By Jamuna Rangachari October 2006 Rightly used, the predictive sciences can throw light on karmic patterns and give us the strength to take our destiny in our own hands. ‘Life is the product of prarabdha, prayer and purusharta.’ 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, 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 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 of 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 practise 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.’ -Badal Suchak ‘I now understand that events happen not just because of current actions but also karma.’ -Rishabh Sud ‘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 his 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. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies 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 were 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 p
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