Vimshottari dasha system is the most common one which all students of Jyotish learn. In this, the format is a main-period/Mahadasha, sub-period/antar-dasha and further sub-sub periods, a total of 5 levels. The tone of this main-period is further modulated by the subsequent sub-sub periods. This covers the 120yrs of a human life. The Maha-Dashas are Ketu Mahadasha is 7years, Venus mahadasha is the longest at 20 Years, Sun Mahadasha is 6 Years, Moon Mahadasha is 10 Years, Mars Mahadasha is 7 Years, Rahu Mahadasha is 18 Years, Jupiter Mahadasha is 16 Years, Saturn Mahadasha is 19 Years and Mercury Mahadasha is 17 Years.
The important thing in analysing the Vimshottari is analysing the power and the nature of the Mahadasha MD ruler and the Antardasha AD ruler and the interaction between them. (If you are experienced enough you can attempt adding the rulers of the sub-sub periods etc to this analysis too.)
So open your vedic software, input your birth data and check what planet’s MD and which planet’s AD you are in at the present moment. We have to now analyse the relationship between these two planets to get a sense of how this sub-period will be like.
This is our example chart, Aleister Crowley the famous occultist and creator of the Thoth tarot deck, birth details, 12th Oct 1875, 11:43 pm Leamington UK. Suppose Crowley was in Jupiter MD and Rahu AD ie ‘Jupiter-Rahu’ period. Now analyse the birth chart, Cancer ascendant so Jupiter is a functional malefic (he owns the 6th and 9th houses and his mooltrikon sign Sagittarius lies in the 6th house, maha-dusham-sthan). Rahu is a functional malefic for all ascendants.
Analysing further. Jupiter is the owner of the 6th house, ie his mool trikon sign lies in the 6th house so he will bring in all the keywords of the 6th house into focus during this period. Ie debts, disease, enemies, arguments, imbalances of all sorts, all one-one relationships will break down, business relationships will also show the strain, spiritual practice will be affected. There will be stress, tension as Jupiter’s expansive abilities will expand the 6th house’s ‘serve or suffer’ motif. He owns the 9th house too, but this is just his own sign not his mooltrikon sign. So there will be some positives with some negatives. He will make Crowley dogmatic, rigid in his opinions, he will not be able to appreciate the others point of view, his teachers, professors, even people whom he considers his spiritual teachers can misguide him. For Cancer ascendant Jupiter cannot give beneficial results outrightly as he owns the 6th house. Some good results from the 9th house can be expected but these will be tainted by Jupiter’s ownership of the 6th house. Jupiter himself occupying the 4th house, Libra, with Mars and Venus. Thus his comfort levels are just average. So the Jupiter MD will not give overall very pleasing results. There will be some high points as the 9th house keywords give some benefits but the 6th house ownership over-shadows it all.
In this we have the Rahu AD, ie the Jupiter-Rahu period. Rahu is occupying the 9th house and with the Moon in Pisces. Any graha in the 9th house is capable of giving good results. Rahu is influenced by Moon and Jupiter. Of these Jupiter is the functional malefic. And Moon as ascendant lord is a benefic. But here we must consider that the Moon-Jupiter in the Shakata yog, 6/8 axis. So Moon and Jupiter are not comfortable with each other, which affects Rahu’s ability to give good results too. So Rahu gains more power to do mischief. And the keywords he will damage are related to the 9th house, Moon and Jupiter. So we cannot expect much good from Rahu during the periods he controls.
Then Jupiter and Rahu are mutually in the 6/8 axis.This is the most traumatic axis for two planets to be in as their energies are sucked up in the vortex of karmic suffering/ catastrophic changes. Both are highly uncomfortable with each other and cannot cooperate to give auspicious results on the physical planes.
So overall this Jupiter-Rahu period would have been difficult for Crowley. (This was a basic analysis, you can add more pointers from the Ashtakvarga charts, the shad-bala values, the navamsha, their nakshtra etc depending on your level of study/experience)
Now come back to your horoscope,
Check which planets are placed in the 6/8 axis. The MD and AD of these two planets will be the most traumatic ones in your life. Eg if Jupiter and Saturn are placed in the 6/8 axis in your birth chart then Jupiter-Saturn and Saturn-Jupiter periods will cause trouble. Or if Venus and Saturn are placed in the 6/8 axis in your birth chart both the Venus-Saturn and Saturn-Venus periods will be traumatic.
Find out which are the functional malefics in your chart. And if they are adequately supported by benefics or made even worse by aspects from other malefics? Periods ruled by the functional malefics are invariably stressful. Eg in our example horoscope, Cancer ascendant, so Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Rahu and Ketu related periods have potential for causing trouble. Eg Now if a Cancer ascendant person is in a MD or AD of these planets then he will definitely face some issues in life during this period. Eg Jupiter-Saturn, Saturn-Jupiter, Jupiter-Mercury, Mercury-Saturn, Saturn-Mercury, Rahu-Jupiter etc all combinations of these planets sub-periods will give stress. The exact source of this stress will be the energies of the houses they own, the houses they are placed in and the houses which they aspect.
Next if the MD and AD ruling functional malefic planets themselves are placed in the dushamsthan. Ordinarily the logic is that malefics in dushamsthan in the birth chart are a good thing. Use a thorn to remove a thorn concept (vipreet raj yog). But a problem arises when the same planet controls two houses, one dushamsthan and one auspicious. In our eg, it is Cancer ascendant, Jupiter controls the 6th dusham and 9th Kona, the Dharmasthan. Or Saturn controls 7th, a kendra house and 8th, a dusham. Here if the malefic planet is placed in a dusham sthan or not supported by benefics then the other auspicious house owned by him also suffers. Eg If in our example, if Saturn were placed in the 12th house, he would reduce the intensity of the 8th house issues but also reduce the auspiciousness of the marriage, partnerships, intimacy, finances, spiritual practice etc. Or if Jupiter is powerless it will reduce the karmic burdens of the 6th house but also reduce the auspiciousness of the 9th house, so the blessings from the ancestors, guidance from teachers, real Learning, progeny, auspicious benefits from past lives, sense of the divine, in fact every aspect of the current life will be affected by ill-luck. This effect on the other auspicious house can be alleviated if this house is occupied or strongly aspected by a benefic. But if this other auspicious house is even more adversely affected by malefic influences then it will be worse.
Finally check the current transit of the MD and AD planets in the skies. If these are transiting through crucial houses of the chart they will have severe impact on you. eg in our example, Crowley is going through Jupiter-Rahu, right now Jupiter is in Capricorn and debilitated (his movement is very weird this year). Rahu is wrecking havoc in Gemini. One eclipse was in Dec 2019 another is due in Jun2020. So Rahu is in his element, causing mischief. So Crowley if he were alive now, he would really have had a bad time just from these two planets activities. And at the last, superimpose the current transits on the birth chart to get an overview on what houses are under stress and which ones can give good results. For Crowley, Saturn and Mars are in Capricorn currently, so a big boost of energy which can be used for growth but he will take his toll on the physical body. ie Saturn return. Sun in Aries is favourable for profession related activities (though he is in the 6/8 axis from the birth Sun) etc and so on.
I hope you use this post to find out the challenging periods in your life and be more prepared to face them. In such potentially adverse periods it is better to remain alert about your thoughts, words and actions. Especially if the karmic heavyweights like Saturn, Rahu and Ketu are involved or planets who control the longer Vimshottari dashas are involved, as actions taken here can have long lasting impacts.