Further Considerations on Prabhupada’s Birthchart
As It Is and As You Like Him
Further Considerations on Prabhupada’s Birthchart
By Kailasa Candra dasa
“ . . . any gentleman, dhira, must be interested in jyotisa, astrology.”
This quotation is from Srimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.5. In October of 1978, I and a fellow devotional traveler landed in Bombay, having been sponsored by a married Hindu gentleman my friend knew in Berkeley. It was my second trip to Bharatavarsha, my close companion’s first. We stayed in the apartment of our sponsor and then departed the next day, by train (in third-class, i.e., the cattle car), for Mathura in what turned out to be a grueling ordeal. Of course, when I met this couple in what is now called Mumbai, they asked me about my interests. I had been in an intensive study of sidereal astrology over the summer, having only been first introduced to the science earlier in the year, so naturally I brought it up. I was surprised to find out that the wife of our sponsor had no faith in it.
It had been my impression that virtually all Hindus believed in and accepted the science of the fixed stars, but she went on to explain the chief reason for her profound skepticism. She opined that whatever the astrologer said to his client or inquirer, that person would immediately believe it; as a result, he or she would make it happen in his or her life. The demigods, laws, and principles of the universe work in such a way that, whatever you think is the reality, they tend to reinforce that belief (at least in most cases). This was her point, although she did not exactly explain it in that way.
That doubt is one of the reasons that we need to understand this science as it is, and the birthchart of Srila Prabhupada can be helpful in this connection. There are different branches of knowledge in the revealed scriptures of the East, the Vedas and their corollaries. Astrology is one of the important branches necessary even for even the common man. The intelligent men, generally known as vipras or brahmanas, are meant to study this branch of Vedic knowledge in order to guide society. As a matter of fact, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, has specifically said that “with other aspects of culture in human society, and specifically in civilized society, there must be knowledge of astrology.”
As alluded to earlier in this article, I had been studying sidereal astrology with great attention and diligence for much of 1978. However, I had become a bit frustrated in those studies, due to many apparent contradictions contained in literature explaining it. Without question, the biggest stumbling block was the ayanamsha controversy. In sidereal astrology, you need to place your planets as accurately as possible in their signs, because the subdivisions of each sign (hora, dreshkana, navamsha, dvadashamsha, and trimshamsha) are determined by accurate placement. The ayanamsha controversy was a bit maddening. You will generally get the sign right, including the rising sign (lagna or ascendant), but one ayanamsha will produce different subdivisional placements than another one. The two most prominent ayanamshas were Lahiri’s and Raman’s, but they did not always come up with the same navamsha placement.
As far as that goes, they rarely came up with identical dvadashamsha positions for the planets and point of lagna; not good. The planets were all specifically somewhere at the time of your birth. If you are a vipra, if you had been initiated by Prabhupada, you want to know just where each of them was. I was not doubting Prabhupada, of course, when I wondered why he did not give us this seemingly important knowledge.
Ironically and indirectly, it turns out that he did. Or, to be more specific, it turns out that his birthchart gives us this information—within close accuracy, at least—and that is one of the important points we are going to be explore in the second part of the series:
Let us first review the original installment. We have our occult books, one of which is entitled Advanced Primer of Sidereal Astrology, posted for purchase at kalapurusha.com. Other names for the Kala Purusha are, of course, the Virat Purusha or the Virat Rupa. There are two ways of calculating the lagna (ascendant) and the nine planets of the sidereal pantheon, but only one of them is really in use today in the West. The first way is very direct as per the complicated instructions of Surya-siddhanta. The second, popular way to calculate and place lagna and planet is by using the ayanamsha, which is a shortcut. Virtually all of the sidereal astrologers in America and the Western world employ the ayanamsha method of calculation. We have been indirectly given a very close approximation of the true ayanamsha due to Srila Prabhupada’s lunar placement in the sign of Gemini. Check out this letter:
Vrindaban, 6 December, 1975
Sriman Jaya Krishna Thakura B.Se., Ll.B
3 Locket Road
HA 3 7 LY,
My Dear Jaya Krishna Thakura,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated November 30, 1975.
Yes, I remember you were coming to see me daily at Bhaktivedanta Manor during my stay there in 1973. Regarding your question about my birth. I was born September 1, 1896, Tuesday at about 4:00 in the afternoon. My rasi is Mithuna.
I hope this letter finds you well.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
When he says “my rashi,” he is referring to the sign in which the Moon is positioned. When he says that it is Mithuna, that means the Moon was in Gemini. Now, if we apply either the Lahiri ayanamsha to Prabhupada’s birth data, or the Raman ayanamsha, both of them put the Moon in the previous sign, Taurus. Similarly, all the other somewhat popular ayanamshas out there—such as Yukteshvara’s, Krishnamurti’s, and Fagan’s—all also calculate the Moon to be in Vrishabha, Taurus. However, it was not in Taurus at the time of Prabhupada’s birth; it was in Gemini.
There is a great deal of unnecessary conflict concerning this, but the truth of the matter is both direct and clear (that is called mukhya-vritti interpretation, i.e., taking the statement directly as it is given). Prabhupada says to Jaya Krishna Thakur that his Moon was in Gemini. He had no reason to baffle this man; it is clear that Prabhupada was affectionate toward him. If Prabhupada’s Moon had been in Taurus at birth, he would have said so. The ramifications for not accepting this are profound and serious. Similarly, on the plane of society, friendship, and love, the negative ramifications of accepting what the guru said here are also profound.
This is because all of the Western siderealists agree—falsely agree–that Prabhupada’s Moon is in Taurus. This is because the ayanamshas that they all use (not necessarily all the same, although most use Lahiri’s) place Prabhupada’s Moon in Taurus via any software program out there. In what goes today by the name of corporate ISKCON, a number of astrologers can be found, sometimes on its fringes. They were initiated while Prabhupada was still physically manifest; they are supposed to be his disciples. Many if not most of them are making a living as astrological consultants, and some of them do quite nicely. However, if they are using an inaccurate ayanamsha—one that is not close enough to the reality of where the planets are situated—they are liable to be misleading those who take both their advice and direction. Just as the aforementioned Hindu lady mentioned, such advice will be neurolinguistically programmed into the client’s brain, hard-wiring his pranic and astral bodies with wrong data.
When I first revealed this knowledge well over a year ago, it drew a vitriolic reaction from the aforementioned section of astrologers. I experienced some relative setbacks as a result but did not allow these to either depress or oppress me. The fact of the matter is that I am very confident in the ayanamsha that I employ—and, yes, it is User Defined—because it places Prabhupada’s Moon in Gemini at 4:10 p.m. on September 1, 1896.
Now, I have no connection at all with any of these siderealists who run me through the grease, either privately by words or publicly via an article or two on the INTERNET. I used to know one or two of them, but those relationships (which were never strong) are ruptured now. This does not bother me whatsoever. If you want to be cheated, then cheaters will be provided to you. If you want to be bewildered by sophisticated explanations and propaganda, those will be sent to you.
However, if you want to know Prabhupada’s chart as it is—and, in the process, discover an accurate ayanamsha—that is also available. You are reading about it right now, here in this article. My goal is to make things clear. If you are interested to get into the finer weaves of the rug (where the blacks and whites no longer appear to be quite as grey), then consider purchasing Advanced Primer of Sidereal Astrology. I cover this issue in some detail there (in the Second Chapter).
If you think that Prabhupada did not know the astrological science at all and therefore innocently blundered in the letter to Jaya Krishna Thakura, that he simply repeated illusory facts based upon something he heard long before from some pundit–then you are a mental speculator. You do not understand the great personality, the shaktyavesh-avatar, you (falsely?) claim to be your spiritual master. Tri-kala-jna is one of the twenty-three mystic powers; it is actually one of the five minor ones. Prabhupada easily had it, as he had all of them in full. Anyone who is Paramatma realized has all of the mystic powers; Prabhupada was far beyond that status of realization. He knew where his Moon was, and he told Jaya Krishna straight where it was situated. He had no reason to mislead him, and he did not do so.
Having been raised in a brahminical and Vaishnava family that was full of Vedic knowledge and realization, Srila Prabhupada would have been, and was, well aware of his so-called horoscope. His birthchart was certainly prepared not long after his birth. Consulting it, he would have been fully aware of his lagna, lunar rasi, and naksatra; it is ludicrous to think otherwise. Actually, it is offensive to think otherwise, and such a relative view of Srila Prabhupada is indicative of weak faith in his exalted status.
Most astronomical data in Bengal at that time was printed in the Gupta Press Directory Panjika, based on Surya-siddhanta. Its astronomical placements were considered authoritative by the pundits of that region, where astrology was particularly strong. This G. P. Directory Panjika is said to also be the source of Vaishnava calendar data, apparently used in connection to the Nabadvip Panjika. That particular Panjika was edited by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, who was the topmost sidereal astronomer and astrologer of his time. Even many of the Gaudiya Mutt branches still use that Directory, although the Gaudiya Mission has abandoned it (switching to the popular method of the modern era). The Gupta Press Directory Panjika for 1896 in all likelihood placed the Moon of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in Gemini. Even if it didn’t (and that is almost certainly not the case), it doesn’t matter. Prabhupada said his Moon was in Gemini, and that should be good enough for all of us.
Now, in Part One of this series I made the following statement:
“Let me clarify this. Can I discuss Srila Prabhupada’s chart according to a detailed interpretation of the lagna, as well as the planetary placements in accordance with that (Capricorn) ascendant? Certainly . . . Also, when I eventually discuss, describe, and explain all of that, I shall, more than once, remind you that his planets functioned at all times according to their highest octaves, i.e., he was never under the laws of karma even for a moment.”
First, however, let us get into the ayanamsha a bit more. Western astrologers are tropical astrologers. They practice a system that assigns the first point of Aries in relation to the tropical year. Western astrology claims that the Sun enters Aries, its sign of exaltation, during the third week of March every calendar year. This we dispute. Sidereal astrologers say that the tropical or calendar year of the Sun has nothing whatsoever to do with where any planet is situated in the zodiac. Sidereal or Eastern astrologers maintain that the signs are cent-per-cent determined by the fixed zodiac of stars.
That annual difference now amounts to approximately fifty-four seconds of sidereal arc, or just short of one minute of sidereal arc. Sixty minutes equals one sidereal degree, of course.
This difference adds up each year, increasing the overall or total precession of the equinoxes. It is a complex topic, but we have to tackle it in order to ascertain one important piece of information: The ayanamsha.
Now, the point in the zodiac where the vernal equinox begins each year, according to some astronomical historians, matched the very beginning of Aries back in antiquity, circa 400 A.D. The difference between the lengths of the tropical and sidereal years–being so very small–for all practical purposes (back then) these years were virtually identical. However, like compound interest, a small amount eventually turns into something noticeable. At this time (2010), the precession is large.
The precession of the equinoxes has added up to such an extent that, when the vernal equinox begins in the third week of March each year, the Sun is still in the first third of sidereal Pisces—well over twenty degrees from the beginning of sidereal Aries.
Siderealists in the West (and many in the East, for that matter) also often use an Western emphemeris and Tables of Houses to initially calculate the tropical placements of the planets. From these calculations, they deduct the ayanamsha. Indeed, even with virtually all (if not all) the sidereal software programs available to the English-speaking world, an ayanamsha is inserted into the database in the sidereal program. The final sidereal positions are thus ascertained after the programmed ayanamsha does its thing. I employ a User Defined ayanamsha.
In India, all planets were originally calculated according to somewhat complicated formulas contained in the Vedic siddhantas. The primary such siddhanta was (and is still) known as the Surya-siddhanta. This comprehensive treatise contains computations such as the ahargana, the cycles of the planets, their epicycles, and the ayanamsha calculation. The ayanamsha in the Surya-siddhanta is not used to determine the sidereal positions of the planets.
It is employed in the calculation of lagna. Almost no one uses it now only for that purpose at this time, however. The ahargana and a planet’s major cycle determine the mean position of a planet. The ahargana, or total sum of days (since the beginning of the current negative age to any given date at this time), combined with the general or major cycle of the planet, places the graha somewhere in the zodiac. However, that’s not where the planet really is or, in other words, that is not its true position.
The planet’s epicycle has to be figured in order to adjust its mean location to its true position. Commentators on the Surya-siddhanta do not agree about the exact dimensions of these epicycles; there is a controversy in this area. The very great personality who perfectly delineated the epicycles (in his commentary on the Surya-siddhanta) was known as Bimal Prasad Datta. After his commentary was published and recognized by the learned men of his era, he then became known as Siddhanta Sarasvati. This is His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj Prabhupada, aforementioned. He was also the greatest spiritual master during the first half of the Twentieth Century, up to 1937 when he departed.
The overwhelming majority of Western astrologers who practice and employ sidereal astrology (for a myriad of purposes) do not–and could not for that matter–comprehend the formulas of the Surya-siddhanta. Neither would most of them understand the complications of the epicycles nor would they know of the true epicycles given by Siddhanta Sarasvati. His epicycles are a bit different from the “standard” epicycles accepted by most Hindu astrologers. Many of the astrologers of India still calculate planetary positions without using an ayanamsha, because they utilize the formulas (including their epicycles of choice) as contained in the siddhanta that they have firm faith in, usually the Surya Siddhanta.
In the early Eighties, I checked into Western formulas used by American astronomers, i.e., how they calculated the positions of the planets in the tropical zodiac. I did this at a major collegiate center on the East Coast, very near Washington, D.C. I discovered that they utilize Neugenbauer’s formulas. In analyzing his formulas, I was shocked to discover that they were mathematical calculations almost identical to those presented in Surya-siddhanta. In fact, the only difference I could find between the two systems was a variation based upon the Western presumption of parallax.
The point here is that planetary positions were not and are not determined by empirical efforts in observatories; they are determined by formulas. Mathematical formulas are used to compile an ephemeris, not empirical sightings. Those formulaic positions will accord with empirical evidence to a significant but not perfect extent. In other words, one empiricist at a given observatory will swear by his formula, based upon his observations. Another empiricist will place the planet in the same vicinity as his competitor, but not at the same exact degree, minute, and second of sidereal arc. His formula will be slightly different.
This discussion appears tangential, but it is relevant to the ayanamsha. The ayanamsha controversy cannot be resolved by telescopic or empirical observation. The ayanamsha is nothing more (or less) than a shortcut for determining the final, actual, or true position of any planet. It is also used now to determine the point of lagna, but in a different way than it was used in the ancient siddhantas. In using the ayanamsha, the Western ephemeris and Tables of Houses first provide the preliminary basis. Whatever ayanamsha is used, it cannot provide perfect results; this is because it is an approximate shortcut.
There is no one perfect ayanamsha, because there cannot ever be one. Here’s the secret that few know and even fewer share: The positions of the planets (via Western formulas) all individually have an inbuilt variance. Their formulas all have small imperfections, but just not the same imperfections. These variances are minute, of course. In order to have any planet determined exactly, only the formulas of the Surya-siddhanta, combined with the epicycles, will produce such a resultant.
The ayanamsha I employ for Srila Prabhupada’s chart is 20-32, i.e., twenty degrees and thirty-two minutes of sidereal arc. I have his birth taking place at 4:10 p.m. that Tuesday, in Calcutta as aforementioned. As such, I come up with the following placements of the planets and point of lagna:
Lagna: 12-16 Capricorn
Sun: 18-54 Leo
Moon: 00-03 Gemini
Mars: 18-50 Taurus
Mercury: 13-01 Virgo
Jupiter: 3-54 Leo
Venus: 3-41 Virgo
Saturn: 23-40 Libra
Rahu: 3-03 Aquarius
Ketu: 3-03 Leo
Only Mars, Jupiter, and Ketu are malefics. This is rather rare: To have six planets either exalted, yogakaraka, or benefic makes for a life that is extremely successful. Prabhupada had trouble from his leading secretaries (disciples), and that is indicated by Mars in the fifth. His sons, on the whole, were not that devoted to him either—certainly not in terms of being active in the Krishna consciousness movement he founded. The lord of the ascendant is exalted in the tenth; Prabhupada was arguably the most famous individual on the planet during his time. Yogakaraka Venus and Mercury form a great raja-yoga in the ninth, the house of philosophy and religion. The Sun is in Mula Trikona in the eighth, indicating a very advanced occultist.
No planets were retrograde in the chart; Prabhupada was never considered eccentric by anyone—he was always straightforward. Benefic Moon is in the sixth, indicating that he was protected from enemies. This position also indicates that his wife was inimical to him, and there is some evidence of that. Rahu is strong in his favorable sign of Aquarius; Prabhupada made and handled a great deal of money during his lifetime.
No planet is combust, although Jupiter is right on the edge of being so. It is a fantastic chart. When considered in the light of the Absolute Truth and highest octave of planetary considerations, this is certainly the chart of a jagat-guru—and that’s exactly who Prabhupada was. His planets did not work in a karmic way. He continues to be the most recent Acharya in our line. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
OM TAT SAT