3 January 2009

Sastrigal Mama (Sri Venkateswara Sarma)

I recently read this narrative about a famous astrologer who was also a devotee of Ramana Maharshi, and find it very interesting so am herein posting it below:

"Sri Venkateswara Sarma (Sastrigal Mama) was an exceptional and astounding astrologer. From childhood he exhibited a rare genius in this field. While still very young, his extraordinary intelligence enabled him to master the most abstruse and difficult branch of astrology. All, including his guru, declared him as the wisest student.

Prasna is an astrological science based on a perfect fruition between mathematics and intuition. With just some meagre information from the questioner, which includes only the first word of the question, a Prasna astrologer can, within seconds, draw up mentally a horoscope. This requires great mathematical precision and perfection. Having drawn the horoscope within his mind, and in a flash also having studied it, the astrologer will have to wait, prayerfully. Then, from the depths of his inner intuition words gush forth, forming the astrological predictions for the questioner. As this Prasna process is not merely based on mathematical horoscopes, it culminates in intuitional revelation, and the predictions are said to be amazingly accurate and correct to the minutest detail. Sri Sastrigal Mama was highly proficient in this system of astrology.

He once described it to me by citing this example: One day a merchant came to his house while he was engaged offering worship in his puja room. His wife informed him that one Nagappa Chettiar was waiting on the verandah and that he seemed worried about some urgent matter. Not willing to interrupt his worship, and by merely listening to the name and the few details given by his wife, Sri Sastrigal Mama, within a minute, began giving the following prediction:

"Tell Nagappa Chettiar that he has come to inquire about his lost, costly diamond ring. He suspects his servant. Assure him that no one has stolen it. In his garden, near the well, there are two rows of plantain trees. On one side there are only two trees; on the other there is a cluster of trees. Let him search under the two trees and the diamond ring will be found there. While he was cleaning his clothes on the washing stone the ring slipped off his finger and fell to the ground."

Nagappa Chettiar returned home and found the ring exactly where Sri Sastrigal Mama had said, and because of this and similar astounding predictions Sri Sastrigal Mama became quite famous. He also became convinced that the Prasna branch of astrology was the most perfect science.

At the height of his career he heard about Sri Ramana Maharshi. When he first saw Sri Bhagavan's picture he was immediately captivated and traveled to Arunachala to see the Sage. He climbed up to Skandashram, where Bhagavan then resided. On the very first look that the Maharshi gave him, Sri Sastrigal Mama became his slave. He had a strong desire to stay with the Maharshi permanently, renouncing everything he held dear. Yet, there was still his lifelong attraction to the science of astrology. He felt distracted by it and did not know how to proceed.

One day, gathering courage, he approached Sri Maharshi in all humility and said, "Bhagavan, is not astrology the best and most accurate of all sciences?"

In silence Bhagavan looked at him deeply for some time. Then, slowly but firmly, he replied: "The science of the Self is superior to all other sciences."

It was the peak period in Sri Sastrigal Mama's life. For every prediction he was richly rewarded and was consequently acquiring immense wealth. Nevertheless, the words from the Master convinced him immediately to renounce his lucrative profession and pursue the science of the Self. His wife too fully supported him in this decision. The remainder of their life they lived in utter poverty at the holy feet of the Sat-Guru, under the protective shade of the Sacred Mountain, Arunachala."

[By V. Ganesan]


Claire Dawn said...

I would like to read more about mysticism and astrology at Arunachala. Could you give more details. I remember that Ramana Maharshi had a very famous tantric devotee called Ganapati Muni - are there more like him nowadays?

Divya said...

Very interesting story, thank you! :-)

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Thanks Claire for your very interesting question. I hope to post information on Ganapati Muni and other mystics on both this blog and my website.

However for the moment would mention that probably the most famous Tantric living at Arunachala, in the same era as Ramana, but not per se his devotee, was Sri Seshadri Swamigal -- who was regarded as a foremost devotee of Sri Vidya and by popular report had formidable siddhic powers.

You can find out more about him at this link here: