This Wednesday, Mumbai’s popular and most flamboyant astrologer- numerologist, the Ganesha-loving, Christ-believing, Allah-revereing Parsi Zoroastrian Bejan Daruwala relocates to Ahmedabad, his hometown. His family has said, “Enough is enough, come back and put your feet up”. In conversation with Carol Andrade
What are the prospects for the ADC?
“According to the New American Ephemeries for the 21st century, from June 11, 2012, when Jupiter comes into Gemini, it will be high tide for the newspaper. By the Western system of astrology, of course. There, I cannot be clearer than that ‘This is the right time’”.
He sits in his bedroom at Mohini Mansion in Colaba, at a corner to the old Strand Cinema now undergoing radical change, looking, for all the world like a slightly morose Buddha.
It is a very crowded bedroom, every table laden with books, papers, the artefacts of his trade (if one may call it that), and everywhere there is evidence of his great love for Ganesha, in pictures, in little statues, in altars filled with more replicas, and in photographs. “Must be a nightmare to dust”, I say chattily, and Bejan, sitting on a wide chair resplendent in a blue bush shirt, says a little sadly, “Tehmi (his partner of 13 years) is busy with her new grandchild and the amount I have learned about the problems of breastfeeding in the last few days is amazing”.
Are you really leaving, I ask, and he perks up. “You may or may not mention this, that my book, the one I have been coming out with for the past 35 years, (each year in more detailed and elaborate form so that it now resembles a small tome) has just been translated into Russian and is doing very well”. He preceded this pronouncement with the sound he makes when he goes off on a tangent as ideas strike him. Ah ah ah, he says, or oh oh oh. So we brought him back by asking what he thought was in store for the world.
“Oh yes, on June 3, 2009 I wrote that Saturn will be in Libra, Western Astrology, from October 13 2009 to October 5, 2012. And that we may expect some happy results for the world.
“Most important of these is that the poor and downtrodden, the weak will find prosperity and peace. Justice will be done to them and that to me is of vital importance, much more than my book of which you may or may not make mention.”
What justice, we asked. In India? But he says he meant the Middle East and there admittedly things seem to be happening.
He is Ganesha’s instrument, says Bejan, tearing up at the thought. He is emotional these days, eyes brimming at the drop of a hat. “I’m 80 my darling, an old, fat, shorty. Let’s face it, I have enjoyed life, made tons of friends, money, have enjoyed the company of women. Big women, I must point out, the bigger the better, none of these small, petite women for me. Ah ah ah. Ganesha claims there will be a new and certainly more just and fair and equitable world order replacing our present state of affairs. Why? Saturn in Libra will be in square or bad and ugly formation with Pluto in Capricorn and the main result will be the end of tyranny and brute force all over the world.” It is such a tempting prediction, who would not want to believe it!
Liberalism, public opinion, change, Bejan is a firm believer in the democratic process and he says the stars now favour the development of great movements towards the achievement of all three. And science and technology, in which he is also a firm believer and a great admirer.
“Everything, arts, painting, music, dance, fashion, sculpture, beauty and harmony, will be fused spectacularly with modern trends of reality, like electronics, science, robots, genes, biology, medicine. Art will be born again through varied media and inspirational insights. And as Libra is the king of air signs and as Saturn is at full throttle and power in Libra, air travel will boggle the mind in terms of speed, comfort, time warp, designing and aero-dynamics of planes, rockets, missiles, bombs, weapons of destruction and so on”. How to tell him that when it comes to air travel, for most of us that time for comfort, speed etc is still to come. Bejan, himself always travels first class.
He has loved the world, he says. “Everybody commits sins, everybody does good, everybody looks after his or her family. But to go beyond this and say ‘World, I love you’, I live for this”, he says, again getting emotional.
Healthwise, he has seen better days. He has just had his old pacemaker replaced by a more powerful one ‘by surgeon Lokhandwala, give his name, from Lokhandwala to Daruwala’, and when he goes home to Ahmedabad, he will undergo an angioplasty as well. “My children, I have three, now want me back.
One is married to a Gujarati girl, two are not married. At this point, I would like to say to my Parsi brothers, wonderful, decent, honest, generous people, very politely and humbly, that they should throw open the gates of the community to others so the numbers might go up. Only for two years. Otherwise we will become museum pieces. I am happy to go back, though I have been happy in this city as well, for the past 20 years. And before that I spent 10 years in America with an earlier partner, a black lady with one of the finest minds I have ever come across.”
Is he happy with what he has achieved, I ask. He ruminates a bit. “Listen, I have tried to give honest advice without cheating. My accuracy is only 80 per cent. I am not a god. I may go wrong. Therefore, I do not use astrology as a crutch but as a guideline. In June 2002, I inaugurated a temple in Shirdi with a 7.5 foot statue of Vishnu Ganesh. Oh oh. That has given me sweet satisfaction. Why me? I am a Parsi, yet Hindus came to me and asked me to inaugurate. Ganesha says it is because I am reasonably honest and hopelessly transparent.”
Expect terrorists to be defeated, he says, this time without his trademark, going-off-at-a-tangent sounds. “We are in the age of Aquarius, the age of technology. You don’t need Daruwala to tell you that. Terrorists have closed minds and in the age of the open mind, they will be swept away.”
And then he throws me a nice, juicy bone. “World peace. It will come about by 2040 – 2050. One religion. Let my ghost know, okay?”
He came to this city when it was still Bombay and he leaves it as Mumbai. So, does he think the name change is good, astrologically speaking? He is categorically sure that the change has harmed this city, using numerology linked to tarot by the kabala. “Mumbai’s number is 18, the stricken tower in tarot, meaning good beginnings and bad endings. Bombay’s number is 17, the star, depicted as a human figure pouring water on the earth and nourishing it.
Then there is the phonetic ‘b’ in Indian astrology, which is a Taurean sign meaning films, song, industry and god’s possessions. ‘m’, in contrast, is not so strong.
Of the thousands of clients who have come to him for guidance, who are his most memorable? “Dhirubhai Ambani, Ratan Tata. Both share a common birthday, December 28. This is a Capricorn country and all these people are Capricorns. Baba Kalyani of Bharat Forge, Vikram Pandit of Citibank, former prime minister A B Vajpayee.”
I wondered aloud whether he would be sorry to leave Mumbai and he replied, “It has given me name, fame and fortune, of course I am sorry to leave it. It is the greatest city in the world, with huge zest for life, wonderful food, wonderful people. I have enjoyed every minute of the decades I have spent here.”
And does he think Mumbai has a bright future? ”Slight danger of earthquakes and terrorist attacks over the next three years. Mumbai’s signs are banking, money, it is ruled by water, so it is Scorpio. According to western astrology, Saturn will be passing over Scorpio in the next five years, this means delays, difficulties – death.” And then, when I look sceptical, he says again very firmly, “Slight danger. Remote possibility. About 11 per cent”.
What will he do to keep himself occupied in Ahmedabad? “Plenty. Writing books, doing research, meeting with poets and friends, travelling. And I will keep coming back to Mumbai as well. I cannot stay away forever.”