Interview of Gayatri Devi Vasudev By Dennis Flaherty
June 17, 2010 – Seattle Washington
Before the NW Vedic Sciences Conference
Dennis Flaherty (DF) – It is my pleasure to interview you today Gayatri on behalf of CVA Journal. I thought I would start by asking you to talk about the evolution of the astrological magazine that started with your family and the new direction it is taking under your direction. As I understand, it is the oldest astrological magazine ever in print and it is now called Modern Astrology?
Gayatri (GD) – Yes, the Astrological Magazine was first started by my great grandfather in 1896. When it came out, there was nothing like it available to the public, so the Astrological Magazine was in a unique category unto itself. Then it came out as a quarterly. Since we were under British rulers, many thinkers of those days were greatly influenced by the British and they had developed a rather inferiority complex for anything Indian. They looked disdainfully on Indian astrology. My great-grandfather was not bothered by it and brought out the magazine regularly, first as a monthly and later, as a quarterly. But then he ran into financial trouble and it folded up. My father was born in 1912 and after his birth, the magazine ran for a couple of years but not regularly. But in 1936 when Father was 24 years old, he was very keen to revive the magazine and so he began to work on that and with the blessings of Great Grandfather who was the editor and father was the publisher. Father had to work very hard and he had to face a lot of difficulties and obstacles but was able to overcome all that because of his 10th house being very strong with Vargottama Jupiter in it aspected by the exalted Moon, Ascendant lord Saturn and 10th lord Mars.
When Father was about eight or nine years old, Great Grandfather called the entire household to his room which included 30-40 members in each family including grandchildren, uncles, aunts, grand nephews, etc.). On that day, Grand Grandfather asked Father to come to him and then, patting him on his back, told the rest of the family, “This boy has a great future as an astrologer. He has Jupiter in the 10th House and he will be an outstanding man in his field.” Everyone wondered how could this happen, how was this possible. He has no mother, his father is blind and he is a student in a village school. They said, “From this small village, how can he grow into a famous man?” (In the village school, there was one school teacher who is also the headmaster and four or five classes would run simultaneously in that same room. So you can imagine the quality of teaching and learning.) No one could believe that this could happen.
But great-grandfather’s assessment of the little boy’s chart turned out to be correct.
DF – Great Grandfather was a visionary, he thought globally but acted locally.
GD- Yes, Great Grandfather, Professor S. Rao, was a very successful lawyer practicing in Madras and Andra. How he gave up his legal practice was a very interesting story. He had many rich clients. Once, a very rich client owned a large estate with many workers from the labour class. One worker made a tragic mistake (we don’t know the details) and the landlord got very upset called the man, scolded him and in a fit of anger, gave him a slap. Unfortunately for the landlord, the laborer collapsed and died on the spot. The landlord came to Great Grandfather with his case. The case was filed against him and he was charged with murder. Great Grandfather heard all the details of the case and coached him (as lawyers usually do) on what he should say in order to be exonerated. When the landlord came to the witness box, he was overcome by guilt. When the judge asked him what had happened, he immediately blurted out “I slapped him and he fell dead.” This was exactly opposite what Great Grandfather coached him to say. This made Great Grandfather was very sad that he had tried to persuade another person to lie and events went otherwise. As a consequence he re-examined his life and devoted himself more to the study of astrology.
DF – He had a crisis of conscience and this propelled him into astrology?
GD – There were all kinds of people, from the very poor to the very rich who came to Great Grandfather as he had been studying astrology and doing readings. Many people came to him and even the local British residents came. Even the Associated Press, the only British agency came to Great Grandfather as he had very strong astrological abilities. In fact, Queen Victoria’s son sent his chart to Great Grandfather. He was already 60 by then and he wanted to know when he would be the King. He sent 60 shillings for this advice. So by then, Great Grandfather was very well known all over.
However, his eldest son lost his sight and became totally blind and Father was born to this son who was totally dependent on his father for everything. He had no independent means of livelihood and his wife unfortunately passed away when father was just 14 months old, leaving him motherless. He was then brought up by Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother. Then, when Father was 24 years old, he revived the Astrological Magazine and this made Great Grandfather very happy. But of course, Father had to work very, very hard to run it. There were always problems with running the household with financial problems and all. Great Grandfather was getting old and had always been a very liberal, generous and magnanimous man. Many people came to him for financial help as he was a very large hearted man. He always gave them loans without a second thought, but the loans were never repaid causing him financial distress in old age. All that stress came down to Father, the great grandson. Great Grandfather’s own children were no help as the eldest son was blind and the second son was a school master in another village. The rest of his children were not earning anything. Others depended on Great Grandfather who was 80 years old by then. It was hard running a household with 30-40 family members.
Gradually father’s forecasts about the start of World War II and its course which came out stunningly accurate attracted global attention and appreciation. His predictions put Father on a global level. So he was able to continue running the Astrological Magazine making it the longest running magazine in astrology.
DF – Yes, his predictions around the timing of World War II and later events around Adolf Hitler were instrumental in giving global recognition to your Father’s work.
GD- In December 1998, my Father passed away and after which I was in charge of the magazine until my resignation in June 2007. The magazine came out again for two months, but I had to give up the magazine for personal reasons. My resignation was precipitated by certain astrological factors in my chart. I realized that things would now start going against me in a strong manner and that I would have to quit in unfortunate circumstances.
DF – We know all things must come to an end, but this must have been very hard?
GD – Yes, 0n June 6th I submitted my resignation and mother was in renal failure. She was admitted to the hospital, the best in the city, and she was there for a few weeks.
DF- What an overwhelming time of challenge.
GD – Father’s friends, admirers and well wishers kept calling and asked me to revive the magazine. One old friend of Father’s, (who is about 89 years old now) told me, “You are the only one that has had the unique advantage of working under your Father and this should not be lost by others. The training you have received from Father, you must share with others.”
DF – Thank you for accepting this challenge for the benefit of the Vedic astrological community.
GD – That is when I started working on reviving the magazine. Again, friends suggested we call it. The New Astrological Magazine, a new name to avoid legal problems.
DF – Do you want to share the humerous story about how the journal names have to be registered in India with our readers?
GD – Yes, to restart the magazine, I had to apply to the proper authority to register the name. It’s called Title Verification and the central authority has to verify that there is no other titles by that name. You never know with these authorities. The name, The Astrological Magazine, was already taken and we couldn’t just insert a NEW in the title and make it The New Astrological Magazine. When I explained that the old Astrological Magazine was now closed down, they still could not give us that title. They suggested a few other titles, but I didn’t want to use Father’s name, but I was running out of titles so I tried Dr. BV Raman’s Astrological Monthly or Monthly Astrology Magazine, — even now I don’t understand the logic behind this process.
DF – Interesting that it is probably a reaction to the British Raj. Adding “New” to Hampshire became New Hampshire, New York, etc. The “new” tends to be very British in its origins.
GD – The title, BV Raman’s Astrological Magazine. took weeks to be verified. They passed it in such a manner I didn’t know if I should be angry or amused! They gave me the title “Dr. Raman’s Astrological.” I called them up and said “I applied for the title “Dr. Raman’s Astrological Magazine,” but what you have given doesn’t make sense. “ It took three to five times to apply. Then the “Astrological Magazine Today” title was suggested. Some friends in the media said that in India, there are many periodicals like “India Today,” “Interiors Today,” and “Architects Today.” That group was possessive of that term “Today”, so they can sue and take you to court. So I started the process all over again. Then the only title left was “Modern Astrology” and so it is the only one left.
DF – Modern Astrology is a very good name!
GD – Free will and fate were acting together. Then after Father passed away, he became known as the Father of Modern Astrology. It is very interesting that I have been given the title “Modern Astrology” and it was my father who inspired me to continue his work. Going round and round, I was brought back to the right point finally!
DF – Now that the Astrological Magazine had expired, it has been reborn under your direction as Modern Astrology. So many magazines and journals have been forced to go online in these challenging times, including our own CVA journal. So, I am personally delighted that you will continue one of the most respected printed publications in the world of astrology as Modern Astrology. What do you see as the magazine’s future direction?
GD- Father’s main reason to revive the journal was the proper propagation of Jyotisha. And with the same aim in mind, I want to give it to people at all levels. One reason why I haven’t made it an online journal is that most people in the country do not have access to an online journal. In the small towns and villages, most people do not have computers or internet access. A printed journal gets to every nook and cranny of the country. It is the younger people who have access to computers. People in their 30’s, 40s and 50s have no access to anything online, so it is my wish to continue with the printed edition only. This I believe to be the proper propagation of Jyotish and it is very important.
DF – Yes, and the internet has a different kind of writing and journalism which is often not as scholarly. Much of the writing by necessity is commercial or superficial.
GD – I agree with you. In astrology, we have a new problem as the old writers are now gone. The younger ones with good academic qualifications in other subjects are doing the writing, but they approach the subject from different angles. They are trained in their own branches of learning. They may be able to ask the questions, but with a lot of new writers on the scene, its application is also growing in different ways. We are doing pretty well with the new writers in the field.
GD – For example, the career of counseling was not known previously. Guidance is very good, if you take up a chart and if you want to know if your child will succeed in engineering, medicine or any other field. You can find out if they can get into different areas of specialization (like cardiology, oncology, etc) can be seen on the chart. Maybe it was possible before, but yes, this can be identified by the chart. It was possible, but this was not explored during Father’s lifetime.
DF – Yes, astrology does not change, but its application through time does and that application fascinates us all.
GD – Yes, that’s the beauty of astrology – the sense of what astrology can see remains the same, only the form keeps changing. For example, in some of these classical works there are specific combinations for loss of property through fire. There are some combinations where you will suffer loss of property through fire, Mars in 2nd house can be that kind of thing. In olden days, setting fire to an enemy’s property (like setting fire to haystacks or fields) was a way to destroy people. Now the act of setting fire continues, but in a totally different manner. For example, what will happen is fire through explosives and bombs and incendiary devices, the same combinations with Mars would apply but with a little modification. In essence, those acts of violence to property damage are still committed by the same emotions of rage, jealousy, and anger, which still incite acts of terrorism. It’s the same root cause, the same kind of emotion that is associated with Mars.
DF – So the fundamentals are the same, but the forms change, i.e. incendiary devices or bombs are a modern interpretation of Mars and Rahu combinations?
GD – Yes, when Mars and Rahu are in combination
Techniques of bombs come under Rahu, Mars and Rahu relate to terrorists, and terrorist acts,
DF – What do you see as the astrological motivating factors behind such acts?
GD – The motivating factors are the same. For example, in the World Trade Center bombing, the motivating factor as an indicator of Mars was hate. Yet, there are different forms of terrorism, — terrorism in the world, between groups and even within the family, among family members.
DF –Gayatri, can you give our readers some other examples on how classical combinations can be interpreted in a modern light?
GD – Most classical texts have an entire chapter devoted to general yogas for prosperity and a happy life, in the context of being a spouse. And even if there are certain yogas described for being successful and prosperous, if found in the horoscope of a woman, refers to the husband. But now all that has changed, women are into careers, so whatever raja yogas for success, prosperity, for karma can be experienced by the woman directly. As first enunciated, this would have been offensive. Although the ancient, classical texts are not actually male-dominated, all the texts were written by men. They were thinking in terms of spouses to enhance their prosperity for the sake of the family and to bring them children.
GD – But now that the role of women has changed drastically where women have careers and independent lives. They are now in positions of power, in politics and other areas of life. All the yogas applicable to men also apply to women independently. For example, there are women in the police force, the army, women as judges and lawyers. The same combinations that apply to men can be applied to women. But the only area where there is a certain degree of exclusiveness is in the area of marriage, because when a marriage breaks up, no matter what the modern law says, the woman is more vulnerable especially emotionally than the man. Maybe she can manage finally, but a woman is always more shattered than the man because of the nature of her emotional make-up or some karmic reason. Then to some extent, the question of marriage assumes very great importance on a woman’s life. What is the good time to have relations with men? There is always a slightly different tone when you look at a female chart.
DF – So, the principle of the Yogas rremain the same, but their expression becomes and outcomes have changed with the times, but the fact remains that women have and always will, in my opinion, be more focused on the family than men.
GD – Yes, if you look at the picture, the number of women as housewives is larger than the number of men in that role. So again, some of these yogas are experienced vicariously, to some extent if you take the population as a whole.
DF- Women also work in contemporary culture, and this modifies the classical expression as well.
GD – Most men, 99% of men are breadwinners, and they have to have a vocation. But it is not the same when it comes to women, even in modern times. There are women who have a vocation, but not a livelihood, because of their area of interest, not for the sake of job satisfaction.
GD – The combination in horoscopy which revolve around marriage, children, duration of married life, they also apply to a large percentages of women population.
DF- Mars of course is not only involved in terrorism, but Kuja Dosa as well, leading to strife and conflict in married life. About fifty percent of all charts have Kuja Dosa and this is consistent with the divorce rate.
GD – One of the main strengths of astrology is the subject of foreknowledge can be of invaluable help, especially in this modern world where there a lot of anger and strife around the globe. With violence against countries and within countries, foreknowledge could be of invaluable help. If the governments of the different countries made up their mind to have an Astrology Department, I believe many of these
violent attacks could be preempted. In the attempts, they always heat up when Mars Rahu aspect conjunction or opposition. And this is all based on the national horoscope of the country in war. So basically the national horoscope would be the horoscope of the country on the date of its birth or independence. Thus, the Declaration of Independence chart of the United States has Sagittarius rising with Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Sun in the 7th house. So, whenever Mars and Rahu form aspects in relation to either Sagittarius or Gemini, the stakes are there for an outbreak of violence. There was a Mars Rahu opposition on September 13th, and the (World Trade Center) attacks came two days before on Tuesday, September 11th.
DF- Yes, that is correct, Mars with aligned with Ketu and Rahu.
GD – There’s going to be a Mars Rahu conjunction in Sagittarius and Mars Rahu square at the end of this year. And early when Mars in Virgo will be aspecting Mars in Sagittarius on top of the ascendant of the US, so these are sensitive periods and of course it should be caution then. There are times to alert when there are these destructive aspects.
DF – We will be publishing this interview in the CVA Journal in the fall of 2010 and Are there any other areas of Jyotish you are particularly interested in?
GD – Yes, there are two areas I am especially interested in: One is Earthquake prediction and the other is Terrorist acts. Political horoscopy and to some extent, affliction due to Mars is also drawing my attention a lot. Maybe because the present generation has many charts showing this combination, Political Horoscopy, terrorism and earthquake prediction.
DF- Do you have any interpretative insights in your mundane work on earthquakes that you would like to share with our community of practicing astrologers?
GD – Basically, when there is an eclipse or an eclipse related to a sensitive house in the chart of a country, then you can expect an earthquake shortly thereafter or about that period. Full Moon and New Moon days in particular which coincide with eclipses are very important. Also an eclipsed moon in a country’s chart is more earthquake prone. Then, Tuesdays and Saturdays are more earthquake prone. Of course, major conjunctions, especially if they involve earlier signs, can show earthquakes. Mars/Saturn conjunction in Virgo July 31st is earthquake prone. So it can be indicative of major seismic activity in areas, but there is also Jupiter in aspect, so there can be an earthquake with less loss of life and property, in a place where the population is less, but still I think it will be a sensitive period.
DF – Thank you, Gayatri, for your time today and sharing your knowledge and historical perspective of the Raman’s family involvement with the oldest and one of the most respected astrological magazines with our CVA membership. We wish to you good fortune and prosperity in the rebirth of the Modern Astrology Magazine.
GD – Thank you, Dennis, I enjoyed talking with you and I’m glad you gave me a chance to share my thoughts with our community.
DF – Gayatri, you are very foundational person in the transmission of Jyotish and an important voice for the astrological community. My community honors and thanks for taking the time to share your personal history and astrological insights.