Nakshatra Series – Uttara Shada
Uttara Shada, the pinnacle of solar energy, is represented in the celestial firmament by four bright stars, which the ancients saw as resembling an elephant’s tusk. In modem astronomy they are known as Sigma-Sagittarii (Ascella), Tau-Sagittarii, Phi-Sagittarii & Zeta-Sagittarii (Nunki). These four stars lie in the end portion of the astronomical constellation of Sagittarius. However it must be noted that this asterism’s influence extends into the first ten degrees of the zodiacal sign of Capricorn as well. Nunki, having a visual magnitude of 2.07, is the brightest among them. According to the legend, these stars correspond to the celestial area where the godly forces got their final victory over the demonic forces.
“Uttara Shada” translates into the “Latter Invincible One” or the “Latter Unconquered”. This meaning reveals the crux of this asterism, which has more to do with the term “final victory” than any other asterism. It also reveals that it forms a pair with its predecessor Purva Shada, in the same way as Purva Phalguni and Uttara Phalguni form a pair.
Its primary symbol is an ‘elephant’s tusk’. The tusk is the most prized part of an elephant’s anatomy. Elephants are usually very conscious of their tusks and zealously guard them. Researchers have found that the type, colour and size of the tusk has something to do with who becomes the leader of an elephant tribe. It follows that Uttara Shada has a lot to do with leadership issues.
Beside ornamentation, the tusk is useful to elephants for only one practical purpose – fighting’ lust like its predecessor, Purva Shada, Uttara Shada has a lot to do with aggressive actions like declarations of war. As mentioned earlier, Purva Shada and Uttara Shada form a pair and some scholars regard the tusk of an elephant as a symbol for Purva Shada as well. They see the left tusk as belonging to Purva Shada and the right tusk to Utara Shada.
In most ancient cultures where elephants were known, they were used as symbols of royal insignia. All kings, including Indra, the king of the gods, were supposed to ride on elephants during processions and sometimes even during warfare, Uttara Shada, therefore, has a direct relationship with kingship and all the responsibilities it entails. In a way, ‘responsibility’ is the most important keyword for this Nakshatra. For obvious reasons, an elephant’s tusk is also regarded as a symbol of penetration. It signifies penetrating mental insight and the ability to enter new fields of endeavour. It also conveys a certain sense of fearlessness and a go ahead spirit.
Uttara Shada has ten ruling deities known as the Ten Vishva devas. Vishva devas means Universal Gods. The names of these ten celestial beings translate into – “Goodness”, “Truth”, “Willpower”, “Skill”, ‘Time”, “Desire”, “Firmness”, “Ancestors”, “Brightness” and “Peak”. It is clear that all these ten gods are extremely benevolent and are representative of the primary virtues of the original, divine, creative spark. They can be said to be the guardians of all that represents the word “good” in the universe. In the same way, Uttara Shada represents all that is good and benign on our planet.
All the qualities expressed through the names of the Vishva devas find expression through Uttara Shada. This is what sets Uttara Shada apart from Purva Shada, even though most of Purva Shada’s qualities and functioning’s apply to it as well. As a result of qualities like willpower and firmness, Uttara Shada has far greater permanence than its predecessor. It is easy to see that all these qualities are borne out of honest introspection, which makes Uttara Shada more introspective in comparison to the extroverted, flamboyant Purva Shada.
It is interesting to note that one of these gods is named “Ancestors”. This must relate Uttara Shada to traditions as well as one t forefathers (see Magha). Uttara Shada is the first Nakshatra which tries to encompass the qualities of all its predecessors (Dhanishta and Revati do the same). One can associate will power with Ardra and Krittika, skilfulness with Hasta and Chitra, time with Bharani and Anuradha, desire with Bharani, Rohini, Mrigshira and Ashlesha, Goodness with Ashwini, Punarvasu and Pushya, Truth with Uttara Phalguni, Firmness with Uttara Phalguni, Vishakha and Jyeshta, Ancestors to Magha; Brightness with Rohini, Mrigshira, Purva Phalguni and Chitra and Peak with Mula and Purva Shada.
Ganesha, the elephant headed God, is the final presiding deity of this Nakshatra. Ganesha is the only deity with an elephant’s head. The story behind his getting an elephant’s head reveals a lot relating to Uttara Shada’s essence. Ganesha is always portrayed as having a full right tusk and a cut left tusk. This symbolises that Uttara Shada has a more complete and coherent energy in comparison to its mate Purva Shada. Ganesha can thus be seen as being strongly connected to both Ashada’s. Ganesha is seen as the “Lord of Beginnings” and “Remover of Obstacles” and his blessings are sought in all beginnings. Uttara Shada therefore relates to all kinds of beginnings. It is seen that activities started under the positive influence of this Nakshatra are blessed with success and permanence.
Nature and Functioning:
Many of Magha’s qualities like elegance, traditionalism, and authority and respect for courtesies are similar to Uttara Shada. However, Uttara Shada has a more positive, introspective and enduring aspect. It shows a person of very good qualities who may be valued for their advice. It gives a talent for commencing new enterprises and seeing them through to completion. It is a very practical and pioneering type of energy as most of its quarters fall in the practical and achievement orientated sign of Capricorn. It is a Nakshatra very concerned with structures, order and makes one adhere to activities and behaviour which are seen as respectable and sometimes conformist.
Its association with the ancestors shows a deep respect for traditional values and a desire to advocate these values in one’s behaviour and life. However the Saturnine influence on this Nakshatra can make a pe6onrigidandharsh, just as the piercing symbol of the elephant’s tusk suggests. It can show an intolerance for anything which does not follow normal respectable lines. Spiritual and philosophical motivations are directed towards finding practical solutions to life’s problems.
The sexual animal of this Nakshatra, the mongoose, is one of the few animals which can defeat a snake. In a way, Uttara Shada can be seen as the very opposite of all that Ashlesha stands for. Since they are placed opposite each other (6th/7th/8th house relationship), there is open enmity and warfare between these two Nakshatra’s. This Nakshatra has little tolerance for underhanded or deceptive influences. However the mongoose is cunning in its own way and its symbol suggests that one is courageous and clever in finding ways to forge ahead in difficult dangerous or complex situations. Natives under the strong influence of Uttara Shada tend to gravitate towards or attract situations in life which represent a lot of challenges. On a spiritual level it makes one very determined to pierce through the veil of illusion to uncover one’s true soul nature.
In the universal scheme of things, Uttara Shada relates to “apradhrishya Shakti”- the power to give permanent victory. Its symbolism has achievable goals above and the strength to achieve those goals below. This imagery is self-explanatory. The only thing worth mentioning is that this strength is not personal strength, but the collective strength which comes about due to an alliance with the higher forces of good, when one is wholeheartedly and unselfishly trying to establish righteousness over unrighteousness.