The Face We Show The World – Our Rising Sign

“It’s so nice of you… admirable…” a girl said to me in the bus in Iowa.

“What?” I asked puzzled.

“You go back to India after every semester to attend to your family, and then you come back each semester to study,” the girl said.

I laughed and said, “No! Nothing like that. I’m not even married. So no question of attending to any family.”

“Oh. We thought it curious that you go back to India after every semester, and thought that might be the reason,” the girl, a fellow university student, replied.

I, in my late 30s then, was doing Masters in Computer Science at The University of Iowa. Most fellow students, of all streams, were much younger to me in their 20s. I returned to India after every semester for health reasons. Instead other students used their vacation time to do internships and see USA. Naturally some concluded that I go back to attend to a family.


This is the fifth article of the series on Astrology. Here I share with you, the importance of the “Rising Sign”. What is the Rising Sign, how finding my Rising Sign helped me, and how you may find yours and use it to your benefit.

The Sun Sign, the Moon Sign, and the Rising Sign give the basic sketch of our birth chart, our personality makeup, and our role here in this world. It is the most basic info to find out about yourself in astrological terms.

Finding my Rising Sign revealed how the world may be viewing me, the face I show to the world, the manner in which I want to be viewed by the world. As we live in society relating to others, finding our place here, this is a key aspect of our personality and present life here. The mirror shows us our physical face. It’s fantastic that Astrology can show us the internal, psychological face of our present avataar, giving us a chance to own it that much more explicitly. It enables us to put our best face forward in the world while being in alignment with how we experience our self internally.

As the Earth rotates on its axis forming a day, it seems as if the 12 zodiac signs go around the Earth in one day (much like it seems that the Sun is going around the Earth, rising and setting every day). Which was the zodiac rising on the eastern horizon when you were born? That is your Rising Sign. It’s also called the Ascendant. In Indian Astrology, it’s probably called the Lagna.


When I found the importance of the Rising Sign (and Moon Sign, which I’ve written about here), I asked my mother my time of birth. “8pm,” she said. Using an online chart calculation tool I found that my Rising Sign is Cancer.

Family, and the nurturing mother, is extremely important to Cancer. With the Rising Sign being an indicator of the psychological face we show the world, that conversation came to my mind where a fellow student thought I go back to India repeatedly to attend to family.

I took it as a piece of information – my Rising Sign is Cancer. That’s it. That information didn’t add any value. It provided no guidance on how to navigate life any better because it did not resonate with me internally.

My parent’s and brother’s family is extremely valuable to me. I truly wish them all well, but I feel a certain aloofness towards everyone. On the other hand, by virtue of the One I feel wedded to, I consider the world and universe to be my family. However I’ve learnt that its best to leave everyone and everything to its own designs. No point holding onto this “my family” emotion. Also, in many ways I learnt early on, that I have to seek inner strength and support elsewhere, not from my mother. Hence Cancer did not resonate with how I experienced myself internally.

Nevertheless, this body and this conceptual entity “Vani Murarka” lives with her parents and brothers. In fact really my parents, specially my mother has spent tremendous effort towards my physical well being – right from the medical emergency as a newborn child, to the years of my puberty, to how she air lifted me from Manipal when I became unwell. So I thought, OK, Cancer is my Rising Sign. But it didn’t help me any way.

Then this story took a turn.

Last year (2020) Dad was clearing out papers. He gave me my janm kundali (birth chart as per Indian Astrology) papers that he had with him. I looked at the main data mentioned therein – date and time of birth. The time of birth was 9:38pm, instead of the ballpark 8pm Ma had told me earlier. I recalculated my birth chart using an online calculation tool. This time the results were that my Rising Sign is Leo – the zodiac following Cancer. In those 98 minutes between 8pm and 9:38pm the Earth had turned further and Leo was now peeking 2o above the horizon.


8pm or 9:38pm, and whatever the date of birth – this is all just data given to me. What do I rely on? What do I choose? What do I consider the truth? The only way to figure that out is self-awareness. The benchmark for truth is only our internal experience. I had to choose between Cancer and Leo — or dump astrology partially or wholly as one of my the sources of guidance.

I chose Leo. I consider Leo to be my Rising Sign. Self-respect is extremely important to Leo. So it is for me. I have made some drastic choices in life based only on self-respect.

For example, 1 year into my career as software developer I said No to a job only because the company put a several-pages-long, shitty, demeaning agreement in front of me, instead of the crisp one-page matter-of-fact bond that was the norm in the industry then. The agreement was filled with language that made one feel like a slave and lousy about oneself. Dad, being a lawyer, gave me the legal advice, “This agreement will not stand in court. It is so one-sided. Hence, if you want to take the job you can take it, and leave anytime you want to.” However, signing on an agreement like that would mean I’m agreeing to the subtext. I did not sign. As a result, suddenly out of the industry and a field that I was enjoying so much, I experienced my first episode of depression. However, I never doubted my decision.


The point of guidance for Leo is to choose between pride and love. This is an extremely important guiding light for me. Every sign offers a seeming paradox and to unravel that paradox is a fantastic way to delve into the beauty and mystery of life. It is important that we be our self and also learn what a zodiac sign is trying to teach us. So Leo asks that we do not demean our self. How do we honor ourself and honor the other? I feel that is one of the fundamental things Leo teaches. We have to choose self-love, self-worth, but not pride. Leo asks us to value ourself, shine, and claim our place in the world.

I fought a long slow battle and now live independently in my own (rented) apartment near my parents and brothers. The driving force: self-respect. In the last lap of this battle, opposition, snide remarks, and the eagerness of some people to have me go left me feeling very homeless. One person was a point of guidance then – Dhruv. Dhruv is the child from the pauranic Hindu tale who was denied a place in his father’s lap by his step mother. Then, that small boy Dhruv, at the tender age of 5, went on a single-minded quest for self-respect, for his rightful place in the universe.

How is Leo meant to earn respect (most of all in its own eyes)?. Creativity and performance is the principle role of Leo in this world. Its job is to express. Chani Nicholas in You Were Born For This says, “Leo knows that any performance is, at its core, a spiritual act. The actor gets up on stage and allows the human condition, in all its glory and its goriness, to come forth in service of the whole. We need a true reflection of our pain, beauty, and burdens. It’s healing to witness someone else go through what we ourselves deal with. This is Leo’s gift.”

The creative capacity however can easily be embroiled in ego. Think attention-hungry film stars and poets. This happens to the vulnerable Leo. They seek attention. I have been secretly guilty of it too. But there is a very nice Ted Talk titled How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative. The answer is, go within — for self-respect and to express our creative self, as for  most everything in life. And yes, of all things, honor our inner voice – even if that means being in seeming opposition to external authority temporarily. Our inner voice is the Sun to follow.


Your Sun Sign points to your soul purpose, your Moon Sign, your mental-emotional inclinations, your Rising Sign, points to how you externally connect with the world – the psychological face you show to the world. Of all the data points in your birth chart, the Rising Sign is the most sensitive to time.

If you can find your time of birth, see what comes up as your Rising Sign using this (or any other) chart calculation tool . Read up about that sign and its element (fire/earth/air/water). Check for inner resonance to see if you can use what you read as guidance. Reading about the potential pitfalls of a sign can really help in that regard.

Knowing your Rising Sign (aka Ascendant) also enables you to tap into another aspect of Astrology called “Houses”. That brings your configuration picture into greater tangible focus.


If you don’t know your time of birth, it’s OK. You can still use the power of Astrology. You can’t find your Rising Sign without the time of birth. However, the placements of the Sun, Moon, Mars, slow moving planets like Saturn, Jupiter, and all other planets can still be of tremedous guidance. They have been for me. You can calculate ballpark charts for 00:00 am, 12 noon, and 11:59 pm of your date of birth. Based on these you will know the position of the Sun, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and other planets.


It’s much better to rely on your own interpretation of your chart than an astrologer’s interpretation. An astrologer’s interpretation will be colored by his-her own mindset. You Were Born For This by Chani Nicholas is a very good book to start learning how to read an astrological chart. You can do it yourself.

Astrology is a powerful tool to understand your personality. Note the time of birth of your child. If he-she-they is so inclined, empower him-her-they to use this tool to look within. We are not limited by the dictats of astrology and our personality. However, it helps to understand our personality and consciously use it to our advantage — for our sake and for the sake of the role we have to play in this world. Our personality is like the car we are presently driving. It makes sense to read up on the attributes of the make and model. It makes sense to learn some of the DIY servicing of the specific make and model of the car we drive.

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