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Mouni Baba ( 3rd March came the news of the death of Mouni Baba, three days after the mahasamadhi of Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati on the last day of February. Jayendra Saraswati, born in 1935, was 82 years when he took samadhi. In the case of Mouni Baba we never knew his age as no one knew it and it was guessed that he was ninety three years old when he took samadhi though some newspapers said that he was 108 years old then.


As the Lok Sabha elections are drawing closer, corridors of power are replete with political discourses. Against this backdrop, astrologers too are busy making predictions, according to their own calculations. Whatever the political pundits might calculate about the formation of the next government, all the astrologers have one common prediction that Narendra Modi’s stars are shining and still the strongest, and according to planetary position, Narendra Modi can once again become the Prime Minister of the country.

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"After the betrothal an auspicious day is fixed for the wedding ceremonies. Astrological considerations do not seem to play an important part in ancient times. As the union of the bride and the bridegroom depended upon mutual attraction of love, there was not much scope for making matches on the actual calculation and the determination of stars. Moreover, though the ancient Hindus were acquainted with astronomy and astrology, that particular branch of astrology that deals with marriage was either not developed or was not much consulted for arranging a marriage. In the Grhyasutras, astrological considerations are very simple. Marriage was generally performed when sun was in northern hemisphere, in the bright half of a month and on an auspicious day. The later Smritis, the Puranas, the mediaeval astrological works and Nibandhas are very particular about fixing the proper time for every detail of the marriage ceremony." (page 209 HINDU SAMSKARAS Rajbali Pande, Motilal Banarsidas)

In the previous piece in this series (13) I have talked about the debate between the astrologer and the critics of the science of astrology. Part of the reason for this results from the complications introduced into certain aspects of Hindu life and the considerations for marriage. Rajbali Pande hinted at it in his famous book and we as astrologers know how stupid we become when we refer to some dogmas in the fast changing world of ours.

Modern educated girls and boys in cities, mainly metropolitan (may be other cities also) who have lot of sex in school and college days, do not take marriage as a sacrament. When it comes to their marriage, they have invariably a conflict with their parents who go to some pandits with their horoscopes. The pandit
comes out with some objections which are very irrational but suit the parents who want their children not to marry according to their choice. Invariably, to counter it, these college students, now settled in some profession, go to astrologers, including me, with the hope that we would counter the objections of the pandit and approve, astrologically, their choice.

These marriages in our times become a cross between swayamvara and gandharva marriage, more of the latter though. There is nothing strange or new about it but I have seen these marriages not succeeding mostly. But astrologers who try to help parents and talk against such marriages have their own arguments based some medieval notions of family and social life which does not suit the modern educated Hindu particularly girl.

These girls and their husband become critics of astrology at some stage or the other.

If you honestly look into the life and conduct of astrologers you will have no  respect for them, for their values in life. They must always have been the least respected members of our society. I have always advised some professional people in recent years to rise high in their professions and then talk of astrology
openly and not give up their jobs and take to astrology as a profession as some of them have been doing actuated by the greed to earn lot of money in a brief period of some months as many have done recently.

Contempt for astrology and astrology along with enigmatic respect and fear has been an eternal legacy of India. There is a terrible reflection on astrologers or fortune sellers who earn money out of this profession somewhere in the Mahabharata which I am not able to locate right now. Those who have read the Brihat Samhita of Varahamihira know how he refers to bad astrologers.

We have plenty of them now with proliferating websites, parihara specialising frauds, stone selling crooks both in India and now, abroad.

Parashara lays down a difficult condition for a good astrologer—jitendriya is the word he uses.

Where will you get a good astrologer now if you seek one ? Almost every day these days, I come across cases where a girl wants to marry a boy of her choice and the mother takes the help of some astrologer-cum-tantrik to ruin it. These incidents ruin the reputation of astrologers and astrology.

This must have been an eternal problem in India where astrology is recognised a Vedanga. In the west, where the Church has always been a mighty obscurantist force, astrology was opposed as the men of church must have felt that a predictor reduced their importance in the society. It must have been a case of terrible jealousy and ignorance which Copernicus suffered (the church should have condemned Aryabhatta of India whose research was plagiarised by Copernicus).

The western scientist has not overcome the prejudice of the Church against astrology. In 1975 when the BBC asked some scientists why they had signed a statement against astrology, they had answered “on religious grounds.” These scientists should have been ashamed of themselves for this act of theirs. But they could not overcome the influence of the church in their lives!!

In 1982, I became aware of fake claims of parampara among astrologers who pretended to have some secrets not given in any astrological book. Such pretenders have increased in recent years with Nadi or Bhrigu methods also creating ripples and ending up as mere whimpers.

All this leads me to believe that astrology will always have its critics because there are fraudulent astrologers, many of whom are getting promoted by television channels these days. It cannot be stopped because there are more unscrupulous astrologers than honest and genuine ones and astrology will always be looked upon as a pseudo science or black magic. Astrologers are responsible for all this.

But when were astrologers known for any moral responsibility?

( 13 February 2008)

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