Movement against astrology
Dr. Abraham Thomas Kovoor (10 April 1898 – 18 September 1978) was an Indian professor and rationalist who gained prominence after retirement for his campaign to expose as frauds various Indian and Sri Lankan “god-men” and so-called paranormal phenomena. His direct, trenchant criticism of spiritual frauds and organized religions was enthusiastically received by audiences, initiating a new dynamism in the Rationalist movement, especially in Sri Lanka and India.
He was the First man who practically brought rationalism into an action based movement. In 1972 Kovoor used an unusual and popular tool, a challenge of Rs 100,000/- against the so called miracles performed by Bababas , Matas , and self proclaimed God-men . In the List there was also a Challenge for astrologers. It was like this:- Ten palm-prints or horoscopes having birthplace with correct latitude & longitude, time of birth correct up to minutes, will be given to the astrologer. The astrologer was supposed to predict only two things.
1.Whether the person to whom the palm print or horoscope belongs is a Male or a Female. And
2. whether the person is Dead or Alive
Surprisingly not a single astrologer has ever accepted the challenge at that time or up till today.
MANS further enhanced this amount up to Rs 200,000/- and now it is Rs 21,00,000.
From time to time the media has given wide publicity to this challenge The tolerance of prediction was even relaxed to 20%. But up till now not a single astrologer has accepted our challenge.
However, the challenge has achieved the goal of making people question the authenticity of astrology.
Dr.Jayant Vishnu Narlikar (born 19 July 1938) is an Indian astrophysicist. He developed with Sir Fred Hoyle the conformal gravity theory, known as Hoyle–Narlikar theory. It synthesises Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and Mach’s principle. It proposes that the inertial mass of a particle is a function of the masses of all other particles, multiplied by a coupling constant, which is a function of cosmic epoch.
Renowned astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar, describing astrology as urban superstition, 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 critically 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 can 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. Meanwhile the minister drank the coloured water thinking 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 from Aryan 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 worshiping him?
Preventing religious beliefs is like Ram telling Krishna-worshipers not to follow Krishna , and Krishna telling Ram-worshipers 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 university 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 Pune University , Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Bombay University , Nagpur University and Uttar Maharashtra University 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. ANS invited 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.