There was a time when ‘superstition’ was the way of life. It was what people practised to earn a living. They predicted when the harvest would bring home joy; when the rains would bestow on the barren, thirsty lands. They even predicted how the unfortunate misgivings of nature had links with the wrongdoings of human beings. Though what I stated earlier has come to be the common truth of today’s ecological system, astrologers seem to have answers for every practical, pragmatic, emotional and unpredictable situation. We all grew up with a certain amount of blind faith, with mothers and aunts warning us not to sneeze at the door, contemplate bad luck when a black cat crosses the road and also the extent of not cutting nails at nighttime. Our grandmother might rationalize it by stating that no fact survives the test of time without any rationale. But we have also grown up with logic, practical approach and theories being fed into our brains through science. Even when science has advanced leaps and bounds, why does Indian astrology and other forms like Nadi astrology, palmistry, face reading and the likes tickle the fancy of the most successful businessman, the most accomplished leaders and the most artistic geniuses? Is it a trend akin any other in the society? If yes, why doesn’t it seem to die down or even derail from its well-attained status? Is it just to feed our urge to know the future and the amusement that comes with it? I am hoping it is not that frivolous a reason.
Indian astrology or “Jyotishya”, as it is popularly recounted, has been prevalent since the 1st millennium BCE and has been elaborated in the sacred Hindu texts, the Vedas. They carried astronomical predictions and details and calculated the day, date, positions of planets and so on with the help of a “Panchanga”. The Vedas are basically religious texts and imply more than just scientific research and compilation. There are many a astronomical references in the religious epics like the “Ramayana” and the “Mahabharata” which link to the study being widespread even in those times and also that it was eminently followed. It is famously understood and believed by many learned minds that even before Galileo gave this world an eye to look at the universe and Copernicus deduced that the sun was actually the center of the universe, the Vedic saints had devised the placements of planets and stars in the sky. With such deep roots and engrained familial beliefs, shunning off science from our daily life seems absolutely unimaginable.
As wide and deep as the Vedic astrology is, the criticisms of it are equally rife and propellant. Scientists and modern astronomers have written off the science obviating its faith by saying it’s unscientific and illogical. It does not confirm with the new age advancement in terms of technology and research in popular streams like physics and chemistry. They tout it as being colored with notions of blind faith and superstition as well. Atheists despise it loud and clear and the practical minds choose to laugh off the concept. There is no chance of knowing or even predicting the future correctly; it does not appeal to their logical thought process. But believers, astrologers and intellectuals of the field choose to state science as something much above today’s proof and logical approach. They state that the study is so vast and complex, it will take years to figure out the movements and progress in planetary positions and how they affect the human life or the world altogether. This is revealed to us as we read about it or talk to someone with the minutest know-how of the subject. The criticism and doubt arises due to ignorance and complete negation, as said by many Vedic astrologers. Of course, there will never be accurate information available on what tomorrow holds for us and the predictions will differ from one astrologer to the other, as their expertise is subjective.
There will always be a lively debate between the two schools of thought regarding this controversial yet engaging facet of astrology and science. There are also arguments about a political agenda behind the Vedic astrology being promoted by the right wing fundamentalists to assert the Hindu supremacy. But the science has also achieved importance enough to be taught as a mainstream subject in many of the world’s best universities. The Western world is looking towards gaining from the best the East has to offer and thus has been studying and applying Vastu Shastra, Feng Shui, Reiki and the Vedic astrology very closely. While we wait to reach a solid conclusion and a specific inference on whether this wing of astrology is accurate and valid, we shall all still persist to visit the guruji regularly, wear the rings prescribed to us religiously and the kundalis will still be paramount in deciding life partners. As it is said in a Sanskrit verse, horoscopes will always be examined only to look for the prosperity and happiness of the possessor of it.
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