Chakrapani D. Ullal learned astrology at the feet of his father and grandfather, both renowned astrologers of Kerala state in south India. Even though his father directed him to a university education, resulting in degrees in commerce and law, Chakrapani ultimately returned to the traditional science. He lives in Los Angeles. California, where his clients include movie stars, major corporations and the immigrant Indian community. In an exclusive interview for HINDUISM TODAY, he discusses his craft:

HINDUISM TODAY: What was your association with Swami Nityananda and Baba Muktananda?

Chakrapani: I don't think there is anyone as great as Swami Nityananda living at this moment. He was never on a human level in the sense of human emotions. He was much beyond that. He was just like a God. Whenever I went to see him, my whole body used to shiver. That's the power he had. Baba Muktananda I saw for the first time in 1958. It is Muktananda who said.

"You should become an astrologer." He really pushed me into that and that is why in the late 1960's I really started my profession as such. I was one of the closest persons to Swami Muktananda for 25 years. It is he who brought me to America.

HT: What is the spiritual side of astrology?

Chakrapani: Hindu astrology is based on bringing harmony into the body, mind and spirit, as against the western astrology which is goal oriented and influenced by the culture of the society which says "I want to be in control of everything," rather than bringing harmony into oneself. Hindu astrology is the gateway to philosophy. When a person values astrology not just as a profession, but as a knowledge, as a wisdom, as a means to understand one's growth, then that knowledge is supported by the devotion – the feelings, the faith you have in your own self, as well as in the Deity or the spirit which may guide oneself. And when you have that kind of a faith. Then the inspiration within gives you the judgement, rather than the mechanical interpretation of the chart, which everybody can learn by studying textbooks.

HT: Many people complain about astrologers wanting large sums of money for rituals to "fix" a bad chart. What is your advice?

Chakrapani: Remedial measures are genuine. But most of the people practicing the astrology do it as a business. They use it as a tool to bring fear into the client to spend money on things which may not be necessary, nor are they capable of handling it.

HT: What can be remedied and what cannot?

Chakrapani: There is the destiny which cannot be changed, no matter what you do, the destiny which can be changed with hard work and the destiny which can be changed with bringing changes into your life. Most of the things of one's life can be changed. Death cannot be changed, but disease can be minimized. You cannot eradicate suffering, but you can reduce it.

HT: Can the astrologer do the remedy for the client, or should the client do the remedy?

Chakrapani: Both are not correct. The astrologer can do the remedy, but he has no time. If he is proficient in his own spiritual practices and he has values for what he does, then he may undertake a very few people for whom he is close. The client cannot do it, because the propitiation of these planets is for an adept in the spiritual practices of mantras and tantras, then only they will work.

HT: Will California sink in the ocean?

Chakrapani: It will never sink in the ocean. I am against that kind of a statement. It may sink in the ocean after maybe one million years. In the next generation, it won't sink.

HT: What about India and Sri Lanka?

Chakrapani: India is definitely going to come out of all these problems, as well as Sri Lanka. Saturn is just moving into Capricorn in the month of December and it will be there for two years and three months or so. Once the Saturn moves out of Capricorn, all these problems will begin to settle down for them. I'm very certain that all these problems will be resolved amicably ultimately.

HT: What is your message for our readers?

Chakrapani: Astrology is a science of Indications only, it is not a fatalistic science. So therefore people should have the idea that they have the power, it they want to, to bring amendments and changes, to modify the influence by their effort and their willingness. When I give a reading I say, "By using the willpower, by gaining the grace of God or guru, we can change everything." Otherwise people misunderstand astrology by thinking "Oh, it is in the stars." It is in the stars for only those people who do not want to take responsibility for their life.

Article copyright Himalayan Academy.