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The Natal chart is the same as Birth chart. This is also called a Janma Kundali or Janam Kundali in India. The reading of this chart is what most people consider to be the sum total of astrology. With regard to Vedic astrology, the metaphor I like to use is that of photography. In photography there are different kinds of lenses that one can use. A wide-angle lens lets one see the big picture, the whole panoramic view, but will not allow one to see much detail. It does, however, give one the general scenario, from which one can see interesting points. If one wants to scrutinize further, he would use a zoom lens, which focuses on a much narrower field of vision but with the advantage of greater depth and detail. And one could go even finer into detail by using a microscopic lens. Vedic astrology has similar tools that can take us from the macroscopic to the microscopic level of inquiry.
The general reading of the natal chart would be like the wide-angle lens in our photographic metaphor. In it, the astrologer is able to paint your life with broad brush strokes, showing the general aim and trajectory of your destiny, the field in which you will exercise your free will. In this initial reading one should expect to be told who he is, where he has been, what his potentials are, and where his current actions will take him. Depending on what that destination is, one may want to change course.
In truth, most people do not understand themselves, and in fact are quite confused about who they are, how their mind works, why it works that way, etc. The vast majority of people don't really know who or what they are, on either the psychological or spiritual plane. Therefore, the first thing the Vedic astrologer does is analyze the general configuration of the chart.
This analysis will give a good indication of the person's psychology, character, and life potential. The astrologer will discuss the person's qualities, intellectual abilities, and aptitude; people skills and relationships with family, friends, and loved ones; financial acumen and status; education; travel; health; etc. Life potential indicates a person's predisposition and predilection in certain areas. For example, a certain combination of planets may indicate a person with acute intelligence and love of knowledge; this would give a strong potential for academic achievement or a career in research, teaching, scholarship, etc.
This initial analysis serves several functions:
- To bring the seeker a big step closer to achieving the Socratic ideal of "Know thyself."
- To verify the accuracy of the birth time and the horoscope. A good astrologer will be able to paint a picture that should be instantly recognizable by the seeker. The seeker should feel illuminated by the knowledge, as well as secure and confident that he is dealing with a qualified astrologer. This is especially important, since in most cases this will be the first time that the seeker will have met the astrologer.
- The astrologer will also understand the psychic nature of the seeker and be better able to guide him.
Depending on the situation and needs of the seeker, the astrologer will usually begin to read the timeline of the person's life, from birth up to the recent past and on to the present situation which caused him to consult the astrologer in the first place. This will put the original analysis into greater perspective. Then the astrologer will proceed to discuss the upcoming future trends and planetary periods that the seeker can expect to experience, both externally in the world and internally in terms of psychological attitudes. The internal and external realities are both very intimately related, for a negative mental attitude can attract, and often is the precursor to, equally negative experiences in external reality. The converse is also seen, that reverses in life can instill a negative and depressed worldview in the seeker, thus creating a vicious cycle of gloom and doom.
Note: We should explain that reading a chart is a process of discovery, much like an archeological dig; as we read the chart, planetary combinations representing various things present themselves. As he goes deeper into the reading and becomes more familiar with the terrain, the astrologer gathers more and more bits of information, which he pieces together to solve the puzzle. It will often be that a consistent pattern emerges and that the data reconfirms this pattern. But sometimes new information will present itself, prompting the astrologer to reassess the situation. He may then have to withdraw a previous statement. One should not mistakenly think that the astrologer is contradicting himself-- instead, through the process of discovery he has found new information which supplants a previous conclusion.
This is where the real skill of the astrologer is tested. A real Vedic astrologer doesn't just make some predictions and then stand aside. Rather, he is a Vedic Brahmana who has been trained in yoga, philosophy, counseling, etc. If he foresees difficulty ahead, the astrologer should be able to provide the seeker with strategies for meeting the difficulties in a mature and wise way. This, after all, is the essential benefit of Vedic astrology and the proper use of our free will: to act with wisdom, as opposed to reacting in ignorance. Simply knowing that difficulty lies ahead may be sufficient to avert real danger. One might still be influenced by the problem but will know what to do, not taken by surprise. In cliche terms, "Forewarned is forearmed."
In 1992 Hurricane Andrew destroyed a large area of Southern Florida. There was massive physical damage to property, but considering the horrific nature of the storm, the loss of human life was practically nil. Why? Because the National Weather Service had warned residents of the approaching storm and so they had had sufficient time to prepare for the inevitable. They evacuated dangerous areas, boarded up windows, cached food and water, sought high ground, and took shelter. They acted with wisdom. We can imagine what the death toll would have been if Andrew had pounced on Florida with no warning at all. The carnage would have been astronomical, and the people would have been reeling from that death blow, not knowing what to do next. That scenario is one of ignorance--that is, reacting to a situation after it has already struck, without foreknowing that it would happen. Generally there are much fewer casualties from hurricanes as compared to earthquakes, because presently hurricanes can be predicted by the weather service whereas no government agency can predict earthquakes--which strike without warning. (There is branch of astrology that deals with weather forecasting as part of Mundane Astrology, it is not much practiced these days because governments no longer patronize such astrologers as the kings of the past once did.)
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The above discussion should not unnerve one into thinking that the astrologer will read only dire predictions of impending ruination and existential calamity. This is hardly the case. (We simply have considered a worst-case scenario first.) Just as often, and much easier and pleasant for the astrologer, are predictions of upcoming periods of good fortune and happiness, free of difficulty and full of opportunity. People love to hear about good fortune. And speaking frankly, it is much easier for this astrologer when I have to report predominantly good news. (You perhaps know what would happen in ancient times to the bearer of bad news!)
It is commonly said: "Make the best use of a bad bargain." Often, hardship will bring the best out of a person. It has been observed that the only difference between the carbon in a diamond and that in a graphite lead pencil is that the former has been subjected to tremendous heat and pressure for a long time, then chiseled and polished to perfection. So while giving people bad news is not so pleasant, they often take it more seriously than when given good news.
The opposite of "Make the best use of a bad bargain" is "to squander a good opportunity" or "to rest on your 'future' laurels." Surprisingly, people often think that if good times are ahead they don't have to do anything. Wrong. When an astrologer indicates that there is smooth sailing ahead, it is not time to take it easy but rather to strive harder. Because resistance is lower, one is more likely to succeed; yet he must still endeavor with determination, although now the going will be easier. And, who knows -- the cycle may change. So it is the practice of a wise astrologer to advise his client to maintain and even increase his momentum in good times. In that way, if events should turn for the worst, the seeker will easily be able to overcome the problem. (For example, if one is driving on the flats and approaching a hill, he speeds up; the momentum of the car will carry him over the top with less effort.)
The usual situation among the vast majority of people is that their future karma will be a mixture of good and bad. So it is up to the astrologer to sort out, as much as possible, which is which, and then advise how to minimize the negative and maximize the positive with suitable strategies.
The process described above is how the astrologer tells the seeker "who he is," "where he has been," and "where he is going."
How Long Will it Take?
You should be prepared to spend from one to three hours (or in some cases longer) with your astrologer for the initial reading. The length of time will be determined by the subjects covered, questions asked, and the intricacy of the case. I have described a general first reading. Sometimes a person has a specific problem he wants to deal with, such as career, marriage, health, etc. The astrologer should adjust to fit the needs of the seeker. In so doing, however, several of the items described above may be omitted.
If the birth time is not accurate or is unknown, the astrologer may have to rectify it by asking certain questions and adjusting the time according to the answers. This requires extra time. Another factor that will vary the length of the reading is the particular kind of reading the seeker wants: predictive, spiritual-psychological, or a combination of both.
In this kind of reading the emphasis is solely on prediction, without any explanation as to underlying spiritual or psychological causes that may exist. This is most useful to people who just need to plan for the future.
In this type of reading we try to understand more about the mentality of the individual, why they are the way they are, and also the deeper, esoteric meaning of why they have taken thier present birth and what they are meant to learn in this life. Each element of the horoscope--sign, planet, house, etc.--has a deep spiritual significance. By analyzing these elements the astrologer can help the seeker to understand what it is they should learn in this lifetime, and how they must act to accomplish that mission. This kind of reading is most useful for those who are interested in spiritual growth, trying to find a deeper meaning to their life, seeking self-understanding, etc.
This is a combination of both types of reading, predictive and spiritual; it is a much more complex and lengthy reading, because both elements are combined. It is also the most useful of all.
To Whom It May Concern:
I have used Shyamasundara's services for Prashna readings several times in the past several years. I have to say that the advice provided by his readings have saved me from getting involved in a number of situations which would have either cost me much emotionally and financially, or would have been total disasters.
At this time, I have just had my horoscope done by Shyamasundara Das, namely my Natal Chart reading, Predictive and Spiritual combined, plus a detailed Bhukti reading. Shyamasundara provided me with an MP3 file, that contained a recording of a 4 hour-long reading.
Shyamasundara’s readings, give me deep insight into my own self, enabling me to understand and to come to terms with who I am on the physical, psychological and spiritual levels. His readings also provide me with sensible guidance, as well as clarification of certain issues and feelings which I had always felt deep inside myself, but that had so far been ignored by not only myself, but also by other astrologers.
In a nutshell, I find Shyamasundara to be an excellent astrologer. He is not only well trained, and well educated in the science of Jyotish; he is also a perspicacious and highly articulate person. His readings are extremely helpful, and I recommend him without reservation.
Professor of English
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