I personally do not believe in astrology – or at least the version purported by our “astrologers”. From whatever little knowledge that I have gained over the years, I have learned that astrology is an “exact science”. According to this science, the position of planets change by the millisecond, and unless you know your time of birth to the exact second, predicting one’s future based on the position of a few planets and constellations is absolutely inappropriate. Unfortunately, most of our astrologers have conveniently omitted the “exact” part of this description and try to convince gullible believers into believing the “science” part. I feel most astrologers are excellent just salespersons, who convince susceptible clients by sweet talking their way into their psyches.
In my meanderings, I remember that once during my late teens one such “well-known” astrologer had tried to convince me that astrology is a science and can be used to predict my future. My late grandmother (a dear and simple soul who was naïve enough to believe anything that an astrologer would predict) had dragged me to this astrologer, as I was not doing too well in my studies then. Now I could not tell my family that the problem with my studies was my own doing and had nothing to do with my stars, so I went along quietly. The astrologer was at pains to explain the validity of using astrology to predict our future. He said that just as doctors determine the health of a person by checking the temperature, heartbeat, condition of the pupil, etc. astrologers determine the future of a person by various universally accepted factors such as the position of planets, constellations, time of the year, etc. My state-of-mind then was not such that I could argue or debate with him on this matter, but over the years when I reminisce this particular incident, I have realized that it was just not logical. Medical science is based on hard-core facts, whereas astrology is based on a lot of assumptions and muddled-up facts. It is just as impossible to determine the time of birth to the exact second, as it is to determine the planetary positions at that moment. So does it not mean that all that astrologers predict are only a bunch of suppositions, based on some smart guess-work? I personally feel so and I usually take predictions made by such soothsayers with a truckload of salt! At best these can be taken as approximations, which should never – I repeat never – be taken as a hand book to lead your life. I have seen many a lives being destroyed because people refuse to believe in their own abilities, and take refuge in the story written in their stars. Ironically, we almost always end up blaming fate and – you guessed it right – our stars for our self-made bad luck.
Another place where astrology needlessly intervenes in Indian lives is during matrimonial match-making. I have been witness to many of my relatives matching horoscopes, before fixing their progeny’s wedding. Does a perfectly compatible horoscope ensure a “happily married ever after” status? Have you not seen many such “ideally-matched” marriages being wrecked due to mutual incompatibility? So how can matching of horoscopes have any say in the future of a marriage? How can getting a “manglik” girl married to a tree (before getting her married off to a non-manglik male) alter or even improve her future? How many times have we seen two people in love being separated by opposing parents because of a mismatch of their horoscopes? How did we as a country become “intolerant” towards something as pure as love? I have always believed that the position of a group of stars or planets cannot make or break my destiny and it can in no way change the course of my future. But why would you want to know what the future holds for us, when life itself is so unpredictable? Can we not make use of the present and live life to the fullest right now? If you seriously think about it, you will realize that all the problems you have in your life is usually your own doing. If you turn introspective, you will realize that this needless dependence on what our stars predict for has a lot to do with the insecurities within us. When will we Indians grow out of this mental enslavement?
Another gripe of mine is the fact that we are superstitious about anything and everything. If a cat crosses your path you curse it and turn back (has anyone asked the cat how it felt when you crossed its path?); if a lizard falls on us have a bath; no haircuts on Tuesdays; no houses or floors that have the number 13 in it; hang lemon and chillies outside homes, shops, cars, etc. for good luck (why not one round your neck too?); 7 years of bad luck on breaking of mirrors; no cutting nails after sunset; menstruating women considered impure or unclean; no walking under a ladder; crows being referred to as our ancestors; the list is endless! If you do some research you will realize that almost all of these superstitions mentioned above have a perfectly logical or scientific reasoning behind it. For example, did you know that in ancient times most Indians were farmers who worked the whole week and took the day off on Mondays, when they did household chores, and yes, had a haircut? So naturally barbers took their day off on Tuesdays. But over a period of time we have associated a haircut on Tuesdays with bad luck! Just like horoscopes why are we so reliant on superstitions to run or rather ruin, our lives?
But to each his or her own. I have nothing against astrologers, numerologists or any kind of soothsayers – in fact a few of my good friends are in some of these professions. I also do not have anything against people who visit them, but please do not accept it as the final word on your future – after all, there is more to life in the present than in the future!