The truth in our stars 6

As we prepare for the arrival of a new year, one must ponder the wisdom of our great leaders. I am personally inspired by the honourable man who said in Parliament that “Science is a pygmy compared to astrology.” This is an astonishing statement. The problem, dear friends, is that for years, we have been brainwashed by Evil Scientists who, under the guise of curing cancer and improving life-expectancy, have actually been trying to rob us of our tradition of blind faith.

It turns out my itty-bitty insignificant life is, in fact, a grand (if slightly bizarre) epic, charted in the sky by a handful of stars and planets. Imagine, each of our 7 billion lives can be predicted accurately and exactly by mapping the state of the sky at the time of our birth. What more do we want from life?

But this is nothing new. We Indians rely on astrologers to tell us when we should get married, stand for election, or buy new undies. On auspicious “muhurtham” days, there is even a rush at hospitals for surgery. (Indian Astrology! Saving countless lives—but only on auspicious days!). We also support the various offshoots of astrology: numerology, where you can increase your wealth and confound foreigners at the same time by adding a random alphabet to your name; gemology, where buying certain (expensive) jewels can increase the wealth of your jeweller and bring you peace of mind; and last, but not the least, Vaasthu, the tradition of building a house by imagining a man squatting awkwardly on your site and making sure you build the pooja room near the entrance to his brain.

I once studied in a little school that was trying to do education the right way. My teachers realised belatedly that the first model exams for 10th standard had been scheduled at an inauspicious hour ruled by Rahu. Now, Rahu is a shadow-planet that Western astronomers have been unable to find in space. This is probably because it is also an immortal demon’s head. Without getting too scientific here, the whole demon is immortal, but its head and body are separated and floating in space (hence proving that Indians invented space-travel and violent beheadings). The only time that Rahu appears in the sky is when it tries to eat the moon or the sun. This makes sense. If you were a disembodied head floating in space for centuries, wouldn’t you get hungry too at some point? And wouldn’t the moon then look like a chunk of fried paneer and the sun like a gulab-jamun? Western astronomers call this little binge-eating episode an eclipse. Anyway, to return to my story, it looked like Rahu was going to hang around while we wrote our exams. In panic, the teachers consulted an astrologer who, after some complex calculations, suggested payment in cash and outwitting the demon by starting before dawn. We kids landed up at 5am at school, and all of us passed the exam with flying colours. Such is the power of astrology.

I remembered this yesterday as I awakened from my science-induced stupor. Naturally, I thought I should go get an astrological prediction for the new year. I wasn’t able to go to an actual astrologer in time for this column, but I was able to find many sites on the Internet. A search for “my Indian horoscope” yielded about 16 lakh results on Google. (Surely this proves that Indians invented the internet in the treta yuga?) I was finally able to find a reliable horoscope for 2015:

“In the first half of 2015, Jupiter will transit in the 11th house bringing you prosperity, financial gain, and a better interest rate on your loan. From 11th house, Jupiter aspects 7th house of relationship which means you will be surrounded by loving family members. Certain black-magic rituals may, however, be needed if you want them to stop dropping hints about children. Take care of your health in June because Saturn will be in your 9th house and Arnab Goswami will still be on TV. It may be wise to lock him (Saturn, not Arnab) in the guest bathroom. An ascendant Ketu over Ulsoor lake is cause for some concern. However, there are remedies. Firstly, donate ghee and potatoes to the local temple. Secondly, apply saffron tilak on six coconuts with husk every four months in running water. Thirdly, click here for an amazing one-time offer of divine blessings for Rs.5000! (We accept VISA, Mastercard and Paypal).”

[This is the unedited version of my column published in Deccan Chronicle/Asian Age on 7 December 2014]

6 thoughts on “The truth in our stars

  1. Reply Narendra Dec 8,2014 6:42 am


    I started reading your blog posts few months back and found them to be interesting.
    I understand that, you are writing on a ‘lighter’ note and still wants to send a strong message.

    So, regarding the influence of objects outside of our earth on living beings on earth, lot of scientific research has been done since last 50-60 years and still they are going on.
    Many scientific research papers have been submitted regarding this and they conclude that, every planet in the solar system have profound influence on human body, human brain and human mind.
    The most influential of these is the Moon. It has been observed that, there will be tides during Full Moon day and New moon day. But, we know that, gravity is almost non-existent or very weak on Moon. That’s why Moon doesn’t have atmosphere. So, how does Moon create tides on oceans of earth? Also, New Moon day and Full Moon days effect human brain. Many people act weirdly on those days. That’s why the term “Lunatic” has been coined!
    You can read the following research paper:


  2. Reply Narendra Dec 8,2014 7:03 am

    You have written about Rahu and Ketu.
    I agree that, we were told stories of demon getting split into two during “Samudra Mathana” and thus were born Rahu-Ketu. And also, that they eat Moon and Sun causing eclipses.
    While reading Puranas or Purnic stories, we should understand that, they have been written for the common man to understand. That doesn’t mean that, they don’t have scientific explanation or basis!

    Mathematical theory of eclipses was propounded in India in 499 CE by Aryabhata in his influential Siddhanthic treatise simply known as Aryabhatiyam. According to this theory, solar and lunar eclipses occur when the moon is at either of its orbital nodes. These theoretical points move in a direction opposite to that of the planets and complete an orbit in the rather short period of 18.6 years. This development was immediately taken note of in astrological literature, which classified the two nodes as planets, implying that they were now amenable to mathematics. Since they were hypothetical they were dubbed shadow planets.

    If we consider that sun revolves around the earth.And the moon does the same in reality. The elliptical paths of revolution of the sun & the moon , cuts each other at two intersection-points. These points are calles Rahu & Ketu.

    These imaginary points are needed to calculate the exact date and time of eclipses.

    In your article, you should have given a thought about the prediction of solar and lunar eclipse since thousands of years. They have been accurate in these predictions even when there was no calculator or computers! And even if given a computer or even a super computer, you will not be able to make these accurate predictions. Because, that needs deep understanding of the speed of sun, moon, earth, distance between each of these, size of these objects – so, there are too many variables! If Hindus were predicting these eclipses accurately from thousands of years, does it not show their scientific accuracy and knowledge?

    It is sad to note that, you didn’t even write one small sentence about this!!

    I agree that, some astrologers have been misusing these events and making money. It is hard to predict the future.
    But, while doing mockery of these astrologers, we should not belittle the contribution of Hindus to the field of Science, Technology, Mathematics and Astronomy. You will definitely know that, all the 10 symbols we use in Numbers including Zero is invented by Hindus. Decimal number system, binary number system, algebra, indeterminate equations, geometry, calculus, etc are all originated in ancient India.

  3. Reply Narendra Dec 8,2014 7:08 am

    You can read the following article that appeared in ”
    Indian Journal of History of Science, 2010,Vol. 45, No. 2 ( June), pp.287-297″. It is a research paper submitted by Mr.Rajesh Kochhar, CSIR Emeritus Scientist, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Chandigarh.

    The title of the research paper is: “Rahu and Ketu in mythological and ‘astronomological’ contexts”


    You might not agree with astrology (I also don’t believe in prediction of future as done in astrology), but you must appreciate the science of astronomy, science behind the notion of “Rahu and Ketu”.
    Atleast, you will understand that, they are not just demons as it is made out to be. They are actually imaginary points in space used by astronomers to arrive at the exact date and time of solar/lunar eclipse.

  4. Reply the colonel Dec 8,2014 12:33 pm

    I am From The army Narendra.

    Should i fight or don’t fight as per your hogwash.

    Han, narendra.

    Then why where we enslaved, narendra

  5. Reply Narendra Dec 9,2014 6:24 am

    Dear Sir,

    Why are you hiding under the name “the colonel”. The army man will never hide – he will be in the forefront of any fight! 😉

    I didn’t understand your question and why you are asking me?
    If you really have a point to make and want to discuss, then please elaborate your point.


  6. Reply Ramji Raman Apr 27,2015 6:00 am

    Science or no science, without dwelling and debating on the merits I have enjoyed the humor element in your article please. Regards Ramji Raman

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