What is Vedic Astrology?
Aside from the above questions, here are a few guidelines to help you find a good astrologer: A good Vedic astrologer is characterized by a strong spiritual side, possessing: integrity, good character, honesty, and Brahminical initiation into a bona fide sampradaya (Vedic apostolic succession there are four such Sampradayas: Brahma, Sri, Rudra and Kumar); he maintains good sadhana (spiritual regimen) and follows the regulated principles of freedom (pure vegetarianism--no meat, fish, eggs, onion or garlic; abstention from intoxicants, gambling and illicit sex); he is a scholar in philosophy and yoga, and practices them; he is devoted to God and lives a godly life, etc. The following link will take you to a page giving links to websites of authentic Vedic Sampradayas See also The Philosophy of Jyotish for more details.
On the astrological side: he is a savant who has studied long and diligently with accomplished astrology masters (preferably in India), is versatile and shows dexterity with the many branches of astrology, has been in practice for some time, has several good references, does not sell jewels or recommend you to purchase them, etc. The readings he gives are truthful, balanced, and without self- motivation. His mood is to sincerely help you. These are some of the prominent characteristics of a qualified astrologer. The following are some questionable types.
Dr. Doom and Gloom
Some friends of mine told me of a man who moonlights as an astrologer. They call him "Dr. Doom and Gloom," because he has the habit of homing in, like radar, on any negativity that might exist in a chart, no matter how slight. Once discovering something even remotely adverse, he would distort it and magnify it to awesome proportions, and then take Mephistophelean delight in mellow-dramatically describing all the odious implications this had for the seeker. His readings were reminiscent of "hell-fire and brimstone" and could be recommended only to those of a masochistic nature or seeking reasons to commit suicide.
Another dangerous type is the flatterer. He tells everyone: "I've never seen such a good chart as yours." He tells you only good things (that sound too good to be true!) He continually praises you and tells what a great person you are. He may say you were some great or famous person in your previous life. He always paints a rosy picture of your future, although it never manifests. People are only too happy to give this person money, because he always gives them what they want. (For people who want to be cheated, there are those ready to cheat.)
This person uses his knowledge of your chart to get you to do things that you would not ordinarily do. This exploitation of your trust may be in the form of borrowing money from you, or getting you to invest in a business venture with him after building up your self-confidence for success in such enterprises. I know of one astrologer who tried to convince a person to give up his present occupation and instead dedicate himself to managing the astrologer's rock 'n' roll band. The client was keen enough to see through this abject attempt at manipulation. (Any astrologer attached to becoming a rock 'n' roll star is likely full of internal conflict and not sure about his own path in life, no less others'.) And some exploiters specialize in seducing their clients; indeed I know one so-called astrologer who simply uses astrology as a ploy to meet a woman, seduce her, and then proceed on to the next one. The following link takes you to a page maintained by former students of a well known and famous astrologer who cheated his own students, he is still active.
This person can't keep a secret. No matter how delicate the subject discussed, this person seems unable to keep his lips buttoned up. He always talks about So-and-so's chart, how it is like this or that, and how he was told such 'n' such. An astrologer who readily discusses other people's charts with you, will no doubt discuss yours when you are absent. So unless you want everyone to know your business, avoid this person like the plague.
One exception to the above is discussion of public figures who are not an astrologer's clients; another is to give anonymous examples from other clients' charts, either for astrological instruction or for the edification of a particular seeker. In both cases, the subject of the example chart must be kept anonymous. Strict confidentiality is the sine qua non of a good astrologer.
Abuse and Misuse of Astrology by the Client
We have described how some unethical astrologers misuse this celestial science, but can a seeker misuse astrology? The answer is yes. People can be strange; some can find a way to misuse and abuse just about anything, no matter how good it is. They figure that if it's worth doing, it's worth over-doing.
God has given us intelligence and discrimination, which we can and should use as much as possible. But there will come times when we are puzzled, dazed, or confused--not knowing what we should do, even after fully applying our reasoning capabilities. And some situations intrinsically are not amenable to our perception. In these situations, a person with good sense consults an astrologer.
A seeker's misuse of astrology is when he gives up using his God-given abilities of logic, reason, and discrimination, and simply consults astrologers in the hope that one will tell him what he wants to hear. It is inappropriate to expect astrology to do our thinking for us. Astrology is a wonderful tool for forming policy, but it is not a substitute for responsible thinking. Astrology is an adjunct to life, not a substitute for living.
How does one know if he has digressed from the judicious use of astrology into the realm of abuse?
If you find yourself consulting an astrologer for insignificant matters that previously you were able to cope with yourself, you are in trouble. If you avoid today's grocery shopping because you've read in the newspaper that it's a bad day for you, you are in trouble. If you wear a different astrological gem on each finger, you are an astro-junkie. (Some people who know little about astrology think that I calculate my own future down to the most auspicious time to go to the rest room. This is ridiculous.) Unfortunately, there are people who live in such an astrologically calculated world; practically speaking they have developed a mania for astrology. No responsible astrologer will let a client go to such extremes as these; but persons who abuse astrology generally go to many different astrologers, thus making it difficult for the individual astrologers to control. And as was discussed earlier, unethical astrologers take advantage of such persons, at the very least, getting as much money from the client as possible.
I would also suggest that you find one or two astrologers who you trust as being, competent in their science as well as ethical, and stick with them. A typical sign of someone who misuses astrology is that they may go to a very good astrologer, but then if they don't like what he says they keep going to other astrologers until they find someone who will tell them what they want to hear. This is the last word in foolishness. They are either paying a person to lie to them or shelling out money to successively more incompetent astrologers who cannot read properly. This is guaranteed to wind the self-deluded person into a world of trouble. (See also being open to answers from God through Divination.)
We have given a brief survey of what Vedic astrology is, in contradistinction to its Western cousin; the Vedic view of fate and free will; the components of the language of astrology; the various branches of astrology and how they are used; how one can optimize his reading; hints for choosing an astrologer; what kinds of questions to ask; what types of astrologers to avoid; and the potential for abuse and misuse of astrology.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.
Your humble servant