The Science of Astrology
India has retained a great tradition of producing intellectual giants since time immemorial. Some of these outstanding people were known as Rishis. Rishi is defined as one who observes something new in nature (Rishih Darshanat)-[reference number1] or simply put it is a Sanskrit term that was used to indicate a scientist. Even at the risk of doing slightly out of context, it remains to be said that to use the title of Maharshi with the names of even such spiritual teachers and religious reformers as Swami Vivekananda or Swami Dayananda would not be proper in the actual sense of the term, let alone the use resorted to by every other self proclaimed godman nowadays. Now we continue with our present concern.
On closely observing nature, Rishis discovered that everything in it seemed to work on a systematic pattern and the planets in our solar system moved through the heavens with such a precision that their positions and movements could be calculated for centuries in advance. It was found that universe was but governed by mathematical laws and mathematics, on the other hand, thrives on the interrelation of various objects that comprise a system. Advanced explorations into the mathematical interrelation of the terrestrial life with the rest of the cosmos led them to the discovery of co-relation between the movement of planets in our solar system against the backdrop of the remaining part of the observable universe and the nature of events in human life. This, in turn, seemed to solve the mystery of time to some extent, for future events in the life of an individual could then be known with the help of a deep study of mutual geometrical positions of planets at the moment of his birth. Astrology, developed on these lines, basically deals with the quality of a given moment as, for instance, what will be the future of a child born, a question asked or a project initiated at a particular moment that represents a unique point in the space-time continuum. But the more important fact is that such developments were not made on any sort of guesswork or a so- called superstitious belief in an all pervading divinity but based on such mathematical achievements and scientific revelations that remain unparalleled to date.
Profound studies were conducted in the field of astronomy which then paved the way for evolution of the science of astrology in due course of time. The earth is described as egg-shaped, suspended in the space like a magnet and moving about in three different ways in our ancient astronomical texts. Of these, the last movement known as the precession of the equinoxes is responsible for the development of the concept of a sidereal or fixed zodiac that was widely used for horoscopic calculations in Indian astrology. Astronomical facts and concepts of immense importance including even theories on the evolution of the universe can still be found scattered in our ancient literature. The luni-solar calendar of India is an ample testimony to the Indian genius in astronomy. Age of the earth was calculated and recorded in the form of Srishti Samvat that tells us that 1,955,885,102 solar years have elapsed since the formation of our earth as on 26th march 2001 whereas modern science has so far not been able to provide an exact figure.
The problem is that such knowledge is still contained in Sanskrit scriptures of which no authentic translations are available and are not found fit to be studied in the light of modern scientific knowledge and are instead discarded as bundles of superstition, especially so in India. Today, most of the criticism against Indian sciences in general and astrology in particular is largely biased and based on a lack of proper information.
The most common argument against astrology is that neither modern science has found any evidence of an astral connection to our lives nor does it conduce to the common sense approach and hence the basic assumption of astrology, of planets influencing events on the earth, stands refuted. The point missed is that science itself is uncommon sense for most of the time. For instance, the dual nature of electron, both particle and wave-like, is accepted as a scientific truth because it is observed to be so even when the science is unable to explain the reason of such unusual behaviour and similar is the case with the theory of gravity that is accepted as true without any explanation of the underlying physical mechanism because the consequences of the theory coincides with the facts well. As philosopher of science Karl Popper-[Reference number2] has emphasized, a good theory is characterized by the fact that it makes a number of predictions that could in principle be disproved or falsified by observation. Then, if the said effects of the planets can be quantified in the form of objective predictions which come true, it should be taken as proof enough for the truth of astrology. In fact, Johannes Kepler, to whom modern science is indebted for discovery of the laws of planetary motions, had studied the co-relation of atmospheric and weather changes with planetary movements from 1617 upto 1629, the result of which is his book named ‘Astrometeorologica’, that goes to show the factual effect of planets on our earth.
Astrology, as a science, can forewarn us of approaching dangers and hence provide an invaluable chance of taking due precautionary measures and being mentally prepared so as to be able to either avert the negative happening itself or at least minimize the possible evil to a considerable extent. Unfortunately, the notion of fatalism usually associated with such warnings can overpower the good that this study may do otherwise. Astrology is a promoter of the individual freewill and this fact is amply demonstrated in the prescription of horoscope matching for any form of alliance, selection of Muhurtha or auspicious moment for starting any important project and remedial measures as based on the planetary positions.
Many of the believers and even students of this subject of seemingly incredible possibilities perceive it to be a closed science, which in my view, is very incorrect. Astrology has just as much scope for further study and research as any other science of the day that can be exploited for the good of mankind at large. The need is only to have an open mind and willingness to accept the truth while investigating matters of such a nature and discover the real superstitions for oneself.
About the author
Sonal Sharma is in the field of astrology for past six years. He is also engaged in research in the field of astrology and has presented a research paper on the scientific nature of astrology in A.B.V.S.-2004, held in Pusa, Delhi in Feb.2004.