Ennapadam Bhagavati

Bhagavathi at Ennapadam Temple at Kerala

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My wife Padma and myself offer our reverential salutations to our beloved Guru Shri T. Balan Nair. As a beacon light of Vedic knowledge, wisdom and compassion, he has guided us for the last 36 years through our joys and sorrows, through our trials and tribulations, through sunshine and storm. While offering our Pranaams to our Guruji, we also offer our prayers to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Bhagawan Vyasa and Sri Adi Shankaracharya.

Sankaram SankaracharyamKesavam Baadarayanam;Sutra-Kaarya-Kritau Vande
Bhagavantau Punah Punah

The meaning of the above age-old Sanskrit verse of Guru Vandana is as follows: ‘I adore Lord Siva, Lord Vishnu, Bhagavan Vyasa and Sri Sankaracharya. I again and again prostrate to Sri Vyasa who wrote the Vedanta Sutras, and to Sri Sankaracharya who wrote the commentaries thereon (Guru Vandanam)’.

The Guru’s mission in Vedic India appears to have been two-fold. The first and most important concern of the Guru was to awaken, elevate and transform the Sishya (seeker). The second and final purpose of the Guru was paradoxically to help the Sishya to transcend this state of complete dependence on the Guru, which dependence the Guru himself had taken such pains to foster. The final leap of realizing his true identity with God was exclusively the Sishya’s job and sacred mission.

Our Guruji Balan Nair belongs to this sacred Guru-Shishya parampara. Padma and I are very proud to have had the Divine Grace to be blessed with a Guru like T. Balan Nair.

In dedicating this blog to the cause of Sanatana Dharma through the Grace of our Guru, Padma and I cheerfully submit ourselves to the will of Durga Mata. We realise that our existance as embodied beings is purely momentary. What are a hundred years in Eternity? But if we shatter the chains of egotism, and melt into the ocean of humanity, we share its dignity. To feel that we are something is to set up a barrier between God and ourselves; to cease feeling that we are something is to become one with God. A drop in the Ocean partakes of the Greatness of its parent, although it is unconscious of it. But it is dried up as soon as it enters upon an existance independent of the ocean.

As soon as we become one with the ocean in the shape of God, there is no more rest for us, nor indeed do we need rest any longer. Our very sleep is action. For we sleep with the thought ot God in our hearts. This restlessness constitutes true rest. This never-ceasing agitation holds the key to peace ineffable. This supreme state of total surrender is difficult to describe, but not beyond the bounds of human experience. It has been attained by many dedicated souls, and may be attained by ourselves as well.

The science of astrology originated in India and has been practiced continuously for more than 8,000 years. Records of astrological knowledge are to be found in the history of all nations and among the relics of all civilizations, past and present. Besides India, rich astrological traditions have been discovered in China, Chaldea, Babylon, Egypt, Persia and Arabia. Apart from the Vedic records, perhaps the oldest records of astrological practice are to be found in China. The Chinese have been as scrupulous in preserving their records as the Hindus of Bharat.

The records that exist in India today point clearly to a highly developed knowledge of astrology as far back as about 6,500 BC and actual manuscripts are still extant which were written about 3,700 BC. Some of the originals have been destroyed or lost but actual copies of these originals were made by later astrologers. These are to be found in the libraries of Maharajas and in the libraries of certain states in India. Actual, detailed records of astrological science are continuous from about 6,500 BC. One of the earliest authors of Vedic astrology, copies of whose work are still to be found, is Pita Maha who wrote a treatise on astrology called Pita Maha Siddhanta. He lived and wrote this book about 3,000 BC.

Five hundred years later, another author-astrologer named Vashishta wrote several books on astrology, astronomy and philosophy. His most important work, and one which was used as an authority by all subsequent writers on the subject, is Vashishta Siddhanta, but he wrote many other equally erudite and authoritative texts such as the Panch Siddhanta Kosha, Soorya Siddhanta, Nityananda, etc. Yet, Parasara's Hora Sashtra and Varahamihara's Brihat Jathaka, constitute the core Vedic Astrology Texts.

Shri T. Balan Nair
Thus it will be clear that the roots of Indian Astrology can be traced back to the dawn of history. According to Indian Astrology, your true self & personality is defined by the position of the planets, at the time and place of your birth. The present and future positions of the planets are compared with those of your birth chart to predict your future. This is the basis of Indian Astrology. The traditions of Vedic Astrology in Kerala have been very strong and continuous for several centuries.About one week ago I had the privilege of interviewing Shri T. Balan Nair, S/o. Raman Nair, a practicing astrologer firmly rooted in the Vedic Astrological and Astronomical traditions of Kerala. He hails from Kuzhalmannam village near Palghat Town in Kerala. He belongs to a family of eminent Astrologers from Kerala. Several members of his family have been practicing astrology in Chettinadu in Tamilnadu from 1840. From his village Kuzhalmannam, one of Balan Nair's ascestors called Kunjan Nair first went to Valayappatti village in Chettinadu on the invitation of one N.R. Ramanathan Chettiar of Valayapatti. As he was childless for several years after marriage, he consulted Kunjan Nair on the prospects of his progeny. Kunjan Nair advised him to get married for the second time so that he could have children through both his wives! It happened exactly the way Kunjan Nair had predicted. N.R. Ramanathan Chettiar was overwhelmed by the astrological prowess of Kunjan Nair and requested him to take up his permanent residence in Valayapatti. There began the contact of Balan Nair's family with Valayapatti village in Chettinadu.

A few years later Kunjan Nair's brother Velayadum Nair also went to Valayapatti to practice Jothidam. Both of them were taken to Burma in the 1860s by Ramanathan Chettiar. It is a known sociological fact that several families belonging to Nagarathar community from Chettinadu started going to Burma for doing trade and commerce in the years after 1840 and this trend became very pronounced after 1860. Ramanathan Chettiar put Kunjan Nair and his brother Velayudham Nair in touch with all the leading Nagarathar families living in Burma at that time. This helped both the brothers to make a reasonable fortune. Velayudham Nair became famous in Chettinad from 1890 to 1930. It was Velayudham Nair who had correctly predicted the future greatness of Sir Annamalai Chettiar even in his childhood days.

Shri Kannan Nair and his wife
Later, Kannan Nair who was a nephew of Velayudham Nair and his friend Karunakaran Nair went together to Valayapatti to practice astrology in the 1920s. Kannan Nair's sister's son is Balan Nair. Right from the age of 5, Balan Nair, like all his predecessors, started learning Sanskrit, Malayalam, Sastras, Vedas,Vaidyam, Mandram and Jothidam at the Kuzhalmannam village school which was called in those days as 'Ezhutholi'. He was drafted to Valayapatti in 1943, at the age of 11 to learn astrology from Kannan Nair.
Balan Nair recalls one particular miraculous incident in his life with great spiritual fervour. At the age of 18, while learning Jothidam at the feet of Kannan Nair in Valayapatti village, some Devatha appeared in his sleep and drew something with a sharp instrument on his tongue. This thrilling experience is narrated by Balan Nair with great humility and reverence and the vertical lines can be noticed on the top of his tongue even now.

Balan Nair told me that learning astrology was a unique experience those days. One had to learn i) Jadhakam; ii) Golam; iii) Nimitham; iv) Prasnam; v) Muhurtam and vi) Kanitham. According to Balan Nair, one's full life is not enough to learn all these branches of astrology.

According to Balan Nair, it was only Varahamihira who in his timeless work called 'BRIHAT JATHAGAM' completely streamlined for all time the science of astrology. It contains 16 chapters with about 1000 slokhas. There are a few other things to be learnt which are not found in traditional books on astrology. They are called 'Vishesha vidhi' which are in the nature of exceptions not to be found in known treatises in the field of astrology and are meant to be communicated only orally by a Guru to a Sishya and in no other fashion. 'The complete knowledge and mastery of 'Vishesha Vidhi' is a matter of one's Guru's Grace and Divine Grace'. Balan Nair says with earnestness and modesty.

When I asked him about the fundamental texts which formed the basis of his astrological training, he named great astrological works like Kala Vidhanam, Muhurtha Madhaviyam, Jathaka Desam, Jathaka Parijadam and Phaladeepika, apart from the core Vedic texts like Parasara's Hora Sashtra and Varahamihara's Brihat Jathaka.

When I asked him what are the qualities of an outstanding astrologer, he listed them in the following order: Bakthi, Humility, Discipline, Intelligence, Equanimity of mind, capacity to treat everyone as equal, and above all a passionate concern not only for human but global welfare.

Balan Nair came to Chennai in 1985 from Valayapatti. Later he shifted to a village on the outskirts of Chennai. Thousands flock to him to get his astrological advice at Vengaivasal Village near Medavakkam in Kancheepuram District. He has built a beautiful temple for Goddess Mookambika. He is living in his own house adjacent to this temple making himself available for all those who need his astrological guidance or advice. A man of Himalayan learning in the world of Vedic Astrology, he wants to remain anonymous. He told me with great humility: 'In the ocean of Jothida Sastra, I am like a catamaran (a wooden plank) trying to cross the mighty ocean of the past, present and future'.


  1. Vedic Astrology
    Vedic Astrology itself is the oldest science known to man and its secrets hold keys to the healing of mind, body, and spirit.