There are 60 Karanas in a lunation cycle that represents a 6° separation between the Sun and Moon – half the longitudinal length of the 30 Tithis. They too will vary in the length of time due to the varying speed of the Moon.
Karana means instrument. They give us the help to fulfill our actions. Each Karana has a ruling planet and is associated with an animal. There are two categories of Karanas: fixed and mutable. There are four fixed Karanas that only occur once as the 58th, 59th, 60th, and 1st Karana. These four are to be avoided because they occur at the dark of the New Moon. The 59th & 60th fall on Amavasya, the New Moon and the 58th & 1st are the karanas right before and after the New Moon. This is the time when the Moon is darkest and solar eclipses can occur when the New Moon (Sun & Moon conjunction) is in the same sign as Rahu or Ketu. Therefore, these karanas are ruled by Rahu & Ketu. No action should be performed under the four fixed Karanas due to the moon being at its darkest, most malefic and in the karanas where solar eclipses can occur.
There are seven moveable Karanas that repeat eight times. Thus, there are only 11 different Karanas that fill the 60 positions. Of the moveable Karanas only one, Vishti, ruled by Saturn is difficult and should be rejected. The rest of the moveable Karanas are favorable. When choosing the karana, you want to choose the one most like the action you are undertaking.
Meaning of the Karanas
Bava means strong. It is ruled by Sun and represented by a lion. It is youthful, confident, and valiant. It gives us an instrument to attain success and power and thus is good for beginning lasting ventures.
Balava means stronger. It is ruled by the Moon and represented by a leopard. It is modest, respected, powerful, brave, sensuous, and careful in conduct. It gives us an instrument of a clear, strong mind to achieve success. It is good for beginning lasting ventures and for travel.
Kaulava means of a noble family. It is ruled by Mars and represented by a pig. It is an active, dynamic, impressive, adventurous, free thinking, well-spoken and gives popularity. It is good for things related to profession, popularity, and for achieving success regardless of hurdles.
Taitula means rhinoceros. It is ruled by Mercury and represented by a donkey. It is skillful in speech, practical, committed to work, good at business, able to influence, sporty, and skilled in sexual arts. It is good for business, sexual encounters, and things where success involves the ability to influence others.
Garija comes from the root Gara meaning poison. It is ruled by Jupiter and represented by an elephant. It is judicious, patient, powerful in speech, and able to overcome opposition. It is good for anything where these qualities are helpful to the venture and also literally for healing the effects of poisons.
Vanija means merchant. It is ruled by Venus and represented by a cow. It is clever, passionate, creative, honorable, and is good for advising. It has an eye for beauty, arts and finances. It is good for anything related to commerce, beauty, finances, the arts, or ventures relating to giving advice.
Vishti means drudgery or forced service. It is ruled by Saturn and does not have an animal association that I am aware of. It relates to a human laborer or servant. It gives opposition, acts contrary to normal order and can create negative karma. Therefore, Vishti should be avoided.
Shakuni means bird. It is ruled by Rahu and represented by a pullu, a bird of omen. It is the karana before Amavasya. Shakuni is also an old relative whose schemes lead to failure and ruin, or someone who preys on the helpless. Shakuni was also the name of uncle of Duryodhana in the Mahabharata who assisted in many such schemes. It gives doubt, suspicion, and experiences loss due to wrong advice. Therefore, Shakuni should be avoided for all ventures, but it is good for developing psychic powers and working with omens.
Chatuspada means four-footed. It is ruled by Ketu and represented by cattle. It falls on Amavasya so possibilities are inherent in this tithi. However, the Moon is dark and combust it indicates many obstacles. Chatuspada is better for considering for possibilities than it is for taking actions or undertaking anything important. It should be avoided for all things except setting intentions for the month.
Naga means serpent. It is ruled by Rahu and represented by a snake. It too falls on Amavasya and is ambitious, quarrelsome, vicious, powerful and dangerous. It should be avoided for all things.
Kimstughna means possibility or aspiration. It is ruled by Ketu and represented by a worm. This is the first karana after Amavasya and the Moon is still combust. It is dependent, superficial, and changeable. It should be avoided for all things except setting intentions for the month where change is required.
Karanas of Shukla Paksha
|1 S. Pratipat
| 1 Kintughna
| 3 Balava
| 5 Taitula
| 7 Vanija
| 9 Bava
Karanas of Krishna Paksha
|16 K. Pratipat