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    Life and Astrology: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | part 4 | Part 4a | Ganesha, the God | Amazing Encounter
    A leading astrological researcher, based in Hyderabad, India.
    Ram says:
    "I was born a human
    In the family of a Brahman
    Childhood aspirations were a plenty
    To become a yeoman, a swordsman, a bowman
    And I dreaded perchance becoming
    A conman, a doorman or a barman
    Youth had its own delusions and dreamt
    Of being an airman, a seaman or a showman
    A few talents raised visions of life as a craftsman
    Middle age found me slotted in a niche
    And rose up the ladder to be a helmsman
    But was otherwise essentially a layman
    At times to frighten children, a bogeyman
    Then astrology called... and I realized that
    I was just a point of consciousness and no man
    And this insight made me a new man
    Glimpsing a realm that was
    Beyond god and mammon
    Now some call me a madman
    While others believe I am a shaman
    Being neither, I am just me, a man"
    Click to write to Ram.

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    Tom Dooley

    Life and Astrology [part 4]
    Oh Boy! You're bound to die!

    Ram Ramakrishnan, an articulate and intelligent astrological researcher from Hyderabad, India, makes the case for identifying death-indicators in the horoscope. Indian (Vedic) Astrology, or Jyotish, holds that there are specific rules that say when exactly a person would die and what would be the cause of death and how the body would be disposed of subsequently. In order to keep the article relatively brief, Ram has decided to focus on the first subject, that of time of death. Thus begins a new adventure...

    Some days are born lazy. If it were to be a cool and misty morning with sunlight filtering through in patches to create a dreamlike backdrop and there were to be some good music coming up, particularly those that bring back sweet memories of years long gone by, it inflates the languor many-fold. It was one such day and the radio played Hang down your head Tom Dooley . . . . . . The day's newspaper and a hot cup of tea completed the trappings to make the ambience indolently blissful.

    The front page newspaper headlines said “Clemençeau's last journey” and a picture showed a French aircraft carrier of that name heading for a shipbreaking yard on the west coast of India. There had been a number of demonstrations by environmentalists about this, because it was said that the ship contained many tonnes of asbestos that would be a health hazard for workers at the shipbreaking yard. There was also a story on the lives of the yard workers, particularly those on daily wages. It said that though the yard owners make a good profit out of the operation, the workers had to go without wages when there were no ships to be scrapped at the yard which was generally the case for many weeks in a year. Going by this story it appeared that a worker on daily wages did have a choice, not on how to live – but on when and how to die! He could either get contaminated and die or could starve to death! The first would prolong suffering while the latter option would deliver a quicker end.

    While I was reading this, the chorus of the song in the background went “Oh boy! You're bound to die!! . . . . . . .”

    The Question of Choice

    But are there really choices? If one were to go by what is said in astrological texts, then the answer is an emphatic 'No'. There are specific rules that say when exactly a person would die and what would be the cause of death and how the body would be disposed of subsequently. Demographic studies come up with odds of dying by different causes for a given spread of population – which is age group, era and location specific. The variations are however within a narrow band. How do these results compare with those pointed to by the astrological rules? If astrological rules mirror reality then there must be a close correspondence between them. The Tom Dooley song which was one of my favourites from childhood days, now acquired an additional abstract dimension and the lyrics of the chorus urged me to apply astrological rules to real charts to see if they were factual. Attempting a correlation between astrological indicators and reality across the entire mortality spectrum – time, cause and post-mortality issues appeared to be too daunting; hence I decided to focus on the first subject, that of time of death. Thus began a new adventure.

    It often happens that when a day begins on a particular note, a number of incidences of a similar genre follow closely on its heels. It may be called a coincidence. But having worked with astrological correlations for so long, I had begun to strongly suspect that they weren't. Time dons a different flavour each day for each being and our cognition during such times is correspondingly attuned. These make us strongly and impressionably perceive happenings of a particular variety. Perhaps, we are also cocooned in a specific aura each day that attracts others in a related frame of mind towards us. So I wasn't really surprised when a family friend called that morning to ask me to look into his wife's chart. She was seriously ill and doctors battling to save her had thrown in the towel. He wanted to know whether her time had come. She died the same afternoon even before I had a chance to look at her chart. But the flavour of the day – lazy though it was, provided a sustained impetus to pursue my resolve to its logical end.

    The Backdrop

    One stream of astrological thought identified the seventh, second and twelfth houses as the primary significators of mortality. The seventh house was marked on the premise that if the first was identified with the birth of the body, the one opposite should be associated with death. The second house because it was the seventh from the eighth house which signified longevity; so the second would signify mortality. The twelfth because the twelve houses beginning with the ascendant described a human's development in all its facets from birth to death, with the twelfth specifically associated with death.

    Another stream of astrological thought viewed mortality from a different perspective. It identified the fourth, eighth and twelfth houses in a chart and celestials associated with it to be the primary causes of mortality. This was on the premise that Mars, Moon and Mercury represent bodily energy, mind and intellect respectively. The three celestials have their fall signs to be the fourth, eighth and twelfth of the zodiac, in that order and hence these signs represent mortality, considering the zodiacal beginning of the first degree of Aries. When looking at the charts of individuals, the ascendant is equated to the first degree and the fourth, eighth and twelfth houses from this reference are associated with mortality of the individual.

    Thought Stream-1Thought Stream-2

    To begin proceedings I had two sets of houses and celestials associated with it, representing two streams of astrological thought. Either of them could be correct or both could be so. Testing them across a large sample of charts was the only way to confirm their veracity.

    The first step towards such a test was to ascertain whether death occurred invariably during the operating periods of any two of the three celestials in question, with the two occupying the initiator/giver slots in any order in the vimsottari-dasa1 scheme. Ideally, the search would need to be expanded to include celestials that may reside in any of the three houses or have a near full aspect upon the any of the three house cusps. Transforming the above thought to action upon a set of 222 charts in my collection that represented deceased persons, provided the figures shown in Table-1.

    Table 1

    The percentage in the last two rows for the 4,8,12 combination appeared quite healthy and seemed to indicate that the scrutiny was proceeding along in the right direction. But there was this nagging doubt. Doubt is both a blessing and a bane. It can propel a pursuit to great heights or send it crashing into an abyss. I couldn't say where the one that occurred now would steer this quest. The only way to know would be to follow in its wake, which I did. The misgiving was - were the observed healthy ratios exclusive to the three house combination considered or were there other three house combinations that would display similar propensity?

    The number of three house groupings possible from a set of 12 houses were equal to 220 (given by 12C3 = {(12*11*10) / (1*2*3)} = 220). To address the reservation that had raised its head, it was necessary to compute the percentage incidence of celestials as initiator or giver at the time of death for each of the 220 possible three house combinations. This was a daunting task but one that had to be done, for an unsatiated doubt can cause as much devastation as a colony of white ants! The result of the exercise provided some very interesting insights as shown in Table-2 and Figure-1. It is true that many celestials play dual or multiple roles, being dispositors of two or more houses. Yet, when considered across 220 groupings, the effects attributable to their disposition of houses not directly related to mortality appeared to even out.

    Go Forward Go to the next part of this article, where Ram examines the data and expounds the model in more detail..

    1 The Vimsottari dasa scheme that delineates a lifetime as operating periods of celestials and the nature and role of celestials designated as 'initiator' and 'giver' in such a scheme, has been described in detail in the earlier episodes of the Life and Astrology series.

    Life and Astrology: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | part 4 | Part 4a | Ganesha, the God | Amazing Encounter

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