Scripted over 5000 yrs ago, the Naadi documents the lives of the whole human race on planet earth. A feat accomplished by sages who gained clairvoyance through ‘Siddhi’. The sheer enormity of this effort was mind boggling when I first heard about it — palm leaves for every human being on this planet, past present and future !
I originally thought Naadi Shastra was relevant only for people of indian origin. Palm leaves only for people born in the land of sages and seers. Soon I had to reverse my thinking, when I heard from my Naadi astrologer that they had retrieved leaves for people from, what we today call, Japan, Germany, USA and more. How equitable to include the entire human race as beneficiaries of our ancestors’ siddhi, I thought.
Naadi means to go in search of, to seek. It is said that you will go seeking your naadi if/when you are destined to go seeking it. Whenever it is the ‘right’ time. If you do go prematurely, the naadi astrologers will likely be unsuccessful in retrieving your Naadi. Not as easy as a google search, for sure! No glitzy advertising. No propagandas encouraging folks to seek their Naadi. But, as the Naadi astrologer said, if your time has come you WILL come to know about it, and you will come looking for it on your own accord.
The two places I know of as being authentic store-houses of Naadis are in Tambaram (a suburb of Chennai) and Vaitheeswaran Kovil (close to the Chidambaram Temple) in Tamilnadu. There’s history about how and why only members of a certain lineage are custodians of these aged/fragile manuscripts. Also, there are many astrologers/middlemen claiming to provide Naadi reading services, many of whose authenticity may be questionable. They typically ask for the thumb impression to be mailed in, so they may retrieve your Naadi and mail back your details as documented in the Naadi. I chose to take the up-close-and-personal approach and go to the source. I had mine retrieved in Tambaram. The chance of one’s Naadi not being retrievable is a real possibility – either because it is not the ordained moment, or the leaves are physically stored in another location etc etc. Roadblocks manifest themselves in mysterious ways!
As I drove to the Tambaram house, I could not help wonder, among other questions that raced through my mind, how the Naadi readers for generations sustained themselves from a seemingly erratic profession, and that too sans proactive marketing. So, while waiting for mine to be retrieved, I chatted with some of the assistants hanging around. They seemed far from concerned about sustenance — with undeterred faith in the grace of their family deity thus far, they seem to have unquestioningly surrendered to the service of divine calling.
Just the preservation, archival and storage of the zillion palm leaves should be a mind-boggling challenge in itself. Not any less challenging is retrieving the one that’s written for you! Being able to find my particular Naadi buried among a stash, of heaven knows how many, sounded like mission impossible. But they have their methodology. They take your thumb impression — apparently your past, present, future is recorded somewhere in those patterns. Based on that, they go looking for the palm leaves that fall into the defined category of patterns. The basis of this categorization is still a mystery to me. The reader came out with a stash of palm leaves — presumably, of all those people in that category, but with differing time/date of birth. Isn’t a thumb impression supposed to be unique? – it seemed not; and that would defy the legality of thumb imprinting that’s still practiced today. The details in each of the Naadis would be different based on the symbiosis of the thumb impression AND the date/time of birth. So what was the probability of somebody having a similar thumb impression AND same date/time of birth as mine, I wondered. But I didn’t dare to interrupt. Thereafter, it was a process of elimination of the palm leaves that were not relevant to me. They did this by isolating one Naadi at a time from the stash at hand, and asking a series of questions. Questions are triggered from, what I rationalized as, a preface in the Naadi at hand. e.g. Does your mother’s name start with a P. Do you have xxx siblings. Were you born in the month of xxx.? And many more. Responses to the questions are typically expected to be a “yes” or a ‘no”. Confirmation of a set of data points through your responses, enable them to zoom into the Naadi that is relevant to you and you alone. A “no” to any of the questions, disqualifies the particular palm-leaf at hand and is put away to be rearchived.
The process continued until they declared Eureka ! Once the Naadi was identified they started the reading process. The introductory lines basically spelt out descriptors – so details such as your name, date of birth, place of birth, parents’ name, grandparents name and so on – sure to leave anybody dumbstruck in the moment. Subsequent stanzas/lines/paragraphs (or however the formatting of the bygone era is described) described details about my current life and brief references to my past life. I felt a surge of very mixed emotions as he rattled off brief aspects of my past life as a princess, and the grief I had caused to people of my land. Therefore I was born again. I was thankful that I was a human being in my past life as well, vs. another species further down in the pyramid of intellectual and spiritual evolution.
I saw this process as an exercise in pattern recognition/pattern matching in its primitive form, with no technological influences whatsoever to facilitate the process. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a day to just get to the right one, assuming your Naadi is indeed at the location you are visiting. Once it is found, the reading can take another 2-3 hours — or longer, if you decide to go beyond the general reading and delve into all 13 chapters. Details about you are recorded across 13 chapters, each chapter dedicated to a particular aspect — family life, business, health, past life etc. The last chapter is dedicated to describing specific ‘pariharams’ or a ‘prescription’ to correct the imbalances in your current life engendered by karma from past life. The assumption is that every single human being is born only because she/he has sinned in his/her past life/lives and has to endure life again as retribution. Good and bad occurrences in your current life are a direct result of karmic influences. The ‘pariharams” may be seen as a short cut to eliminate/mitigate debit balances of sorts J. And the prescribed pariharams vary in their shapes and sizes. It’s like personalized medicine J. It could be anything from, say, lighting a lamp for one of the Navagrahas on a specified day of every week, for 6 months……to visiting XYZ temple and making the specified donations to the presiding deity…..to serving food for a specified number of poor people….and the list can go on.
In my case, there were 2 temples that were spelt out very descriptively. And one of them was somewhere out there in the boonies that I hadn’t even remotely heard of, or would ever have, but for the Naadi experience. Traveling through rugged terrain to get there was quite an experience. Another temple I visited as part of the pariharam was in the early hours of the morning of Dec. 26, 2004. The temple was a mile or so away from the shores. For no logical reasons, I along with other family members, was led to the sanctum sanctorums within the huge temple premises/courtyard, not once or twice but thrice. By different temple staff and for varying reasons. In hind sight, I saw this as an invisible and divine restraint from venturing beyond, what I rationalized as, protected range. A divine calling to remain within the temple premise and not commence our drive back through the coastal regions that were experiencing the fury of the water Goddess – exactly at the time that we were in the temple premises.
Besides, I had made elaborate plans to explore nearby Poompuhar on the way out, the historic town on the estuary of Kaveri. As we broke our fast that morning at a local haunt, the friendly waiters got chatting and said there was nothing much to see in Poompuhar and I was a little agitated with what I thought was their illiteracy. (I read later that this once important trading port was destroyed by what might have been a Tsunami about 1500 years ago. (An article of interest — http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/fr/2005/07/08/stories/2005070800680300.htm ). Other family members who were keeping tabs on the already delayed departure (as a result of the prolonged darshan) saw this as an opportunity to skip this leg of the trip and head back, which we eventually did after much debate. I was not a happy camper then. As we walked back to the hotel, our driver said we need to head out soon as the village was getting flooded. We dismissed it as unwarranted panic as the sun was up and there was no sign of rain. So we took our time to check out and finally hit the road. It was weird to see a never ending line of village men, women and children walking with suitcases, some with television sets on their head along the road – almost looked like mass migration! We were still quite not sure what was happening until we turned on the radio to learn of a massive flooding situation at the Marina Beach in Chennai and other coastal regions of Tamilnadu. It was not until we arrived in Chennai and saw visual images of the destruction that we realized the magnitude of the incident and our miraculous journey into and through the ravaged regions. As for Poompuhar, never mind that I was unable to see the ruins of the Dutch fort and other historical footprints there. It was not spared from the tsunami that morning. I owe much for the seeming illiteracy of the waiters at the village restaurant that triggered the deviation from plan. Every once in a while angels come by our paths, unrecognizable in the moment most of the time — to guide, to lead, to sometimes define what we only later realize as life-altering moments. Some experiences, in hind sight, leave you wondering about a sequence of events/activities that led up to it….why and how something (good or bad) happened….why we chose path A vs. path B…..was it a coincidence or was it pre-ordained? After the Naadi experience you start questioning if anything is really in your control. I certainly did.
The Naadi astrologer read the script (an incomprehensible dialect of Tamil) from the palm leaf and then translated it in vernacular Tamil. I presume they have translation services in English. As part of the service, after the reading was completed, they transcribed the Naadi details on to a book, recorded the details on to a tape and handed them to me before drawing the curtains on this episode of my life. If I were to get a tape today, I’d probably want to get it digitized to mp3, rather than have to buy a tape player!
The chapter on “Pariharam” most often describes a “guru dakshina” for the Naadi reader, spelling out the compensation — and most often this is asked to be done after the pariharams have been fulfilled. Now I saw how our forefathers had secured the livelihood of generations of Naadi astrologers! My concerns about their sustenance were superfluous after all.
Whether fulfilling the prescribed pariharams mitigated anything untoward that might have happened/could happen had I NOT done it, I will never know. What mattered was the fact that I embarked on the Naadi mentally resolved to fulfill the prescription — and my rationalization was very simple. EVEN if executing the pariharams fail to correct whatever imbalances I am supposedly born to endure, even if it fails to manifest obviously apparent ROI, visiting a temple surely cannot do any harm. So why not?
I’ve heard that some folks accept good news wholeheartedly, but challenge bad news and the authenticity of the Naadi simply because they do not like what they hear. All I can say is it comes as a package, and is not for the meek hearted. If you are unable to go through it objectively, you’d rather not go — it’s your own choice anyway.
I headed back from the Tambaram house thinking I must return to delve more into the chapter that elaborates on my past life. It was both fascinating and mysterious. It kindled a desire to go on an expedition to pry into [what they referred to as] my previous incarnation. Venture back in time and perhaps discover, among other things, fractured self-portraits along the way, on the broken walls of some obscure castle ruins!! Boy, what a journey THAT would be !!!