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The blunder of Bheeshma and Janaka?

There has been an exchange of thoughts,  on astrological predication which kindles my interest in knowing more about this science or art or ignorable irrelevance or whatever you call it..
Two astrologers never agree; so, where is the lacuna? Lack of clarity of the basics or lack of prudence in calculation ? How old is this subject? Has the Vedas mention about it? Puranas did not seem to have worried much about it. Had it been so, The wise king Janka would have chosen a husband for Sita as per the astrologer’s suggestion and perhaps saved her from the mental agony she had undergone in her married life. Even the all-knowing Sri.Krishna did not think of the planets when he grabbed Rukmini’s hands in a temple and rode to his palace. In fact, in the olden days,  brides from the royal family were given the privilege of selecting husbands of their choice.Even gaandharvaa type of weddings -meet and marry-was allowed. Bheeshma did not consult an astrologer before forcefully taking away three royal sisters to Hasthinapur-( how I wish he had!). So, when did the astrologer enter into our society and prevented the eligible couple coming together in wed lock, threatening the curse of some planets which roam in the sky?
But one thing is sure; not only in India, but elsewhere too, astrology was in practice during the earlier days and a lot of thoughts have gone into that matter and a lot of debates and discussions have taken place. But for me, Sri. Purandaradas is the guide:
Saklagraha bhala Neene Sarasijakasha!
Nikhila vyapak Neene Viswaraksha!
Ravi, Chandra, Budah, Neene, Rahu kethu Neene
Kavi,Guru, Saniyu, Mangalanu Neene,
Dhivasa varavu Neene, Navavidhananu Nneene.
Bhavrogha hara namma Beshajanu Neene.
Paksha, masavu Neene, parvakaalavu Neene,
Nakshathrkeeyike karanavu Neene.
Akshaya drowpathiya mankathava Neene
Pakshivaahana deenarakshakanu Neene
Rithukaalavu Neenu,vrathadhinankalu Neene,
Krathavu snanavu, sandhya gathiyu Neene.
Ithilhi nannodaya Purandhara Vitalaa!
Sthuikea silukatha Mahathmanu Neene
Sakala graha——–”
And no regrets. In fact I am benefited. As per the three astrologers whom my people consulted, I would have died thrice and had I believed in their predication, I would have died two years earlier to the first date, just out of fear!
But you may discuss. Let some useful information come out.

3 thoughts on “The blunder of Bheeshma and Janaka?

  1. I have been trying to look for a scientific base, that would support astrology.
    Astrology can be divided into two parts – one that calculates and identifies planetary movements and major events like Solar and Lunar Eclipses, New Moon Day, Full Moon Day etc. This area certainly has a mathematical base and can be worked out accurately.
    The other part of astrology is relating human life – past, present and future to planetary movements. There are certain happenings in life, over which we have no control.
    “There is a Divinity that shapes our end”, Shakespeare would say at one place. The Same Shakespeare in another place said
    ‘The fault, lies, Brutus, not in our Stars
    But in ourselves. We are underlings’
    Events happening beyond our control, the cause of which man had been trying to fatham for centuries. Certain events in our life may have been caused by other human being intentionally or otherwise, but not all events. For example, in murder or suicide, death is caused by intention. The happenings are not exactly logical or rather we are unable to look for any logic in them. But some of them follow a pattern. Therefore, our forefathers may have felt that certain forces had been guiding our lives and these forces they traced to planetary movements. At the same time, if our lives are predetermined by planetary forces, pariharas should have no impact in changing the course of events. If pariharas can change the course of events, there is no predetermination.
    In our family my paternal Uncle was a well known astroger. Once, a cousin of mine (this uncle’s son) was given a letter by his Company that his transfer to Mumbai could not be considered as Mumbai was unable to absorb him. This uncle insisted that planetary movements indicated that his transfer would take place. Within a month, certain changes in the company took place, and in the new set up his transfer request was considered.
    On another occasion, another member in the family missed the last date for sending an application for job in a Company. This uncle said that he was destined to get a job in that Company only. Within the next few days, the Company announced that due to request from various centres, they were compelled to extend the last date for accepting applications. This boy could submit his application within the extended period and lo! he was considered for the job. I have empirical evidence for these two happenings. But am unable to establish causal connection between planetary movements and events in our life. When I read that great astronomers and astrophysicists like Dr.Jayant Narlikar did not accept astrology as scientific, I became sceptic about astrological claims.
    In conclusion I do not dismiss the subject as hoax nor do I state categorically that it is scientific. I feel that there is considerable scope for making a scientic study and gradually unravel the mystery about happenings in our life. Merely tracing an event to certain planetary position is not sufficient. The event has to be conclusively connected to the planetary position. This would satisfy all.
    Thanks to Mr.Perinkulam for opening a subject for scientific discussion.

  2. Friends,
    Invariably, I receive a number of mails commenting on my posts; I read them carefully, reply to all in a reasonable time and preserve some.
    Here, is an excellent exposition , from an elderly, learned, matured member of our group, Sri.Gopalakrishnan, which I have the privilege of sharing with you, with the kind consent of the author.
    “I could think other than pure chance something more in it”
    Yes, Anna. I too have had such experiences which I attribute to “God”; my children say that God has better work to do. But I do not want to go with them as I am happy with my way of thinking. And what are we but for our ‘beliefs’.
    I am glad that something useful is coming out of this discussion as I hoped for, in my posting.
    And thanks to all who writes to me, who shares with me their personal, family issues. Sitting far, far away from the homeland, it helps me to feel the warmth of that soil.

  3. Dear Mr. Sivasubramanian,
    Astrology is a fantasy subject introduced to us by the Greeks. The Jyotisha as a Vedanga dealt with calculations for aspicious time for conduct of yagna and yagams based on the position of stars and planets (astronomy). It was never meant for forecasting a person’s future or in match making. However the Greeks, Sumerians and Egyptians had a thriving astrology as a subject.
    As it often happens in Indian history, we took the crap out of West (astrology) and gave them our jewel (astronomy). As you pointed out, the lack of references in puranas and epics to astrology is the biggest proof that Astrology did not exist or was not significant as a prime decision making tool. The law of Karma and the Law of God’s Mercy are enough to explain the happenings of the world. If everything is as per what is written a fixed permanent chart, then what is there for us to do? If everything is ordained by the law of the astrology, why do we don’t we just relax and let nature take its own course in our journey of Self Realisation.
    I am pasting a page from Swami Vivkenanada’s works titled “Man the maker of destiny”, in which he explains about the probably origins of astrology in India, the futility to believe in stars for our future.
    Man The Maker Of His Destiny
    There was a very powerful dynasty in Southern India. They made it a rule to take the horoscope of all the prominent men living from time to time, calculated from the time of their birth. In this way they got a record of leading facts predicted, and compared them afterwards with events as they happened. This was done for a thousand years, until they found certain agreements; these were generalised and recorded and made into a huge book. The dynasty died out, but the family of astrologers lived and had the book in their possession. It seems possible that this is how astrology came into existence. Excessive attention to the minutiae of astrology is one of the superstitions which has hurt the Hindus very much.
    I think the Greeks first took astrology to India and took from the Hindus the science of astronomy and carried it back with them from Europe. Because in India you will find old altars made according to a certain geometrical plan, and certain things had to be done when the stars were in certain positions, therefore I think the Greeks gave the Hindus astrology, and the Hindus gave them astronomy.
    I have seen some astrologers who predicted wonderful things; but I have no reason to believe they predicted them only from the stars, or anything of the sort. In many cases it is simply mind – reading. Sometimes wonderful predictions are made, but in many cases it is arrant trash.
    In London, a young man used to come to me and ask me, “What will become of me next year?” I asked him why he asked me so. “I have lost all my money and have become very, very poor.” Money is the only God of many beings. Weak men, when they lose everything and feel themselves weak, try all sorts of uncanny methods of making money, and come to astrology and all these things. “It is the coward and the fool who says, ‘This is fate'”– so says the Sanskrit proverb. But it is the strong man who stands up and says, “I will make my fate.” It is people who are getting old who talk of fate. Young men generally do not come to astrology. We may be under planetary influence, but it should not matter much to us.
    Buddha says, “Those that get a living by calculation of the stars by such art and other lying tricks are to be avoided”; and he ought to know, because he was the greatest Hindu ever born. Let stars come, what harm is there? If a star disturbs my life, it would not be worth a cent. You will find that astrology and all these mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind; therefore as soon as they are becoming prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food and rest.
    If you can get an explanation of a phenomenon from within its nature, it is nonsense to look for an explanation from outside. If the world explains itself, it is nonsense to go outside for an explanation. Have you found any phenomena in the life of a man that you have ever seen which cannot be explained by the power of the man himself? So what is the use of going to the stars or anything else in the world? My own Karma is sufficient explanation of my present state. So in the case of Jesus himself. We know that his father was only a carpenter. We need not go to anybody else to find an explanation of his power. He was the outcome of his own past, all of which was a preparation for that Jesus. Buddha goes back and back to animal bodies and tells us how he ultimately became Buddha. So what is the use of going to stars for explanation? They may have a little influence; but it is our duty to ignore them rather than hearken to them and make ourselves nervous. This I lay down as the first essential in all I teach: anything that brings spiritual, mental, or physical weakness, touch it not with the toes of your feet. Religion is the manifestation of the natural strength that is in man. A spring of infinite power is coiled up and is inside this little body, and that spring is spreading itself. And as it goes on spreading, body after body is found insufficient; it throws them off and takes higher bodies. This is the history of man, of religion, civilisation, or progress. That giant Prometheus, who is bound, is getting himself unbound. It is always a manifestation of strength, and all these ideas such as astrology, although there may be a grain of truth in them, should be avoided.
    There is an old story of an astrologer who came to a king and said, “You are going to die in six months.” The king was frightened out of his wits and was almost about to die then and there from fear. But his minister was a clever man, and this man told the king that these astrologers were fools. The king would not believe him. So the minister saw no other way to make the king see that they were fools but to invite the astrologer to the palace again. There he asked him if his calculations were correct. The astrologer said that there could not be a mistake, but to satisfy him he went through the whole of the calculations again and then said that they were perfectly correct. The king’s face became livid. The minister said to the astrologer, “And when do you think that you will die?” “In twelve years”, was the reply. The minister quickly drew his sword and separated the astrologer’s head from the body and said to the king, “Do you see this liar? He is dead this moment.”
    If you want your nation to live, keep away from all these things. The only test of good things is that they make us strong. Good is life, evil is death. These superstitious ideas are springing like mushrooms in your country, and women wanting in logical analysis of things are ready to believe them. It is because women are striving for liberation, and women have not yet established themselves intellectually. One gets by heart a few lines of poetry from the top of a novel and says she knows the whole of Browning. Another attends a course of three lectures and then thinks she knows everything in the world. The difficulty is that they are unable to throw off the natural superstition of women. They have a lot of money and some intellectual learning, but when they have passed through this transition stage and get on firm ground, they will be all right. But they are played upon by charlatans. Do not be sorry; I do not mean to hurt anyone, but I have to tell the truth. Do you not see how open you are to these things? Do you not see how sincere these women are, how that divinity latent in all never dies? It is only to know how to appeal to the Divine. The more I live, the more I become convinced every day that every human being is divine. In no man or woman, however vile, does that divinity die. Only he or she does not know how to reach it and is waiting for the Truth. And wicked people are trying to deceive him or her with all sorts of fooleries. If one man cheats another for money, you say he is a fool and a blackguard. How much greater is the iniquity of one who wants to fool others spiritually! This is too bad. It is the one test, that truth must make you strong and put you above superstition. The duty of the philosopher is to raise you above superstition. Even this world, this body and mind are superstitions; what infinite souls you are! And to be tricked by twinkling stars! It is a shameful condition. You are divinities; the twinkling stars owe their existence to you.
    I was once travelling in the Himalayas, and the long road stretched before us. We poor monks cannot get any one to carry us, so we had to make all the way on foot. There was an old man with us. The way goes up and down for hundreds of miles, and when that old monk saw what was before him, he said, “Oh sir, how to cross it; I cannot walk any more; my chest will break.” I said to him, “Look down at your feet.” He did so, and I said, “The road that is under your feet is the road that you have passed over and is the same road that you see before you; it will soon be under your feet.” The highest things are under your feet, because you are Divine Stars; all these things are under your feet. You can swallow the stars by the handful if you want; such is your real nature. Be strong, get beyond all superstitions, and be free.
    – From “The complete Works of Swami Vivekananda”

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