Rāśi – the zodiac signs

The sidereal zodiac is an imaginary belt of 360 degrees (like the tropical zodiac), divided into 12 equal parts. Each twelfth part (of 30 degrees) is called a sign or rāśi (Sanskrit: rāśi, ‘part’). Jyotiṣa and Western zodiacs differ in the method of measurement. While synchronically, the two systems are identical, Jyotiṣa uses primarily the sidereal zodiac (in which stars are considered to be the fixed background against which the motion of the planets is measured), whereas most Western astrology uses the tropical zodiac (the motion of the planets is measured against the position of the Sun on the Spring equinox). This difference becomes noticeable over time. After two millennia, as a result of the precession of the equinoxes, the origin of the ecliptic longitude has shifted by about 22 degrees. As a result the placement of planets in the Jyotiṣa system is consistent with the actual zodiac, while in western astrology the planets fall into the following sign, as compared to their placement in the sidereal zodiac, about two thirds of the time.

Rāśi Svarupa

Rāśi Svarupa Slides

Number Sanskrit Name Western/Greek Name Tattva (Element) Quality Ruling Planet
1 Meṣa (मेष) ram Aries (ram) Tejas (Fire) Chara (Movable) Mars
2 Vṛṣabha (वृषभ) bull Taurus (bull) Pṛthvi (Earth) Sthira (Fixed) Venus
3 Mithuna (मिथुन) twins Gemini (twins) Vāyu (Air) Dvisvabhava (Dual) Mercury
4 Karkaṭa (कर्कट) crab Cancer (crab) Jala (Water) Chara (Movable) Moon
5 Siṃha (सिंह) lion Leo (lion) Tejas (Fire) Sthira (Fixed) Sun
6 Kanyā (कन्या) girl Virgo (virgin) Pṛthvi (Earth) Dvisvabhava (Dual) Mercury
7 Tulā (तुला) balance Libra (balance) Vayu (Air) Chara (Movable) Venus
8 Vṛścika (वृश्चिक) scorpion Scorpio (scorpion) Jala (Water) Sthira (Fixed) Mars
9 Dhanus (धनुष) bow Sagittarius (archer) Tejas (Fire) Dvisvabhava (Dual) Jupiter
10 Makara (मकर) sea-monster Capricorn (goat-horned) Pṛthvi (Earth) Chara (Movable) Saturn
11 Kumbha (कुम्भ) pitcher Aquarius (water-bearer) Vayu (Air) Sthira (Fixed) Saturn
12 Mīna (मीन) fish Pisces (fish) Jala (Water) Dvisvabhava (Dual) Jupiter

The zodiac signs in Hindu astrology correspond to parts of the body:

Sign Body Region
Meṣa (Aries) Head
Vṛṣabha (Taurus) Face
Mithuna (Gemini) Arms
Karka (Cancer) Chest
Siṃha (Leo) Stomach
Kanyā (Virgo) Back, Intestines
Tula (Libra) Sexual Organs, Waist
Vṛścika (Scorpio) Hidden parts, Anus
Dhanus (Sagittarius) Thighs
Makara (Capricorn) Knee
Kumbha (Aquarius) Lower Legs
Mīna (Pisces) Feet