9. Tortoise Astrology

Krishna and Balarama took leave of the Kambhoja king Bhoomi Pala Theja and travelled northward along the shores of the Pacific ocean. On crossing the mountainous region they travelled through the rough plateaus and forests of China. That country was famous for silk. They were having trade relations with India mainly through the sea route. Some trade took place across the Himalayas. During that time the Emperor of China was Baron Yu.

The Chinese believed in astrology through the medium of tortoise. Like the palmistry, the lines on the shell of the tortoise can also be interpreted to predict the future of a person. Fuh Si, a saintly person was the originator of this astrology. The astrologer studies the line on the shell of a chosen tortoise, and then the spirits take over such saints and speak about the concerned person’s future and past. Bhoomi Pala Theja the jovial king of Kamboja while narrating this, mischievously added that the Emperor of China is, on the one hand, a staunch believer of tortoise astrology and on the other, tortoise is his favourite dish!

They came across the mighty river Yang tsi kiang. Karimukha turned into a big tortoise. Sitting on the tortoise Krishna and Balarama crossed the river. People on the other shore saw them crossing the river on the tortoise. A curious crowd gathered around them when they landed. On seeing two young men looking like divine persons riding a tortoise, they concluded that they were some sages, conversant with astrology. Every one showed interest in knowing about their future. As the Kambhoja king has already briefed them, Krishna and Balarama exchanged a meaningful smile!

Krishna started playing his flute, the tortoise danced. Balarama played cymbals. More crowds surged around them to listen to the divine music. When the music stopped, one man came towards them and requested them to tell about his future. Balarama asked some questions about his past. According to the man, he had five wives but none of them bore him a child. So he wanted to marry a girl whom he loved very much. Krishna smiled and showed him the sixth line. Then he closed his eyes and chanted the Hari Om manthra thrice, then he played the same manthra six plus one times in his flute and was in a trance. Balarama started interpreting the actins of Krishna “Gentleman! You are destined to have six wives and a child”. The man was happy and rushed to the girl whom he wanted to take as his sixth wife.

Another man came forward to tell his woes. He was a farmer by the riverside. Every year the floods came when the crops were ripe for harvest. The floods damaged his efforts of the season. Krishna again carefully went through the tortoise markings and chanted “om” thrice. Then the flute was played in a high pitch and subsequently a mellow music flowed.

Balarama interpreted thus: “The stars say the uncontrolled floods will become a thing of the past. From next season onwards there will not be any damage due to floods and you will have record crops. This gave him hope. Krishna and Balarama during their journey observed many dams coming up in the river.

Another young man came forward and said he was a black smith. He was bored with his job. After going through the rituals, Balarama told him shortly he will be recruited to the king’s army and will be a horseman. The young fellow was filled with joy because he wanted to achieve name and fame as a soldier.

The Emperor’s spies were also in the crowd and they carried the news of two strangers with a tortoise predicting the future. Krishna and Balarama were taken to the Emperor’s court upon His Majesty’s orders. On the way Balarama told Krishna with a wink, “Whether people have got interest in their past and history or not, they are inquisitive about their future! This is a human weakness!”

“In our country also people believe in different forms of astrology such as Nadi Josya, Palmistry and Parrot Josya!”, said Krishna.

They reached the royal court along with their tortoise. The Emperor Baron Yu with his courtiers, warmly welcomed them. He came to know that they were princes of Mathura, touring the globe on a study tour. He wondered about their expertise in tortoise astrology.

Balarama explained the story of Koormavathara in which Vishnu took the shape of giant tortoise and recovered the four Vedas (codified knowledge) which were hidden by the asuras (Demons) in the nether world. From that time onwards our people venerate tortoise and a separate branch of astrology was born. In our Vedas astrology is a branch which includes astronomy, and influence of planets on human life.

Krishna told the king that they studied these sciences also under their guru, by studying the planetary positions in the heaven. They can predict big cosmic events too. For example, tomorrow morning by 8:19 the Chaya graha Rahu will swallow the sun!

“Is it? Then what will happen?” exclaimed the Emperor. “After one hour and 30 minutes the sun will come out from the darkness, Krishna reassured the Emperor. Next day exactly at the prescribed time, the sun was eclipsed by a shadow and came out as per the predictions of Krishna.

The Emperor was all praises for the princes. He requested them to be the royal guests and spent a few days with them exchanging ideas about India and China.

The king elaborated his ideas of building dams in the river Yang tsi kiang in many places to control the floods which the brothers appreciated. Then he explained China’s political system. He proudly declared that the king chooses and appoints a competent person as the next king. He was made king by the previous Emperor Shun. The king who chose Shun was Ya Wo!” No dynasty business, only fitness. What about your country?, he asked.

Krishna said in India also previously it was a similar system. But to avoid succession wars, we have made dynasty right as the criterion. Krishna further predicted that in the future, China too will switch over to the dynasty system (after Emperor BARON YU dynasty rule came in China).

“How do you say that?”, the Emperor questioned.

Krishna smiled pointing to the tortoise!

Then the Emperor asked some question on the future of his political plans, personal ambitions and family matters, which Balarama answered with Krishna’s rituals with the tortoise. The Emperor was extremely impressed.

The Emperor took them out along with him and showed them one of the dams he was building. Pointing out the mountain ranges surrounding the site the Emperor proudly declared that he had divided that vast country, mostly following the contour of these ranges. He has divided his country into nine provinces.

Next day they were taking leave of the Emperor. His Majesty presented them with expensive yellow silk garments. Yellow colour was considered sacred by the people. He also gifted them a new gadget and said this needle of this gadget will always point to South – North. This gadget is our country’s speciality.

We consider our southern mountains (Himalayas) sacred. Even during our journey it is auspicious to look south. So we had invented this instrument. During your travels, it will be useful to know the direction, especially you can reach north pole with its help.

Then the farewell function started. Young men and women staged a gigantic dragon dance. The Emperor was seated on the throne which was shaped like a dragon. On either side of the Emperor sat Krishna and Balarama. All the seats faced the sacred south.

Naradha also appeared in the scene to participate in the celebrations.