Nakshatra is basically a star cluster. In Hindu astrology the term nearly always refers to 27 specific star-clusters, or constellations, which lie along the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the apparent yearly path of the sun as seen from the earth. The distance between these constellations happens to be
approximately equal. Each nakshatra embodies particular ideas, powers and forces of nature. When a planet comes into alignment with one of these nakshatra (from the view of an individual standing on the earth), the rays of the stars combine with those of the planet to influence the earth.
All of the planets, one after another, pass through the ecliptic and align with each of the 27 nakshatras.
The most important “nakshatra” is the one the moon is currently aligned with, as the swift-moving moon’s influence is the most significant to daily life on Earth. All the nakshatras given in Vedic Calendar are for the moon. This means that the nakshatra currently in effect is the one that the moon has “conjoined.” (Similarly, the current rasi, Zodiac sign, is the one that the moon has conjoined.)
THE IMPORTANCE OF NAKSHATRA
A unique energy is exerted on the planets by each nakshatra. The nakshatras are considered so important that constellational or nakshatra astrology is a field of Hindu astrology in itself. Nakshatra consideration is a critical element in muhurta—discerning the nature of a given period and
choosing auspicious times for various activities. When you go to a Hindu temple and ask for a special puja, known as an archana, the priest asks, “What is your nakshatra (or birth star)?” He is asking for the name of the constellation (nakshatra) the moon was aligned with at the time you were born at the place you were born. In other words, a line going out from you at your time of birth and passing through the moon would point to a constellation. That is your nakshatra. The priest then repeats your nakshatra during the worship liturgy, along with your name and family lineage. This is your biodata for the information of the inner-plane helpers. It is helpful to know when one’s nakshatra comes into alignment with the moon each month, as this day is often experienced as emotionally intense. By knowing this beforehand, one can take extra care so as to not over-react to difficult karmic experiences that may manifest.
In Vedic Calendar, the current nakshatra is the fourth item in the fourth column of each day’s designations, e.g., Visakha Nakshatra. The twenty-seven nakshatras are:
Asvini, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrigasira, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pushya, Aslesha, Magha, Purvaphalguni, Uttaraphalguni, Hasta, Chitra, Svati, Visakha, Anuradha, Jyeshtha, Mula, Purvashadha, Uttarashadha, Sravana, Dhanishtha, Satabhishaj, Purvabhadrapada, Uttarabhadrapada and Revati.