By Jamuna Rangachari
Rightly used, the predictive sciences can throw light on karmic patterns and give us the strength to take our destiny in our own hands.
A noted scholar of astrology, K.N. Rao, sets the record straight on the right perspective to astrology
An erudite scholar of astrology, Mr K N Rao worked with the Indian Audit and Accounts Service from which he retired as Director-General in November 1990. Initiated into astrology by his late mother, he pursued it with passion and took to it full-time after retirement from government service. A researcher himself, he is a guide to many students and the advisor of astrology courses in the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi. Excerpts from an interview: There has been a phenomenal increase in the interest shown in astrology in recent times. Is this a good trend?
Yes and no.
It is good because, with more interest, a better understanding is bound to happen. However, many astrologers are quacks, with inadequate knowledge, while some of them play on the fear of the unknown for their own material selfish interests. I have taken it as my life’s mission to dispel the wrong notions of this vidya.
In your experience, why do people turn to astrology?
Quite simply, due to a memory of the past, excitement about the present, and uncertainty about the future.
Does this serve its real purpose?
Not at all. Astrology’s real purpose is to help one follow the right path and make one’s life easier. It is not meant for shortcuts or idle speculation.
At all times, one should remember that one’s life is the product of prarabdha (destiny), prayer, and purusharta (effort). The intelligent person uses astrology for better acceptance of life’s circumstances and reconciles with his fate while continuing his purusharta and prayer and never swerving from the path of dharma.
Is destiny or free will more powerful as the determinant of our life path?
We all enjoy some amount of free will within the orbit of predetermination; not outside it. If free will was non-existent, the great sage Parashara whose magnum opus on astrology, Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, we depend on, would not have prescribed remedial measures like doing Vishnu Sahasranamam or doing charities.
At the same time, our karmas need to be worked out. Astrology is linked to the theory of karma and the cycle of rebirths. There are no shortcuts. As the Gita says ‘Gahano karmana gatih.’
Can one’s negative karma be set right or mitigated through remedial actions?
Certainly, they can. There are numerous instances of people who have successfully done so. Here again, I do not advocate shortcuts of ‘outsourcing’ these services by hiring someone else to perform pujas or recite mantras. A deep spiritual connection is established only when these are done either by the individual himself or by a person who loves him with reverence and an attitude of shraddha.
I give you my own example. I could not walk in the years 2000-2001 without a support walker. No doctor could diagnose my disease and therefore no treatment was possible. I did Vishnu Sahasranamam regularly and with God’s grace, I can now walk without the walker.
There are many others, of course, all of which I have written about and published, with the consent and contact details of the clients so that people can understand how astrology could be an able guide.
What is the role of intuition in astrology?
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras tell us that there exists a jyotishmati nadi (or a predictive intuitive channel) within us, which when activated, can enable us to see the past, present, and future. Such astrologers are, of course, very rare. However, as an astrologer advances, almost magically, more intuition starts coming into play. Therefore, sometimes the prediction comes in a flash of intuition.
Another important area where intuition plays an important role is in research. Research ideas are born in the stillness of intuition. Once the intuitive idea is born, one has to work extremely diligently with technical competence to show its validity and then present it in a systematic fashion for others to understand. This requires discipline, hard work, and perseverance. My own research in Jaimini astrology, a field that remained dormant for almost 3,000 years, is an example of such a combination of intuition and study.
What would you think the approach of a good astrologer should be?
Dedication to the study and practice of this science for some years without any focus on publicity is a must. During practice, if an astrologer can practice as a service without charging any money – it is the best. Or they could leave it to the client to donate what they wish. I feel that one should never demand or put a price on the service. I know I am old-fashioned in this matter – but for a good reason. Astrology is a revelatory science and it is revealed, not by aggression, but by faith and surrender to the divine. The four mahavakyas of astrology are: Have faith; be diligent and practice patience; humbly learn from your mistakes, and live a life of service. Only then will the divine lotus of astrology open within you.
‘A good astrologer is a kalyan mitra to his client.’
‘I now understand that events happen not just because of current actions but also karma.’
‘With so much uncertainty, people wish to succeed and retain their success.’
-Sanjay B Jumaani
Cdr Rathod’s son, Shashank (names changed to protect identity), encountered severe problems in school when he moved to Mumbai from Hyderabad. Diagnosed as a child with attention deficit, he was advised to find special educators and withdraw from the mainstream school. Both Cdr Rathod and his wife, however, hesitated to do so, guided by their intuition.
They explored various options, talking to the teachers and the principal of the school, and even availing the services of a special educator to give home tuitions. Nothing much helped.
At this juncture, a family friend asked them for his birth details and revealed that her mother, who was well versed in astrology, would perhaps be able to guide them in their decision-making. More out of desperation than faith, they did so. The lady, detecting some negative karmic patterns in Shashank’s horoscope, suggested certain pujas and ardent prayer to help overcome the situation. They did so diligently. At the same time, they continued their efforts in helping Shashank cope. Soon, the principal of the school asked them to try making him repeat one year in school. They agreed at once and this worked wonderfully for his performance and self-esteem. Now, Shashank is well adjusted and happy in school.
Coincidence? Hogwash? Or, a satisfactory astrological prediction?
Cdr Rathod, for one, is sure that meeting the astrologer definitely helped in giving them more clarity of thought and purpose. ‘The lady is reclusive and did not want anything for herself. It was pure help that she wished to offer. I am certain that her analysis and suggested remedial action helped my son,’ he says.
Essentially, astrology is a type of divination based upon the idea that information, usually either about the future or about a person’s personality, can be discovered through an examination of ‘heavenly bodies’ – stars, planets, the moon, comets.
Like Cdr Rathod, many people do believe they have benefited greatly from astrological predictions, but at the same time, there can be no doubt that indiscriminate resort to astrology can deplete and weaken us and make us dependent on external sources for our happiness and well-being.
The truth is that we live in strange times. On the one hand, we can no longer dismiss astrology or other divinatory sciences as superstitious beliefs. Science itself is increasingly proving the point that we live in a universe of energy and that we are interconnected. That being so, we cannot dismiss the influence of planets, the sun or moon upon our lives and destiny. At the same time, how do we safeguard ourselves from returning to the fearful stance of the past, when we only acted in accordance to the astrological forecast of the day? An investigation into the various aspects of astrology may help us in understanding its power and limitations.
In the classic, timeless tale, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, a young girl, finds herself lost from her home in Texas and sets out for the land of Oz, where a wizard is said to have powers to make any wish come true, including sending her home. On the way, she meets a scarecrow, a woodman, and a lion. Each of them comes with her to meet the wizard to fulfill their wishes. The scarecrow wishes for brains, the woodman for a heart, and the lion for courage. They reach the land of Oz and do get their wishes granted. We then realize that the wizard did not have any special powers at all. He just enabled people to believe in themselves.
A parallel can be drawn from a psychological experiment that was conducted involving rats. In this experiment, rats were labeled ‘maze bright’ or ‘maze dull’ in a random manner. A group of psychology students was given these rats to work with. After working with their rats in a series of mazes for a period of time, the students’ results showed that the rats labeled as ‘maze-bright’ performed significantly better. The students working with ‘maze-bright’ rats also rated their rats as tamer and easier to work with, and their own abilities as higher than the students with ‘maze-dull’ rats. A clear case of belief driving perception.
In the case of Padmaja and Pratima (names changed), such a pattern could be seen after astrological consultation. The family believed in the predictions of an astrologer who had stated that Padmaja was destined to be an average student whereas Pratima’s horoscope indicated a brilliant academic life, fame, and fortune. This resulted in a subtle form of partiality in the extended family. Padmaja’s grades slipped way below her potential and quite a bit of animosity was generated between the two sisters. Fortunately, her parents realized their folly before too much damage had been done, changed their attitude and approach, and the atmosphere at home gradually became better. Both sisters also began to perform equally well.
The point is that we act according to our beliefs, and astrology often gives us beliefs. When a person is told he is likely to become very famous and successful, he starts believing it and so aids in making it happen. Conversely, when a negative prediction is given, the person may lose confidence and self-esteem. Misplaced complacency due to a good prediction is again not healthy.
Psychology of Dependence
Extreme dependence on predictions is definitely not advisable. As Dr. Chugh, a leading psychiatrist in Delhi, says, ‘Astrology may just provide short-term relief and bring about a sense of satisfaction to the individual. It might be an aid but it isn’t a permanent solution to one’s problems.’
The Indian system of astrology recognized this and was clear on its role vis-a-vis the temperament of the individual. K N Rao, an eminent astrologer who has published many works on the subject and is currently an advisor to the Institute of Astrology, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi, explains it thus:
o Pure tamasic people, who are lazy, would never benefit from astrology as they will not work to achieve anything.
o For tamasic-rajasic people, astrology is useful but in a limited way. As there is some amount of will to do things due to the rajasic guna, astrology could be a guide.
o For unsuccessful rajasic people, astrology has a lot of use for periodical guidance. Here, astrology could help in determining the direction in which effort needs to be put in and in suggesting remedial actions if any.
o Dynamically rajasic people could make the best use of astrology as it could help in determining the direction of their efforts and also help them to realize their higher potential.
o Rajasic-satvic people probably made good use of astrology at some time in their life, but their dependence on astrology decreases as they grow richer spiritually. These kinds of people remain relatively unaffected by events as they have tremendous acceptance and equanimity. So, astrology becomes less important to them.
o Pure satvic people hardly need astrology, for their lives are turned inwards and they get all the strength and guidance they need from their inner voice.
o Finally, the gunatita or transcendental people who live in an exalted spiritual state do not need astrology at all, for they have gone beyond it. The influence of the planets and moon is countermanded by their own powerful spiritual strength. They have transcended the impact of astrology in their lives.
Ultimately then, astrology is not recommended for the weak or lethargic mind looking for instant solutions, not necessary for the exalted mind focussed on inner growth, but could be beneficial for dynamic people who could use it as a guide for better understanding of themselves and their place in life.
Self-Awareness and Counseling
My first tryst with astrology was in college when guessing and reading about zodiac signs was a fad. ‘This is not me’ was my first reaction when I initially read about my Scorpio traits that portrayed one with this Zodiac sign as vindictive and venomous. Later, reading more about zodiac signs in general and understanding it from a better perspective, I realized that perhaps it is the Scorpio in me that creates a tendency to remember perceived wrongs long after almost everyone else has forgotten them. The same trait can be positive when it manifests as a strong affinity to justice for a right cause, or negative when it becomes a propensity to be unforgiving and vengeful. This analysis certainly helped me accept this trait and work on avoiding its negative fallouts. When a simple look at one’s zodiac sign can help, surely a proper analysis of one’s horoscope would certainly do so.
Indeed, ‘know thyself’ is perhaps the most potent part of astrology, as knowing one’s innate weaknesses and strengths can help tremendously in overcoming them.
Ambica Gulati, writer, and editor, turned to astrology during a difficult time in her life and found the answers not just to the problem but also a direction to her life through it. ‘What I wanted doing not happen the way I wanted it to, but I was able to handle it much better because of the astrological guidance I received and was also able to connect to my inner self too in a much better way,’ she says. In a sense, the astrologer is uniquely placed to give proper advice to the client as he is able to perceive him through a more profound perspective than is accessible to most. As Badal Suchak, a psycho-spiritual astrologer in Mumbai, says, ‘A good astrologer is a ‘kalyan mitra’ or spiritual friend. It is his responsibility to understand the mental and spiritual state of the client and then offer counseling, which is more than mere prediction.’
For instance, the horoscope of one of his clients, Bharat, revealed a sensitive, compassionate nature that would allow others to take advantage of him. By making him aware of this trait, he helped him to be more careful and this assisted Bharat greatly in conducting his business wisely.
A good astrologer would never overstep the boundary of free will. Hence, he would always make it clear that he can only indicate possible trends.
‘Just as it is advisable to stop when there is a red signal, astrology could advise the client to avoid certain endeavors or take up something suitable. However, he cannot play God and induce fear by predicting sure calamity or crisis, as some tend to do,’ says Pandit B L Shastri, an astrologer in Delhi.
Generally, it is better than astrological consultation and the remedial action is delinked so that the motive of the astrologer is not suspect. Ideally, the astrologer should recommend a certain remedy but not insist that his services be used for the remedy. Neither should he insist that such a remedy is absolutely essential, especially where heavy expenditure is involved.
Another negative practice is trying to bring in an undeserved level of success and wealth through astrology. Good astrologers will never cater to such whims and fancies or advertise such capabilities. ‘People often look for instant wealth and such benefits,’ says Dr. Rajesh Pala, an Astro gemologist in Mumbai. He adds, ‘Though it may be possible for astrology to device means of attaining such goals, it is karmically wrong and hence, unethical.’
When Ajay and Sheela wished to get married, their parents brought the horoscopes to Pt Shastri, who realized the horoscopes did not match. Understanding that the couple was firm in its resolve, he guided the families by suggesting a change of Sheela’s name while the marriage rites were being performed. Whether it is this act or a general turn of events, the happily married couple still gratefully acknowledge Pt Shastri’s help in making sure their marriage took place with their families’ consent.
It is understandable that when a couple wishes to get married, they are counseled as they are usually too young to make an informed decision. However, such counseling must be rational and open, so that the couple can understand the reasons for caution if any. When the match does not take place because of astrological incompatibility, it becomes a battle of wills with the repercussions of failed love remaining in the psyche of the girl and boy.
Indeed, if love and marriage are predestined, isn’t matching horoscopes an anomaly? Especially when the couple is in love and both wish to get married, horoscopes matched before and sometimes, even after marriage, can cause havoc in their minds as well as that of their near and dear ones. If their horoscopes are stated to be ‘incompatible’, even a small misunderstanding can add to stress and low tolerance levels.
This is again where we need to understand and give credence to destiny, karma, and our inner intuition as the supreme guide.
Shri Prabhakar, an astrologer employed with World Phone Internet Telephony Services, explains that traditional marriages are of five kinds: swayamvar, when a girl chooses her groom, pratyogita, where the girl is won after a competition, apharan, where the couple elopes, gandharva vivaha, when a girl and boy decide to marry, asahaya when the marriage takes place due to the helpless condition of the girl or her father, andsamajik which is a match that is scrutinized by the families and agreed upon.
He is clear that ‘As per the scriptures, it is only in samajik vivaha that the horoscopes are matched and this is only to see the compatibility of two people who have never met each other. In all other cases, destiny has willed a union, so in the real sense, the match-making has already happened. For instance, in gandharva vivaha, or love marriage as it is now known, the couple has already accepted one another as one’s life partner, and therefore, it is meaningless to consult horoscopes for compatibility. It is destiny that has brought them together and this must be honored.’
Indeed, as per the karmic law, we meet every person for a purpose and the very nature of love is that it defies logic and conventional thinking. Surely, in the case of a couple wishing to get married, their karma is linked. What emerges out of it depends not just on past karma but on the actions they take while in the current relationship, for karma, after all, is dynamic.
Know thy Karma
Today, a common reason for people to turn to astrology is to deal with crises or difficulties, seeking a magic wand that will make all their troubles vanish. However, its real purpose is enabling a better understanding of the law of karma.
‘An astrologer’s duty is to help clients live a wholesome life with a balanced state of mind, taking him beyond fear or overconfidence, helping him see the play of karma and live in wonder at the beauty and majesty of divine play, in which all of us must participate,’ says Mr. Suchak.
Rishabh Sud, the graphics designer, underwent a course at the Institute of Astrology, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, and says, ‘I am able to fully tune into the law of karma and have also been able to reduce my ego with the understanding that events happen not just because of current actions but because of the past karma that is reflected through planetary influences.’
‘Astrology is not merely for fortune-telling,’ says Cdr Avikshit, another student of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. He says, ‘Proper knowledge and application of this subject makes one a karma yogi and one tends to go into a deeper meaning of life.’
Parthahari Das, a spiritual artist associated with ISKCON, who consulted Suchak, says, ‘After such counseling, if something bad is bound to happen according to one’s karma, one emerges stronger, and with the ability to face situations boldly and fearlessly, with positive energy and confidence.’
Truly, astrology, in its real sense, is not fortune-telling but aid that helps in better handling of all the situations one might face in life, as it brings about a better understanding of its dynamics.
Thou shall Overcome
Much before independent thinking and ‘doing what I feel is right’ became slogans and buzzwords, Savitri, through her life, demonstrated what strength of character and independence truly is. A princess by birth brought up in the lap of luxury, she decided that she would marry Satyavan, despite warnings by her father and others. Satyavan had lost his kingdom and lived in poverty in the forest with his blind father and aged mother. The most alarming fact was that he was destined to die within a year of their marriage. Still, with deep conviction, Savitri stuck to her resolve. At the predicted hour of death, she boldly faced Yama, who had come to take Satyavan. When her pleading did not work, she began following Yama who graciously offered to grant her anything other than Satyavan’s life. The astute and wise Savitri asked for her father-in-law’s sight, the restoration of his kingdom, and for the boon of many sons to continue Satyavan’s dynasty. Impressed by her devotion, firmness, and intelligence, Yama granted her all these boons and, in the process, had to restore Satyavan’s life.
The deep spiritual lesson of this tale is that one’s karma can always be overcome through self-will, courage, and devotion. Savitri conquered destiny not just due to her intelligence but also due to the tremendous positive karma she had accumulated through her faith, devotion, and service.
Deepa Kodikal, spiritual adept, says in her book, Teachings of the Inner Light, ‘Remember, we are the masters, not karma or destiny. The Absolute is freedom personified and in a sense, we are too.’ On astrology, she feels while it is useful, it must be used only to gain a better understanding of a manifested pattern and to develop the inner strength to overcome any negative karmic patterns. She firmly believes that ‘sincere prayer and devotion can overcome anything in life.’
Though predictions are a part of astrology, any good astrologer would tell you that predictions can never be foolproof. As Pt Shastri says, ‘The dictum of the supreme power or the Paramatma is powerful enough to alter any course of destiny.’
A science Or…
Mr. Vivek Dhir, Managing Director, World Phone Internet Telephony Services, that provides value-added astrological consultation over the phone, explains that in Vedic astrology, there are two parts of astrology – ganit (mathematics) and phalit (prediction). The ganit part of it is based on clear and well laid-out arithmetic calculations that compute the horoscope of a person, based on the time and place of work. Being a purely scientific, replicable exercise, it has been programmed into computers, and today, commonly generated horoscopes are common. Palit or prediction is an empirical science, based on observations and patterns. As there are many patterns in the horoscope, this necessarily requires experience and the ability to make a judgment decision.
‘This is why we have employed qualified astrologers for a consultation to our clients and the consultation is always done on a one-to-one basis,’ says Mr. Dhir.
A combination of mathematics and judgment is more or less the pattern with other systems of astrology, too.
Past and Present
Astrology exists in different forms in almost all cultures.
There have always been many believers in India, of course, but perhaps the most famous one today is Amitabh Bachchan. One of the many things Amitabh Bachchan seems to have promoted, perhaps without an active intention, is faith in astrology. For the star’s spectacular second innings after many setbacks that has catapulted him to iconic status, has been credited to his astrological consultations and the remedial action of wearing certain gemstones.
In a Gallup poll, it was found that a quarter of America believes in astrology and over 50 percent of people in Europe do. The number in India is bound to be higher as it is deeply ingrained in our tradition.
This is evident in the rise of astrological columns and television shows. Often, these columns are being elevated from a place near the comic strip to a separate, more prominent location. The Chennai-based Indian newspaper, The Hindu, after almost a century of stubborn refusal to have anything to do with this ‘superstition’, has finally given in to popular demand and has decided to introduce an astrology column in its Sunday magazine section.
Not just astrology but other predictive sciences such as tarot card reading and numerology are also widely in demand today.
Tarot and numerology columns abound in most publications and televised shows on such subjects are also growing by the day.
Sunita Menon, the contemporary tarot card reader, now has a television show, with a growing celebrity clientele that includes Ekta Kapoor and Karan Johar. ‘Earlier, society followed a more or less fixed pattern,’ says Sonal Verma, tarot reader in Delhi. ‘Now, with so many avenues and options opening up, people look for direction, and this naturally leads them to such sciences.’
The advice of the numerologist father-son duo, Bansilal Jumaani, and Sanjay B Jumaani is sought by businessmen, cricketers, and, of course, Bollywood. ‘With so much uncertainty and insecurity, people wish to succeed and retain their success. While hard work is essential, numerology acts as a catalyst to helping people reap the fruits of their hard work,’ says Sanjay B Jumaani.
Skeptics may question the validity of such predictions in the light of its general failure to predict the many disasters, both natural and man-made, that we are witness to.
Still, the uncertain times we live in, both at the personal and societal level, seem to have only added to the demand for prediction. ‘The more the uncertainty, the more they need for prediction’ seems to be the motto.
Connecting to Spiritual Law
All religions teach that acceptance of what life brings us is the highest goal -‘Insha Allah’, ‘Thy will be done’ or ‘Karmanye vadhikasye maam phaleshu kadhachana’, really point to this very goal.
Acceptance does not, however, mean a defeatist attitude.
Indeed, in the universe, the spiritual law of karma and interconnectedness reigns supreme. After all, our horoscopes are what they are because of the karmic patterns that we have carried through with us. More than ‘what’ is going to happen; we influence what is likely to happen due to the deep signals that are deeply ingrained in us. Karma is also dynamic and ever-changing. And therefore, very much in our control.
Astrology and other predictive sciences can help us in obtaining knowledge of these karmic patterns and lead to better understanding. However, the next step we have to take ourselves.
By accepting the implications and taking the responsibility of overcoming them in a realistic and balanced manner while seeking divine grace in our endeavor, we really can overcome anything.
Life is, after all, a journey, not a destination. Travel, we must. Whether we do so with fear and insecurity or by taking the ups and downs of life with fortitude, flowing, consciously, and with awareness with it, is really up to us. All the situations and relationships that it brings us to have a lesson uniquely tailor-made for us, and hence, awareness would help us consciously learn the lessons life brings for us.
This will slowly result in our negative karma getting nullified, or at least, minimized, for the dynamic law of karma works to teach, not punish.
world phone Internet services, firstname.lastname@example.org
Institute of Astrology, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi, +91-11-2338 9942
Pt Shastri (Astrologer, Delhi), 9810084676
Badal Suchak (Psychospiritual astrologer, Mumbai), 9820416366,
Dr. Rajesh Pala (Astro gemologist, Mumbai) 9820119952, email@example.com
Ms. Sonal Verma (tarot reader, Delhi) – 9868124770
Sanjay B Jumaani (numerologist, Mumbai), +91-22-2437 4025,