It takes about twenty-four hours to travel to India but it works out to be two days as we fly east. It was shortly after midnight on Thursday in Bombay when I got off the plane after starting the journey on Tuesday afternoon. I rallied my weary self to enter the airport and cope with the procedures necessary to enter a foreign country. In India that means standing in a series of slow moving lines in a very hot building. When it was my turn I handed the man my passport and entry card and he looked up at me and said, ”Give me a prediction.” I smiled and said “What?” and he replied ”It says here that you are an astrologer, give me a prediction”. He was serious, he wanted me to tell him something useful, to give him a tip on his life. If I were an experienced Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer) I could have given him a prediction based on reading the omens of the moment, but I was really sleepy and not at my sharpest. I could see that I wasn’t going to get my passport back until I said something, so I gave him a very big smile and said, “You’re a very nice man.” And he said, ”Welcome to India”
Delhi is hot, dirty, noisy, and incredibly polluted. The pollution is so bad that when one of the women on the tour got sick, the doctor diagnosed it as a virus caught from breathing the air. Traffic is constant and crossing the street becomes an act of courage. It’s not the nicest place to visit in India as a tourist. Yet, it’s a fine place to learn astrology. I studied there in March 1999 with a group led by Komilla Sutton of Great Britain. Komilla is a beautiful Indian woman and an accomplished Vedic astrologer. She grew up in Delhi and took great pleasure in showing us the ancient astrological side of the city. We stayed in the YMCA Blue Triangle Family Hostel, an oasis in the midst of New Delhi, which has a classroom on the premises so we could cocoon ourselves from the intensity of the city and study. She arranged for some of Delhi’s finest astrologers to come teach us. The group consisted mostly of Komilla’s students from England, with a few Italians, Canadians, and myself and Dr. John Roberts, from Little Rock, Arkansas, representing the USA. The common bond was a desire to learn Jyothish. And we did. We spent hour upon hour in that hot, stuffy room with the rattling inefficient air conditioner and we were taught by the best of New Delhi’s astrologers. There was Dr. K. S. Charak who is one of Delhi’s prominent surgeons. He performed an operation in the morning and taught us about the Sun and its symbolism in the afternoon
We heard Prof. V. K. Choudry who has developed a system to short cut traditional Jyotish and still come up with viable answers. There was a full day of G S Agarwal who told us how to read dasas (planetary periods). And there was my favorite, Bepin Behari, a beautiful elderly man who spoke on esoteric astrology. I sat with him at the lunch break and he asked if what he said made sense or if he was just blathering on. He also told the class “don’t buy my books, I just stole it from others.” Mr. Behari invited all 21 members of the group to his house in New Delhi for a meeting with some of the other local astrologers. He said he always holds astrological meetings in his house and told me proudly that Dennis Harness of ACVA had sat in that same living room. Bepin Behari has passed away and is sorely missed by the astrological community.
Traveling with a group of astrologers is a unique experience. We shared a common language and passion. We disagreed in lifestyles, politics, and degrees of adventurousness and need for comfort. Every one returns from India changed in profound ways, and being in daily contact with a bunch of new acquaintances you can’t help but watch those changes happening. I toured Greece in May 2007 with a group of astrologers and it was great fun besides incredibly educational. I urge you to give yourself a wonderful gift and choose to travel with a group of like-minded wanderers.