|Juliana Swanson: For most of your life, you have lived in the Orange City of Nagpur, Maharashtra State, near the center of India in the tropical plains. Did your family come to Nagpur when you were a little boy because of your father’s profession as a physician?|
inclination to Jyotish. Neelkantha of Neelkantha Tajiki and the interpreter of Jaimini’s sutras, is thought to have been from ancient kingdom of Vidarbha, in which Nagpur is located. So, interaction and free and frank discussions with other astrologers is quite common in Nagpur. In times of my father too many astrologers used to come to him for his advice and the city has an atmosphere of informal discussions within the astrological community. In my times, most of Jyotish learning was through direct contact with the teacher. Now of course there is “Kavi Kulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University” which has courses like B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Vedanga Jyotish (Vedic astrology), and there are also many who teach Jyotish in the classroom type format. One of my students also used to hold classes and had requested me to be present and give some lectures that I used to give. Many of the astrologers and astrology students come to me for discussion on Jyotish principles. I also teach a few students who have already done their M.A. and one who has been honored with Ph.D. in Jyotish, in the typical old style of focusing on Jyotish principles, instead of merely going through example charts. My approach is to allow the students to ask about any problem that any of their acquaintance has had and then asking them to hazard a guess of the possible planetary position in Bhavas, guiding them as to what could it be the position or Bhavas/karakas involved. Once the discussions are over we use the birth details to cast the chart and check how far what we thought is the planetary position, matches with their position in the actual chart. Sometimes I talk to them about the different flavors of qualities of planets and at other times about human anatomy and planetary connection with disease and Bhavas. I always looked at astrology as a finite science and think that the natal chart must indicate potential of problems that are likely to arise in a Jataka’s chart.
|Chandrashekhar Sharma: Yes, my father came to Nagpur after becoming a Physician from Kolkata University and constructed a house in Nagpur where he had studied while getting his B.Sc. degree. Being in Government service, he was getting transferred all over the then, state of C.P. and Berar, so though I was born in Chandrapur (about 100 miles from Nagpur), when he got posted to Nagpur we came to live in Nagpur and most of my life including education and career I have lived in Nagpur. |
Juliana: There seems to be a thriving Jyotish community in Nagpur. Can you share a little about this and tell us how you are involved?
Chandrashekhar: Nagpur has had many famous astrologers amongst whom were P.S. Shastry who wrote on Jaimini Sutras, H. N. Katawe who also wrote many an astrological text. The land has a natural
Juliana: You originally learned astrology from your father who had learned Jyotish from his mother, who learned it from her ancestors in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Were many of these ancestors women? This seems curious as the roots of Jyotish seem to be more patriarchal than matriarchal, but maybe this is not so in the oral tradition?
Chandrashekhar: Yes, you are right, though there is twist in that story. My father used to make me reach right conclusion by questioning why, what I would say can happen is possible by playing devil’s advocate and instilled in me the habit of deeper inquiry into the principles of astrology. That is perhaps the reason I tend to ask for a shloka if someone misquotes something as being said in one classic or other. My grandmother taught astrology to some people who wanted to learn astrology, in Indore, where my grandfather had settled for his career. However, she learnt it from her family, which was from a place called “Kandmangalam” in the now Tamilnadu state in India. She continued her studies even after marriage when she went to Indore and I do have one book that was used by her in my possession.
expressed a desire to study astrology, my father had no problem, though he knew that she might not continue the study for long.
|Our roots are in Tanjavur district of what is now known as Tamilnadu state and in our family, there has never been any differentiation between male and female in matters of studies, either formal or of divine sciences. So, my grandfather migrated from a place called Mangudi in Tanjavur district, and so did my Grandmother when they got married and she learned from her father and I am sure other ladies of her family might also have been taught if so inclined. As a matter of fact, when my sister|
Juliana: You have been a student of Jyotish (Vedic astrology) since you were about 8 years of age, which means you have been a disciple of the holy science for 50+ years now! Please describe some of the changes you have seen in the way that Jyotish is practiced over these many decades?
Chandrashekhar: Yes, I am now in my 72nd year of life so it is more like about 64 years that I have been a student of the divine science and I hope to continue studying it till the end of my life. About difference in the way astrology was practiced, the biggest change for the better that I see is arrival of computer programs to calculate and cast charts. In my days, we had to keep all local almanacs (Panchangas) and calculate charts by hand. Of course, in those times there was no confusion about what should be the year to be used for Vimshottari dashas, nor what is the time of birth. Every astrologer worth his salt knew that 60 Ghatis make a day, 30 days a month and 12 months makes a year and the day on earth is Savana day. He knew what is to be considered as time of sunrise too and had no confusion in his mind as to erecting Shanku and knowing degrees of planets as well, as time of the day was known to them. So, they knew what to be used for astrological calculations. Everyone knew that first cry of the baby (indicating first draw of breath on its own) was the time of birth. Of course, much importance was given to Gandanta birth and the remedial Pujas (ritualistic worship) to ward any ill effects due to it. Most astrologers used Moon based transits those days.
About the changes that came to the way astrology is practiced since when I was young, I would say that there are many differences. In those times, the astrologers were more interested in predicting about questions asked and a few would also give lifetime readings. But generally, the astrologer was more of like a counselor to the family too. The fees for reading was never demanded, what was offered was accepted by most, barring a few. Some astrologers like my father did not accept any fees at all as the firmly believed that being a divine science at least a Brahmin should not accept any fees for helping the distressed through use of a divine science (a tradition I try to follow).
In those days people were more scared about Sade-Sati (7 and1/2 years) of Saturn and the unscrupulous would scare them using that scare. Most of the remedies that were suggested were Pujas (worships) or fasting. The Kalasarpa yoga was virtually unheard by most and I think (not sure) it was P.S. Shastry who had given a shloka where it was mentioned in an article of his in Astrological magazine. Yet, not many gave it much importance and the knowledgeable used to say that anyway its ill effects are over by 42nd year of age and what is so great if one has to strive hard, when young, to succeed later.
The blatant commercialization of Jyotish was unheard of in those days. The current practice of giving mantras like toffees was unheard of. If any mantra was prescribed at all that was done with great thought including whether it is really required and whether the Jataka will be able to really concentrate his mind on the mantra or not. The prescription of gems was the first step and if that was not going to help and mantra was likely to help then only the mantra was given. In certain cases, the Jataka was plainly told that only medicine will help instead of misleading him with arcane remedies, gems or mantras.
Juliana: Your father was a medical practitioner by profession, and you were a mechanical engineer by profession. It is quite common among Indian astrologers to have a more traditional vocation in government or the sciences while also studying and practicing astrology on the side as a seva. There seems to be trend among some younger astrologers in India who are choosing to be full-time professional Jyotishis, which is the way it is usually done in the West. Please offer your thoughts about this.
Chandrashekhar: Personally speaking I think the divine science should only be used to help the distressed. If one has a profession, from which one earns his livelihood, one should not charge any fees. Only if someone offers something out of gratitude, then one might accept a gift and that too if one is certain the person is able to afford the same without causing any great financial burden to him, and has actually benefitted from the advice, rendered, without expectation. Here also one should exercise discretion and not fall prey to greed.
In ancient times, the Kings used to grant enough lands and wealth to the astrologer so that he did not have to depend on fees from commoners and that is not the case now, and I understand this. Therefore, I do not mean that one not having any other profession should not accept fees, for reading, if offered voluntarily or that one should not prescribe any fees at all, but I am certainly of a firm opinion that no one should be refused succor through this divine science only because he or she is not able to afford the astrologer’s fees.
The only thing I am worried about is the trend amongst those turning full time professional astrologers of trying to scare the client, only in order to make him part with money and prescribing remedies that have no basis in the divine science, nor the astrologer himself has any knowledge about. Many of such astrologers invent yogas that have no reference in classic texts and are only on look out of curses so that the client can be fleeced. There is a trend of claiming having got some Siddhis (occult powers) and ability to solve all problems through use of astrology and it is sad to see people falling prey to such people and coming to grief.
[Editor’s note: this practice is not, to my knowledge practiced in the West, although in India it is quite prevalent. In the phone book, you can see advertisements for astrologers who will cast “spells” for you on other people.]
Juliana: Your bio also states that by using the least number of astrological parameters, you can still arrive at a fair number of correct predictions. In other words, you like to “keep it simple” as “information overload [too many complex techniques] sometimes results in incorrect interpretations.” Please say more about this and explain what the most important parameters are.
Chandrashekhar: I think that with 9 planets in different combinations, 12 Rashis and 12 Bhava with different Navamshas and Navamsha Bhavas and Karakas, coupled with Vimshottari Dasha up-to 6 levels and transits, available, we already have thousands of permutation combinations (they would go to about a billion if properly assessed) for us to go in to various D-charts, Bindus, Pushkar amshas, Mrityu bhagas, multiple Avastha, Rashmis, Rashi drishties, Arudha, Karakamsha, Chara karakas and so on, as human brain can only process X amount of data without the hard disc of brain crashing. If we cannot analyze a natal chart using Bhava lordship, karaka, planetary placement and current transits, with the Jataka sitting in front of us, then it is not very likely that using the additional tools we can do justice to the prediction made. Of course, I could be wrong, but then at this age it is difficult to change!!!!!!
Juliana: You have said that the vast knowledge in Jyotish is yet untapped and needs to be understood in its proper perspective. What is that proper perspective?
Chandrashekhar: One needs to understand that the natal chart is the transit chart of the time of birth at the place of birth. Also, that the chart is telling us about the manner in which a Jataka perceives different parts of his life and limbs and the way others perceive them. Having understood this one has to understand that our predictions are extrapolation of the way the Jataka will behave and shall feel at different times in his life and therefore what would be happening at those times. So we have to understand that the planets represent certain types of energies acting on different parts of the brain of the Jataka and that the chart represents the potential that a Jataka possesses which can be realized to the fullest by undertaking right actions at the right time (indicated by transits & Dasha.
We need to understand that the descriptions of planets in human forms are in a way use of iconography to make one visualize the type of energy working upon the brain of the Jataka and we try to fathom the final effects. We also need to understand that as astrologers we can only advise right path but it is the Jataka who has to walk the last mile to achieve the desired results.
Juliana: You mention in the Foreword of your brilliant book Vedic Astrology Demystified that religious sadhana is not necessary to learn Jyotish, and that the sincere effort given to learning Jyotish in itself is a sadhana. What do you think is the origin of this misunderstanding about religious sadhana being necessary for the mastery of Jyotish?
Chandrashekhar: You are very kind to call my book a brilliant book. I have only given my understanding of the divine science, in it. I know I will be criticized for my opinion, but must speak the truth. Astrology was one of the 100 subjects that were taught to every student in ancient Indian academic system known as Gurukul system, where student used to go and stay with the Guru and learn all the 100 subjects in 12 years of time. Certainly not all of them were doing religious Sadhana. The very word Sadhana means leading straight to a goal and if the goal is learning Jyotish, and one focuses on learning it that itself is Sadhana. You will notice that nowhere in the classics is there any injunction to perform religious Sadhana before attempting to learn Jyotish. I am sure the Sages were more knowledgeable than me.
I think the genesis of the religious Sadhana is in the practice of all practitioners of ancient sciences to pray to their Guru, or family deity, to grant them intelligence and seek his guidance thus in effect getting rid of their own ego and enabling them to focus their mind on task at hand. In earlier days, everyone knew Sanskrit so they knew what was being said. In modern times, perhaps both the teachers and the students think that the Sanskrit prayers themselves indicate need for religious Sadhana.
Juliana: Would you please share something about your own janma kundali that indicates why you are one, a happy householder with a wonderful loving family, two, a successful engineer, and finally an astrological consultant and teacher?
investigating claims and mostly worked in the Motor part of Insurance field, though I did conduct fire and burglary surveys. Jupiter occupying the 11th gains strength and aspects the 7th Bhava, and to despite prediction of astrologers of earlier generation my marriage has lasted all these about 43 years. You can also see that there is mutual exchange between the 7th and the 2nd lord and both are Vargottama and Saturn is retro with directional strength being Lord of the 2nd house. Moon in 11th has made me earn through various businesses too. You can find Lord of 6th in 2nd (Sun, Mer, Venus) and I do love animals, including dogs whom I treat like family. So, there you have it in a nutshell.
|Chandrashekhar: It is interesting that you want me to talk about my Janma Kundali. I must admit that my Kundali is not the easiest one to analyze, since all planets occupy only 4 Bhavas. But I will give some pointers. I have Sagittarius ascendant with Ketu occupying it and this has been called by many to be pointer to one who is born astrologer, but let us keep it in realm of speculation. You will notice that I have Jupiter Lagna lord conjunct Moon the 8th lord aspecting the 5th Bhava, indicating that I could impart knowledge of occult and also adviser of things not easily understood or where research is needed. It also indicates that I will have knowledgeable students. Mars, conjunct Rahu and Saturn, aspects my 10th Bhava indicating career to do with engineering, investigation, and machinery, which could be related to hard work. I Have worked in earthmoving machinery field and also as Insurance surveyor which involves|
Juliana: You describe in your book that when you were very young, your father taught you the ancient Sanskrit sloka: satyam bruyat priyam bruyat na bruyat satyamapriyam, priyam ca nanrtam bruyat esha dharmah sanatanah, which means “One should speak the truth in a pleasing manner. Never speak truth which is unpleasant to others. Never speak untruth, which might be pleasant. This is the path of eternal morality, Santana Dharma.”
For astrologers and students of astrology, please explain how one can abide by this principle when consulting with a client if there is something in their janma and dashas that looks to be challenging or difficult? How does one say this in a way that is pleasing and not unpleasant?
Chandrashekhar: I think telling the background of the reason my father told me the shloka could help understand the way one could implement it. Actually, it was by accident that my father got to know that I used to read his astrological books while carrying them to and fro from his library when he used to ask me to fetch one. This used to happen when astrologers would ask him why their predictions did not come true and he enlightened them by pointing out to them to what is said in classics and where they might have been wrong.
One day a learned astrologer from Nagpur had come to my father and during discussions asked him if I will learn astrology. My father asked the astrologer to look at my chart and give his opinion. In the course of looking at my chart the astrologer said I will have three marriages, as there are three Malefics in my 7th Bhava (Rahu/Mars/Saturn) and like a young fool I rudely contradicted him and asked him how could that happen as the shloka Rahu dosha M BudhaH hanyad ubhayostu shanaishcara….” indicates otherwise and other details, the astrologer was learned and gracefully conceded that this had escaped his attention. Then I realized that I had let the cat out of the bag and slinked away. After the learned astrologer left, my father called me back and asked me why I spoke like this as it might have hurt the learned one, and recited the shloka. I asked him the same question and he said I could have asked the astrologer would there not be any minimization of the negative effect on account of the shloka that I quoted instead of contradicting him directly?
So, the first rule should be not to volunteer any prediction unless the Jataka specifically asks about it. Next is that in case even if he/she has not asked if some really serious thing appears in the chart, an astrologer can always say that there is a possibility of something negative happening and advice as to what action of the Jataka could help eliminate or minimize the problem envisaged. Even when predicting about something negative one should check the negative from at least three different angles and then only venture with negative prediction. If one tells that there appears to be a possibility of some danger and also advises how the Jataka can try to overcome it the Jataka is not hurt. Also one should never tell lies to Jataka only because he/she wants to hear it and is ready to pay astrologer to get to hear it from him/her. This many a times happens when a Jataka suspects the spouse’s fidelity.
In case of a student asking whether he will pass his examination and one finds malefic natal and transit influence on Bhava of education coupled with negative Dashas at the relevant time, one should rather advise a student that the time is a bit difficult and therefore he should study harder, than to tell him he is going to fail an exam, which if followed by Jataka, would result in the Jataka getting less marks and yet passing the exam. And he/she would neither feel bad nor would the astrologer be guilty of destroying his/her confidence. Predictions of death should be avoided and only be made if there is some special circumstance necessitating that. One must remember that being a predictive science, there is always an element of error in it and even the astrologer’s mind is also not immune to planetary transits, his/her natal chart and Dasha operating at lowest level at the time of prediction.
Juliana: When did you retire from your engineering position and how is your retirement going? Are you devoting more time and energy to teaching Jyotish now? I think you have mentioned before that you are consulting with clients but don’t always charge a fee for those in distress. That must keep you very busy!
Chandrashekhar: You can see from my chart that I would have done many professions. So, I worked in Government department for some time then became an independent Insurance Surveyor/assessor, took to dairy farming and agriculture and in 1996 started a small shop for garden and Dog accessories where I still work though am free to meet people who come to seek my guidance. You are right, since I do not charge for astrological consultation lots of people do come for consultation. Initially I used to do it for everybody, but these days I tell people that I will only analyze a chart only if there is some serious issue involved. This was because I could not get time to attend to my business and writing with people coming for consultation about frivolous things like when should I book my ticket to go to X place or Y place. I also tell plainly, yet politely, that I do not carry out lifetime predictions (as I believe results could change due to karma of Jataka) but can guide them as to what should be their karma to minimize the negative results and to obtain the positives indicated by the chart to fuller extent.
Juliana: Are you taking students, and if so, are they local or international, or both? What format do you use (seminars/webinars, Gurukula, one-on-one tutoring, or something else)?
Chandrashekhar: I do teach those are truly desirous of learning astrology but I am not one comfortable with the class room teaching style. So, I said earlier I have some students who are already qualified to Post Graduate and above in Astrology that come to me daily at my shop in the evening, as face to face teaching, through discussion on principles and using diverse examples of everyday life to convey a concept is better way of teaching, is what I think. I also have some students in many other countries. But my style of teaching is that the students should read the classics and ask me any difficulty in understanding a concept or its application to chart, by mail. This enables me to explain at length and for the students to understand the principles, in depth. It also overcomes the time-zone issue and I can answer when I have free time.
Juliana: In addition to your textbook which I feel should be in the library of every Vedic astrologer, your website offers a wealth of articles and learning resources including a relatively new series of videos which you make available at no cost. In one of the videos, you mention that since you have been an astrologer for a long time, you can “afford to be more orthodox, or at the same time, unorthodox.” Please explain!
Chandrashekhar: My experience is that people tend to take the young person lightly, though that should never be the case, even if the person is speaking logically and more so in matters of Vedic Astrology and religion. At my age people are at least ready to listen to you and try to find out if what you say has sound logic before rejecting the proposition outright. When I say that the natal chart is nothing but a snapshot of the Jataka’s personality and traits and the planets represent various extents of ever changing electrical energies affecting different parts of one’s brain and likely action which bring certain results, or that religious Sadhana is not needed for learning Jyotish, which is as unorthodox as can be, yet I can afford to say that. Or when I say that Bhagya because of Poorva karma (luck due to good or bad karmas in last life) is mostly limited from -- to which parents one takes birth till the time one completes one’s education or professional training, and for the rest of life it is the Karma or way one takes various actions that modify the results of what is promised by the chart, people do take me seriously and begin thinking about it.
Same happens when I talk about our brain being sort of a printed circuit board on which certain circuit is imprinted on account of the electric field (of the magnitude of Nano-Tesla) operating at the time and place of birth which is indicated by the chart, the technologically aware generation listens to me with respect and nothing could be more unorthodox for the astrologers of my time. At the same time while I say that Pujas are not very efficacious and yet in certain circumstance (though rarely) I advise someone to recite a certain mantra, or when I say that the effect of enabling one to think logically (as against emotionally) can also be achieved by deep meditation, or when I explain astrological principles by citing some story from Purana, as illustration, I am as orthodox as can be and even that is possible for me to do as my age does permit that.
Juliana: Is there much difference that you are aware of between North Indian and South Indian astrology, and which do you prefer?
Chandrashekhar: There is not much difference to speak of as far as interpretations go. Actually, the chart that is described in BPHS (in description of Kalachakra Dasha) is the south Indian chart and yet BPHS is most popular in North India. The difference which appears is in the approach to interpretation. Of course, there are nadi readers who have a different approach but if you have had your nadi reading done, you can make out that in general part they are talking about effects based on transit of Jupiter and Saturn from Ascendant. Even Jaimini sutras are amplification of what is mentioned in Parashari. Of course, there is the Prashna Marga and other horary systems peculiar to South India but reading them one finds the author mentioning the basis of the text as Varaha-Mihira who was very much an astrologer from North India. There are some differences in the Panchangas (almanacs) and in some southern astrology system the Vakya Panchanga is used. But even there only one planet will change Rashi, rest of the planets remain in the same Rashis as by Northern system. So, it is only difference in approach and whatever one is comfortable with and used to deliver fairly correct predictions or guidance should be used.
Juliana: What do you think of the way western culture is taking to Jyotish? Do you think we have distorted, used, exploited, diluted, or mangled this ancient science of your homeland and ancestors? Are there any pros and cons and advice you have for those of us in the West?
Chandrashekhar: This is a mixed bag. It is very good that the west is taking up Vedic astrology and I am amazed at their focus on the learning of the ancient science and devotion to their Guru. What worries me is the way a beautiful and finite science which was said to have been given by Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati to help reduce troubles to people in Kaliyuga is distorted and projected as a science to attain God and spirituality. Every few days some new technique is claimed to have been developed though I do not see anyone changing the nature/kaarakatwas/dashas and so on from that already given by the sages and do not find any support in classics for the methods. What began as Kalsarpa yoga, in recent years got transformed into two variants and then twelve and now I learn there are 144 variations of the said yoga whose origin and results no one can show in classics not the logic. Also, it pains me that tall claims are made about providing remedies for any problems through mantras and arcane remedies, though if memory serves me right it is Mani (Gems), Mantra and Aushadha (medicines) are the three options told to be available in Jyotish.
There is no doubt that some Pujas and donations suggested in BPHS, Horasara and other texts, but how many have tested their efficacy is the moot question. Even Vastushastra which is part of Samhita (Natural phenomenon, effect on large group of population, nations) and not Hora (predictive science) and is nothing but science of construction is projected to change one’s fate. Even in prescription of Gems complicated formulas to decide the weight of gem to be used are given though no such reference is there in the classics and even gems not talked about are passed on as the ultimate cure under garb of astrology.
My advice to astrologers both Indian and western is to find out what is being projected as results actually happens on ground and try to delve if there is any astrological principle involved, when some new technique is presented as the final word in astrology, before adopting it. In case of Gems it is better to check if when one is prescribing some gem there is an issue in the area indicated by it by getting confirmation from the Jataka and learning the logic behind why the Gem is given and what is it supposed to achieve. Best advice that I can render is to be logical in approach to astrology and continually check whether your predictions have come near 70 to 80% accuracy and also learn from failure of predictions instead of blaming them on wrong birth-time and admitting on failed. Only then can one become a Jyotishi as envisaged by the sages.
Juliana: Thank you so much for interviewing with the Jyotish Star today!
|Chandrashekhar Sharma's Biography: |
Date of Birth 26th January 1946
Formal Education: Diploma in Mechanical Engineering (1965)
Associate of Federation of Insurance Institutes.
Associate of Institute of Insurance Surveyors and Adjusters
Other responsibilities: On Board of Governors of Indian Institute of Forest Management as Government of India Nominee.
Chandrashekhar S. Sharma.
“Amrit-Vilas”, 148- S.A.Road,
Shraddhanandpeth, Nagpur - India.
Cell number +91-9373122248
|Juliana Swanson's Biography: |
Star (Celestial Resource) and AVS (Academy for Vedic Studies).
|Juliana Swanson is a Vedic astrologer, RN (registered nurse), healer, mother, and wife. She runs her international practice as a Vedic Astrology Consultant and Holistic Wellness Coach from her home office in New Mexico. She additionally works remotely with clients all over the world as a Rebirther/Sacred Breath Coach. Juliana qualifies as an ACVA Level III certified Vedic Astrologer and Vedic Astrology Coach, and CVA Level II certified Vedic Astrologer, receiving two titles of excellence: the Jyotish Visharada, ACVA/CVA and the Jyotish Kovid, ACVA/CVA. Additionally, in 2012 she was awarded the Jyotish Kovid from the ICAS, Bangalore, India and the Jyotish Vachaspati 2017 from The Jyotish|
She is also certified as a Registered Polarity Practitioner and Rebirther and has additional certifications in MahaBote Burmese Astrology and Hast Jyotish (Vedic Palmistry) and has served on the faculty at ACVA and the International Academy of Astrology. Juliana may be reached by email at Juliana@AstralHarmony.com or through her website at www.AstralHarmony.com.