Jagjit Uppal

"Astrology has nothing to do with religion and prayers" - Jagjit Uppal

William Shakespeare once said, "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." And interestingly famed astrologer Jagjit Uppal couldn't agree more. The astrologer is a firm believer of destiny. Interestingly, Uppal who is extremely well-renowned in India, was a skeptic turned believer. He followed in the steps of his father only to add a modern twist to the otherwise questionable line of work. After much practice, Uppal soon gained an illustrious reputation as one of India's most busiest astrologers. Perhaps his best and most unique trait is his straight-up personality. No hocus-pocus here- he tells you as he sees it and then will simply add, "This is your destiny." So honest is he, the astrologer had no qualms in admitting his incorrect predictions in an exclusive interview to Roshni Magazine. Over the last 25 years, he has gone from amateur to expert only to develop a large worldwide clientelle. Beyond the astrological world, Uppal is an avid nature lover, an author and an ex-television show host. However, ask him what he loves doing most and he admits, "Talking to my wife." Jagjit Uppal clears myths regarding the astrology-astronomy connection and gives Roshni Magazine his prediction to when the world will recover from the economic stress.

Tell us all about yourself. When did you know you wanted to get into astrology and help people in their lives?
My father was a lover of mountains, and let us says we were travelling to and fro from Bombay (Mumbai), Delhi and Dehradhun. But finally it is Dehradun that we settled and that’s where I grew up. He was a veracious reader and the subject of interest to him was mysticism, spiritualism, palmistry, astrology, occult and such subjects. So I was fascinated by these subjects and to begin with, as a youngster, I did not believe. So I used to say, all this is humbug. My father would ask me why I was so engrossed in these books, and I would reply, that I would study it and prove that it is all wrong. But the opposite happened. When I studied and tried to test it and experimented with people, I found it to be quite true. And then I got deeply interested in it. That is how I decided to get fully into it. I never thought I would become a professional astrologer, but then my destiny took me to Delhi and Bombay. It was Bombay amongst my friend circle, where I would talk about my studies, and became well-known. Someone told me I should write articles, since you know so much about it. So I started writing articles on astrology, and then I got an offer to write a column on forecasts, although I didn’t believe in it but the editor said “I believe,” because newspapers has a certain percentage that follow astrological charts. Then my elders, my uncles and grandparents, they were businesspeople who had rich clients and industrialists who would ask for them to bring your son or nephew along. So they would take me to their homes and offices, and they were all fascinated. But I had no money, so I would borrow money from my relatives saying I want to go home. Then my uncle said, why don’t you become a professional? I said, no I’m shy, how will I ask for money? He said, come to my office, and sit by a desk, the rest you leave up to me. Thereafter, if anyone would ring up my relatives, they would tell them that he is a professional, this is the address, you can go and consult him there. And that is how I got into astrology professionally. It was a transition from my passion to my profession.

Well that worked out well! How accurate do you believe astrology is and what part does “belief” and “faith” play in it?
Astrology is very accurate; when we go wrong, it is the astrologer who has gone wrong in his or her interpretation. But the subject is very good and it’s perfect. As for belief and faith, that is completely individual. One may not believe in destiny, so we say it’s perfectly alright because I have discovered over my studies and research, that when people say that “I have made my destiny through my own effort and personal hard work,” I tell them, yes, because it is written that destiny will fulfill itself. It will not sit outside you and start making you as a puppet and draw you into it. You did things on those lines, and you will fulfill your destiny. An astrologers job is to understand, how will you think and how will you act.

And is it possible to change destiny?
No. It is not possible. That’s why I do not believe that if you change the letters in your name, you will make it more harmonious or by doing pooja (prayers). No, I don’t believe in that. At most it will make one more positive and you believe in someone who you have faith in has told you to do so and you feel better. So maybe it’s more psychological.

That’s very interesting. So with the introduction of modern technology including the computer, how much have you had to change the way in which you work?
The computer has definitely been very helpful because it is very intricate to create a chart mathematically. So earlier, of course ancient astrologers according to Vedic Math, they were very accurate in calculations, but most of us are not very well-versed in Vedic Math. So when we make calculations, we have a tendency to round-off the figures and that have could have made us fall into an error, whereas in computers we feed this information into the computer and we have an accurate chart. But again, computers is only an aid to help a mathematically accurate chart. Prediction, is an art. Just like medicine is a science, where we understand the basic principles but then people who are medically qualified will say one person has a particular disease and another may not, depending on how they interpret or diagnose and what line of treatment they feel the patient should take, may differ. Similarly it is the same with astrologers. That’s why different astrologers may differ in their predictions. Now when they differ, it does not mean that astrology is wrong, they just have different interpretations. So prediction is simply an art.

How would you convince a skeptic to believe in astrology?
Well, to begin with, I don’t entertain skeptics (laughs). The first lesson my master told me and it’s written in our classical texts, that as an astrologer we must never make predictions for someone who has no asked for it. And if someone comes to you and says, I don’t believe in astrology and I want to test it, you simply say, I’m sorry, I don’t undertake.

A lot of astrologers claim that their clients are so-called “Manglik” or are born under inferior stars, and then ask them to do senseless prayers to rid themselves of these misfortunes. Is this all true?
No, no. Astrology has nothing to do with religion and prayers. At best we can equate it with genetic determinism. Today they say if you suffer from a migraine, it is a certain gene; if you are an alcoholic, you have a certain gene; if you are obese, it is also a certain gene. On an elementary level, we would say it is heredity. So astrology we say, is that. Similarly statisticians who have studied Astronomy, including a French statistician who is very upset because his research papers are quoted by Astrologers. So he went on record and condemned astrology. He said, “I am not a believer of astrology. I’m a scientist. What I have written about is about statistic principles.” But astrologers say, those only validate the principles of Astrology.

What is your definition of Astrology?
I would say that man is born without choice; he only understands the circumstances of his birth—that is born on a certain region on this planet, his parents are built in a certain manner, they speak a certain language, he is born in a certain social circle, rich or poor, or in a rural or urban areas. And then his inner feelings are sometimes different to what their parents or their involvement is saying. Now my feeling is that is what is going to be your aim or destiny. Firstly we must find out what our inner inclinations are, and then once we find that out, and we are focused and have faith in our inner self, and then flow with it, I will say most of us will be happy and then will be able to fulfill your inner feelings. It is only when we try to confront them, try to change them, and we try to do that only because our involvement is such, somebody is doing this, and if I do it, I will also get that, if I do this, my parents will be happy, if I do this, my boss will be happy, but at then you feel I am not happy. That is why the main concept is simple. If anyone asks me, I simply say, just follow your own intuition; don’t get trapped in the illusion of security because that is what today modern society teaches us—secure yourself for old age, secure your job, but what about today? I want to frolic in the rain, I want to jump in the wild stream, I want to trek the mountains. But we say, no I’ll do it once when I’m totally secure and by then you say, I have arthritis, I can’t go. So I believe in total freedom. Man is born free, and he must exercise his right to be free.

How did you land up becoming a television host on Zee T.V.?
When you are in the media, you are in writing and are constantly being interviewed a lot. Then I got an offer and they said why don’t you have a program on television, so I said why not. And since I was in a city like Bombay, it was easy to do so many such things. Since many years now, I’m more and more in the Himalayas and less in Bombay so I’ve withdrawn from all that because I want to be myself.

What about some popular predictions that have come true?
Many years ago I think Sharupama wanted to go to Delhi assuming he would become the next Prime Minister. He was very popular and I used to write for Bombay Magazine at that time and during a conversation with my editor, mentioned that he would not. So she actually published it with mine and Sharad Parwal’s photograph that Jagjit says he will NOT be the Prime Minister; at best he will be in the cabinet and will become the defense minister. And when that happened again, this is what Jagjit said. There are quite a few that were right and are one or two that were wrong also.

Astrologically, when do you believe the world will see some relief from the current economic stress?
2012. It will begin to improve from end 2010 for a year and a half but 2012 we will be back bouncing.

And what’s coming up for India?
India is already economically picking up. But some kind of turbulence is still indicated until December 2010. It will not exactly be of the economical nature, but there will be more or less of internal strife.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend seven to eight hours at a time looking at the mountains! Or picking up a book and reading, or listening to music, or chatting with my wife. In fact the other day we said, the day passes so fast we don’t even realize. So one of my friend was here and he said are you working on something? I said no, we are just sitting. We feel bad that we have not done anything much and its already sunset. So we carry on the evening until about eleven. Why wait? As I used to tell my friends who would ask me why I go to the mountains so much, I say, I practice the art of nothingness. I have no desire to do anything.

What is your message for the world?
(Laughs) Oh! I would say just follow your own inner self; don’t get trapped by anything. Just follow your dreams and be free. Do what you want to do; with sincerity of course.

~ Roshni M.
(July 2009)

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