Pictures Over the Years
This self portrait was taken in the summer of 1977 in Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh, India, about the time I began to study Jyotish, and before I had my upanayanam (sacred thread ceremony).
1982 as a Jyotish student in Thiruvananthampuram (Trivandram), Kerala, India.
On the roof of Sriman B.G. Sasi Kant Jain's home, in Bangalore, India, 1982. The young child is his grand-daughter "Chiku." In her hands she holds my "japa beads" that I use for mantra meditation and "bead bag" which protects them from contamination. Note the shoes in front of me, called paddukas. They are often worn by sadhus. They are supposed to help maintain brahmacarya (celibacy) but their greatest attribute is that no one will steal them. Theft of shoes is rampant in India because people take off their shoes before entering homes and especially temples the main place shoe thieves target. Photo by the 4th son of Sriman B.G. Sasi Kant Jain, the now famous astrologer Dr. S.K Jain aka Sriman Subanjaya Dasa.
In Cochin-Ernakulam, central Kerala, summer of 1982. We were invited to attend the installation of Deities of Sita-Rama Laksmana and Hanuman by the Gujarati community. Photo by Gauranga Dasa.
Pictured here in 1982 with my teacher of "Prasna Marga" style Prasna, indiginous to Kerela, Sriman Krishnan Potti. I was his first (and only) Western student so he hired a photographer to take the picture. Those shoes again.
September 1986 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA during the installtion of the Deities Sri-Sri Radha-Madana Mohana (Krsna). I am holding Lord Krsna. As you can see I sprouted a little hair (-:
James Braha intently listening to Shyamasundara Dasa.
August, 1986 in Big Rapids, Michigan. I was attending Matrix Software's second conference on Vedic astrology. As a consequence Micheal Erlewine, the owner of Matrix, requested me to work with them to develop a professional astrological package for Vedic astrology. I agreed, it was published in 1988. The other person on the left in the photo is Mr. James Braha, who had just published his book Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer.
An interesting historical anecdote
Up till this time Vedic Astrology was called "Hindu Astrology," and Matrix, under pressure from others, also wanted to call the program I was working on Hindu Astrology. But I insisted it be called Vedic Astrology because it was in line with the Vedic world view and by the fact that the word "Hindu" is a neologism not found in any sastras. You can read the essay by Dr. Resnick - Hrdayananda Dasa Gosvami For Whom Does Hinduism Speak that goes into details about the genesis of the neologism "Hindu." I had first heard of the terms Vedic astrology and Jyotir Veda in the translations and commentary of the Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta by my spritual master A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. They were published in early and mid 1970s before his passing in 1977. At these links here, and here, you can see for yourself.
In 1987 during the 3rd Vedic Astrology conference the topic again came up. Narendra Desai who was in attendence pointed out that Jyotish was an appendix of the Vedas called the Jyotish Vedanga -- Matrix relented, I got my way. They called the program Jyotish Vedic Astrology and the rest is history. Now you know the other side of the story. Here is what the promotional brochure for the program looked like: front and back. Photo by Tom Erlewine.
In August 1987 I organized MATRIX software's third annual conference on Vedic Astrology. Here I am giving a lecture on Prasna (Horary astrology), in attendence were such persons as the late Narendra Desai who made his debut on the American astrological circiut at this conference and the late Ramakrishna Sastri (Suka Nadi reader), both seated to my left, as well as Hart de Fouw (not pictured). Photo by Tom Erlewine.
At the same conference I am introducing Narendra Desai before he begins his lecture. This was the first of many talks he gave in USA and Canada. Photo by Tom Erlewine.
May 1990 in Houston, Texas I chant auspicious mantras during dedication of Sri Giriraja, a large Govardhana Sila brought from India for the occasion by Ayodhyapati Dasa (now His Holiness B.B. Govinda Maharaja) who has his back to the camera.
February, 2003 in Malleshwaram, a traditional section of Bangalore, India. I am with Dr. S.K. Jain (in vest) and his wife Viravati Devi Dasi. Here we attend the rededication of an ancient Siva temple and are greeted by the priests of the temple.
Prabhupadadesha, Italy, August 2003. Still wearing those shoes.