A Fateful Evening

Though well past midnight, the hotel room was still jammed with people from the conference. Gingerly stepping over those seated on the floor in the back, I made my way to an unoccupied spot near the front of the semi-circle that surrounded the diminutive man who was the center of attention. Dressed in what looked like simple white cotton pajamas, his hair and beard nearly white, he certainly looked the part of the Brahmin pundit.

But what I first noticed about him were his hands. They looked so delicate, with the longest, thinnest fingers I’d ever seen. They seemed to epitomize the phrase “hands of a scribe.” He had been introduced to us as Mr. K.N. Rao of New Delhi, India; a former high-ranking government official in the Audits and Accounts Department now retired.

But tonight he was in the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael, California as the keynote speaker of the Second International Symposium on Vedic Astrology. This is a particular form of astrology that originated in India thousands of years ago and is quite different from its western counterpart. The conference program stated that Mr. Rao was a renowned adept in this ancient science and since retiring from government service, had established the largest school of Vedic Astrology in India.

Like many others in the room I was drawn to the Symposium by reports of the predictive capability of this form of astrology. Little did I realize upon entering the room that I was about to see an impressive demonstration of this—on myself.

I was quietly observing the informal question and answer session that was going on when unexpectedly Mr. Rao turned to me and said, “Do you know your horoscope?” Since I had a copy of my birth chart with me, I quickly retrieved it and tried to hand it to him, but he stopped me with, “No, please just dictate.”

I verbally listed the different planetary positions at my birth and within moments, he amazed everyone in the room by reeling off a series of highly accurate statements about my life.

“You are the only male heir of your parents, but have four or five sisters.”

“Quite true,” I acknowledged and shared with the group that I was indeed an only son with five sisters.

“You have a good education along classical lines and have studied literature.”

“Correct again,” I admitted and marveled at the precision of this. My parents had placed a high value on education, and I was sent to the best private schools available where I developed a love of the classics at an early age. As an undergraduate, I had majored in English Literature.

“But there was a break in your education and you later studied some other more technical subjects.”

Again I had to own that this was remarkably true. Ten years after receiving my undergraduate degree, I had returned to school to get a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. It required course work in statistics and experimental design. I was also very immersed at the time in the study of Western astrology, which—like all forms of astrology—has a technical, mathematical side.

“In the mid-1980’s you were in a relationship. It could have been a marriage or a marriage-like situation, but after a time, it ended.”

“Absolutely true,” I replied, having nearly married in 1986, and in the midst of my feelings of astonishment at this remarkable demonstration I began to wonder if this man was not just an astrologer, but a very gifted psychic. Later I came to know that this is a common reaction people have to him and one that he finds very amusing.

I can remember thinking at the time that if this was pure astrology, it was of a kind I had never encountered before. I was quite intrigued. Looking back, I see now that this was very much the point of the exercise. Since his audience consisted of fledgling students, Mr. Rao wanted to peak our interest by giving us a demonstration of what was possible through this science, though no doubt there was an element of “showmanship” at play as well.

It worked, for shortly thereafter I became a very serious student of Vedic astrology under his tutelage.

The Obstetrician versus the Astrologer

In the weeks that followed, I attended a seminar Mr. Rao gave on astrological methods for timing the birth of children. He introduced the topic in his usual bold way by asking the group “Who is more skilled at telling a woman when she will deliver a child, an obstetrician or an astrologer?” Of course, his answer was an astrologer since the obstetrician must wait until a woman is pregnant to give her a “due date,” whereas a good astrologer should be able to see both the conception and the birth far in advance.

He then went on to share with us techniques that he had learned from his mother who was an expert at this and who virtually specialized in the question. From his book entitled “Planets and Children,” he gave illustration after illustration of cases where he had made successful predictions utilizing these methods. And then as if this was all part of some cosmic plan, life gave me the opportunity to test these techniques and my own skill at using them.

Though I was not practicing astrology at the time, word got out among my friends that I was studying this form and had learned some methods for predicting childbirth. An acupuncturist friend of mine had a patient who was having difficulty getting pregnant and suggested that she consult with me. When she called I freely admitted I was a novice with this system, but said I would be happy to experiment.

Her doctors were calling it a case of “unexplained infertility.” They had recommended the in vitro process, which she had already tried once, but it had failed. She and her husband were considering doing it again, but were hesitant because of the expense and the side effects of the drugs involved.

When I examined the astrological data, I was somewhat surprised to see clear indications that she was about to move into a child-giving period in the very near future. The troubling thought arose, “Was I just seeing what I wanted to see?”

Worried that I might be extending false hope, I shared with her my conclusions that she would conceive in the coming fall months and give birth the following June. This prediction was made in the early summer of 1994. Only later did I discover that she decided to hold off on doing another in vitro process based on this input.

Months passed and with the usual busyness of life I forgot the incident until one night I returned home to an excited voice on my answering machine informing me that she was pregnant and was due to deliver in June of 1995. She was overjoyed, and so was I to have played a small part in her happiness. It was my first successful prediction using this system.

Mr. Rao had been right. An astrologer could prove superior to an obstetrician, and I definitely knew it had nothing to do with my being psychic. Nor was it a fluke. In the year that followed I was able to replicate this success several times using these same methods for timing the birth of children. Mr. Rao also taught me techniques for predicting other events as well, and in the coming years I was also able make successful predictions about marriage, job promotion, sale of a home and a variety of other events. Some of these have been documented in my “Case Studies in Vedic Astrology.”

I also came to understand on what basis Mr. Rao made some of the very accurate and specific statements about my life. Late one evening I was reading a translation of a Sanskrit text on Vedic astrology dating from the mid-nineteenth century. In a chapter dealing with siblings, one passage outlines a birth chart configuration said to result in no brothers. It dawned on me instantly that this configuration applied to my birth chart. “So that’s where he got that!” I can remember thinking. He later confirmed it in a conversation.

It wasn't magic. It didn't have anything to do with psychic powers. It was pure Vedic astrology. I had proved to myself that I could do it, and with time and effort so can anyone of average intelligence.

The Karmic Code

These illustrations of how events can be timed using this system of astrology immediately raise the question of predestination versus free will. This difficult and complex philosophical issue lies at the very heart of any form of astrology.

The response of the ancient sages of India to this question is that both elements are at play in an individual’s life. Based on the thoughts and actions in previous lives, the soul reaps what it has sown. This is the element of “karma,” the accumulated effects of past actions. This is the “predestined” part. However, within the circumscribed orb of these karmas there are the many individual choices and efforts being made in the present that both modify the past and shape the future.

The great cosmic secret known to the sages of ancient India is that the planetary patterns at the time of an individual’s birth form a “karmic code” that reveals this predestined aspect of life to those who understand how to read it.

In fact, if you ask a practitioner of this science in India what the purpose of Vedic astrology is, the best answer you’re likely to get is that it is an ancient method for diagnosing karma.

And why does anyone diagnosis? Hopefully, in order to help guide a person in their life and prescribe means by which positive karmas can be enhanced and negative karmas can be alleviated. This is the higher purpose and value of this sacred science, not just prediction, however fascinating that might be.

Marc Boney, M.A.