He says: “I want to buy your books and perhaps take your courses. Please tell me your astrological credentials qualifying you to be my teacher.”
I answer: I have no credentials outside what you can see and hear in my books, articles, videos, etc.
Him: Well who did you study with, who taught you? When did you start studying?
Me: As it says on my site, I began studying Vedic knowledge in 1990. It included astrology summarily and more deeply many principles on which astrology is based. I did not begin specifically studying astrology in this lifetime until 2007. I do not have one specific teacher, besides the paramatma who manifests through all people. I learned most of what I know by the mercy of paramatma (Supersoul) and the knowledge I acquired in past lifetimes.
Him: Thanks. I think I’ll save my money and I’ll get a good teacher. If you studied Vedic knowledge then you should know the need of having a qualified guru.
Me: Please pursue the path you desire to pursue. No one can or should do otherwise. I have the most qualified Guru, Sri Srimad Dhanurdhara Swami Maharaja of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya.
Him: I meant Jyotish Guru.
Me: As I said from the beginning I learned Jyotish mystically by the grace of Paramatma coming through my Gurudev. You place too much value on measurable and official credentials and relationships. I have studied the practical details of astrology with various astrologers, though none formally. As I said from the start, my “credentials” are what you can see and hear directly for yourself in my textbooks, articles, videos. etc. The proof is in the pudding.
Him: In my research I have found that the best astrologers do not charge for their teaching but tend to be selective of their students. They are careful about keeping the tradition pure and not willing to compromise for a few bucks.
Me: Please find an astrologer who will teach you for free. You have my best wishes.
Him: But why are you selling Vedic knowledge? To sell Vedic knowledge (other than books) by teaching for money is loaded with negative karma both for the buyer and the seller.
Me: I am not “selling knowledge” so much as taking care of my basic need to survive. I have a wife and two children and we need to pay bills.
Him: One should earn money dharmicly. As Lopamudra said to Agastya when she wanted to have children and they were living as tapasvis in the forest, “Go and earn money in such a way that is within dharma.” What you are doing is not within dharma.
Me: To live as an astrologer is my best attempt to practice a more brahminical dharma. You are free to sit on your armchair and criticize me, but I am doing the best I personally can – and frankly I am not ashamed in the least, for it is my opinion that I am making an excellent and noble effort.
You claim that it is immoral and sinful for a teacher to be paid!? How absurd you are. In Vedic culture as in any other culture, teachers are amply paid. In Vedic culture the teacher takes “dakshin” from the student, there is nothing immoral about it. If I give you 16 hours of my life to teach you, you must reciprocate and care for your teacher. Certainly you do not imagine that this is antithetical to the Vedic way?
Him: That is a rationalization. Guru Dakshine is given at the end of the teaching and to the best of the ability of the student to a qualified guru. It is not a fee as you are doing.
Me: Meanwhile, the student lives in the gurus house, doing laundry, cleaning the house, collecting firewood, begging for food, etc. etc. That is the “Vedic” way. If you wish to come live in a small room I have downstairs, do our laundry, collect food for us to eat, clean our house, etc., etc. – I will be happy to teach you astrology and everything else you wish to know. And at the end of this teaching you may give me whatever dakshin donation you are able to give.
It is simpler to pay $400 for 8 classes or $800 for 16 classes. But, if you would like to be very “vedic” about it, I will accept your offer.