Pilgrimage, Astrology and the Markets

It is amazing the way pilgrimage to holy places has picked up in my life over the last couple of years। Last year I travelled to various places of pilgrimage as Vaishno Devi, Haridwar, Chintpurni Mata, Trimbakeshwar and the residing place of Baba Baalak Nath in a period of just around four weeks। Despite living in Mumbai for a period of over 15 years now I had never been to Trimbakeshwar before last year and now I have already been there four times . Similarly Mata Vaishno Devi is extremely revered in North India. However I had gone there only once in my life and after going there last year there was an urge to go this year too. Similarly is the case with Haridwar. In Haridwar one of the most holy places as per Hindu Religion and I had never been there till around three years back, in fact I could not fathom the reason why one should go to a place just to take a bath in river Ganga, however after I went there once three years back and had an amazing experience I have gone back every year. I have just come back from there a couple of days back after taking a bath during the period of Mahakumbh which takes place in Haridwar after every 12 years when Jupiter transits through the rasi of Kumbh i.e. Aquarius. The “Har Ki Pouri” in Haridwar translated into English essentially is the “Ladder to Hari” i.e. Lord Krishna. It is believed that taking a bath in the Ganges at this spot is moving towards “Moksha”. It is also believed that reading, listening or reading out the Holy Gita sitting on the Har Ki Pouri is also a move towards wiping off your sins and moving towards Moksha i.e. eternal freedom from the cycle of life and death. The last three times I had been to Haridwar was much more peaceful, however this time given that the Mahakumbh was on there was huge rush and although we timed our visit so that it was not in one of the bathing days, still there was lot of rush. In the prominent holy days which are called bathing days during the Mahakumbh it is believed that more than 25 lakh people take bath in a single day, so one can imagine the state of affairs. It is also seen (and this is amazing) that the water of the Ganges taken from the Har Ki Pouri never turns bad, never smells gives any odor etc even if it is stored for years. The water of the Ganges collected at this place forms the part of most Hindu religious activities.
The other key factor that was different from last year to this year was that all the visits last year were very smooth। For example when we went to Vaishno Devi Matas shrine last year we easily got a helicopter to go up, took darshan via the VIP gate and were back in the Hotel in just around 4 hours. However this time when we reached one of the two helicopters konked off and as such we had to under take the 12 km climb either on foot or on horseback. I decided to climb and made it in around 2 hours and 40 minutes. It is a pretty steep climb in which one goes up vertically by at least 4000 feet. My wife and daughter came on horseback. On reaching up we could not go via the VIP gate and had to stand in the queue for some time and as such by the time we were back it took us over 10-11 hours. It is said that you can only go for darshan of the goddess if she wants you to come and along the way to the shrine the pilgrims continuously sing the hymn “Mata ne bulaya hai” i.e. the Goddess mother has called us. Last year I also had the opportunity of going through the old cave which is an amazing experience where the goddess has presented herself in something called “Pinds” i.e. rounded perforations in the rocks. Similarly in Haridwar there was so much rush that we missed our return flight as the distance to the airport which should take around 40 minutes took us more than 3 hours. As such we had to go to Chandigarh and take a flight from there.
I tried to analyze the visits and the reasons for them becoming so prominent in my life over the last few years through the analysis of my horoscope and could see the reason as the ruler ship time of the 1st, 5th and 9th lord as per Vedic astrology is the time when one becomes religiously inclined। On the topic of astrology lot of people are amazed that I am interested in this subject and a general perception is that it is all mumbo jumbo without much scientific basis. For this I will go back in time and talk about the reason why I became interested in astrology and my experiences with the same. Till around the year 2002 I was totally away from astrology and did not have much knowledge about it. However post our marriage we had some problems in having a child and my wife had to undergo an abortion also. During this time we were also passing through a bear market after the crash of 2000 and nothing seemed to be going right. Typically this is the time that one goes to find reasons for what is happening. At this time we consulted a large number of astrologers, prominent and those who are not very well known. However the reasons given by different astrologers were different and I always wanted to understand the logic of the same. We were made to run around a lot during that time period and we performed various pujas, dans (donations) etc. During this time period once when we were roaming in a mall I saw a book on astrology which was a huge book and I generally opened it to glance through. At that time my wife suggested that I buy it and read to see the logic of what the astrologers tell us. As I read through the book I was amazed to see the scientific basis of Vedic astrology and the logic behind the art of making predictions and also the fact that it was a very wide science that required both intelligence to understand and intuition to understand and predict. After that I read through a huge number of books on various arms of Vedic astrology, the logic of planetary rulerships, periodicity of planets etc. I also subscribed to a large number of publications and then started to read horoscopes and empirically understand things. The kind of knowledge about astronomy that the ancient seers had is totally amazing. During this time period I also came along my guru who would guide me about both life and astrology in the future and explain to me the logic of lots of things that I could not comprehend. My study of astrology has followed paths where I have spent a lot of time on it and other times when I could not as I became busy in my career. However it convinced me on one thing and that is that it is very difficult to be a good astrologer as for that one has to read and understand a lot and has to have amazing intuitive ability to correlate various facets of reading a horoscope like planetary periodicity, planetary transits, the impact of various planets on each other etc.
One reason to go to Haridwar was also to meet guruji in Dehradun where he has shifted now to be near the mountains and as he is a devotee of Lord Shiva to try to be near him। As such we spent a day with him where he gave us tremendous knowledge on life and how to live it. He is a strong believer in destiny and believes (as I do) that every thing is destined to happen and as such one should remain happy and not keep on cribbing about what we do not have in life. When we are born, whatever we are supposed to do in life is pre destined and written in our life charts. However that does not mean that one becomes a fatalistic and stops doing his work. There are lots of times when one can predict astrologically that the work we are doing is not going to yield anything, however that does not mean that we stop working. As such irrespective of the fact that there are times when I know that efforts might not yield much I keep on doing my Karma. Astrology is a science which requires a lot of reading, understanding and empirical experience. Guruji is also not a big believer of going to religious places where there is lot of rush, he believes that god is everywhere. On this I asked him that why it is that one feels good going to places like Haridwar, Vaishno Devi etc. On this he said that these places due to the prayers of millions become energized and get filled with positive energy which makes us feel good and filled with positive energy when we visit them.
I have also read a large number of astrologers trying to predict stock market movements through astrology। Astrology essentially has two parts, Mundane and that for people। The astrology for predictions on humans is pretty well documented although a lot of knowledge in India got lost during the Mughal invasions several centuries back where a lots and lots of Indian books were destroyed by the ravaging armies। However a lot of it still survived. Mundane astrology which is used to make predictions on countries, weather, events etc. etc. is something where my knowledge is very limited. However I have tried to study the logic of a lot of astrologers trying to predict the markets by using various planetary configurations and movements. Till date I have not been able to see the logic of most of such predictions. Essentially when ancient texts on astrology were written there was no stock market and as such the predictions that astrologers are making today are more to do with empirical observations. The history of such empirical observations is very limited and just goes back 15-20 years or maybe a decade more. This is too short a period for any conclusive judgment as Saturn the slowest moving inner planet as per Vedic astrology takes 30 years to transit the entire zodiac. There was no role of outer planets i.e. Uranus, Neptune & Pluto in Vedic astrology and a number of astrologers today try to involve them in predictions where the logic is difficult to understand as these planets take 84 to over 250 years to make one round of the zodiac. However, maybe this science will develop over a period of time. At this point of time I would not give much credence to stock market forecasts using astrology. Coming to the end of a different article away from markets, economy, currencies, inflation and commodity prices. Hopefully not boring.

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