The following rules, to be strictly adhered to by a Vedic Astrologer, are taken from Daivajñadharmopakāram (दैवज्ञधर्मोपकारम्) from Upakārasāhasri (उपकारसाहस्रि).
My beloved father and guru, Brahmasree N. Kameswaran, was an exceptional practitioner of Skandahora. Skandahora is considered the first and most voluminous scripture on Vedic Astrology. He reproduced Upakārasāhasri from palm leaves written in ancient Malayalam script to the present day script. This scripture is not published yet.
Skanda: Agastya! There are 24 rules that a daivajña needs to adhere to. I will explain them to you.
- Monks and Sages should necessarily do prāṇāyāma daily. That too, 24 times a day in the morning. Since a celibate is equivalent to a monk, he should also do it. One who has lost his celibacy should not do it.
- A daivajña who is married and exercising his household responsibilities should be initiated with his favorite Deity’s mantra. Brahmins, in addition, must chant at least 336 counts of Gayatri mantra every day.
- On each śuklapakṣa ekādaśi tithi, eat very sātvik food (low in sugar, salt, spices and fat) in nature. Avoid urad dal, onion, black pepper and yogurt.
- Give up all kinds of animal fat (non-vegetarian food) from the age of five. If one consumes these due to circumstances beyond control, chant ādityahṛdaya mantra from the viṣṇupurāṇa – the very mantra that you initiated to Rāma – seven times and get the ill-effects remedied.
- If the daivajña is a smārtta brahmin, he should place the first cowrie shell on the right, praying to his Guru. If he is a vaiṣṇava brahmin, he should pray to both his Guru and Viṣṇu while placing the first cowrie shell. The second cowrie shell is for Gaṇeśa, the third for Sarasvati, the fourth for Sage Vyāsa, the fifth for me and the sixth for Sūrya with eight grahās. The cowrie shells are placed one by one from right to left, representing clockwise motion.
- If the daivajña is a non-brahmin, the first cowrie shell is placed for Gaṇeśa, the second for Guru, the third for Sarasvati and so on.
- Do not roll the cowrie shells in a circular motion. They should only be gently caressed during the praśna process.
- On New Moon day as well as other days meant for performing rites for the Pitrus, do not take devapraśna.
- Make it a habit to pray to Sūrya and prostrate to the wooden plank (on which the cowrie shells will be used) before beginning to draw the rāśicakra.
- Never touch the cowrie shells with hands after they come in direct contact with mouth through sipping a beverage or chewing food, etc. If this happens, wash the hands and perform an ācamanam before continuing with the praśna.
- After using the restroom, wash hands & feet and sprinkle water on head with āpohiṣṭādi mantra before continuing with the praśna.
- If cowrie shells happen to fall on ground, get them purified using milk or water from the Ganges. Do not use boiled milk for the cleansing process. While beginning as well as ending the praśna, pray to Viṣṇu with the shells using the gīrnaśreyaḥ mantra.
- During the praśna, do not caress the cowrie shells without a śiva dhyāna sloka.
- There must be exactly 108 cowrie shells. Neither less nor more.
- Do not offer praśna consultations to evil-minded people.
- Send away those who have limited knowledge on Vedic Astrology but begin arguing with the praśna’s findings.
- Whether the client is rich or poor, collecting a dakṣiṇa (fee) is mandatory. However, do not demand a specific sum.
- The daivajña should set aside a portion of the fee collected for his upāsanā deity or for feeding the poor.
- During a praśna, never give out information about a thief’s whereabouts nor a woman’s chastity or morality.
- If the praśna’s ārūḍha gets blocked, do not take another praśna within eight days. However, another praśna could be taken immediately if saṅkalpa (decision to perform) for a remedial ritual is made. Alternatively, a tāṁbūla praśna can be taken.
- Marathis, Marwaris, Konkans living in Kerala and Desikas in Tamil Nadu mostly will neither have faith in Vedic Astrology nor show a positive attitude towards astrologers. Offer praśna consultations only to those who have absolute faith in this science with respect for astrologers.
- Do not proceed with praśna if you see bad omens or receive news about the death of someone. It is an indication that the client is merely there to test you.
- Never offer praśna consultation to anyone who has contempt towards me.
- Do not offer praśna consultation in a dark room. It should be well lit with natural day light. If this is not possible, at least have a picture of Gaṇeśa. A daivajña should remain calm and composed during the praśna. Even if he sees imminent danger, it should be conveyed softly and with empathy. While prescribing rituals, always consider a priest who is known to the client. Those who are living overseas should be offered the praśna consultation based on where they are seated in front of the daivajña. Praśna is mainly for solving problems; it’s not for analyzing one’s past alone. Never deny praśna to a widow nor to a childless woman.
Agastya! A daivajña’s words will always become true, if these rules are strictly followed. He will be able to see the past, the present and the future like a movie in the Kaliyuga. His tongue will do the talking fueled by intuition. This is very true. Although there might be several scriptures in Kaliyuga on the science of praśna, scriptures like mādhavīyam and kṛṣṇīyam will prove to be more accurate. Whatever be the case, with a little insight from his own expertise and much greater insight with the help of his upāsanā deity, the daivajña will be able to prove this science to its fullest.