Chakrapani Ullal: Friend and Mentor
In 1977 I traveled to Ganeshpuri, India to spend a month in the ashram of
Swami Muktananda. At that time there were about 400 people in this exotic
tropical setting. The ashram was beautiful and filled with energy and the
presence of light. My stay was especially wonderful as the small numbers
of people allowed me to be in the company of Baba Muktananda in an easy
and simple manner. One of the memories that I still clearly experience, is
the first time I saw Chakrapani Ullal. I remember seeing Chakrapani and
Baba Muktananda walking around the grounds of the ashram. This scene
was often repeated daily. I remember, in the immediacy of the moment,
seeing the closeness and the companionship of Chakrapani and Baba.
Chakrapani and Baba Muktananda were the closest and dearest of friends.
Chakrapani’s Friendship with Swami Muktananda
Many years later when I would visit Swami Muktananda’s ashram in South
Fallsburg, New York. I would occasionally spend time speaking with
Chakrapani in his small office in the ashram. Consistently it would happen
that the phone would ring and it would be Baba calling to chat with
Chakrapani. Chakrapani would speak with Baba throughout day. Baba
spoke with Chakrapani about everything and anything. Chakrapani often
spoke with Baba about astrological configurations of the day and the
astrological implications for the unfolding future. Baba would also ask
Chakrapani’s advice about people and the dramas of the ashram.
Chakrapani’s friendship with Baba was ongoing and continuous until
Baba’s death in 1982.There was never a break in the continuity of this
companionship and friendship. There always existed the inner heart
connection between Chakrapani and Swami Muktananda. This inner heart
connection remained beyond Baba’s death. This relationship was unto
itself. To experience their friendship and companionship was deeply
inspiring. The moment Baba died in 1982 Chakrapani left the Ashram in
Ganeshpuri and never returned.
Even before meeting Baba, Chakrapani was consistent visitor to
Ganeshpuri. He was a devotee of his beloved Bhagavan Nityananda , the
great Siddha master of the heart essence tradition. Bhagavan Nityananda
was also Swami Muktananda’s Guru. One day, Swami Nityananda told
Chakrapani to go visit and study with Baba Muktananda who also lived
near Ganeshpuri. Upon meeting, Baba and Chakrapani become the closest
Chakrapani loved Nityananda. He loved Nityananda as his Guru. He
embraced the path that Nityananda articulated, as well as Baba’s
teachings. Nityananda’s presence was always experientially near for
Chakrapani and one time he told me how he always felt the guru’s
enduring support and light in every circumstance and in every situation.
Chakrapani was a most private person and was especially private about his
personal experience of spirituality. He had great devotion to a Divine
Goddess within the Vedic tradition. He often kept her name as a precious
secret. He was free of institutionalized religion whatever the tradition. His
spirituality embraced all phenomena as the manifestation of divinity. His
understanding of spirituality and spiritual phenomena was deeply
philosophical and existential. He had a mastery of understanding both of
the Vedic tradition as well as the esoteric tantric Kashmir Shavism
Mastery of Astrology
Chakrapani’s father was an astrologer and Chakrapani’s first astrological
teacher. Chakrapani was a brilliant student and he was gifted from the very
beginning of his life with the precious gift of Jyotish Mati. This gift of Jyotish
Mati is the direct experience of the trans-lucidity of awareness. His gift of
Jyotish Mati illuminated his perception and his understanding of the nature
of the astrological configurations within a person, and within their being and
their mind and their body and their circumstances. Jyotish Mati is the gift of
knowing directly as light. Chakrapani at times described some his
experiences being a student of his father and his becoming an astrologer
at very a young age. His vast knowledge of the cosmological realms
unfolded for him naturally throughout his life time. His lifelong practice of
astrological consultation for so many people was for him a deeply spiritual
and vitalizing service.
The Gift of Jyotish Mati
His understanding of astrology unfolded naturally in the light of his personal
gift of perception that is known as Jyotish Mati . His gift of luminous
perception was supported by his devoted love for the Vedas. He was also a
student of law and became a lawyer. He very much liked his experience as
lawyer and yet astrology pursued him always and everywhere. In the
unfolding of his relationship with Swami Muktananada, Chakrapani became
in time, the astrologer for people throughout the world. In both India and in
America his mastery was recognized. He was approached by people of
both western and eastern culture.
Charkapani had complete confidence in his gift of Jyotish Mati. He had an
immediate understanding of the astrological configurations within and
through a person. Many yogis, gurus and spiritual masters from different
traditions and lineages would visit him for consultation. Many masters
asked him to come with them and support their mission. He saw Buddhists,
Hindus, Sufis, Christians, Orthodox Greeks, Roman Catholics, Jews, and
shamans to name a few. He also was in correspondence with astrologers
throughout the world. I remember him describing to me his correspondence
with B.V. Raman and B.V. Raman’s daughter.
Coming to LA
Chakrapani loved Bombay and his life in Bombay both as an attorney and
as an astrologer. Relentlessly more and more people came to see him to
gain an understanding of their unfolding karma. Over time Swami
Muktananda would also consistently ask Chakrapani to come to the United
States with him. In time, Chakrapani eventually said yes. At that moment,
time and space opened up for Chakrapani, he now experienced the
opportunity to bring the art and science of Vedic Astrology to the United
States of America. Many people studied with him, and Chakrapani became
for many, a living source of the ancient wisdom of the Vedic Astrology.
Visiting Chakrapani home in LA
To walk into Chakrapani’s home was to step into a place of depth and
breathe. His home always had a field of soft energy and light. Within his
home he meet people personally, and also spoke by phone to people from
all over the world. His life experience was an amazing unfolding of all sorts
of people coming for assistance. Poor students, sick people , brilliant
people, international people, movie stars , philosophers, astrologers,
religious leaders, gurus, hedge fund owners, wealthy business men,
politicians. He saw everyone, every shape and every kind of human being.
Although a completely private person he lived within a sea of humanness.
Some times when we would speak with each other either in LA or
Washington, DC we would talk about astrology, psychology and
psychotherapy. As a psychologist I knew numerous psychologists who
were Chakrapani’s clients. Many psychologists would also consult with
Chakrapani about their clients. I would also have his support with some of
the people I was seeing in psychotherapy. Chakrapani’s immediate in
depth understanding of a person, and his depth of penetration into the
psyche of person was stunning and revealing. He would see into the
unseen and unspoken aspects of the person’s existence. Through the chart
he would experience the person and the being of person. The chart was a
symbolic doorway into his own subtle direct experiential perception of the
person. In these conversations his gift of Jyotish Mati would be present.
This is the gift of jnana or gnosis.
His Multidimensional view of Humanness
Chakrapani was a multidimensional person. His understanding and
experience of the world was multidimensional. His immediate view within
his multidimensional view of this world was the appearance and
manifestation of our ordinary life world view. He then would move beyond
and through his ordinary life world view, into his perception of the
archetypal cosmological luminous energy fields expressed through the
language of the cosmological planets and stars. His gift of subtle luminous
perception would go beyond his experience of the archetypal dimension
into his subtle knowing of the pure potential of the divine manifestation of
everything and anything. He would at times, simultaneously experience all
three spheres of experience. His life was grounded in his translucent
experience of the world as awareness, and in his experience of world as
cosmological fields of energies articulated in the cosmological language of
astrology and within his own experience the non-duality of pure potentiality.
He would at times share his experiences and understanding that his
experience was completely natural and within everyone.
Chakrapani was not simply an excellent technical intellectual astrologer, but
a philosopher of experiential knowingness, and philosopher of the given-
ness of the grace of revelation. For him the guru was this innate process of
self-revelation in every person. Chakrapani was not captivated by
patriarchal-ness, or the theocratic union of royalty and spirituality. For
Chakrapani the patriarchal-ness and theocratic institutionalization of
spirituality, more often than not conceals and hides the actuality of the light.
I had the good fortune of learning so much from him and his perception of
human experience. Through our friendship and within our ordinary
conversations in time I could in time directly glimpse his multidimensional
view and experience of this world. He deeply understood that all the
forms of human being were the manifestation of divinity as divinity. His
illuminated wisdom infused his astrological understanding and his
experience of the many people who came to see him. He lived within the
realm of the immanence of the light both in himself and within the
phenomena of circumstance.
His Astrological Consultations
His consultations had a remarkable effect on people. He not only
transmitted information, but also he transmitted experience. What he was
describing in the consultation, a person would experience very directly and
immediately, at a pre-reflective and affective level of experience. His
consultations were deeply experiential and at times brought a person
beyond their conceptual mind.
Chakrapani had a penetrating capacity to de- construct a person’s fixated
view of their world and their fixated view of their own self. To experience
this deconstruction of a fixated view of the world and habituated fixated
view of self, was not always an easy moment for many people. This
deconstruction of the person’s habituated fixated view would then open the
person to the door of perception to experience the open spaciousness of
the natural awareness. This deconstruction of a view would open the inner
sense of potentiality. In that moment the capacity for change and
transformation became powerfully available.
Chakrapani would perceive the person and make direct statements that
penetrated to the person’s mind and beyond their mind into awareness
itself. In his penetrating gaze and direct interpretive experience, a person’s
experiential understanding would go beyond their mental experience. It
would seem as if he was giving information but within his language was the
transmission of a field of awareness that illuminates the person’s
experience of themselves, their mind and their world circumstance. His
consultations created memory of not just what he said but a felt sense of
potentiality within mind and circumstance.
My personal friendship with Chakrapani was deeply informing for me and
simultaneously lots of fun, the best of fun. Through him over time and
through time I learned to experience cosmological dimension of my own
experience. My personal friendship with Chakrapani opened for me the
natural experience of the multidimensionality of life.
Chakrapani Teaching in Washington
For many years Chakrapani would come and see clients in Washington
D.C. He would also teach these wonderful one day seminars. He would
stay with us in our home in downtown DC. In his seminars he would teach
on many varied, and different topics .Whatever the topic of the seminar he
would teach from the depth and breathe of his astrological and
philosophical view point. He would teach from his wisdom. His talks were
an adventures in understanding. Most of participants were not astrologers.
They were psychologists, psychoanalysts, social workers, nurses,
philosophers, spiritual practitioners, scientists, physicians, all from many
traditions and paths of life. Most were meditators of some form or another.
The format of the seminars was purposely uncontained and not focused on
astrology alone. The seminars and the topics were doorways and openings
to the depth and breathe of Chakrapani’s understanding and knowledge.
His seminars were ultimately about self- liberation,
The topic of the seminars were varied. He gave seminar on cosmological
dimension of the goddess. He gave a seminar on the nature of the guru. He
presented a seminar about the person and life of Swami Muktananda in
light of astrological sources. He also gave a seminar about being in the
presence of the Siddha master Bhagavan Nityananda. In this seminar, he
described how to understand the person of Bhagavan Nityananda who was
a person who lived in timeless awareness and time simultaneously. Other
seminars included one on the human energy field and the planetary
configurations as archetypal energies. He spoke about Carl Jung’s
personality. He taught about various meditation states, and the relationship
of meditation states within the Vedas and within Buddhism. He spoke in
depth about the nature of Jyotish Mati. He spoke about self- liberation in
the context of the nature of the elements. He spoke about the nature of
kundalini in light of Vedic Astrology and in light of tantric Kashmir Shaivism.
He spoke about the nature of change within the context meditation and the
states of non-dual awareness. On an occasion we spent the entire day on
the astrological sources in the lives of various saints and philosophers such
as Ammachi, Yogananda, RamaKrishna, and Rajnesh.
We would all have such great time and Chakrapani would feel free to
speak about everything and anything in this open and uncontained
context. Some of other topics were Oneness and Non-duality within the
experience of Jyotish Mati. Jyotish Mati is the wonder filled life of natural
oneness and difference. He spoke about the essence of Hindu tantric
traditions and the energetic nature of luminous consciousness. He spoke
about the nature of the guru as light in Vedic Astrology, the guru as
luminosity. He spoke on the practice of tantra and tantric unfolding within
human beings as the freedom of luminous energy becoming embodied. He
spoke a lot about the changing of spiritual and religious traditions in light of
the shift between the planetary Jupiter configuration that dominated
spirituality for the past 2500 years and the Saturn configuration that is
becoming more and more present in this age.
In the seminars he would integrate his understanding personal psychology
and the intertwining connection with the archetypal planetary energies.
Chakrapani and I shared this mutual interest in the interface of western
psychology and eastern philosophy. He had particular interest in the
capacity to change and limitations in change. He focus was on the
existential strengths of a person such as courage, sincerity and authenticity
and access to innate potentiality.
He would described spiritual cultures and spiritual institutions as being
patriarchal and the asymmetrical framing which required people to become
passive like sheep. In the patriarchal theocentric framing of spiritual
awareness, rather than being the freedom of self- liberation, people would
become subservient and act like sheep. This compulsion was within all
religions, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Islamic. He would note how the
truly great masters would not be captured by institutionalization.
As I mentioned earlier, Chakrapani would describe how our time period is a
period of great change in religion from patriarchal, hierarchal, and the
theocentric union of spirituality and royalty to a democratic and experience
of equality consciousness and individuation. He would described how the
realm of spirituality had been dominated for the past 2500 years by Jupiter.
This Jupiter configuration symbolizes the union of royalty and spirituality,
asymmetrical hierarchal and authoritarian domination. The spiritual power
of Jupiter was the power of transcendence. And now this realm of
spirituality was no longer being inhabited and dominated by Jupiter but by
Saturn. Saturn is democratic, Saturn is the power of equality
consciousness, and Saturn is the power of immanence. Jupiter was the
power of religious rituals and religious priesthoods, religious omnipotence
and the great emphasis on dissociative transcendence. Now liberation, is
liberation through circumstance and the embodied immanence of the light
in every person was now becoming the path of self -liberation.
Selfliberation as self-liberation is beyond the containment of
Friendship with Chakrapani
My wife Sharon and my son Peter and I enjoyed companionship with
Chakrapani. Several times, Peter lived with Chakrapani in his home, and
became a student of Chakrapani. Chakrapani taught him the foundations of
Vedic Astrology in the classical format of the student living with the teacher.
At times my wife, Sharon and I would accompany Chakrapani on visiting
different places, teachers and healers. Sometimes we would visit different
healers to learn about them and from them. Chakrapani would always say
after we met with these different characters “Take the best and leave the
In Washington at times we would teach together. We would often have
Chakrapani’s good friend Dr. Mahapatra who was a physician and Brahmin
come to our center and do pujas to the Divine Mother in her many forms.
Some of Chakrapani’s friends and family would at times visit, and we
always had great time and great fun. Whenever he was visiting in
Washington on the Sunday afternoon we would often visit the Bombay
Club, Washington’s wonderful and famous Indian restaurant.
Chakrapani was so kind and so generous. I would like to tell a personal
story of Chakrapani’s kindness to me. One morning I began having the
experience of dying. This sense of dying was pervasive and continuous.
Fortunately, I usually do not typically have such an experience. On that
day, I was preoccupied with my dying and leaving everyone I know and
love. Sharon and I were also presenting a seminar on that day to make
things even more intense and dramatic. In the morning after I gave my
presentation at the seminar and I still had within me the experience of the
feeling of my death becoming more and more pervasive. In the afternoon
just before we were to continue with our seminar, all of a sudden out of the
blue the phone rings and Sharon answered the phone, it was Chakrapani.
She came back to me and said Chakrapani just called from California and
said to tell you that you are not going to die. Do not worry. He said then
something to the effect it is not you that is dying. Then later that evening
after the seminar we get a phone call that Sharon’s brother had just died
that morning in Mexico in a boating accident.
Later in Chakrapani’s life Sharon, Peter and I would visit Chakrapani in Los
Angeles and we would experience Chakrapani’s love of his family. Being
with Chakrapani and Dianne and Dianne’s son Amiya was wonderful and
their family companionships was so strong and so full. There is a Shavite
expression that describes this experience. “The bliss of the world is the
bliss of Samadhi and the bliss of Samadhi is the bliss of the world.” For me
it is interesting as I write this brief essay on my experience of friendship
with Chakrapani, I began my story with Chakrapani’s friendship with Baba
Muktananda and my story ends with Chakrapani’s deep friendship,
companionship and love of Dianne and Amiya. “The Bliss of the world is
the bliss of Samadhi!” Of course as we know Bliss overcomes suffering.
A final note. Sharon and I were so fortunate to be with Chakrapani the last
week of his life. For the most part he was semi consciousness and in time
fell into unconsciousness. And yet there was this live vital awareness within
him. I would at times hold his hands and experience the luminous flow of
vital life force come into me. The energy was completely him in his vitality
of innermost awareness. His field of light and energy was complete even
though his body was terribly ill and disintegrating. The paradox was both
amazing and most beautiful. His aliveness of awareness was within his
dying body. Even as I would hold his hand this immense kindness would
come into me. This energy was not impersonal, but his personal energy,
his personal field of light as person. And of course the room was filled with
the soft energy and light.
What I have described very briefly here in this essay is my ongoing and
unfolding experience of Chakrapani Ullal who was both my friend and my
Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D. Diplomate in Clinical Psychology.
Washington Center for Consciousness Studies and Washington Center for
Phenomenological and Existential Psychotherapy Studies