Part One of Two
By Charlotte Benson
Interview on January 27, 2009
|Chakrapani Ullal, heralded as one of the foremost Vedic Astrologers in not only the United States, but around the world, and considered to be a teacher of teachers gives us a view of his personal journey.|
As the founding Honorary Chairman of ACVA, he plays an active role in bringing together the Vedic and Western astrologers.
He took time out of his very busy life, to answer a few questions for us. I know you will all enjoy this Four Part Series as Chakrapani shares his wisdom!
In the Beginning. . . Part One
Charlotte: Chakrapaniji, please tell us about your background, and your beginnings.
Chakrapani: I am born into a family who has an astrological background. My father was a practitioner of astrology, and Ayurveda, and tantra. My motherís father was a great, well-known astrologer, also. So, in a way I am filled with astrological knowledge from both sides. And because my father was a practicing astrologer, when I was growing up, people from the village used to come to my father to ask about various things that they were going through - about health, about marriage, about finances, about other difficulties, conflicts - anything.
And how it works is - my father will sit down, and the people will sit in front of him, and generally it is not private. They are open; people will come, and anybody can come. And since the very beginning of childhood, I was very intrigued and interested in this kind of knowledge. So, I would sit in the meetings, and hear everything - how people would talk, and my father would reply. So it was an interesting phenomenon to observe. And most of the astrological terms I learned , just by being present, without reading anything. So after many years of listening to that, I developed a fascination for astrology.
My father was extremely adept in prasna astrology. And I used to be very good too, in prasna astrology. But since I have come to America, the prasna astrology is not so active. Because people just make appointments according to the time available. And in the prasna astrology, it is just the spontaneous interest of the client who wants to ask the question that makes it work.
So, my interest in astrology began very early. And even though I was very much interested in astrology, my father was interested in my education. So I was going to school, at the same time I was studying astrology. I finished High School, and attended University in the city of Madras, and received a Bachelor of Commerce. And during those four years, apart from astrology, I took a lot of interest in philosophy and spirituality.
When I was studying in college, I used to visit many places where the great devotees and sadhus visited. I met them, I talked to them - I was intrigued by them. So therefore, I started studying books about spiritual teachers of the past, including Shankarachaya and all other sages of the past. Their life histories were very much interesting to me. And along with astrology, I studied philosophy and spirituality.
Then from my hometown, I went to the University in Bombay, and studied Law. At that time, my interest in spirituality increased, because I started to visit Bhagavan Nityananda who was a very great Saint of the past century. And he is one of a kind - I donít think there is anybody like him alive today. He was unbelievably great.
I visited him every weekend, in those days transport was very difficult. But still it was so interesting. It took between two and three hours, but it was no obstacle. My interest was so great, that no obstacle was an obstacle - whether it was rain or sun, it did not matter.
So he was so great. I would stand before him and take his Darshan, and then come there again the next day. That is how my life went from 1952, onwards.
Then in 1958, I met Swami Muktananda for the first time. And that first visit was so impressive to me; and he was so happy with me. So he told me I could stay in his ashram when I came to visit Bhagavan Nityananda every weekend. It was a good practice for me.
Since Swami Muktananda also took a lot of interest in Astrology, and Ayurveda, it was interesting to me. In those days, in the beginning years of the 50ís, I was very interested in the Astrological Magazine, published by Dr. B.V. Raman. I knew him through his books and the Astrological Magazine, and felt very connected with him.
Swami Muktananda really pushed me into practicing astrology as a profession. I used to practice astrology on the weekends, and in the evenings. I cultivated a large clientele in Bombay. During the weekdays I was visiting them, and doing their charts, and that way, for 10 years, I practiced astrology, without charging any money.
Chakrapani: You know, you can be free, in predicting, when you donít charge any money, because you are able to tell whatever you feel like, and they are willing to listen. Of course, they know you are not a professional, so people will take it somewhat less seriously. Thatís the way I learned astrology - by practicing.
During the 50ís there used to be many visiting astrologers, coming to Bombay and Mangalore; well - known astrologers used to go from city of city to see clients, and I met many of them. I really promoted the visiting astrologers, and took my friends. In that process, I got to ask many questions. I made the client sit next to me, and I got to discuss Their charts. So I got the opportunity to learn astrology, because they spent the money, and I just spent the time.
Thatís the way I learned, for many, many years, throughout the 50ís. In the process, I met many great people, from whom I learnt very much. One of the great men whom I met, with whom I learned astrology, in Bombay, was Y.K. Shoman. Of course, he is no more, he has died. He was a great man. He was scholarly, he was a Barrister at Law from London, so he was well-educated and he took a lot of interest in me. He used to come and stay in Bombay for about three months every year. Then, I used to meet him every day to discuss astrology. You know, I used to spend a lot of time discussing astrology, before I became a professional. And I only became a professional astrologer in the 1960ís because Swami Muktananda sent clients to my home.
Chakrapani: That way I started learning, plus, I started earning money becoming an astrologer.
I worked my part time job , and did astrology in the morning. This is since 1966.
I came to America in 1979. And by that time I had a very good practice in India. I was not willing to come to America, because I would lose my clients. In India once a client comes to you, they want to stay with you, if they are satisfied - they donít want to change.
Once they go to another astrologer, they will not come back to you.
So, I was reluctant to leave and come to America. But Swami Muktananda really pushed me to come to America. So I did, and started practicing here in America.
Charlotte: Well - no wonder you are one of the preeminent astrologers in the world today! Obviously, most of your education came from firsthand experience. But, please tell me what scriptures you rely on.
Chakrapani: Brihat Jataka Hora Shastra is a standard book, and Hora Ratna, and Nadi Jyotisha, and Kalaprakasika, and everything that Varahamihira has written and suggested. I very much like Varahamihira - in my eyes he was a great, great person.. So I like all his writings. I like all classical books.
Charlotte: I understand that you coined the term ďVedic astrology.Ē
Chakrapani: Yes. When I came to America, they were calling it Hindu. Swami Muktananda said that was not a proper name for Vedic astrology - itís astrology from the Vedas. It is not about Hindus. The Vedas are for universal knowledge. That is why the term Vedic astrology was coined.
Charlotte: Thank you for confirming that. I know that your chart is private, but would you comment on any specific aspect in your chart that has made you such an accomplished astrologer?
Chakrapani: Yes. The two great planets, the great Shubha planets, Jupiter and Venus, they are occupying a very important house. That is what really gives me inspiration.
Charlotte: Iím sure our readers will find that interesting. Aside from those grahas, and your Gurus, do you have another inspiration now for continuing your work in astrology? I mean, practicing astrology is hard work isnĎt it - what keeps you going?
Chakrapani: (Laughing) It is not at all hard work - it is a pleasure! Doing astrology is a pleasure.
For me it is like entertainment. That is why I never get tired doing astrology.
Charlotte: Alright. Regarding your clients - what kind of questions are they asking you? Are their problems the same as they were in the 1950ís? And what are your main tools to counsel your clients?
Chakrapani: You know, Iím not really looking at the past, Iím only dealing with the present. Because people evolve; people have greater understanding, they have more wisdom, and they make more positive decisions. People come to me from all classes, into spirituality or not, with all issues in life. Most of the people who are interested in astrology, are, in one form or the other, spiritual seekers.
When I do the introduction to the chart, I say: ďBy making effort; by using willpower; and gaining the grace of God.Ē These are the three important pillars of evolution.
Charlotte: I like that very much. What are your main tools, when working with your clients?
Chakrapani: I do use Prasna, (a chart for a moment in time) on occasions when I am not completely sure. Mostly I use: Dasa, Bhukti, (the planetary time periods) and am very much involved with Nakshatras (the 27 constellations of the moon). And the aspects (the points in the chart each planet influences). That gives me greater understanding. I also correlate with the transits. But Dasa and Bhukti are more important.
Charlotte: You also do muhurtas for people?
Chakrapani: Oh, yes. They are most important because everybody needs some positive timing to begin some auspicious work.
Charlotte: Back to the transits - do you mainly use them from the Moon? OrÖ?
Chakrapani: I use mainly transits from the birth Rasi. But I also use them from the Moon, depending on how important each is.
Charlotte: Hereís a funny question for you. Have you ever used the outer planets, as they do in Western astrology?
Chakrapani: I donít know the outer planets at all - I donít know what they do or represent.
Charlotte: Ok. You have formulated your own ideas about many classic principles of Jyotish, including Graha Yuddhas (planetary war), based on your own research. Do you have something that you would like to say about discoveries you have made, in your own practice?
Mid March 2009 we will bring you Part Two of this wonderful in depth interview with Chakrapani Ullal.
You can meet and study in person with Chakrapani on the beautiful island of Kauai, Hawaii in May.
More Kauai HI Information
Chakrapaniís consultation contact information:
Los Angeles CA
Charlotte Benson (Jyoti Devi)
Diplomate: AFA, NCGR, ISAR
Executive Director, American College of Vedic Astrology, Inc.
President, Arizona Society of Astrologers, Inc.
Phoenix, AZ USA.