The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 196, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest James Braha
Episode originally released on March 6, 2019
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released April 19, 2023
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CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode is recorded on Monday, February 11, 2019, starting just after 1:43 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this the 196th episode of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit TheAstrologyPodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode, I’m gonna be talking with Vedic astrologer James Braha about the concept of dasha periods and the Vimshottari Dasha technique in particular. Hey, James, thanks for joining me today.
JAMES BRAHA: Thank you.
CB: All right, it’s really good to have you. Thanks for reaching out to do this episode with me. So let’s start first by talking a little bit about yourself and who you are and what your background is, just to give my audience a little bit of info on you. So when did you start studying astrology? Maybe let’s start there.
JB: I had my first reading in Boston around 1978 or ‘79, and the astrologer said, “There’s a re-testing of your marriage that’s coming.” Uranus was about to hit the 7th cusp a couple of months from the time of the reading. Uranus hit the 7th house cusp, my marriage exploded. And I went to see Isabel Hickey, one of the greatest Western astrologers alive, and she said, “Well, you know, there’s nothing you can do here. Just let it go for now. Your wife will come back in a couple of months, etc.” In the interim, I could not fathom how the original astrologer and Isabel Hickey—I couldn’t figure out how they could know so much about my life. So I went to the bookstore, I picked up a book on Pluto because Pluto was hitting my Sun at the time, and that got me into Western astrology.
I went to India in 1983. I was not a professional Western astrologer, but I was consumed with it, as we all are—I was consumed with it—and I felt like something was missing for me. I just had the idea that no matter I could do this, I would never be that great of an astrologer, and I just felt something might be missing, I don’t know. I had hit a Rahu dasha at that time, which I’ll talk about. Rahu, from the Hindu system—I didn’t know the Hindu system—but that exploded everything. And within those first couple of years of Rahu—when you hit a Rahu dasha—there’s enormous changes. So I had a divorce and my father died within the first period of Rahu-Rahu.
CB: Wow. And Rahu’s the North Node, and it’s viewed as a sort of disruptive energy in Vedic, right?
JB: Yeah, but too many people think of Rahu as being negative, and it’s not. But the thing is when a person hits a Rahu dasha, in about I’d say 60-70% of the cases, as soon as they hit Rahu they have enormous changes: good, bad, could be anything. Changes of career, a parent dies, just all kinds of big changes. So when that dasha hit, my life went through this enormous change, and I was grieving my father’s death plus the marriage. There came a point where I said, “You know, I’m pretty useless right now. I’ve always wanted to go to India. I’m gonna go to India.” People said, “Are you gonna learn Hindu astrology?” I said, “Well, I’ve seen the books and I couldn’t get anything from them.” I said, “If I can learn, I will, but I kind of have my doubts.”
So I brought about 25 horoscopes with me of friends and relatives, and after I was there for about three months, it took me three months until I found a teacher. Then I learned the Hindu system, came back, used it for a year; and then I was having a session with an old friend. I’d been practicing now professionally Hindu, and I always used Western as well, I just don’t mix the systems. But I look at the Western system, I use Western transits and progressions. I use information that’s very valuable from the Western system, but I don’t mix the systems. I was doing a reading for a friend of mine, it was all going well, and I said, “Oh, a couple of years ago this was a very nice period/sub-period dasha and bhukti. It’s very nice.” He said, “That’s when I tried to commit suicide.” The next day I was packing my bags and calling travel agents. I said, “What the hell is going on?” And I went back to India a second time, found out why his problems were there and that was basically it.
CB: So you felt like your training wasn’t sufficient at that point, so you went back to improve your approach.
JB: Yeah. This was too blatant a fact for him to say he had tried to commit suicide. I was just flummoxed.
CB: So who did you find? So you found a guru or a teacher the first time you went to India, and that was how you initially learned Indian astrology?
JB: The first time I went, I had these charts with me, and I was just traveling around, but everywhere I went I would try to get an astrology reading. The very first guy I saw, he looked at my chart and he said, “Oh, young man, did you have some woman who did a terrible thing to you?” I said, “Well, I got divorced.” And he called his son over and he says, “Look, look. See this is why he got divorced.” And then I said, “Is there another woman coming?” He said, “Oh, we’re late. We have to leave.” believe it or not.
CB: No. Actually that’ll take me off on a sidetrack, so I’ll come back to that. Keep going.
JB: That was in—I don’t even know where that was, but I got to Benares. I was in Benares and I found an astrologer, and he’s looking at my chart and he says, “You’re gonna write some books.” And I said, “What?” ‘Cause I was 31-32 at the time and I didn’t know anything about writing books. And he said, “Yeah, yeah, you’re gonna write five or six books.” He did my chart but I wasn’t impressed, sufficiently impressed to say, “I want to study with you,” so I kept going. Then I met someone at the Hare Krishna Movement in—it’s a very sacred place. I can’t remember the name now. Krishna’s birthplace. But anyway, he told me some things about my horoscope, again, I didn’t want to study with him. Then I went to Delhi. I was nearing the end of my stay there, which was three months. I had about two weeks left. And one day, I didn’t have my ephemeris with me, and I believe Jupiter had hit the 7th house cusp. I woke up this morning—I had two or three weeks left, I was in Delhi—and I said, “You know what? I’m gonna go to the bookstore. I’m gonna buy all the astrology books. I’m gonna go to Rishikesh and I’m gonna study astrology.” This was totally absurd. You could never do it. But that’s what I decided I would do.
I get to the bookstore, I’m picking up Prasna Marga, Phaladeepika, Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. I’m picking up the classics. A man comes over and he says, “Young man, can I help you? What are you doing?” I said, “Well, I want to learn astrology.” He says, “You won’t be able to learn that way, but I have a teacher for you.” So he calls this very famous—he was just beginning to get famous—his name was Santhanam. By the time I got there Santhanam had already translated three or four of the classic Indian texts. So he says, “Yes, I will teach him.” So that night, seven o’clock or so, I get in the rickshaw, he’s driving around, he finds it. And I’m expecting this old man with a beard, and it turns out to be someone about 5 years older than me, maybe 10. I was 32, maybe he was 40 or 42. And so, he said, “Okay, you can study. We’ll study three hours a night. We’ll meet in Delhi.” And I said, “Does it really work?” because this is all predictive. I said, “Does it really?” He says, “Yes, yes, yes.” And so, that was Santhanam, and he was my first teacher, and he was more of a scholar. So I got a very good background from a scholarly teacher.
CB: Right. He’s somebody that was literally translating Sanskrit texts. Like ancient Sanskrit astrological texts into modern languages.
JB: Yeah. When I went back the second time, it was in Bombay, and I wasn’t planning to stay in Bombay. I was planning to go to the south of India because I had already been in the north. I wanted to go to the south. But the second day I was there, I went to the tourist bungalow and said to them, “Do you have any addresses of gurus?” They said, “Yes, yes, we have plenty.” And then I said, “Wait a minute. Do you have the addresses of the astrologers too?” He said, “Yeah, yeah, sure.” I said, “Keep the gurus. Give me the addresses of the astrologers.” So I called one astrologer, Ghanshyam Joshi, he was famous, and I said, “I’m a Western astrologer, and I know some Hindu astrology. I’ve been practicing a little bit, but I want to come and study it.” So when I get there I was extremely lucky. I get there and there’s eight or nine astrologers in the room, and I’m like, “What is this?” He says, “Because you’re a Western astrologer, I called all the local astrologers.”
So we’re there, everybody’s talking for a bit, and then this one guy takes my chart. And he was like me, he loved astrology in the same way that I did, he couldn’t get enough of it. He looks at my chart and there’s not dashas and bhuktis. Dashas and bhuktis are the most important predictive element; the dashas were not listed on my chart. And he says, “You got married at 21 or 23,” and I said, “I got married at 23. How did you know that?” He said, “Transits. I always use transits for marriage.” We talk a little bit and I say to him, “I want to study with you.” He says, “I’m too busy. I cannot do that.” And I know my karma—I have a very strong 9th house in the Hindu system—and when I want knowledge I always get it. I’m just very lucky that way. He continues to say that he can’t teach me, he’s too busy, and I’m thinking, “What is wrong here? I know I’m supposed to get this knowledge.” There’s eight other astrologers, but I want him. So finally, the other guy, Ghanshyam, says, “Mr. Padia is too busy to teach you. But if you’ll give him a hundred rupees a night, I’m sure he’ll oblige you.” I said, “That’s no problem.” That was $10 a day.
JB: So that was how I found Padia.
CB: Okay, and he became your second teacher. Were those two then your most influential teachers in terms of your early studies of Indian astrology?
JB: Absolutely, 100%. I got the basics from Santhanam, but Santhanam was a scholar. Padia was a teacher who had been in the field. Padia taught me things that you wouldn’t find in books. You find them now because I put them there. But they don’t share their knowledge with everybody, the astrologers. They’re pretty private. But when a Westerner comes over, “I’ll teach you anything you want to know.”
CB: Yeah. And this is interesting ‘cause this brings up one of the original topics that we were almost gonna talk about, that we might postpone till later, but it was the idea of lineage and the transmission of astrology from student-to-teacher and some of the dynamics that come up within that. And it sounds like there were some important ones already happening there for you in those first two transmissions.
JB: You must find a teacher because there’s two problems with the books. One, India has money now, but they didn’t used to have money, so they’re currency was their knowledge. So they would write books, but they wouldn’t really share the knowledge very much, the modern ones. The ancient ones would exaggerate everything. I have Saturn in the 5th house and it would say if the person has Saturn in the 5th house, he has lost his mind and is roaming in the villages.
JB: Well, I hadn’t lost my mind. So this is why the books never worked over here.
CB: They always give the worst case or the most extreme scenario.
JB: The most extreme.
JB: If he has this, he will be the luckiest man alive.
JB: They exaggerate everything. And this is so critical because they will say things like, for example, if a planet is exalted—the best sign it can be in—but retrograde, it acts like it’s fallen. If the planet is fallen but retrograde then it’s exalted. People take this literally. The way it actually works is if it’s exalted, but retrograde, it’s not as good.
JB: And the exaggerations are all over the place. So when I got back from India the second time, after I learned what I learned from him the second time, that’s when I started to put it in books. I wanted to spread it to the Western astrologers. These were my people, Western astrologers. I said, “My God, they’ve got to know what I know,” ‘cause having both systems just was really, really, really perfect.
CB: Sure. And so, you ended up being one of the early Western astrologers who ended up going to Vedic astrology and learning Indian astrology and then came back to the West to write books about it, and you became a prolific author, just for those who don’t know. And you’ve written, what? I want to say like a thousand books.
JB: No, six.
CB: Maybe I’m exaggerating. Six? Okay, half a dozen books at this point, which is a lot to me—it seems like a lot, so that’s why I’m exaggerating—that from the 1980s forward had a pretty profound influence on popularizing Indian astrology in the West over the course of the past three decades.
JB: What happened was there had been a book written by a Westerner called Constellational Astrology by Robert De Luce. It had all the good calculations in there, but it was useless. This was in the ‘60s. But it was useless as far as telling you how the system worked. So when I got home, I said, “Oh, my God, I’ve got to give this knowledge, and I want to be the first one.” So I wrote for about eight or nine months and I didn’t take any days off. I was thinking, “Look, I know there’s other people that know some Hindu astrology, they could be working on a book,” so I wrote as fast as I could. And so, when that book came out, honest to God, within three months, four months—I have a scrapbook now filled with hundreds of letters—they didn’t have emails then—hundreds of letters from people all around the globe saying, “Thank you so much for making this accessible.” Now the thing is when I wrote that I only had a few years of practice under my belt, so I was going by everything I was taught, and I was going by what the classic texts said, etc. Flash forward to around the year…
CB: And what year was that really quickly? The year that the book came out?
JB: It came out in ‘86. I wrote it in ‘85.
CB: Okay, so you wrote it in ‘85. You had been studying Western astrology since the late ‘70s and Indian astrology since the early ‘80s.
JB: Right. In the very first session with Padia, the very first session, he actually came to my room. He said, “It’s too busy. I’ll come to your room.” He comes to the room and he says, “I was thinking, you must deserve to get knowledge because I’m coming to you.” So in that very first session there were two things that I was asking him about ‘cause I had been practicing for a year. Number one, when Pluto hit my Sun in the late ‘70s, it had such an immense effect on me. My whole personality became much stronger, much more powerful, and I had a very strong sense of destiny that I would have some kind of big success in a career or fame, but four or five years ago had gone by and there was nothing. And I said, “Look, I’ve had this sense of destiny in my head and I can’t get it out of there.” I said, “Look at my chart. If it’s not there, tell me, so I can stop thinking like that.” He looks at it for a minute, he goes, “No, no, you’ll get fame, definitely. But not until the 36th year, between 35-36.” I said, “Why 35-36?”
This brought into play what’s called the ‘great years of the planets’ separate from the dashas. He said, “Saturn rules your career house. It’s in the 5th house, which is purva punya (or ‘past-life credit’) and it’s aspected to the degree by Jupiter. You’re gonna get fame, but not until Saturn has its great year.” This was the same thing that had happened with the guy who tried to commit suicide. His dasha bhukti was fine, the transits were fine, but he had hit his 32nd year, which is the great year for Mercury. Mercury in his horoscope was in the 8th house, the house of life and death, and it was right next to Mars and maybe some other malefic. So when he hit the age of 31, between 31 and 32, that was the Ascendant ruler, and it was in the 8th house right next to Mars or Saturn and that’s when that happened.
So that was one thing that I wanted to know, and Padia told me; right away I got to that. The other was that I was 33, 34, 35, whatever it was, and I had seen all my dashas and bhuktis and I knew that in the year 1997 or somewhere around there that I was going to come to a Jupiter dasha and Saturn bhukti. Now Jupiter and Saturn are exactly opposite. That’s great for Saturn ‘cause it gets the good energy of Jupiter. It’s terrible for Jupiter ‘cause it’s getting hit by Saturn—that’s one of the ways that Hindu Vedic works—and Jupiter rules my 8th house. So I said, “Holy cow. I’m gonna be about 47. I’m gonna hit a Jupiter period and Saturn sub-period. Jupiter rules the 8th, getting hit by Saturn.” So in that very first night I said, “When I’m 47-48, is that gonna kill me?” And he said, “Not sure.” By ‘not sure’ he didn’t mean, “I’m not sure,” he meant, ‘not definite’ because this was a textbook example of a death.
He said, “You might make it through because even though Saturn’s a great malefic, Saturn is the raja yoga karaka, the ‘royal union-maker’, the ‘king-maker’.” In my chart, Saturn rules the 9th and 10th houses. So even though it’s terrible, it also brings some extremely good energy. When Jupiter-Saturn came I was on my way to England to be the keynote speaker in the British Vedic Astrology Conference. I was exhausted because we had a six month old son who was awake all night long, and right before we left, there was a hurricane coming and I had to get everything ready. By the time I got on the plane I was exhausted. Got on the plane, we landed in Atlanta—I’m on my way to England—and I have a panic attack and claustrophobia. I’d been meditating for 30 years by then, I never had anything like that. That was the Jupiter-Saturn and it was terrible. Anyway, I had written that first book, got the basics out, then the conferences began, people started learning it. And I can tell you it was really hard. When I would teach it was really hard to get people to get the basics because it wasn’t in the atmosphere. As time went on it was in the atmosphere, people learned it quicker.
CB: In terms of the background information necessary for Vedic astrology? What do you mean by that when you’re talking about ‘the atmosphere’ in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s?
JB: I wrote my book in ‘85, it came out in ‘86. ‘86, ‘87, ‘88, ‘89—I would try to give basic concepts like, for example, if you have a Venus-Mars conjunction. Venus is terribly hurt by Mars. So if you come to a Venus dasha, you’ve got problems. Mars is right next to Venus and it picks up the great energy of Venus, so Mars is wonderful. Just simple concepts like that, they wouldn’t get them.
CB: Yeah, ‘cause this is an issue we run into also with the revival of ancient Western astrology that’s happened over the past 30 years. There are just some basic principles built into it that are sometimes relatively simple, objectively speaking, but they’re so radically different from the way that modern Western psychological astrology is constructed that it can be really hard for new students to pick that up because it represents such a complete reorientation of how you do astrology.
JB: It’s a complete reorientation. It’s from the psychological, behavioral, and predictive to a very predictive.
CB: Yeah, I mean, I’m sure that was part of it because in the early ‘90s Vedic astrology really started to flourish and there’s different organizations set up for Vedic astrology in the West.
CB: And one of those things I was always curious about was how that worked out in terms of the ‘bedside manner’ of the astrologers in India; it seems like it’s a bit different. Obviously, it’s more predictive, but also it seems more blunt in terms of how they deliver the information in the consultations in a much more straightforward way, and I was always curious if that was also something that you had to get used to or that was difficult to introduce and establish a Western astrological audience to.
JB: Yeah, I mean, they’ll say, “If you don’t know when you’re gonna die, how can you prepare your life?” or something like that.
CB: Right. It’s very practical.
JB: Yeah, but I just don’t do that.
JB: If I see a dangerous period I will absolutely warn the person there’s a dangerous period coming, and I will tell them they can have yagyas performed, which are the prayers that the Hindu priests perform. When I see a very dangerous dasha–bhukti—like the one that I had, the Jupiter-Saturn—if I see a dangerous period I actually say, “Look, when you come to this period, I’m gonna tell you if it’s for Jupiter, keep Thursdays as a restful day, chant the Jupiter mantra, have prayers for Jupiter. But also, don’t go on motorcycles.” This woman calls me up a couple of years ago and she says, “You know, you did my reading and you said don’t get on motorcycles.” This was 10 years ago. She said, “When you get through the year 2016, don’t get on motorcycles.” She said she got on a motorcycle and had a motorcycle accident. So they will be blunt. But if you’re in the West, you’re gonna wind up doing the readings in a way that Westerners can appreciate.
The biggest problem that I had was that I came here thinking that the chart tells you exactly what’s going to happen, and it took me some years to say that’s not exactly how it works. It tells you what the possibilities are. It tells you what’s likely. It tells you what’s possible. But I had it in my mind that this is what’s going to happen to you, this is going to be your profession. This guy said to me, “You’re going to write some books.” I said, “What?” He said, “You’re gonna write some books.” I said, “How many?” He said, “A few. Five or six.” I said, “Are you sure?” Finally, he says, “Look, it’s not an absolute science.” I said, “Oh.” He said, “But you’ll write books.” So I figured, okay, this really is very predictive. I get lots of clients who I say, “You’re not an artist? This chart is all about the arts.” And they go, “No.” I say, “Well, you should do some art because it’s really strong.” Three or four years later, they’ll tell me that they completely changed their life, they’re now an artist. So I don’t say anymore, “You will be an artist.” I say, “This is the strongest thing in your horoscope and the talent.” You wind up doing it that way. It’s appropriate.
CB: Sure. And, I mean, a big keystone there is it seems like you don’t think it’s absolutely immutable because of the presence of propitiation rituals or the ability to alter things through mantras or through other things that can mitigate some placements to some extent.
JB: This is the most difficult problem that I’ve had, and I’ve had it now for 40 years. For example, one of the charts that I talk about—this is an old chart—is Alexander Fleming; the man who discovered penicillin. So in the Hindu system there’s lot of different ways that a planet can be well-disposed or badly-disposed. One of the worst things that can happen is for a planet to be in its worst degree of fall. So in the West, we know that Saturn’s exalted in Libra and fallen in Aries, but the Hindus have narrowed it down. The worst placement for Saturn is the 20th degree of Aries and the best place is the 20th degree of Libra. I think Paul Newman has Saturn in the 20th degree of Libra; it’s a really good Saturn. Alexander Fleming had Saturn in the 20th degree of Aries. When he was seven-years-old, he came to a sub-period. He was in a Ketu dasha, I believe, and a Saturn sub-period for about a year. Soon as he hit that Saturn sub-period, his father died. Now you would expect something bad like that, and you would expect every time he comes to a Saturn bhukti there will be problems. Now if he comes to a Saturn dasha, that’s 19 years. Saturn is a 19-year period in the Vimshottari system.
When I come to that, if I see a client like that, it’s really hard for me. I wish I wasn’t seeing these people, but I have to do my best. So I tell them the areas—like if it’s Saturn, it can affect career just because Saturn is a career period. But more importantly, where Saturn is located and the houses that it rules—those are going to be problems for a long time. So I will tell them to keep Saturdays, the day of Saturn, as a restful day of fasting, praying, whatever. I’ll tell them to chant the Saturn mantra. Now they would have to do that, I don’t know, 20,000 times or 19,000 times. It’s a lot and these are long, but if they want help, Saturn dasha, Saturn mantra. Nilanjana samabhasam raviputram yamagrajam. Chaya martanda sambhutam tam namami shaishcharam.
They can do that a hundred times a day—it takes 15 or 20 minutes—until the 20,000 or 23,000 is done and that’s going to help, or they can hire priests. There’ll be seven or eight priests praying for three days for Saturn, for that person’s life, and that can have a good effect. These are the things that you have to do when you hit a bad period. There’s no other way. And by the way, when people are reading about dashas, they inevitably go to the books, and they read that if it’s a Venus period it’s about love and harmony and beauty. If it’s a Jupiter period it’s about luck and fortune. If it’s about Saturn it’s bad and restrictive. This is a very, very bad way to do it because if Venus is very afflicted that 20-year period’s going to be hellish. I cannot tell you how many people have come to me over the last 30-40 years. They’ll say, “I’m in a Jupiter dasha. The astrologer said it would be wonderful.” I said, “Your Jupiter is in Virgo. It’s aspected by Mars and Saturn. How’s that going to be good?”
CB: Right. So the condition of the planet matters much more than just its general significations.
JB: The general signification is almost meaningless if the planet is in an extreme condition. Now it’s not meaningless in the sense that if they’re talking Venus, they’re going to be talking love, they’re going to be talking beauty and money, and thyroid, reproductive system. But as to whether it’s good or bad, that’s all about the condition of the planet.
CB: Sure. Okay, that’s a great transition point then. So maybe we should get into our primary topic today, which is the dasha systems or the dasha techniques. So in the last episode I did, I introduced how in the ancient Western tradition there used to be this system known as time-lord techniques where it would divide the person’s entire life into different chapters and paragraphs. And the analogy that I usually use is that the life is like a book and you can read where one chapter starts and another chapter ends. So it turns out that that existed in the Western tradition and there were some techniques for it, but then it was lost because the texts were not transmitted and astrology died out. But in the Indian tradition they also had a similar set of techniques that were known as dasha techniques.
CB: And they work in a very similar way. They’re not calculated in exactly the same way, but a lot of the logic and premise is very similar.
CB: How do you usually frame it—I don’t want to say—conceptually? Some Vedic authors, for example, that I’ve read say that the natal chart indicates the promise of certain placements, but it’s not until they’re activated by the dashas that that promise is somehow delivered. Do you use a similar analogy, or something else maybe?
JB: The thing is it depends upon how strong the natal chart is. If the natal chart is super strong you don’t even need the dashas and bhuktis; that’s how strong they are. So what you said is really perfect. The book will tell you when something is happening. I was an actor because I was in a Moon dasha; it was a 10-year period. From about 10 to 20, or something like that I was in a Moon dasha, and I thought I was going to be an actor. I was at Carnegie Mellon. All I cared about was acting. I suddenly went into the Mars dasha and everything changed. Mars rules my marriage house and the 12th house, which is moksha or enlightenment. Soon as that dasha hit I got spiritual, I started meditating, and I started having relationships, and I got married a few years later because Mars was so completely different from the Moon.
JB: But it depends on how extreme the planets are. If the planets are not in any kind of extreme condition then you can go from one dasha to the next without it being explosive.
JB: My second marriage—we’d been married just a few years—when I was about to go into the Jupiter dasha—I told my wife, “Wait until you see this. Wait until you see this. Life is gonna change dramatically.” because my life changed so dramatically from Moon to Mars and it had changed dramatically from Rahu. When I hit Jupiter it wasn’t so noticeable; it just wasn’t so noticeable. So sometimes they are really noticeable and then sometimes they’re not.
CB: Sure, in terms of distinct phases. But in terms of this—actually let’s step back a bit. So there’s many different timing techniques. There’s many different dasha techniques, right? But there’s one that just about every Indian astrologer, everybody who practices what’s also known as Vedic astrology uses essentially, right?
JB: Yeah, but this is complex, okay.
JB: Today almost everybody uses Vimshottari.
CB: The Vimshottari Dasha system.
JB: The Vimshottari Dasha. That was mentioned in Parashara Hora Shastra, but there were 40 systems used. 40. 4-0.
CB: So Parashara mentions 40 different dasha systems?
JB: Yes, yes.
JB: However, 30 of those dasha systems wouldn’t be used in a major sense. I’m using approximations, okay. There would be one dasha system just to know about your career, there would be one dasha system just to know about your marriage, so a lot of those would not be used.
JB: The two big ones are called Vimshottari and ‘Ashottari’. Ashtottari, sorry. Vimshottari and Ashtottari. When I got to India, they said these are the two—Vimshottari and Ashtottari—but nobody I ever met used the Ashtottari. Nobody.
JB: However, as time goes by, everybody uses Vimshottari. First of all, if you go back into the ancient texts in the 6th century and the 7th century and the 5th century, there were a lot of them using something called Naisargika Dasha; a lot of them used that. Somewhere it’s written that Vimshottari is easier to calculate. Somewhere it’s written that Vimshottari works better for the common person.
JB: But here’s the thing. As time goes by and you use these dashas, Vimshottari definitely works the best out of anything today that I’ve seen, it’s the most popular. But after a while astrologers get impatient, they want more information. KN Rao came to the Vedic Astrology Conference in 1993; it was the end of 1993, I had my second marriage in early 1993. I had an astrologer friend call me and he did Western and Vedic, both. This astrologer, Richard Houck, never did a horoscope without rectifying the chart first, and he used Moon progressions, lunar progressions. He would rectify every chart he did. He wouldn’t do it if the chart didn’t work. He calls me up and he says, “You’re not getting married.” This was in late ‘92. I was scheduled to be married in ‘93, January. He says, “You’re not getting married.” I said, “What are you talking about? I’m engaged.” He says, “You’re not getting married. There’s nothing in the chart.” I said, “I know. There’s nothing in the Hindu, there’s nothing in the Western, I know. But I know I’m getting married.” So we get married. So he was wrong. He laughed. He said, “You’re not getting married.”
I get to 1993, November-December, I talk to KN Rao, he’s doing the chart, and he’s using Jaimini Dasha. The Jaimini system uses the Chara Dasha, and Chara is the signs: Aries, Libra, Scorpio. So I said to him, “Look, I got married in January 1993. There’s nothing anywhere.” He says, “Yes, yes, it’s right there in Jaimini. It’s right there.” And I thought, “Uh, he’s just saying this,” right? But then I learned the Jaimini system. I had gone into the Libra dasha. So these are signs. So if you go into Capricorn dasha, in Jaimini, that’s going to be Capricorn. We’re not talking planets, we’re talking Capricorn, it’s career. You go into Libra, you’re in a relationship dasha.
The karakas in the Jaimini system are completely different from Vimshottari. The planet in the highest degree in your horoscope—the planet in my chart that’s the highest degree is the Sun. It’s 29° Virgo in the Hindu system, so that becomes the planet representing me; that’s called that atmakaraka. If your planet in the highest degree is Jupiter, Jupiter’s your atmakaraka, the ruler of you. The planet in the seventh, in the lowest degree becomes the marriage indicator. There’s me, there’s the other person. So in Libra, in my horoscope, sits Mercury; it’s 2°. So Mercury’s the marriage indicator and I’m in a Libra dasha, and I get married. So I use this as an example when I teach because people—they’re looking for something in a horoscope and it doesn’t show up, like some of these people that have had these huge downfalls because of the MeToo movement. Famous people—suddenly they have this huge downfall. I look at the chart and I don’t always find it, right?
JB: And astrologers think, “Well, it’s got to be there. You’re making a mistake. Something’s wrong.” No. There’s a lot of different systems and certain things are gonna show up in one system and not in another. And as astrologers, we need to be humble, not arrogant. We need to understand we will not be perfect. And I teach my students the best you can do is to say, “I don’t know. I’ll tell you what I do know. I’ll tell you what I don’t know.” because you can’t know it all. And then when they say, “But I can’t find it,” I say, “Well, there’s 40 dasha systems. Maybe there’s a reason.”
JB: So Vimshottari is by far the best, it works the best, but I would rather have a chart that’s massively powerful. For example, Werner Erhard went into a Moon dasha, and the Moon is fallen in his horoscope in the marriage house, and it’s with Mars. And so, when the Moon dasha hit, I said, “Oh, my God, he’s gonna have 10 terrible years.” Well, the Moon dasha hit, he got divorced, but the dasha wasn’t so bad because he had so many other powerful planets in the chart. So if he was in Moon dasha/Mars bhukti that might be more powerful. Or Moon dasha/Venus, whatever. So I’d rather have a chart with really powerful planets. Even if I have a few dashas that are weak, that’s not such a problem if the chart is strong.
CB: Sure. That makes sense. So one of the interesting side effects of the Vimshottari Dasha system being so common is, for example, in 2012, I did a meta-analysis where I collected as many predictions that I saw—primarily from Western astrologers—about the 2012 US presidential election. And one of the interesting things was that the Vedic astrologers were often very much on the same page because they had that one thing in common where at the very least most of them were starting with the Vimshottari Dasha technique, and that let to a little more consistency in their predictions just due to that uniformity than what I was seeing with some of the Western astrologers. They were all using completely different techniques and didn’t have that one unifying thing where everybody was on the same page and there was this one technique that really worked. I guess my point there is just that it’s that much of a standard, that it’s something that you can almost expect every Vedic astrologer to at least know even if it’s not the only dasha system that they use.
JB: The thing is they talk about in the scriptures that there’s a curse that Shiva put on astrologers. Shiva got angry at the astrologers, put a curse, and he said, “From now on astrologers will never agree with each other.”
JB: So we have that too. We have that too.
JB: I mean, all the astrologers I know, they will use the Vimshottari Dasha system, but they’ll also use transits, they’ll use progressions. I will also look at Western progressions. I mean, I will look at everything I can possibly look at, but I’ve always been that way. I’m a little bit different. You know, most Hindu Vedic astrologers—they treat the scriptures with great awe and they consider them sacred, and I have never been like that because I just don’t resonate with taking astrology as a religion. Also, the fact that you would use these scriptures and you see the interpretive things, they would just be so off-the-wall. So I would use what I could, but I tend to take whatever works. Whatever works, that’s what I will use, more so than ‘Parashara says this’ or ‘this one says that’. You know, I wrote that first book with only a few years of experience. Then flash forward to 1997, I was done writing books. I said, “I am not writing books anymore.” I was really getting burned out ‘cause I was writing the books and then doing readings to make a living. My wife got a seven-day Mercury yagya done for her around ‘97 or so.
CB: And what is that?
JB: This was a seven-day yagya. So this would be 10 or 20 priests praying for Mercury in her horoscope for seven days, for eight hours a day. So she was getting a Mercury yagya to strengthen her Mercury so that she would have a stronger Mercury for writing and teaching; and her Mercury’s a little afflicted because it’s near Ketu. So we’re married, so the karma gets mixed. So while she’s having the Mercury dasha, I’m suddenly saying, “Why am I living with the worst entertainment system in the world? My speakers are lousy. My amplifier’s lousy.” So during the yagya I’m suddenly changing all the equipment; it just comes up for me to do that. That’s how yagyas work.
JB: Now what I had wanted to do was to write a book that really explained how it really works, not all these rules and regulations, because so many of the things in the scriptures worked very mediocre; some of them, in my opinion, don’t work at all. So I had wanted to write another book, but I was not going to sit down and write a book; it was too stressful. So during the yagya a thought comes, “Hey, I could teach a student and transcribe the sessions.” So I do that. Only in the end, I wind up at the computer working all the material. So I spent three years at it.
CB: What was the title of that book, again?
JB: That’s called The Art and Practice of Ancient Hindu Astrology.
CB: Right. I thought that was really great. That’s such a unique book because it’s dialogues between you and a student. And that’s actually probably much more representative of the transmission of astrology in India—and on some level most astrological traditions—through that student-teacher relationship and that dialogue rather than just the other part, which is more academic in reading the texts or the scriptures, as you said.
JB: What you just said is 100% accurate. That is the way it should be taught. So what wound up happening is, yes, we transcribed the sessions, but the way my brain works I couldn’t do that, so I spent three years because I didn’t want to write everyday; I spent three years. I wrote every question that I imagined a student could ask, and my student of course asked everything he could ask, and then I answered those as best as I could. So I talk about the different techniques: how they say they work, how they really work. And then I wrote that book, it came out, and what happened then was I got all kinds of emails from people saying, “I finally can go from being a hobbyist to being a professional.” And I had one professional astrologer—he was just in his early years; he had just become a professional within a year or two—and he said, “When I’m looking at a horoscope and I get confused, I open that book anywhere and read three or four pages, I close it, I know how to approach the chart.”
Now flash forward to 2018, I realize I’ve got to get my books on ebooks. So I spent four months editing The Art and Practice and it was really fascinating. It was really fascinating to see what I had learned. The first time I wrote that book I’d been practicing for about 15 years. Now it’s 2018 and there were all kinds of things that I didn’t—just take Mercury-Jupiter. A Mercury-Jupiter conjunction. I’d be doing readings for people and I’d say, “Oh, these two planets are conjunct. All four houses that they rule are gonna do really well.” And every so often they’d say, “No, not really,” and I would scratch my head. And finally I just came to do a little research and study and I found that Mercury too close to Jupiter harms the person’s nervous system. It just doesn’t work the way I thought it had worked. So over the next 15 years I found all kinds of things and I said, “Note. Here’s a change.”
JB: So that’s gonna be in ebooks. I just submitted that to BookBaby last week, so that book should be out within the next two weeks.
CB: Nice. So that’s gonna be the primary ebook platform, or is it on all platforms? Where can people find it?
JB: All the ebooks, yeah.
CB: Okay, so if they go to Amazon or something, they’ll find it.
JB: Kindle, this one, that one, all of them. That’s what BookBaby does. You pay BookBaby and they send it to every ebook version out there.
CB: Okay, cool. Maybe we should reorient this ‘cause I’m almost now interested more about some of this process that you’ve gone through in both your learning as an astrologer, as well as some of the things that you learned from your teachers and how you adapted that. I guess one of the lessons there, the underlying point, is that nobody ever reaches a point where they’ve learned everything there is to learn about astrology in one lifetime. But your views as an astrologer are always growing and changing in some sense based on your experience with clients ‘cause every new client that you see is gonna represent a unique chart and a unique set of experiences that are gonna teach you something new about astrology and the world in general.
JB: The worst statements that I hear are people will say, “This astrologer said this,” or “This astrologer said that.” And when you hear the crazy statements that are made you know exactly why they say them because they can’t find the real answer and they think they have to say something, so they make up something stupid. That happens all the time. I don’t do that. I say, “I don’t know. That’s not my forte. Go to this person.” You have to be able to do that, it’s so important. You just can’t know everything. And I remember I was in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal, and I was always asking where’s the astrologers. So I found this astrologer—he didn’t speak English—this guy must have 80-85. He was really old. I sat there waiting for my turn and he kept me as last because I was a Westerner. Then I asked my question, he did my horoscope a little bit, and I said, “Ask him if he’ll teach me astrology.” And this man got the most pained—the look on his face was such pain that I said, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” In the Hindu system, it just goes on and on. There’s technique after technique after technique, and dasha system after dasha system. There’s no end to it. There’s no end to it.
CB: Right. So his reaction was like, “Teach me about every star, the name of every star that you see in the sky,” and there’s innumerable stars; that’s basically the analogy for what you asked him at that point.
JB: Exactly. And I felt so bad. I said, “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
CB: Right. And when was that? Was that your first trip or your second trip?
JB: That was the first trip.
CB: Okay, so this is still at the very beginning. That makes sense.
JB: Yeah, yeah.
CB: Okay, so going back, you had that student-teacher dialogue, and it took you three years to write that book. One of the pieces I’m trying to understand is it seemed like you had a very visceral experience of the difference between what the texts say vs. the things that one learns in practice. And that’s an interesting thing ‘cause I was just talking with a student of mine yesterday. We were talking about the delineations in the ancient Western texts and they’re also very extreme like that. They’ll tend to give the most extreme scenario, but they give it in isolation, and in reality no placement is hardly ever operating in isolation. But instead there’s always mitigating conditions that are happening to any placement that you’re looking at, right?
JB: Yeah. Well, here’s the thing, I’m talking about stuff that is more basic than that, so I’ll just tell you there are certain things you just have to understand in context. For example, the scriptures will all say that you have to take the transits from the Moon. You have to look at the transits. Oh, if Jupiter’s transiting the 4th house from the Moon, the person’s gonna get a home, right? The scriptures keep saying this, so the astrologers think they’re not supposed to take it from the Ascendant.
JB: You have to take it from the Ascendant first and then secondarily from the Moon because everybody born on the same day is gonna have the same exact transits.
CB: The same transits from the Moon, if you just took it from the Moon?
JB: Yeah, yeah, so you have to use both, but there’s another. For example, in Hindu Vedic—I’ll take the Varga charts. This is so essential and basic, okay? So when I was doing this, I was doing my charts. The Varga charts means there’s the natal chart and then there’s the navamsa, the chart for marriage. Then there’s the dasamsa, the chart for career, and then there’s about 20 more. I only use the career and the marriage ones.
CB: So these are divisional charts where you subdivide the signs of the zodiac into smaller portions, which some Western astrologers know.
CB: Harmonics or twelfth-parts or—I forget what they’re called. Dwadasamsas.
CB: I guess Isabel Hickey called them ‘dwads’.
JB: Wow. As Westerners, we call them harmonic charts.
CB: Okay. And the idea there in the Indian tradition that’s kind of unique and interesting is that you will find out what sign the Ascendant is in and then that sign becomes the 1st house in the divisional chart, and it creates a whole separate chart for just that subdivision.
JB: And the planets are in different houses too. Different signs.
CB: Right. It literally constructs an entirely different whole sign house chart based on those subdivisions.
JB: Right. Now first of all, first of all, when it comes to the divisional charts, the career and the marriage, they change every 15-17 minutes, approximate.
JB: If the navamsa chart has a Cancer Ascendant between 5:40 and 5:55, and you’re reading the chart, and the person’s born at 5:56, you need to know that that’s suspect. You might not be able to use it. You need to know that.
CB: Right. So the divisional charts change so frequently that you have to have an exact time. And what do you do in that instance? Do you rectify if there’s uncertainty? How do you feel about rectification as an astrologer? Some astrologers are like, “Rectify everything,” and others are like, “No, just take the chart as you have it,” because you might not understand it properly if you try to mess with it.
JB: Well, if the chart is on the hour or the half-hour, I don’t trust it. Particularly if it’s from another country, but I’m not worried. When I start to worry is when the natal chart Ascendant in the Hindu Vedic is 29 or 0 or 1. That’s when I have to ask questions and rectify it.
CB: You’ve got to rectify it on the fly, right at the start.
JB: No, no, before I do a reading.
CB: Oh, before the consultation.
JB: I’ve been doing this 40 years and I really don’t like the idea. I mean, you get really good, right? But I just don’t believe you take a chart and say, “Oh, I’m gonna do it right now.” I just don’t believe in that.
JB: I mean, you want a good reading, you need to do the chart and you need to meditate on it a little bit.
CB: I mean, what kind of questions do you ask? If you’re doing that pre-consultation prep work, what kind of questions do you ask to get that right or narrow that down? Is that standardized, or is it based on the chart?
JB: I take the worst house of the chart. It’s either gonna be the 4th or the 5th, the 9th or the 10th, and I’ll say, “Do you have a terrible career?” or “Do you have a terrible time with gurus?”
JB: Or the best house of the chart. Now sometimes you can’t do this. The charts are so mixed and mediocre you can’t do it. But most of the time somebody’s got one house that’s fantastic, one planet that’s fantastic. That’s how I do it.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. So you look for the extremes of where the most difficult parts of their life are and identify those and ask if that is indeed the case. And if it comes back ‘yes’ then that helps to confirm it, but if it comes back that it’s the other house that they’re experiencing as the worst then that confirms the other Ascendant.
JB: Right. But then I’ll also say, “Now Jupiter’s been transiting this house for a year. Did you have some luck in this and some bad luck in that?”
JB: Like that.
CB: Yeah, that’s so funny. That’s totally the rectification approach that I’ve developed using whole sign houses in the Western system.
JB: It’s common sense.
CB: Yeah, ‘cause once you’re using those techniques there’s certain straightforward things that you’re gonna gravitate towards doing.
JB: Robert De Niro’s in a great dasha-bhukti. He’s in Mercury-Venus. Oh, no, he’s in Venus-Mercury. Now when he was in Mercury-Venus, he won his first Oscar. No, sorry, Mercury-Venus was Raging Bull. His first Oscar was won because he was in his 32nd year of life. His Ascendant ruler is Mercury. Mercury’s conjunct Venus in the 3rd house, which is the arts in Hindu. So he hit 31-32, he won the first Oscar. Then he hit a Mercury-Venus dasha-bhukti, won his second Oscar. And he’s in Venus-Mercury now, which you’d think would be pretty good, two benefics in the 3rd house. Saturn’s transiting his 7th house and he’s getting divorced.
JB: He’s having massive problems right now. But anyway, so I will rectify the chart that way. Now when it comes to the divisional charts, the way I’ll do that once I’ve got the natal chart, I’ll just say, “Look, if you were born from 5:30 to 5:45, the navamsa indicates getting a marriage partner who’s very wealth or who’s very powerful.” If you were born from this other time then the partner is probably doing medicine. It just depends on how that works and you do as best you can. For example, with the divisional charts, I come home, I’m using astrology, and as the years are going by, I am finding that when I do the marriage chart looking at the entire chart—all the planets in all the houses—it’s not giving me the marriage partner very well. When I’m looking at the career chart, I’m looking at the career chart and the 6th house might be loaded with planets and look really strong, and I’m thinking “Medicine,” and it doesn’t work. So as the years go by, I say, “This doesn’t work.” So I begin to simplify it and I say, “I’m gonna look at the marriage chart. I’m gonna look just at the 7th house.”
JB: What planets are in the 7th house? If there’s a planet in the 7th house, what does it rule? If the 9th ruler is in the 7th house they’re gonna get a partner from a foreign country.
JB: Or a partner that’s religious. If the ruler of the 3rd house—which is the arts—is in the house of career, they’re either gonna do a mechanical, technical, or computer career or the arts. So the rulerships. Then, where’s the ruler of the 7th house? If the ruler of the 7th house is in the 2nd, they might be involved in making money or education. So this works really well. So for the marriage chart, I just use the 7th house, and 30% I’ll use the 1st house. The 1st house is just so critical, but only 30%. The 7th house is gonna tell me the most. If I’m looking at the dasamsa, the career, I’m looking mainly at the career house and a little bit at the 1st, and that’s it. That works.
CB: And the marriage chart—is that the seventh harmonic?
JB: It’s the ninth. It’s the navamsa. It’s the ninth.
CB: The navamsa, okay.
JB: Yeah. Okay, now, let’s take something a little more serious, or a little more—not serious—but essential. In the Hindu system there’s something called vargottama, or var-go-ttama, however you pronounce it.
CB: Vargottama, okay.
JB: Let’s say that you have Jupiter in Leo in the natal chart, and you have Jupiter in Leo in the navamsa. Out of all the divisional charts—the navamsa, the dasamsa, the saptamsa, the dwadasamsa—the navamsa is considered the most important divisional chart.
JB: So they say in the texts if a planet is in the same sign in the natal and the navamsa, then that planet acts like it’s in its own sign.
JB: So if Jupiter’s in Leo in both charts, it’s supposed to function like it’s in Sagittarius or Pisces. This did not work. This did not work. This did not work. This did not work. And finally I said, “This doesn’t work.” Now when I say that something doesn’t work there’s just so many things. I also don’t find solar return charts to work in my Western solar returns. First, when I saw Robert Hand, I said, “Do solar returns work?” And he said, “Try it this way, try it that way. Try it this way, try it that way.” I said, “Yeah, okay, I got it.” Then I go to India and I say to my teacher, “What do you think of solar returns?” He goes, “They are useless and baseless.” Look, I know people love them. For me, they are useless, okay?
CB: Yeah, I’m not crazy about solar returns myself.
JB: Yeah, some people love them. So if it doesn’t work out, I don’t use it.
CB: Do solar returns actually exist in mainstream, Parashara-type, Vedic astrology, or is it only in the Medieval tradition?
JB: It’s called varshaphal. It was brought in by the Greeks. You have to remember, the reason I called my book Ancient Hindu Astrology and not Vedic—I don’t believe that this is truly Vedic because you have kendra, trikona, adhipati.
JB: You have kendra, trikona, upachaya. You have all these Greek names.
CB: A bunch of Greek terms in Sanskrit texts.
JB: And if you get a good astrologer over there, they don’t care what they use, they care about what works.
JB: So if people bring in techniques that work, they will use them.
CB: Yeah, I mean, that was a point that Dennis Harness made to me once that the Indians were very practical, and they would just integrate what works because that was ultimately what mattered. And while there’s some philosophical and political pushback in modern times to say, almost in a religious context, that Vedic astrology is 10,000 years old or something, that’s almost like a more recent development that’s based on a reaction to colonialism, when in past history it’s clear that in Indian they’ve been much more practical about integrating whatever works from different traditions.
JB: Whatever works, yeah.
CB: Sure. That’s actually an interesting point that ‘Vedic astrology’ is almost like a recent term that somebody came up with in the past 30 years or something. Is that true?
JB: Oh, no, I mean, there was Vedic astrology. I believe that in the true Vedic astrology they were using nakshatras more than anything.
JB: Now this is important. When I got to India, both teachers, when I asked about nakshatras, they said, “That’s an entire system on its own.” And they don’t have that knowledge, it has been lost. Unless it’s been passed down orally, it has been lost. The way nakshatras are used today, in my opinion, is very similar to Dane Rudhyar Western astrology. Dane Rudhyar didn’t speak English; he was French. And so, when you read his books, they don’t have a noun and a verb put together properly. And so, after about three or four years—when I was studying Western—I finally took the Dane Rudhyar books and I had to throw them out of the house because I kept going and looking, “Oh, houses—I need to know what this house means,” and I’d read it and it was garbage. You could make anything you wanted out of it.
CB: Sure. He’s very wordy and very verbose, especially in his early works.
JB: The thing is I know people that say, “I learned from him, that’s how I learned astrology.” So I don’t want to knock him, but for me, it’s useless. The way nakshatras are used today sounds to me behavioral and psychological. You could take the nakshatras today, you could take any nakshatra, pick one, get five or six people, read it to them and say, “This is your nakshatras. How does it sound?” 70% are gonna say, “Yeah, that’s me,” because they don’t say you’re going to get married at this age, you’re gonna marry a doctor. They don’t say that. They don’t say your career is gonna be—they don’t say that. It’s like Dane Rudhyar stuff, so I don’t like that.
However, as I said, I only use what works. So as I’m in my career the first three or four years, I’m finding people with Jupiter in Cancer and Moon in Cancer, and I say, “Oh, this is a great dasha,” and they start telling me how bad it is. What the hell is going on? Finally, at some point, I was talking with Dennis Harness and I said, “Dennis, tell me what the five best and five worst nakshatras are.” He tells me the worst ones and Visakha and Ashlesha are two of those really rough ones. It turns out that the people that had Moon in Cancer in the nakshatra, the lunar mansion—nakshatras are lunar mansions; they are about 13° each. There’s a nakshatra called Ashlesha, I think it’s around 20° Cancer to 3 Leo, somewhere around there; it’s in late Cancer. So when the person has the Moon in Cancer in its own sign, you think it’s gonna be a great dasha and a great natal planet, and it’s not.
I’ve seen people with the most difficult nakshatra, Visakha. This is from 20° Libra to around 3° Scorpio. Now remember I’m talking in the sidereal zodiac, right? So I have seen people, believe it or not, with Mars in Scorpio, but it’s in the first 3° of Scorpio. So it’s in that nakshatra Visakha, and Mars doesn’t function well in its own sign. So with the business of the Varga charts, I only use them the way they work. When it comes to that vargottama, it doesn’t work, so I don’t use it. But what I was gonna say—I forgot to say this—whenever I find something that doesn’t work that they say works, I go back five years later, six years later, I say, “Maybe I was wrong,” so I go back and I start studying it again. You have to do that. You can’t be arrogant with this.
CB: Have you had instances where you’ve found something that didn’t work initially, but you went back later and tried it again from a different perspective and you were able to get it to work, or gain a better appreciation of it?
JB: There’s been a little bit of that but nothing comes to mind. But if I were to research, there has been some, but not the major stuff. Not the nakshatras. Another one is Neecha Bhanga Raja yoga. Neecha Bhanga. So if a planet is fallen—take for instance Al Gore. He has Mars in Cancer in the 1st house, fallen, right next to Saturn, and he hit a dasha-bhukti, believe it or not. Now we’re talking Mars and Saturn in Cancer.
CB: What is this yoga? It’s the opposite of Raj yoga?
JB: Oh, well, I don’t know what yoga it would be called, but this is two afflicted planets. Saturn in Cancer’s bad.
CB: Okay, so it’s like Mars in its ‘fall’ and Saturn in its detriment.
JB: It wouldn’t matter if Saturn was in a good sign. Mars picking up the energy of Saturn is gonna hurt ‘cause Saturn’s a malefic. But this is really bad because Mars is fallen, Saturn’s right next to it. Now it’s in his 1st house. Mars rules the 10th, it rules the 5th, and it’s in the 1st. So you have three possibilities: career downfall, an accident for himself because it’s in the 1st house, or an accident for a child. So he comes out of a baseball game or a football game, it was 1989; it was in April 1989. The Mars-Saturn was between May ‘88 and June ‘89; this was April ‘89, he’s in Mars-Saturn. He walks outside the football game, the baseball game, and sees his son get hit by a car and go flying 30 feet.
JB: Yeah. He lived, okay? So that’s Mars’ Neecha. Mars is fallen, so it’s in the worst sign possible. Now Neecha Bhanga Raja yoga means you have a fallen planet, but the fallen negative energy is canceled out, Neecha Bhanga. It’s canceled out and becomes a Raja yoga. So now not only is it bad, but it becomes fantastic, right? So after two or three years of finding clients who have fallen planets—but it’s got Neecha Bhanga—there’s about four or five different ways. If a planet’s fallen, but it’s with an exalted planet—Al Pacino has Saturn in Aries fallen, but he’s got an exalted planet, the Sun in Aries in the 10th house, so that’s supposed to cancel out the fall of Saturn. But there’s all kinds of ways; the ruler of the house is angular.
So I would see these Neecha Bhangas and in the beginning I’d say, “But this is probably gonna be good,” and you would just go wrong. So after a number of years—and I would go back every five years—but there’s the thing: Neecha Bhanga Raja yoga will work 20% of the time. 20% of the time means it doesn’t work at all. I tell my clients right from the start a really good reading is probably about 75% accurate. So anything that works 25% of the time, it’s useless. What are you gonna do with it? Now here’s the thing though—occasionally I will see a fallen planet, and I will see that person have fantastic results from it. Not any bad results. Again, it’s 20%. Only happens 20% of the time, and it’s mostly in the cases of very famous people, so Neecha Bhanga works.
And if you’re psychic—and I have to acknowledge this—when I was in India, there were too many times, too many times when either one of the teachers would say something. See, I brought these horoscopes with me both times, and I’d put them in front of them and they would say something and be really accurate, and then I’d say, “Where are you getting that from?” Most of the time there would be a good answer. Sometimes there was an answer that was just ridiculous, and I said, “This is just psychic.” And this brings up the yogas. The yogas—they have hundreds and hundreds of yogas. Yoga means ‘union’.
So I’ll give you a yoga. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth. So Lakshmi yoga means the planetary union that gives wealth in the horoscope. So wealth normally comes from a good 2nd house money and a good 11th house, which is the house of large gains of money. Where you see the billionaires and the multimillionaires is having the ruler of the 11th in the 2nd and the ruler of the 2nd in the 11th. Like that—a really strong 2nd and 11th—those are the ones that become wealthy. So Lakshmi yoga, here’s one for you. If there is a planet in the 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 12th house the person has Lakshmi yoga. There’s no logic to this. The 8th house is a bad house. The 12th house is a bad house. The 2nd house is a money house, so okay. The 6th is bad. The 8th is bad, the 12th. Now I’ve seen people—I knew someone from college. Her horoscope was not good particularly for money and there’s Lakshmi yoga. She’s got a planet in the 2nd, the 6th, the 8th, and the 12th, and she’s wealthy.
CB: So specifically in the text, it’s supposed to indicate wealth? ‘Cause Lakshmi is goddess of knowledge or something, right?
JB: No. Lakshmi is wealth. Saraswati would be knowledge.
CB: Saraswati, okay. Yeah, sorry.
JB: So this is one where it gives wealth, but here’s the problem. You’ll find three or four charts where the person has Lakshmi yoga and they’re not wealthy.
JB: So what I think happens—and I cannot emphasize this enough—in India, they are massively psychic. Now I get lots of charts from Indians. I do a lot of YouTube interviews on Indian podcasts, and I start looking at the chart, I’m not even talking to them, and I’m seeing how psychic they are. I see it from the Moon conjunct Ketu, the South Node. You just see it. You see, the 8th house is intuition, and Ketu is intuition—they’re just massively psychic. So I think what happens is the Indian astrologer memorizes the yogas, but they also learn. In order to do this system the best, you have to learn what every house really and truly means. You can’t mix and match.
JB: The 2nd house is food that you eat, but the appetite is the 6th house. You can’t mix and match. You got to know exactly what they mean. The 9th house is religion and philosophy, but the 12th house is moksha or ‘enlightenment’.
CB: Sure. So having very clear distinctions between houses allows you to make more precise statements.
JB: Bingo. And so, if you memorize how everything works then you also have the yogas. But the yogas—I think yoga pops into your mind when it’s applicable. So if somebody has Lakshmi yoga, but it’s not working, then don’t mention it. But they got it and it is working, they will just intuitively pick it up. They are massively psychic.
JB: That’s been my experience.
CB: So one question I wanted to ask you—if you could do it all over again in terms of your earlier studies where you went out and studied with two teachers specifically, and then you started writing books pretty quickly, and then you’ve had the rest of your career since then—if you were a young astrologer starting out today, how would you do things differently if you were starting from scratch right now, knowing what you know about Indian astrology?
JB: Well, first of all, I’m thrilled I’m the luckiest astrologer alive to have started with Western and gotten a good basis in that.
CB: So you think that was actually positive. Some people feel like they have to unlearn everything they learned from Western in order to rebuild their understanding with a different approach, but you think that actually was helpful to you in some way.
JB: Oh, lord have mercy, it made learning the Indian astrology so easy. I already knew what the planets meant. I already had an idea of what the houses meant. I just keep them separate. You know, I play guitar. Now when I started playing guitar, I remember I could barely do the chords, right? And then I had to strum while worrying about the fingers, and then I had to finger pick while I’m doing this—how do you do that? I don’t know.
CB: For example, the aspects, the special aspects are different. Even the house significations in modern Western astrology vs. Indian astrology are very different in some instances, right?
JB: Very few, very few, not a lot.
CB: Not a lot of differences or not a lot of similarities?
JB: There’s not a lot of differences. It’s mostly the same, except the 3rd house is the arts instead of the 5th. The 5th house is the mind instead of the 3rd. Education is the 2nd instead of the 3rd. The heart is the 4th house and the stomach is the 5th. There’s some differences, but career is the 10th, the 2nd is money, the 6th is health—it’s not that different.
JB: In fact, when people used to ask me what to do, I used to say, look, you are in the Western culture. Learn Western astrology for God’s sake. You’re in the Western culture. And then when you’ve gotten a certain amount and you want to learn the other, I would say go learn the other. But let me just say something—I’m probably the most opinionated astrologer. I use what works only and I have very strong opinions. I’m wrong like anybody else, so you have to find your own way. You know, you have to find your own way. This is how I do it. I’m so lucky to know both systems. The thing is after a while I look at a horoscope, and I’ll see Saturn square to a planet—that’s square in the Western system—but not square in the Hindu, right? But I know what that square means, so I don’t even need to go to the Western system and say, “Oh, you’ve got Saturn square the Sun.” Saturn’s not aspecting the Sun in the Hindu, but I know it’s perfectly square in the Western, so I could start talking about that. I don’t say it’s coming from the Hindu, but I say, “Look, you’ve got problems with your father, and you’ve got restriction problems.” If they want to know where it’s coming from, I’ll tell them, “Well, it’s a Western square.”
The other thing is the one thing that I kind of wish is that I could have studied with more people. If somebody’s gonna go to India, this is what I tell them. I tell them to go to a different astrologer. When you find an astrologer that’s good and you resonate with them, you study with them. You learn what you can get from them and then you move on and find someone else. One of the things is I’d be with the Hindu astrologers over there and if they said something that didn’t work, that didn’t make sense to me, I’d say, “Okay,” and I would just disregard it. I would argue it a little bit. I’d say, “Wait, that’s not…” and if they just stuck to their guns, I’d say, “Okay,” and then I would move on. I would not challenge them. I would just say, “That doesn’t work for me.”
CB: So you don’t feel a particular attachment to a specific lineage or school necessarily, but instead you feel like it’s important to maybe take some of the best pieces that you can take from each different approach that you’re exposed to.
JB: Yeah. My books would not be what they are if I just listened to what they taught me. I did listen to what they taught me. Now I’m gonna be getting Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer, my first book, on ebook. I’m gonna completely redo the planets and houses. Why? Because I wanted to keep it traditional. For example, the Sun in the 2nd house. Oh, this is bad for money because it’s a malefic. It’s bad for the right eye because the 2nd house is the right eye and the Sun is a malefic. They don’t mention that the Sun is the indicator of the soul. So money and education—which is the 2nd house in Hindu—is gonna be so important. They don’t mention that. It’s common sense. So when they’re teaching it, they’re just teaching stuff that you need to know that you wouldn’t otherwise know. So when I redo the planets and houses, it’s gonna be much more accurate. I’ll say, yes, it’s a malefic, so it may harm the 2nd house, but wherever the Sun is that’s a soul connection. But see now that’s me.
There are people that love the scriptures, that worship the scriptures, and it’s so important to understand that the world is huge and there’s space for everybody. There’s space for every approach. Look, there’s the ayanamsa. I use the Lahiri ayanamsa. That’s the calculation that gets you from the Western planets to the sidereal; from the tropical to the sidereal. There’s going to be people using different ayanamsas. To me, I know from my experience that what works is Lahiri, and what works is Krishnamurti; they’re very close together. But some astrologers are gonna use BV Raman. Some are gonna use Fagan-Bradley. Some are gonna use Sheoran. Some of these will take the dashas and they’ll make the dashas four years later, and they’ll make the chart completely different, so you have to make room for people that use it. All that matters is that when you get a client you can be accurate, and you can say, “I can’t answer that question. It’s not clear in the chart. I don’t know.” You tell them what you know and be happy with that.
CB: Yeah, that seems like something people are very uncomfortable with and I’m glad you brought that up at the beginning. I tried to raise a similar point in the last episode. Especially when it comes to a specific technique, sometimes there can be parts of a technique that you feel are really solid and you’ve seen over and over and over again, and maybe there’s other parts where there could be something there, but maybe you just haven’t fully researched it out yet. And sometimes it’s okay just to say, “I haven’t looked into that very much,” or “I haven’t looked into that technique very much. There might be something to it, but it’s not part of what I feel like is my solid area of knowledge at this stage in my career.”
JB: Yeah. Look, I’m the classic one because I would worry. I mean, when I started doing charts, I would spend three days on them. You have to understand there’s so much simple information that you’re going to give to a client that they would never know, that you know for sure. So don’t worry about the stuff that you don’t know. And as time goes by, you’ll figure that out.
CB: Yeah, so focus on the things that you do know and you do feel solid with. Imparting that to the client is going to give them useful information that they wouldn’t have otherwise. And if there’s something that they’re wanting or asking you, it’s okay just to say, “That’s not something I feel like I can answer or that I feel comfortable going into.”
JB: It’s even better than that. When you tell the client what you do know and what you don’t know, it’s so freeing if you say, “Look, I couldn’t answer that question for you.” I get these charts—everybody gets them—but in the Hindu system this is really a complication ‘cause you’re trying to make predictions. You get these charts that are complicated. You’ve got four planets in Cancer all being squared by Saturn. I mean, you get these charts that are just massively complicated, right?
JB: I start out the reading and I say, “I’ve been doing this for 40 years. Your chart’s in the top 2% of being difficult to interpret. I’m gonna tell you what I do know, and I’m gonna tell you each little specific part.” So the Sun is in Cancer, 1° away from Jupiter, and Jupiter’s exalted in Cancer. So the Sun is fantastic, it’s conjunct exalted Jupiter, and then Saturn is throwing this horrible aspect on that Sun, and I’ll say what that means. One part of it makes the Sun fantastic, the other makes it terrible. And I say to them, “You will interpret how that works.” And what it usually means is they’re frustrated. They feel the potential, but they can’t make it happen. But I tell them, “I’m gonna describe what each planet is doing as best as I can, and you have to put it in context.”
I also tell people, if it’s a first-time reading, I say, “Look, it’s 75% accurate if it’s a good reading and the chart’s pretty easy to read.” I say, “You take what you resonate with and you discard the rest.” But the best thing is to tell them what you don’t know because I’m telling you it’s freeing for you, it lets them know. And I’ll say to them, “You may go to somebody else and they may be able to answer that question for you.” I also find that—I’m just talking about confusing charts and stuff—sometimes I’ll just see a chart that’s really confusing and I’ll just say what they need is gonna show up in the reading, and it usually shows up, right? But you can’t say that in the early days ‘cause you really need to know what you’re doing. But once you know what you’re doing and you’re pretty good at this, the information that they need it’ll unfold. They’ll tell you what’s happening in their life, and suddenly you’ll say, “Okay, now I know what that planet is doing.”
CB: Right. That makes sense. And there’s some interpretive principle that you were mentioning and it came up a couple of times here, and I was curious how you approached that. Sometimes when people see a combination of planets or a yoga or something and they try to come up with a combined delineation, like the one you were mentioning with the Sun conjunct Jupiter and Saturn squaring it; they try to explain what all of that means as a composite delineation. Other times I hear people say that you’ll get both—that you’ll get the extremely positive thing, but you’ll also get the extremely negative thing. I mean, is there one direction that you go more than the other with that?
JB: In my book I call it a ‘wildcard’ where you don’t know what’s gonna happen, but after a while you start to know what’s gonna happen. Like the frustration. I mean, that’s just a frustrating aspect. They’ve got all this potential for the Sun, but it’s frustrated. That’ll usually be the most accurate sort of thing.
JB: What was I gonna say?
CB: There was another one you delineated earlier.
JB: If I’m doing a chart and I see Saturn within 3° or 4° of the Ascendant—or in Hindu Vedic, all planets aspect their opposite house. So if I find Saturn in the 7th house aspecting the Ascendant within 3° or 4°, or on the Ascendant within 3° or 4°, or Saturn conjunct the Sun, the Moon, or the Ascendant ruler. Saturn conjunct the Sun, the Ascendant ruler, or the Moon—if I see that I start the reading this way, and this is coming from experience. I start the reading this way, I say, “Look, I’m gonna be telling you all about your chart. There’s a lot of high points, there’s a lot of weak points, just like anybody else, but Saturn is very prominent. And so, to the extent that you handle Saturn…,” I’ll actually describe Saturn first. I try not to scare them, right? You don’t want to scare people with negative stuff, but I say, “Look, you are dealing with a self-restrictive element,” and they know that, right? “So there’s a part of you that holds back, that feels restrictive, lack of confidence. We know that. That’s there. You’ve also got good stuff. So I’m gonna be talking about a lot of good stuff, I see a lot of good stuff in your chart and I’m gonna talk about those. But if you don’t have those things going on it is probably because of handling that one particular aspect.”
Now I came to this method of doing it this way because the way I do astrology, I like to be objective. I want the person to get a good hit of an objective viewpoint to their life. I don’t want them telling me about their life, I want to tell them. If I get a chart and I say, “Wow, you should be a writer; this is a great chart for writing,” and they’ve always wanted to be a writer but they haven’t done it, that has a huge impact, so I’d rather tell them objectively. So that’s how I do it. Nobody else has to do it that way, but I prefer that. So I would do these charts and I’d say, “There’s a fantastic career here. Wow. This is fame, recognition, etc.” and I hear dead silence on the other end. And I get to the end of the reading and I would find that the person has just held themselves back massively. Some people don’t hold themselves back massively; they get that success even with a lack of confidence. So I will tell them I’m gonna be talking about this stuff because otherwise they start to feel bad, they start to feel guilty, they don’t know why they didn’t achieve anything.
Now there’s one other thing I want to mention while I’m on this—this is really fascinating. The spiritual techniques—there’s three paths of enlightenment. There’s Mercury, which is Lord Vishnu (evolution through the mind and the truth), there’s Jupiter (evolution through prayer and devotion, the Hare Krishnas), and there’s Saturn, which is Lord Shiva (evolution through meditation, austerity, fasting, etc.). So Saturn with the Sun and with the Ascendant and with the Moon, they’ll be great at meditating and austerity, but their lives will be restricted. Jupiter with the Ascendant ruler, Sun or Moon, they’ll be devotional. Mercury, the truth will set them free. Advaita, nonduality. But you do get those confusing horoscopes all the time and that’s how I deal with them.
CB: Okay, brilliant. Well, I think we’ve come to the end of our time here, sadly. That actually went by super fast. So I wanted to ask you, where can people find out more information? You have a website, right, and that’s probably the primary place?
JB: Yeah. Now the thing is my website—I’m not good with computers. I’ve got some articles on there. There’s some YouTube. If they want to hear YouTube stuff, they just go to YouTube and they put in ‘James Braha astrology’ and they’ll see that. Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer is the simplest book to get the basics. But what I tell people now is I tell them don’t study that book for months on end. Study that book till you get the basics and then move to The Art and Practice of Ancient Hindu Astrology, the dialogue text. About three or four years ago, an Indian astrologer contacted me and he wanted to do The Art and Practice in India.
My books sell in India, but he wanted to make an Indian edition of The Art and Practice, and he said, “I want to do it in two volumes, two parts.” And I said, “Why do you want to do it in two parts?” I couldn’t figure that out. Boy, when I went to edit this book and update it and revise it, there’s too much information for the mind to grasp. I have always told people that book is loaded—loaded with information that is not textbook information; it’s experiential. When I read Isabel Hickey’s book, I’ll never forget this—I read her book and I said, “I just want to study this one book. If I could know everything in this book that would be everything,” right?
JB: So I would tell them read Art and Practice of Ancient Hindu Astrology and read it to the end, and then just go back and read it again, read it again. But in editing the book what I’ve come across is that there is so much useful, practical information, if they would take a 10-page section at a time, read the 10-page section over again till they get everything there, then the next 10. Because there is so much information there, it’s just jam-packed.
JB: But I would say the Ancient Hindu is good to get the basics.
JB: Oh, I’m also gonna be speaking at the Vedic Astrology Conference. I don’t normally go to those conferences because it’s a loss of money, I don’t like traveling. I hate worrying about it. I tend to worry about what I’m gonna teach.
JB: But this lady went to the conference this year…
CB: You’re talking about Harness’ conference?
JB: I haven’t been there in 10-15 years. This lady wrote me this email, she said, “I just came away from the conference, so many people want to hear you speaking.” I go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that.” And then she says to me, “I got in a car with an Uber driver, and the Uber driver said, ‘I’m not going to those conferences until James Braha goes’.” I heard this and I said, “Forget that I don’t like flying. Forget that I hate working at conferences. I’m going.” It just hit me like when I did the chart and the guy said, “That’s when I tried to commit suicide.” I couldn’t live with that. I had to go back. The next day I was on my way back to India. That just really struck me. So now I’m going back, and the title of the lecture that I’m giving is “What I Learned Over 40 Years.” The stuff that I learned that you don’t get in the books, that’s what I’m gonna talk about.
CB: Brilliant. Yeah, I heard that was a really great conference. It’s called the Sedona Vedic Astrology Conference, and people can find out more information about that at SedonaVedicAstrology.com, I believe. Do you know what the URL of your website is, again?
JB: Mine is JamesBraha.com.
CB: Okay, brilliant. That’s easy to remember.
JB: Wait, I want to tell this. Can I have five minutes?
JB: I just want to tell a story. The British astrologer Andrew Mason, he’s written a lot. He’s written on Ayurveda, and he just wrote a Jyotish book. He’s very different from me. He’s very historical. He’s very into the history of it, but he’s got a lot of knowledge. But I was talking to him the other day about the dashas, and I said, “Tell me a little bit about what you know about dashas and the Chara Dashas and yogini dasha.” And he says, “I use Vimshottari and I also use Jaimini.” That’s the one that predicted my second marriage. When I’m doing an update because I have enough information to keep me an hour-and-a-half doing a natal reading and the Vimshottari Dasha. But if I’m doing an update, I’ll include Jaimini. But Andrew said, “I love using yogini because I love the story.” I said, “What’s the story?” He says, “The story is that Paravati was asking Shiva, her husband, ‘Tell me about astrology.’” So he says, “Well, I can tell you about astrology, but I’d have to kill you after this.” In other words, you can’t teach it, you can’t speak about it.
So he goes into the sky and makes himself into the big yogini dasha, and she says, “Oh, my God, you can see everything that’s gonna happen in a person’s life,” which of course is an exaggeration. But she says, “This is fantastic. Can we tell the humans to save them from their suffering?” And he says, “No.” “Why not?” “Because they need to learn their lessons. They won’t learn their lessons if they’re warned about everything.” So she promised not to tell the yogini dasha, but we have Ganesh. There’s Ganesh in the background; the human body with the elephant head is Lord Ganesh. And Ganesh has got these huge ears and Ganesh was listening. So Ganesh heard everything about yogini dasha, and he didn’t promise not to tell, so that’s why we have yogini dasha. And that’s a dasha where the Sun is something like one year and then a planet’s for two years, then a planet’s for three years. The dashas can be really bizarre. In the Chara Dasha system, you could have a dasha for 2 years, and then you could have a 12-year dasha. So there’s all these different systems. It’s very fascinating.
CB: Wow. Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting just the distinction where you have ones that are more based on the zodiacal signs and some that are more focused on the rulers or the planets themselves.
JB: There’s all sorts of different things. I just found out recently that in the Vimshottari Dasha, you’re born into a particular period based upon where the Moon is. So my Moon was in Bharani—I don’t know. I don’t remember anymore. But the Moon is in a nakshatra that’s ruled by Venus, so I was born into Venus dasha.
JB: But it turns out that Venus is not always the ruler of Bharani. It depends on which system you’re using.
CB: Okay. Do you mind if I show your chart really quickly?
JB: Yeah, go ahead.
CB: We were gonna show it.
JB: Yeah, please do.
CB: ‘Cause one of the things is there’s two different primary chart styles in India. There’s the North Indian chart style that’s more like a diamond.
CB: And then there’s the South Indian style that’s more like a square basically.
JB: What’s so funny about this is that I learned in Delhi, in North India, but my teacher Santhanam was from the South, so I learned the South Indian method. So here you have the Taurus Ascendant. 2° Taurus is my Ascendant; the 2nd house is Gemini. And if I had been born a few hours later, that diagonal line would be over to the right; it would be in Gemini. The square stays the same.
CB: Yeah. So what we’re seeing for people listening to the audio version there’s a big square, and within that there’s 12 smaller squares all around the edge of the larger square. And in this chart style, Aries is always the square that’s up at the 11 o’clock position, and then it looks like the signs go clockwise. So from Aries, then Taurus, then Gemini, then Cancer.
CB: And then the sign that contains the Ascendant is just marked off with a diagonal line through it.
JB: Yeah, that’s how it works.
CB: And then you just know from there that that sign is the 1st whole sign house, and the sign that comes after that is the 2nd, and so on and so forth.
JB: Yeah. After a while you don’t have to put Gemini in there. I know which house is Gemini, it’s the corner. The right corner is always Gemini.
CB: Okay, got it.
JB: So in this chart look at Venus there. I have in the 4th house—the house of the mother and land and real estate—Mars at 14°, a great malefic, ruling the 12th house, a very bad house. Then comes Ketu, the bottom portion of the serpent; represents everything psychic and metaphysical and otherworldly. And then comes Venus, the Ascendant ruler at 16. So the Ascendant ruler, Venus, is in the house of the mother, 1° away from Ketu, a massive malefic planet, 2° away from Mars, a massive malefic ruling the evil or terrible 12th house. So I was born into the last 4 years and 9 months of Venus. Those 4 years and 9 months were hellish. My mother was mentally ill and had to go to the hospital when I was three-or-four-years-old. My father put us in a summer camp, and my brothers that were like seven and eight, they said, “Let’s run away. But we can’t take Jimmy because he’s too young.”
JB: So this Venus is just horrific. Now that was a dasha, which is not a sub-period but a period.
JB: So those four years were horrible. Now anytime I come to a Venus sub-period—you have Sun-Sun, Sun-Moon, Sun-Mars, eventually you get to Sun-Venus. Then you have Moon-Moon, Moon-Mars, Moon-Rahu, then you get to Moon-Venus. Anytime I come to Moon-Venus I have troubles. I have to go get yagyas, chant mantras because Venus causes such trouble. Now when I went into the Moon dasha, the Moon rules the 3rd house, which is the arts, and the Moon is aspected by Mercury. So I was in the arts, I was in drama for 10 years. As soon as Mars began, suddenly the arts lost their grip, I got into meditation and spiritual because Mars rules the 12th house. Mars rules the marriage house, so I got married, that goes for seven years. Then I hit Rahu, and Rahu is massively powerful. Rahu represents cravings and desires for worldly power.
Now if we had more time I was gonna put horoscopes up there of all these Oscar winners. Al Pacino didn’t win an Oscar until he went into the Rahu dasha, which was in 1993. He got his first Oscar in 1993 for Scent of a Woman. He had gone into the Rahu dasha in 1992. Now Rahu, by Parashara, was considered exalted in Taurus, but Padia said, “You take it from me, Rahu or Ketu work best in Virgo,” and I have absolutely found that. So when he went into Rahu, Rahu’s in the 3rd house, the house of the arts in Hindu, in Virgo. In the ‘80s, Pacino’s work was not that great. In the ‘80s, he was doing a lot of stage plays and working on his own. He hit the ‘90s, and he hit Rahu dasha and his work just took off, and that’s when he won his Oscar.
But so many Westerners in Hindu, they think, “Oh, Rahu and Ketu are terrible.” Rahu is worldly power. So my Rahu in the 10th house, that’s part of why I always wanted fame and recognition. When I went into Mars, I was pursuing enlightenment. I was going back and forth to Switzerland meditating in courses for four hours a day, for months at a time. As soon as Rahu was over, I hit Rahu—I mean, as soon as Mars was over, I hit Rahu. Suddenly, I said, “I don’t want my attention on myself. I want to see if I can do something for other people, for the world.” That was Rahu dasha.
CB: Right. And you switched from the activation of Mars in your 4th house to suddenly the activation of a placement in your 10th house.
JB: Right. But it’s not like I was so concerned with land and homes. The Mars dasha was more about marriage and spiritual. That’s just how it worked for me. It was the 12th house and 7th ‘cause that’s what it rules.
JB: One thing about Rahu—this is extremely important for anybody who’s practicing—I’d say about 60-70% of the people when they hit Rahu dasha, they will have enormous changes: change of career, change of marriage, a parent dies, just big changes. Not everybody. 60-70%. This is what I tell my clients—if when you hit your Rahu dasha, if you have huge changes, they’re gonna go on for 32 months. It will not settle down. In other words, when you hit Rahu-Rahu and you have enormous changes, don’t expect to feel comfortable and settled till you get to Rahu-Jupiter, the next sub-period. Now if you get to Rahu-Rahu, and you’re in Rahu-Rahu for two or three months and there’s no big changes, you’re free and clear; you won’t have the big changes.
CB: Okay. That’s great advice. All right, well, I would like to actually keep talking, but I think we are out of time at this point ‘cause I have to run, and I know you have to as well. But thanks a lot for joining me today, I really appreciate it.
JB: Thank you. You know, when I saw how many videos you’ve made, all glories to you.
CB: Yeah, it’s almost 200. But it was a great way to culminate almost 200 episodes, having someone like yourself on, so thanks a lot for joining me. People should check out your website. So those ebooks are out, or they’re about to be out?
JB: I have the spiritual book, Living Reality; that’s about enlightenment. The Art and Practice should be out in the next 10 days.
JB: You never know with them. Sometimes they say, “Oh, we got a little glitch,” and it’s three weeks, but the next two or three weeks, it should be.
CB: Brilliant. So people should do a search for The Art and Practice of—was the title ‘Hindu Astrology’ or ‘Vedic Astrology’?
JB: I titled it The Art and Practice of Ancient Hindu Astrology. I just don’t like the term ‘Vedic’. I don’t believe it’s Vedic. I use the term ‘Hindu Vedic’ because if I don’t I’m gonna lose business because some people call it Vedic, and it’s just a name.
CB: Yeah, just terms that people use. Sometimes you have to figure out what people are searching for otherwise they won’t find the thing that you’re putting out there.
JB: Yeah, yeah.
CB: All right, cool. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today.
JB: Thank you.
CB: All right, and thanks everybody for listening or watching this episode of The Astrology Podcast, thanks to the patrons for your support, and we will see you again next time.