Volume 61

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.”

Dr. Seuss

A Most Auspicious Confluence

In the fall of 2020 I wrote an article on Adhika Masam, the Pañcānga equivalent of leap year. This is the adjustment made approximately every three years to reconcile the cycles of the Sun and Moon by adding an extra month. It does not reoccur at exactly the same interval nor in the same month each time. It is considered to be a very sacred time.

A lovely story tells why this is such a special time. Each of the twelve months is assigned to a different deity. But this 13th month was not. The month felt very sad about this and took refuge in Lord Viṣṇu, asking for a solution. Lord Viṣṇu compassionately assigned Adhika Masam to Himself and it thereafter went by the name of Puruṣottama Masam. Accordingly, it is known to be one of the best times for spiritual practices, especially for chanting the Viṣṇu Sahasranāma (1000 names of Lord Viṣṇu) and for chanting and studying the Bhagavad Gītā. It is, however, not the right time for materializing activities such as marriages, launching businesses etc.

Other common practices are to keep a lamp lit in an auspicious place in the house to give light continuously throughout the whole month.

It is said that performing charitable acts during this month magnifies the grace as well as helping in removing obstructions from adverse karmas. It is also considered to be a good time for observing fasts.

This summer Adhika Masam will begin on July 18th, coinciding with the month of Ṡravaṇam and end on August 16th. What makes this uniquely auspicious is that the month of Ṡravaṇam is itself dedicated to Lord Viṣṇu. The month of Adhika Masam is named for the calendar month that gets lengthened, in this case Ṡravaṇam. So the Adhika Masam (or month of Puruṣottama) is called Adhika Ṡravaṇam. Results of practices, donations and other meaningful intentions are greatly amplified for those who structure their lives to dip into the grace of this very special season.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy: Servant of the People

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates life” Oscar Wilde quipped in 1889 describing in a nutshell the incredible journey of Volodymyr Zelenskyy that has played out for all the world to see.

Though graduating with a law degree, Zelensky found his calling in theater and comedy which he had pursued in his late teens culminating in the TV program that would underscore Wilde’s quote. The Russian-leaning President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych, was toppled amidst violent protests and the new president did not inspire confidence among the populace. In this environment, Zelenskyy launched a hugely popular TV show, Servant of the People.

Zelenskyy was cast as a history teacher named Vasily who, fed up with corruption, exploded in a verbal rant to a friend which was secretly filmed by a student and posted online. It went insanely viral, leading to successful fund-raising for a presidential campaign. He was elected by a landslide. With endearing naivete, heart and courage he attempted to govern with decency and values in the face of opposition and grifting including from within his own family.

In this series, hallmarks of what would be Zelenskyy’s future “for real” presidency were on full display. His character Vasily seemed to be his alter-ego who was in turn human, philosophical, funny, and passionate. Vasily revealed himself so beautifully in the first speech he gave after his election. Bypassing the speech written by his staff, he said: “This is some story - a history teacher makes it into history. I do know one thing: One should act in a way that doesn’t evoke shame when looking into children’s eyes. This is what I promise you, the people of Ukraine.”

The Cosmic Plan

Is there any explanation, any path, any indication of how this unimaginable alignment of art and life manifested? Let’s look to the stars and how they might reveal the play that Zelenskyy wrote for this lifetime.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy January 25 1976 14:00 Krivoj Rog Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Volodymyr Zelenskyy January 25 1976 14:00 Krivoj Rog Ukraine

Upon encountering Zelenskyy’s chart, I was stunned by the timing of the release of Servant of the People and his ensuing rise to the presidency.

One of the most consequential patterns for preeminence in his chart is the Parivartana Yoga between unafflicted Saturn, ruler of the 9th bhāva of good fortune, dharma and law, and Sun, ruler of the 4th bhāva of the homeland and the seat of government. Saturn is also the powerful retrograde ruler of the 10th bhāva of central authority and head of state and aspecting back into that bhāva. And can you guess? The launch of Servant of the People was in his Sun daśā., Saturn bhukti - a period lasting a mere 11 months out of an entire lifetime and a combination that did not occur earlier in his life and would only happen again if he lives to over 100.

Zelenskyy entered the Ukrainian presidential race on December 31st, 2018, the same year the show ended. His Sun daśā had just come to an end; he was starting his 10 yearlong Moon daśā.

Innovative Governing Through Social Media

Zelenskyy ascended through the combinations that made him a social media king. We can see that he is a gifted and inspiring speaker by another magnificent parivartana yoga, this time between a strong and completely unafflicted Jupiter and likewise unafflicted Mercury across the 2/8 axis. These two grahas are significators for voice, face, humor, and speech. A natural benefic in the second with complete absence of affliction gives Zelenskyy a Suśubha yoga, a combination for magical voice.

He used social media and his considerable acting skills and inspirational speeches throughout his professional life, but it reached a pinnacle when Moon daśā dawned. It is a radiantly full Moon in its own rashi of Cancer in the 3rd bhāva of communications, blogging, emails, skills, and courage. It is with a powerful Mars giving him passion and fire when needed but not straying far from nurture and hope.

When the war with Russia broke out in February 2022, Zelenskyy was in his Moon daśā Jupiter bhukti, a combination that unleashes his full arsenal of 2nd and 3rd bhāva communications capacity. He was the dominant face and voice on the planet during the war winning hearts and minds all over the world and giving his people the strength and belief that David can prevail over Goliath.

During this same time there was and still is a remarkable transit of Saturn recreating the huge parivartana yogas mentioned earlier. Saturn entered Capricorn, Zelenskyy’s 9th bhāva, in January 2020. It moves in and out of both Capricorn and Aquarius until end of March 2025. In either position, those big yogas are recreated and are especially emphasized beginning October 2022 when the Jupiter bhukti ends and Moon Saturn bhukti starts, lasting until May of 2024.

The Homeland

A discussion of Zelenskyy’s chart could not be complete without another look at his fourth bhava. Saturn in the fourth is considered an affliction and Ukraine has been a tumultuous Land for much of its history. It is therefore fascinating that Saturn is very close to the brilliant royal star Regulus, an indicator of power and kingship. In the Indian tradition it is known as the nakshatra of Magha. Aside from the connotations of nobility and royalty, it is notably the star of the ancestors, the forefathers. An afflicted Magha can represent a tortured past and we know that Zelenskyy’s paternal line died in the Holocaust. It unfortunately also shows a troubled present and the world has witnessed the devastation of so much of the cities and towns, the death and separation of the Ukrainian people, and the resultant outflow of refugees on an unimaginable scale. Yet it can often be the job of the Magha native to rekindle the sacred fire and bring peace to the land and rest to the ancestors. As Ukraine launches its offensive against the invaders, may it be so that peace and rest is finally restored.

Twilight: A Mercury Story

Bhavana Suresh Stephen

Graphic by Meetu Lal
Graphic by Meetu Lal

After the game Budha waved goodbye to his teammates and relaxed on the grass, head tilted, watching the sky, deep in thought. He relished the fragrance of the wildflowers, grass, and earth. Soon, it was twilight, that perfect time between day and night. He stood up, a young man with slender limbs, slim hips …Wait! Was he a young man or a young woman? His unisex green sports kit blended in with the grass, and it was hard to tell.

The game had been enjoyable even thought the teams had an argument. Budha played the diplomat, something he enjoyed just as much as the game. He wasn’t your average ‘dumb jock’. He enjoyed pitting his rational mind against another in a debate or a game of chess just as much as sports. Everyone wanted him on their team simply because he was so versatile. He was short but a good sportsman and a good speaker. Despite his sometimes volatile mood swings, his androgynous looks, sparkling wit, and ability to blend in made him very popular. He was truly the ‘Prince’ of his high school.

Budha crossed the busiest part of town walking past offices, bookstores, the library, the post office, a bus stop, and the local train station. He paused in front of his uncle’s accounting firm. The doors were shut. He realized that he was late. He crossed the triangular intersection and then walked briskly down the North Road.

Budha liked how the cool fall (Sharad) air felt against his skin. Leaves crunched under his feet as he made his way home. Budha stopped and picked up a beautiful green leaf that lay in a bed of red leaves. His ring caught his eye. Budha smiled at it. His girlfriend, also an artisan, had made it for him. It was a brass ring with a triangular emerald in the middle surrounded by peridots. It went well with the tourmaline bead mala that he wore.

Budha opened the gate, slipped in sideways, and shut it. The driveway was paved with triangular stones and lined with ornamental trees that did not bear any fruit. Budha liked the way his uncle kept the property, immaculate and clean.

The birds chirped loudly, settling into their nests as dusk fell. Birds! Budha loved flying. Maybe he would become a pilot. Despite his intrinsic Rajasic nature, he was drawn to studying sacred knowledge such as Mantras and Jyotisha. He also enjoyed learning how to dexterously use his hands to make jewelery, pottery, and other crafts. He could become a priest who made clay pots! Budha chuckled to himself.

Budha liked writing, crafting, and studying. He also had a knack for business. Most of his friends knew exactly what they wanted, but Budha was very indecisive. He was often accused of being a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none!’. He would have to make a choice soon and apply to the local university. The closest university was 8 yojanas away. But Budha liked to travel. He walked past two greenhouses and an orchard. His uncle loved to experiment with hybrid fruits and vegetables.

Budha rang the doorbell and waited. He admired the fragrant jasmine plant by the door. His maternal uncle opened the door and welcomed him in. Budha knew that he was late. He looked at his uncle coyly and said, “Hi! Sorry I’m late. What's for dinner?”. His uncle replied, “Moong dal curry, root vegetable stir fry, Aachari Okra, green peas Pulao, and root beer.” The pair made their way to the dining room. Budha complimented his uncle on the arrangement of small plants and wildflowers that decorated the table.

“Did the doctor call?” Budha asked. “Yes, he did! I think you confused the man. He says that you are Kapha, Vata, and Pitta”, said his uncle. Budha laughed, “Playing it very safe, isn’t he!”.

His uncle looked straight at him and said, “Look, kid! There is nothing wrong with your health. Your skin, nerves, and intellect are all in fine condition. You are overthinking university. You play it safe too! Pick any course. Go to university and then change your mind if you want to. Just be happy, ok! Life is like my horticulture experiments. I keep mixing and matching, and then sometimes I get it right!”. Budha stood up, walked over, and hugged his uncle.

Yes, he would try varied courses and then decide on the one that would lead to a successful career. He was a Vaishya at heart, and he wanted to study and make good money too. He would study as much as he could until he was 32 and then choose a career. Budha smiled. He wasn’t so stressed anymore. He finished his dinner and then relished the sliced nectarines and tangelos his uncle served for dessert.

Media Corner: Webb Telescope Photo Galleries

There are many collections of mind-boggling photos many of which would, among other uses, make incredible backgrounds for slides. Here is a good start for collecting beautiful images.