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In Memory of my Master!

This image was captured the day before my wedding in a traditional marriage hall in Madurai, India.

On Sunday, April 28, 2024, I received a phone call from my mother conveying the heartbreaking news of my granduncle's passing. He had been not only my relative but also my mentor in the field of astrology. This loss is deeply significant to me, comparable only to the grief I experienced following my father's passing in 2013. In this brief tribute/story, I'll share some insights into his life and our connection that led me to embark on the journey of learning astrology from him.

Image: Nativity of Gurumoorthy Iyer

On 25th August 1938, the 2nd son of Ganesa Iyer was born somewhere in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu. This was my granduncle named G.Gurumoorthy Iyer. Post British rule India was a mess as a result of the unimaginable loot, and education was not really up to the mark as the British had broken the Indian education system. Therefore, he went to a humble school that was run by the government with much less resources and completed his school education when he was around 17 years old and soon after, he applied for different posts in the government, including a position in the post office and also telephones. However, with the population in India already huge, he did not receive an appointment order and had to wait for almost two years before he got the appointment order. However, as soon as he turned 18, plans were made for his marriage and during those times, Indian youngsters really did not have a choice to say no when it came to marriage.

Frustrated with the wedding arrangements and the lack of income due to the delayed appointment order, my granduncle engaged in a heated argument with his father, questioning the family’s rationale for marrying him off when he didn’t have a job. Despite being almost bedridden, Ganesa Iyer, his father, was still actively practicing and teaching astrology. A black board in the house served as a hub for astrology teachings. To explain the intricacies, my granduncle’s father would have him draw his chart, along with the current Dasha and Bhukthi, on the board (Mid 1950s). Without hesitation, my granduncle readily obliged the old man’s request, and after looking at the chart, his father assured him that the appointment order would arrive as soon as my granduncle turned 18. My granduncle looked puzzled as he questioned, “How can you be so certain?”

The old man inquired of my granduncle about the specific Dasha and Bhukthi at that particular moment. “It is the Jupiter-Mercury period,” her granduncle replied. “Which houses does Jupiter rule?” asked the old man. My granduncle responded, the 6th and the 9th houses. In his explanation, the old man mentioned that the 6th house, which signifies salaried employment, is positioned in the 8th house and aspects the 2nd house. The period when 2nd house is activated, the capacity of the native to earn an income would materialise.

The old man asked, “where is Mercury in the chart?”. In the 2nd house, my granduncle responded. The 2nd house is the house of income and Jupiter is aspecting Mercury. Just as expected, in another six weeks, once the Mercury’s period had begun, my granduncle received the appointment order which gave him confidence to go into the marriage.

My granduncle had always been aware of astrology’s basics, but he never considered it seriously. However, everything changed after this encounter. He became captivated by the subject and dedicated himself to studying it, eventually even sharing his knowledge by becoming a teacher. Due to his job in government telephones, he was constantly being relocated to various locations across the state. This gave him the chance to interact with renowned astrologers from different towns and cities, expanding his knowledge. He not only gained knowledge but also passed it on to his children, who are now well-versed in astrology.

Following his retirement from government service in 1997, he transitioned into a full-time astrologer, taking clients daily and eventually becoming the most renowned astrologer in the city. He operated on a donation basis, without charging a fee, and instead provided a donation box for those willing to contribute. The donations collected were given to a nearby temple for its monthly activities.

At the 2010 book fair, I purchased two astrology books and began reading them sporadically in an attempt to understand the fundamentals. Swiftly, I immersed myself in the world of astrology, making predictions out of pure curiosity. Much to my astonishment, one of my major predictions turned out to be accurate. When my granduncle came to stay with us, we would spend countless hours engrossed in conversations about astrology, sparking my own journey into the realm of the stars.

Many people would flock to my grandfather, seeking his readings. I would observe him carefully analyze their charts, communicating with utmost precision, only revealing what the clients needed or asked to know. While I was closely observing everything, someone entered the room with a chart in hand. Without hesitation, he handed me the chart and requested that I read it. Little did I know, as I read it with enthusiasm, that I had stumbled upon an invaluable opportunity to learn from someone who had spent over 60 years mastering the art of reading charts.

The significance of lineage in astrology didn't dawn on me until much later. Fortunately, I've been exposed to various astrological traditions, but nothing compares to the expertise I gained from my granduncle. My clients were consistently amazed by the techniques and insights I learned from him. While my theoretical knowledge expanded through studying different traditions, the ability to interpret charts and discuss placements effortlessly, without preparation, is a skill my granduncle imparted to me. In 2014, I unexpectedly read over 25 charts in just two hours, realizing my aptitude only after the fact. When I shared this instance with my granduncle, he simply affirmed, “That’s how it’s usually done”. This experience was truly humbling for me. Whenever I found myself overly eager or excited about something, he would gently remind me of the reality, emphasizing that I am not the sole participant in this journey. He consistently emphasized that astrology transcends individual beings, portraying us merely as the torch-bearers chosen by nature.

Over the past few years, he has been very ill, primarily due to old age. In 2023, he started losing memory and by mid of 2023, he stopped recognising me. Therefore, I never had an opportunity to have a conversation with him.  However, I remember almost every conversation that I had with him about astrology.

In 2007-08, a 60 year old man came to my granduncle showing his chart asking what he should do further since he was all alone with nothing to do after retirement. My granduncle mentioned that he would have to administer something huge that would involve millions. The man laughed at my granduncle and left. A few months later, he came back and said that someone who had passed on some inheritance that involved millions of money and he also communicated that he was going to start a school. So, after 60, the man started a school and now, the school is one of the foremost schools of the city. The story was narrated by my granduncle, who not only fascinated me but also imparted a valuable lesson about how Saturn can serve as a significant source of sudden upliftment in the lives of Capricorn rising individuals when it is positioned in the 6th house of Gemini. I can continue narrating numerous instances like this.

I haven’t relied on him for astrology for a long time since I followed my own path, which made him really happy because I embraced Hellenistic and Medieval Persian astrology. I eagerly approached him, filled with enthusiasm, and shared my interest in Annual Projections. In response, he generously imparted his knowledge on the profound multi-layered Indian equivalent of Profections called Sudharshana Chakra, by incorporating the intricate technique of Ashtakavarga. This enlightening exchange greatly expanded my understanding and opened my eyes to new possibilities. Although I am familiar with Sudharshana Chakra, I have not had the chance to make full use of it as I would have preferred, specifically in accordance with the teachings of my granduncle. Surprisingly, he went against the norm for Indian astrologers of his age and pushed me to broaden my knowledge by studying various other traditions.

It was only after my father’s passing that I truly understood the profound value of having a father who was always there for us, especially during difficult times. The absence of his presence left a void within me, and in a similar vein, even though I never relied on my granduncle for my astrological needs, I am now realizing the void that his absence has created. It is still within my capacity to imagine how he would delineate any planetary position. It was brought to my attention by a neighbour, who seemed quite amazed, that the way I present and describe the details of the chart is remarkably similar to that of my granduncle.  Wouldn’t it be?

My granduncle’s son is an astrologer and so are his two daughters. One of them possesses a doctoral degree in astrology, while the other possesses a doctoral degree in Mathematics. Most people in my maternal family in the generation earlier to mine are astrologers, but I am the only one of all my cousins who is carrying the torch which is a huge responsibility and I hope to hand over the torch to someone with at most care and dedication like how my granduncle did with me.

I consider myself fortunate in numerous ways, especially when I think about how few millennials have had the chance to learn and engage in client work under the guidance of a master who has been practicing for over six decades. This is akin to that of an internship, where medical students function as junior doctors under the guidance of experienced physicians.

As I faced the inevitable fate, reality has slipped past into memory and that’s all I will live with for the rest of my life!


© Aswin Subramanyan 2024

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