Is Vedic Astrology the world’s oldest con?
Vedic Astrology is a misnomer. There is absolutely no mention of Predictive Astrology in any of the four Vedas, Upanishads or Brahmanas. No authentic Hindu scripture ever supported astrology.
“India is the source of most superstitions in the world….” one of my colleagues made a sweeping statement during a meeting. He is an atheist and leftist.
I asked him: “Can you show me any superstitions that originated from India, that’s before 1000AD, that’s before foreign invasions?…”
“It is NOT originated in India. Swami Vivekandand said ‘Anything that is Indian origin, first accept it, then verify it if necessary. Anything that is western origin, first you verify it, then accept’. Yes- astrology has origin, not in India, but in ancient Babylonian, Greece and Roman beliefs. The belief became common in India after 1000AD”
“Oh, then what about Vedic astrology? it was there from Vedic period”
“What’s that ?” I asked.
“You have been learning and writing about Indian our cultural heritage you must be well-aware about Vedic astrology…,”he said
“Whats’ that? And what’s that to do with our cultural heritage?”
“Oh- you have not heard about Vedic astrology?”
“I have seen advertisements about it, but I do not understand it” I said.
“You have learned sacred books – like Vedas, Puranas, Ithihas, Darshans, Upanishads, Gita and other texts, still you have not come across it?”
“Do you believe ancient scriptures are based on truth?”
“Yes. All our scriptures deal with subjects from Sex to Space science. Psychology to Mathematics. Aviation to navigation…Going into deep, I found that, my logic founded upon modern science and conditioning of my mind, is not true. The profound analysis and in-depth interpretation while dealing any subjects in those ancient texts can be termed as unparalleled. Many-a-times, modern science looked very puny and silly compared with ancient science…”
“Then you might have come across Vedic astrology…”
“Our ancestors were masters in Astronomy (Please note Astronomy=Science; Astrology=belief – both are not related anyways!)”
“You mean to say there is no mention about astrology and Jyotish anywhere?”
“I found that there is no system of predictions has any validity either from the Vedas or even Puranas least of all our dharmashastras etc. I have not found any predictive science anywhere in authentic Hindu scriptures. I am not saying I have read everything. As far as I know, that is. I am not an authentic expert in ancient scriptures…”
“But I have read in many places that people have been following Vedic astrology…”
“You are wrong…Our ancient scriptures never promoted any superstitions and mis-beliefs. Ancient Indians (till 1000 AD) didn’t have any superstitions (durachara and anachara)… British rewrote our history to make us feel shameful about our culture and tradition. After foreign invasion and foreign rules, we were left with shame and contempt of our own culture. So please do not evaluate Rigvedic period based on Indian history, leftist pseudo-intellects and semitic pundits. If you really read Vedas and Upanishads, you would understand that we had a much advanced civilization…”
There is no astrology in the Vedas so the term Vedic astrology is a misnomer. Vedanta also doesn’t talk about astrology.
“Oh, forget Vedic thing then, I am sure that I have read about astrology is originated in India”
“No. It has been borrowed from the ancient Greeks and the Babylonians. Historically speaking, astronomy started with the work of Aryabhatta. It was the first systematic astronomical text. The Vedas only discuss seasons, nakshatras and phenomena like solstices and equinoxes.”
“So you don’t believe in astrology?” he asked.
“No. I don’t” I said.
“Phew, so you are in the scientific path…”
“Yes- like our ancestors who were on scientific path from 3000BC…” I said. Most of our scriptures deal with pure and applied science.
ASTROLOGY CHALLENGES THE VERY BASIC CONCEPT OF GOD. If you really believe in God, surrender to God. Cross-checking what god has in stored for us in the future is insulting the trust in God. If you believe in astrology, your belief in God is not true. If somebody says that god will be pleased by making payments for certain poojas, then he/she is taking you for a ride. Ask yourself: Is god so cheap to wait for bribes? As if god gives you bad time, so that you will pay him bribes! The entire universe belongs to God. According to astrologers, God’s will can be purchased by offering him some money. Everything belongs to God. When astrologers say that God falls for few Indian Rupees or US Dollars, we can’t rubbish it off as just a childish thinking- this mind set can come only from very inferior beings who think even God is corrupt. Before going to astrologer, ask yourself, should I trust in God or should I trust an astrologer? Both go opposite direction.
Those who really believe in existence of divine power won’t doubt it’s strength. Please do not manipulate yourself believing that this divine power can be bribed. Our ancestors taught us clearly about dharma and karma, please try to understand it, before jumping into superstitions.
Please note that I am not against astrology or astrologers… There are more corrupt people in our society. Politicians also exploit us, right? I do believe that there are lots of people who can use their intuition to predict what is going to happen. Such precognitive power can appear by practicing deeper meditation, but such people won’t use it for material benefits. They won’t take innocent people for a ride. In short, they are not astrologers.
Like my father, I didn’t check horoscope before my marriage. But that doesn’t mean I would enforce my ideas or principles to others. If my friends, relative or children want to believe in astrology, let them. Nobody can question other’s beliefs.
My real concern is about exploiting innocent people in the name of beliefs and mis-interpreting our sacred knowledge. We are ridiculing our profound astronomy wisdom with fraudulent astrology. We have seen above, astrology is neither science nor art. It can be termed as belief. Again, I am not challenging any beliefs. Every human have the right to believe in beliefs. But, if astrologers charge a fee for their services, they should be accountable and should come under consumer protection act.
Most of the Hindus in India don’t follow the authentic scriptures. How many Hindus have read the Gita? This ignorance allows cunning people to twist Hindu religion for their own benefits.
Another friend, who believes in astrology, asked me: “Have you ever come across astrology or astrologers or any such events?”
“Yes, of course. During my twenties, I came across one of the toughest period in life. My family priest advised me (in private) to consult a good astrologer and seek advice. He knew that my father didn’t make my horoscope. I was almost tempted to do so. My father believed that astrology challenges the very concept of god. He said: “Surrender to God’s will and pray for betterment, that’s all you can do. No astrologer can help you more than that.”
Despite being born in a very conservative Brahmin family, my father had married without seeing or cross-checking horoscope. He had five kids including me. And nothing wrong happened to my parents till this day of writing this article. My father never prepared horoscope for any of us. (Later I have seen my mother’s horoscope written by a famous and reputed astrologer – he had written that she won’t cross 51 years. I saw the horoscope when she was 75 and still healthy!)
“Astrology has mathematical, scientific and research base, that’s why people believe it..”
“Friend, to in god, we do not need any scientific evidence, data or research. If you believe in astrology, it is good or bad for you. Why do you need to substantiate your belief with the aid of science – either you are not confident or you feel insecure about that belief, that’s why you want to mix up this wtih modern science, which is not very evolved..”
“You are ignorant…”
“Yes- I am and I am still learning…”
“See, astrology is a science…it is all mathematical calculations…”
“I totally disagree with you, within my limited knowledge” I said.
“Have you learned physics and mathematics?”
“Yes – in fact I am a graduate in Physics” I smiled.
“If you have gone through any books on astrology, you would know it is mathematics…”
“I have read few books long ago and had a job of editing weekly column on astrology. But let me tell you there is no science in mathematics in astrology…”
“Wherever you go, 2+2=4. That’s mathematics. But I have not yet met any two astrologers who can give similar readings. Astrology is NOT mathematics. Astrologers claim that there are mathematical calculations in astrology. Yes, there is. In Cricket game there is a calculation. Six balls = one Over. This is true everywhere. Or there is an application of mathematics in Card game too. It is a set rule of the game. And it has its own mathematics. Similarly there is a set rule in astrology as well as in gambling. That doesn’t prove anything. It’s all in the game..”
“But, still it is science…”
“Astrology is NOT Science. The labeling of astrology as a science is totally erroneous. All scientific disciplines derive their legitimacy from the scientific method, the foundations of which are: a respect for data, consistent reasoning, observational checks and the possibility of experimental refutation. Sadly, neither the method nor the practice of astrology conforms to the standards demanded of a science. The wily idea to promote astrology as a science is not only misleading but also dangerous. Astrology cannot be classified as either a science or an art because there is a lack of rational thought in the entire structure of astrology. Astrology depends on chance to fulfill its objectives, which is not the case with any other form of discipline…”
“But astrology is father of astronomy…”
“Biggest misconception. Astrology is NOT astronomy. Astronomy is a pure science, while astrology is based on superstitious beliefs. Astronomy (science), based upon careful observation and prediction, designed to help humans learn more about the universe in which we live. Astronomy has also been responsible for the discovery of asteroids, planets, stars, galaxies and more. Astrology is not a science. Astrology is not based upon collected data and carefully controlled, objective observations. Astrology is not based up falsifiable predictions which are tested and re-tested by independent observers and researchers. Astrology has not discovered any celestial objects – indeed, it is not clear that astrology has discovered or revealed anything at all about our universe. Astrology mis-uses some astronomical calculations”
“But astrology talks about planets and stars…” he said.
“Astrology MIS-INTERPRETS planetary effects. It is true that the sun’s radiation is the main source of energy for the creatures of the earth and it affects their growth very significantly. Similarly, it is the attraction of the sun and moon which cause oceanic tides. But all these effects are physical and they affect the earth as a whole, and not individuals in particular. From the laws of physics it is clear that the planets cannot greatly affect the weather and other terrestrial phenomena, let alone the lives of individuals on the earth’s surface, as claimed by the astrologers. So there is no need for us to be afraid of the imaginary effects of the harmless planetary configurations. Even astrologers know this, but in order not to lose face they go on fooling innocent people by pouring out some irrelevant scientific jargon in support of their trade. ”
– Our Jyotishis still consider the sun and the moon as planets! If you don’t know ask your kids – they would know. The astrologers took advantage of the fact that the periods of the heavenly bodies are such that they span different periods of man’s life to back up their hypocritical claims. We now know that the characteristics of a person are determined when the egg and sperm fuse together at the time of conception. DNA or God’s codes decide the program known as you. They have nothing to do with the planetary configuration at the time of the birth. Also, the seasons associated with the conjunction of the sun and full moon with given Nakshatras (Stars) change with the passage of time due the phenomenon of precession of the earth’s axis.
“Ok, I agree it is a belief system…there is nothing wrong in beliefs”
“Nothing wrong, as long as you don’t force it on others. Belief is belief, not truth. You can belief that your belief is truth. But insisting on others that my belief is truth, known as fanaticism. And exploiting in the name of belief is crime…”
“You are always proud about your Indian heritage and write a lot about it, then why are you not promoting astrology?” he asked.
Astrology is NOT invented by Ancient Hindu sages. Maharishi Bhardwaj was a statistician par excellence and the excellent sutras compiled by him to describe the motion of the planets. Also Varahamihira and others have done voluminous work on astronomy. Evidence suggests that work has gone into painstakingly noting down coordinates and mapping the path of planets. Bhaskaracharya rightly calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart. His calculations was – Time taken by earth to orbit the sun: 365.258756484 days. How many of you know about Aryabhata, Varahamihira and other ancient astronomers. But we know how to harass them – using their amazing invention for astrology.
“But an astrologer told me that Gita says about astrology…”
“As far as I know, Gita negates astrology. In Gita, it is mentioned that Arjuna wanted to know about his future. When Arjuna expressed his doubt by saying “I do not know what is good for me nor do I know whether we will win or the Kauravas will win the war”, Krishna neither asked him to consult any jyotish (Asrologer) or soothsayer nor did He tell him to wear any gems or perform some poojas (offerings to god)! He just advised Arjuna “You must fight – that is your karma. If you get killed in the war, you will get fame as a good warrior and if you win it you will be the lord of the world”. Lord Krishna Himself, who has the ability to see future or what is going to happen did not divulge such “secrets” before hand to us. Lord Krishna Himself did not believe in “fate being revealed” and “remedial measure suggested as per planetary indications”. The meaning is very clear: There were no astrologers around then.
“What about Ramayana?”
“Ramayana say that before deciding about the coronation of Sri Ram, his father Dashratha wanted his great guru Vasishtha to confirm the suitable muhurta (auspicious time) for that function. (Please note that this is not about horoscope or predictive science). Sage Vasishtha advised Dasharatha to anoint Rama as the Yuvraja (Crown Prince) the very next day, as it was “Tishya” i.e. Pushya nakshatra then. From this anecdote, it is clear that either Vasishtha did not know as to what was going to happen to Dasharatha by declaring Ram as yuvraj or Vasishtha kept quiet deliberately since he did not want to interfere in the divine dispensation! Valmiki doesn’t mention about any such astrological superstitions!”
“So no scriptures support astrology?”
“Nobody (Gods or Kings) in purana times checked horoscope before marriage”
Next day this friend came back and told me that I was wrong. He says, Brighu Samhita, Nadi Jyotishi, Aruna Samhita etc talks about astrology.
“Astrologers talk about Brighu Samhita, Nadi Jyotishi, Aruna Samhita etc. But there is no mention in any of the authentic Hindu scriptures that Vasishtha or Garga or Brighu etc. have ever written any books on predictive astrology. You can check yourself in puranas. Please don’t go by some false quotes you see in the astrology marketing websites! Check for yourself.”
“Another astrologer told me that “Hora Shastra” is taken from Vishnu Purana” he said.
“I have read Vishnu Purana by Parashara that has lot of astronomical references. But there is not even a single mention of any Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra…” I said. The most moderate and mild phrase to describe so-called Vedic Astrology, is “The mother of all cons, literally.” Veda has nothing to do with astrology. People have been using the word “Vedic” to justify everything. (I heard that somebody was planning to launch Vedic toothpaste too!)
“But our ancestors could predict the future” he asked.
“Yes – Indian Saints could peep into past as well as future by their yogic practice. But they did not reveal the future before hand, unlike some of the astrologers of today, who masquerade as “Pravachaks” to tell us even our past and future life just by glancing at so-called birth-charts, even if those charts doesn’t have any scientific base! Our ancestors, without even using telescopes, were able to determine the movement of celestial bodies and speed of light. They have even calculated the distance between the Earth and Sun. But they didn’t have the guts to cheat people the way today’s astrologers do = mis-using our ancestor’s study in astronomy.”
“I don’t understand, you say predictive science was there, and you don’t believe in astrology”
“I have experienced the predictive power of enlightened people. Those with sattvic guna can feel the vibes of intuition – but they, surely, are not astrologers. People with sattvic quality won’t exploit fellow human beings. If you can feel the vibes of cosmic, you can easily say what’s going to happen. For that you need not learn astrology or any such beliefs. Sometimes, after seeing astrologers, people begin a sattvic life – all of us know that sattvic guna will bring extreme good luck. And astrologer becomes beneficiary!”
As such, it is really a fraud on the Vedas being played by some charlatans to call any predictive gimmicks as Vedic astrology and hail themselves as “Vedic Jyotishis”. It is a crime under “The Consumer Protection Act” as it is a misrepresentation of facts to a client and is thus a deficiency in service. The fact of the matter is that our Vedic Rishis were not bothered about predictive astrology. As such they never mentioned anything about Mesha etc., rashis even by mistake.
“Hmmm. If astrology is not correct, how come millions of people blindly believe in it and follow it?” he asked.
“Good question. The basis of astrology is disarmingly simple: a person’s character and destiny can be understood from the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets at the moment of his or her birth. Interpreting the location of these bodies using a chart called the horoscope; astrologers claim to predict and explain the course of life and to help people, companies, and nations with decisions of great import. People always wanted to believe that the future can be predicted. That is why there are still many believers in the stars. People think horoscopes are accurate because they wish to think they are. This is not a science — it is hocus-pocus. The astrologers did no better than chance. And the astrologers often failed to agree with each other’s matches….”
“But in my cousins case, a prediction came true…”
“I really would want to give the benefit of doubt as half of the earth’s population believes in astrology to certian extent. Sadly, till this day, I have not come across to any first hand information or proof to support astrology. I have never met an astrologer, who can predict accurate, or at least 60 % true. Anybody, even me, can predict up to 50% true – it is known as a “chance”. When you go to heavy traffic, I can predict there may be an accident – and there is 50% chance in that….”
– You also can make predictions that are as correct as anybody else’s i.e. hardly 50%. However, this is a secret that no “jyotishi” shares with anybody — which his /her predictions are hardly more correct than fifty per cent, whatever logic or Ayanamsha he/she may use! We meet with so many difficulties in our life, mostly are caused by our own actions and others by the actions of our fellow-men. Astrological forecasts provide one such false hope and sometimes it serves as a peg on which to hang one’s mistakes and responsibilities. That is why many people continue to believe astrologers, although most of their forecasts are quite ambiguous and often wrong.
“If you know it is fraud, why can’t you fight it?”
“I am just a writer, not an activist. See, wrting makes you more enemies than friends. If I write in support of astrology everybody would be happy. I know there is a big mafia of astrologers-priests-temple management working together to cheat people. There are few good astrologers too – they do not ask money. They believe that astrology is true and they want to do good for others based on their beliefs. That means few astrologers have good intention, thought it is baseless.”
India’s decline and astrology: Experts say that if you read history, you can clearly understand that one of the main reason for the downfall of the ‘Glory that was India’ happened because of the later entry of priesthood, astrology and astrologers along with other anacharas, durachars and superstitions.
After foreign invasions, Indian kings lost their dharma, karma and virtuosness. They became corrupt. The system got manipulated. Insecure kings began chasing Jyotishis. They were insecure because they didn’t follow their Dharma. During epic period it was a dharma yudha (ethical war). Later, kings were not interested in the principles of war strategy and statecraft as explained by the ancient scriptures, the Manu and later by Chanakya. Kings didn’t focus on our ancient science (on navigation, aviation, astronomy, weaponry etc). Instead they took easy route – beliefs – like blindly followed priests and astrologers!
Astrology appears in different forms in many cultures. It arose at a time when humankind’s view of the world was dominated by magic and superstition, when the need to grasp the patterns of nature was often of life-and-death importance. Celestial objects seemed in those days to be either gods, important spirits, or, at the very least, symbols or representatives of divine personages who spent their time tinkering with humans’ daily lives. People eagerly searched for heavenly signs of what the gods would do next.
I don’t understand why is the moment of birth, rather than conception, crucial for astrology? If the mother’s womb can keep out astrological influences until birth, can we do the same with a cubicle of steak?
And every day thousands of people around the world base crucial medical, professional, and personal decisions on advice received from astrologers and astrological publications. But I don’t understand why do different schools of astrology disagree so strongly with each other?
French astronomer Jean-Claude Pecker has pointed out that it seems very small- minded of astrologers to limit their craft to our solar system. Billions of stupendous bodies all over the universe should add their influence to that of our tiny little Sun, Moon, and planets. Has a client whose horoscope omits the effects of Rigel, the Crab pulsar, and the Andromeda Galaxy really had a complete reading?
David Hilbert, one of the world’s greatest Mathematicians in a statement said that, “When you collect the ten wisest men of the world and ask them to find the most stupid thing in existence they will not be able to find anything stupid than astrology”. (Ref: Science, Non-science – the Paranormal).
If the stars lead astrologers to incorrect predictions 9 times out of 10, they hardly seem like reliable guides for decisions of life and affairs of state. Yet millions of people, including some scientists, seem to swear by them.
What astrology is, however, is very good business. Books on astrology bring in billions of dollars each year, and who knows how much money professional astrologers earn collectively. This is one reason why astrology and astronomy stayed together for as long as they did – funding from astrology helped support astronomical research.
Please reflect on all these before you go to an astrologer. But if somebody insists that they need to, there is no harm in going along with that. I don’t force my belief on others. Belief in astrology and non-belief in astrology both are beliefs. So, I keep an open mind.
Reflect on this conversation happened in my life:-
“I have a sister. Her bridegroom’s parent insist that they want to see horoscope chart – what to do?” One of my friends asked me.
“Go and check it” I said.
“But you said, astrology is not science and it is fake”
“It is a belief…Why should we convince others on what we believe or dis-believe? I can marry without checking horoscope as I am sure that astrology is a phony thing… But we should not impose any beliefs on your sister or daughters or any siblings. I do not want to argue with any. Everybody is free to have his/her faith…”
“What will you do in your case – tomorrow if your kids needed to check it for marriage?”
“I don’t impose or thrust my opinion, beliefs and policies on my kids. They have to experience themselves. I would tell them that according to my understanding, astrology is just eye-wash… Then, if somebody insists, I would also go with them and enjoy their experience…just as I go for a movie. I always wanted to take it as it comes.”
“So should I go?”
“Friend, you do whatever you want – why do you need to get a support or acknowledgement from me? My opinion is mine only. You are a different expression. So you can have different perspective – If you stop them from seeing an astrologer and in the event of some unfortunate things happen to them in the future, they would put the blame on you. I know nothing can be prevented and nothing can be changed or nothing can be predicted before-hand, but what’s use in telling others if they don’t understand it” I said.
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© Uday Lal Pai. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing at [email protected]
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