This Tiger Year Losar, let us talk about Tibetan astrology

On March 3, Tibetans as well as other communities from the Himalayan region welcome the year of the Tiger. Some other Asian communities, including Vietnamese and Chinese, welcomed Tiger year a month back. So first of all, Happy New Year or as we say, Losar la Tashi Delek.

If you are born in the year of the Tiger (from around March of each of these years: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010 or 2022) then some of the characteristics you are believed to have are the following, according to some with knowledge of Tibetan astrology: On the positive side, you are generous, kind, mighty and charismatic; protective of your family members and those under your sphere of influence. You have a love of small birds and animals. You do not shy away from challenges, are humorous and musically inclined. On the negative side, you are talkative, suspicious and a contrarian. You are liable to have extreme emotional experiences, sometimes happy, at other times sad, but you don’t need to be pitied. You are capable of selecting the best for yourself.

Some of the well-known people born in the Tiger year include Everester Tenzing Norgay Sherpa (1914), Jiang Qing (wife of Mao Zedong, 1914), British Queen Elizabeth II (1926), Cuban leader Fidel Castro (1926), Chinese leader Jiang Zemin (1926), Journalist Peter Jennings (1938), Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan (1938), Hong Kong democracy activist Martin Lee (1938), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (1950), retired Indian diplomat Nirupama Rao (1950), singer Stevie Wonder (1950), Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh (1962), Bhutanese Prince Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1986), Lady Gaga (1986), Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt (1986), etc.

Among Tibetans, well known personalities born in the Tiger year include the first recorded King Nyatri Tsenpo (among versions, one says he was born in the Wood-Tiger year in 127 BC, another says he was born in the Fire-Tiger year in 115 BC), the first Karmapa Dhuesum Khyenpa (Iron-Tiger year in the second Rabjung cycle, corresponding to 1110), the 10th Panchen Lama (1938), Buddhist, and Bon scholar and master Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche (1938).

Astrology plays an important role in the lives of the Tibetan community, from birth to other significant periods in an individual’s life like education, career, livelihood, travel, sickness, and till death and life after. In this one’s “year symbol,” or “Lothak” as it is known in Tibetan, is very important. Since each year is believed to be connected to a specific symbol (explained below), the “Lothak” is the first point of reference whenever someone has to consult an astrologer. There is a tradition to consult lamas or astrologers to do divination and astrological calculations to determine propitiousness of events or actions connected to an individual and to identify antidotes and act on them when there are obstacles.

To provide some background, Tibetan astrology is a system evolved from Indian and Chinese traditions. History says in the sixth century, the then 32nd Tibetan Emperor Namri Songtsen sent scholars to China to study astrology. In the 8th century, Guru Padmasambhava came to Tibet from India bringing along with him knowledge about the role of elements in an individual’s life. In the 11th century, the Sri Kalachakra Tantra from India, which forms the basis of modern Tibetan astrology, was translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan reportedly by Gijo Dawa Woeser, and thereafter the tradition of the annual Tibetan almanac was begun. Within it, there arose two sub-systems, the Phukluk tradition (which subsequently has come to be regarded as the official system) and the Tsurluk tradition (established by the Karmapas). During the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century, Desi Sangye Gyatso, his regent, composed books on Tibetan astrology, which remain in use today.

Prior to the spread of Buddhism, it is believed that the traditional Bon religion had a system of astrology and medicine.

Having said that, a year on a Tibetan calendar has four components: the years since 127 BC when the first king ruled Tibet, the element, zodiac sign and a 60-year Rabjung cycle. The elements are earth, metal, water, wood and fire. They are biennial and separately identified as male or female. The zodiac signs (known in Tibetan as Lothak) are the 12 animals, Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Hen, Dog and Pig. The 60-year Rabjung cycle of dating was introduced by Gijo Dawa Woeser and began in 1027 AD. Thus the new year in full is the Male Water-Tiger year, the 2149th in the Tibetan Royal Year, in the 17th Rabjung cycle. This year is the 2149th since the first Tibetan king period and the 36th year of the 17th Rabjung, which began in 1987.

It is said that one who is born in a Tiger year is compatible with one who is born in the Pig year (1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, etc.), Dog year (1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, etc.) and Horse year (1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, etc.). Those incompatible with Tiger year are people born in the Snake year (1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, etc.) and Monkey year (1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, etc.).

Since this is the Water-Tiger year, the characteristics of people born in this combination year (1962, 2022, etc), are the following: You are big-hearted, athletic, ambitious, innovative. You are also full of self-praise, and it will be difficult for others to correct you. The colors that complement you are blue, white and green. You are not compatible with those who are born in the Pig, Monkey, Dragon and Snake years. You will either have one to three sons.

I am writing this at a time when the world is confronted with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So here are the Lothaks of the main leaders connected with the crisis. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine would be a Fire Snake (having born in January 1978),

President Vladimir Putin of Russia is Water Dragon (1952), President Joe Biden is Water Horse (1942), Josep Borrell Fontelles, high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is Fire Pig, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, is an Earth Dog (1958), and Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, is Earth Pig (1959).

My Lothak is Metal-Mouse! Those who can put the Lothak in context with the Rabjung cycle will be able to calculate how old or young an individual is by just knowing the Lothak.

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Bhuchung K. Tsering

Bhuchung K. Tsering joined the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington, DC in 1995 and is currently the head of the Research and Monitoring Unit. He worked as a journalist with Indian Express in New Delhi, and as an official of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in Dharamsala, India, before joining ICT.
He is a member of the Task Force set up by the Central Tibetan Administration to work on issues relating to the dialogue process with the Chinese leadership. He was also a member of the team led by the envoys of H.H. the Dalai Lama in the discussions that they had with the Chinese leadership between 2002 and 2010.
He has contributed articles on Tibet and related issues to Indian, Nepalese, Tibetan, Swiss and American journals. He has also testified in Congress on behalf of the International Campaign for Tibet and spoken at Universities and Think Tanks.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Buchung la, very well researched on Tibetan astrology.
    It would also be good to give a brief synopsis on the kalachara text translation by lotsawa Dalai Woeser from Ngari in 1027. started rabjung calculation and first rabjung fire female rabbit. Rabjung has 60 years and currently 17th. Rabjung is added with 5 elements Fire, earth, metal, water and wood. has one year male and the next year female. bogyalo is 2022+127 = 2149. 127 is birth year of first king of Tibet nyatri tsenpo.