara Āṣāḍhā
"Later invincible"
ζ and σ Sagittarii
  • Astrological Mate: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Elephant tusk, small bed
  • Rigvedic name: Visvedevas, universal gods
  • Indian zodiac: 26° 40′ Dhanus – 10° Makara
  • Tropical zodiac: 22° 40′ Capricorn – 6° Aquarius
Sagittarius constellation map.svg
22 Abhijit
ζ and σ Lyrae
  • Astrological Mate: Brahma
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40′ Makara – 10° 53′ Makara
Lyra constellation map.svg
23 Śravaṇa
α, β and γ Aquilae
  • Astrological Mate: Chandra (Moon)
  • Symbol: Ear or Three Footprints
  • Rigvedic name: Vishnu, preserver of universe
  • Indian zodiac: 10° – 23° 20′ Makara
  • Tropical zodiac: 6° – 19° 20′ Aquarius
Aquila constellation map.svg
24 Dhaniṣṭhā
"most famous", also Shravishthā "swiftest"
α, β, γ and δ Delphini
  • Astrological Mate: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Drum or flute
  • Rigvedic name: Eight vasus, deities of earthly abundance
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20′ Makara – 6° 40′ Kumbha
  • Tropical zodiac 19° 20′ Aquarius – 2° 40′ Pisces
Delphinus constellation map.svg
25 Śatabhiṣa
"Comprising a hundred physicians"
  • Astrological Mate: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Empty circle, 1,000 flowers or stars
  • Rigvedic name: Varuna, god of celestial waters
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40′ – 20° Kumbha
  • Tropical zodiac: 2° 40′ – 16° Pisces
Aquarius constellation map.svg
26 Pūrva Bhādrapada
"the first of the blessed feet"
α and β Pegasi
  • Astrological Mate: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol: Swords or two front legs of funeral cot, man with two faces
  • Rigvedic name: Ajaikapada, an ancient fire dragon[citation needed]
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Kumbha – 3° 20′ Meena
  • Tropical zodiac: 16° – 29° 20′ Pisces
Pegasus constellation map.svg
27 Uttara Bhādrapada
"the second of the blessed feet"
γ Pegasi and α Andromedae
  • Astrological Mate: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol: Twins, back legs of funeral cot, snake in the water
  • Rigvedic name: Ahirbudhnya, serpent or dragon of the deep
  • Indian zodiac: 3° 20′ – 16° 40′ Meena
  • Tropical zodiac: 29° 20′ Pisces – 12° 40′ Aries
Andromeda constellation map (1).png
28 Revatī
ζ Piscium
  • Astrological Mate: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: Fish or a pair of fish, drum
  • Rigvedic name: Pushan, nourisher, the protective deity
  • Indian zodiac: 16° 40′ – 30° Meena
  • Tropical zodiac: 12° 40′ – 26° Aries
Pisces constellation map.png

Padas (quarters)

Each of the 27 Nakshatras cover 13° 20’ of the ecliptic each. Each Nakshatra is also divided into quarters or padas of 3° 20’, and the below table lists the appropriate starting sound to name the child. The 27 nakshatras, each with 4 padas, give 108, which is the number of beads in a japa mala, representing all the elements (ansh) of Vishnu:

# Name Pada 1 Pada 2 Pada 3 Pada 4 Vimsottari Lord Ruling Deity
1 Aśvini (अश्विनी) चु Chu चे Che चो Cho ला La Ketu Aswini Kumara
2 Bharaṇī (भरणी) ली Li लू Lu ले Le लो Lo Venus Yama
3 Kṛttikā (कृत्तिका) अ A ई I उ U ए E Sun Agni
4 Rohiṇī (रोहिणी) ओ O वा Va/Ba वी Vi/Bi वु Vu/Bu Moon Brahma
5 Mṛgaśīrṣā (मृगशीर्षा) वे Ve/Be वो Vo/Bo का Ka की Ke Mars Moon
6 Ārdrā (आर्द्रा) कु Ku घ Gha ङ Ng/Na छ Chha Rahu Shiva
7 Punarvasu (पुनर्वसु) के Ke को Ko हा Ha ही Hi Jupiter Aditi
8 Puṣya (पुष्य) हु Hu हे He हो Ho ड Da Saturn Brihaspati
9 Āśleṣā (आश्लेषा) डी Di डू Du डे De डो Do Mercury Rahu
10 Maghā (मघा) मा Ma मी Mi मू Mu मे Me Ketu Pitr
11 Pūrva or Pūrva Phālgunī (पूर्व फाल्गुनी) नो Mo टा Ta टी Ti टू Tu Venus Bhaga
12 Uttara or Uttara Phālgunī (उत्तर फाल्गुनी) टे Te टो To पा Pa पी Pi Sun Sun
13 Hasta (हस्त) पू Pu ष Sha ण Na ठ Tha Moon Savitr
14 Chitrā (चित्रा) पे Pe पो Po रा Ra री Ri Mars Vishwakarma
15 Svāti (स्वाति) रू Ru रे Re रो Ro ता Ta Rahu Vaayu
16 Vishākhā (विशाखा) ती Ti तू Tu ते Te तो To Jupiter Indra Agni
17 Anurādhā (अनुराधा) ना Na नी Ni नू Nu ने Ne Saturn Mitra
18 Jyeṣṭhā (ज्येष्ठा) नो No या Ya यी Yi यू Yu Mercury Indra
19 Mūla (मूल) ये Ye यो Yo भा Bha भी Bhi Ketu Varuna, Nirriti
20 Pūrva Aṣāḍhā (पूर्वाषाढ़ा) भू Bhu धा Dha फा Bha/Pha ढा Dha Venus Apah
21 Uttara Aṣāḍhā (उत्तराषाढ़ा) भे Bhe भो Bho जा Ja जी Ji Sun Brahma
22 Śrāvaṇa (श्रवण) खी Ju/Khi खू Je/Khu खे Jo/Khe खो Gha/Kho Moon Vishnu
23 Śrāviṣṭhā (श्रविष्ठा) or Dhaniṣṭhā (धनिष्ठा) गा Ga गी Gi गु Gu गे Ge Mars Vasu
24 Śatabhiṣā (शतभिषा) गो Go सा Sa सी Si सू Su Rahu Varuna
25 Pūrva Bhādrapadā (पूर्वभाद्रपदा) से Se सो So दा Da दी Di Jupiter Aja Ek Pada
26 Uttara Bhādrapadā (उत्तरभाद्रपदा) दू Du थ Tha झ Jha ञ Da/Tra Saturn Ahirbudhnya
27 Revati (रेवती) दे De दो Do च Cha ची Chi Mercury Pooshan

See also

Nakshatra is one of the five elements of a Pañcāṅga. The other four elements:


  1. From Griffith (1895) Hymns of the Atharva Veda:[2]

    1   citrā́ṇi sākáṃ diví rocanā́ni sarīsr̥pā́ṇi bhúvane javā́ni
    turmíśaṃ sumatím ichámāno áhāni gīrbhíḥ saparyāmi nā́kam

    2   suhávam agne kŕ̥ttikā róhiṇī cā́stu bhadráṃ mr̥gáśiraḥ śám ārdrā́
    púnarvasū sūnŕ̥tā cā́ru púṣyo bhānúr āśleṣā́ áyanaṃ maghā́ me

    3   púṇyaṃ pū́rvā phálgunyau cā́tra hástaś citrā́ śivā́ svātí sukhó me astu
    rā́dhe viśā́khe suhávānurādhā́ jyéṣṭhā sunákṣatram áriṣṭa mū́lam

    4   ánnaṃ pū́rvā rāsatāṃ me aṣādhā́ ū́rjaṃ devy úttarā ā́ vahantu
    abhijín me rāsatāṃ púṇyam evá śrávaṇaḥ śráviṣṭhāḥ kurvatāṃ supuṣṭím

    5   ā́ me mahác chatábhiṣag várīya ā́ me dvayā́ próṣṭhapadā suśárma
    ā́ revátī cāśvayújau bhágaṃ ma ā́ me rayíṃ bháraṇya ā́ vahantu[2]

  2. The exact figure should be nearer 27.692308 days but 27.7 is near enough.


  1. Vaid, Vashisht (2012). The Radiant Words of Love & Wisdom. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hymns of the Atharva Veda. 1895. 
    Original text via
    "Gretil". University of Goettingen. 
    Orlandi, Chatia, ed (1991). Gli inni dell Atharvaveda (Saunaka) (trasliteration). Pisa, IT. 
    collated with the edition of
    Atharva Veda Sanhita. Berlin, DE. 1856. 
  3. Mercay, Jessie (2012). Fundamentals of Mamuni Mayans Vaastu Shastras: Building architecture of Sthapatya Veda and traditional Indian architecture. AUM Science and Technology publishers. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Burgess, Ebenezer (1858). Translation of the Surya Siddhantha, a Textbook of Hindu Astronomy. The American Oriental Society. 
  5. Basham, Arthur Llewellyn (1954). The Wonder that was India. Calcutta, IN: Rupa. p. 490. 

External links