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HT: Do you perform any spiritual practices to help with your work?

K.N. Rao: I do Vishnu SahasranamaAum Namasivaya andTryambakam Yajamahe (also known as Mrityunjaya mantra).These three are my favorite mantras. If a man is in very serious difficulty, I'll ask him to do Narayana Kavacham. These are my tested stotras (hymns/chants). I tell people, "Spend some time for God." That is more important than spending money. A man who cannot give one hour every day to God is leading an animal life. It is a very strong statement, but I insist and repeat it.

HT: Does one have to be a Hindu to practice jyotisha?

KNR: No, one just needs to be spiritual. Parashara (a great sage who wrote the rules of Jyotisha) does not say you have to be a Hindu to do astrology. He says you have to have technical, intellectual and moral excellence. It is at the spiritual level that humanity is one. At the religious level there have been so many quarrels, crusades and all these stupid things that have happened since the history of the world.

HT: What about those who want to practice jyotisha as a business?

KNR: There is no harm. That has come to stay now and has become a fashion in India also. Some are very honest. For them, it is a profession. For me, it has not been a profession, it has been a serious academic pursuit. Around me has grown up in Delhi, at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the world's largest astrology teaching institute, with 460 students (now 800+ students). Out of those people, some take to professional astrology. They will be doing it like well-trained doctors or engineers, not like quacks, which, unfortunately is the condition of astrology both in India and in the other parts of the world.

HT: Are negative indications in a chart destined to happen?

KNR: In one case, in which I saw a negative event about to take place, I made the client chant the Mrityunjaya mantra two months in advance. Even then, 200 cement bags fell on him, but he escaped with a hairline fracture only, nothing more. So it is possible to avert or reduce such misfortune 80% of the time, through right karma. The rest of the time, the prarabdha karma may be so strong that a man may not overcome it. But, those 20% cases generally will not come to an astrologer.

HT: Can a priest perform a special homa (fire ceremony) for us to mitigate a negative indication in our chart?

KNR: Generally, I don't encourage this. The reason is very simple. When I sit down and pray for myself, or when I pray for someone whom I love, God rewards me for my sincerity. I generally tell people, "Do it yourself, even if you do it a little imperfectly, and God will reward you for your sincerity." If you have a lot of money which you could spend on homa, give it to charity, help a needy person and the needy person's blessings will also help you overcome the misfortunes indicated planetarily. This answer makes many people unhappy. But, after 30 years, I have seen this alone happening. One must remember that you can deceive anyone in the world except God.

HT: Do things happen simply because of the combination of the planets, or is it the result of our karma?

KNR: No, a horoscope is the allotment of karmas of previous lives. We are all getting the results of our karma, but not all of our karma. In my latest research I have been able to get 10 horoscopes of both lives, previous and present, of five people. I have seen very clearly the samskaras of the past life manifesting in the present. I see not one, but ten common links between the horoscopes of the previous life and this life. There is no doubt, it is the allotted karma, and it is the full janma samskaras. There is no accident in nature. There is harmony; there is orderliness in God's universe. It is man only that distorts that and begins to explain it as a coincidence or an accident. If it was an accident, how could we predict what we see in the chart?