All kidding aside, let me try to briefly but concisely address the huge body of knowledge concerning astrological remedies. Think of this message as a "Consumer's Guide" to astrological remedies. Make no mistake - there are many people out there who are only eager to take your hard earned money and give nothing but heartache in return-some of them are very well known. These charlatans prey upon people's desperation and ignorance. Some of these frauds even comprise the founding membership of a fancy sounding, so-called watch-dog organization called the Planetary Gemologists Association. Or they might be found running massive “specializing” in jyotish remedies.
First and foremost please keep in mind that the guiding principle for prescribing any type of remedy is that it must be as Sattvic as possible. The farther one strays from this principle the more one has to become educated about possible negative repercussions. As you will see later I believe that a prasiddha mantra is the most Sattvic and most suitable of all remedies. Secondly, one must have faith in remedies, it does not have to be an undying absolutely resolute faith but it is doubtful that one who does not believe at least somewhat will get any substantial results. Lastly, please understand that many times much of our most difficult karma is fixed and quite difficult to completely remedy.
Let me address each major category of remedy one section at a time. Let’s first start with gemstones as these seem to be everybody's favorite. It bears mentioning that there are many schools of thought regarding remedies, particularly when it comes to gemstones. The rules for gemstone prescription given herein are quite conservative; I fully realize some exceptions can be made if one’s constellations indicate so. In addition, if we really examine most people's charts, we soon realize that its not really our moderately favorable planets that need to be strengthened but rather our most troublesome planets which need to be pacified (Certainly you can do both!)- pacification of troublesome planets cannot be accomplished with gemstones (Though a benefic planet casting a favorable aspect on a troubled planet might be strengthened with a gemstone- as long as certain other conditions apply). For instance, take Pisces lagna. Jupiter is lord of 1st and 10th of course, so it is especially important to the native, as it is lagna lord and also ruling the house of career. What if we find Jupiter debilitated in Capricorn and aspected by two first class malefics? Will a yellow sapphire help in this situation? No, no it won't. Not according to my knowledge at least. A yellow sapphire in this situation could really make things worse! Though perhaps if Moon (Lord of trine- 5th house) casts an aspect on Ju and was favorably placed in the chart a pearl could then be used to indirectly aid Jupiter. My point in saying all this is that gems are seldom the remedy we think we need.
Although gemstone usage is not indicated as a remedy in the BPHS, other texts such as the Garuda purana speak of their power quite exhaustively, the Agni purana too but to a much lesser extent. The legendary astrologer, Varahahimira, extensively treats the "mystical" power of gems in his magnificent astrological treatise, the Brihat Samhita. Harihara, in his monumental work, Prasna Marga, offers explicit advice on imbibing procedures that can be used for gems. Selecting and wearing gemstones, jyotish quality gemstone that is, is an expensive and often confusing proposition. Ask 5 different astrologers for a gemstone recommendation and you may very well end up with 5 different suggestions.
To get straight to the point, gems should only be worn for functional benefics, meaning, trinal rulers. Complications arise when the graha (Unless it is Lagnesh) in question rules both a trine and a dusthana, if this is the case we must look at whether the dusthana is the mooltrikona sign of the graha in question; if it is, it may be wise to pass on wearing the stone. Many may disagree with my position but I am trying to be as safe as possible here. Also, I personally would not advise anybody to wear a gem of an inherent malefic (Unless perhaps it is lagnesh) but rather, to wear the gem of a moderately well placed inherent AND functional benefic (trinal ruler). Remember, safety first- we do not want to take any chances with stones of inherent malefics (Unless perhaps lagnesh), especially because you will be likely spending quite a bit of money and you want to get it right the first time! Now, what do I mean by moderately well placed? It means that the graha whose gemstone you will be donning in the hope of bettering your life should be placed in trine or kendra AND in at least a neutral sign. If the graha in question is very well placed I see no point in wearing its stone, as it is already strong. Remember, more is not always better! Some astrologers may look at the planet's position in D-9 and other divisional charts as well, not to mention a chalita chart. Just remember, stones indiscriminately amplify the energies that a given planet is emanating in your chart. They do not turn bad guys into good guys but they can make good guys into better guys.
Now there is a theory that even a badly placed lagna lord's stone can be worn, as it is said that lagnesh always works for the best. I think this view has substantial merit. For those of you who are really interested in all this gemstone business, there are Nadi texts (See the Shukra Nadi in particular) which have their own specific suggestions for stone usage depending on one's planetary configurations!
As most people are wearing stones for material upliftment it may be helpful to look at the planet's position from arudha lagna and/or Rajya Pada- this is a more controversial statement as a precious few very fine astrologers I know of do not take a planet’s position from AL as an important consideration, though only insofar as gemstone prescription is concerned. At the risk of driving you crazy by introducing yet another theory, some astrologers say not to wear the stone of the atma karaka- though I don't really see the validity of this rule. Here are two points that you can take very seriously. One must never wear the stone of a planet that is inherently inimical to lagnesh. In addition, one must never simultaneously wear two inimical stones.
As an aside, I've not seen anyone really discuss the timing or rather the dynamic use of gemstones. I am very curious to see how ashtakavarga analysis and dasha/gochara analysis comes into play. Say you have Pisces lagna, Jupiter is an unabashed inherent and functional benefic for this lagna. Say Ju is moderately well placed and not possessing extremely high shad-bala but according to ashtakavarga Jupiter gives a very low BAV score in XYZ house and is currently transiting XYZ house. Might it be wise then to shelve the gem at this juncture? I don't know. But the question is highly interesting.
Now we come to how to select and wear the stone itself. Many questions abound in this area with mostly no real definitive answers. Among a few of the most oft repeated queries: Should the stone be natural or can it be treated? Does it have to touch the skin? What are the clarity and size requirements? What hand should I wear it on? Which finger should I put it on?
Let’s start with the natural vs. treated issue. To be on the safe side I highly suggest getting an all natural, non-heated stone. Each stone has treatments that are specific to it. For instance; red coral could by dyed, a yellow sapphire could be heated, an emerald could be filled with oil...etc...Don't let your gem dealer talk you into getting a treated stone, insist on getting certification from a reputable laboratory (GIA for diamonds and AGL for colored stones- there are other reputable labs) that the stone in question has not been treated in any way- this is important as most jewelers in India essentially sell junk stones. A jyotish quality yellow sapphire can go from anywhere from 500 to 1000 USD per carat. How much did you pay for you yellow sapphire? I've seen some yellow sapphires sell for 100 to 200 USD. If you buy these you are essentially buying yellow colored glass- its pure junk that will not do anything for you. The pearl may be an exception to the "all-natural" rule. Real, round, completely natural, white pearls are simply unavailable unless you are willing to spend thousands of dollars. If you must, try going for a tissue -nucleated South Sea pearl, as big and white and round as possible- I cannot guarantee that these will work for you though!
Now let’s discuss clarity and size. In my mind the answer to this question is cut and dried. Always pick clarity over size if you must pick one over the other. You, must, must get an eye-clean gem at the least. Eye clean means there are no visible "defects" in the gem that can be seen without the aid of magnification. The following is NOT an exhaustive list of common flaws found in particular gemstones: no black specks in yellow sapphires, no dents in pearls, no specks in diamonds, no white specks or hairline cracks on the backside of red corals (Most Red Corals come in a cabochon cut- you must inspect the backside as many defects are usually present here). They say that it is virtually impossible to get a suitable eye clean emerald these days (without fine hairline fractures) - my answer to this is quite simple- if you can't find one then don't get one. We cannot bend the rules and allow for exceptions just because mother nature does not gift us with the same treasures she gave in abundance when the ancient texts dealing with gems were written. I know what you are thinking. Why did he say what he said about the Pearl ? Isn't an artificially nucleated pearl bending the rules? Yes, it probably is...so maybe you shouldn't get that either. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? I'm not really fond of gems as remedial measures; there are simply too many qualifications to consider.
I just don't know how big a particular stone must be for it to become effective or whether this even matters at all. Some tantric authors like Harish Johari spell out very specific size requirements and prohibitions. I can't really say if this is valid. My instinct tells me that one should get something reasonably large, say a yellow sapphire that is 2 carats or more-obviously this can't be done with diamonds or rubies unless you are mega-rich. In which case I must ask, what do you need a stone for any way?! I estimate that a jyotish quality Ruby may exceed 10,000 USD in cost! Yes, you read that right. Before you are completely overcome with disappointment at thought of not being able to afford a stone you should know that many astrological gem dealers also offer much less expensive alternate stones. Having never used them, I cannot comment on their efficacy. I suppose if you can acquire one for a modest price it might be worth trying. In fact, Varahamihira does mention some of the alternates in his Brihat Samhita.
I'll quickly go over some other considerations. The best bet is to wear the stone on the right hand, ring finger. Pendants should be fine too. Of course there is the concept of Ratna- Arpana which involves donating a stone in order to reap it benefits, clearly in this case the stone never touches the body at all! To be on the safe side have the stone set so it touches the skin- though it will probably work fine even if its somewhere really close but not touching your skin. When you are ready to put the stone on for the first time do it on the day of the graha who rules the stone, do it in the hora of that graha as well, so early morning. Though do soak the stone in milk overnight first. You may even wish to recite the graha or devata mantra for the stone in question each week on the appropriate day and hour. There is one last crucial consideration I have left out and this involves testing the stone before purchasing it.
You must, must test the stone for a week or so before purchasing it. If your jeweler refuses then you need to find another more accommodating jeweler. Speaking of jewelers...don't ever let a jeweler give you a gem recommendation, the conflict of interest is simply too high. Back to the topic at hand, carefully tape the stone to your hand or tuck it under your pillow and "test-drive" it. Bad thoughts, feelings, dreams and events apart from the every-day bad stuff we think about and experience would instantly lead me to discard the stone- don't throw it away, send it back to your jeweler Do NOT ignore a negative Nimmita (Omen)! Ok, I've said a mouthful, lets move on to other commonly prescribed remedial measures.
Moving on to rudraksha beads. These fascinating beads are actually the dried seeds of the rudraksha berry. There is much Puranic lore available on the subject of rudraksha beads. However, one thing not seen in Puranic literature is the mapping of various rudraksha beads to different planets; this seems a marketing gimmick concocted by con artists of yesteryear and continuously perpetuated by con artists ever since. Most Indians know that the rudraksha bead is associated with Lord Shiva. The Padma purana says that the 5 Mukhi rudraksha is suitable for all to wear. So if you want to wear a 5 Mukhi then you can likely do so. Legitimate 5 mukhi rudraksha beads are easy to find and very inexpensive- though my guess is that you will need to sincerely practice Shiva mantras on a consistent basis to empower them. Nepalese rudraksha beads are priced higher than the Java variety. Don't ask me which is better. I have only experimented with the Nepalese variety. Some people say that all rudraksha beads are user-friendly; in my personal experience this statement does not at all hold water. There is a very famous member of the Planetary Gemologist association who touts the 14 Mukhi rudraksha bead as the be-all and end-all of remedies, as you might guess by now; one size does not fit all, especially the very expensive 14 Mukhi. It is my belief that rudraksha beads are primarily tools to be used to aid in meditation; indeed I have experienced their tranquilizing effects first-hand. But as a remedy for the material world I do not think these are very appropriate. So don't fall for the tall claims made by the various too numerous to count rudraksha bead hypsters. There is a very well known seller of rudraksha beads on the internet- they market the beads as if they are some kind of talisman that can be used to gain advantage is any type of situation. They sell custom malas for attracting the opposite sex, for winning in litigation, for enhancing your business prospects...well the list goes on and on. Oh yes, and they also sell 200 dollar “jyotish quality” gemstones. Caveat emptor. Well, I think I've said all I wanted to say about rudraksha beads.
If something can be sold, people will figure out how sell it. Nothing is sacred, perhaps nothing ever was, not in this yuga at least. Dear reader, have you noticed the proliferation of dubious yagya promoters on the world wide web? Crudely put, yagya or yajna is essentially a Vedic fire ritual, performed by priests on your behalf, in order to attain certain goals which are essentially stated in the sankalpa (An opening statement if you will). A (with many, many members), that “specializes’ in jyotish remedies, which I alluded to in my introductory paragraph, sells all varieties of yagya for the not so small price of 600 USD and up. That’s not a small amount of money for most Westerners and is a staggering sum for your typical Indian. A yagya should be performed by the pious and pure, and by those who thoroughly know the strict procedures! Individuals like these are rare- they mostly belonged to another Yuga. Furthermore, a yagya should not be arranged by the ravenously money minded charging exorbitant sums. Far better to learn how to do a simple yagya or homa in the sanctity of one’s home - this is how real progress can be made. Not by paying off a money-minded mercenary to pay God knows who, if anyone at all, to chant away your sins. It would be totally logical and expected at this point to inquire into the difference between buying a gem from a money-minded jeweler versus arranging a yagya via a money-minded intermediary and a just as money-minded priest! I think the main issue here is that a gem is an object that it will do its job no matter the character of the person who sells it to you (assuming it is prescribed correctly and is of jyotish quality) whereas a yagya heavily depends on the individual psyche of the one who performs it. In the same way a judge will not listen to the statements of a mentally deranged attorney it is doubtful that whatever forces are being called upon in a yagya will listen to a corrupted priest (and believe me, there are many). Please do not waste your time or money on these yagya services. Much better to learn how to perform them in a simple manner by yourself, sincerely and on a consistent basis.
To conclude, I will ever so briefly tackle the vast and complicated subject known as mantra shastra. Mantras can be used for both material and spiritual benefits. Often, a mantra will make an impact on both a material and spiritual level- this is a great thing! When practicing mantra, three items are critical: devotion, pronunciation and consistency. A good 108 bead rudraksha mala or tulsi mala would be VERY nice as well. A few repetitions here or there won’t do the trick- stick with one mantra and practice for an hour or two everyday, or at least 30 to 40 minutes- for as long as it takes. Don’t go by this 40 day rule nonsense; while I am certainly sure that more than a few people have experienced amazing things from the outset of their practice this is more the exception than the rule. Think about anything you have done in life that was worth achieving, did the results come quickly or easily? I bet the answer is no. Anything worth achieving takes time to fructify, there are no short-cuts.
Choose a prasiddha mantra which is safe to recite like “Om Namo Narayanaya” , “Om Namah Shivaya”, or simply “Namah Shivaya”, these do not require initiation and as stated, are safe. The Gayatri mantra is also prasiddha but I believe is better recited after receiving initiation from a competent guru. Vedic mantras like the Gayatri really require good pronunciation. If you really want to “focus your fire” then reciting a prasiddha mantra of one’s Ishta Devata would be simply fantastic. Just remember, stick with one mantra- don’t jump around from mantra to mantra. Various texts have mapped out the devata correspondence with the planets- please refer to BPHS, Prasna Marga or Jaimini.
If you want to recite a non-prasiddha mantra then you should know that there are various tantric texts which specialize in highly complex rules governing the prescription of such mantras- these are quite complicated and much beyond my comprehension at present. In my estimation it would take a life-time to fully understand and master all the rules. Seek somebody qualified to assist you if you desire to practice a non-prasiddha mantra. I won’t name any of the texts here because I do not want to encourage their casual use. You can't just wily-nily start reciting bija mantras or even certain Vedic mantras- they could be inimical to you even if your pronunciation and rhythm are perfect!
As a bonus I'll quickly address fasting and charity. A word of caution first, I know the least about these remedies. Some say to fast on the day of the upapada lord in order to improve relationship prospects. Others say fasting on the day of the UL lord cannot be done if the UL lord rules the 2nd house. I quite frankly do not who is correct. It is personally hard for me to believe that fasting on any day would incur you negative karma. Of course I have seen people fast on days owned by the troublesome planets in their chart- so I guess you can fast on Saturday if you Saturn is not favorable for you. I do not know if fasting works- I have not tried it. At the very least fasting once a week would be very beneficial to your health (Please ask your doctor first) so you really have nothing to lose by trying it.
The concept of charity as a remedial measure is interesting. Perhaps try giving on the day, hour and proper nakshatra transit of the planet which is troubling you, it is prudent to either give an article related to the planet in question or give money to a charity that is associated with the troublesome planet. For example, if Saturn is troubling you then you might want to make a substantial (But reasonable, I want you to still be able to eat!) gift on a Saturday- on the hora of Saturn, perhaps also incorporating tithi and nakshatra elements to a charity that feeds lonely, elders who are unable to procure their own food. In the end I cannot say how effective this would be. I have not personally gone this route nor have spoken to anybody who has in a serious way.
The form of remedial measure that will work best for the native has to be determined by somebody competent . It will likely be of no use to prescribe a mantra to somebody who will not recite it or has an exceedingly weak 5th lord (Lord of house of mantra). Similarly, some planetary configuration may preclude the use of charity as an effective remedial measure but may demand fasting as the optimal route etc...
Good luck and please do not hesitate to ask me any questions and/or to correct my very limited knowledge. Please note: I do NOT give gemstone recommendations nor do I prescribe any remedies for that matter. I do NOT give recommendations for jewelers. I will NOT refer you to anybody either. Please do not fall prey to astrologers selling expensive remedies . One astrologer with a presence on the web comes to mind, he claims his remedies are almost guaranteed to work because he uses a "special" prasna methodology only known to him (and a few "select" others) in order to determine if his remedy prescription will work- please do not succumb to this patent nonsense. Please do not fall prey to any astrologer trying to sell you an expensive kavach and things of this sort.