|By Charlotte Benson|
Interview May 30th 2009 Kauai, HI
Charlotte Benson: Thanks for taking time to talk with me, Komilla. To begin – please tell us about your background. How did you come to be a Jyotishi? Did you come from a family line of Astrologers?
Komilla Sutton: No. I wasn’t trying to become an astrologer. But my life was in a mess, and I wanted some answers. So, I visited an astrologer, to ask him why is this happening. I still remember him saying that it’s all about Saturn. And then, in a way, you know, the pressure was off me, because that explained “why?” And it really made sense – it was coming from a really high philosophical base. I wasn’t even thinking about becoming an astrologer. It was just a great subject, and helps you understand how to deal with life – it was like a life coaching tool, for me. I remember this was in November, 1977, when I started to get involved.
Charlotte: That must have been an interesting dasa sequence, for you at that time.
|Komilla: Yes – it was Jupiter / Ketu. Ketu is, I think, the great indicator for Astrological knowledge. Because it’s past life knowledge.|
Charlotte: So – did you study with the same astrologer - or are you self-taught?
Komilla: I studied with him. I think of him as my guru, because he opened my eyes to Jyotish – although many teachers have come into my life. For many years I was studying, and looking at charts and my family’s charts, and studying books. Without really wanting to become an astrologer – I just wanted the Astrological knowledge.
Charlotte: And were you studying, during the same time that you were acting?
Komilla: I was, yes. At that time, I was in Mumbai, acting in films – I was there for 12 years. I think that has helped me, now, because of presentation, and how to work. That experience has helped me when I‘m lecturing.
Charlotte: I can see that kind of training in you – you’re so good in public. And it’s just so fascinating for you to be an astrologer / Bollywood actress!
Komilla: Yes – a star who was studying the Stars! You do see a lot of people who are acting, also interested in Astrology, because the same house deals with these two things – it’s the fifth house. I have a strong fifth house – that was part of my search. You know when we are younger, we’re searching for something that’s glamorous, and outward – you think that’s what you want. But that’s not really what you want – that’s like a stepping stone. Often it’s just about the journey. I knew from a very young age that I wanted something different – not the traditional role of a woman. So, part of that exploration was my work as an actress – I did that for 12 years.
Charlotte: A Jupiter cycle. So, you have a strong fifth house – the house of consulting, and -
Komilla: - and past life karma, and creativity, ideas. So for acting, you need a good fifth house, for creating characters. I write books also.
Charlotte: Yes – we all know about your wonderful books. So, you’ve converted your strong fifth house planets into making yourself a great astrologer.
Komilla: The fifth house is the house of the Higher Mind, of mantra, of knowledge. (Roosters crowing loudly, laughter!)
Charlotte: What other planetary placements do you have, that are specific to your successful career as an astrologer? That’s such a rare thing – to be a self-sustaining, professional astrologer.
Komilla: I think what’s important to astrologers, maybe to all yogis, is a strong Saturn. And I have vargottama Saturn, it’s got dig bala – I think that makes me an astrologer. It was in Saturn dasa that I finally started practicing Astrology. Also Mercury is conjunct Ketu – Ketu is very important.
Charlotte: I like the fact that you use the English names for the planets. (Laughter.) You’ve made it very easy to bridge the gap for Westerners . Many Western astrologers are looking for the kind of Astrology that Vedic Astrology presents – the spiritual aspect of Astrology. Thanks for making it sensible that way! So, speaking of background influences, what were yours? Did you cut your teeth on Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra, or did you find something more modern – or - ?
Komilla: When I first started studying Jyotish, we were not given very many specific resources – books to study, so much as in the West. So, it was very organic – the teacher gives you something and tells you about it. Of course, I think BPHS is a very important book. Of the modern writers, Bepin Behari was a great influence. All of his books are extremely important. I’m really fond of Parasara. If somebody questions me, or they doubt what I say, I will go back there for confirmation. All the classics – I have read cover-to-cover. Dr. Raman’s magazine was very valuable. It used to be available from newsstands in India. I used to read it, and try to make sense of it. (Laughter)
Charlotte: It’s wonderful that “The Astrological Magazine” is being revived, again. I was so touched and impressed by Dr. Raman’s story, in his autobiography, about how he used to travel around India, to get subscriptions, for only a few rupees each, to keep the magazine going – back in the day. Such dedication. And speaking of books - you’ve written so many that are so accessible to, well, all kinds of readers – what is your favorite among your own books?
Komilla: My favorite book is my first one, The Essentials of Vedic Astrology. It was my first book, and it was the first book of The Wessex Astrologer. It was written, beautifully, in the sense that I was teaching a foundation course to students – and they would question me about anything that I was writing. And then my editor, Margaret, who is a Western astrologer, would say – what is this? And I would clarify. So – it was a combined effort.
Charlotte: You’re a co-founder of BAVA, the British Association of Vedic Astrology, the European counterpart to ACVA. What’s going on with BAVA these days?
|Komilla: It’s been running now for 13 years – it was born in 1996, when Jupiter was towards the end of Sagittarius. At that time, there was no organization in the U.K. – I belonged to the Astrological Association, which was Western. So, I had this idea about forming an association, and I spoke to a couple of people who had no interest. Then one day I called Andrew Foss, who happened to be meeting with Dr. Frawley, who was giving a series of lectures. I connected with Andrew immediately. He agreed that we should form an association. I said, let’s ask Dr. Frawley, because he was right there! This was when Jupiter was vargottama. So then David (Frawley) said to ask Dr. Raman – you know, to get his blessings. This is pre-email days. I still have the letter Dr. Raman sent, agreeing to be our patron.|
And Andrew and I both decided that we must use the principles of Jyotish, in our organization – to form it on a correct day. So, it really just organized itself, because gurus’ blessings were there. And now, BAVA is in its Saturn dasa.
It’s always been our aim not to say that Vedic Astrology is better than something else. Everything is one – with different expressions. The Western Astrology community has been very supportive of BAVA. (Dr.) Nick Campion came and spoke at our first conference. And BAVA has regularly run conferences, usually around April. We like getting speakers and delegates from the USA. And now that the UK pound is more reasonable, we hope more delegates from the US will come to our London conferences.
Charlotte: And your website is www.bava.org. What advice do you have for students? I know that you have said that they should take a good foundation course in Astrology – and you just happen to have one!- but what other encouragement would you like to offer?
Komilla: Don’t be intimidated by the subject. It’s just such a big subject that it takes time. One of the things I like about astrology is that there are no shortcuts. And it’s never ending – there’s always something new to be fascinated by, something new to be learned. Also, too: honor the subject. Learn what you are learning, and the rest remains in the subconscious. Later, when you are ready, you’ll understand it.
|Charlotte: You mentioned that the other day, in your lecture here in Kauai. You said not to be over-whelmed by what you don’t understand – it’s in your subconscious.|
Komilla: Yes – sometimes the time is not ready - we need to understand that. And then, suddenly, you get the key. Maybe, sometimes, five years later; maybe in six months’ time. You get the key – and you say – oh, that’s what she was saying at that time.
Charlotte: That's encouraging to consider. I know that you take students and seekers on tours to exotic, spiritual sites. That must be quite an adventure for you!
Komilla: Originally, these did not intend to be tours – I just wanted students to be able to go to the Source. To go to India where it had all begun. We do courses there, so people can get comfortable with India. Every year we do a tour, and we try to keep it astronomical. And, also, it’s part of a remedial measure to visit sacred sites. I feel very fortunate that I am able to do this.
Charlotte: Aside from your yearly pilgrimage-leading plans, what else is in the future for you, Komilla?
Komilla: I’m planning to write a couple more books. The future will be busy!
Charlotte: Thank you so much for your time, today, Komilla. We will be keeping a look-out for you, on the distant horizon!
Komilla Sutton is an internationally renowned consultant, teacher, lecturer and is the co-founder and chair of the British Association for Vedic Astrology. She is on the faculty of the American College of Vedic Astrology. She is a council member of the Astrological Association of Great Britain. Indian born, Komilla Sutton is one of the pioneers in making this subject more accessible for the western readers. Komilla is the author of Vedic Love Signs, Vedic Astrology, The Essentials of Vedic Astrology and Lunar Nodes - Crisis and Redemption.
Komilla’s consultation contact information:
2859 El Capitan Dr
Pleasanton CA 94566
web site: http://www.komilla.com
phone: 925 931 1855
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.