October 3, 2001


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Arvind Lavakare

What the stars foretell

Post-September 11, Nostradamus made world news once again. And living astrologers of the future joined in to forecast mayhem across the world as Bush Jr screamed out his cry of 'Dead Or Alive' and the 21st century's first war. With the American president now having seemingly choked and chickened out on that 'bloody' resolve, the time seems apt for astrologers to examine his horoscope and foresee how he will actually act this coming week and after.

To do that with even a minuscule of exactitude, it is necessary to see how cowboy Bush's stars are placed in conjunction with those of Colin Powell, apparently his law abiding 'sheriff,' and those of Islam. Since the exact birth date and time of that religion are not public knowledge, it is impossible even for the most advanced computers of our age to cast those horoscopes in the manner they have been doing for males and females in India's marriage market. We will, willy nilly therefore, have to give up that configuring exercise in prescience, however titillating, and just live with 'Breaking News' of the world's television moguls to find out whether Bush says what he means and means what he says.

But there is a certainty of another kind. With the stars of Islam, and therefore Pakistan's, on the ascendant because even the mighty USA, it now transpires, is afraid of it, and with the USA's astral position being perpetually malevolent to India's planetary position, India should just forget America ever helping her in Pakistan's eternal hate-India fixation. No ritual, no wearing of charms or amulets, no appeasement of any god or goddess is going to get India the benevolence of the USA. No amount of lobbying by Indian Americans will bring about that miracle, whatever the Indian Caucus might say now and again.

Indians all over India and in the USA must simply accept this fact of life. America may talk sweetly with us and about us, take election funds from our green card holders but they will never, never so much as frown on Pakistan whatever Musharraf and his likes do to us.

Consider some recent happenings in this regard.

It was in March 2000 that we permitted President Clinton to come, see and conquer India's hearts. He simply gushed out promises to us. Those embraces and hugs continued when our prime minister visited the USA in September that year. But it has taken the USA 18 months to remove the sanctions imposed after Pokhran II. If you say that the delay was because of the American democratic system and its bureaucracy, you cannot explain how the USA removed sanctions on Pakistan, gave it a big relief in debt, loosened the strings on IMF aid to Pakistan, and agreed on Pak's demand for non-interference in a new government in Afghanistan -- all that in just a few days after Musharraf agreed to give 'unstinted cooperation' to America on its proposed war on bin Laden in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Again, it was at India's initiative that a joint working group with the USA was formed during Clinton's visit to combat terrorism. But now America doesn't want India to be at all involved in Bush's 'war on terrorism.' Its reluctance to even broach the subject of Pakistan's proven 12-year-old terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is the latest proof of just how incompatible the horoscopes of the USA and India are because of the influence of planet Pakistan's location.

If nothing else, this covert and mystifying US aversion for India's interests and its contrasting pampering of Pakistan at all times should be a good enough reason for stopping all further objections to our University Grants Commission offering courses in Vedic astrology.

Even otherwise, the storm on the issue is an illustration of how biased and unthinking the rest of India is in its anti-BJP psyche.

Just see the theme of the petition filed in the Supreme Court early last month by a group of Indian scientists. Their petition has dubbed the Vajpayee government's decision to introduce an astrology course in the university curriculum as 'a giant leap backwards, undermining whatever scientific credibility the country has achieved so far.'

The hypothesis behind this averment is what scientists have repeatedly stated in the 'secular' English media that are always itching to use any straw at all to demonise and defame the BJP. 'Astrology is not a science,' these scientists have shouted from the rooftop. Even the reputed and respected Dr Jayant Narlikar has jumped on that bandwagon without, sadly, looking at facts as scientists of his calibre at least are expected to do.

The first fact: When did the NDA government or the UGC ever say that Vedic astrology was being introduced in our colleges as a discipline in the science stream? Never, simply never. The truth is that the subject is being offered only in the arts stream. This has been made clear by Human Resources Minister Dr Murli Manohar Joshi in an interview to India Today of September 17, 2001.

Another elementary fact ignored by Dr Narlikar and others of Science Inc is that the subject 'Politics' has for years been in vogue in our colleges as a graduation and post-graduation course, but it has always been officially designated as 'Political Science' and, curiously, offered in the arts stream. Now Narlikar and Co have never ever objected to Laloo Yadav & Co as being practitioners of a science, have they?

And which of the so-called social sciences studied in the arts stream meets the rigorous cause-and-effect requirement of science?

Take sociology, which is the study of society. A respected pocket encyclopaedia published in 1963 says,'Most of the great philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Marx and Engels have produced theories on the nature of society but such theories often tell more about the individual who composed them and his political prejudices than about facts. Recently, however, there are signs that sociology is becoming a science in its own right.' Thirty-eight years later, is the study of Dalits in India a science?

The above quote reminds one of the Indian leftists' objection to astrology as a subject of study. They forget, dear, dear, that though Marxism has failed in the world, it is still studied in our universities -- whether as a social science is something this writer doesn't know.

Now those of the yet-unlabelled zodiac sign, Sceptic, might think that astrology as an academic subject long ago fell off the edge of the flat earth.

According to one published press report, several British institutions are to make the study of astrology mainstream again. Southampton University has formed a research group for the critical study of astrology and three students are to investigate links between the planets and various aspects of human behaviour. An unidentified benefactor, thought to be a British businesswoman, is providing some finance for the Southampton research and for other students at London.

Christopher Bagley, a social psychologist who heads the Southampton project, says, "Astrology in the academic community is a tender plant" but believes it is worth putting to scientific test. "The history of the topic has implications in archaeology, sociology and anthropology, and is sown throughout the Bible and Shakespeare." He himself would like to test the pineal gland theory, the hypothesis that a gland at birth may make babies sensitive to the electromagnetic forces exerted by the planets.

In his own work Bagley has analysed the birth dates of 12,000 people suffering from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and has found a 'blip' in late March and early April. This result, which would come under the sign of Aries, is 'compatible with astrological predictions.'

Another researcher Pat Harris, an astrologer with a master's degree in health psychology, is starting a doctoral study to examine whether Saturn, the 'barren' planet, can affect women's fertility.

There are reports that by the end of this year two other British universities, Manchester and Plymouth, plan to join those at Southampton for astrological truth. That's not really surprising when you consider that The Sunday Times, London, reported recently that Western companies routinely consult their financial horoscopes almost like the average Indian politician seeking an auspicious portent from the heavens.

Academic astrology is in the ascendant in the United States, too. You can now study for a BA in astrology at Kepler College of Astrological Arts and Sciences in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post of August 27, 2001 reported that the Astrological Institute, a modest school in suburban Phoenix, won accreditation from a federally recognized body, in what's believed to be a first for a school of astrology: the institute can seek approval from the US education department for its students to get federal grants and loans. And what do the school's students do? Write horoscopes and give advice about the future!

But Vedic astrology is much more than that according to the editor of India's Astrological Magazine. He recently stated,'Vedic astrology is simply the study of planetary and celestial movements and their connections with what happens on earth. It would be the height of arrogance for puny man to imagine he can divorce himself from his celestial environment and to delude himself that he can be an island in a Universe of inter-connectedness.'

In this context, The Hindu of September 7, 2001 carried a letter from one G Srinivasan of Kotagiri in Tamil Nadu. It states that the early almanacs used in the Vedic period for astrological predictions were derived by algorithms that did not even remotely resemble the mode of calculations adopted for astronomical purposes in the last few hundred years. Yet, the position of Mercury and the precession of the equinoxes quoted in those almanacs are valid even today for identifying planetary positions. Srinivasan therefore asks the following questions:
1. Should not scientists be eager to research into the origins of such mathematical procedures that used neither trigonometry nor calculus and yet were accurate enough to keep pace with modern methods of calculation?
2. Would not our scientific brethren like to know how Vedic science handled the esoteric subject of positional astronomy, which really is the primary part of astrology?

If the likes of Dr Narlikar have disdain for using stars to foretell how Bush Jr and his America is going to act in Afghanistan this coming week, why not encourage Vedic astrologists to do that? At least we'll soon have hundreds of that discipline earning millions of green bucks in Uncle Sam's confused country in years to come. Or should India wait until Oxford or Harvard offers a Ph D in 'Casting of Horoscopes?'

The Attack on America: The Complete Coverage

Arvind Lavakare

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