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Written for Journal of Astrology and syndicated to other websites

Sometime in 1983 or 1984 a young Sikh working in a bank came to me with a proposal for becoming the editor of an astrological magazine which he would start, he said, if I became its editor. I declined the offer on many grounds: first I was in government service and would have to take official permission to accept it which I would not seek. Second, I was very busy with heavy office work and in the evenings I had too many politicians to attend to as they consulted me about their family matters and political careers. And, when I said that anyone wanting to start an astrological magazine must have some knowledge which he did not have. But he persisted, came to me many more times and one day, finding me totally unwilling to accept his offer asked me to suggest someone who could become the editor. I told him the name of one astrologer whom I had not met but who I had learnt had shifted to Delhi from Calcutta.

Some weeks later, one day when in the evening we were having our aarati after evening puja with a gathering of some eight or ten friends, a dark, short man joined it and after the puja was over, introduced himself to me as R.Santhanam and thanked me for suggesting his name for the editorship of the proposed astrological magazine. But Santhanam laid down a condition that he would accept it if I promised to contribute articles regularly to it. I agreed. That moribund magazine, Your Astrologer, had made no impact with Santhanam having quarrels with the owner about some payments, one of the many unpleasant episodes of his life.

Santhanam gave me his horoscope and asked for some predictions and I predicted that he would become famous nationally and internationally but should avoid negative view of ......Why? He asked me and I told him to see the degrees of Mars and Rahu in his ninth house afflicting an exalted Jupiter. Then a bad exchange of the sixth and ninth lords was bad for his dealings with higher placed people. It was an exchange of Atmakaraka and Gnatikaraka. He did not agree with me when I told him that it also showed his differences with his father who was a priest in the world famous Tirupati temple where he was born.

 I looked deeper into his horoscope and said that he could have an unorthodox marriage late, say around the age of thirty one. He said that he had married in 1975 a girl from Kerala who was a non- Brahmin. He neither told me nor did I ask him if it had estranged him from his own family members. He also told me that he had two sons from the marriage.

In 1985 when I was transferred to Bhubaneshwar as Accountant General of Orissa, he wrote to me that he had decided to start an astrological journal of his own, The Times of Astrology and took a promise from me that I would contribute articles to it regularly which I did till 1990. His brief experience with Your Astrologer had taught him the tricks of the trade. I wrote to him and later even told him that instead of looking like a rival to the Astrological Magazine, he should plan to seek writers in northern India and popularize the lesser discussed astrological techniques like chakras. Give the astrological world something different, something desperately needed like researches in other dashas, get articles written in Hindi by experienced astrologers of northern India and get them translated. The vast unexplored, untapped legacy of Hindu astrology has to be brought to the surface which I did later when K.K.Joshi wrote his book on Kota Chakra and Shalini Dhasmana on Patakirista Chakra etc. But he persuaded some of the well-known contributors to the Astrological Magazine (leaving me because I had promised to be a regular contributor) and was threatening to become a rival of Dr. Raman against whose giant stature, he was always appearing very puny.

During this period one day he saw an important man in hotel industry at my place who came to consult me. I introduced him as an astrologer. Back home that man rang me up and asked me if he could appoint Santhanam his hotel as an astrologer. I asked him to contact Santhanam and ask for his willingness as Santhanam needed lot of help being in financial distress as I had guessed correctly.

What about his proficiency in English and Hindi was the question this man had asked me and I told him that Santhanam had a very good ability to pick up languages fast. In fact he knew five or six languages at least, Tamil, Telugu, English, Hindi, a bit of Bengali and Malayalam.

Santhanam accepted the offer and prospered but he was tied down to Delhi and could not travel to other places to collect astrological books and manuscripts for which he had an unquenchable thirst.

Let me narrate some events of his life through Chara dasha as I knew from the bits which he told me, very parsimoniously for some reasons.

Vrischika dasha (1944 to 1952) He was brought in the temple atmosphere because of which he knew something of rituals and knew the importance of worship.

Tula dasha (1952 to 1958) He had some schooling and also studied some classical language which was Sanskrit with Jupiter aspecting his fifth house from Tula. But he got distracted from studies as the afflicted Jupiter showed. The smattering of Sanskrit he picked up was not enough to help him translate Devakeralam into English for which he was heavily dependent on some Sanskrit knowing pandits whom he is said to have paid at the rate of five rupees per shlokas.

Kanya dasha (1958 to 1963) He passed matriculation and discontinued his studies unlike his brothers who made good professional careers. But he became an excellent stenographer and could type fast on typewriters as the computer had not come into Indian lives then.

Date of birth May 21,1944 Time - 20:20, Tirupati, India

Vrischika 1944 -1952, Tula 1952-1958, Kanya 1958-1963, Simha 1963-1966, Karka 1966-1969, Mithuna 1969-1979, Vrisha 1979-1990, Mesha 1990-1993, Meena 1993-2001

Vimshottari mahadasha : Sun dasha ending 29th July 1949, Moon July1959, Mars July1966, Rahu July1984,
Jupiter Antardashas: Jup-Jup 16 Sept 1986, Jup-Sat 29 March 1989, Jup-Mer 05 July 1991, Jup-Ketu 10 June 1992, Jup-Ven 09 Feb 1995, Jup-Sun 28 Nov 1995, Jup-Moon 29 March 1997, Jup-Mars 05 March 1998

Simha dasha (1963 to 1966) Sometime during this period he got a small job as a stenographer and moved out of Tirupati as he told me.

Karka dasha (1966 to 1969) He moved to Calcutta where he got a better job and spent his spare time studying astrology.

Mithuna dasha (1969 to 1979) His astrology progressed fast and he became intimate with late H.R.Shankar and that versatile academician-astrologer, Y.Keshav Menon, who encouraged his astrology and asked him to write articles for the Astrological Magazine of Dr. Raman to whom he introduced this young writer. Both Shankar and Menon were well known contributors to the Astrological Magazine.

Menon who was a freedom fighter, a professor had taken astrology seriously and had settled down in Calcutta, helped young astrologers. It was he who mooted the idea of an all India astrological association which others took up seriously. Under Menon’s tutelage, Santhanam developed the habit of making some original observations which in later years took an attractive shape in his column “Research Capsule”, one of the best astrological features of the Times of Astrology.

During this period, he met a Malayalee girl whom he married.

Marriage and sons
Marriage in 1975-76 Mithuna (DK) Tula (DKN)
His son was born in 1979 end of Mithuna and beginning of Vrisha which has Putrakarka, Sun. Second son was born in Vrisha Makara the fifth house has PK Sun.

In Mithun-Karka (1977-78) he took a major decision to translate books of astrology and showed his remarkable ability to pick up languages fast and he could read and speak Hindi with a rare fluency. Excellent aspects of Atmakaraka and Amatyakaraka on the fifth house from Karka helped him retain his zest for new astrological techniques by increasing his predictive tools which went on increasing at amazing speed till his death in 1997.

The Vrisha period from 1979 to 1990 was the peak of his career as both Atmakaraka and Amatyakaraka are aspecting his tenth house from here. He decided to leave Calcutta finally, migrate to Delhi, become a full time professional astrologer and translator of astrological books of south and northern India, particularly the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra of Sita Ram Jha which he decided to bring out in two volumes. A quarrel with the publisher led to his personal decision not to produce the second volume which came out later when Ranjan publishers persuaded another translator to finish it. During this period he also bought a house as MK is aspecting the fourth house from Vrisha.

In Vrisha Karka he became an astrologer in a hotel. In Vrisha Vrischika (1983-84) YOUR ASTROLOGER was started but there was a quarrel between him and his employer. In Vrisha Tula (1984-85) with GK in the tenth house he had many quarrels with his publisher. He left and the magazine closed down. He decided to start the Times of Astrology.

Mercury and Venus are in Mrityubhaga. Extend the application of this to the rashis these two planets own and watch events in their antardasha.

Sometime during this period Dr. Raman said that there was no authentic and expurgated edition of the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. Santhanam reacted badly to this statement and took it as an attack on him because he was known as the translator of the BPHS. I tried to convince him that it could not be an attack on him but a general remark which most of made and shared as there were many versions of BPHS with different shloka numbers. There were so many absurdities in BPHS like Sun in the twelfth house for Tula lagna giving a life of one hundred years, the Adhan lagna method never coming out correct, in the dasha results speaking of Venus or Mercury being in the sixth or eighth from Sun. Like the famous commentators of Jaimini differing, there were different versions of BPHS some giving aspects of Rahu some ignoring. In Bengal, I have seen astrologers talk of the twelfth aspect of Rahu.

Santhanam took it as an attack on him personally. I never succeeded in convincing him that it was not and could not be so. He only agreed with me on one point that we should take some hints from these books and do our own research in a very practical way and produce convincing results. It was not necessary, I insisted, to quote commentators as final authorities as they had their own differences like doing Chara dasha for women in a way different than for men. Try and see which works. In the age in which we live, it is the practical and replicable results that matter. I told him that I had never accepted Raman ayanamsha but have said repeatedly that it was he who created a big national and international stage for Hindu astrologers and that he , being a very practical astrologer, knew what to accept and what to ignore, not sticking to dogmas of astrology.

But Santhanam had a mind totally closed and he decided to attack Dr.Raman not on academic grounds but even for the donations he received and the foundation he had created. I told him, and he knew that when in 1983 there was a concerted attack on astrology in the English press in Delhi under the editorship of Khuswant Singh and B.G.Verghese, Dr. Raman had asked me to defend astrology, a situation extremely precarious and embarrassing for me because I was imprisoned in the government service conduct rules. I did it alone, with no astrologer even helping me. I was an unknown man in the world of astrology and had no interest in getting known at all. Destiny forced me and then I had seen from close quarters how mean, petty, selfish, low minded astrologers were, never fighting for the cause of astrology but fighting each other. How was Santhanam better than the other vulgar man running what he called an astrological journal and writing vituperative pieces against astrologers not prepared to declare him the greatest astrologer of the world?

Santhanam was not alive when in 2003; exactly after twenty years again I had to fight the battle for astrology in the Supreme Court, all alone, an ailing man without any help from any astrologer. The astrological community is a shameless community talking hypocritically of the legacy of rishis but behaving in a very petty, low and mean manner always.  It had become extremely unpleasant. There was crassness, low and mean mentality in some of his writings which made some pages of his magazine look like a charnel house as my Christian friends called it.

Can astrologers avoid taking to the low road so desperately to seek fame? So far it has not been so. Read the internet discussions which create more disappointment and disgust than happiness. There are more Santhanam's now crawling all over the internet.

Vrisha-Karka (1987-88) Mercury and Venus are in Mrityubhaga. Extend the application of this to the rashis these two planets own and watch events in their antardasha. He wrote some anti-Raman articles in his magazine hitting him below the belt. I told him that technical differences of academic level would be welcome and would stimulate new lines of inquiry while his writings became a reflection of his own bitterness. He did not agree with me and wrote more such pieces. Gnatikaraka from Karka aspecting the tenth house from Vrisha made it extremely unpleasant.

In Mesha period he was a well-known as a translator never a distinguished astrologer.

Mesha Tula (end of 1991) Mercury and Venus are in Mrityubhaga. Extend the application of this to the rashis these two planets own and watch events in their antardasha. One day Santhanam dropped into my house after I had retired from service and could entertain some controversial politicians more freely, being free now from the bondage of government’s conduct rules. Just as he was entering, a politician in news those days was leaving saying “I could not avoid it.” Santhanam recognized him and after his departure asked me if I could give him his horoscope. I hesitated but on his insistence told him that I could give it to him if he did not use it in his magazine and did not discuss the horoscope till some years after the controversy he was involved in, died down or was forgotten. He promised me that he would not use it but in the next issue of his magazine he displayed it prominently and discussed it. It embarrassed me.

The politician rang me up and told me that I had betrayed his confidence and in turn I told him what happened and apologized to him.

Some days later, Santhanam rang me up and asked me for the horoscope of a more important politician. I refused to give it. Again, some more days later, he wanted the horoscope of a politician of Madhya Pradesh who was in news in a very big way. I again refused it. Santhanam’s poorest record of mundane predictions and such large failures had earned him a bad reputation as a poor predictor. He had the transparent honesty not to claim under a cloak credit for any prediction not given like his senior fraudulent contemporary running another journal from Delhi.

In some of the subsequent issues he started writing against me. Our relations were soured when he asked me to prescribe the Times of Astrology for our students. I told him that we had not even prescribed the Astrological Magazine. We never met after that. No wonder his collection of horoscopes of important men was poorest, unlike Dr. Raman’s or even mine. He depended heavily on me but never had the morality to keep his word that he would not betray confidences. We drifted apart and I now became a target of his scurrilous writing for which I never cared.

For some days, the “Delhi bug” as I call it bit Santhanam. He began giving sensational predictions like writing that Sonia Gandhi, now that Rajiv was shot dead in 1991, would run away from India. He even started predicted the exact number of seats a political party would secure in an election on a supposed research based on Ashtakvarga all of which went wrong except perhaps in the case of Nagaland which was approximately correct being more an intelligent guess. He thought that the Kaal Prakashika was the final word on mundane astrology and used the solar ingress chart of April every year for his annual predictions.

His weakness was mundane astrology in which he did not get much success but in individual natal astrology, he did give some good predictions to some people. It was later that he decided to do some work on Nadi astrology.

Santhanam continued to do excellent work in Meena period. He was at his best as a discoverer of nadi astrology. His Devakeralam was a major contribution but he did not seem to understand the secrets of nadi like the late C.S.Patel or Bhrigu by the late K.C.Saxena among the people I had met and known. I had met C.S.Patel only once, never discussed nadi but his writings are there to show his depth of knowledge. K.C.Saxena who came to my house very regularly seemed to reach a stage of very deep understanding of what he called the science of Bhrigu astrology.

A belief shared among some astrologers is that those go into the understanding of nadi or Bhrigu astrology meet with tragic fate and most of them have a short life, which I did not accept. Yet when K.C.Saxena died, this belief spread more and some people asked me why did not believe it. I said in that case, even those doing non-Bhrigu astrology should also suffer. That difference continues till this day. If Santhanam had lived long he might have revived nadi astrology in a big way but the curse said to be attached to it, killed him said a young friend of mine who has understood Bhrigu rather well.

Death Meena- Oct 1997 Meena-Tula (DKN) Mithuna (DK) Mercury and Venus are in Mrityubhaga. Extend the application of this to the rashis these two planets own and watch events in their antardasha. Jupiter afflicted with GK and aspected by Sun in the ninth house led to differences of opinion with his father and also to an unorthodox marriage which can be seen in many more ways. But in this dasha, the heavily afflicted fifth house with Jupiter so heavily afflicted took its toll on his health. I remembered an incident. An Angust shastri, those who can read the thumb and sometimes give amazing predictions was at my place when Santhanam dropped in, perhaps in 1984. I introduced him and asked him if he would be interested in having his thumb read. He agreed.

The angust shastri said that he had met with an accident during the last one year. Santhanam said he had and it was Vrisha Dhanu in 1983. I will say it to the credit of Santhanam that he kept his mind open on such subjects and did not pass his usual quick cynical remarks as he did about others, particularly the Delhi women whom he seemed to hate for their ultra-modern way of living. The angust shastri as usual told some negative things only and referred to no achievements.

After Santhanam left, the angust shastri told me that he would not live to be a sixty year old man and that he would die of an ailment of stomach when he was away from his family. I did not know how to react and how seriously to take this prediction.

I remembered it in 1997 when the news of Santhanam reached me. He was the one astrologer who would have given to young astrologer’s immense material for research on nadi astrology if he had lived. Was the curse associated with nadi or Bhrigu astrology true, I asked myself.

Keywords: KN Rao, Journal of Astrology, Jaimini chara dasha, Jyotish, R Santhanam, Astrology, Indian Astrology, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

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