The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth

“Eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourg'd by the sequent effects. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide”. King Lear, Shakespeare

In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream., the union of the young lovers, Lysander and Hermia is in trouble. Lysander offers comfort “the course of true love never did run smooth”. In vivid Shakespearean style he describes the lover’s passion as “momentary”, “swift as a shadow”, “brief as a lightning” and “short as a dream on midsummer's night”.

Vedic Astrology confirms Shakespeare’s concerns in the play that love can be a  "quick bright thing brought to confusion by the inexorable workings of time and nature”. In Vedic thought cosmic time is a never-ending cyclical process of Sristi - creation, Stithi - continuation, and Laya – dissolution.

We are all aware of the visible cycles of nature, like dawn and dusk that give way to the dark night. And the promise of a new life in spring that cycles into the death of winter. But we need Vedic Astrology to illuminate similar cycles of the mysterious and hidden planetary forces that wield profound influences on our life. That love, friendships and relationships may also be caught in the inescapable web of nature and time is perhaps the most difficult spiritual work that we must do on earth.

Predicting how the relationship will change over time

There is an old saying that women fall in love hoping that he will change, and men fall in love hoping she will not. Truth is, while the fundamental nature of the person you fall in love with will remain constant, their desires, goals, health, interests and passions will change dramatically over time as you and your partner cycle through the planetary influences. Only relationships that are highly accommodating to change or built on a strong foundation of interdependence rather than dependence will survive over the long haul.

Can these changes be predicted?  Can we prepare ourselves, so we are not knocked off our feet when our partner is ready to shift planetary gears? The mathematical algorithms of the Vimshottari Dasha, conceived thousands of years ago still remain relevant today, describing a 120 year cycle (the life expectancy in ancient India), which is divided into nine planetary periods, ranging in length in six to twenty years. Herein lays the answer to how delicate the navigation of long term relationships really is.

In Sanskrit the word for planets is Graha, which means “to grab, seize or possess”. Every time, a Maha Dasha   (main planetary period) and Antar Dasha (sub planetary period) changes it’s as if a different planetary energy seizes our aura. As a result, major life changes occur in our personality, desires, aspirations and circumstances. There are profound changes that occur in our bio-chemistry, neurotransmitters and physiology as well, which explain the cycles of our body/mind health in Medical Astrology.

It is at the crossover of these changing planetary periods that our relationships are most vulnerable to end or improve because the rules of engagement are changing in the consciousness of one or both partners.

Compatibility calculations based solely on the static horoscopes often fail because the active forces of the Dashas are not considered. Two horoscopes may show good innate potential for success of a relationship, but temporary problems due to the Dasha/Antara Dasha period of one or both can doom the relationship.  The reverse can also happen where the compatibility may be poor but temporarily it feels like a perfect fit. This perhaps is the greatest tragedy that all of us have experienced at one time or another.

Love, Marriage and Romance

Historically across cultures and nations marriage and romantic love were considered incompatible. In fact, even today up to 90 percent of marriages in India and 60 percent of all marriages in the world are still arranged by parents and family. The Enlightenment Age of 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, which pioneered the novel idea at that time that life was about pursuit of happiness, led the way for the west to advocate marriage as a contract of love, rather than economics, status or social/family responsibility.

In the 21st century we are not quite so pragmatic as our as our historical predecessors, nor as naive as we were just a few decades ago that love is all you need.  We stand at the threshold of seeing our relationships for what they should be, a personal contract between two equals seeking love, stability, family and happiness. 

Today most of us will have two, three or more “marriages” or long term relationships. I like to think of the changing Dashas as an opportunity to renew our relationship with our partner. Having been married to the same man for 36 years, I can safely say that I am in my third relationship with him.


So let’s look at the potential for change in your relationship as the Maha Dasha changes for you and your partner. This also applies to Bhukti  or Antar Dasha (sub planetary period)  but the impact will not be anywhere nearly as profound. 

The order and number of years for each Maha Dasha:.

1. Ketu 7 years
2. Venus 20 years
3. Sun 6 years
4. Moon 10 years
5. Mars 7 years
6. Rahu 18 years
7. Jupiter 16 years
8. Saturn 19 years
9. Mercury 17 years

The Dasha cycle begins with Ketu and ends with Mercury and then starts back up with Ketu. Ketu is where we are most connected to our divine source and not quite fully ripe for the sensory experiences of the physical body and worldly life. Mercury is where we are fully ripened, experienced and engaged with the rules of success on life on earth. The rest of the planets support our evolution from one end of the cycle to the other.

Like all of nature’s cycles that work in a sequence of defined time periods, the order of the planetary Dasha and how long each Dasha lasts never changes (i.e. Mercury always follows Saturn and Sun is always 6 six years and Venus 20). However, every horoscope runs the planetary periods at different times, depending on which point in the 120 year planetary cycle we were born.

I don't want to over simplify the influence of the Dashas as their expression is unique in every horoscope. However, here you can still get a general idea of what planet is dominating your aura, or that of your partner at any given time by knowing the current Dasha trends.

Ketu - 7 years

Let’s start with Ketu, who functions mostly outside the range of ordinary consciousness. He thrives on the abstract and intangible and easily detaches from institutions and social norms, , including the institution of marriage. He has none of innocence and excitement for the potential of romantic Love.  Indeed, he may even scoff at all the fanfare around the elaborate rituals and ceremonies of marriage.

I had one client that got married in her Ketu Dasha while she was still in graduate school. The ceremony took place in her science lab, costed less than $100, and the celebratory toast was inexpensive Champaign served in test tubes. I can’t imagine a more Ketu celebration!

Many of my clients have hung on in difficult and limiting relationships to let this Dasha period finish and then gone on to have productive partnerships with the same person. Fortunately, for relationships the Ketu period is only seven years long.

Venus – 20 years

Ketu dasha is followed by 20 years of Venus, when our aura shifts from Ketu’s stoic minimalism to Venus’ pursuit of celebrating life, happiness, joy and beauty.

The Sanskrit word for Veuns is shukra, which is the same root in Latin for sugar. Venus can pursue many avenues of finding sweetness in life, such as art, music, food and wealth to explore the tasty world of the senses. However, relating and relationships are generally the major theme of this season.

With Venus our capacity for compromise, diplomacy and negotiation soars, which are all the necessary ingredients for sustaining a relationship. The dry relationship spell of Ketu is followed by peaking pheromones and people usually become more attractive to the opposite sex in this period.

If you are lucky you will fall in love at the beginning of a Venus Dasha and if you have a well-placed Venus (ie not in the twelfth house), you may have a hard time understanding why other people have so much trouble with their relationships.

Venus Dasha also seeks the “beloved” and enjoys the path of devotion. For many devotion to a partner or a cause produces the sweetest of results. When Venus does not produce the lover or the beloved, the pain of separation is also felt most acutely in this Dasha.

The end of the 20-year Venus Dasha shows a dissolution of our infatuation with pleasure, love and romance and should be very carefully navigated if you want to prevail in holding on to your relationship into the next season of the Sun Dasha.

Sun 6 Years

Now let’s say you met the love of your life in the middle of her 20-year Venus Dasha and a decade later she moves into her Sun Dasha, the sweet, devotional energy of her Venus shifts to independence and personal power of the Sun. Suddenly, the urge to find her own voice and identity becomes a formidable force within her. A well-placed Sun in her chart will allow her to shine and carve her unique path in life, which may cause you to question whether she needs you anymore or if she still loves you. A, weak Sun will take a real toll on her confidence, straining your relationship. So it is best that you help her towards self-reliance and personal power, rather than waiting and wanting her to go back to the way she used to be. For those in the Sun period remember to be like the Sun, don’t demand respect and power, earn it like the Sun by giving light and protection to all.

Moon – 10 years

As the hot and fast six-year planetary period of the Sun sets it ushers in the cool and much softer and slower paced ten-year Moon period. With the moon we leave independence behind and seek more connection, interdependence and community. Memories of our childhood flood our mind awakening our inner child, and we seek to nurture or be nurtured. The moon is always looking for the Sun (the other) so it can shine - relationships again becomes a big theme in our consciousness.

The strong Solar, independent man you married in his Sun Dasha now shows his emotional, sensitive and vulnerable side. Feelings are easily hurt, and misunderstandings pile up. If you can grasp your partner’s sensitive side, this is usually one of the best seasons for nesting, nurturing, and building a family life.

Mars – 7 years

That sweet natured lunar poet that you hooked up with in his Moon period who was happy to hang out with you and your sister, cook you guys dinner and even wash up afterwards, moves into the energetic and daring Mars period, and you may find he is spending more time at the gym than in the kitchen.

A strongly placed Mars’ independence and adventurous spirit has no bounds. Energy levels are up, and goals must be met. Audacious Mars is quick to draw the red line in the sand, especially when weak and threatened. Passions also run high, tempers flare up much more easily.  Rather than falling into the inevitable power struggles that Mars brings, encourage your partner to discover their strength and courage and share the dish washing (the poet is still there inside him, just not at the forefront of his mind)!

Mars is usually the greatest destroyer of relationships as this is the season of contest and competition, not compromise and conciliation. Practicing losing to win in the relationship is the best strategy in this period if you are the one running a Mars period and want to hang on to your relationship.

Rahu - 18 years

Unconventional Rahu follows Mars. Moderation and caution go out the window. Whatever Rahu has set his site on, whether quiet reflection, relationships or world domination, will be pursued to an extreme. This is not the season for temperance or constraint. His obsessions and fixations can either spin our life out of control or his drive can be directed towards new discoveries and unimaginable heights.

Rahu is the hunger that brings us into this incarnation and this is the season to eat our fill. The hardest part when working with Rahu is that he usually does not, cannot, listen to anyone (except Jupiter). He must explore and pursue his compulsions until the desire has been exhausted.  Rahu Dasha is never easy on relationships, especially when Rahu’s obsession is relationships. Practice putting Rahu on a diet.

Jupiter – 16 Years

Fortunately, Rahu period does end, and the most benevolent and welcomed Jupiter season follows. Still feeling empty after gorging on Rahu we turn to Jupiter’s higher knowledge and divine grace. Jupiter fills our consciousness with hope, faith and optimism – and a certain confidence in our stride that comes from knowing that our best days are yet to come.

Jupiter is called the guru in Sanskrit and personal growth, Yoga, spirituality, sacred journeys, ethics, philosophy, justice are often the themes of this season.

Jupiter periods are usually very productive and successful for relationships, if you keep your expectations realistic and don’t pin all your hopes and prospects on your partner.  It is important to remember that your desire for personal growth may not match your partners. Usually, the dissatisfaction I hear from clients in this Dasha is "I want someone who is on the same spiritual path with me".

In other words, if are in Jupiter Dasha, you might want your next vacation to be a spiritual retreat in Tibet but your partner may still be hung up on Las Vegas. Be respectful and mindful that even though you might be feeling a very strong urge to transform your life your partner may not yet be ready.  After all, spiritual and personal growth is an "inside job".

Saturn – 19 Years

Sometimes two souls fall in love when one or both of them is under the stern eye of a Saturn planetary period, which follows Jupiter. Saturn requires a more conservative and practical approach to relationships. You could say he is the planet that comes closest to considering an arranged marriage and is the least infatuated with "falling in love". Although this might feel uncomfortable to swallow at first, remember that most marriages were conducted in this way until the 19th century, even in the west. Divorce rates have skyrocketed exponentially since Saturn was taken completely out of the equation of marriage. So, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water as Saturn is the strongest indicator in your chart of the potential to sustain a long term relationship built on duty, responsibility, democracy, and humility.

If your partner turns Saturn on you, he may become more sober, less fun loving, over worked and not so glamorous but rejoice, he is probably the most committed planet to the vows you made at the altar.

Mercury – 17 Years

Nineteen years of Saturn Dasha ends and the curiosity and playfulness of Mercury takes over. Most people are so ready to break loose of Saturn’s shackles and restraints that they demand change in every aspect of their life. They will often blame their partner for being the source of the limitations they have lived with for two decades.  So yes, a “new” relationship is required so that the youthful Mercury energy can explore, discover and learn about life and new opportunities that were held back by Saturn.

Your partner might insist on trading in his functional minivan for a motorcycle! Buy a helmet, and encourage their new-found desire for learning, experimentation, curiosity, mental stimulation and pursuing their interests.

Mercury is prone to excessive stimulation and unfocused action and needs stability to prioritize and assess which doors to open and which to close as their will be so many options. Your partner will need whatever Dasha you are running, except perhaps Rahu,  to help them stay grounded and equanimous.

Cycling back to Ketu

The cycle is complete, and we are back to Ketu. At the start of their Ketu period, I have seen so many people simply walk away from life and all that they have built with Mercury, which often includes their current relationship. Work with your partner’s desire to downsize and embrace some of the simplicity that Ketu forces on you. Marriage during Ketu Dasha and Ketu Sub period, is generally forbidden by astrologers, unless there are some other strong forces keeping Ketu in check.

It is said that expectations are the termites of relationships and accepting change wholeheartedly is the foundation that keeps the termites at bay.  Stability helps build the foundation of a relationship, but it is change that helps us grow and reach new heights. So remember that it is not always the planets fault but rather our own inability to adapt to the new seasons of nature and time.