ASTROLOGY Periyar E.V.Ramasamy

[Jothisha is not limited to predicting the future and indicating the good and bad things to come. It goes further to indicate the measures to be taken to counter the ill effects of the planetary conjunctions, as if the poor and miserble antidotes taken by man could set aside the powerful and terrible future already drawn and irrevocably set by the planets!]

Astrology is closely connected with the casting and reading of horoscopes, determining good and bad times and reading the future. Jothisha is supposed to read the past, present and future. A rationalist who carefully scrutinizes astrology will notice that it is largely connected with religion,This is because astrology is based as much on superstition  as religion itself. 

The stars and planets and the thithis or good days taken into account in astrology, have all legends attached to them similar to the ones in the Hindu Punranas. The characteristics attached to some planets and stars are seen to have been drawn from the fantasies of the Puranas.

Connection with Athma
While one religion attaches imaginary characteristics to the stars, planets and days, another has none of it. Further, like in the Hindu religion, astrology is interconnected with athma, past birth, karma, fate, sin and virtue. All this is no more than speculation.
Some religions do not accept astrology. Indeed some religionists regard astrology akin to atheism!  So far, no scientist has accepted the truths or imaginations of jothisha, and its comes nowhere near science. Even palmistry  or the art of telling the character from facial expression or the body cut, augury or the art of omens, have all not been accepted by science.
Why science neglects
If there is really any truth in jothisha, and even otherwise if it could do anything good for mankind, the great scientists of the world who discovered the radio, the telephone, and the atom would not have left astrology severely alone. People who have discovered and measured the life springs in plant life, flew high into space or bored  into the earth for hundreds of miles would have taken the help of astrology if there 
was any truth in it.
Governments that have established mammoth research laboratories for various faculties would certainly have sought to improve the lot of mankind if there was anything to be gained by setting up a research establishment for astrology. The absolutely total neglect accorded to astrology by science is an important matter to be taken into account.
Fear of unpopularity
To add to the various superstitions engendered by religion, should astrology with its speculative superstition be permitted to complicate the onerous existence of mankind?
In expounding my views on astrology, it is possible I have erred wholly or partly. It may be I am not fitted to express an opinion on such an ancient art that has attracted mankind's interest for millenniums. But people who know the truth about jothisha are not ready to come farward to publicly denounce it for fear of becoming unpopular. A denunciation, therefore, from a lay man may at least, I hope call for a defence of the art of astrology on a way that I would have raised a useful discussion on this controversial subject.
Astrology and Hinduism
 Hindus believe in all sorts of stories. The deity dancing in men, the dead speaking through a medium, ghosts attacking people, causing disease or death through 'billy soonya', causing annoyance and misery through the play of kutti-satthan or little devil, enticing people by mesmerism, shaping of one's life by past karma, 
are all strange things in which Hindus hold belief for the purpose of improving their own lives or causing trouble or death to other people's lives. The amount of time, energy and money wasted by people on these in-definite arts are immeasurable. 
Likewise astrology is another art in which Hindus have firm faith,  and no inconsiderable time and money are expended on this account. To all intents and purposes, the result of belief in all these false or indefinite arts is suffering and more misery to the people who resort to these things.
Priest Class’s exploitation
The astrologer, the magician, and the temple priest have always been the prime exploiters of the people's greed and superstition. The trades of these three parasites are interconnected and of mutual benefit in indicating the bad times and crises ahead of a man, the astrologer directs the victim to a priest to perform special pujas (archana and abisheka) to please the planetary gods (navagraha) and obviate the danger from them. "Shanti" pujas to soften or submerge the anger of the gods is the result of the astrologer's prognostications.
Conspirators Shanthi
ln addition the victim of the astrolger, will take the services of the magician to cover or controvert the displeasure of the deities. Ordinarily the magician will also be a country quack. In prescribing a course of treatment to soften the graha, the quack will prepare a big list of articles to be purchased to  last for a mandala of 45 days or so.
If the graha to be propitiated for "shanti" happens to be Sani (Saturn) or Sevvai (Mars) the course would be more rigorous and expensive. The course will cover lighting the temple premises for a mandala, reading or hearing a Purana successively for a mandala or half of it.
 In their name of the malevolent grahas it will be seen that the astrologer, the magician and temple priest exploit the people and relieve them of their hard earned incomes. In order to obviate the suspicion of self-interest, the three conspirators will take care to benefit the petty trader and street beggar or sadhu, for the "shanti" course will always mean purchase of numerous things from the grocer and sometimes the feeding of the poor or the mendicant. The victims are therefore encouraged to believe that they are only propitiating the gods and not feeding the conspirators.
What is Jothisa?
Jothisha is not limited to predicting the future and indicating the good and bad things to come. It goes further to indicate the measures to be taken to counter the ill effects of the planetary conjunctions, as if the poor and miserble antidotes taken by man could set aside the powerful and terrible future already drawn and irrevocably set by the planets !
Time of birth
This happens to be a very intriguing proposition. What exactly is the time of birth is not determined by anybody for purposes of astrology. Is it when conception takes place in the womb or is it the time when life is supposed to start in the foetus, about the fifth month, or is it the seventh, eighth, ninth or tenth month, when birth takes place? Is it the time when the head shows first or the time the child completely leaves the mother's body? Is it the time when the midwife hastened the birth by her manipulation? Or is it the time when the doctor takes out the child unnaturally by a Caesarean operation?
The general opinion seems to be the time when the child finally leaves the body of the mother; and for our further discussion we shall adopt this as the time of birth.
Turn to heaven for time
Ordinarily it takes a little time to find out if the child born is dead or alive and whether it is male or female it takes a little more time for the news to reach the menfolk waiting outside. To note down the time at once the man must have a timepiece at hand. If he has one, one must be certain that the time is correct, if the watch is absent, one will have to look for it in the neigh bourhood or look at the heavens to determine the time as in olden days. All these considerations may result in a wrong time being noted. A wrong time means a wrong horoscope.
It has been estimated that in a populatlon of 270 crores in 1957, for the whole world the birth rate was 170 per minute, or 10200 per hour or 2,44,800, per day or 8,81,28,000 per year. In  India with one ninth of the world's population, the birth rate is calculated to be 9,800,000 per year or 456 per hour  or 19 per minute.
Horoscope for animal
When birth is at the fast rate of 19 per minute, the birth rate in the much longer period of one lagna will be very high. To club together all such children in one lagna appears far-fetched for purposes of prediction, thotigh, however, the lagna will differ from area to area of the globe. One legna is 5 1/4 naligai or 126 minutes.
Let us suppose that a child is born in Bramadhi year, Purattasi  month, Wednesday 2nd at about 10.30 or 10.03 a.m. in Vricchika lagna, and Astha star. Noting this  time, if a slip is passed on to the astrologer, he is supposed to cast the horoscope and predict the future. The being born at this time  may be a human or an animal or an insect or the finished table or stone idol. This will, not matter. The astrologer will proceed to cast the horoscope.
Confusion worst confounded
In India during one Vricchika lagna of 125 minutes, 2,520 children are born. Taking Tamil Nadu alone, it can be said that at this lagna 25 children were born. The.constellation of the planets and stars at this lagna cannot be different for most parts of Tamil Nadu, and to say that the fate or character of  these 25 children would be the same because of the planetary conjuction would be absurd. 
Is man's future determined by his actions, or by the effect of the grahas, or by his past karma or by his fate ? If one of these is responsible, the other three seem to be superfluous. If all these things influence his future,  it only means that confusion is worse confounded.
Nothing is determinative and the whole thing is speculative and imaginary. To say that all these aspects have their individual effects upon man, is to easily escape from the responsibility and make the man helpless fatalist.
Effects of grahas
To change or soften the effect of planetary conjuction through prayer, worship, shanthi, manthras etc, as already discussed, is to carry superstition to the limit. How would it be possible, for instance,  to shift a malevolent graha from one house to another through man’s religious or superstitious acrobatics ? The astrologers’s prescription for a course of religious or magical exercises can therefore be only a trick to deceive the victim. If such simple human superstitious remedies could alter the effect of the planetary conjection that took place at the time of birth, years ago the very art or science of astrology would be disproved. 
The prescription given to change the course of the horoscope or past karma is to give the secret away – the secret being that the art of astrology is all humbug. But without these prescriptions the three arch exploiters, as stated above, cannot subsist. It must above, cannot subsist. It must therefore be apparent that in order to find easy living for unscrupulous gangs of astrologers, magicians and priests, the indefinite, inexact, and imaginary art of astrology has been invented. This will flourish so long as people are not rational and free thinkers.
Astrology is the subject in which a prediction is made of a man’s future based on the position of the planets and stars at the time of the man’s birth. Astrologers go so far as to indicate the man’s time of death, his pains and pleasures, the crises in his life, his wealth or his poverty, his avocation, his health, the time, of his marriage, his children, etc. Indeed there seems to be no aspect of a man's future life, near or distant, that is outside the purview of astrology.
No one has verified
If this proposition is true, it follows that the future of many other people who are in some way related to him or would be related to him, could also be predetermined. For instance, if a man is to grow rich, or obtain a promotion, or contract a disease, the circumstances leading to these changes must also be present. Hence the planetary positions that indicate the man's future must also indicate the circumstances that give rise to the incidents in the life of the given person. The profit and loss resulting to others by the action of "A", as also the profit and loss obtained by "A" as a result of the actions of others, must also be indicated by the planets. No one has verified the inferences by statistical methods.
Horoscope of thief
For example, let it be supposed that the property of a certain persons to be lost by theft. Unless the planetary positions índicate the event of the theft in the horoscope of the thief, the loss cannot be indicated in the former person's horoscope. The horoscope of the person must indicate the theft at a certain time and the horoscope of the thief must also indicate the thieving at exactly the same time.
Murder in horoscope
Likewise let us suppose that a person "A" has to murder "B" at a certain time according to his horoscope. In this case the  horoscope of “B” must also show that he is to be murdered at the same time as the murder is indicated in the horoscope of “A”. Unless there is such correlation, no event involving two persons can ever happen. We must even go further and say that the horoscopes of inanimate objects such as a dagger or a revolver must also indicate the use to which they would be put at a certain time, as otherwise the said event can not take place. People do not take their analysis or thinking thus far and the tragedy of their innocence or credulity lies there.
Horoscope of animals
Just as it is possible to draw the horoscope of a human being and predict the future for him, so also it must be possible to draw  horoscopes of all-living animals and growing trees. In fact astrologers are found to say that the time the making of an idol is started or completed, will tell us the future of the idol whether it will become a prominent and famous object of worship or will just get thrown away as useless. If this proposition about the making of an idol is true, it must also be true of every other object that is manufactured in this world. Clocks, lanterns, vessels, chairs, etc. must all come into the picture. The time one of them was started to be made or the time when it was finally made, or the time of the purchase, must be adopted to draw their horoscope. The variations that we notice in a human being's life are also noticed in the time of any other object, animate or inanimate, not all of them have the same even course of existence and end.
One horse becomes a monarch's durbar horse and enjoys great attention and respect.  Another born about the same time pulls a jutka, and is subjected to a life of toil. The difference according to our astrologers must be traced to their date and time of birth. When they were born at the same time and place, where is the truth about astrology?
Idol and other stone
An idol is made from one stone of a bed of rock  and installed in a temple.  There it is adorned with precious jewels, worshipped six times a day, washed with different liquids every day, dressed in costly apparel; and what is more, beautiful nautch girls daily dance before the idol, and the idol itself is married every year to the merriment and spirituality of a concourse of devotees. The idol is also taken out in grand procession to receive. the homage of the populace. The other block of stone born out of the same rock and at the same time is used to pave, let us say, a public latrine. There the stone is daily trodden on by the dirty chappals of a thousand people, who spit on it or commit nuisance on it, and the scavenger washes the stone perhaps once a week with soiled water and a stinking broom. When the fate of these two blocks of stone is so different, it cannot be denied that the reason is due to the planetary positions at the time the blocks took their birth from the rock, according to our astrological science.
Madathipathis’ elephants
Hence it has to be admitted that if astrology is true for man, it must also be true for the other animals, plants and rocks. The absurdity of the situation as explained here must be plain to everyone. The planets cannot act only on man and not on the other objects on the earth.
It is not uncommon to see people carefully noting down the time of a horse's or an elephant's birth and casting horoscopes for them. Race horse owners do this for horses and Rajas do it for their horses and elephants.. The matathipathis must also be doing it for their temple elephants, as otherwise the science of astrology would lose its meaning. If therefore horses and elephants can be subjected to horoscopes, fowls, snakes, lizards, ants, worms, insects, etc., could also be given the pleasure or the privilege of horoscopes being drawn for them. The time the seeds shoot out of the stem may be noted down and the future for plants and trees drawn for them.
Head or limbs
Apart from these reasonable supposition, one has to see what exactly is meant by the time of birth. Beginning with labour pains, the childbirth takes place slowly. In most cases the head appears first, either the skull or the face showing final. The limbs coming out first is not also uncommon. If the appearance of the head is the time of birth, one has to know whether it is only when the face shows. In some cases the time taken for the fullbirth from the time of the appearance of the head runs into hours. If the time when the child finally leaves the mother's womb is to be taken as the time of birth, how exactly is the time to be determined? A day is divided into 16 muhurthams. Each muhurtham extends to 3 3/4 to 5 1/2 naligais. Each star is said to have   about 60 naligais. Babies born at the same time in a given area of the earth must all have the same planetary conjuction. All births and deaths taken place in the world must be covered by these time factors.
Boy and girl matched
Assuming that it is possible to predict something by looking at the conjunction of the time of birth, how is it possible for the planets to have anything to do with the affairs of men in their daily lives? There are different conjunctions at different times and why should the conjunction at the time of birth alone influence man? There are a hundred occasions in a man's life that are either significant or important. To make matters more confusing the speculative astrologers are known to note the time when people go to consult them and predict things based on that time. When time of birth is in doubt or missing, astrologers content themselves, to make predictions on the names of parties. Do the names of the boy and girl proposed to be matched agree? Worse still, you are asked  to name a number and on that the prediction is made and your future is sketched for you. Some others would ask you to name a flower or animal to start the prediction. The part of the body that may be touched by a subject seems to give the clue to the omniscient astrologer. One wonders if it can be so simple as all this to predict a  man's furture.
Is science amenable to all these tricks? If guesswork and speculation could determine things, there appears to be no need for exact sciences at all. Science is based on correct knowledge and exact calculations. Without rules it is impossible for life to go on. It is only religion and astrology that are prepared to proceed on blind belief guesswork and speculation.
Past karma and present life
There is also another interesting aspect to this astrological work.  Why should a man get a certain conjunction of the planets at the time of his birth? Religionists explain that past karma determines the present life of a man and therefore the particular conjunction of planets in accordance with a man's karma to project him into the world. The good or bad things said by the astrologer have to be unquestionably accepted by the people because they feel satisfied that what the astrologer said had already been determined for them by their past karma. But it is not clear whether the future is determined by a man's past karma or by the conjunction of planets at the time of birth, To get over this difficulty, it has been said that the conjunction of the planets is made to suit the karma. Yet we are also told that karma can be altered by strenuous efforts in the present birth. This only makes confusion worse      confounded. One does not know therefore to what extent or degree one's life is moulded by (1) the karma of the past birth, (2) the position of the planets at the time of birth, (3) by the position of the planets at the time any important act is attempted in life, (4) by the particular name given to one by his parents (S) by the fate or acts of others, (6) by the action taken in one's own present life, (7) by the influence of the dead soul who are being propitiated by the living, (8) by one's prayer and piety, (9) by the characteristics obtained by heredity and environment, and (10) by the action of god himself.
(From the book ‘Thoughts of Periyar’)

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