What is Gandanta?
Gandanta is a Sanskrit word that is derived from gaNDa meaning bubble, joint, spot, knot and anta meaning end, termination, dividing line. In Vedic Astrology, we take this to mean the knot at the dividing line. This bubble or knot at the dividing line occurs between water and fire signs of the sidereal zodiac. The reason there is a dividing line is because there is an abrupt stop and re-start at these junctures because there is not a Nakshatra to carry the energy from one sign to the next. These three locations of the zodiac between Cancer & Leo, Scorpio & Sagittarius, and Pisces & Aries are where gandanta occurs.
This table will provide a picture worth 1,000 words about the Nakshatras ending and beginning at this gantanta points. Each Nakshatra is 13°20’ in length. This can be divided into four padas of 3°20’ each. Pada means foot, step, or quarter.
|Zodicac Degree &
Aries – Cancer
Leo – Scorpio
Sagittarius – Pisces
|00:00 – 13:20 fire||Ashwini||Magha||Mula|
|13:20 – 26:40 fire||Bharani||Purva Phalguni||Purva Ashada|
|26:40 fire – 10:00 earth||Krittika||Uttara Phalguna||Uttara Ashada|
|10:00 – 23:20 earth||Rohini||Hasta||Dhanistha|
|23:20 earth – 06:40 air||Mrigashira||Chitra||Shravana|
|6:40 – 20:00 air||Ardra||Swati||Shatabisha|
|20:00 air – 3:20 water||Punarvasu||Vishaka||Purva Bhadrapada|
|3:20 – 16:40 water||Pushya||Anuradha||Uttara Bhadrapada|
|16:40 – 30:00 water||Ashlesha||Jyestha||Revati|
Notice how the Nakshatras of Krittika, Uttara Phalguni & Uttara Ashada have one pada in fire and three padas in earth. Notice how the Nakshatras of Mrigashira, Chitra & Shravana have one two padas in earth and two in air. Notice how the Nakshatras of Punarvasu, Vishaka & Purva Bhadrapada have three padas in air and one in water. These Nakshatras exist over the edges of the signs, thus making the transition from one sign to the next easier. There is no Nakshatra that exists partially in water signs and partially in fire signs. Therefore, there is a distinct dividing line here at these three junctures of the zodiac were water ends and fire begins.
These dividing lines mark three different processes of evolution: The Aries – Cancer process of individuation, the Leo – Scorpio process of materialization, and the Sagittarius – Pisces process of spiritualization. This process of evolution is an important key to understanding the Nakshatras. Lord Brahma charged Daksha Prajapati to assist him with the cosmic evolutionary process. To do so, Prajapati wed his 27 daughters to the Moon, whom spends a day with each as he circles the zodiac.
How much of the water & fire signs are said to be gandanta?
Gandanta is not the entire water or fire signs. It is not even the entire last Nakshatra of water or the first entire Nakshatra of fire. However, there are two differing opinions on how much of the edge of the water and fire signs are included in gandanta.
Some say that gandanta exists for a pada at the edge of these signs – one-fourth of a Nakshatra equal to 3°20’ of celestial longitude (zodiacal degrees) on either side. This point of view sees a planet in gandanta when it is located at the end of the water signs from 26°40’00” – 29°59’59 (of Cancer, Scorpio & Pisces) and the beginning of the fire signs from 00°00’00” – 03°19’59” (of Aries, Leo & Sagittarius).
Others say true Nakshatra Gandanta is only 48 minutes of celestial longitude on either side of the water/fire juncture. But why 48 minutes? Ancient Vedic texts break down time in a multitude of ways. For instance, everywhere on the planet, we break down our day in to 24 hours, and we break down an hour into 60 minutes and we break down our minutes into 60 seconds. When we break down the day into 60 parts we get what is called a ghati, a unit of time equal to 24 minutes. When we break down the day into 30 parts we get what is called a muhurta, a unit of time equal to 48 minutes or two ghatis. This point of view sees gandanta as one muhurta at the end of the water signs from 29°12’00 – 29°59’59” (of Cancer, Scorpio & Pisces) and at the beginning of fire signs from 00°00’00” – 00°47’59”. 0°48 would begin the next muhurta.
Gandanta, no matter which way you define its length, is a very powerful spot at a dividing line of the zodiac. It is like a powerful spiritual bubble where energies are trapped. As such when planets pass through these gandanta portions of the zodiac, it is very powerful. The planets grasp and hold onto the karmas of the sign and indicate how we can get stuck instead of moving forward. We must understand the role this plays in our evolution to release the grasp, pop the bubble, or untie the knot so we can get un-stuck and move forward with our destiny.
At this point in my journey into the seemingly infinite depths of Vedic Astrology, I consider the 48-minute gandanta to most definitely be operating. By my logic, the 48-minute gandanta would indicate the tightest of knots capable of giving the most powerful effects as both viewpoints include this portion. I have found this to be consistently true in my consultations with clients. I am still undecided about the 3°20’ portion being gandanta. In my consultations, I have found this to be inconsistent, more like “hit or miss.” With the “hits,” the story is not as intense as it moves away from that 48-minute slot. With the “misses,” a story can be found but it doesn’t necessarily outweigh other stories in the chart. So, I always use the 48-minute gandanta but still explore the possibility of the 3°20’ gandanta.
There is, of course, a difference between a gandanta planet at the end of a water sign or beginning of a fire sign. Planets at the end of water have a knot around emotional attachments and there is a resistance to let go and change because we want things to say in some ideal state – even if that ideal state is long past and rationally we know it can’t continue or no longer exists. Planets in gandanta at the end of water can be stuck in a past emotional outlook and have a difficult time releasing the attachment to the past and the emotions that go with it. Planets at the beginning of fire have a knot around inspiration and moving toward a new way of thinking or being. Planets in gandanta at the beginning of fire can be stuck with initiating change and resist getting started. Yet the gandanta planet in water can sense the new beginning in fire even as it hangs on to the past. Likewise, the gandanta planet in fire is aware of the residual energy of the past as it moves forward. So, the distinction is a subtle one. But which side of the dividing line the planet is on gives keys to unraveling how we are stuck. The lower energy of the sign will show the actions that tighten the knot, while the higher energy of the sign will show the actions that will loosen the knot.
It is interesting to note that the end of water and beginning of fire signs are both in the infant state of Baaladi Avastha. These gandanta points can be places where we are like a baby. Hanging on to things that make us feel safe and secure at the end of water, and wanting to move about per our own inspirations. But it seems, either way, that someone or something outside of our self is oppressing and that is our excuse or story for being stuck. That oppression is an illusion. Planets in gandanta need to pop the bubble of illusion, cut through the emotional attachments to a past story we think defines us, and cut through the excuses that prevent us from moving forward. There is a lot of inner work to be done here to unravel the many strands in the knot. It is a process as each strand exposes itself to our consciousness through our interactions with others and the world. The lessons of a planet are greatest when gandanta, but so are the spiritual and evolutionary rewards.