Nakshatra (Sanskrit: नक्षत्रम्, romanizedNakṣatram) is the term for lunar mansion in Hindu astrology. A nakshatra is one of 27 (sometimes also 28) sectors along the ecliptic. Their names are related to a prominent star or asterisms in or near the respective sectors. In essence (in Western astronomical terms), a nakshatra simply is a constellation. Every nakshatra is divided into four padas (lit. "steps") related to the Char Dham, a set of four pilgrimage sites in India.

The starting point for the nakshatras according to the Vedas is "Krittika" (it has been argued because the Pleiades may have started the year at the time the Vedas were compiled, presumably at the vernal equinox), but, in more recent compilations, the start of the nakshatras list is the point on the ecliptic directly opposite to the star Spica, called Chitrā in Sanskrit. This translates to Ashvinī, a part of the modern constellation of Aries. These compilations, therefore may have been compiled during the centuries when the sun was passing through Aries at the time of the vernal equinox. This version may have been called Meshādi or the "start of Aries".[1][full citation needed]

The first astronomical text that lists them is the Vedanga Jyotisha.[2][better source needed]

In classical Hindu scriptures (Mahabharata, Harivamsa), the creation of the asterisms is attributed to Daksha.[3] The Nakshatras are personified as daughters of Daksha and as wives of Chandra, the god of the Moon. When Chandra neglected his 26 other wives in favour of Rohini, his father-in-law cursed him with leprosy and proclaimed that the Moon would wax and wane each month.[4] The Nakshatras are also alternatively described as the daughters of Kashyapa.

In the Atharvaveda

Nakshatras in a circle

In the Atharvaveda (Shaunakiya recension, hymn 19.7) a list of 27 stars or asterisms is given, many of them corresponding to the later nakshatras:[5][a]

This 27-day cycle has been taken to mean a particular group of stars. This has to do with the periodicity with which the Moon travels past the specific star fields called nakshatras. Hence, the stars are more like numbers on a clock, through which the hands of time (the moon) pass. This concept is described by J. Mercay (2012) in connection with Surya Siddhanta.[6]

List of Nakshatras

Positions of the Nakshatras on the celestial sphere

In Hindu astronomy, there was an older tradition of 28 Nakshatras which were used as celestial markers in the heavens. When these were mapped into equal divisions of the ecliptic, a division of 27 portions was adopted since that resulted in a clearer definition of each portion (i.e. segment) subtending 13° 20′ (as opposed to 12° 51+37′ in the case of 28 segments). In the process, the Nakshatra Abhijit was left out without a portion.[7]: 179  However, the Abhijit nakshatra becomes important while deciding on the timing of an auspicious event. The Surya Siddhantha concisely specifies the coordinates of the twenty-seven Nakshatras.[7]: 211 

It is noted above that with the older tradition of 28 Nakshatras each equal segment would subtend 12.85 degrees or 12° 51′. But the 28 Nakshatra were chosen at a time when the Vedic month was recognised as having exactly 30 days. In India and China the original 28 lunar mansions were not equal. Weixing Nui provides a list of the extent of the original 28 Nakshatras expressed in Muhurtas (with one Muhurta = 48 minutes of arc). Hindu texts note there were 16 Nakshatras of 30 Muhurtas, 6 of 45 Muhurtas, 5 of 15 Muhurtas and one of 6 Muhurtas.

The 28 mansions of the 360° lunar zodiac total 831 Muhurtas or 27.7 days. This is sometimes described as an inaccurate estimate of our modern sidereal period of 27.3 days, but using the ancient Indian calendar with Vedic months of 30 days and a daily movement of the Moon of 13 degrees, this early designation of a sidereal month of 831 Muhurtas or 27.7 days is very precise.[b][8][full citation needed] Later some Indian savants dropped the Nakshatra named Abhijit to reduce the number of divisions to 27, but the Chinese retained all of their original 28 lunar mansions. These were grouped into four equal quarters which would have been fundamentally disrupted if it had been decided to reduce the number of divisions to 27.

Irrespective of the reason why ancient early Indian astronomers followed a Vedic calendar of exactly 12 months of 30 days it was this calendar and not a modern calendar of 365 days that they used for the astronomical calculations for the number of days taken for the Moon to complete one sidereal cycle of 360°. This is why initially they named 28 Nakshatras on their lunar zodiac.[9]

The following list of nakshatras gives the corresponding regions of sky, per Basham (1954).[10]

No. Name Associated stars Description Image
1 Aśvini
β and γ Arietis
  • Astrological leader: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol: Horse's head
  • Rigvedic name: Ashvins, the horse-headed twins who are physicians to the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 0° – 13°20′ Mesha
  • Tropical zodiac: 26° Aries – 9°20′ Taurus
2 Bharani
"the bearer"
35, 39, and 41 Arietis
  • Astrological leader: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Yoni, the female organ of reproduction
  • Rigvedic name: Yama, god of death or Dharma
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20′ – 26°40′ Mesha
  • Tropical zodiac: 9° 20′ – 22° 40′ Taurus
3 Kṛttikā
an old name of the Pleiades; personified as the nurses of Kārttikeya, a son of Shiva.
  • Astrological leader: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Knife or spear
  • Rigvedic name: Agni, god of fire
  • Indian zodiac: 26°40′ Mesha – 10° Vrishabha
  • Tropical zodiac: 22° 40′ Taurus – 6° Gemini
4 Rohiṇi
"the red one", a name of Aldebaran. Also known as brāhmī
5 Mṛgaśīrā
"the deer's head". Also known as āgrahāyaṇī
λ, φ Orionis
  • Astrological leader: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Deer's head
  • Rigvedic name: Soma, Chandra, the Moon god
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20′ Vrishabha – 6° 40′ Mithuna
  • Tropical zodiac: 19° 20′ Gemini – 2° 40′ Cancer
6 Ārdrā
"the moist one"
  • Astrological leader: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Teardrop, diamond, a human head
  • Rigvedic name: Rudra, the storm god
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40′ – 20° Mithuna
  • Tropical zodiac: 2° 40′ – 16° Cancer
7 Punarvasu (dual)
"the two restorers of goods", also known as yamakau "the two chariots"
Castor and Pollux
  • Astrological leader: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol : Bow and quiver
  • Rigvedic name: Aditi, mother of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Mithuna – 3°20′ Karka
  • Tropical zodiac: 16° – 29°20′ Cancer
8 Puṣya/Tishya
"the nourisher", also known as sidhya or tiṣya
γ, δ and θ Cancri
  • Astrological leader: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol: Cow's udder, lotus, arrow and circle
  • Rigvedic name: Bṛhaspati, priest of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 3° 20′ – 16° 40′ Karka
  • Tropical zodiac: 29° 20′ Cancer – 12° 40′ Leo
9 Āśleṣā
"the embrace"
δ, ε, η, ρ, and σ Hydrae
  • Astrological leader: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: Serpent
  • Rigvedic name: Sarpas or Nagas, deified snakes
  • Indian zodiac: 16° 40′ – 30° Karka
  • Tropical zodiac: 12° 40′ – 26° Leo
10 Maghā
"the bountiful"
  • Astrological leader: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol: Royal Throne
  • Rigvedic name: Pitrs, 'The Fathers', family ancestors
  • Indian zodiac: 0° – 13° 20′ Simha
  • Tropical zodiac: 26° Leo – 9° 20′ Virgo
11 Pūrva Phalgunī
"first reddish one"
δ and θ Leonis
  • Astrological leader: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Front legs of bed, hammock, fig tree
  • Rigvedic name: Aryaman, god of marital bliss and prosperity
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20′ – 26°40′ Simha
  • Tropical zodiac: 9° 20′ – 22°40′ Virgo
12 Uttara Phalgunī
"second reddish one"
  • Astrological leader: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Four legs of bed, hammock
  • Rigvedic name: Bhaga, god of patronage and favours
  • Indian zodiac: 26° 40′ Simha- 10° Kanya
  • Tropical zodiac: 22° 40′ Virgo – 6° Libra
13 Hasta
"the hand"
α, β, γ, δ and ε Corvi
  • Astrological Mate: Chandra (Moon)
  • Symbol: Hand or fist
  • Rigvedic name: Savitr, the Sun god
  • Indian zodiac: 10° – 23° 20′ Kanya
  • Tropical zodiac: 6° – 19° 20′ Libra
14 Chitrā
"the bright one", a name of Spica
  • Astrological leader: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Bright jewel or pearl
  • Rigvedic name: Tvastar, Vishwakarma
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20′ Kanya – 6° 40′ Tula
  • Tropical zodiac: 19° 20′ Libra – 2° 40′ Scorpio
15 Svātī
"Su-Ati (Sanskrit) Very good" name of Arcturus
  • Astrological leader: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Shoot of plant, coral
  • Rigvedic name: Vayu, the Wind god
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40′ – 20° Tula
  • Tropical zodiac: 2° 40′ – 16° Scorpio
16 Viśākhā
"forked, having branches";
α, β, γ and ι Librae
  • Astrological leader: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol: Triumphal arch, potter's wheel
  • Rigvedic name: Indra, chief of the gods; Agni, god of Fire
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Tula – 3° 20′ Vrishchika
  • Tropical zodiac: 16° – 29° 20′ Scorpio
17 Anurādhā
"following Indra"
β, δ and π Scorpionis
  • Astrological leader: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol: Triumphal archway, lotus, bamboo
  • Rigvedic name: Mitra, one of Adityas of friendship and partnership
  • Indian zodiac: 3° 20′ – 16° 40′ Vrishchika
  • Tropical zodiac: 29° 20′ Scorpio – 12° 40′ Sagittarius
18 Jyeṣṭha
"the eldest, most excellent"
α, σ, and τ Scorpionis
  • Astrological leader: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: circular amulet, umbrella, earring
  • Rigvedic name: Indra, chief of the gods
  • Indian zodiac: 16° 40′ – 30° Vrishchika
  • Tropical zodiac: 12° 40′ – 26° Sagittarius
19 Mūlā
"the root"
ε, ζ, η, θ, ι, κ, λ, μ and ν Scorpionis
  • Astrological leader: Ketu (South lunar node)
  • Symbol: Bunch of roots tied together, elephant goad
  • Rigvedic name: Nirrti, peak of material achievement and the beginning of the spiritual impulse
  • Indian zodiac: 0° – 13° 20′ Dhanus
  • Tropical zodiac: 26° Sagittarius – 9° 20′ Capricorn
20 Pūrva Āṣāḍhā
"first of the aṣāḍhā", aṣāḍhā "the invincible one" being the name of a constellation
δ and ε Sagittarii
  • Astrological leader: Shukra (Venus)
  • Symbol: Elephant tusk, fan, winnowing basket
  • Rigvedic name: Apah, god of Water
  • Indian zodiac: 13° 20′ – 26° 40′ Dhanus
  • Tropical zodiac: 9° 20′ – 22° 40′ Capricorn
21 Uttara Āṣāḍhā
"Later invincible"
ζ and σ Sagittarii
  • Astrological leader: Surya (Sun)
  • Symbol: Elephant tusk, small bed
  • Rigvedic name: Visvedevas, universal gods
  • Indian zodiac: 26° 40′ Dhanus – 10° Makara
  • Tropical zodiac: 22° 40′ Capricorn – 6° Aquarius
22 Abhijit
ζ and σ Lyrae
  • Astrological leader: Brahma
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40′ Makara – 10° 53′ Makara
23 Śravaṇa
α, β and γ Aquilae
  • Astrological Mate: Chandra (Moon)
  • Symbol: Ear or Three Footprints
  • Rigvedic name: Vishnu, preserver of universe
  • Indian zodiac: 10° – 23° 20′ Makara
  • Tropical zodiac: 6° – 19° 20′ Aquarius
24 Dhaniṣṭhā
"most famous", also Shravishthā "swiftest"
α, β, γ and δ Delphini
  • Astrological leader: Mangala (Mars)
  • Symbol: Drum or flute
  • Rigvedic name: Eight vasus, deities of earthly abundance
  • Indian zodiac: 23° 20′ Makara – 6° 40′ Kumbha
  • Tropical zodiac 19° 20′ Aquarius – 2° 40′ Pisces
25 Śatabhiṣa
"Comprising a hundred physicians"
  • Astrological leader: Rahu (North lunar node)
  • Symbol: Empty circle, 1,000 flowers or stars
  • Rigvedic name: Varuna, god of celestial waters
  • Indian zodiac: 6° 40′ – 20° Kumbha
  • Tropical zodiac: 2° 40′ – 16° Pisces
26 Pūrva Bhādrapada
"the first of the blessed feet"
α and β Pegasi
  • Astrological leader: Guru (Jupiter)
  • Symbol: Swords or two front legs of funeral cot, man with two faces
  • Rigvedic name: Ajaikapada, an ancient fire dragon[citation needed]
  • Indian zodiac: 20° Kumbha – 3° 20′ Meena
  • Tropical zodiac: 16° – 29° 20′ Pisces
27 Uttara Bhādrapada
"the second of the blessed feet"
γ Pegasi and α Andromedae
  • Astrological leader: Shani (Saturn)
  • Symbol: Twins, back legs of funeral cot, snake in the water
  • Rigvedic name: Ahirbudhnya, serpent or dragon of the deep
  • Indian zodiac: 3° 20′ – 16° 40′ Meena
  • Tropical zodiac: 29° 20′ Pisces – 12° 40′ Aries
28 Revatī
ζ Piscium
  • Astrological leader: Budha (Mercury)
  • Symbol: Fish or a pair of fish, drum
  • Rigvedic name: Pushan, nourisher, the protective deity
  • Indian zodiac: 16° 40′ – 30° Meena
  • Tropical zodiac: 12° 40′ – 26° Aries

Padas (quarters)


Each of the 27 Nakshatras cover 13° 20’ of the ecliptic each. Each Nakshatra is also divided into quarters or padas of 3° 20’, and the below table lists the appropriate starting sound to name the child. The 27 nakshatras, each with 4 padas, give 108, which is the number of beads in a japa mala, representing all the elements (ansh) of Vishnu:

# Name Pada 1 Pada 2 Pada 3 Pada 4 Vimsottari Lord Ruling Deity
1 Aśvini (अश्विनी) चु Chu चे Che चो Cho ला La Ketu Aswini Kumara
2 Bharaṇī (भरणी) ली Li लू Lu ले Le लो Lo Venus Yama
3 Kṛttikā (कृत्तिका) अ A ई I उ U ए E Sun Agni
4 Rohiṇī (रोहिणी) ओ O वा Va/Ba वी Vi/Bi वु Vu/Bu Moon Brahma
5 Mṛgaśīrṣā (मृगशीर्षा) वे Ve/Be वो Vo/Bo का Ka की Ke Mars Moon
6 Ārdrā (आर्द्रा) कु Ku घ Gha ङ Ng/Na छ Chha Rahu Shiva
7 Punarvasu (पुनर्वसु) के Ke को Ko हा Ha ही Hi Jupiter Aditi
8 Puṣya (पुष्य) हु Hu हे He हो Ho ड Da Saturn Brihaspati
9 Āśleṣā (आश्लेषा) डी Di डू Du डे De डो Do Mercury Rahu
10 Maghā (मघा) मा Ma मी Mi मू Mu मे Me Ketu Pitr
11 Pūrva or Pūrva Phālgunī (पूर्व फाल्गुनी) नो Mo टा Ta टी Ti टू Tu Venus Bhaga
12 Uttara or Uttara Phālgunī (उत्तर फाल्गुनी) टे Te टो To पा Pa पी Pi Sun Sun
13 Hasta (हस्त) पू Pu ष Sha ण Na ठ Tha Moon Savitr
14 Chitrā (चित्रा) पे Pe पो Po रा Ra री Ri Mars Vishwakarma
15 Svāti (स्वाति) रू Ru रे Re रो Ro ता Ta Rahu Vaayu
16 Vishākhā (विशाखा) ती Ti तू Tu ते Te तो To Jupiter Indra Agni
17 Anurādhā (अनुराधा) ना Na नी Ni नू Nu ने Ne Saturn Mitra
18 Jyeṣṭhā (ज्येष्ठा) नो No या Ya यी Yi यू Yu Mercury Indra
19 Mūla (मूल) ये Ye यो Yo भा Bha भी Bhi Ketu Varuna, Nirriti
20 Pūrva Aṣāḍhā (पूर्वाषाढ़ा) भू Bhu धा Dha फा Bha/Pha ढा Dha Venus Apah
21 Uttara Aṣāḍhā (उत्तराषाढ़ा) भे Bhe भो Bho जा Ja जी Ji Sun Brahma
22 Śrāvaṇa (श्रवण) खी Ju/Khi खू Je/Khu खे Jo/Khe खो Gha/Kho Moon Vishnu
23 Śrāviṣṭhā (श्रविष्ठा) or Dhaniṣṭhā (धनिष्ठा) गा Ga गी Gi गु Gu गे Ge Mars Vasu
24 Śatabhiṣā (शतभिषा) गो Go सा Sa सी Si सू Su Rahu Varuna
25 Pūrva Bhādrapadā (पूर्वभाद्रपदा) से Se सो So दा Da दी Di Jupiter Aja Ek Pada
26 Uttara Bhādrapadā (उत्तरभाद्रपदा) दू Du थ Tha झ Jha ञ Da/Tra Saturn Ahirbudhnya
27 Revati (रेवती) दे De दो Do च Cha ची Chi Mercury Pooshan

See also


Nakshatra is one of the five elements of a Pañcāṅga. The other four elements:


  1. ^ From Griffith (1895) Hymns of the Atharva Veda:[5]

    1   citrā́ṇi sākáṃ diví rocanā́ni sarīsr̥pā́ṇi bhúvane javā́ni
    turmíśaṃ sumatím ichámāno áhāni gīrbhíḥ saparyāmi nā́kam

    2   suhávam agne kŕ̥ttikā róhiṇī cā́stu bhadráṃ mr̥gáśiraḥ śám ārdrā́
    púnarvasū sūnŕ̥tā cā́ru púṣyo bhānúr āśleṣā́ áyanaṃ maghā́ me

    3   púṇyaṃ pū́rvā phálgunyau cā́tra hástaś citrā́ śivā́ svātí sukhó me astu
    rā́dhe viśā́khe suhávānurādhā́ jyéṣṭhā sunákṣatram áriṣṭa mū́lam

    4   ánnaṃ pū́rvā rāsatāṃ me aṣādhā́ ū́rjaṃ devy úttarā ā́ vahantu
    abhijín me rāsatāṃ púṇyam evá śrávaṇaḥ śráviṣṭhāḥ kurvatāṃ supuṣṭím

    5   ā́ me mahác chatábhiṣag várīya ā́ me dvayā́ próṣṭhapadā suśárma
    ā́ revátī cāśvayújau bhágaṃ ma ā́ me rayíṃ bháraṇya ā́ vahantu[5]

  2. ^ The exact figure should be nearer 27.692308 days but 27.7 is near enough.


  1. ^ Vaid, Vashisht (2012). The Radiant Words of Love & Wisdom.
  2. ^ "Nakshatras and Upanakshatras". American Institute of Vedic Studies. June 13, 2012. Archived from the original on March 22, 2015.
  3. ^ Moor, Edward (1810). The Hindu Pantheon. J. Johnson. p. 291.
  4. ^ Coulter, Charles Russell; Turner, Patricia (2021-12-06). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. McFarland. p. 437. ISBN 978-0-7864-9179-7.
  5. ^ a b c Hymns of the Atharva Veda. Translated by Griffith, R.T.H. 1895.
    Original text via
    "Gretil". University of Goettingen. Archived from the original on 2012-02-02.
    Orlandi, Chatia, ed. (1991). Gli inni dell Atharvaveda (Saunaka) (trasliteration). Pisa, IT.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
    collated with the edition of
    Roth, R.; Whitney, W.D., eds. (1856). Atharva Veda Sanhita. Berlin, DE.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  6. ^ Mercay, Jessie (2012). Fundamentals of Mamuni Mayans Vaastu Shastras: Building architecture of Sthapatya Veda and traditional Indian architecture. AUM Science and Technology publishers.
  7. ^ a b Burgess, Ebenezer (1858). Translation of the Surya Siddhantha, a Textbook of Hindu Astronomy. The American Oriental Society.
  8. ^ Weixing, Nui; Xiaoyuan, Jiang. Astronomy in the Sutras translated into Chinese.
  9. ^ Jones, H. (September 2018). "The Origin of the 28 Naksatras in Early Indian Astronomy and Astrology". Indian Journal of History of Science. 53 (3): 317–324. Bibcode:2018InJHS..53..317J. doi:10.16943/ijhs/2018/v53i3/49463.
  10. ^ Basham, Arthur Llewellyn (1954). "Appendix II: Astronomy". The Wonder that was India. Calcutta, IN: Rupa. p. 490.