Manglik Dosha (“The Blemish of Mars”) is defined as a birth that occurs whenever Mars occupies bhavas one, two, four, seven, eight or twelve in a horoscope, as counted from the Ascendant, from the Moon, or from Venus. This is a planetary combination that is easy to spot. It is widely known, and inspires (frequently unnecessary) concern among astrologers and their clients alike. These factors make it very popular with immature jyotishis of limited knowledge, which may be why the notion of Kuja Dosha is now gaining such wide circulation in the West.
More than half the world’s population must suffer from Kuja Dosha, since it occurs in half of all horoscopes when reckoned from the Ascendant, also in half of those computed from the Moon, and again in half of all charts figured from Venus. Its exaggerated dire results, however, which include the early death of the life partner, clearly do not occur in the substantial majority of the population that Kuja Dosha should theoretically afflict.
Central to the issue of understanding the Kuja Dosha tradition is an awareness of canons of Jyotisha in Languages other than Sanskrit. To the best of our knowledge, only a very few classical Sanskrit works very briefly refer to the positions of mars that obstruct marriage, one being Vaidyanatha Dikshita’s relatively recent Jataka Parijata, another being the older Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra of Parashara. Jataka Parijata mentions it in but one of its thousands of verses. The first verse of a section called “Combinations for Excellent Brides” says: “Mars occupying the second, twelfth, seventh, the fourth, or the eighth bhava in the horoscope may cause the death of the wife. If Mars is in one of these positions in the chart of the wife to be selected, Mars will be harmful to the husband.”
Towards the end of his section on female horoscopy, and immediately on the heels of his definitions for Visha Kanyas, Parashara describes the marital affliction created by Mars, though he does not openly identify the combination as Kuja Dosha. He says ” There is no doubt that the husband will die when in a woman’s horoscope Mars occupies the lagna or the twelfth, fourth, seventh or eighth bhavas from the Ascendant, and is not associated with or aspected by a benefic. The same combination that makes a woman a widow also renders a man a widower.
But when a man and a woman who both have this placement (of Mars) join in marriage, the effects of the combination cancel.”
Mangalik Dosha is usually referred to the North and West India as “Being Mangalik”. The word “mangala”, which usually means “auspicious”, is also a name for Mars. Some Jyotishis believe that Mars is called Mangala less because it is innately auspicious than because a native must perform many penances, sacrifices, and other auspicious actions to avert its evil effects.
Cancellations of mangalik Dosha are so many that at least one will operate for the majority of those afflicted by the combination. Perhaps the main lesson to be gained by the whole cancellation exercise is to get us out of the mindset of thinking of Kuja Dosha as something set in stone. We are better off regarding it more as an important factor in marital happiness that must, however, be read in the context of the horoscope as a whole.
Generally speaking, Indian astrological tradition teaches that anyone who has mangalik Dosha can safely marry anyone else who has a mangalik Dosha of approximately equal strength, because the mangalik doshas are said to cancel each other. Exactly what the original implications of the cancellation were is not a moot point, but we can wonder if both partners were regarded as evenly matched because both were expected to die early. Or was it that both partners would be feisty enough to deal with one another’s Martian qualities?
We believe that the “fit competitor” theory is more likely to be the truth operating behind the matching of mangalik dosha, rather than its traditionally described purpose of preventing loss of partner. Mars, at his best, is a feisty and free-spirited graha that expresses his opinions forcefully; the worst, this forcefulness becomes aggression. If one member of a couple has a Mars that is markedly stronger than the other’s is the one will tend to dominate the other – which is no prescription for a healthy relationship. When both people have Mars positions of relatively equal strength, their assertiveness is relatively equal, and each can efficiently hold up his or her side of an argument without having to resort either to abject submission or to violence.