Part-1 – My Jyotish Guru
My first Jyotish Guru was my Tauji( Father’s elder brother) – or Tata ji -as I lovingly called him (distorted from Bhrata ji- as he was known to the wider family.) While my family has Ma Saraswati’s blessings – given the academic proclivity and accomplishments of all – Tataji , the first born among my father’s siblings , was indeed the epitome. He was brilliant , a gifted genius with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge . When the trauma of partition disrupted his education , he spent his time picking up Ayurveda and health diagnostics from Nadi examination -from my grandfather who was a renowned Vaidya .Tataji’s interest in Chemistry was cut short when a cylinder explosion nearly crippled him as a graduate student and my grandmother pleaded with him to change his stream. Tataji switched to Philosophy and Logic and despite studying the subject for the first time , went on to top Delhi University in his Masters .And much before Rancho ( of the 3 idiots movie fame) popularized the idea- Tata ji mastered the art of learning varied subjects by simply attending their lectures in his free time . At Cambridge , his Professors acknowledged his grip on English as being better than the British . At home – he enjoyed tripping my mother – a Chemistry Professor on basic concepts and his physician friends on their clinical diagnostics .
As a professor of logic and philosophy he espoused rationality and denounced astrology vehemently, making fun of my father when he , a well known Physicist , picked up the study of phalit Jyotish and Prashna shastra. Tataji was somehow persuaded by someone close to him, that in the spirit of rationalism , he should learn basic astrology and check the empirical validity of predictions before denouncing the discipline . So , Tataji a shastri in Sanskrit – read up Brihat Parashar Hora Shastra in original Sanskrit followed by Uttar Kalamrit , Phal Deepika, Muhurt Martand and others and tried sincerely the predictive techniques he learnt . He was astounded by their accuracy and became a fan especially of Muhurt shastra – being so fanatic that he would give us the right homeopathic medicine in the right muhurta only .
He cupboards soon overflowed with Panchangas . He practiced his art of making horoscopes on the back of DTC bus tickets in his beautiful small handwriting . And as he kept losing them , he had to make the same horoscope again and again – but never did he get irritated from this unwarranted practice .
Tataji was a very forthright and blunt person in personal interactions -never hesitating to speak the facts as he saw them without any sugar coating . At times this alienated close family members too but Tataji didn’t care .But as an astrologer Tataji kept his predictions optimistic and hopeful-circumventing the part about impending disasters . There were rare exceptions to this rule . When my father was diagnosed with fourth stage cancer and despite the initial gloomy prognosis , radiation therapy started showing impact and my mother and the rest of the family were overjoyed at the prospect of a complete recovery , Tataji’s voice was the lone cautionary one . While he didn’t have my father’s birth time , reading from my younger brother’s horoscope – he gave the critical period of a week – which he said was difficult for my father -and which if he passed would lead to his full recovery . But sure enough , in that week my father’s condition deteriorated and soon thereafter he left to meet his maker .
Tataji brought me and my brother up like his own children showering us with his unconditional love. While growing up I saw how he gave hope and optimism to the few people who placed their complete faith in his predictions . He remained fanatic about muhurta .He would just sit in meditation and deep contemplation during the inauspicious times and suddenly have a surge of energy during the good muhurtas .
While I was in College , he told me I had a gift of learning astrology and tried teaching me the techniques . While I began with a lot of enthusiasm , it soon fizzled out . Studying in one of the most prestigious colleges in the country ( also known for its snobbery) imbued me with a sense of over confidence ,invincibility and the feeling that I am a master of my own destiny . I felt sure in my heart that I would become a Professor following my family lineage and my horoscope showing a sudden stop in my education would be false . Also ,being a nerd I never could believe the predictions of an early marriage , a love marriage and a turbulent life .
But lo and behold – all the forecasted events happened and my faith in this vedanga went up multi fold . I acknowledged and finally understood the power of destiny .Tataji was always there to guide and show us the right path at all cross roads of life . When my son was born , several famous astrologers consulted by my father in law -made dire predictions – that he won’t live beyond the age of 4 . And sure enough he had debilitating and near fatal asthma attacks . Tata ji was again the lone voice – inspiring hope and optimism – telling me which thumb rule other astrologers were using and why its not applicable .The same situation repeated when my daughter did not meet some developmental milestones and the doctors suspected an incurable mental condition . Tata ji was the only one inspiring confidence in our terrified hearts with his confident and reasoned predictions .
A week before Tataji’s sudden demise , I had the uncomfortable hunch that he will leave us soon but when I asked him to read about his own health , he again consulted my brother’s chart and said a couple of years of life span were still left for him – his only wrong prediction and that too ,I believe, as he didn’t have his own chart .
When he was gone , we were left rudderless and came face to face with greedy and often manipulative tactics of many professional astrologers .The astrologers sometimes would praise the good fortune but immediately remind us of a looming disaster. No astrologer let us go without a gem recommendation or asking for a massive dakshina for a puja required to placate the paap grahas.
Inspired by Tataji and his prophecy that I will learn this science , I picked up astrology while on a career break . I learnt from the classics myself and then under the tutlege of the qualified faculty of Institute of Astrology . I am still a student of this vast subject and have a long way to go . The intricacies of the science are tough to master . But the indelible impression of my first teacher , Tataji still defines how I use and practice astrology. To kindle hope and inspire faith and confidence as opposed to creating fear and restlessness . More on that in the next post . Jai Sri Hari .