Vedic Astrology uses two styles of birth charts: North Indian and South Indian. It’s up to astrologers and students to determine which style they want to use in their astrological practice and study. However, typically astrologers will feel most comfortable using the chart style they were taught with and that style will remain their preference. There’s no right or wrong about which style to use. Each of the three examples (below) -which includes a Western Astrology chart for comparison- shows a Cancer Ascendant chart, which is the same as saying “Cancer Rising” or ‘Cancer on the First House’.
In the North Indian chart, the Houses will always be in the same location.
The Ascendant or First House will always be located in the same place (the top diamond). The number 4 in our example chart indicates the fourth Sign of the Zodiac, Cancer– hence this chart has Cancer on the First House or Cancer Rising. If someone had Pisces Rising, then instead of the number 4, you would see the number 12 since Pisces is the twelfth sign of the zodiac- and the rest of the houses simply follow in order.
In the South Indian chart, the Signs will always be in the same location.
Here, the house that represents the Ascendant will depend on the Sign. In this chart style, the Signs of the Zodiac remain fixed and the Houses shift depending on the birth data. Whichever Sign represents the Ascendant or First House, there will be a diagonal line through it. In our South Indian Cancer chart example above, the house with the diagonal line is the fixed house of Cancer. That square is always Cancer. If someone had Pisces Rising, then the diagonal line would be seen in the top left square (which is always the house of Pisces). Therefore, the house with the diagonal is known as the First House or Ascendant and the rest of the houses simply follow in order from there.
The chart used in Western Astrology is different than both the North and South Indian charts with its circular shape. In the Western chart, the Ascendant (also called the Rising Sign because it is the sign rising along the Eastern horizon at the moment of birth) is always the left-center of the wheel. In the example above, the ‘C’ represents Cancer on the Ascendant or First House, and the remaining houses follow in order from there. Like the North Indian chart, the houses remain fixed in the Western chart and the signs change according to the birth data.
(The Western Astrology chart will typically use the symbolic glyphs of the signs rather than the letters used above.)
If any astrology students have had difficulty in understanding the differences between the chart styles, I hope this has provided clarity.
Chart Examples by Renate M Bell © 2022
Renate Maria Bell is a certified Vedic Astrologer, Jyotish Visharada, and approved teacher with the Council of Vedic Astrology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Do not use image without the expressed written consent of the author