Que sera sera,
Whatever will be, will be,
The future is not ours to see,
Que sera, sera…
Lines from a popular song, where a mother answers her children who wanted to know if they would grow up to be rich, beautiful and happy people. Sane advice, I would think.
Which brings me to the subject of astrology, which many people believe, gives you a prequel to the “que sera sera” script.
The key assumption in astrology is that everything is predetermined and that what we think is happening to us now has been already decided. It just happens that we are merely experiencing it now. Continuing further, what we are likely to experience later has also been laid out in detail by whoever we believe is responsible for the Universe and its design.
The next postulate is that the script for each of us is determined by the time and place of our birth. This is reflected in the planetary positions at that moment and which when interpreted, tells us the story that will be played out.
Most of us debunk these postulates, since it flies in the face of human endeavor and choice. If everything is determined, why waste our efforts? True, but even when we know that results are not entirely in our hands, we make the effort, because we are programmed and motivated to do so. Astrologers say “vidhi kanusaranam budhi” , which means that ‘you will think, as is your destiny’. It is believed that destiny acts through our thoughts and feelings and provokes us to make the choices we make!
Should we then leave astrology be and do what our judgement tells us?
Possibly yes. There is a joy in not knowing what the morning will bring and what awaits us at the turn of the road. This uncertainty gives us hope and the motivation to continue. Astrology, paradoxically, comes into play when a person finds this hope diminishing and he is plagued by doubts and a sense of despair. Most people refer to an astrologer when the locus of control has seemingly moved out of their grasp.
There are also times when a high risk decision has to be taken, like the marriage of a child and the start of a venture. Here, it may be understood, the information available to take a decision may not have given the person confidence and that is when he turns to astrology.
The basis of astrology is the horoscope, which suggests that everyone born at the same time and at the same place has a similar destiny. Taken to the logical extreme, it is true. Siamese twins have the same body sometimes. It also means that a change of a minute in time affects the sequence of events and the destiny in question. Empirical evidence suggests that twins sometimes are very similar in nature and have longevity that is similar. The greater the time difference the more separated the life experience. Mark and Steve Waugh are twins. They both played for Australia. However, one was a captain and the other remained a player.
The question then comes of inherited genes. It may be noted that siblings who share the same genetic pool do not shape up to be similar people. Evidence from horoscopes suggest that what is inherited and what is different, can be discerned from the horoscopes of parents and children. For instance, the tragedies that continued to afflict the Kennedy clan possibly could be ascertained from their horoscopes and the same applies to the Nehru dynasty, nearly the entire Gandhi (Indira, Rajiv and Sanjay) family had unnatural endings.
It is difficult to say whether there is a science involved. Indian astrology seems to have many schools of thought. The Brighu Samhita is used in the North and in the South, another style is followed. Agastya Nadi is popular in Tamil Nadu while other ancient texts linked to Varahamihira and Parasara are used in Kerala. In Kerala the planet “gulika” is crucial as the son of Saturn and this is not taken into cognizance in other parts of India. Jaimini astrology is another branch with its own theories and postulates.
All these systems possibly have linked cause and effect. Natural occurrences have been linked to planetary movements through the ephemeris and its effect on people recorded. This has then been phrased in couplets which help in predictions. This is my guess.
What can astrology reveal?. Foremost, it should be understood that even when people are born at the same time, if the places are far apart, their destinies will change simply because the planetary influences are expected to vary. So to assume that everyone born in the month of November will have similar destinies is false. Weekly forecasts in magazines are therefore nonsense.On a more academic note, these predictions are based on "mundane astrology" when the planetary transits are looked at on a macro-scale and predictions made. There may be a semblance of truth to it, but this is not very useful for an individual who seeks mental relief and reassurance that Lady Luck has not deserted him/her. For instance the recent past saw a recession which could be associated with Jupiter ( the lord of finances) being in a house of debilitation (Makara). The fact that professionals were jobless on a large scale could be associated with Mars being in a house of debilitation ( karkataka) for an unusually long period!.
The simplest astrological prediction would be to say that an Indian farmer’s fortune would improve in October- November. This is largely because harvest seasons always occur in that month and money tends to flow in. It is quite possible that these occurrences would have been woven into predictions at a time when agriculture was the main occupation. It is also possible that given the fluctuating weather conditions, most people would have become fatalists and a method of prediction that used astronomy and its impact on nature would have been a highly regarded science. It is also common knowledge that the waxing and waning moon affects the minds and bodies of people. In astrology, moon depicts the person’s mind and transits are analyzed against the moon. The sun is acknowledged as the provider of energy and the reason for photosynthesis, it is naturally an important planet and is said to determine the personality and also a person’s father, authority and inherited wealth. Saturn which is a cool planet and the opposite of the Sun in effect is treated as a slow planet that slows things down. Venus is associated with women and fine arts and Mars the aggressor, is the lord of professions. Aggression is regarded as an indicator of success in any field of work and so it is in astrology.
Largely therefore, a lot of common sense and observation of life marks astrological truths. What we therefore are using would be observed correlations and this explains the high confidence interval in predictions.
It is acknowledged that there is something called a sixth sense and many people have extra sensory perception. It is an accepted truth that many can divine presence of water under the ground without any hrdro- tests . In our house, a neighbor by the name of T. A. Abraham, divined the water presence and we dug a well at the exact spot to get clean drinkable water!! Most astrologers who are accurate use their sixth sense and intuition. This is sharp in early morning and it depends also on the astrologer’s frame of mind. This explains the variations in predictions made by the same astrologer. In fact one famous astrologer had approved a marriage after verifying the horoscopes. The boy died within a week of the marriage. The girls parents went to meet the astrologer a month later with the same horoscopes to test him. He immediately told them that the boy would be dead and to check the same!! When told the whole story, he said that destiny was that the two would be married and the girl would be widow, he therefore was not in a frame of mind to see that particular detail in the horoscope!!
Astrology refers to twelve aspects of a mans life and aligns this to the twelve months of the year. From physical personality, the mind, professional matters, matrimony, material gains, father, mother, siblings, sexual life, matrimonial affairs, to finally death,every aspect is studied. These aspects are studied from the point of view of a "house" which is assigned to this aspect from the twelve available. Medical astrology correlates these twelve aspects to twelve body parts. Incidentally,death and sexual pleasures are studied in the same house, because ejaculation is believed to be a "minor death"! Surprisingly it is something the French astrologers too agree.."le petit mort" is what an orgasm/ejaculation is referred to!!:))
While a horoscope is a freeze frame of planets at the time of the birth of the person, he is expected to go through “dashas” which provide the flavors of the season in a manner of speaking. In my life, I faced difficulties during the period of Kethu when I met with an accident and had frequent medical troubles. My grandfather assured my mother that all that would subside when I crossed twelve and entered the period of Venus and it did happen. It is also in my horoscope that I would enjoy “raja yoga” due to the position of the Sun and Mars and this happened in 1996 during the start of the sun’s period, when all of a sudden, I was the head of a multi–national agency office with staff strength of 29 people. It may be noted that I had started at the lowest rung of the ladder in 1991! My salary when the Sun's period arrived was fixed at 20 times what I got 5 years back! It was also a time, when suddenly a second career as a visiting faculty, took shape with exemplary rewards.This was something an astrologer in Hyderabad had predicted and given me in writing!
Marriage was also indicated as dangerous to life for me and for the spouse. This resulted in my horoscope being rejected by every astrologer worth his salt. My parents finally accepted defeat after years of advertising and searching!! I also believe that my own efforts at finding conjugal bliss came a cropper, because of divine intervention and possibly the innate survival instinct, that the women that I lavished attentions on, possessed :)!!
Linda Goodman though popular, is limited in scope as she merely explains the impact of Sun as the ascendant in each of the 12 signs. This is too general and cannot be of any use other than to entertain people at coffee table gatherings. Weekly forecasts in magazines are sometimes based on the transits (gocharas) which take the lunar as the ascendant. For instance, I have “Revathy” as a star, which makes Pisces my lunar sign. Predictions based on this would be too general , since many with Pisces as the lunar ascendant would have different horoscopes and therefore "dashas" and therefore different experiences. It may be noted that the dreaded “saade sathi” ( the 7.5 transit of Staurn) is not uniformly bad for everyone and the relative positions of planets and the "dasha" determine its impact.
As far as gemology goes, people say that gems have the ability to alter light rays and therefore cause different energies. May be true. I don’t know. The Big B wears a blue sapphire which apparently brought him luck. Some people keep cars that brought them luck , watches and many such inanimate objects. As long as these bolster a person's confidence and work like auto suggestions one cannot fault such superstitions. For that matter, Steve Waugh never relinquishes a red hanky and he won the World Cup finals after he was dropped by Gibbs. Hopefully, he washed his hanky once in a while and took the risk of washing away the luck ! We don't know if there is a theory on hanky's, their colour and luck!!
"Vaastu" is possibly based on common sense and a shrewd understanding of magnetic properties, weather patterns, traditional medicine and lifestyles. People say that you sleep better with your head touching the East . I have found this to be true. I think this has to do with magnetic properties. I know of an advertising agency where “feng shui “ was popular. They kept a mirror in the visitors toilet, as advised. A female journalist while visiting ,used it . Once inside,she turned to sit down and not expecting the mirror, thought someone was sitting down facing her and shrieked in horror I am not sure if the article on the agency that was written,had any pleasant vibes!
To conclude, yes, I think in the right hands, astrology provides solace to troubled souls and gives them hope and confidence. It is sometimes a relief to know that you were destined to change many jobs and that your spouse would have anyway deserted you, because it was destined! It also gives you hope that you may marry again within 18 months and that you may land a job away from home! Where medical check ups are not possible and character references difficult, horoscopes do the job for you. Businesses can also benefit. It is pertinent to note that the global meltdown happened when Jupiter, the Lord of Finances was in its house of debilitation and that things are looking up when it is about to move to a better house and the shadowy planets(rahu & ketu) have moved away.
Since I cannot end any article without a reference to a film, I would ask you to check out “MatchPoint”.Woody Allen is traveling the same ground .
And to end, a quote from Tennyson's Excalibur "Much more is wrought in this world by prayers, than one dreams of….”