Signs in Vedic Astrology are called Rashis. A rashi is a heap or collection. They relate to heap or collection of attributes relative to the sign. These attributes are just sitting there, in a passive heap, waiting to be acted upon by a planet in the sign. Planets are called Grahas. Graha means to grasp. As planets circle the zodiac they grasp the attributes of the signs. When the sign attributes are acted upon by a planet, we get karma. Karma means action. Planets in signs describe the type of actions we have a natal propensity toward experiencing due to their position in our birth chart. This is another way of saying planets in signs describe our karma. The house they are placed in tells the area of life where this karma is the strongest; and the people, places and things of the house tell where that karma is most entrenched. But the planets will aspect and rule other houses, so the karma plays out in every area of life that the planet touches. While this takes place inside as well as outside of ourselves, planets in signs are best used for indicating external circumstances we will encounter and act or react upon.
The transiting planets in their current position grasp at rashis and we can see those karmas play out in the world through our own experiences, the experiences of those we know, and the experiences of those we don’t know but hear about in the news. Transits are global. Everyone gets the same transits. However, the affect it has on us personally depends on whether that transiting planet is activating our chart or whether we are running that planet’s dasa. Dasas are planetary periods that indicate when a planet’s karmas are ripe for fruition. The most important transits are those of the planet whose dasa you are in.
The Nakshatras operate at a much deeper level. They connect us mortal inhabitants of Earth to the immortal divine influence of Heavens. The Sanskrit work Naskshatra is derived from nakSate meaning to attain, approach, come near and atra meaning in this place, at this time, in this matter, and in this respect. The Nakshatras are what we approach at this time and place to commune with the cosmic influences about our karma and destiny. Thus, a planet’s position in a Nakshatra shows us a path to commune with the divine to further our own personal evolution, which aids the cosmic evolutionary process, one human at a time. As the planets transit through the Nakshatras as they circle the zodiac, they are unfolding the cosmic evolutionary process at the global level – grasping the karmas of the signs, and approaching the divine in the Nakshatras to aid in a larger worldly evolutionary process and a much greater cosmic evolutionary process beyond what we can comprehend. Of course, everything is divine -you, me, animals, trees, Mother Earth, the planets, signs and Nakshatras. The Nakshatras are the way to commune with the divine. The Nakshatras of the planets in our birth chart hold divine keys to our personal evolution.
The Nakshatras have a ruling planet which is important for determining the Vimshottari Dasha system (the planetary periods used in prediction that tell when the karmas of a planet are ripe for fruition). But it is not a planet that rules the Nakshatra. Planets rule signs. The oldest Vedic Deities rule the 27 Nakshatras. It is through approaching the ruling Deity (not the ruling planet) that you come near the divine influences of a particular Nakshatra. Therefore, planets in Nakshatras are best used for indicating what is happening inside ourselves and how the external situations we encounter can lead to our spiritual development, evolution, and aid in our destiny of self-realization – which is not the ego-self but the divine-self.