The fault is not in astrology

"While physics seeks its Holy Grail, of the unification of everything about matter and energy in all-embracing mathematical formula, astronomy explores an evolutionary universe, geology feels for the pulse of the earth, and biology having found its Holy Grail drinks from it" said Denis Flanagan, the co-founder and editor of Scientific American in his book Flanagan's Version (Affiliated East - West press Pvt. Ltd., India). In fact, biology is yet to find its Holy Grail, too. Many of the scientists do not seem to understand one another.

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While we glorify lsaac Newton as a great physicist, even though his Laws of Deterministic Predictability had been found wanting in the light of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, we rarely tell the world that Newton was, in fact, a practicing astrologer!

What is science? Science is what scientists do. Everyone from the Ph.D. holders to journalists seem to know the word “science” so well, yet none of them seem to have a clear cut and universal meaning of this word. They pontificate day in and day out about the need for man to have a scientific temper. The lack of it, they claim, is a sign of mediocrity or downright ignorance. The so-called conscience- keepers of science themselves are a bit confused.

Not a day passes without some derogatory remarks being made in our media, either against the UGC Chairman, Prof. Hari Goutam, or our Human Resource Development Minister, Prof. Murli Manohar Joshi, both accomplished scientists in their own right, about their interest in astrology as a subject for study in Indian universities. Our pseudo-intellectuals, who worship anything that comes from the West as gospel truth, think that astrology cannot be a subject for scientific scrutiny.

Little does one realize that the science of Indian astronomy was so much advanced thousands of years ago, that the word “day” is derived from the Sanskrit root dhagd, fire (the sun), without the help of telescope, using only our rishis’ (re-see) ‘mindoscope’ their consciousness, that could match even the Hubble telescope in space. We did not have the utter confusion that the West had between the time of Ptolemy and that of Copernicus, a good five hundred years, regarding the solar system.

Science, in fact, is organized curiosity with a touch of logical skepticism. The people who criticize astrology feel that science is something that has to have the western sanction before it is being recognised in our country. Any one holding a brief for anything Indian is usually condemned to be an untouchable by our cocktail circle of wise people, pretending to be secularists – a word which has come to mean in India anyone who hates everything that is originally Indian.

An innocent child is the best scientist as it has real curiosity about this world. If one could keep a child’s heart all his life he would be the real scientist. Arrogant literate Ph.D.s make very poor researches, basically because of their arrogance of knowledge. Wisdom, on the other hand, is very humble, as it knows no more! Heisenberg was the victim of the arrogance of his two “great” teachers, Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein. Time has proved Heisenberg to be the all time great physicist, though he was sent out of the Zurich Polytechnic for his views opposing his teachers!

Moon’s influence
One cannot deny that moon’s gravitational force, which moves billions of gallons of water in the oceans producing high and low tides, could have some effect on the human systems, that are filled with water to the brim! Even our hard bones are 65 per cent water! Studies have shown how elective surgery, done on the new moon day vis-à-vis full moon day, results in marked difference in blood loss. So the cosmos, of which man is but a tiny part, will certainly have a say in his life. I understand what our intellectuals are talking about. The inaccuracies in predicting the future using astrology is the Achilles’ heel of astrology. But that is the curse even of science of the highest order, physics as well, not to speak of the “doctors predicting the unpredictable” everyday.

My friend’s daughter got married just this afternoon. He had promised his late wife on her deathbed that he would have the wedding in a gala pandal outside our village temple in Hiriadka. We did have very heavy pre-monsoon showers for the last one week. Open air pandal could ruin the whole wedding when it rains. We all prayed very hard that it should not rain during the day and went ahead. It was beautiful sunshine all the way and the wedding was run away success, despite the weather man proclaiming to the world that it would rain very heavily in this part this whole day! Edward Lorenz was not an astrologer. He was a scientist of the highest order and a professor at Berkeley. What happened in Hiriadka was Edward Lorenz’s “Butterfly Effect”.

This happens in astrology as well, may be more frequently, as many of our astrologers have not been to any university. We could improve the situation by having astrology as a subject for scientific scrutiny. While we glorify Isaac Newton as a great physicist, even though his Laws of Deterministic Predictability had been found wanting in the light of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, we rarely tell the world that Newton was, in fact, a practicing astrologer!

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

William Shakespeare
No scientist, worth his salt, could predict the earthquakes in Kobe, San Francisco, or nearer home in Gujarat. The fault in predicting the future is not in physics or astrology but in us. The dynamic universe dose not follow linear mathematical rules for times evolution. But we scientists do, resulting in unpredictability of the future. Our sciences will have to progress to understand the working of nature better to predict the future accurately. Fault, my friends is not in astrology or physics but in our methods. Let us study astrology in greater depth and then accept or condemn it. Prejudging anything is unscientific.

American Practice
For the satisfaction of our western oriented intellectuals, I quote here the practice in many American universities of having even paranormal research in their departments. The American Parapsychology Association is a respected member of the Association for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Many of the leading universities there, including the University of California in Davis, have professors of parapsychology and they grant Ph.D.s in that subject. In that way is astrology worse than that? Now that we realize what the Americans do, we could allow our universities to have astrology departments. Astrology is very secular, followers of most religions have faith in astrology.

Confirmed scientifically
What is faith? Faith is what keeps you going when all that you have studied in science and technology fails you in your hour of peril and when you are out in the dumps. “When the stars are out in the sky and candles burn out in the church, let us burn the coal in our heart to see us through. The power of ‘prayer’ confirmed scientifically by many scientific controlled studies in America, could heal.

Faith in God, as seen in many of the religious, keeps one out of danger of severe depression and suicide when frustrated. The God concept and faith in God have saved more lives than all the hi-tech stuff that we boast about put together. Incidentally severe depression, mostly resulting from frustration, arising out of monetary economy, is scientifically proven to be the main risk factor for killer diseases like heart attacks and cancer. The two leading epidemics of West are suicide (all are depressives) and divorce. We live in a lawful universe without any occult powers. Einstein made a very famous remark in this context. “Raffiniert ist der herr gott, aber bashaft ist ernicht” (God is subtle, but He is not malicious).

Be that as it may, let us examine science and truth, or the lack of it. “Science is the social institution for finding out things that are know and technology is the social institutions for applying things that are know”. Truth dose not find a place in these definitions, but science should go in search of truth to be useful to mankind. Like the first law of thermodynamics, the present day scientists have divided themselves into smaller compartments, thereby shutting themselves away from others, resulting in reductionist science barking up the wrong tree. It could eventually disappear!

“While physics seeks its Holy Grail, of the unification of everything about matter and energy in all-embracing mathematical formula, astronomy explores an evolutionary universe, geology feels for the pulse of the earth, and biology having found its Holy Grail drinks from it” said Denis Flanagan, the co-founder and editor of Scientific American in his book Flanagan’s Version (Affiliated East – West press Pvt. Ltd., India). In fact, biology is yet to find its Holy Grail, too. Many of the scientists do not seem to understand one another.

Intuition and serendipity
Science unfortunately, has become a profession like any another, will all the attendant fallouts of competition, greed, awards, medals, grants, status, patents and what have you. A Ph.D. has become a hallmark of being a scientist these days. In short, scientists are made to order now in our universities. Many of the great discovers in science do not fall into this club as full fledged members. Watson and Crick were hardly members but their DNA model of double helix was quickly accepted. Newton, Einstein, Harvey, Koch and many other great people could not be admitted as scientists by the above parameters. They had intuition that helped them to arrive at their conclusions basically because of serendipity. They were all called cranks to begin with until their ideas caught the imagination of others then on they were geniuses. Today science rides piggy-back on technology and has gone to the market forces acting on it.

“Looking the gift Horse in the mouth”, “Is Academic medicine for Sale”, “Fraud in science”, “Epidemiologists Cause Epidemics”, “Audit and Accountability in Science”, “Seeing what you want to see in Research”, “Eye of the Beholder”, “Science without Sense” are some of the editorials in the recent leading science journals! Nuclear arsenal, environmental pollution, poisoned foods, dangerous quick fix solutions to illnesses, heroic misadventures on gullible patients (patient in the hero’s role, though) the creation of super bugs that are threatening to annihilate man on this planet because of the misuse of antibiotics, the inverse care law of mal-distribution with 10 per cent of the world population and the 90 per cent of the remaining population having to make do with just the tiny 10 per cent could all be traced to the so-called scientific temper.

Thinking scientists are coming round to the idea that it is the man behind science that matters at the end of the day the fundamental particles of the universe could not be seen by scientists so far, just like the god that we have been searching all over . Fermions, bosons, made up of leptons and quarks who has seen them? They are in the eye of the beholder. This brings us to the all-pervasive human consciousness (human mind) that is the root of all progress, scientific or other wise.

Science is one of the many ways to human wisdom, while there are many others. To say that science is the be-all and end-all of human existence on this planet and the basis of all wisdom is far removed from the truth. Since the time of Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Schrodinger’s cat Hypothesis, people have started thinking about human consciousness in science. The Indian science of yore had all these faculties thousands of years before the West could even dream of them. Indian education had internal, intuition based, subjective training in addition to the usual external, intellect based, objective training as well para and apara vidyas. In such system high school kids do not and need not settle their arguments using their parents’ guns! While education in India must have a strong foundation and roof that are our own, we should keep the doors and windows open for fresh air to come in from all directions unhindered.

The all-powerful vaccination against smallpox, the only disease man claims to have won the war against, came from India thousands of years before Edward Jenner. The latter serendipitously came to know about it from a cow maid, Norma Thelmes. The earlier description by T. Z. Holwell, FRS, shows the great strides made by Indian vaccination system of the great universities of India: Banaras, Bindoban, and Eliabas. Holwell, who was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, presented his paper in 1747 to the President and the Fellows about the Indian vaccination system, having done a detailed study of the latter in the Bengal Province, where he stayed for 20 long years. The paper is still in the archives of Royal Society. This not only gave credence to Jenner’s accidental findings because of the former’s antiquity but also refined it further for universal usage.

Logical skepticism
One could go on and on but suffice it to say, for the purpose of this narrative, that more information on the Indian Science and Technology could be found in that great book of Prof. Dharmapal on the subject, published by the Gandhi Prathistan in Hyderabad. Wars are born in the minds of men. If we could put man right we could put this world right is a good adage, To do that we need Indian education with humility and the correct scientific temper of curiosity and logical skepticism. Rejecting something outright without curiously looking through it is as unscientific as accepting something on the face of it without confirming it.

“Knowledge advances not by repeating known facts but by refuting false dogmas.” – Mark Twain

Let us examine the Indian science of astrology with the touchstone of modern scientific methods of enquiry and accept it if it passes the litmus test; let us demolish it if it proves to be a myth. But let us take care not to prejudge it.

Has Science Lost its Heart
The fault is not in astrology…
The Science of Astrology

– Article by Prof. B. M. Hegde

Prof. B. M. Hegde
Manjunath
Chilimbi Hill, Bejai Post
Mangalore – 575004
Fax: 2217575
E-mail: bmhegde@manipal.edu