Mars Dosha or Kuja Dosha

Fact and Fiction

Mars Dosha, also known as Kuja Dosha, Mangal Dosha or Mangalik or Mangali, is one of the biggest nightmares for a Hindu parent, especially if they have a daughter of marriageable age. At that age the matrimonial prospects are sought and the horoscopes are exchanged for the purpose of match-making. If Mars is found to occupy certain positions in the horoscope of either the girl or the boy, the horoscope is said to be afflicted with Mars dosha and the boy/ girl is said to have a mangalik horoscope. The matrimonial negotiations are either called off or suitable remedies are sought to ward off the possible evil effects of Mars in the married life.
This is bad news for any parent, especially one having a daughter with this kind of Mars.
So what harm can Mars do?
Mars is deemed as the warrior planet in jyotish. In the navagraha pecking order, Kuja is the senapati, or the army general. A well placed Kuja gives courage, confidence and a fighting spirit to steer ahead in life. Mangal (the Auspicious, a synonym for Kuja) is responsible for conferring many kinds of dhan and raj yogas in a horoscope and can take a person to dizzy heights of success and authority. Closely associated with fire, Mars produces mechanical engineers, surgeons and people associated with heavy industries. The warrior planet also represents police, army and all kinds of defense careers. Mars is also called as Bhumi karak signifying land and real estate. One can’t be a realtor or property builder or own huge pieces of agricultural or residential land or houses without the blessings of Mars.
But then, Mars is a fiery planet. It is responsible for violent, quarrelsome, short-tempered, impulsive, dominating and rash behavior. Accidents, wounds, sudden death, disputes, disagreements are all said to be caused by Mars.  In a woman’s horoscope it might cause health issues related to conceiving a child. Therefore, when two persons decide to come together in a matrimonial bond a proper assessment of the position of Mars in their horoscopes is called for. This much makes sense.
What doesn't make sense is the way Mars dosha is represented in classic jyotish.  If Mars in a horoscope occupies the 1, 2, 4, 7, 8 or 12 house counted from the ascendant, Venus or Moon, it is said to cause  Mangalik dosh. This rule taken literally is so wide encompassing and so ridiculous that more than 75% of the people you meet in your life: family members; friends, colleagues, relatives, or even strangers would eventually show up having Mars dosh. 

To add fuel to the fire, many pundits and jyotishis make a superficial analysis and jump to quick conclusions. Burdened with this news the parent (especially of a girl) visits another jyotishi who comes up with another set of rules contradicting the earlier analysis or suggests remedies such as Kumbha Vivaha where the girl is symbolically married to a pot (kumbha). The pot is then broken and immersed in the river. This is symbolic death of the first 'husband' and thus she is said to be  relieved of Mars dosha. 
In some other quarters astrologers advise the matching of horoscopes for Kuja dosha. Accordingly, if the girl has a mangalik dosha in her horoscope and the prospective groom also has similar dosha, their horoscopes are said to match, as the dosha in one’s horoscope is deemed to counterbalance the other’s dosha. This trend creates its own set of problems as the degree and quality of dosha is often overlooked. Also the concerned people in their desperation to get a mangalik match do not take into account other aspects of compatibility between the horoscopes. The couple often ends up with a bad marriage and then they have the other points of mismatches in their horoscopes to blame for!
The biggest fear of any Hindu parent in India is about Mars dosha causing premature death of their son-in-law. The dreaded Mars dosha is a sociological reflection of a society where a woman's life without the husband, and more so if she has small kids, is a sad, sordid tale of eternal condemnation. My bua got married at the age of 13, became a widow at the age of 14, was not allowed to remarry, and died at the age of 80. Now, in a society where woman is financially dependent and has limited power of freedom and is often seen as besahara, abala and paraya dhan,  there is a reason for parents to be afraid of Mars dosha. 
And many jyotishis quoting shlokas after shlokas cash in on such vulnerabilities  by planting unnecessary seeds of fear.
Fortunately, Kaalchakra is turning much in favor of women. Laws have been enacted to acknowledge and support women's rights. Today's urban woman is educated, skilled, employed and financially secure. With these positive changes, I have noticed, many parents also feel relieved and are not that much concerned of Mars dosha. But there is still a long way to go.
Mars dosha not only haunts parents of a girl; but those that have to find a match for their son too. 
I remember, long back, one of my distant relatives came to visit me with his son’s horoscope. He was unable to find a bride for his son who had already crossed the normal marriage age. Many matrimonial proposals were sought for this boy. But each time negotiations fell though as his son's horoscope was deemed as having a ghanghor mangal  (most strong and vocal Mars) dosh. All the jyotishis the family sought consultations from were unanimous that his marriage, if at all it took place, would result in domestic violence leading to divorce. 
My relative wanted to have my opinion.

Before I could even look at the position of Mars in his horoscope, an array of powerful dhan-yogas, raj-yogas, and vidya-yogas caught my attention. Additionally, there was no trace of mangal-dosh at all.  The horoscope had such powerful yogas that for a moment I thought I was looking at King Vikramaditya's horoscope. In reality his son hardly had any education and was a petty taxi driver known for squandering his hard-earned money on matkas (street gambling) . I told him that the horoscope he showed me had no blemish and that the native was born as a king and would live like one.
Hearing this, and before I could raise a query as to the accuracy of the birth time/ calculations, he abruptly ended the meeting. Very soon I heard about his son's marriage being fixed with a girl from a good family and that many other proposals were turned down.  I am sure that the 'new and revised' horoscope had a decisive role to play.
I have known this younger person’s family for many years. He has been happily married for many years now. He has kids, and runs a small business.