Kṛttikā

Etymology/Symbolism

Kārtikēya, the god of war

Kṛttikā is the Nakṣatra of Durga

Kṛttikā (कृत्तिका), sometimes known as Kārtikā, literally means “the cutters” and is appropriately symbolized by a knife, spear, scissors, arrow, axe, or any other sharp-edged, razor-like cutting instrument. This underscores the Kṛttikā native’s sharp, cutting, and penetrating nature. This Nakṣatra represents the power to burn or to cut away negativity to get to the deepest truths. This cutting nature indicates the ability to either heal and cure or murder and destroy. The razor also points to sharp or pointed implements and the work done with them, such as the skinning of animals for leather and fur production. Sharp writing and sewing implements and sharp tools like drills are all ruled by Kṛttikā.

Kṛttikā is also symbolized by a flame and is called the “The Star of Fire,” a title reflective of its governance by Agni, the god of fire. Despite the etymological origin of the word, Kṛttikā, this primordial flame is often considered Kṛttikā’s primary symbol, representing its dominant activity of purification by Agni’s sacred fire (yagna).

The Seven Sisters (or Pleiades) in the Taurus constellation

The Seven Sisters (or Pleiades) in the Taurus constellation

Astronomy

Kṛttikā resides between 26° 40′ Mesha (Aries) and 10° Vṛṣabha (Taurus). Only its first pada (3° 20′) resides in Mesha, so the majority of it resides in Vṛṣabha. It includes the open star cluster called Pleiades (actually, Kṛttikā was the old name of the Pleiades), one of the clusters which makes up the constellation Taurus. The Pleiades’ six brightest stars form Kṛttikā: Alcyone (Eta Tauri), Celaeno (16 Tauri), Electra (17 Tauri), Taygete (19 Tauri), Maia (20 Tauri), and Asterope (21 Tauri). These six stars are the wives of the six great seers (rishis). Alcyone is the brightest and considered the most beautiful of the group. These stars reside in the upper torso of Tauri, the bull.

As the Pleiades, Kṛttikā is personified as the collective foster mother or nurse of Śiva and Pārvatī’s son, Kārtikēya (another name for Skanda).

According to the Atharva Veda, Kṛttikā is the first Nakṣatra reflecting the stars rising at the spring vernal equinox during the height of the Indus Valley civilization (2720-1760 BCE).

Classifications

Nature Puruṣārtha Varna Color Gana Guna/Tattva Gender Body Part Animal
 Mixed (Mishra/Sadharana) Kama (Desire) Rakshasa/Asura  Rajas/Rajas/Sattva  Female Sheep

Though rajas is the important motivation, there is an undercurrent of sattva or harmony here. Whatever the action, desire is very much the dominating factor here. Kṛttikā is truly guided by kama (desire) and passion.

Devata, Graha & Śakti

Kṛttikā is ruled by Sūrya, resides within the rāśis of Mesha and Vṛṣabha (ruled by Mangala and Śūkra), and its presiding deva is Agni, the sacred fire.

Graha

Sūrya, which is independent, self-focused, and masculine, is a natural friend of the masculine, competitive Mangala, which rules the rāśi that Kṛttikā’s first pada (quarter) resides in. However, Sūrya is a natural enemy of the feminine, harmony-loving Śūkra, which rules the rāśi that Kṛttikā’s last three padas reside in. Overall, some believe that placements of grahas in Kṛttikā offer benefits for masculine individuals, but offer much less benefits for feminine individuals.

The Sūrya/Mangala (Sun/Mars) dynamic experienced in Kṛttikā’s first pada (in Mesha), produces a potential for leadership, authority, and power. ((Dennis Harness. The Nakshatras. p. 11))

The Sūrya/Śūkra (Sun/Venus) dynamic in Kṛttikā’s last three padas (in Vṛṣabha) is limited by their natural mutual animosity, generating a potential for tension between the two grahas. These last three padas are believed to be somewhat easier for feminine than masculine individuals, but there is still a potential for difficult psycho-emotional environments. Kṛttikā can, however, offer women a very successful public life. Women may need to acknowledge that their paths may be long and difficult and may require constant interaction with self-centered men. They may feel frustrated in striving for harmony within predominantly masculine environments.

Agni, god of (sacred) fire

Agni, god of (sacred) fire

Agni

The full symbolism of Agni is exceedingly intricate. Psychologically, it relates primarily to the body’s digestive fire, which enables the digestion and assimilation of food. Therefore, Kṛttikā rules apatite, cooking, digestion, and the like. Agni also indicates the mental fire which enables the digestion and assimilation of information and knowledge. Just as the fire flares up and dies away, Kṛttikā people tend to experience frequent ups and downs in their private lives.

Kṛttikā is ruled by Agni, the God of Fire. It has the power to burn (dahana shakti). Its basis above is heat and below is light. The result of these three is burning or purification. Kṛttikā burns up negativity to attain the truth, purifies what is mixed, and cooks or prepares that which is not yet ripe. Agni is mainly the God of the sacred fire, so purification is perhaps the dominant action, not destruction, though purification does involve the destruction of impurity. Agni is also the fire that cooks our food and so there is a nourishing side to its effects as well. This fire has a childlike nature. ((David Frawley. Shaktis of the Nakshatras))

Agni provides enormous vitality, courage, and tremendous strength. If Agni’s power is not properly yielded, however, this can lead to disastrous results. As Kṛttikā holds the power to produce such widely affecting results, it is said to hold the whole universe in its hands. ((Bepin Behari. Fundamentals of Vedic Astrology. p. 61))

Agni represents the seven flames which allow the seven levels of consciousness to operate. It is the kundalini, the latent fire that rests in the spine, and Agni is strongly connected to the self-discipline of yoga. It is the fire of the mind, the flames of aspiration and the blaze of intellect that burn away the negative sheaths so that we emerge pure. If a Rahu-Ketu axis rests on Kṛttikā it can take a person through an experience of fire to bring out their best qualities. If it is left uncontrolled they can burn themselves out, but if they control the energy they can awaken their kundalini fire and bring about their own transformation. ((Komilla Sutton. The Lunar Nodes – Crisis and Redemption.))

One who offers to Agni and Kṛttikā the appropriate offering becomes an eater of food for immortals.

I am Agni, god of fire and heat.
I am heat-cooker, eater and nourisher, driven by the need for food and life power. I eat and radiate self-righteous strength; I am a dramatic force and I cast a bright light upon all who know me. I need to feel that I am at the center of your attention. From hot food I take energy and gain power to do my life’s brilliant work. I nourish and empower those who keep me in the center of their vision.
I am critical and I will burn up all obstacles which bar my path. I tolerate no blocks to empowerment and strength. Life is good and rewarding; when I am nourished, my expectations are fulfilled.
Eat and be righteous with me.

Kārtikēya

Śiva and Pārvatī’s son, Kārtikēya, is a god of war.

Lunar Month

The lunar month of Kārtika, which is marked by Candra in its Pūrṇimā tithi (full moon phase) in Kṛttikā, is named after Śiva and Pārvatī’s son Kārtikēya, literally the “son of Kṛttikā,” the god of war and the commander-in-chief of the army of devas.

Yamas & Niyamas

Āsanas, Mudras, Meditation & Bhandas

Mythology

The six baby boys brought up by the six Krttika nymphs (the Pleiades).

The six baby boys brought up by the six Krttika nymphs (the Pleiades).

As the collective foster mother or nurse of Śiva and Parvati’s son, Kārtikēya, Kṛttikā is also closely associated with the fearsome, raging, avenging power that became Virabhadra. Mangala truly represents the resulting effects or release of one’s inner fire/power, and it was by Śiva’s anger-inspired tear, born from his weepeing for the loss of his wife, Sati, which became the aspect of Mangala known as Virabhadra, that Sati’s (Pārvatī’s) own father was destroyed by the entity known as Skanda.

Later, it was also because of Śiva’s own inner Agni that he broke concentration during intercourse with Sati’s later incarnarion of Pārvatī, impregnating her with the seed of Kārtikēya.

Six sparks appear from Lord Siva’s third eye and land in Saravana Poykai (a marshy lake in Himalaya). The six sparks transform into six baby boys in six lotus flowers.

Some believe that after Tara, the student and wife of Bṛhaspati, gave birth to her son Budha he was given to Kṛttikā and Rohinī to be raised. The reason: a huge fallout (war) occurred questioning the identity of his true father, who was really Candra (also a student of Bṛhaspati and husband of the daughters of the aforementioned Daksha). The war that ensued between Candra and Bṛhaspati was so in tense that it nearly tore existence into two, so he was given to Kṛttikā (the Kṛttikās) and Rohinī to be raised. Both of these Nakṣatras reside within the rāśis of Vṛṣabha (Taurus) and are both ruled by/an aspect of Śukra, who was Candra’s only ally out of all the Navagraha during this great war. It’s fitting that Budha was given to Kṛttikā to be raised, as Kṛttikā was the foster mother and nurse of Śiva and Pārvatī’s son, Kārtikēya. The stars that constitute the Pleiades, collectively, can certainly nurture quite effectively.

Some say that Kṛttikeya was born directly from Agni out of infatuation for the Kṛttikās/Pleiades. These Kṛttikās, or bears, were the same nurses that helped raise young Budha. [Is there an association of bears of Kṛttikā/infatuation with the rational mind?]

Padas

Kṛttikā ends the first cycle of soul development as its padas are the last four of the zodiac. Knowledge is developed and a link is created to the next cycle. Kṛttikā has two pushkara padas. There is only one pada in Kṛttikā Aries and it is pushkara. All planets do well here specially the Sun and Mars. The Taurus Kṛttikā can nurture the Agni of Kṛttikā. Mars and Venus will get exalted by pada and Jupiter and Mercury debilitated by pada. Pisces pada is pushkara.1

Pada 1 Pada 2 Pada 3 Pada 4
Ruler Brhaspati (Sagittarius) Śani (Capricorn) Śani (Aquarius) Brhaspati (Pisces)
Position 26° 40′ Mesha – 0° Vṛṣabha 0° – 3° 20′ Vṛṣabha 3° 20′ – 6° 40′ Vṛṣabha 6° 40′ – 10° Vṛṣabha
Bija Mantra अ Aa ई I/Ee उ U ए E/Aye
Effects Good Good Affects father & mother Good

Mantras

Gemstones & Metals

Interests & Careers

  • Spiritual teaching and advising
  • Politics
  • Military careers
  • Intelligence, brilliance, charisma, genius
  • Theater, center-stage roles
  • Music, dance, singing
  • Modeling and fashion design
  • Gambling and gamesmanship
  • Speculative ventures
  • Building contractors
  • Courtly admirers and entitlements

Auspiciousness/Engage In

  • Cooking fires, fire works, burning of sacred fire (Agnihotra) (due to Mishra/Sadharan nature and Misra quality)
  • Accepting fire (Brahmin ritual)
  • Using poison (due to Mishra/Sadharan nature)
  • Fearsome works, arresting, adulteration (mixing) (due to Mishra/Sadharan nature)
  • Rash actions, rash movements, and direct action
  • Hot, fierce competition, discussions, and debate
  • Working with metals
  • Performing routine, mundane, day to day activities and duties (Misra)
  • Donation of ox to for fulfillment of one’s desires (Vrashotsarga) (due to Mishra/Sadharan nature)

Works prescribed under cruel (Ugra, Karur) constellations may also be performed here.  Some believe that works of sweet/delicate & friendly (Mridu & Maitri) constellations can also be performed while Candra is in Kṛttikā.

Inauspiciousness/What to Avoid

As with all Nakṣatras, there are both auspicious and inauspicious characteristics to be considered. A day in which Candra is in Kṛttikā is not a day to start anything of significant importance.

Ayurveda & Health Issues

Kṛttikā is indicative of the hips, loins, the upper, and the back portions of the head.

Kṛttikā health problems include neck aches, throat soreness, headaches, fevers, and malaria.

Ficus racemosa (or the Cluster fig tree) is sacred to Kṛttikā.


  1. Komilla Sutton. The Nakshatras. p. 56.