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(C) 1999 by Planetary Gemologists Association
All rights reserved.

A life of cosmic proportions, written in the stars.

By Nick Davis

With an early introduction in life to fame and some fortune, Richard Shaw Brown was for a time the lead singer in The 1960s band ‘The Misunderstood,’ a band that was breaking new ground and making musical history for its time. For a while, everything seemed to be going right for Richard and his other band members including Drummer Rick Moe, Steel Guitarist Glenn Ross Campbell, Guitarist Tony Hill from the UK, and Steve Whiting on Bass. Bizarre twists and turns in Richard’s fate took him away from the band, to India then eventually to Thailand where he has established himself as an internationally recognized astral gemologist with Bangkok’s Sri Navaratna museum at Suan Lum Night Bazaar. Richard is soon to be back in the spotlight with the upcoming release of a dramatization the band’s and Richard’s life.

Back in 1963, originally called ‘The Blue Notes’ a group of American teenage musicians underwent a few changes in their band member line up and eventually settled on ‘The Misunderstood’ The chemistry between the band members was powerful enough to propel their musical careers on to the fast track in a relatively short amount of time. By the mid 60’s, The Misunderstood were thrilling audiences in America with their psychedelic brand of progressive anti-war Rock. The band’s next step in the world of music recognition, at the urging of British DJ Sir John Peel, was to be seen and heard by London audiences. The British music scene opened its arms to this new, energetic band with a style and stage presence that predates some of the imagery that later gained popularity with bands like Pink Floyd or Hendrix.

The band’s romance with the British public was cut short though as the military action in Vietnam intensified and troops were being drafted by the US Government. Even though the band was in England at the time, Richard received his draft notice and had to fly back to the states, hoping he would be able to explain the situation with the band’s current roller coaster ride to success and get back on a plane to the UK fairly soon. Once back in the states though, it soon became apparent that Richard’s position as a lead singer in a famous band was not enough to keep him from contributing to the war effort and despite his pacifist ideals, Richard was subsequently packed off to boot camp. The band was devastated to be losing their front man. Coupled with fact that the other American band members were having visa problems in the UK and had gotten to the point where they were just going backwards and forwards on the ferry between Dover and Calais, trying to renew their visas. The misunderstood conceded defeat, split up and faded out just as their future was starting to shine brightly.

During the brief period between basic training and being sent into combat on the other side of the world, Richard was able to make arrangements to get himself smuggled out of America and eventually to India, where he sought refuge in an Ashram in the North. It was here, with no real possessions or money that Richard began a seven-year period of spiritual discovery in which he learned to read, write and speak Sanskrit, becoming a member of the Vaishnava sect of Hinduism. This period of self sacrifice and enlightenment was especially hard for Richard, being someone who had had a financially secure childhood and then rocketing to stardom where money was not an issue made his life of poverty in India that much more traumatic. As Richard had happily spent his life munching on American food, including good old beef burgers, he was considered an ‘untouchable’ by the Indians who consider the killing and eating of a cow, a sin. The transition to a vegetarian diet, meditation and studying the ancient text brought Richard to a closer level of acceptance in the community. His efforts in devoting his energies to raising funds for constructing two schools also helped ensure good future karma. During our discussion, Richard picked up a drum, tapped out a rhythm and chanted some verses in the world’s oldest language, proving his commitment to memory of the Sanskrit texts. In 1974, Richard moved to Southern India where joined a friend who had uncovered a ruby mine. Here, Richard’s knowledge of Sanskrit, passion for the ancient Indian astrology and his deepening knowledge of gemmology led him to develop a range of gem stones set in rings and talismans, based on the writings of Vedic texts.

These ancient writings refer to the legend of Vala, a mythical demon who overpowered the king of heaven, Indra, becoming a tyrannical ruler. Eventually, oppressed demigods were able to slay Vala through trickery. His dismembered body scattered over the world turning into the seeds of precious gems, falling to earth in oceans, rivers, mountains and forests. Theses seeds are said to have created the gem mines that are still worked to this day.. The foremost species of these gems stones include ruby, emerald, blue Sapphire, cats eye, yellow Sapphire, diamond, pearl, hessonite, coral, bloodstone, quartz, jade and red garnet. These different gems are said to be originally born from different parts of the Vala’s shattered body: His teeth became pearls and his skin rained down as yellow sapphire. Diamonds were bone fragments and emerald was his bile. Each stone is said to channel the astral powers of 9 related planets and their universal influence over people’s lives. To ensure positive effects of the energies, the stones must be flawless. If they contain impurities or are cracked, the effects can be negative; bringing bad luck and misfortune to the wearer. Contemplating the qualities of a radio crystal can make a good analogy of how this works. The crystal picks up the invisible radio waves that are all around us and transforms them into sound with its resonance. The same thing happens with invisible cosmic energy, which the gems receive as infrared or ultra violet light.

Although, at first glance, the Western horoscope and astrological teachings seem similar to the ancient Vedic system; indeed they use the same terminology like Cancer, Leo and Pisces, the two are quite dissimilar. Although the names of the zodiac signs are the same, the Vedic system follows a different pattern of dates to the western astrological system. In fact, many people who go to the second paragraph in the horoscope section of a newspaper, looking for their Pisces prediction for the day, might well be better off reading what’s in store for Aquarians’ Also different is that the Vedic system’s nine planetary influences include the sun, the moon and two ‘shadow planets’ Ketu and Rahu. Along with mercury, venus, mars etc. Pluto and Uranus though, are not considered to have a powerful enough influence to be included. in the equation. Depending on the planetary positions in an individual’s birth chart, their life will be influenced by the strength of certain planet’s powers at their time of birth. Richard’s astral gemstone talismans are designed to enhance good influences and counter the bad. To ensure the correct balance of astral energy in one’s life is not as simple as going out and buying a gemstone that represents wealth and power or one that corresponds to one’s birthstone but an analysis of the planetary alignment at the time and place of birth is essential in finding out what the best combination of stones is or which stones should be avoided. One piece though, the Nava Ratna (Nine planetary gems), is considered safe for most wearers as it creates a perfect balance of energies by incorporating all nine gems in one talisman

Mars and its associated properties, for example, are a represented by red coral. The moon is associated with natural pearl.: Ketu is located as the South Node of the Moon and Rahu is located as the North Node.. These two ‘Nodes’ are opposites; Rahu being the dragon’s head, while Ketu is its tail. Either of these aspects may be good or bad influences in a person’s life depending on where the planets are positioned on their birth chart.

Ironically Bangkok’s full-length name includes the words ‘Nava-Ratna,’ in part, meaning ‘city of the nine gems.’ Demonstrating Thailand’s strong connection with ancient India and Sanskrit. On a more profound note, many European languages contain mutations of Sanskrit; especially in the way numbers are spoken or written.

Since bringing his astral knowledge to Thailand, Richard has designed and produced over six exclusive collections of astral gemstones and talismans, which are all on display in the Nava Ratna Museum in the Lumpini Night Bazaar. The two storey, glass fronted museum shop literally sparkles with the rows of perfect gemstones set in gold and silver. Visitors are welcome to wander around the museum and learn something about their own planetary influences with a free reading. Just tell them your birth date, time, and place of birth. One of the staff will explain the intricacies of your planetary alignment and which stones are good or bad.
There’s no pressure to buy anything, in fact, the decision to buy a piece is one that needs a lot of thought. The pieces are intended to be worn permanently and designed to last for life, hopefully an extended one with the help of cosmic powers. Richard seems to be doing all right; just as he assimilated into the Indian culture while he was there, here in Thailand, Richard has had the honour of presenting a special Talisman to the Queen of Thailand, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, in 1993, where Richard presented her with a gold talisman containing the Navaratana gems.

Richard Shaw Brown is easy to find on the web; a search of his name will bring up a number of links to various web sites inviting you to visit the online Sri Nava Ratna boutique or read about The Misunderstood, perhaps buy one of their albums. Information is also available concerning Richard’s future return to the public eye as the feature film, ‘ Hrisikesh,’ prepares for production. The screenplay is available for viewing on line here: will also provide more extensive information about Richard’s other adventures.

Visit Richard's web site

Richard Shaw-Brown

The Sanskrit  name for the PGA was composed by HONORARY PATRON Prof. Dr. Satya Vrat Shastri, Padma Sri