Daily Telegraph Calcutta, July 2
KISMET IS HIS CALLING BY SUVRO ROY
Sixty-five-year-old Sandra (not her real name), living in Los Angeles for years, had just got her only son engaged. But amidst all the excitement, she felt an underlying sense of unease.
Was something wrong somewhere, wondered a mother’s instinct. She asked around for “the right” astrologer and was directed to the door of Sunit Kumar Gupta.
Born and brought up in Bhowanipore, south Calcutta, the LA-based astrologer, who had built up quite a reputation over 15 years, studied her face and asked Sandra to “postpone the wedding by three weeks”.
A fortnight later, Sandra burst into Gupta’s ‘chamber’ and declared that the engagement had been “called off”.
“One look at her face and I knew that the marriage would not materialise. But I couldn’t tell it on her face and so I chose to be diplomatic and told her to postpone the wedding by three weeks, by which time I knew it would be called off. This is what is called divya drishti,” explains Gupta, now parked in his Sambhunath Pandit Street residence.
Early this year, 39-year-old Gupta decided to to something in and for Calcutta. The result: the zodiac hotline — astrological advice over the phone.
First stop, Calcutta Telephones’ officials for the “special permit” required to start the business under the utility’s premium rate service. The service went on line from Poila Baisakh (April 14).
“The response has been overwhelming. Now, I find it easier over the telephone,” says Gupta. “When I face my clients in my chamber, I have found that sometimes there is a clash of vibes and often their body language disturbs my concentration. That’s precisely why I don’t use the video telephone for astrological advice in Los Angeles.” The other major advantage of telephonic predictions is the anonymity factor. No appointment is required nor identity disclosed.
“The sky is the limit in this business and the telephone company willing, I can route calls from all over the world to Calcutta and to any other part of the country,” declares Gupta.
He now has his own array of astrologers (being trained by Team Gupta: Sunit, brother Navneet and sister Kanchan) to operate the zodiac hotline (0-900-33-3300).
But how accurate is a phone forecast? “We do it through Tarot cards, the oracle associated with the Gypsies. All we need to know is the person’s name. If he or she is unwilling to give the name, even the initials will do,” explains Gupta.
What about the success rate of the telephonic astrological consultation, which today deals with everything from examinations to marriages?
“The predictions are, obviously, accurate and that’s why I am so successful, compared with so many others in the business who have gone bankrupt...,” he says with a twinkle in his bespectacled eyes, before breaking off to answer yet another call. Gupta’s star trek can be traced back to Sambhunath Pandit Street in the early 60s, where his parents (who originally belonged to Kashmir) had settled in post-partition Calcutta. A general interest in metaphysics that ran in the family fuelled young Sunit’s fascination for numerology, palmistry and astrology.
After completing his B.Com from Bhowanipore Education Society and dabbling in student politics under the Chhatra Parishad banner, Gupta left for London in 1984. This was to change the course of his life. “By then, I had finished reading B.V. Raman’s Fundamentals of Astrology and other books on the subject penned by Cheiro, Krishnamurthy and Linda Goodman,” recalls Gupta.
But the pursuit of his childhood passion did not slow down his academic career — a post-graduation in metaphysics and doctorates in metaphysics and divinity followed in quick succession at California.
Gupta, meanwhile, had started “active practice” in astrology in LA by giving ‘consultations’ over the telephone.
Today, his predictions include Bill Clinton’s presidential victory, Michael Jackson’s rise to superstardom (even before Thriller), and the BJP-led coalition’s coming to power in Delhi last year.
“A person’s fate depends on the karma in his or her present and past lives,” says the firm believer in Vedic astrology, following in the footprints of Varahamihir and Parashar.
So what karma has drawn this successful astrologer and metaphysicist to the city of his birth?
“I know quite well that whatever I earn in Calcutta is only a fraction of what I earn back in the US,” says Gupta. “But as a Calcuttan, I want to help fellow-Calcuttans through my knowledge and experience. If I am successful and expand my business in my own city, I can not only help people to deal with their problems better but also train and employ a lot of people,” he concludes, laying out the Tarot cards on the table.