A leading astrological researcher, based in Hyderabad, India.
"I was born a human
In the family of a Brahman
Childhood aspirations were a plenty
To become a yeoman, a swordsman, a bowman
And I dreaded perchance becoming
A conman, a doorman or a barman
Youth had its own delusions and dreamt
Of being an airman, a seaman or a showman
A few talents raised visions of life as a craftsman
Middle age found me slotted in a niche
And rose up the ladder to be a helmsman
But was otherwise essentially a layman
At times to frighten children, a bogeyman
Then astrology called... and I realized that
I was just a point of consciousness and no man
And this insight made me a new man
Glimpsing a realm that was
Beyond god and mammon
Now some call me a madman
While others believe I am a shaman
Being neither, I am just me, a man".
An Afternoon's Indulgence in Profound Trivialities
This article contains a brief synopsis of an afternoon of astrological discussions, discussions that sounded at first like trivialities, but turned out to be profound reflections, especially on the nature of destiny, karma and the curse. These took place one hot summer's day between the author, astrological researcher Ram Ramakrishnan, and AV Sundaram, the secretary of ICAS, the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences, an influential body in India, which has active chapters in many major centres. The ICAS sets qualifications and holds regular examinations in Indian (Vedic) astrology.
It was an unexpected rendezvous. Not an afternoon that one would opt for an astrological tête-à-tête. For it was mid-summer and the heat was quite severe with the day temperature soaring to nearly 44º C. Yet it happened. Perhaps it was destined to be so?! I had been to meet Mr AV Sundaram, the Secretary of ICAS (Indian Council of Astrological Sciences). Following the preliminary exchange of niceties, we got down to talking astrology. Nothing really in particular. Titbits from here and there. An observation from some text, a quote from someone's exposition, a possible slant to a tricky astrological case. They may have sounded like trivialities, but on second thoughts they were quite profound reflections – reflections that would deepen my understanding of the subject, its application and the philosophy behind it.
Mr Sundaram has this inclination for succinct observations. He would dwell on a point briefly and move on to some other point that may or may not be related to the one preceding it. Our conversation began with the possible astrological causes for the sudden hospitalization of both my parent about three weeks prior to our meeting. In this context we attempted to correlate all such rules mentioned in the astrological texts concerning diseases and parts of the human anatomy with the planetary placements in the charts of my parents – apportioning of the body to signs of the zodiac starting with Aries, a similar exercise starting with the ascendant of the individual, the decanate of the ascendant, planet-specific ailments and organs of the body, effects of planetary transits at the time of the events.
Invariably, one or a combination of those rules seemed to apply, but not all. The question was to identify which to apply where and under what conditions. Unfortunately, the texts do not mention this. That an astrologer comes up with a correct interpretation seemed to be a function of the astrologer and her/his depth of understanding of the subject, the time during which the astrologer indulged in this exercise and the individual whose chart was being analysed (represented by the chart itself). If this idea were to be expressed in mathematical notation,
Probability of correct correlation = function (astrologer, time, subject) where the word "subject" refers to the individual whose chart is being assessed.
If this idea were to be true, it would mean that an astrologer with all her/his soft, hard and subtle wares alone is not adequate to arrive at a correct correlation/prediction. Strange? Well, astrology seems indeed to be weirder than what one would imagine it to be! Or perhaps this formulation provides an ideal camouflage to hide all our inadequecies as astrological practioners!!
All this conversation had left our throats and tongues parched. Mr Sundaram went into the kitchen to get a jug of water and a couple of glasses. It was just the body that was feeling the heat of the surrounding atmosphere warmed beyond tolerable bounds by the afternoon Sun durectly beating down upon the concrete roof of the low-ceilinged room. The mind was however, revelling in the breezy astrological arguments that seemed to annul the debilitating effects of the furnace-like room. The parched throats were wetted with cool water that in turn whetted the eagerness to carry on the conversation further.
Existential Causes... or Curses?
The topic of discussion changed direction slightly. I asked what could be the causes of such ailments. If, astrologically, an ailment is to strike at a definite time in a definite region of the anatomy, there should be some reason for this happening. Not the medical causes but the ones beyond, the existential ones. Not only ailments but other events as well that give us agony? Mr Sundaram mentioned that, according to texts, such causes could be due our own bad karma, curses on us by those we may have harmed and so on.
I mentioned about this peculiar pattern of events in my family where all males starting with my paternal grandfather to my father and his brother and then to myself, had lost their firstborn child. An idea struck Mr Sundaram to immediately cast a horary chart for the moment and seek an answer to the cause of this pattern. He asked me to think of a number between 1 and 108 and I said 97. There are 108 segments of 3º 20' extent in 360º. The 97th segment will be in the 11th sign. A couple of clicks on the mouse made the chart for the moment appear on the screen. With the 11th sign as the ascendant, we looked at the 5th from it. Saturn was lodged there, which also happened to be the 12th dispositor. According to texts, Saturn is indicative of the effect of curses that affects the 5th house (progeny) causing losses (Saturn being the 12th house dispositor).
The horary correlation was interesting, but that did not answer the question on how one defines a curse. Let us provisionally define a curse as an outpouring of malefic intent in retaliation to a harm caused to the source of the curse, the effect of such a malefic intent taking effect immediately or spread across time. (Interestingly, the effects of curses can be only uni-directional, as we can imagine it. Can there be situations when a curse is effective backwards in time?!!).
The Grand Plan
My argument was that if a chart indicates the nature, time, intensity and cause of an ailment or a distressing experience, then in the chart representing the 'curser' there should be an indication that there will be agony caused by the 'cursed' at the appointed time. So if this were to be part of the grand plan and that can be gleamed from the chart, then the curse too should be part of such a plan. A 'curse' then is just another name that is given to the 'grand plan'. Just as a 'boon' is.
This made Mr Sundaram remember something that he had read in a Naadi text in his library. Leaving me to thoughtfully equate boons and curses, he went into the adjoining room that housed his library. Before I could come up with any acceptable equation, he had come back carrying a sizeable book in the Tamil language that would have had at least 1000 pages, flipped through the index and located the page he wanted to show me. He said that there was mention here of the chart of a person followed by the derivation of the chart for the birth to follow! This was something that I had heard for the first time. I have seen Naadi texts that mention happenings in the previous birth(s), but not this. The 'Boon-Curse' equation was mentioned in that book!! Not as a formula or specific set of rules, but as a narration that gave no clue whatsoever of the methodology adopted for what was being claimed. Having been exposed to Naadi readings, we had no reason to disbelieve such a possibility.
Everything good or bad, comes to an end. The brain was overflowing with thoughts and was getting overheated too. The breezy astrological arguments did not feel so cool anymore and we decided that it was time to conclude the discussion for the day and continue it another day. We said good-bye, I had quick gulp of water – a one-for-the-road kind – and then he walked me to the gate. Before parting however, I decided to have one last shot and asked him whether he knew of any astronomical parallel to the concept of the Moolatrikona – a portion of the zodiac assigned to each planet where if resident, the planet is said to be very powerful. He said he was not, but he was aware of the philosophical significance of this idea and went on to describe it as under. Not only his room, but his gate too had the privilege of being privy to an interesting astrological discussion.
"Indian philosophy is based on the idea of the reincarnation of the soul. The soul takes a physical form and life begins. Energy is required for this activity and for the sustenance of the life-form. In astrology, the Sun represents the soul, Jupiter represents life and Mars represents energy. Their respective Moolatrikona or MT are in Leo 0°-20°, Sagittarius 0°-10° and Aries 0°-12°. The major portion of the Sun's MT is in the constellation Makha whose presiding deities are the Pitrus or departed souls. Jupiter's MT is synchronized with the constellation Moola whose presiding deity is Nirutti, who personifies the uterus and the testicles in the anatomy – the organs that are primarily responsible for beginning of a new life. Mars' MT is concomitant with the constellation Asvini whose presiding deities are Asvini kumaaras personified by horses that depict energy. This forms the first triangle or Trikona. The MT's of the other planets are similarly explained in philosophical texts."
Astrology seemed to be a wonderful subject that blended the philosophical plane and the mundane plane and expressed them in terms of planetary placements, movements and interaction's between the planets.
And seeming trivialities have profoundness too, don't they?!!