Astrology: An integral part of Indian culture

Interview with Pawan Kumar Mishra

Rajiv Malik

“Astrology is big and booming business in India because the lives of millions of Indians are influenced by it. Every family has easy access to the temple priest who also acts as an astrologer for them.”

For Hindorama, I interviewed several people about the role of astrology in the lives of Indians. This article reproduces the extensive interview with Pawan Kumar Mishra, world-renowned astrologer, Vaastu consultant, mentor and author of the book Living Hanuman – A journey from a selfie to the Self through Shri Hanuman Chalisa (2019). Astrology is booming business and Mishra is consulted for all sorts of things: study choice, career planning, company name, medical surgery, legal proceedings and so on. He is not in the business of marriage match making. This will be discussed in more detail in a separate article.

“I am so happy to be interviewed by Hindorama,” says Pawan Kumar Mishra. “After all, I have a very close relationship with the people in the Netherlands. In fact, Holland is like a second home to me. I spend a lot of time there when I travel. A very large number of PhDs in subjects related to Hindi literature are done by people from the Netherlands. It is also worth mentioning that the Sadhak Gram Village of my guru Swami Veda Bharti in Rishikesh was designed by Manish Dixit, a Netherlands-based town planner.”

Intimate connection with the Ramayan
Mishra began to take an interest in astrology at the age of eleven. As a child of seven or eight, he saw that saints and sadhus visiting his village in Madhubani, Bihar, sometimes looked at people’s hands. “When I saw it like that, I realised that there is something in people’s hands that tells you about their future and if the hand was read correctly, the prediction could come true.” For Mishra, his life has an intimate connection with the Ramayan. “Madhubani is the place associated with goddess Sita-ji. She is also known as daughter of Madhubani. Sita-ji’s father was known as Mithilesh and from that comes the word Maithili, my mother tongue. The region to which I belong is known as Mithila. In fact, Mithila comes from the word Mithun which means love.”

Pawan putra (son of Pawan, the Wind) is one of the names of Hanuman, the monkey leader in Ramayan, who is revered for his courage, devotion and loyalty. “I grew up with my mother reciting the Shri Hanuman Chalisa every morning, calling my name – sumirau pavana kumara. I am grateful to her for planting these verses like seeds deep in my psyche, almost like my first initiation. I am grateful to my parents for giving me a name that I share with Lord Hanuman. For a child to discover that his name was in a divine hymn sung every morning was something very big. I always stood up when my name was sung by my mother. My relationship with Lord Hanuman started as soon as I opened my eyes in this world.”

The first prediction
The first prediction Mishra made was after seeing the palm of a classmate’s hand. They lived in the same area because their fathers worked for the same company. One morning, he noticed that his classmate was not wearing the usual school clothes and when he asked him why, he told him that he was moving because his father had been informed that he was being transferred. “Before he continued, I took his hand in mine, looked into his palm and told him that it was impossible for him to leave. After that, I had already forgotten that I had said this to him. A few days later, I saw him again at school and he told me that his plans had changed and he was not going to move. His parents came to our house and told my father what I had told their son. They had already packed their things when the transfer was cancelled at the last minute. The parents wanted to meet me. They were stunned that a little boy had predicted this in advance.”

After this incident, Mishra became a sort of star. He took the whole thing very seriously and his interest in palmistry and astrology increased greatly. “I was a very religious boy. From an early age I did my prayers very seriously. The word spread and more and more people came to my house. They sat outside to show me their hand, but my grandfather did not want to cause me any inconvenience and would not allow my peace to be disturbed.”

Mishra: “I think the knowledge of astrology is something I inherited from my past lives through the blessings of the rishis and great spiritual personalities from both my father’s and mother’s side. When I was young, I never had any formal training in the field of palmistry or astrology. This knowledge was in my soul and began to manifest as I grew up. The fact that I made predictions that came true had made me aware of my own inner strengths and had boosted my self-confidence. I have this knowledge from my previous life, but at the same time I have been constantly self-educating.”

Although Mishra’s interest in astrology remained, he pursued an art course and started serving the corporate sector. However, a serious road accident changed his life. Due to back injury, he was bedridden for a long time. He lost his job. An astrologer friend of his advised him to pursue his passion – palmistry and astrology – more vigorously. Lying on his bed, he started reading people’s palms and at the same time studied many books. “As I progressed, I realised that palmistry is very intuitive and subjective. Initially, I saw palmistry and astrology as one. Later, as I developed, I stopped doing palmistry and started studying and practising Vedic Astrology. Then I started to study people’s horoscopes. Now I practise Vedic Astrology and Vaastu Science and both are self thaught.”

Mishra conducts programmes on astrology for companies. He does a very special programme for therapists where he teaches them how to use astrology to get better results from their therapeutic treatments. “Astrology can be used in psychotherapy to get answers to many questions, even without asking them. Sometimes the answers given to questions do not even contain the full information about what is happening at the level of their conscious and subconscious. Insights provided by astrology can lead to a better understanding. For all types of healing therapies, therapists and physicians can use astrology as a tool to better understand their patients.”

Planets do not determine your fate!
Astrology is about studying the position of the planets and constellations and interpreting them. Mishra emphasises that these planets and constellations do not determine your future or your fate. There is no causal relationship between the planets and one’s destiny. “This is the first thing I would like to clarify because astrologers around the world usually see the opposite. The perception that the planets determine one’s fate is not correct. Planets do not determine your fate! Your fate is determined by your own actions and choices. Some choices together lead to some of the consequences that are about to happen. Whether choices made in this life or in previous lives, cumulatively they will have consequences that are also defined as destiny. You can see all this clearly in the cosmic mirror. When a radiologist studies an X-ray or an ultra-sonogram, he can tell his observations from what he can see. What he reports is his interpretation of what is visible to him. In the same way, astrology also becomes an instrument through which you can see things. Once you can see things clearly, you can use the findings in many ways. Astrology is an integral part of the Vedic heritage in India. It is part of the Vedas, it is one of the upa vedas that is part of Atharva Veda. Astrology is the science of jyotish or science of light. So astrology is a part of our spiritual and cultural tradition.”

Mishra notes that many people today are attracted to this science. However, he questions the quality of the sources of knowledge being tapped. Not everyone is suited to study astrology. Astrology is a very complex science that is linked to astronomy and mathematics. It also requires an understanding of the human mind. There are many prestigious universities that teach astrology. The most important ones are Benares Hindu University, Chennai University, Mithila University and Lal Bahadur Shastri University. If he were to study astrology today, he would choose Benares Hindu University, the most prestigious and one of the oldest institutions where astrology is taught.

In India, many people consult the temple priest as an astrologer. Mishra says: “Despite not being qualified or trained in astrology, their religious devotion enables them to develop intuitive powers that help them act as astrologers and assist those who approach them for this purpose. Just by being in the sacred place and worshipping gods and goddesses, they are connected to the divine and have access to higher levels of consciousness.”

Different applications of astrology
Astrology can help diagnose, predict and treat many illnesses, including psychosomatic illnesses. Many illnesses are related to planets. For example, in psychosomatic illnesses, the Moon is important. Problems with the thyroid gland and the kidneys can be treated better with the help of astrology. Different planets can have a different influence on different organs of the human body and also on the mind. “Based on the position of the planets in a person’s horoscope, we can indicate to a person what he or she should be careful of in life or what activities one should not engage in. For example, if someone’s horoscope says that he or she could undergo an operation according to the configuration of the planets, I would advise that person to be careful with, for example, lifting heavy objects or to pay attention to his or her posture. I once suggested to a woman who wanted to learn kathak (classical Indian dance) on the basis of what her horoscope showed, that she should rather pursue her interests in music and painting. With her bone structure, dancing would not be good for her. With astrology, one can also determine which yoga exercises one should do.”

Mishra further explains that with the help of astrology, one can avoid wasting effort by focusing on profitable things. Astrology, for instance, is used to understand and predict the movements of stocks. “I don’t do this, it’s not my area of expertise. I am not an academic astrologer and I have no interest in stocks. Astrology is a divine science. The role of astrology is how to understand the chain of karma so that you can free yourself from this chain of karma and elevate yourself to a higher level of existence.” However, it is very much in vogue these days to predict the stock market with the help of astrology. For Mishra, this is like using astrology as a kind of supercomputer for playing video games. He believes that it is possible to successfully predict the movements of stocks, metals, commodities and so on by using astrology. Predicting daily or hourly movements of shares is possible. Even from the name of companies, one can make predictions. Astrology is thus a tool or a weapon that can be used by different astrologers for different purposes. The stock market is mainly ruled by one planet, Mercury, a fast moving planet. If one follows the movements of the planet Mercury, one can make this kind of prediction. Mishra stresses that this is not his field. “If you see my business card, you will see that the job title I have chosen for myself is that I am someone who will work as your wake-up assistant. Astrology is just a tool to wake you up so that you become aware of your own enormous potential, your own divinity and the best way for you to follow your own life path.”

Various requests for advice
Mishra says he is consulted, for instance, on the timing of a child’s birth, or on operations that someone has to undergo. In some cases, he could see excessive blood loss and advised to have some volunteers ready at the time of surgery as there could be a need for blood donors. People are grateful to him for such instructions. He is also approached by businessmen for advice on their affairs or what people they should hire for certain positions. He once advised a business owner against appointing someone as CEO as he did not seem trustworthy. However, contractual obligations had already been entered into, so the person was appointed. Mishra was not surprised when he was later told that the person had stolen a substantial amount of money and had been jailed. He regretted that the businessman, following his advice, had not taken better care and thus could have limited the damage. Based on their horoscope, he can also suggest to people what name they should choose for their company, or how that name should sound. Students consult him about their choice of study and career options. Sometimes he advises on how to deal with lawsuits and litigation. Of course, it is best to avoid legal problems. Sometimes he advises to postpone the case. If possible, he even advises to stay out of sight for a while, for example by going abroad.

Coffee mug reading
Astrologers today form an independent class of professionals who practise both Eastern and Western astrology. In the West, palmistry and Egyptian astrology are also practised. There are also tarot card readers and even coffee mug readers. Mishra tells of his experience in Greece. “My friends there introduced me to a coffee mug reader. Coffee mug readers look into the mug after you have had a few sips of coffee and then make predictions based on the shape of the foam they observe. It was 2013 and I was busy with my book on Hanuman. The script was almost finished. I asked the coffee mug reader when it would be published. She glanced into my mug and said she could not see the book. She felt that publishing it would be a long way off. I was curious and asked if it would be published next year or maybe 2015 or 2016. But she kept saying it was still far away. I thought, ‘The book is already more or less ready and will therefore be published very soon. This woman knows nothing.’ However, it ended up taking me six years to get the book published. Astrology is not just about two and two is four. Astrology goes beyond thinking in terms of cause and effect, beyond what is rational, logical and sequential to a conscious mind.”

Rhythm of sunrise and sunset
According to Mishra, astrology can be used to make fairly accurate predictions about a person. Even if sometimes the full details of date, time and place of birth are not available. The most important thing is how the moon stands in a person’s horoscope, as the moon is the fastest moving planet. The movement of the Moon helps to determine which decisions should be made at different times, which should be postponed or avoided. The movement of the moon can help to understand which activities should be done from sunrise to sunset, thus improving our daily efficiency. “Leaving astrology aside, even developing a daily schedule that is in rhythm with time can help tremendously. For from astrology we learn that all planets move in rhythms, cycles and phases. Even in sub-phases. Even if one doesn’t understand all this or doesn’t believe in astrology, people can benefit a lot from a good daily schedule and marking the time when they sleep, get up, eat, exercise, meditate and so on. The time to get up should be before or closer to sunrise. Similarly, the time to sleep should be as close to sunset as possible. At the same time, develop an awareness of your breathing. Breathing is the marker of time. Become aware of every inhalation and exhalation. Just being aware of breathing and establishing a rhythm can be very helpful and beneficial. It is about an understanding of time as a sacred entity that merges with one’s breath.”

Mishra says the rhythm of the brain is also guided by the rhythm of sunrise and sunset. After sunrise, there is no deep sleep. The brain follows the cycle of sunlight. Every day, one and a half hours before sunrise, certain changes take place in the ionosphere. This ionosphere is located sixteen hundred kilometres above the surface of the earth. To compare: in an aeroplane we fly about thirty kilometres above the surface of the earth. When the sun rises, every blade of grass feels the change in the atmosphere. The leaves begin to prepare for photosynthesis at 4.30 in the morning. Plants, birds, animals, all of nature is ready for sunrise. So ideally, we should try to get up an hour and a half before sunrise, which is known as brahma mahurat. If one does not get up on time in the morning, one not only misses the great play of nature, but also gets out of tune and out of rhythm with nature. “That is like when the whole orchestra plays something and the singer sings something else. What many people do is get up late and drink coffee to wake up completely. Then they read the newspaper and WhatsApp messages. Those who are satisfied with such a life should do so. However, people should understand that as the morning progresses, the sun enters the second house, the house of income. That is why it is said that the bird that rises early catches the worm. If you want to get income in the form of love, joy, family, wealth and so on, that is the time to receive. If you get up very early in the morning, you will be calm and in a meditative mood,” says Pawan Kumar Mishra.