Friday, November 03, 2006

Civlizations Part I - Astrology

Well, we are 6 years down into the new millennium – but some things will never change. One I could never understand is the ever growing interest of people in sentiments, beliefs and other similar stuff which they believe can bring them good fortune or bad omen. Astrology, auspicious days and times, animals, gold and precious stones – the list never ends.

The not so surprising element is the people from so called developed West are not exception. In fact, they believe more in this stuff than the ‘uncivilized/under-civilized’ and under-developed African and Asian tribes.

Even the rockets and space shuttles are being launched only after huge calculations and debates to decide the so-called auspicious date and time, sometimes even putting aside the weather and geographical conditions. I still remember the spam of forwards I got explaining the bad time the exploded ‘Columbus’ space shuttle had entered the earth’s atmosphere and several reasons trying to prove that it was a bad time for the US when WTC was attacked.

These mails gave me a lot of fun as I know the truth and many of us know, thought not willing to accept.

If one realizes what actually happens in this world and what affects one’s success or failure, then that person can really enjoy all these stuff – whether it is astrology, lucky stones or something else.

Let’s start with the science of “astrology” (Yes, Indian government claims “Astrology” as a science and tried to introduce a diploma course on this in all universities).

Astrology is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs in which knowledge of the relative positions of celestial bodies and related information is held to be useful in understanding, interpreting, and organizing knowledge about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial events

As said, generally people try to get a glimpse of their future by doing different calculations using one or more of these factors –

1. Date and Time of Birth – Not sure of the exact rate, but it can be assumed at least 1000 births take place at the same time in the world –
a. Is the fate of all these 1000 persons same throughout their lives?
b. At least, can twins (with same birth date, parents and equal atmosphere, climate, opportunities, economic conditions, etc.) be guaranteed with same future? (I can recall so many Bollywood, Hollywood movies involiving separation of twins – one grows in a police house, one grown by a thief – Ha ha ha)
c. Even, if the birth happens at the same time, the exact date-time differ from time zone to time zone and country to country. Babies born in New Zealand and Pacific Islands have a difference of one day in their birth days – though their birth places differ by 5-10 kilometers.
d. This reminds me Dec 31st 1999 when lot of pregnant ladies in UK pleaded with doctors to time their delivery to 1/1/2000 to get the distinction of their baby to be the first to born in the new millennium, forgetting/ignoring/not aware that the new millennium would start only on 1/1/2001 and secondly, the sun would have already set in Australia and Japan and thousands of babies would have already born in the new millennium.
e. The current Gregorian calendar practiced all over the world was proposed only in 16th Century.
f. So, since the Date and Time of birth cannot exactly affect the future of a person, the sun signs, zodiac signs, birth stars can be struck off. But let’s see what is in them.
2. Sun signs – The names and the member stars might be different, but almost all types of astrology based on solar calendar believe that there are 12 sun signs – identified by 12 constellations (group of stars) in which the sun reside for 12 months of a year –
a. Well, any person with basic primary school education must have learnt in their science academics that the universe is vast and the stars which seem to appear closer to each other and make so called constellations are, in real, separated by thousands and millions of kilometers. The ancient and medieval astronomers identified some patterns in the way the starts had appeared when seen from the earth, grouped them and named them in the shape the group resembled – for example, Polar Bear that when seen from the Europe appeared in the extreme North (hence Polar) and the shape was like the animal, bear. Similarly, Orion, the Hunter and his two dogs, Cannis Major and Cannis Minor.
b. They named the path the Sun appeared to take when watched from the Earth as Zodiac and selected 12 big constellations which appeared to fall on or nearer to this path and named them as Zodiac signs. Luckily for them, bulk of these constellations shaped up in animals (Aries – goat, Taurus – bull, Pisces – fish, etc.)
c. They termed that the sun stays moves from one zodiac sign to another every 30 days, generally every 14th of a month to 15th of next month.
d. Depending on the date of birth of a person, the zodiac sign in which the sun is believed to reside is assumed as the Sun sign of that person – The bulk of the western astrology is based on these sun signs! – Even I get a junk of forwards on different types of foretelling based on these sun signs - if you are a Sagittarian, you will get a huge amount of free money this month, blah blah!
e. Some firm believers may impart science to this sighting the seasonal changes that take place when the sun ‘moves’ into Capricorn on Jan 14th and similar stuff.
f. But, in first place, how can a group of stars separated by thousands and millions of kilometers affect a living being staying in a small village on Earth, one of the planets revolving around a small dwarf star called Sun, which is no way comparable to huge stars in the Milky Way (again conceptualized by man) and unexplored areas of the universe.
g. The basic truth – Sun is a star and immovable object. Only Earth moves around the sun and obviously, that gives the impression that the sun moves from one zodiac constellation to other.
3. The above logic holds good even for the Lunar signs – According to some civilizations, including India, the moon affects the lives of people – Moon resides in 27 stars for each day (some times less than a day and some times more than that) in a month and this repeats for 12 lunar months – the period for which a moon stays in a lunar sign.
a. To add, moon is a satellite of earth – So the Earth should affect the living things on moon (if any), if the logic of Sun affecting the people on Earth is applied.
4. Solar Eclipse (total or partial), Lunar Eclipse are not exceptions to this. In India, the temples of Hindu gods are closed on the day of Eclipse and some special pujas (act of praising the god) are performed after the close of eclipse. So, even Gods are affected by the eclipses!!
5. I don’t want to talk much about the other types of foretelling like – using Cards (Western, African), Parrots and other birds, etc.

To be continued...


  1. Got Post!! Is it? Looks so! but may not be so!!

    I have to accept your words - and then accept myself as an ignorant or infact a pesimistic. Sounding strange is it!!! May be I want to sound strange. But before concluding just read the passages below -

    “Mukunda, why don’t you get an astrological armlet?”
    “Should I, Master> I don’t believe in astrology.”
    “It is not a question of belief; the scientific attitude one should take on any subject is whether it is true. The law of gravitation worked as efficiently before Newton as after him. The cosmos would be fairly chaotic if its laws could not operate without the sanction of human belief.”
    “Charlatans have brought the ancient stellar science to its present disrepute. Astrology is too vast, both mathematically and philosophically, to be rightly grasped except by men of profound understanding. If ignoramuses misread the heavens, and see there a scrawl instead of a script, that is to be expected in this imperfect world. One should not dismiss the wisdom with the ‘wise’.”
    “All parts of created are linked together and interchange their influences. The balanced rhythm of the universe is rooted in reciprocity,” my guru continued. “Man, in his human aspect, has to combat two sets of forces – first, the tumults within his being, caused by the admixture of earth, water, fire, air, and ethereal elements; second, the outer disintegrating powers of nature. So long as man struggles with him mortality, he is affected by the myriad mutation of heaven and earth”.
    “Astrology is the study of man’s response to planetary stimuli. The stars have no conscious benevolence or animosity; they merely send forth positive and negative radiations. Of themselves, these do not help or harm humanity, but offer a lawful channel for the outward operation of cause-effect equilibriums that each man has set into motion in the past.”
    “A child is born on that day and at that hour when the celestial rays are in mathematical harmony with his individual karma. His horoscope is challenging portrait, revealing his unalterable past and its probable future results. But the natal chart can be rightly interpreted only by men of intuitive wisdom: these are few.”
    “The message boldly blazoned across the heavens at the moment of birth is not meant to emphasize fate - the result of past good and evil – but to arouse man’s will to escape from his universal thralldom. What he has done, he can undo. None other than himself was the instigator of the causes of whatever effects are now prevalent in his life. He can overcome any limitation, because he created it by his own actions in the first place, and because he possess spiritual resources that are not subject to planetary pressure.”
    “Superstitious awe of astrology makes one an automaton, slavishly dependent on mechanical guidance. The wise man defeats his planets-which is to say, his past-by transferring his allegiance from the creation of the creator. The more he realizes his unity with spirit, the less he can be dominated by matter. The soul is ever free; it is deathless because birthless. It cannot be regimented by stars.”
    “Man is a soul, and has a body. When he properly places his sense of identity, he leaves behind all compulsive patterns. So long as he remains confused in his ordinary state of spiritual amnesia, he will know the subtle fetters of environmental law”.
    “God is Harmony; the devotee who attunes himself will never perform any action amiss. His activities will be correctly and naturally times to accord with astrological law. After deep prayer and meditation he is to touch with his divine consciousness; there is no greater power than that inward protection.”
    “Then, dear Master, why do you want me to wear an astrological bangle?” I ventured this question after a long silence; I had tried to assimilate Sri Yukteswar’s noble exposition, which contained thoughts very new to me.
    “It is only when a traveler has reached his goal that he is justified in discarding his maps. During the journey, he takes advantage of any convenient shortcut, The ancient rishis discovered many ways to curtail the period of man’s exile in delusion. There are certain mechanical features in the law of karma that can be skillfully adjusted by the fingers of wisdom”.
    “All human ills arise from some transgression of universal law. The scriptures point out that man must satisy the laws of nature, while not discrediting the divine omnipotence. He should say: ‘Lord, I trust Thee, and know Thou canst help me, but I too will do my best to undo any wrong I have done.’ By a number of means – bt prayer, by will power, by yoga meditation, by consultation with saints, by use of astrological bangles-the adverse effects if past wrongs can be minimized or nullified.
    “Just as a house may be fitted with a copper rod to absorb the shock of lighting, so the bodily temple can be protected in certain ways”.
    “Electrical and magnetic radiations are ceaselessly circulating the universe; they affect man’s body for good and ill. Ages ago our rishis pondered the problem of combating the adverse effects of subtle cosmic influences. The sages discovered that pure metals emit an astral light which is powerfully counteractive to negative pulls of the planets. Certain plant combinations were also found to be helpful. Most effective of all are faultless jewels of not less than two carats”.
    “The practical preventive uses of astrology have seldom been seriously studied outside of India. One little-known fact is that the proper jewels, metals and plant preparations are value-less unless the required weight is secured and unless the remedial agent is worn next to the skin.”
    “Sir, ofcourse I shall take your advise and et a bangle…..”

    I had been prejudiced against astrology from my childhood, partly because I observed that many people are sequaciously attached to it, and partly because of a prediction made by our family astrologer: “You will marry three times, being twice a widower.” I brooded over the matter, feeling like a goat awaiting sacrifice before the temple of triple matrimony.
    “You may as well be resigned to your fate,” my brother Ananta had remarked. “Your written horoscope has correctly state that you would fly from home toward the Himalayas during your early days, but would be forcibly returned. The forecast of your marriages is also bound to be true.”
    A clear intuition came to me one night that the prophecy was wholly false. I set fire to the horoscope scroll…

    The starry inscription at one’s birth, I came to understand, is not that man is a puppet to his past. Its message is rather a prod to pride; the very heavns seek to arouse man’s determination to be free from every limitation. God created each man as a soul, dowered with individuality, hence essential to the universal structure, whether in the temporary role of pillar or parasite. His freedom is final and immediate, if he so wills; it depends not on outer but inner vicotires.

    These are not words from my mind. Thesre are from Chapter 16 of the book - "AUTOBIOGRAPHY of a YOGI". By repeating these here I am not asking you to start believing these. But would like to make it clear the words - "Do not dismiss the wisdom with the 'wise'"

    Also to your statements that sun is a Star, a Dwarf and immovable - I believe you are wrong - if its a dwarf and still immovable so is earth too. And for information Sun along with its entire family (solar system) keeps rotating around its own axis and revolving around the center of our galazy which inturn is rotating around its axis and revolves with the probable center of universe.

    The world is very vast and there are many that man has cracked, many not yet cracked, many he cracked but lost in the ages of negligence. To you some which are not cracked - magic patterns that are drawn some nights in feilds, mystery behind st. Ignatius (why his body doesn't disintegrate), etc are just two of thousands. And to those which man has cracked yet lost the roots - thousands of ancient temples in India are evident to them.

    No one believed that a fantasy written in 1800 hundreds would be truth until two brothers invented air-plane.

  2. Fantasies of fanatics become true only when scientists work. So, who is the real performer? Fantasizer? Or the scientists who convert dreams into reality, sacrificing their lives? Eg. Thomas Alva Edison.

  3. Who are scientists? Only those who work in the labaratory, writing papers, making equations, looking worn out, busy all the time inventing things?

    Then who are those who discover things in the world of lost wisdom? Knowledge hunters or Scientists?

  4. Leela,
    Even though the reference passage given by you is not created on your own, I appreciate your in-depth knowledge of philosophy and karma (I assume you give a reference only after understanding it).

    The example of bangle/armlet is good - trying to support your belief or knowledge that astrology is a science and it should not be ignored. This reminds me the general Indian belief - "everything is written in Vedas and Indians had discovered everything centuries before the West discovered through some other means - but we lost these great things unfortunately."

    Having nostalgic feelings about the old customs and assume that our ancestors define something only with wisdom, some hidden mantra in it. This may be true sometimes - like the vermillion on the forehead, turmeric to the feet, prohibiting cooking during eclipses/house in which a death has happened, etc. But this should not let us to get to a false conclusion that they were right in every aspect and we, with so call horns of science and technology on our heads, tend to ignore them.

    My opinion on sentiments/beliefs/customs/traditions - "As long as it doesn't hurt/cause pain to one's own or other's sentiments (this sentiment is different from the former one),lives, future." It might give some self-belief or confidence (like red hanky used by Steve Waugh, former Australian Cricket Captain). But the problem comes when the success is attributed to so called belief many a times and the failure to lack of application from our own side or even blaming some other poor creature, even a person.

    But I agree that astrology is a science. For me, the word 'science' has a broader meaning - something proposed in a science need not alwyas supported by proof. Why - the answer lies in my first reply below.

    Coming back to your own comments -

    1. I would like to know any proof that claims that the solar system rotates around its own axis and revolves around the Milky Way galaxy and that the Milky Way galaxy revolves around the probable center of the universe
    - The last phrase itself provides what is real. The solar system, milky way, galaxies, universe are proposed theories. These theories are not always supported by proofs. But the lack of proofs cannot underly the facts. Sometimes, these theories and assumptions might fail - People (including you and me) have studied for at least a 100 years that there are 9 planets in Solar system. Now one International Organization claiming to have the rights to regulate (??) these astronomical bodies, which gives them names, declared that Pluto cannot be considered as a planet. So, what should be said about this?

    2. Well, there are many uncracked things for which the science has no answer and a man cannot say how or why such an incident/thing has happened. But this cannot be an excuse to believe blindly in something which has no base or formal theory or evidence.

    3. Coming to fantasies, science and discoveries - I believe what a scientist should possess is imagination, not day dreaming. Even great scientists failed - Copernicus who had to his credit a lot of discoveries proposed an earth-centric theory which the people believed for 200 years before disproved by Galileo. Einstein proposed many wrong theories - but people remember only the Theory of relativity and his equations.

    Hmm. I thought of a comment and it turned out into a blog.
    You provided me a good subject - karma. I will try to throw some focus on it.