J C Chaudhry, the founder of Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL) and founder & chairman of Chaudhry Nummero.
Image: Amit Verma
It was sometime in 1984, as a 30-something, that JC Chaudhry became fascinated with numbers. He was visiting his brother-in-law in Haridwar when the former manager at BHEL introduced him to the world of numerology after dinner one day. “He asked me if I was interested in learning something new,” the 72-year-old tells Forbes India. “I said why not?” Back then, Chaudhry was working as the principal of the Model Co-Ed Senior Secondary School in Vikaspuri, New Delhi.
Chaudhry had moved only a few years before that to the capital in search of a better life from the nondescript village of Sevli in Haryana, where his father had run a small textile shop. The family was impoverished so much so that Chaudhry did not own a pair of chappals till he was 12 or a pair of trousers till he went to college. For Chaudhry, who studied botany at the DAV College, Jalandhar, before going on to do a master's in botany from the illustrious Birla Institute of Technology, New Delhi offered a better life.
Over the next few years, after his chance encounters with numerology, Chaudhry also came to something of an epiphany. “Whatever was happening in my life was not in sync with my date of birth,” he says. He soon went back to his village and spent days at various government offices to validate his date of birth. “Back then, nobody checked these things,” Chaudhry says. “While my actual date of birth was November 18, 1950, my records had indicated August 1, 1949.”
That moment of revelation had, in many ways, been a life changer for Chaudhry. He credits his firm belief in numbers and numerology for his success, which has seen him emerge as one of the richest people in the country today. Chaudhry’s sprawling educational institute, the Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL), was bought by edtech decacorn Byju’s
for nearly $1 billion in 2021. Byju’s buyout of AESL was also among the largest acquisitions by an Indian startup, significantly bigger than Snapdeal’s purchase of Freecharge for $400 million in 2015 and Flipkart’s acquisition of Myntra
for some $330 million in 2014.
“Whenever I used to hire people, I used to always look at their name and date of birth,” Chaudhry says. “When I would look at buying a plot for the institute, the number had to match and be harmonious with my date of birth. It is the same for the faculty that I appoint or the fee structure.”
An initiative by Chaudhary to celebrate his birthday as the International Day of Numerology has found takers, and in the past year, he claims to have held a conference in New Delhi which was attended by numerous numerology experts from countries such as Canada, Australia and the US, among others. The idea of an International Day of Numerology, Chaudhry reckons, will dispel misinformation and myths surrounding numerology by bringing forth empirical and experiential evidence, validated by investigations, on the impact numbers have on people’s lives.
“For doing calculations in numerology, one requires only two things: Name of a person and the correct date of birth,” Chaudhry says. “Anyone can learn it and use it to make better decisions in all practical situations in life like investing in a business, selecting friends, buying a property, and so on. With time, a person with numerological knowledge develops a third eye and sees what others can't.”
Also read: BYJU's Divya Gokulnath on 2022: The year of lessons, resilience, and India's reckoning
It’s this firm belief in numbers that has also helped in some significant strategic moves at Aakash Institute. To start with, he had reworked his children’s names to match their numerological vibrations. Aakash, the institution that Chaudhry ran for over 30 years, was named after his younger son.
“Besides hard work, numerology has helped me take the safer option several times,” says Chaudhry. “Based on your date of birth and name, you know whether you are going through good times or bad times. And that helps you make decisions in business. Before I would go for a meeting, I would look at the person’s name and date of birth to see the mood he is in.”
Chaudhry started Aakash Institutes in Vikaspuri, New Delhi, after he resigned from his government job to provide private tuitions for students for medical entrance examinations in 1988. “Whatever money I was making as salary, I could make that from teaching two students… I thought why not take the risk,” says Chaudhry. “That’s what led me to start Aakash.”
Aakash began with 12 students in Ganesh Nagar, New Delhi, with each having to pay Rs2,000 as a fee. In the first year, seven cracked the medical entrance exam and since then, it has built a stellar reputation in the entrance examination business. Chaudhry claims Aakash has produced over 3.2 lakh doctors in the country. “Practically, every third doctor in India is from Aakash,” he claims.
By 2007, the company diversified into the lucrative IIT-JEE entrance examination following a slump in medical courses. About 1.2 million students appear for IIT-JEE every year. On average, over 2,000 students from Aakash scored 95 percentile and above in the exams and secured admission to some of India’s prestigious IITs. It was around this time that Chaudhry’s younger son, Aakash joined the business as CEO.
By 2019, private equity firm Blackstone picked up a 37.5 percent stake in AESL for Rs1,350 crore, valuing the institution at some $500 million (over Rs3,545 crore), according to sources. But even before he had to bring the New York-headquartered private equity firm Blackstone, Chaudhry again looked at how the names of both the companies matched numerically. Once it resonated with Aakash numerically, Chaudhry sold the stake. Also read: The Auspiciousness Of Number 9
In 2021, two years after Blackstone’s entry, Aakash sold its entire stake in the firm for a 70:30 cash-equity deal to Byju’s under which it was to receive an undisclosed stake in Byju’s for about 30 percent of the payment. “I did look at the numbers. Without numbers, I don’t do anything, and I figured that it was good for me,” Chaudhry says.
While there have been reports of discord between the Chaudhrys and Byju’s since the sale, Chaudhry seems to have moved past. Byju’s is now reportedly planning an IPO for Aakash later this year worth some Rs8,000 crore. “I don’t think too much of it,” Chaudhry says about the sale to Byju’s. “We should live in the present. It’s up to Byju’s how they manage to do it. Profitable companies are often approached, and people want to invest in them. I had worked for 50 years, and I felt how much more life span is left… it's better to consolidate and do other things in life.”
Since then, Chaudhry has been on a buying spree, mopping up residential properties in and around Delhi. According to reports, Aakash, Chaudhry’s son and the co-promoter and managing director of Aakash, bought a 1,300-square-metre bungalow in Delhi’s Kautilya Marg for Rs137 crore last August. That apart, the family also reportedly purchased a bungalow and three luxury apartments for some Rs200 crore. They followed a purchase of a farmhouse and a 2,000 square yard property in South Delhi, all for nearly Rs200 crore. Also read: It's wartime but it's not a challenge: Byju Raveendran on the future of online learning
Obsession With Numbers
With Byju’s now in active control of Aakash, Chaudhry has turned his attention to his other passion: Numerology.
“I could see that if you have a good knowledge of numbers, you can be very helpful for the general public,” Chaudhry says. “You can make their time better. You can solve their problems. You can treat them. It is a wonderful type of science where without medicines, only by numbers, you can help the people to grow very well.”
While Chaudhry set up Chaudhry Nummero Pvt Ltd (CNPL) in September 2018, it was only in December 2022 that he launched national services with a full-page advertisement across the front page of newspapers in the country. According to Chaudhry, Nummero services offered are spread across relationship issues, marriage issues, name correction and losses in business. Besides, Chaudhry has also authored two books on numerology.
“For good fortune, it is important to have compatibility between the name and date of the birth of the person,” Chaudhry says. “There are three important numbers that play an important role in the numerology calculation of a person. The psychic number, destiny number and name number. All these should be in compatibility for a great numerology chart.”
Over the next year, Chaudhry wants to scale up his numerology business, which means setting up backend IT services and opening offices in the country and hiring staff. Chaudhry has already set up an app available across Android and iOS platforms. “The business has started, but it will take a few months for it to pick up,” he says. “I intend to bring this science to the forefront because people don’t know much about numerology and the intention is also to bring awareness to the public.”
Chaudhry is also planning to help build an Indian Institute of Numerology, an institution that would strive to integrate numerology with modern science and create a future generation of tech-savvy numerologists with the appreciation for scientific methods. Besides, he is in the midst of setting up an International Numerology Forum, a platform that will enable discussions and exchange of ideas among the fraternity globally.
“I opened my first office in Dubai, and am now expanding globally,” Chaudhry says. “The primary idea is that I have already done well if you look at my career graph. But how can I now help people.”
Meanwhile, Chaudhry has also set up a trust, Jay Kay Trust, that’s building miniatures of various dhams on a 12-acre land at Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. “I am planning to spend the next three or four years doing numerology before I go ahead and spent my time at Vrindavan,” says Chaudhry whose family also runs a 230-bed super specialty hospital in New Delhi. “I want to enjoy that part of life. I want to sit there and lecture people on numerology and other things.”
For now, Chaudhry says, he has his eyes set on taking numerology to the masses. And with his expertise in building from the bottom, it may not be long before he captures the imagination of many. Chaudhry is flush with funds, and with a network spanning many doctors and engineers among others who studied under him, Chaudhry may well be on his way.
Check out our Festive offers upto Rs.1000/- off website prices on subscriptions + Gift card worth Rs 500/- from Eatbetterco.com. Click here to know more.