Ashtamangali Prashna – guest post

My good friend Subba Iyer sent me a long response to my blog post on astrology and hence, with his permission, I decided to post it here, instead of putting it under ‘Comments’.

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First, this is a brilliant blog post.

There are a number of things that you have written that I agree with and it resonates with me and quite a few things that I either don’t understand well enough or have a different view based on my limited understanding of life, philosophy and astrology. I studied astrology formally under a Kerala astrologer for 8 months spending close to 12-14 hours a day and hence can claim that I cleared the foundation course 🙂 I also watched the famous Kerala astrologer make predictions for both ordinary and famous people first hand.

First, the astrologers that I consulted (and some were considered the best or famous or both) and I have done that with the traditional Tamil astrologers, the Keralites (who have their own specialisation with the Prashna method), the Varanasi astrologers and a few others all have developed their own “customized models for interpretation”. So, in all between 2002 and 2009, I would have seen about 35 or so astrologers. Except 2 of them, NONE were even reasonably accurate about the 5 questions that I have been asking them since 2002. Only one of them came close to accurate prediction about some of the things that I asked in the time frame and the other got more predictions right but his time frame in each case was way off the mark..!

By 2006, I was pretty disillusioned and went about investigating the truths about astrology and almost came to a similar line of analysis/conclusions that you outlined in the blog post. The analogy that you used about financial statements, medicine (diagnosis) was something that I arrived at myself too. Yet my own maverick/rebellious mind wanted to experience this myself. So in 2007, I ended up doing an Ashtamangali prashna with a reputed Kerala astrologer (more on that separately if you are keen) and then to cut a long story short, decided to stay there and learn astrology myself. I made great progress and based on the feedback that this famous astrologer (under whom I was studying), I would have got an A+. Succumbing to temptation, I risked reading my own chart and since I have an elephantine memory could even go back to events and dates when I was 6-7 years old and now having a powerful software to do the calculations, I spent days poring over the chart. I soon realised that there was an unerring pattern that followed. I could even posit future scenarios though some of the scenarios did not play out. A few did..!

(Surprisingly an astrologer (who had made some accurate predictions) in 2005 had predicted that I would learn astrology in 2006. I dismissed that with some disdain as I was quite disillusioned with that field. Little did I realize that I would end up studying astrology 14 months after his prediction)

My 2nd phase of experimentation began with consulting another 15 astrologers between 2007 and 2009 armed with some knowledge of astrology and knowing the limitations of the so-called science. Again none of them were right with respect to the predictions barring one person and he was again wrong with the timing of the events. I then concluded in my own way that if it is indeed God’s will to know one’s future, one will stumble on the right astrologer who at the right time will give the right prediction. If it is not God’s will, then no amount of expertise at one’s disposal will help know one’s future accurately.

Since 2009, I have come to a similar conclusion that you did, that even if one assumed that there was a conflict between fate and free will, it is difficult to understand both the factors and dynamics governing the conflict comprehensively. It requires a discerning astrologer who has done decades of sadhana to understand and interpret that and again as I said earlier if God wills that one should know the future the discerning astrologer may be of help. So, I concluded that surrendering to God’s will and just do one’s karma is the best way to lead one’s life.

I shall end this with something relating to NaMo. One Tamil astrologer based in Srirangam who is a RSS member told me in 2005 that he had seen NaMo’s chart and LK Advani’s chart. He actually showed NaMo’s chart and told me that he had a great chance to be a national leader. NaMo was reeling under a number of allegations due to 2002 riots and he told me categorically that none of the charges would stick and that he will become a national leader. He had also read the planetary position of India.  Let’s see how this one pans out.

If I still have your attention after the long rambling, let me now focus on where I have a different point of view in a philosophical sense:

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You wrote: “A learned Hindu scholar told us in one of his recent lectures that between karma (actions in the past and in the present) and karta (the doer), there is God. In other words, there is no mechanical transference between past karma and their consequences. God intermediates.”

My view: God doesn’t intermediate. One cannot escape past karma. There is a story in the Mahabharata which best illustrates this: In the epic Mahabharata, when Bhisma Pitamah was about to die, he was lying on the bed of arrows. The whole life series was running in his mind at the time of death. He reminded that since many births he hadn’t committed a single mistake then why he had suffering at the time of death. He requested Lord Krishna to answer his question. Then Lord Krishna with his divine powers took Bhishma Pitamah 100 births back.

In a retrogression journey he found that he was a king 100 births back and committed one sin while he was going to forest for hunting. He found a snake lying in on his way. He tried to save his life and lifted with sword and threw in the bushes. But, the snake lost its life being struck in thorns. Before dying he cursed the king that he too would die like this.

Lord Krishna brought Bhishma Pitamah back to current time frame and further explained that the snake kept following him since last 100 births and this was his last birth so as per law of karma at the time of death he was lying on the bed of arrows just like the snake lied on thorns 100 births back. One cannot escape Karma even after a 100 births!

The other wonderful story why even Lord Krishna cannot escape past karma is again highlighted in the Mahabharata (extracted from Mahabharata):

Days flew by after the coronation of Yudhishtra as the king of Hasthinapur. Krishna went back to Dwaraka, to rule over the beautiful island kingdom. Blessed by the presence of the Goddess of Wealth as Rukmini, the people enjoyed every luxury that life could give. Slowly the curse of Gandhari (Gandhari – Dhritarashtra’s wife cursed Lord Krishna as she held him responsible for the war when he visited her after the war) started taking form.

The Yadavas were in eternal bliss in Dwaraka. So much bliss, that they forgot good conduct, morals and the importance of discipline and humility. So once when some of the SapthaRishis came down to visit Krishna and Balarama, they went beyond the restraints of respect for the maha purushas.

“Let’s test the powers of these so called Thava sreshtas (best of the people in tapas)”, suggested Sambha, the son of Krishna, to his friends. Sambha dressed himself as a woman, and then placed a mace underneath his dress, and led by two other men approached the rishis, the very picture of an expecting mother. “Oh learned men”, one of the yadavas voiced.”My wife here is pregnant. Can you, by the divine powers vested in you, predict the gender of the child to be born?”

The rishis were furious. They saw through the whole hoax immediately. Kanva maharishi immedialty grabbed his kamandala and in the heat of fury sprinkled some water on the three yadavas. “May the very thing that he bears in his stomach be born to him. And that thing will lead to the extinction of the entire Yadava clan”, he cursed. The Yadavas, shocked though they were, were too arrogant to even apologise. They left the scene, laughing off the curse as the speech of one who had lost all his sanity.

Things were however very different the next morning. Sambha developed labour pains and soon delivered a mace from within him. The Yadavas were now struck with fear. They immediately rushed with the mace to Akroora and Ugrasena and in the presence of Krishna himself, they narrated the weird tide of events. Akroora imediately ordered,”Grind the mace to a fine powder and cast it into the seas.” The yadavas nodded and retreated. Akroora cast his gaze at Krishna, his eyes full of questions. Krishna simply smiled back. “The wheels of time are turning Uncle”, he said,”and Sambha has played his part perfectly.” He left without another word, leaving both of them bewildered. “What did he mean by that Akroora?”, asked the old king, Ugrasena.

“I can tell you that, father.” Ugrasena turned around to the source of voice. Rukmini stood by the doorway. Bedecked with jewels, the goddess shined bright.” Thirty six year ago, Krishna prayed to Shiva for a son like him. Does that ring any bell?”, she asked. Akroora was stumped. Ugrasena, however, said very slowly, his eyes bright, “A son like Shiva. A son like the god of destruction. Krishna wanted Sambha to aid in destruction…” And even more slowly, his voice down several levels, he uttered, “Gandhari’s curse. The time for her curse to act has arrived. Krishna himself made sure that her curse would be true. A reward for her devotion in him”, he ended, leaving Akroora agape and Rukmini nodding in agreement.

Outside the palace, the Yadavas had obeyed Akroora’s command to the dot. They had ground the mace finely. Everything was ground except a sharp triangular piece which appeared to be very hard indeed. And then they had thrown the fine powder and the lone piece into the sea. Happy that they had taken care of the matter so easily, they returned back to their general state of intoxication and bliss.

Time rolled by. The triangular piece of the mace was swallowed by a fish. The fish was caught by a hunter, who upon finding the piece in the fish’s entrails immediately used it to craft a fine poisonous arrow. The fine powder, on the other hand, washed back ashore and deposited itself by the beautiful coast of Dwaraka. A certain grass grew in lush abundance in the area where the powder was deposited. Everything was set for the final showdown.

One day, the Yadavas went on a picnic to the beach. They were in their usual high state and the liquor that they drank on the beautiful beach made them to lose their senses totally. In this total state of inebriation, they started teasing one another, bringing up the gory pasts and gruesome mistakes of each other. Satyaki and Krithavarma acted as the starting points for the doom of Dwaraka. Satyaki had fought on the Pandava side in the battle of Kurukshetra  and Krithavarma, on the Kaurava side. They taunted one another, bringing back memories of the ghory war. Satyaki, wished to end it all, and drawing out his sword, jumped on Krithaverma and cut his head off. The friends of Krithavarma, furious with Satyaki, pounced on him and a great brawl followed. Pradyumna, the son of Krishna, innocent though he was, found himself in the thick of the fight and was killed.

Krishna knew that the time had come and very discretely he plucked the grass that grew in abundance by the sea and placed them by the fighting Yadavas. The Yadavas, in their state of ignorance, threw the grass blades at one another.

The curse of Kanva Maharishi started acting and each blade of grass became a mace, smashing into the Yadavas, killing them instantly. It was a matter of moments before the Yadavas lay dead, killed by their own clan members and infront of their very King.

Having seen this total destruction unfold before his very eyes, Krishna then decided that it is time for him to shed his coils too. He entrusted the Yadava women to Arjuna (They were however taken away by hill bandits on their way back to Hastinapur. Arjuna, having become old, had no strength to fight the bandits) and along with Balarama left to the forest. The moment Krishna left Dwaraka, a huge wave splurged up from the oceans and swallowed the beautiful city into its deep depths, where it continues to lie till this very day.

Balarama, vexed with the battles of life, sat down in meditation and very soon the thousand headed serpent, AdiSesha, came out from his mouth and offering its salutations to Krishna, glided towards the sea (Balarama is said to be an incarnation of Adisesha). Seeing the death of his dear brother, Krishna became overwhelmed with grief and sat down besides Balarama, by some bushes.

By the amazing will of fate, the hunter saw the foot of Krishna sticking out from the bushes and assuming it to be a deer shot it down with an arrow. The very arrow made from the lone surviving triangular piece from the mace that was delivered by Sambha. Krishna was killed by the poisoned arrow.

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Hence my view is: If the Lord himself cannot escape karma then how come ordinary mortals? Karma is the universal theory because it doesn’t make any exception — be it Man or God.

Disclaimer: I am still trying to understand Life and philosophy and hence all that I have said above are my tentative conclusions. I stand corrected if I learn something new tomorrow.

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