Astrology: Pulling on to the Strings of Modern India

India’s 63rd Independence Day may be well past its sell by date, but I am still in a state of shock. This is because on the 15th of August this year, I heard a surprising piece of news which left me stunned and shocked.  It was a simple snippet of information that the time and date for announcing India’s independence depended solely on astrology.

“Is that all?” you may ask. Our country has reached its 63rd year, but you may wonder ‘I could have spent my time in 1057 better ways than worry about such trivial matters’. But then, as mundane and stupid it may sound; this fact does represent a part of the truth which reveals what is wrong with our country and society today.

If people think that flaming balls of gas and cold hard stones in the outer space is what really matters and it is the celestial objects which determine and decide everything, then it would be of no surprise to me if the country was going to dogs. Astrology has been proven, time after time, to be just a game of probability and a bit of luck. But somehow, the very people who ought to know this are often those running after the sages and the wise men of astrology.

Every time somebody says something disparaging about astrology, people jump to its defence and say “It is my belief. Don’t touch it!”. In our land which rightly upholds the right of every individual to believe in what he/she wants, there is also a section of people who continue to adhere to superstition as the most important part of their lives. As Voltaire said, “Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy: the mad daughter of a wise mother”.

“So what is the big deal?” you may ask. The deal is that, like all superstitions, astrology is ultimately detrimental to any society which aims to keep pace with the modern times. Any superstition which controls and directs people’s lives result in  steering away from genuine learning and inhibits the cultivation of a scientific culture. It is ridiculous to believe that that flaming balls of gas and stones could actually be the reason why you tripped over a stone and scalded your knee the other day. Astrology has been proven wrong by numerous scientists for years now and it is depressing to note that a large majority of people in our country still hold faith in it.

People make financial decisions; decide who to marry and decide on a day to buy a new car, all on the basis of what an astrologist prescribes. When questioned about the authenticity of any of their beliefs, people say that astrology is a belief which is based on faith and therefore it cannot have any logical reasoning and rationale. Blind faith and belief is what they would expect you to have to get what it takes to get to the ultimate fortune.

Added to this diabolic mixture are those people who actually argue that the whole jamboree is, in fact, scientific and subject to logic. They refer to astronomy and a couple of instances in a few million years when, by coincidence, an astrological prediction has been aligned to the position of a few celestial bodies, resulting in a great event. They go on to parade this ‘evidence’ to the world, to prove that astrology is perfectly reasonable.

Astrology is for the weak-hearted homo sapiens who, on banging a leg against a table find solace in shouting “Damn you, Saturn!”.

In the 21st century, when India is progressing from the shackles of poverty and backwardness to all round development , it is detrimental to the whole process to be holding on to such superstitions. How are we to cultivate a scientific spirit and temperament if we harp to such ancient and outdated mechanisms at the drop of a hat.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “If you’re born when the wrong bits of a rock are in the sky, then you’re messed up for life”.
Basil James

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