This book is an autobiographical sketch of Prof B Suryanarain Rao, who could easily be rated as one of the greatest astrologers ever to have lived in India. To write a review on this book is like showing a candle to the sun. Nevertheless I have chosen to write this review as we are living in an age where everyone needs to know the life story of Professor B.S.Rao, who is not only an inspiration but also a role model for generations to come and this book is precisely intended to serve that purpose.
It was Charles Dickens who summed up the mood of his times in the following words: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only (A Tale of Two Cities – Chapter 1).Prof B.S.Rao was a contemporary of Charles Dickens and the darkness of the age in Astrology saw light mainnly through his pioneering efforts.
The book begins with a brief look at his ancestry where he takes justifiable pride in his birth in the lineage of the venerable Sage Vasishta. Prof.B.S.Rao’s time of birth is significant in the sense that he was born in Abhijit Lagna on Rathasaptami day with Sun, Jupiter and Mercury in the 10th. As he was born in Taurus Lagna with Saturn in Gemini, there is an auspicious parivartana between Mercury and Saturn, the trinal lords , leading to a Raja yoga, par excellence. B.S.Rao’s father, Shri Gopala Rao was an adept in Mantra sastra and had certain super natural powers and he passed away on the sacred Janmashtami day. Even in Shri Gopal Rao’s chart the trinal lords Saturn and Mercury occupy their own houses and the chart is studded with the Chatussagara yoga, which is a yoga in which all the houses have one planet each. On the day of his Aksharabhyasa, in his 6th year, Dr.B.S.Rao had an unusual dream which was in the nature of a premonition in which he travelled to Suryaloka ,was made to sit on Suryadeva’s lap by his consort Chayadevi and given some sweet preparation to eat, following which the Sun god pronounced a benediction that he would become a great and learned men and be blessed with happiness, prosperity and a large and noble family.
B.S.Rao’s first book “ A Short compendium of Astrology” a bilingual one in Kannada and English was published in 1883. The Astrological Self – instructor was published in 1892. Through a decade of effort, Prof B.S.Rao brought out an authentic commentary on Brihat Jataka, while a massive effort over a 24 year period (1896-1920) enabled Prof.B.S.Rao to bring out an English rendering of Sarwartha Chintamani to cater to the needs of a wider audience.
Karl Marx wrote “The Poverty of Philosophy” (1847) in order to rebut the principles explained by Proudhon in the respected work “The Philosophy of Poverty” published the same year. A parallel could be drawn in the case of Prof. B.S.Rao for his deeply researched historical work “The–Never–to–be – forgotten empire” which was written as a rebuttal to Lewis Rice’s “Vijayanagar – The Forgotten Empire”. The Vijayanagar Empire ruled over South India for about 310 years from 1336 to 1646 A.D., reaching its moment of glory during the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509 – 1529). It was Prof. B.S.Rao’s firm belief that Indian culture owes much to the efforts of the Vijayanagar Kings for preserving it for posterity.
The Astrological magazine was stated by B.S.Rao in 1895 but it got wound up in 1906 due to financial difficulties. Revived by Dr.B.V.Raman in 1936, it had a glorious run for 62 years under the leadership of Dr. B.V.Raman. Surviving a brief crisis, the Astrological magazine was revived in its new avatar “Modern Astrology” in 2009, by Mrs.Gayathri Devi Vasudev, our beloved editor.
One has to appreciate the fact that Prof B S Rao brought respect and anctity to Vedic Astrology at a time when India reeling under the onslaught of foreign invasions attached more importance to Western education and alien teachings ignoring the teachings of Rishis.Needless to say that but for the efforts Prof B S Rao and Dr B V Raman,Astrology would have gone into the hands of charlatans.
BS Rao rose to fame by predicting the Anglo – German war six months in advance in the Astrological magazine. Mundane predictions in Astrological magazine given by Dr.Raman about the Second world war and by Mrs.Gayathri Devi Vasudev in the past have come remarkably true,thereby proving themselves as worthy scions of Prof B S Rao’s family.
BS Rao used to tour extensively and on one such tour to Quetta in British Baluchistan, he was invited to stay in his house by veteran freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Pune during a brief stop over. This book also deals with his travels to other parts of India and his trip to Triveni Sangamam ( confluence of Ganga,Yamuna and Saraswathi,the three sacred rivers) for a holy dip.
This book deals with the trials and tribulations of a noble soul, who had to overcome great hardships to protect and preserve the antiquity of Hindu Astrology. But for his efforts, both students and scholars in Astrology would have been left intellectually poorer. Prof.B.S.Rao could rightly be regarded as the father of the revival of Astrology, without any fear of contradiction.
This sums up the book, “The Story of Suryanarain Rao” a book to be read and re – read especially by the younger generation. This book could be considered as a gospel by those who wish to lead their lives according to their innermost convictions and by those who wish to lead their lives in accordance with the tenets of Hindu Dharma.