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Quotable Notables:  EXTRA! Inspiration

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Stardust Inspiration: I have a folder of photographs featuring Indian-born Sasi Velupillai, one of the world’s foremost psychic palmists. He and the Dalai Lama are bowing to each other; celebrities such as Joan Rivers and Mr. T stand beside him grinning. Whether it’s a princess, Miss America or heavyweight Joe Frazier, all reach for his hand, vast knowledge and intuitive healing abilities. This learned man, with offices in California, Hawaii, Sweden and India, leads a most inspiring life. Most importantly, his purpose is to inspire and enlighten others.

Professor Sasi Velupillai, Palmist to the Stars

It’s Halloween day and professor Sasi Velupillai, who received India’s most respected award for palmistry in 1991, comes to the door of the Carmel cottage he’s renting. Incense is burning and he’s wearing traditional Indian clothing and a dazzling, mustachioed smile.

He says they don’t celebrate a day of the dead in India. However, he went to Palm Springs in the ‘80s “because they didn’t have a palmist.” And he laughingly remembers a Halloween party he attended at Bob Hope’s lavish estate there. “Hope was dressed as a pope,” he said. “I wore my Nehru jacket and when I walked in, people said, ‘Oh, that’s a good costume, you look Indian.’”

The renowned psychic palmist of India has just completed two months of lectures, readings and classes on the Peninsula. And while he travels worldwide giving readings to heads of government, stars, scientists and Nobel laureates, he’s taken a liking to our area and resides here part of the year.

“I’m drawn by the energy of the Monterey Peninsula and the healing practitioners here. Healing work is very appreciated here,” he says.

The middle-aged man, born in Kerala, the only matriarchal state in India, says, “I’m ageless. You are what you think. Father lived to 100. Mother is 93 years young. She says her secret is she follows her bliss.”

He fans out a stack of palm leaves bound by string and etched in Sanskrit. The ancient Vedic scriptures are a record of the art and science of palmistry. He also has degrees in chemistry and physics, a masters in business and communications, is a doctor in naturopathy, herbology and yoga.

Q: Was it a quantum leap from your studies in science to palmistry?
A: My mission was to become a tool to transform lives. I follow seven generations of tradition of my family. I was tutored and then went to school at age 14. Then I studied chemistry and physics, broadcasting and music. Not to achieve anything, but to understand the world; to be a well-rounded person. We need all these things: arts, music, science.

Q: Has your scientific background given you credibility?
A: The Western world is a credential-oriented society. My qualifications have helped them to understand me better. In India we don’t demand respect, we command respect. Once they come to know me they can connect with me at any level.

Q: Devil’s advocate: You’re simply an extremely intuitive man and reading lines in hands is mystic mumbo jumbo.
A: Palmistry is a time-tested science that originated in India. Buddhist monks took it to China and Japan, where it’s respected as a healing art and counseling tool for personal transformation. The gypsies took the information from India to eastern European countries, where it’s known as a gypsy craft and got a bad name. It’s not neon signs.

Q: Your mother was family president. Your father was dubbed top psychic palmist by the Indian government and worked with Gandhi at the Gandhi Peace Foundation. Has it been a hard act to follow?
A: A big responsibility.

Q: So, you’re a samurai warrior by caste?
A: We’re peaceful warriors. We learn martial arts and these techniques to master fear and not fight. We’re the only people allowed to eat animal protein. Even though they’ve abolished the caste system in India, still we think it’s in our blood to protect women and children. We are caretakers.

Q: Is there a right way to meditate?
A: Putting your body to rest and keeping the mind alert and focused so we can visualize and manifest, with our own power, anything we desire. I teach many methods, like chanting or hypnotic suggestions. One must choose one which is user friendly for them. We are all in a state of meditation at some time of the day. I asked a butcher when he meditates. He said when he cuts meat. The perfect way is to shave your head and go to the Himalayas. But that’s not practical.

Q: You say to breathe in positive energy, or prana, the life force, and breathe out negative energy. Is “love in/fear out” a good mantra?
A: Absolutely. If you do it right, five minutes, twice a day can be enough.

Q: You’ve often met with Nobel laureate, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Does he have a sense of humor?
A: Yes! I met him 35 years back with my father before all the world knew about him. He came to me bowing and I said, ‘Please, don’t!’ I never met a man so sweet, humble and peaceful. So ego-less. He said at every level of life, we should have compassion. That is the principle of Buddhism.

Q: Doctors, judges, Julio Inglesias, Maureen Reagan, Bea Arthur, world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, Mr. T, 1992 Miss America and Joan Rivers . . . did you read all their palms?
A: Yes. They come to me for personal consultations to be in touch with their talents and unexplored abilities and to transform themselves . . . Some people want it in tablet form. They don’t want to do hard work. I say, “The only tablet is hard work or work hard.”

Q: How do you stay humble?
A: Once you master everything, you don’t need to be humble. You know who you are. And that brings the humility in you. We’re all the same. If someone thinks he’s better than others, it’s meaningless. Maybe he hasn’t used his or her potentialities. We need to motivate them so they can grow. Pray and care, to make this whole world a playground.

Q: As an empowerment coach, tell us how we can reclaim our power when we feel helpless?
A: Number one: there are no victims in this world, there are only volunteers. My father taught me that peace comes not from an absence of conflicts in life, but from your ability to cope with them.

Q: Some say we’re on the cusp of true world enlightenment. True?
A: When it happened (Sept. 11 terrorist attacks) my mother called from India and said, “It’s an unfortunate thing, but something good will come of it.” It’s opened the whole world’s eyes. People of America should know that when there’s a hurricane, try to be in the eye of it . . .

Q: Some say God is for “go out doors.” What do you think?
A: God is “generator, operator, destroyer.” That is a trinity in Indian philosophy. He generates us, operates us and takes us back.

Q: Your pet peeve?
A: Nothing makes me mad. Some things make me angry. (Laughs) Sometimes I wish for more hours in the day. But getting mad is not the way. I do laugh at myself so I don’t get all worked up. What cannot be cured must be endured.

Q: What or whom would intimidate you?
A: Nobody. So far.

Q: What personal weakness are you working on?
A: Finding more time to write and also to spend time in nature. I’ve taught in 27 countries in 18 months. I enjoy being with people but I should create personal time for tea and nature.

Q: Is it true that more people are doing yoga and meditation in Los Angeles than in any town in India?
A: Yes. Because yoga is a big fad, attraction, exercise. In India the science of palmistry is handed down in scrolls. We don’t have videos, etc.

Q: Parting chant?
A: May all the beings in this world be healthy and happy. (He then sings a Sanskrit mantra.)

Universal Update: It’s been five years since I interviewed Sasi, and I wondered if he was still in India, after I ran across a copy of the reading he did for me. I’d been wearing the talisman he fashioned for me; the cylinder that carried the words “go forth.” He meant with this book. “Your reason in life is to teach,” he’d said. “You are doing this with your writing.”

They say everyone has a book in them. However, I wasn’t yet ready to deliver mine. As I pondered, years passed, and the list of fascinating people I interviewed for my newspaper column grew long. But a book needs a theme, and what was mine? At first, it was simply a collection of celebrities. Not good enough.

“What links all these people?” I pondered. “Wow! Each and every one is a total inspiration.” I’ve walked away from every one, shaking stardust from my sleeves – not because of their celebrity – but because of the awesome lives they lead. They have enlightened me. My soul has soared in their presence.

I couldn’t wait to tell Sasi that I’d found my pearl.



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