In Vedic Astrology Jyotiṣa, the Lagna ( Sanskrit) or Ascendant, is the first moment of contact between the soul and its new life on earth in Jyotiṣa.
One's Ascendant, or Lagna, is the degree of the rāśi (or sign) which is rising on the eastern horizon at the time of one's birth. The Most Effective Point (MEP) of the Ascendant - Lagna, is that point of the zodiacal belt that coincides with the position of the horizon at the time of birth, for a given place of birth.
This is more specifically called the Udaya Lagna to differentiate it from charts in which other points are used to determine the first house of the horoscope (see below.) The Udaya Lagna is the most influential and important sign within the natal chart, and the characteristics of that sign will to some extent be impressed upon the personality of the person or event being born. This sign will be considered the first house of the horoscope, and the enumeration of the other houses follows in sequence through the rest of the signs of the zodiac. In this way, the Lagna does not only delineate the rising sign, but also all the other houses in the chart.
However, the Ascendant is not the only Lagna used in Jyotiṣa. Another important Lagna is the Janma Rāśi, which is the rāśi (or sign) in which the moon is found at birth. A Candra Lagna chart, which is also an important tool used to analyze the horoscope, is a chart in which the Moon's house is treated as the first house of the horoscope and the enumeration of the other houses are made starting from that rāśi and continuing in sequence throughout the rest of the zodiac signs. The astrologer will use the Candra Lagna to see the personality from the perspective of his or her mind, since the Moon is predominant symbol of the mind among planets.
The Rāśi Cakra (that is, the horoscope where the first house is the house in which the rising sign is found) is the still the most important natal chart, but charts can be cast for different analytical purposes. The primary Lagnas (that is, houses designated as the First House, from which the rest of the houses are enumerated) used to analyze the horoscope are:
- Udaya lagna (rising sign, or Ascendant as first house)
- Candra Lagna (first house counted from the sign of the natal Moon, used to anlayze mind, memory and mental activity, and also used to help determine how fertile a woman will be.)
In addition, the ṛṣi Parāśara mentioned a few other special ascendants or Viśeṣa Lagni. to be used in special circumstances, including:
- Sūrya Lagna (ascendant counted from sign where the natal Sun is located)
- Kāraka Lagna (significator taken as ascendant for all grahas)
- Varṇaḍā Lagna (for social company)
- Śrī Lagna (for prosperity and marriage)
- Indu Lagna (for wealth)
- Horā Lagna (for financial prosperity)
- Gati Lagna (for name and fame)
Lastly, there are some Lagnas which are determined by factors outside the chart, and are used for electional and horary charts. These are:
- Dig Lagna (first house is determined by compass direction)
- Śabda Lagna (first house is determined by the "words a client utters")
- Sparṣa Lagna (first house is determined by a part of the body which is touched)
- Nāma Lagna (first house is determined by the numerology of the person's name)