Lectures, Workshops, Sessions and Special Events In Honor of the Renowned Vedic Astrologer
James Braha is one of the most influential astrologers of our time. He has written extensively on Hindu astrology, and is considered the leading international expert on Vedic Astrology.
Cathy Burroughs: You use both systems, Western and E astern. Why do you love the Hindu/Vedic so much?
James Braha: Alan Leo, the famous British astrologer, once wrote that astrologers with Sun-Neptune conjunctions are the most predictive of all. I have a three degree Sun-Neptune conjunction, so his statement always makes me laugh because I just love the more predictive, fate oriented Eastern system. But truly, I think my mind is just more comfortable with Eastern methods and philosophies.
C B: For example?
JB: I’m fascinated by the way Hindu philosophy categorizes life into four areas: dharma, artha, kama (not karma) and moksha. Dharma is duty or purpose, and relates to the fire houses, 1, 5, and 9. So, if these houses are prominent, then the person focuses mainly on his or her mission. The person lives to fulfill some specific purpose or career.
C B: What is artha?
JB: Artha means money matters, and relates to the earth houses, 2, 6, and 10. If these houses are prominent, the person is interested in making money. He or she is more practical. Then comes kama, as in kama sutra, which means desires. Not sexual desires, but desires in general. Kama houses are 3, 7, and 11.
C B: Air.
JB: Yes. When these houses are powerful, then the person has tons of desires and gets them fulfilled, unless other chart features negate that fact. If I see a client with a great kama horoscope, that person has likely already succeeded in several careers, and satisfied so many different desires.
C B: Sounds wonderful.
JB: Not necessarily, because these people don’t know what to do with themselves. They always ask me: “What do I do with my life”?
C B: What do you say?
JB: I tell them to try and enjoy the fact that they get so many desires fulfilled. And then I look to the dasas and bhuktis, the periods and subperiods for which Hindu predictive astrology is so famous, to guide them in what nature has in store for t hem during upcoming periods.
By the way, Hindu astrology uses a different house system and zodiac than Western - sidereal, not tropical – so don’t assume that because certain houses are prominent in your Western chart they will still be so in the Hindu chart.
C B: I see.
JB: Finally, there are the water houses, 4, 8, and 12, that relate to moksha, which means enlightenment and final liberation.
C B: Spiritual matters.
JB: Yes. So, this dharma, artha, kama, moksha feature is an overarching theme that sometimes dominates a chart. I say sometimes because not all charts are heavily weighted in one area. Many charts are balanced between 2, 3 or 4 qualities. My horoscope is heavily weighted toward moksha and dharma - spiritual matters and personal mission.
But this isn’t what hooked me. What hooked me was the six weeks of private sessions with my first mentor in Delhi where we spent four hours every night discussing horoscopes.
C B: Celebrity or well known persons’ charts?
JB: No, charts of my closest friends and relatives. In 1983, when I first went to India I brought about thirty charts with me in case I found a teacher. What hooked me was when Santhanam, my teacher, took one look at my brother’s chart and said “Did he have trouble with his family when he went to get married”? This was true; my brother, who has the Sun in his 7th house, married a lady of a different religion and my parents hit the roof. Santhanam also had Sun in the 7th house, and had to elope because his family objected to the wife’s small dowry.
C B: Wow.
JB: What hooked me was Santhanam saying about one of my closest friends “This man will care little of his appearance”. He didn’t know it, but he was talking about a man who had once showed up in court wearing shorts and sandals for his divorce proceedings! The prediction was so accurate.
C B: How was that seen?
JB: Fallen Mars in Cancer in the 1st house, and some affliction to the 1st house ruler. Then there was the case of an acquaintance who has a phenomenal singing voice, and I mean phenomenal. Santhanam saw the chart and said, “this man, will have a “ mellifluous voice”.
C B: He said mellifluous?
JB: He was quoting directly from ancient astrological scriptures, referring to what are called planetary yogas, or unions. There are thousands of these unions, and Indian astrologers memorize as many of them as they can. My friend had a planetary union that the scriptures said would give a mellifluous voice, and boy was that true.
C B: How do they memorize thousands of yogas?
JB: Well, we memorize as many as we can. But let me be honest here; some astrologers really focus on yogas, while others prefer fundamentals.
C B: Thank goodness.
JB: So, one night we were analyzing charts and Santhanam says: “This lady will be wealthy because she Laxmi Yoga.”
C B: Laxmi is the Goddess of love and money?
JB: Correct. And there are many different kinds of Laxmi yogas. One is to have a Moon-Mars conjunction, where the moon is in a higher degree than Mars. Another one is when there is a planet, any planet, including the North or South Node (but not the outer planets since those aren’t used traditionally), in the following houses: 2, 6, 8, and 12.
C B: That indicates wealth?
JB: Yes, and there’s no particular logic to it. So, astrologers simply memorize them and use them when they come up.
C B: And they work?
JB: Nothing in astrology is 100%, but yes, they work. This woman had lots of money and her 2nd house (money) wasn’t especially strong. There are also yogas that can ruin a chart. Sometimes these are logical, like when Saturn or some other malefics are overly prominent. But, other times, there’s little logic involved.
There’s a fascinating one called Kalasarpa Yoga, which occurs when all of the planets sit on one side of the North and South Nodes. It means the person killed a pregnant snake in a past life and now has certain problems because of it. I don’t take the snake concept literally; the snake represents energy or potential, which the person wasted or abused in past lives.
C B: What’s the effect?
JB: Huge ups and downs, and a very karmic or fated lifetime.
I was totally floored the night Santhanam told me about Kujadosha or Mangaldosh or Manglik. These are three terms that all mean the same thing - “Mars Affliction.” It’s a condition that harms married life and causes divorce. After analyzing charts for about two weeks, Santhanam turned to me and said: “Doesn’t anyone in America have happy married life?”
C B: Because so many of your friends had Mars Affliction?
JB: Yes. Mind you, Kujadosha is fairly common. It occurs if Mars occupies the 1st, 4th, 7th, 8th, or 12th house – with a few exceptions depending on the zodiac sign involved. But still, the dreaded condition seems more prevalent in the US, or at least in the charts I brought with me.
One of my favorite techniques is known as the Great Years of the Planets. Planets mature, or come of age, in a particular year. For example, Mars is the 28th year, Mercury is the 32nd, Saturn is the 36th year, and so on. I learned about this on my second trip to India when I asked my next mentor, P.M. Padia when my career would take off and whether I would ever achieve any fame. He looked at the chart and said “You will get fame, but not until your 36th year of life, or anytime after that year.”
C B: What was that about?
JB: Saturn matures in the 36th year, and it rules my 10th house (career). I was 32 when I was with Padia. My first book, Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer, came out in 1986, the 36th year of my life.
C B: Does it matter if your Saturn is strong or weak?
JB: Absolutely. My Saturn is extremely strong. If it were weak, I would have had huge career problems in my 36th year.
CB: And these are completely separate from the main predictive technique, the dasas and bhukti planetary periods.
JB: Yes. Does that tell you why I love this system?
For more about the love of Vedic Astrology don’t miss any of the James Braha Atlanta Events.