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Vedic Astrology:

Books by Hart de Fouw, Robert Svoboda & Komilla Sutton

Hart de Fouw (left) & Robert Svoboda (right) are North Americans who have lived, between them, several decades in India. They are among the handful of Westerners who have both absorbed the fundamentals of Indian society, as well as possess the literary resources to explain it to the rest of us. Currently, Hart de Fouw lives in Canada. Robert Svoboda is said to live in Texas, but many of his students seem to live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their books are brilliant.

LIGHT ON LIFE: An introduction to the astrology of India - Hart deFouw & Robert Svoboda, $19.95
List of tables; List of figures; Acknowledgements; Note; Foreword; Introduction; 1. The origins of Jyotish; 2. The philosophy of Jyotish; 3. Essential astronomy for Jyotish; 4. The grahas (planets); 5. The rashis (constellations); 6. The bhavas (houses); 7. The panchanga; 8. The nakshatras; 9. Interpretation of the horoscope; 10. Graha yogas; 11. Dashas & gocharas; 12. Example charts. Afterward; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

Comment: We are pleased to report this excellent book is again back in print. For western readers, this is perhaps the most literate, the most comprehensible, the most detailed survey of Indian astrology ever written. From the back cover: Jyotish states that by considering the state of the cosmos when an event occurs, we can begin to understand its nature - and to prepare an appropriate response. Although there are similarities with Western astrology there are also profound differences. Jyotish is, above all, infused with the religious, psychological & physical spirit of India. This comprehensive & enlightening book on the subject will prove a necessity to every astrologer or student of Indian thought.

Now published in the US by Lotus Press. 438 pages, paper.

LIGHT ON RELATIONSHIPS: The Synastry of Indian Astrology - Hart de Fouw & Robert Svoboda, $21.95
Preface; Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Bhava & rasi; 2. Relationship skills; 3. The four cornerstones; 4. Building on the cornerstones; 5. The ten porutthams; 6. Is she a Lakshimi? Is he a Kubera?; 7. Poison damsels & Martian blemishes; 8. The Ayurveda of relationships; 9. The navamsha; 10. Timing; Conclusion. Appendix: Table of nakshatras; Glossary, Bibliography; Index; About the authors.

Comment: From the preface: "This volume presents a synthesized approach to horoscope compatibility analysis, developed over some years of experimentation. This approach blends the principles of compatibility analysis familiar to most practicing jyotishis with other, lesser-known techniques culled from Jyotisha's classical canon. Certain of these techniques are based on oral traditions that somehow were never incorporated into the classical works of antiquity. Others come from our direct lineage mentors of Jyotisha. Yet others have been nurtured from both Western & Eastern inspirational seeds into processes that have been validated over many years of experience. Our attempts to synthesize notwithstanding, we believe the foundations of the methods that we introduce here are firmly anchored in Jyotisha. Many readers will find the principles we advocate cohere in practice rather more readily than they may seem to in print. To minimize the risk of selecting illustrative horoscopes that merely selectively support our theses, we have purposely chosen a limited set of examples, testing each of our varied techniques on the same subjects to provide a fairer picture of how an actual relationship analysis might proceed." (pg. vii)

Indian relationship analysis includes the kids. Chapter 6, "Is she a Lakshimi? Is he a Kubera?" refers to the offspring of the couple, if the infant daughter (Lakshimi) or son (Kubera) will be rich, and, if so, if they may make the parents themselves better off. One who is born to richess may have it thrust upon them almost from birth itself. If so, the parents will be responsible (eg, profit) until the child reaches maturity. It isn't discussed in the book, but I believe Bill Gates, Jr. was a Kubera to his parents. Other outcomes of children are also discussed.

Weiser, 296 pages.

AGHORA: At the left hand of God - Robert Svoboda, $26.95
Preface; Introduction;
1. Ma; 2. Shakti: Maya shakti, Kali & Kalidasa, Vidyaranya, Sarvananda & Purnananda, The motherhood of the goddess, The vision of the goddess;
3. Shiva: Mahakala, Death & the smashan, Anjaneya, Sagal shah;
4. Rnanubandhana: The primal debt, Fate & rnanubandhana, Ranu, Author's postscript;
5. Mentors: My three mentors, Devotion to the guru, Guru & disciple;
6. Aghora: The true & the real, Restrictions, Intoxicants, To die while still alive, The left-hand path;
7. Spirits; 8. Avishkara;
9. Sex: Man & woman, The nature of sex, The rnanubandhana of sex, Marriage, Creation & procreation, Ojas, Conservation, Svapneshvari siddhi & shiva lata mudra, Amrita, Vajroli, Bhairavi;
10. Girnar: Ginar, Devotion. Glossary.

Comment: This was Svoboda's first book on Aghora, the next phase after tantra. The right hand path, familiar to the Christian west, is the surrender of our sinful selves to the purity of an external path. Worship, in other words. It is slow, sure & painful. The left hand path of tantra requires the previous purification (eg, mastery) of the self (no more internal sin!) in order to conquer the worst of physical life: death, decay & sex. It is a path that appeals to contrarian sensualists, who quickly come to grief over it. It is quick, powerful & incredibly dangerous. There isn't much one can say about any of the fabulous tales in this book, as they all relate to persons, places & practices that are rarely if ever seen in the west. Indeed, Svoboda himself merely repeats the stories told him by his mentor, guru Vimalananda, adding little material of his own.

Brotherhood of Life/Sadhana Publications, 328 pages.

AGHORA II: Kundalini - Robert Svoboda, $21.95
Foreword, by Robert Masters; Introduction;
1. Agni; 2. Kundalini: self-identification, Coverings, Nadis & chakras, The nine chakras, Raising kundalini, Samadhi, Kula kundalini, The snake, The chakras, Kula kundalini; 3. Preliminaries: Food, Panchamakara; 4. Sadhana: Khanda manda yoga, Name & form, The soma yaga, "Make everything into a sadhana", The sun, the moon & fire, Gayatri; 5. Mantra: Mantra siddhi, Using mantras, The five S's, Secrecy, Pronunciation, Four levels of speech, The four classes; 6. Tantra: Time, eclipses & nights, Nyasa, Mental worship, Ganesha; 7. Music: Nada yoga, Krishna & the Gopis, Krishna & Shiva; 8. Immortals: Siddhas, Rishis, Munis, Naths & Siddhas, Notable siddhas, Rishis, Time & space, Anasuya, Avataras; 9. The Esoteric Ramayana: The script, The players, Anjaneya's role; 10. Gurus & Disciples. Appendix: Yantras: A general description, The nine nath siddhas. Glossary. Bibliography.

Comment: While living in Poona & while studying Ayurveda, the young Robert Svoboda was assigned to interview one Aghora Vimalananada, described as a doctor who practiced tantra & owned race horses. Like all true disciples, Svoboda recounts he had to force himself to meet the man, who, while quickly becoming a major influence on Svoboda, never, in the strictly technical sense, became his guru. The forword describes Aghora as a "super-tantra", a path of devotion to the great mother goddess Kundalini: The Aghori sets out to overcome human limitations by shattering internally every restraint, no matter how ancient or powerful the taboo, and also by creating a body/mind that is able to contain emotional, sensory and other experiences which would consume anyone not properly prepared. (pg. 13) I have a hard time writing about the two Aghora books, I pass hours just reading them, they are fascinating.

Brotherhood of Life & Sadhana Publications, 319 pages.

AGHORA III: The Law of Karma - Robert Svoboda, $21.95
Introduction; 1. Stoney; 2. Elan; 3. Teasers & stallions; 4. Timir; 5. Scarlet Ruby; 6. The city of delusion; 7. Repay; 8. Redstone; 9. Prakriti siddhi; Epilogue. Glossary.

Comment: The blurb on the back of this book does not quite sum it up. It reads, in part: In this, the third & final volume of the Aghora trilogy, the Aghori [guru] Vimalananda uses the backdrop of the Bombay racetrack as a potent metaphor for the ultimate game of life, where destinies & fortunes are forged or lost on the momentary edge of the finish line... Eg, karma, but not the dull preachy sort. The Introduction introduces & defines various technical terms (karma, dharma, karmic transfer, sacrifice, pravritti & nivritti, etc.) The rest of the book is an entertaining story of what happened when a rather ruthless guru took the young Svoboda to the race track & for eight years played the horses, for all they were worth.

Brotherhood of Life & Sadhana Publications, 323 pages.

THE GREATNESS OF SATURN, A Theraputic Myth - Robert Svoboda, $14.95
Foreword; Preface; Purvakarma: Introduction.

Pradhanakarma - The Greatness of Saturn: 1. King Vikrama deliberates in his court over which of the nine planets is superior; 2. The Sun; 3. The Moon; 4. Mars; 5. Mercury; 6. Jupiter; 7. Venus; Intermezzo: The debate; 8. Saturn; 9. Rahu & & Ketu, the lunar nodes; 10. The begging of the universe; 11. The verdict; 12. The beginning of the seven & a half year period of Saturn's dominance of Vikramaditya's life; 13. King Vikrama is falsely accused of theft, and is put to work on the oil mill; 14. The lifting of the seven and a half and the pleasing of Lord Saturn; 15. Saturn's stories of how he administered misery to his guru & others; 16. King Vikrama reveals his identity; 17. King Vikrama returns to Ujjayini.

Pashatkarma: Deities, seizers & remedies; Myth; Vrata Katha; The Greatness of Saturn.

Appendix: Calculation of the seven and a half. Glossary & pronunciation guide; Bibliography

Comment: The seven and a half is known elsewhere as Saadi Saati, the period of time during which Saturn passes over the natal moon, starting with the sign preceeding the moon's natal sign, ending when it passes out of the sign after the moon's. It happens once every 29-ish years. In the Preface, the author writes: During the decade that I lived all but continuously in India my greatest fortune was to have spent eight of those years in the company of my mentor, the Aghori Vimalananda. He exposed me to a great deal of India's classical culture & to many living traditions, and taught me both how to appreciate and how to perform in the grand pageant that is India. When he introduced me to the Shani Mahatmya ("The Greatness of Saturn") it was a mid-morning in early 1980 just before Saturn was to begin afflicting my natal Moon. After this period of affliction ended in late 1987 I became inspired to translate the Shani Mahatmya into English, that the tale might live & work in a culture far distant in time, space & sensibilities from that of its birth. (pg. viii)

The story starts, One fine day at court King Vikrama was mentioning what a nasty old coot Saturn was. Unknown to him, Saturn was passing overhead at the time & heard every word. So Saturn came to Vikrama's court & proceeded to curse Vikrama for seven & a half years. This is what happened during those 7.5 years, with all the marvels typical of Indian myths, retold with Svoboda's skills.

Lotus Press, 292 pages.

Books by Komilla Sutton:

- Komilla Sutton, $27.00
Acknowledgements; Foreword by Nicolas Campion; Introduction to the philosophy of Vedic astrology; Converting your chart; How the planets work in Vedic astrology; The Sun & Moon; Grahas - the planets; Rahu & Ketu - the karmic axis; Rashis - the signs of the zodiac; Bhavas - the houses; The nakshatras - the Indian lunar zodiac; Vimshottari dashas - the system of prediction; Gochara - transits; Vargas - the divisional charts; The gunas; The yogas; The Wheel of Vishnu; Putting it all together - a chart interpretation. Appendix: Schools & organizations, software, further reading, reference texts; Glossary; Index.

Comment: A basic introduction to Vedic astrology. The most outstanding chapters in the book concern houses & nakshatras. Her explanation of how dashas work is one of the better that I've read. Komilla Sutton began her astrological studies in Bombay in 1979. She moved to England in 1982. In 1996, she & Andrews Foss founded The British Association for Vedic Astrology. Currently, she lectures, teaches & maintains a busy consultative practice.

Wessex Astrologer, 334 pages.


- Komilla Sutton, $22.00
1. Introducing Rahu & Ketu; 2. The Rahu-Ketu personality - the compulsion to experience life; 3. Ketu - intuition & enlightenment; 4. The karmic axis; 5. Rahu Ketu through the signs; 6. Past lives & soul lessons; 7. Karmic experiences - nodal conjunctions; 8. The planets & the nodal nakshatra; 9. The yogas; 10. The timing of the nodal experience; 11. Transits; 12. Eclipses; 13. Healing your nodal crisis - remedial measures; 14. Confronting your nodes - the final analysis;

Vedic astrology basics. Glossary; Further reading; Reference text (the Brihat Samhita); Schools & organizations; Computer software. Index.

Comment: From the back cover: The need to understand our destiny, our reason for being here, is what motivates us towards spiritual growth. As we begin to recgonize the recurring patterns & themes in our lives we realize that they are not permanent: we can learn through them & grow towards a more enriching & fulfilling future. In The Lunar Nodes Komilla Sutton uses her deep love & understanding of the Vedic mythology behind Rahu - the north node, and Ketu - the south node, to show how we can release old patterns & move on. The nodal axis by sign, house, nakshatra & transit are all discussed in a simple & easy to follow format. Students of astrology, yoga & ayurveda will find this book particularly inspiring & helpful.

Wessex Astrologer, 178 pages.

THE LUNAR NODES: Crisis & Redemption

- Komilla Sutton, $30.00



1. What is Panchanga?
2. The unfolding of consciousness - from subtle to gross
3. Dina or solar day
4. The nakshatras
5. Tithi
6. Karana
7. Nitya
8. Panchanga Shuddhi - purifying the Panchanga
9. Finding your true light - Panchanga analysis


Comment: Panchanga are your lucky days. From page 1:

The actual casting of the panchanga requires complicated calculations, as it has to be precise from the place of birth. The Hindu spiritual calendar & its annual festivals are based on it, and it is consulted for the best time for auspicious ceremonies. In most traditional Indian households, the panchanga is consulted daily to know the quality of the day. Panchanga is also used for almost every branch of vedic astrology: natal, muhurta, prashna, transits, etc. ... Fortunately all vedic astrology software calculates the panchanga for any time & place so it should not be a problem to find the panchanga for the day you are searching for.
Panchanga are computed from Tithi (Lunar Day), vara (Week Day), Nakshatra (Moon's Constellation), Yoga (Sun-Moon Combination), Karana (Half of Tithi), along with Moon's current Position and Chaitra paksheeya (Lahiri) Ayanamsha for the day. Calculations are given, but you must read closely to extract them, as the book has no glossary, which it badly needs.

I confess I wanted a book that I could pick up, figure out, and do something with. Figure out my lucky/unlucky days, see if the calculations made sense & fit my life. This the book does not do. The title of the book is Personal Panchanga, not electional panchanga. I would like to see a book on that.

Wessex Astrologer, 196 pages.

PERSONAL PANCHANGA & the five sources of light

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