If you’ve missed my first and second posts in this series on astrology and enlightenment, which focused primarily on Krishnamurti and Osho, this is the third and final post in that series.
I wrote this series because I feel that sages – because of their unfiltered, genuine reactions – make for especially strong examples of different astrological influences. I also hoped to demonstrate that enlightenment occurs to all types of people with all types of personalities and that there is no litmus test – and if I could explore astrology in a meaningful way through the examples of Krishnamurti, Osho and Nisaragadatta Maharaj, all of whom I personally find fascinating – even better!
This post both wraps up the series and explores the life and astrological chart of Nisargadatta Maharaj, a householder who was moved at a young age to become an especially sincere follower of a local guru in the tradition of the Navnath Sampradaya, an ancient Tantric sect. Soon, the unreal dissolved for Nisargadatta and, expecting that multiple cigarette shops he owned would support his family in his absence, he left for the Himalayas and became a wandering sage.
Eventually, Nisargadatta returned home, but only one of his shops remained in business. He focused on stabilizing his family’s economic situation – (at least to the extent that getting by in a Bombay slum can be considered stable) – and as people noticed the remarkable change that had happened to him, he also began speaking to seekers after work in his flat. Over time, he drew the attention of skilled translators and, during the 1970s, he became known in the West.
Natal Chart for Nisargadatta Maharaj
At a glance, the most striking feature in Nisargadatta’s chart is an exactly full moon, a rare placement which commonly results in an exceptionally “bright” and larger-than-life persona, along with the potential to have an unusually strong impact on others. According to Vedic lore, many avatars were born during full moons, and some of the most iconic figures in modern times (such as Charlie Chaplin, to give one example) also have this placement in their natal charts.
Nisargadatta’s Mars is located in his Ascendant, representing his well-known temper and fiery nature. Like Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta has an exalted Sun; however, while Krishnamurti never cared much for speaking to people or for being seen as a guru, Nisargadatta found joy in communicating his message of universal love to earnest seekers, many of whom became regulars at his flat for years or even decades.
Notice that the Sun (representing inner consciousness when in its highest form), Mercury (representing communication) and Venus (representing universal love and devotion when in its highest form) are all in Nisargadatta’s 11th house of friends, networks and fulfillment of desires. Anecdotes from Nisargadatta’s regulars have demonstrated that, while he could be quick-tempered or harsh in his wording, at times he was quite protective of them, behaving like a stern but loving uncle or grandfather.
Between the late 1920s and the early 1950s (and lasting into the 1980s), Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta and Osho – three men who could hardly have been more different from one another in terms of personality – all became vessels for “enlightenment,” the ultimate impersonal experience.
Krishnamurti felt that any undue attention on himself as a guru would only be a crutch for others, so he spent his life imploring people – mostly without success – to forget about him and look inwards. Still, his philosophy continues to inspire more people everyday to focus on what truly matters and also to connect metaphysics with science, an idea he helped to pioneer.
Nisargadatta bonded with a group of earnest regulars, doing his best to help them without any pomp or show, and through this approach, created what is arguably the clearest and widest-reaching lineage of any enlightened teacher. Nisargadatta’s successors, including Sailor Bob Adamson and Ramesh Balsekar, have also helped guide seekers to enlightenment, as what Balsekar’s disciple, Wayne Liquorman refers to as “the living teaching” continues to spread throughout the world.
Osho spearheaded an entire movement that interested more westerners in metaphysics than at any other time in history, promoting not just spirituality or even enlightenment but, perhaps even more so, an entirely new lifestyle and culture based what he called “Zorba the Buddha,” a proposed mixture of the zest for life – including romance, wine, song and dance – demonstrated by fictional character Zorba the Greek and the complete spiritual commitment of Gautama Buddha. This idea that one could have all the sensual pleasures of life and all the depth of spirituality at its finest, without having to choose or sacrifice, was revolutionary when Osho pioneered it. This approach of combining spirituality with natural human desires, without judging, was so taboo in Osho’s time that he was often mocked as “the sex guru.”
Yet, concepts that mix spirituality and material comforts are virtually commonplace today! “Law of Attraction” teachings, the “200% life” philosophy promoted by Dr. Baskaran Pillai and many other modern metaphysical movements appear to be clear descendants of Zorba the Buddha. Osho himself, while almost universally reviled in 1990 obituaries, now fills shelves at major booksellers and receives effusive, even worshipful praise from the likes of the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, multiple former Indian Prime Ministers and even Hollywood celebs like Madonna and Will Smith.
A spiritual seeker in the year 2015 may start his or her search with Krishnamurti – likely the most initially accessible out of the three, especially to Westerners or anyone else at all uncomfortable with the idea of the guru-disciple relationship or with the more confrontational approach utilized by Osho and Nisargadatta. This is what I did. Then, as one’s interest expands, Osho’s and Nisargadatta’s propensities for intimate, challenging discourses that ask for increased commitments from readers will often beckon. This is what happened to me and continues to drive my personal search. As of this blog post, the book that has personally impacted me the most is “Consciousness Speaks” by Ramesh Balsekar, Nisargadatta’s successor.
And, to put a cherry on top of the sundae, if you happen to live in Los Angeles, you can go see Nisargadatta’s successor’s successor (that’s Wayne Liquorman, Balsekar’s successor) two or three times a week. As with Nisargadatta’s Bombay satsangs, you show up at Wayne’s house, it’s free – unless you feel like making a donation, but there’s no pressure – and a householder who had the incredible fortune that the most exceptional and beautiful impersonal happening possible occurred through his body/mind will answer questions and help point you to the truth that exists beyond words. In case you’re wondering, the schedule is at www.advaita.org and even if you’re not in or near Los Angeles, you can still watch or listen to a number of the satsangs online. Info is on the website.
On a final note, while neither Ramesh nor Wayne (nor Nisargadatta himself for that matter) seemed to ever care much, if at all, about the history of the Navnath Sampradaya, I must admit that I get a kick out of the thought that the current successor, by all rights, to this ninth-century Tantric sect is a recovering alcoholic and addict from Southern California. I also like what this miraculous happening says about chance and grace and the comical falsity of thinking we can control or predict life.