Blind faith in astrology

Most of the people who believe in astrology do not have any knowledge of the structure of astrology.Many of them might have found that some sort of predictions made by astrologers did come true in either their own case or in the case of their acquaintances. That is usually the main reason why they believe in it. Unquestioning belief in age-old traditions is also an important reason. The funny part of this belief is that the predictions that went wrong are ignored or easily forgotten by them. The excuses put up for wrong predictions are commonplace. Pro-astrology people argue that astrologers who have full knowledge of astrology are very rare. The average astrologers who do not have enough knowledge of it can make wrong predictions. And moreover, the time of birth provided to them is often incorrect, which makes their predictions go wrong; but that is no fault of astrology itself! It is obvious that nobody can eliminate such vague factors, and consequently, real assessment of astrology becomes an impossible task.

Movement against astrology

Dr. Abraham Kowoor was the First man who practically brought the rationalism in to movement. He used a popular tool of challenge of Rs 100 000 against the Godmen’s miracles in 1972. In the List there was Challenge regarding Astrology. Ten palm-prints or horoscopes having birthplace with correct latitude & longitude, time of birth correct up to minutes will be given to astrologer. He is supposed to tell only two things.

· Whether the person is Male or Female

· Dead or alive

Nobody had accepted the challenge at that time. MANS further enhanced this amount up to Rs 200 000 and now it is Rs 21,00,000 Media has given wide publicity to this challenge from time to time. The prediction tolerance was even relaxed to 20%. But up till now nobody has accepted our challange. However, the challenge has achieved the goal of making people question the authenticity of astrology. Is it not really possible to forecast even the present? For so many years why even a single learned astrologer throughout India could not predict exactly ? May be not be for money but for the prestige of astrology which they hold in such high esteem? In fact in-depth knowledge of astrology is not required for simple predictions. On logical level if one cannot tell even the present correctly how can they forecast the future events of some importance? With reference to past,“the present” is always ¨ the future.¨

Stray thoughts of a Palmists, an Astrologers and a Stock Market Analysts

Foretelling is an enigmatic business.For long years I have been an observer of forecasters and I, myself, have been one for a few years. I used to be an equity researcher, predicting the price movements of stocks linking the prices to the performance of the underlying companies and the state of the markets.When I look back to my old writing, which have rightfully found place in the attic, I get an amazing mix of predictions gone both ways – right and wrong.

I have also been checking on the buy/sell/hold recommendations of various fellow analysts, to find a more or less similar pattern.Yet the business goes on.Nobody has ever been blamed for ruining investor’s wealth and taken to the court.Most analysts do not even get fired for predicting market movements that did not happen.

With due apologies to their MBA degrees, these forecasters could well be grouped with palmists and astrologers, who find themselves in more or less the same state, except that they do not earn salaries and bonuses like analysts working for transnational broking houses.But a few of them have become stars, thanks to TV and newspaper appearances.I have even purchased annual forecasts, detailed month by month, for the sun signs, my wife and I belong to.We carefully read the forecasts and I even went to the extent of noting down the summaries into my palm pilot, so that on the first of each month I would know how the rest of the month would behave with me.The analysis of the results is as predictable as Paneer in a Delhi banquet.

And I believe your experience is no worse than mine. Remember that I am not proposing that all forecasting is horseshit. All I am saying is that, it is not a product or service which will perform like a pressure cooker or a refrigerator, which when turned on will cook and chill respectively, always, in a working condition.Forecasts are not reliable like these simple gadgets.And all of us know this.

Then why do I buy this defective product, which will not always work?

 

What Dr Narlikar says

Describing astrology as urban superstition, noted astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar expressed concern over the growing number of young people being influenced by it. Narlikar was speaking in the context of creating a society with scientific temper, at a public interview on his latest book Scientific Edge.

Belief in astrology should be re-examined; said Narlikar “It is not just older generation. It is worrying to see that more young people have belief in astrology today. I suggest every person examine it individually and come to a rational decision about it.” he said.

In what was an engaging one-hour interview by friend and director of IUCAA Narendra Dadhich, Narlikar responded to questions on his book, which details the highs and low of growth of science in India during the millennium.

Speaking of the need for a change in social mindset for the development of a scientific temper in India , Narlikar highlighted the role of reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy, one of the personalities whose contribution to science has been recognized in the book. Raja Ram Mohan Roy is remembered for his role in abolishing sati. He was social reformer who promoted modern scientific education and understood that progress an only come by changing mindset.

Responding to questions on science and religion, which form the concluding chapter of the book, Narlikar emphasized that the two were separate spheres and that one should not trespass other.

While religion, said Narlikar, must accommodate scientific facts, science must accept that it cannot explain everything. Creation of Universe, for instance, is still unexplained. “This is a big challenge. Science for its part, must learn humility” said Narlikar.

Astrology to be Taught in Educational institutions

“The idea of having or allowing astrology taught in educational institutions is a regressive one,” thundered Mr.Yechuri.  He remembered Murli Manohar Joshi as having said that astrology must be taught, as we must rely on our faith -(vishwas) – also.  Recently in Chennai, a delegation of ministers was being received at a function.  On the podium table were many water glasses filled with water and one of them had coloured water. This glass was actually used as a flower-vase: the gardener had just taken out the old flowers and was searching for new ones from the garden. Meanwhilethe minister drank the coloured waterthinking it to be some juice or soft drink.  The minister was in hospital for 3 days, for his blind faith in the contents of the glass.  So, deduced Mr.Yechuri, there is at least one difference between “vishwas” and scientific thinking: three days in hospital!

“The Government’s changing of history records is a cause of concern,” said Mr.Yechuri.  The BJP and allies, to prove that Hinduism is a “pure” and native religion, have also to prove that the Aryans did not come from outside.  For that, they have to further prove that Mohenjodaro and Harappa had some Aryan culture.  One mark of Aryan culture is horses, which they needed for travel and warfare.  They found a horse’s bone near the site, so, it proves, they said, that they were Aryan settlements and that further proves that the Aryans are from here!  However, when the bone was analysed, it was found to be only 200 years old!”

Mr.Yechuri pointed out another ridiculous gaff of the BJP – appointed historians.  In the sites, a statue of a bull-like creature with long hair and mane was found.  They fed a picture of it into computers, and one computer concluded that it looks like a horse!  So, they said, it is actually a statue of a horse, and so it proves that they were fromAryan civilization, and so Aryans are from here.  Well, Yechuri said with a smile, “When you call a bull a horse, and try to convince everyone that a statue of a bull is actually that of a horse, we can imagine what sort of ideologies and theories you have!”

Mr.Yechuri recalled a joke from his university professorship days.  A professor digs in his garden about 10 feet deep, and finds some sort of wire.  So he rushes to a colleague and exclaims, “Look what I found. It proves that the ancient Indians were very advanced – they had telephone!”  “Excellent,” says the colleague, and begins to dig deeper in the same spot.  He finds nothing, so he rushes to the first professor and exclaims, “See, I didn’t find anything, so it proves that the very, very ancient Indians were still more advanced – they had wireless!”

On measuring “true Hinduism”, Mr.Yechuri had something to say.  He hails from Andhra Pradesh, where, in some regions a girl is automatically married off to her mother’s brother as soon as she comes of age.  In North India such a practice would be considered despicable, and the offenders probably lynched.  The question is, who is the true Hindu, the North Indians for condemning it, or the Andhraites for allowing it?

The futility of measuring “true Hinduism” can also be seen from the “Mahabali” example.  In Kerala and among Keralites, the Onam festival is celebrated.  Its theme is that a good and benevolent king Mahabali visits his subjects once a year on that day.  The subjects are happy that the king lives at least one day a year for them.  In North India , Mahabali is a rakshash who is killed by Vishnu, and whose death was necessary so that the world may exist.  So, now, who is the true Hindu, the North Indians for condemning Mahabali, or the Keralites for worshipping him?

Preventing religious beliefs is like Ram telling Krishna-worshippers not to follow Krishna , and Krishna telling Ram-worshippers not to follow Ram.  From this we can see that even God does not have the authority to tell you whom to worship and whom not to worship.  Atheism is also a belief, so God has no right to condemn anyone for being an atheist.  And if even God has no authority in religious matters, who are these saffronites, the BJP and its allies, to tell us?

Sitaram Yechuri ersity should introduce such a subject, which will take the students to Middle Ages.Pourohitya should not be taught in Indian universities since it will promote the age-old and outdated rituals, which do not have any scientific or ethical basis.

(Excerpts from the speech of Mr. Sitaram Yechuri, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of India , Marxist, New Delhi on

Action taken by MANS

UGC has circulated a note to all vice-chancellors of Indian Universities to introduce courses in Astrology at under-graduate, post-graduate and doctorate levels. ANS has strongly opposed this saffron move of the ruling Government since it gives sanction to dubious science. Our activists contacted vice chancellors of PuneUniversity , Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, BombayUniversity , NagpurUniversity and UttarMaharashtraUniversity in this regard and suggested that the course on astrology should not be introduced as directed by UGC since it is following the path of partisanship and regression. It is high time they called the bluff of astrology and other such spurious ‘sciences’, and revealed them for the fraud they are. Almost all the vice chancellors agreed to our stand and promised us that no courses will be introduced in their respective universities. In fact ANS activists of Aurangabad filed a case in the court to direct UGC not to introduce such courses in educational institutions.

MANS also arranged lectures at various places opposing the move of UGC to elevate astrology as an academic discipline. On one hand we have talented workforce in the field of information technology and still we are trying to pursue the studies already proved defunct. We are trying to laud our obsession with pseudo sciences such as astrology. We should endeavor to change our image that of ‘a land of astrology, mysticism, spiritualism and all that hocus pocus’ as perceived by people outside India. ANSinvited staunch supporters of astrology on the public platform to debate on the issue. A number of debates took place in various places and both sides presented their views. In this way the audience was able to make up their mind and convince themselves of the futility of astrology.

We also arranged conferences at selected places and the gathering passed following resolutions unanimously:

  • Astrology should not be taught in the Indian colleges and universities.

  • The consumer protection act to be applied to all astrology practitioners since consumers incur heavy losses due to false predictions.

  • The weekly column on astrology in newspapers and magazines should contain a statutory warning “ For Entertainment Only”.

  • Horoscopes will not be consulted while arranging the marriages.

  • Fatalism should be completely eradicated.

The All India Astrologers Conference was held at Solapur . This was also one more Jamboree trumpeting their own glory especially while UGC has introduced astrology as a subject in a few universities. ANS utilized this occasion to bring home its point against such pseudo-science.We wrote letters to leading astrologers requesting them to submit the proof that astrology meets at least postulates. Past experience shows that none of the experts come forward to put-forth their arguments, or at least a common sense explanation in support of their belief, perhaps it is not a debatable issue as far as they are concerned. We also organized a state-level competition to narrate the horrifying experience faced due to false predictions by astrologers. In any other country this daylight robbery would have been prevented by the state itself under some law and the culprits involved would be put behind the bars.

MANS units all over the state have been instructed to organize pledge ceremony for students who will publicly take oath condemning such malpractices and vow not to believe in astrology or horoscopes. This will enthuse the students to do hard work instead of relying on fate, chance or coincidence. We have also requested the eminent personalities in Maharashtra to come forward and take firm stand about this issue before it is too late. Perhaps joint statement may be made in this regard condemning astrology as a pseudo science, which goes against our cherished human values.