Sunday, February 21, 2010

Comments on points raised in PIL against astrology

Points no.1 to 16 – pertain to the description of the respondents and the petitioners’ encounter with them.

Point no.17 – Petitioner outlines a brief history of astrology quoting from Gujarati Viswakosh and Encyclopedia Britannica. It casually mentions knowledge of rishis in mathematics, algebra and how these sciences spread upto America, Babylonia and other Mediterranean countries had developed astrology, Arabs developed astronomy, Chinese studied Indian astrology and blended it with their astronomical knowledge, astrology came to India from Greece and India added various methodologies to it and from Rome astrology went to western Europe. The petitioner concludes that by 17th century, astrology lost its intellectual viability.

There is no written history of vedic astrology. Nobody so far has made an attempt to chronologically follow the development of vedic astrology. However, the following are some important information, personalities, texts and events in vedic astrology.

1. Sage Garga in his text Gargahora has described astrology as “ svayam svayambhuva srushtam” – created by the creator Brahma himself. It is not of human but divine origin. Sage Parasara in his text Parasarahora says that he is going to explain astrology “yatha brahmamukhachrutam” – as heard from the mouth of Brahma.

2. Vedic astrology has an unbroken chain of tradition from the vedic times.

3. Eighteen Rishis – Surya, Pitamahah, Vyasa, Vasishta, Atri, Parasara, Kasyapa, Narada, Garga, Marichi, Manu, Angiras, Lomasha, Paulisha, Chyavana, Yavana, Bhrigu and Saunaka have contributed to the field of astrology and propagated the same. Each of these rishis have authored a text on Siddhanta (astronomy) and hora (horoscopy). Atreya, Asmarathya, Audulomi, Karsnajini, Kasakrintana , Jaimini, Badari and Badarayana have also been recognized as contributors to astrology.

4. The vedas contain the names of the nakshatras, months and seasons. Names of all the navagrahas find mention in the vedic corpus.Surya is described as the soul of the universe.

5. The Kausika gruhya sutra of atharva veda contains some non astrological predictive techniques as well.

6. The Hindu sastras consider jyotisha as the eye of the vedas and part and parcel of the vedic system in the absence of which the rituals ordained in the vedas and smrutis can not be performed. In the vedic times astrology was primarily and essentially used for timing rituals.

7. Vedic astrology is broadly divided into 3 branches (skandas) – (1) Siddhanta dealing with astronomy and calculations, (2)Hora dealing with horoscopy, horary astrology, electional astrology and omens called nimitta (3) Samhita dealing with omens in detail, mundane astrology and natural phenomena.

8. Two systems of predictions existed, one based on the nakshatra chakra comprising the 27/28 asterisms and the other based on the 12 zodiacal signs or rasis. It is a mix of both these which is widely followed today. Predictions were made depending on the placement of the nine grahas with reference to these chakras,

9. Archa Jyotisham is a subtext of the Rigveda, Yajusha jyotisham of yajurveda and Aatharvanajyotisham that of atharva veda.

10. “ Vedanga Jyotisha “ authored by Lagadha who lived in Kashmir around 1180 BC deals primarily in Ganita or the astronomical side of vedic astrology. It lays out rules for tracking the motions of sun and moon. There is a Rigveda recension of this text with 36 slokas and Yajurveda recension of 45 slokas. The athrvanajyotisham deals in electional astrology.

11. Among the smritis, Yajnyavalkasmriti is the first to recognize the navagrahas

Surayhsomo maheeputrah somaputro brihaspatih
Sukrah sanaischaro rahuh ketuschaite grahah smritah

In Bodhayana sutra the sloka starting with Meenameshayormesha ………….refers to the twelve zodiac signs.

12. The Jain astrological works, Suryaprajnapti and Jyotishakaranda have lot in similar with the “Vedanga Jyotisha” of Lagadha.

13. Atharvanajyotisham comprising of 162 slokas discusses the division of time, classification of nakshatras into roudra, soumya etc. , moon's strength as a basis for planetary results, tarabala, graha, ulka, vidyut, bhukampa (earthquakes) etc.

14. The following is a quote from chapter 3 of Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata (conversation between Vaisampayana and Dhritarahstra)
“Fierce dusty winds are incessantly blowing.. The earth is shaking and Rahu is moving towards the sun. Ketu has crossed chitra nakshatra. They all indicate destruction of kurus.The comet riseth is afflicting pushya nakshatra.It will cause harm to both sides.Mars is moving towards Magha and Guru towards Sravana. Sani is moving towards Bhaga and going to afflict it.Sukra is moving from Purva bhadra towards Uttara bhadra. Ketu is blazing having attacked Jyeshta nakshatra. Dhruva nakshatra is burning and moving to right.Sun and moon are afflicting Rohini. Mangala overtaken by Guru is in Sravana . The earth is covered with all crops out of season. The barley stalk has five ears and the paddy stalk hundred. Cattle folk are yielding blood when milked. A big manslaughter is going to take place. There is going to be a river of blood. Animals and birds are showing evil omens. And indicating terrible things that are going to happen. The constellation of the sapta rishis has dimmed. The planets Guru and Sani are stationary at Visakha. A strange eclipse happening on the thirteenth day of the lunar cycle indicates mass destruction. All directions look dusty and inauspicious, the clouds are fierce and there are rains at night. Rahu is afflicting Krittika nakshatra.Rishis have warned that under these circumstances the earth drinks the blood of thousands of kings.”
From the above it is clear that during Mahabharata times (1493 - 1443 BC) there was full awareness of the navagrahas including Rahu and Ketu and also the upagrhas such as Dhoomaketu. They were also aware of concepts like planetary afflictions, beneficity, maleficity, retrogression and also how to interpret omens (nimitta). The planetary positions and nimittas here are interpreted to predict mass destruction which clearly establishes that the practice of predictions based on astrology was prevalent during Mahabharata times.

Ramayana Balakanda 1.18.8 to 1.18.10 describe the planetary positions at the time of birth of Sree Rama as follows

The Moon’s (Chandra’s) Location : The nakshatra presided by Aditi (Punarvasu) in Karkata Rasi.
Location of Lagna, Guru and Budha - when the 2 lords of speech – Guru and Budha , along with Moon in the rising – ascendant Karkata Lagna.
Location of other grahas : and the five grahas heir own or exaltation houses. : Guru is exalted in Karkata.
Location of Kuja, Sukra, Sani? Kuja was in Makara, Sukra was in Meena, Sani was in Thula
This clearly establishes that even during the time of Ramayana the planetary positions were observed with the purpose of casting horoscopes,

15. There are many references to the divinity of navagrahas and planetary positions across the puranas. Chapters 55 and 56 of Narada purana are devoted entirely to fundamental and advanced concepts of vedic astrology.

16. When Gautama Buddha was born(400 BC) during his naming ceremony an astrologer called Asita predicted that he would renounce worldly life and become the founder of a new religious order. This establishes that predictive astrology existed even in BC periods.

Even though Budha denounced astrology, the Tibetan Budhists still practice astrology and magical rites for healing. the official website of Tibetan astrology says that “The Lord Buddha Shakyamuni first taught this Kalachakra tantra on his 81st years of age (881 B.C.) at the stupa of Shri Dhanakataka or Paldern Drepung in Amravati, South India on the full moon day of 3rd month of a Metal-Dragon Year. This tantra contains information such as the natural state of the Universe, inhabitance and especially the planetary or the cosmological influence and about how comes the four seasons were clearly shown.”
17. Around 1st century BC during Saka and Suhana rule the predictive astrology further gained prominence.

18. The texts of astrology are classified as Siddhanta, Karana, Koshtaka,Misraka, Ganita, Jataka,Muhurta, Prasna,Tajika, Yatra, Vivaha, Nibandha, Kosha.

19. Some important texts in the field of horoscopy are Skanda Hora (Brahma), Laghu Prajapatya and Brihat Prajapatya (Daksha Prajapati), Vasishta Hora, Garga Hora, Kausika Hora(Visvamitra), Saunaka Hora, Parasara Hora, Surya Hora, Lomasa Samhita, Jaimini Sutam, Bhrigu Sutram, Yavanajataka, Vishnugupta Hora (Chanakya), Satyacharya Hora, Jeevasarma Hora, Srutakeerti Hora, Siddhasena hora,Maya Hora, Sphujidwaja HoraVriddha yavana Hora (Meenaraja), Saravali(Kalyanavarma), Brihatjatakam(Varahamihira), Hora Saram (Prithu Yasas), Sarvartha Chintamani (Venkatesa Daivajna), Hora Ratna (Acharya Balabhadra), Jatakaparijatam(Vaidyanatha), Chamatkara Chintamani, Kasyapa Hora, Uttara Kalamritam(Kalidasa), Suka Nadi, Deva Keralam(Achyuta), Tajaka Neelakanthi, Prasnanushtana Paddhati, Prasna Marga, Daivajna Vallabha and Kalaprkashika.

20. Important treatises on electional astrology are Brihannarad, Brihatdaivajna ranjan, Brihatjyotisar, Daivajnamaoranjan, Jnanamanjari, Jyotiprakasa, Jyotishasara, Jyotishachintamani, kalakhanda, Kalanirnayadeepika, Kalaprakashika, Madhaveeyam,Muhurtarnava, Muhurtabhaskara,Muhurtachintamani, Muhurtachudamani,Muhurtadarpanam, Muhurtadeepika, Muhurtaganapati, Muhurtakalpadruma, Muhurtamala, Muhurtamanjari, Muhurtamartanda, Muhurta muktavali, Muhurta padavi, Muhurta samgraha, Muhurta tatva, Naradeeya, Nibandha chudamani, Rajamartanda. Vivaha pradeepa, Vivaha sara and Muhurta malya.

21. Some other important texts related to mundane astrology and omens are Brahmarshi samhita, Brihaspati samhita, Brihat samhita, Parasara samhita, Garga samhita, Rishiputra samhita, Guru samhita, Kasyapa samhita, Lomasa samhita, Manava samhita, Nagarjuna samhita, Narada samhita, Shakalya samhita, Samhita siddhanta, Satya samhita, Vaikhana samhita and Vasishta samhita.

22. Yavaneswara a Greek who lived in Gujarat around 150 AD translated to sanskrit the work called Yavanajataka.

23. Sphujidwaja author or Sphujidwajahora also lived in Gujarat.

24. King Meena Raja of 3rd century AD who wrote Vriddha Yavana Hora belonged to Gujarat.

25. Srutakeerti, author of Srutakeerti hora was also a king in Gujarat.

26. Haraji the author of Manasagari also lived in Gujarat.

27. Around 400 AD panchangas based on Panchasiddhantas became popular.

28. Mahakavi Kalidasa (370 – 450 AD ) authored Uttarakalamritam an elaborate text in astrology.

29. Aryabhatta who lived in Kerala from AD476 to 523 through his text Aryabhateeya dealing mainly astronomy contributed to the growth of predictive astrology because astronomy forms the very foundation of predictive astrology..

30. Vararuchi was a north Indian scholar (one of the nine gems in Vikramaditya’s court) who later settled down in Kerala (4th century AD). He has been a great contributor in the field of astrology.

31. The ancient Indians developed astronomy only for two purposes – for timing of rituals and events like eclipses and also for predictive purposes. They did not develop astronomy with a purpose of sending space shuttles and for exploring moon and mars.

32. Tamil Nadu has its own school of astrology based on Nadi and it belongs to the Siddha tradition. Pulippani is a prominent figure in Tamil medieval astrology.

33. Kalakacharya founder of Ramala Jyotisha, Mahaveeracharya who authored Jyotishapatala, and Sridharacharya author of Jatakatilaka belonged to Karnataka.

34. Maya, Yavana, Manitha, Saktipoorva , Satyacharya, Vishnugupta, Devaswamy, Siddhasena, Jeevasena are some of the scholars who lived before the sixth century AD as they find mentions in Varahamihira’s texts.

35. Satyacharya established his own school of thought in astrology called Dhruva matham.

36. Varahamihira (500 AD) who lived in Rajasthan codified and systematized all astrological knowledge available until then and wrote texts in all three branches of astrology.The five important commentaries to Varahamihira’s Brihat jataka are Bhattotpala's commentary , Mudrakshari , Subhodini , Sripatiyam and Dasadhyayee

37. Bhaskara who lived in Kerala around 630 AD wrote Laghubhaskareeya and Mahabhaskareeya and also a commentary to Aryabhateeya called Aryabhatta tantra bhashya.

38. Bhaskara II or Changadeva who was born in 1114 AD in Maharashtra was an important astrologer in King Singhana Yadava’s court who ruled Devagiri (Deccan) of Maharashtra. Bhaskaracharya wrote two important texts called Siddhanta Siromai and Karana Kutoohala. His works were so authoritative that even Akbar and Shajahan advocated their translation into persian language.

39. Aryabhatta II who lived around 950 AD wrote Mahasiddhanta.

40. Kalyana Varma the king of Vyaghrapada (Madhya Pradesh) in the 10th century AD wrote the monumental work called Saravali.

41. Jaimini’s upadesa sutras dating back to 11th century ADifounded a school of thought in astrology called Jaimini matam. The important commentators on his work are Krishna Misra (Jyotisha phala ratnamala)Raghava Bhatta (Jataka sara sangraha) , Narasimha Suri (Jaimini sutrartha prakashika) , Somanatha (Kalpalatha) , Nrisimha Daivajna(JaimininSitra Vyakhya), Singayaraya(Jataka rajeeya), Nilakantha, Venkatesvara and Balakrishnanada Saraswati.

42. Sage Garga, his son Rishiputra and Vriddha Garga are known to have lived in Orissa.

43. King Ballala sena author of Adbhuta Samhita in the 12th century belonged to Orissa. Some other astrological scholars from Orissa are - Satananda acharya who wrote Bhaswati Karana in 1099 AD, Sri Jagannath Narayan Deb, king of Paralakhemandi who wrote Ayurdayakaumudi in 1650 AD,Tripurari Das the author of "Keraliya Dasa", Ranganath Das who wrote Utpatatarangini, Maguni Pathi author of Graha Chakra Tikka, Chakadi Nanda who authored Ratna Kaumudi and Pathani Samanta who wrote Siddhanta darpana in 1899 AD.

44. Vaidyanatha authored Jatakaparijata in the 13th century. He belonged to Andhra region.

45. Venkata Sarma author of Sarvartha Chintamani also lived in Andhra region.

46. In the Salivahana Kingdom during 16th and 17th centuries lived Nrisimha Daivajna who wrote Jatakasaradeepa, Kamalakara Bhatta who wrote Tatvaviveka, Dundiraja who wrote Jatakabharana, Ganesha Daivajna who wrote Graha Laghava, Nrisimha Daivajna and Nrisimha Ganesa Daivajna. They all belonged to the same family settled at Pathri (Parbhani dist. Of Maharashtra)

47. Mantrewara who lived in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu wrote Phaladeepika in the 16th century.

48. Acharya Balabhadra who wrote Horaratna lived in the 18th century in Kanya Kubja.

49. Ramadeena daivajna of Kasi wrote Brihat Daivajna Ranjana a text on Electional astrology.

50. Rama Daivajna of Kashmir authored Muhurta Chitamani in the 16th century and his son Neelakantha wrote Tajaka Neelaknthi (The Tajaka system is believed to have originated in Tajikistan.

51. Muhurta Ganapati was written in Delhi during the rule of Aurangazeb in the 16th century.

52. Muthuswamy Dikshitar the famous carnatic music composer who lived from 1775 to 1835 composed the navagraha kritis in praise of the navagrahas. They are
Surya – Kriti 'Suryamurthe Namosthuthe' – Ragam Saurastram
Chandra – Kriti 'Chandram Bhaja called manasa' – Raga Asaveri
Angaraka – Kriti 'Angarakam Ashrayamyaham' – Raga Surati
Shukra – Kriti 'Sri Sukhra Bhagavantham' – Raga Pharaj
Brihaspathi – Kriti 'Brihaspathe Tarapathe' – Raga Athana
Sani – Kriti 'Divakaratanujam Shanaishcharam' – Raga YadukulaKambhoji
Budha – Kriti 'Budham Ashrayami' – Raga Nattakurahnji
Rahu – Kriti 'Smaramayaham sadarahum' – Raga Ramamanohari
Ketu – Kriti 'Mahasuram Ketumaham' – Ragam Camaram

The petitioner mentions that with the displacement of earth from the centre of the universe in the new astronomy, astrology lost its intellectual viablility and became increasingly recognised as scientifically untenable.

In the first place, vedic astrology has never considered earth as the centre of the universe. The calculations in vedic astrology involve the relative positions of the planets with respect to the earth. Vedic astrology considers moon as a graha. This is acceptable because the grahas of vedic astrology are not the planets of the solar system as envisaged by science. The whole problem lies in confusing the navagrahas with the planets of the solar system, This shows how superficial is the awareness of the criticisers of astrology of the subject. Even in western scientific astronomy the meaning of the term ‘planet’ has been changing from time to time to the extent that even today there is no universally accepted meaning to the term. The planets in vedic astrology are not the physical planets we see in the sky. There is a difference of about 22 to 23 degrees between the physical longitude of the planet and its longitude in the horoscope. This difference is called ayanamsa. The planets in astrology can be best described as karmic influences aligned with the physical planets. The graha word in Sanskrit means “one who takes hold of or control of ” and not planet as in science. The rishis would have chosen the word graha instead of gola (denoting sphere) or similar terms in sanskrit deliberately to avoid confusion with the physical astral bodies. It would be interesting to note that vedic astrology also employs an array of upagrahas or non luminous bodies like Maandi, Gulika, Yamaghanta, Parivesha, Indradhanus etc( about 14 in number) while making analysis and predictions.The two grahas Rahu and Ketu are not even physical bodies.They are points where the lunar orbit intersects the ecliptic. Why insist that only physical bodies can influence human affairs ? Only a doctor can make sense out of the sounds that hears through the stethoscope, not a layman. To allege that astrology has lost its viability and has become untenable is false. Even today, millions and millions from all walks of life believe in astrology. There has not been any real effort keeping with scientific temper and following scientific process and propriety to study vedic astrology and disprove it.

With the above points in mind, revisiting the “history of astrology” as outlined by the petitioner the following points are clear.

1. The petitioner has not made any serious effort to study the background of vedic astrology. He is not aware that vedic astrology has an unbroken chain of tradition spreading over thousands of years right from vedic times.

2. More than one thousand text books on astrology both classical and contemporary are available in print.

3. The internet is replete with thousands of informative articles by eminent scholars in astrology. They are not commercial advertisements or websites selling products, but results of research and efforts being taken in the study of this subject. Day by day astrology is developing and evolving.

4. The following is quoted from the online edition of Encyclopedia Britannica on B.V.Raman the renowned Indian astrologer.

“much-admired and respected Indian Vedic astrologer who challenged the Western scientific perception of astrology as a pseudoscience through international lectures and conferences and as editor of the monthly periodical The Astrological Magazine. In 1947 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in London .”

5. The western astrology does not have the rich literary tradition as vedic astrology nor its roots as clearly traced and established. This is not a comment on the efficacy of western astrology. Lot of serious research is taking place even in the field of western astrology. Ideally vedic astrology, western astrology, Arab astrology, Chinese astrology and Greek astrology should be treated as separate subjects.

6. Vedic astrology is based on the theory of karma whereas western astrology considers only planetary influences on human affairs. In vedic astrology planets are indicators of karmic influences. This is the fundamental difference between the two. It is very difficult to prove with the available scientific knowledge planetary influences on a physical level. The planetary positions and their combinations are not the physical causes for future incidents but pointers to future incidents .

7. Only an in depth study of Hindu religious principles can reveal the validity of astrology and it is not proper to draw conclusions after a superficial glance through some encyclopedia.

Point no.18 – pertains to prediction of Nostradamus about end of the world in 2012. Neither vedic astrology nor Hinduism subscribes to this view. The methods employed by Nostradamus definitely did not belong to the school of vedic astrology.
Charvaka whom the petitioner has described as a rationalist did not believe in life after death or religion. He propagated sensual indulgence which is evident from the following quote.(ref : Sarva darsana samgraha of Madhavacharya)

“While life remains, let a man live happily,
let him feed on butter though he runs in debt;
When once the body becomes ashes,
how can it ever return again ?”

Blasphemous statements such as the following are also attributed to Charvaka

“The three authors of the vedas were buffoons, knaves, and demons.
All the well-known formulae of the pandits, jarphari, turphari, etc.
and all the obscene rites for the queen commanded in Aswamedha,
these were invented by buffoons, and so all the various kinds of presents to the priests,
while the eating of flesh was similarly commanded by night-prowling demons.

The Agnihotra, the three Vedas, the ascetic's three staves, and smearing oneself with ashes —
Brihaspati says, these are but means of livelihood for those who have no manliness nor sense.
In this school there are four elements, earth, water, fire and air;
and from these four elements alone is intelligence produced —
just like the intoxicating power from kinwa &c, mixed together;
since in "I am fat", "I am lean", these attributes abide in the same subject,
and since fatness, &c, reside only in the body, it alone is the soul and no other,
and such phrases as "my body" are only significant metaphorically.
If a beast slain in the Jyothishtoma rite will itself go to heaven,
why then does not the sacrificer forthwith offer his own father?
If the Sraddha produces gratification to beings who are dead,
then why not give food down below to those who are standing on the house-top?
If he who departs from the body goes to another world,
how is it that he come not back again, restless for love of his kindred?
Hence it is only as a means of livelihood that Brahmans have established here
all these ceremonies for the dead, — there is no other fruit anywhere.
The three authors of the Vedas were buffoons, knaves, and demons.
All the well-known formulae of the pandits, jarphari, turphari, etc.
and all the obscene rites for the queen commanded in Aswamedha,
these were invented by buffoons, and so all the various kinds of presents to the priests,
while the eating of flesh was similarly commanded by night-prowling demons.

His school of thought has been classified as atheistic and materialistic and not recognised as one of the shaddarsanas of Hinduism. This school of thought died its natural death in the 15th century without living a trace. Evidence regarding his philosophy can only be inferred from his critics works.

It is very interesting to note that the petitioner has taken all pains to leave behind the tons of genuine Hindu scriptures starting from the vedas and extending to upanishads, itihasas, puranas, dharmasastras and shaddarsanas. He has taken the support of an atheisitc school of thought which the majority of Hindus have not even heard of to prove his point against astrology.

Hinduism has its own logic called Nyaya sastra which is very stringent and unbiased. Every serious aspect of Hinduism has been debated by nyaya sastra to the extent that even the concept of brahma and advaita have to take the test of nyaya. Anything that does not pass the scrutiny of nyaya sastra is rejected in Hinduism. This is an internal mechanism. Vedic astrology has stood this test.

Point no.19 – pertains to a TV program on past life regression. It is upto the producer of the program to justify it.. However, the petitioner states that it is based on a bogus theory and widespread belief of reincarnation. He further says that this theory is deeply rooted in Hindu religion while many religions don’t believe in at all like Christianity and Islam.

Yes that’s it. Cycle of rebirths and transmission of karma from birth to birth are fundamental concepts of Hindu religion time and again declared, described, established and emphasized in Hindu religious scriptures. It is the very foundation of Hindu dharma order and discipline. Is it constitutionally and legally right to call it a bogus theory ?Is it intended that Hindus do not have a right to believe in what their religion teaches ? Or, Hindu beliefs need to be abandoned because they are not in line with Christianity or Islam? India is a secular republic which guarantees right to freely profess practice and propagate religion under article 25(1) of the constitution.

Point no.20 – are quotes from Buddha, Albert Einstein, Curtis.D.Macdougall, Pushpa Bhargava, Francis Bacon, Svami Vivekananda, Kendrick Frazier, Nikhil Chakravarty and Thomas Paine extracted from the book “Science, non science and paranormal” by Dr.Narasimhaiah. The quotes are mainly on superstitions and astrology.

The petitioner has quoted "Bhagwan" Budha while deriding astrology. Has he not paid attention to the fact that very same Buddha advocated the theory of karma and rebirth which the petitioner has called bogus through point no.19 ? They are the fundamental concepts of Buddhism. Each religion may have different views about the principles and practices of other religions. They need not be the ultimate declarations of final truth, but just views of that religion. The Hindu does not need a Buddhist approval for practice of his religious principles.

As far as Albert Einstein’s views on God is concerned it is not alien to Hinduism to see God as universal intelligence. At the very same time, Hinduism also approves of the expression of this intelligence in various limited forms. Einstein has also called "time" a very convincing illusion. Differentiation of events into past present and future is a creation of the mind. With this view in mind how can the possibility of seeing the “future” be ruled out ? If somebody is devoid of the illusion of time, he should be capable of “seeing” the “future” events as well.

Curtis.D.MacDougall who died in 1985 had authored 3 books , “Hoaxes”, “Superstition and the Press” and “Principles of Editorial writing”. He has studied many superstitions and hoaxes that existed in the western world. He is not known to have studied Hinduism or astrology. Comments of such people who do not have any exposure to Hinduism and astrology are out of context. Making comments without proper study of the subject can not be in accordance with scientific temper.

Swami Vivekananda (Complete works of Swami Vivekananda vol.8) says -

“Excessive attention to the minutiae of astrology is one of the superstitions which has hurt the HINDUS very much.”

“ 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 that sort. In many cases it is simply mind reading. Sometimes wonderful predictions are made, but in many cases it is arrant trash.”

“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.”

“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.”

Astrology is not about fatalism or weakness. Yes, over dependence on anything is weakness including pain killer and paracetamol. A strong morning tea is a weakness for someone who can not start the day without it.

Astrology shows karmic influences from one’s past life. This information can be positively utilized to align and orient one’s life. A good reading of the natal chart can reveal the inherent strengths, talents and weaknesses of the native. This can be useful while selecting the stream of education, career etc. There could be equally effective non astrological methods to achieve these.

Astrology does not advocate fatalism. The influences are classified into Dridha and Adridha ( Certain and non-certain). When influences are of the non-certain nature they can be worked upon and changed. The Dridha influences are the ones that cause death, fatal injuries beyond one’s control etc.

It is said that Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Guru and mentor of Svami Vivekananda was not known to be against astrology.

It seems to me that there are only very few who are dependent and addicted to astrology. In general, astrologers are consulted on major and crucial matters. It is not possible and required to shape one’s day to day life around principles of astrology. If someone thinks so, as Svami Vivekananda suggests better take him to a doctor.

Kendrick Frazier has been quoted as suggesting that all astrological forecasts should carry a disclaimer that they are of entertainment value only. The biggest disclaimer is in the body of this petition itself. Dr.H.Narasimhaiah the author of the book from where all these quotations are taken says –

“All the conclusions of science are tentative in nature. They will be revised in the light of new data and fresh experience. This is known as the scientific attitude or scientific method of knowing truth. The true significance of science does not depend on its practical achievements, be they trivial or great, but on the technique.”

Yes, that says it all. The conclusions are only tentative. Emphasis is on technique and not on results. And we are told to discard our age old traditions and beliefs based on the tentative conclusions and the technique which does not guarantee any authentic result, that too without at least a proper scrutiny in the said scientific spirit. A small anecdote in this context.

A man answers the door bell and finds a demolition squad standing at his doorstep.

Demolition squad : We are going to demolish your house because there is something wrong.

Man : I have been living in this house all these years and I don’t find anything wrong. Everything’s fine. What’s wrong ?

Demolition squad : We are not very sure, but we will find out once we are through.

Man : Will you be able to put it all back together if you are not able to find anything wrong. ?

Demolition squad : Honestly speaking, No. ( “ A scientist is always humble and full of humility. He is honest and true to his conscience” – Dr.H.Narasimhaiah). We wouldn’t know how to do it.

Man : What if you are doing it for the wrong reason and at the end do not find anything wrong ?

Demolition squad : Our findings are only tentative in nature, they can change. However, watch and enjoy our fine techniques when we bring down your house piece by piece meticulously. The emphasis should be on the technique applied and not on the results.

The other quotes are also of similar nature. Nobody seems to have made any effort to lay hands even on an introductory text of astrology.

As far as definition of superstition is concerned, who draws the fine line between faith and superstition ? One man’s faith could be another man’s superstition, more so with religions and philosophies.

Point nos. 21 to 24 – Point no.21 is just a list of the name of the twelve zodiacal signs used in astrology.

Vide point no.22, the petitioner gives a list of failed astrological predictions, such as those by B.V.Raman, Pandit Rash Behari Das , N.K.Joglekar and Ambedkar about the electoral results of 1980 and also a list of failed predictions from an astrological conference held in Delhi in 1980. Point no 23 lists out 72 failed predictions in the last 2000 years and point no.24 is about 400 such failed predictions in the past 4800 years.

In my humble opinion, astrologers should observe self restraint and stay away from making predictions in public. The sastra itself says,

Naaprushtah kasyachit bruyat naannyayena cha pruchatah
Paramartha phala jnanam yato naiveha sidhyati

Don’t tell to someone who doesn’t ask for it, nor answer a question asked for the wrong purpose ( for testing etc). One does not get to know the truth in these cases. Astrology has a divine element in it which should be treated with respect and responsibility by the practitioner. As Sri. Bejan Daruwala noted astrologer who is also a respondent in this case has rightly said – “astrology combines three things. The position of the planets is by astronomy. Then, the synthesis between planets, dishas, signs etc is an art. And the final prediction is by ESP, intuition or the grace of Ganesha”. Astrology is not for everyone. One can live without it. It is only for those who have faith in it. There is no need to lure someone into it. There is no need to prove it to the non believer. The believers know through their own experience whether it works or not and whether it is useful or not. If they realize it is useful, they will continue with it, otherwise they will discard it.

In the Hindu culture and tradition the Guru does not advertise and go around enrolling students. The student has to go after the teacher.

Sri.B.V.Raman has always discussed his viewpoints in his journal called Astrological Magazine. This is publication read only by astrologers and astrology enthusiasts and not by the general public. It is transparent like a science journal where findings are questioned, criticized, failures analyzed and opinions formed. This is a matter of academic interest for the astrologers and Sri.B.V.Raman did not make these predictions to make money or win accolades.

If somebody makes public predictions for publicity and fails let him also face the consequences.

Now about failure of predictions, as against the few failed predictions listed out by the petitioner, there are thousands of succesful predictions made every day. No responsible astrologer will come out and discuss them in public because that involves violation of the privacy of his clients.

Weather forecasts and monsoon predictions fail, Stock market predictions fail, Economic predictions about GDP growth and Industrial growth fail, Business projections fail, Exit polls fail, medical diagnoses fail, production forecasts fail, cost estimates fail – why insist that astrological predictions alone should succeed every time ? Or are we going to ask for a blanket ban on all the above types of predictions and forecasts ?

Medicines have failed, Political theories have failed, Students have failed, Teachers have failed, Technology has failed, Researches have failed, Methods have failed, Systems have failed. Are we to ban everything that fails ?

An astrological prediction can fail for various reasons – inaccuracy of data, wrong interpretation, wrong judgement,astrologer's not able to relate to the current circumstances,wrong theoretical approaches of the astrologer etc.etc. Many tough and grey areas exist even in astrology just as in any other subject.

The hundreds of scholars who devoted their lives for development of astrology were not cheats and frauds on a money making spree as is made out by the petitioner nor were they publicity mongers. They were respected and honored citizens of their time often finding their place in a king’s court making their share of contribution for the welfare of the society.

About points nos.23 and 24 ( failed predictions in the last 2000 and 4800 years ), the predictions cited are all from the west and the methods employed are not known. The authenticity of the data itself is questionable (dating back to 4800 years ??)

Point no.25 - presents a statement by 186 scientists including 19 Nobel laureates about their objections to astrology.

The statement cautions that “ those who wish to believe in astrology should realize that there is no scientific foundation for its tenets.”
Why should everything have a scientific foundation ? Does God have a scientific foundation ? Does religion have a scientific foundation ? Do music and movies have a scientific foundation ?

As against the above given below is Quotes from the lectures of one of the greatest spiritual Gurus of our time Jagatguru Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati Swamiji, the 68th Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha from 1907 to 1995 are given below. ( ref: Hindu Dharma : The Universal Way of Life, 1995, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, p.337..)

"The condition of a man corresponds to the changes in the position of the nine grahas. A human being does not enjoy happiness all the time nor does he always suffer hardships - that is, he experiences a mixture of happiness and sorrow. While he may be pushed up to a high position today, he may be thrust down to the depths tomorrow. It is not man alone that is subject to changes of fortune. Establishments too have their ups and down, so also nations."

"The sages saw a relationship between the position and movements of the planets and the destiny of man, the sorrow and happiness experienced by him. There is a branch of astrology called 'hora-skandha'. If we know the planetary position at the time of commencing a job or enterprise, with its help, we should be able to find out how it would take shape, how we would fare in it. If our horoscope is cast on the basis of the configuration of the planets at the time of our birth, our fortunes over the entire period of our life can be predicted."

"Different reasons are given for the ups and downs in a man's life, for his joys and sorrows. It is similar to finding out the different causes of the ailment he suffers from. [The physicians, mantravadins, pandits, and psychologists will give different reasons.] ... All these different causes may be valid. All of them go to create an experience. ... Many outward signs manifest themselves as the fruits of our past karma. They are all related to one another. The course of planets governing our life is in accordance with our karma. We come to know the consequences of our actions in previous births in various ways. Astrological calculations help us to find out such consequences as indicated by the heavenly bodies."

It looks like there is conflict between the views of science and that of religion. Leave it to the individual which one to take. Don’t impose. Science can declare its views, but should not try to impose it by resorting to coercionary means.
The statement says “ we can see how infinitesimally small are the gravitational and other effects produced by the distant planes and the far more distant stars.”

Are we forgetting that the phenomena of day and night are caused by the so called “infinitesimally small” influence of a “distant planet” called the sun and the tides are caused by a smaller body called moon. However, from the point of view of vedic astrology, planets do not influence, they only indicate. When the traffic signal turns red the traffic stops. It is not the signal which actually stops the traffics, but the brakes applied by the motorists. The signal doesn't stop the traffic, but there is a clear link between stopping of the traffic and the signal turning red. The link between karmic influences and planets are something similar to this, but not so simple.

The statement further says “ We believe that the time has come to challenge directly and forcefully the pretentious claims of astrological charlatans”.

Please do that for your own sake, but do not discard the scientific process, follow all the procedures that you would employ while proving of disproving any other scientific theory fully in compliance with the philosophy of science. Unsupported statements will not suffice. Declare what postulates of astrology are being challenged, study following scientific methods, show the world verifiable transparent data. Leave it to the individual whether to believe in your conclusions or not.

A piece of advice to astrologers - Why make these claims in public ? What and to whom are you trying to prove ? Do not force astrology down somebody's throat who is not interested. Astrology is strictly a private matter between the astrologer and his client. Don't make it public. Faith is the main element in seeking and giving astrological advice.

Scientists ! please understand and appreciate that there could be other ways of looking at life and not just yours. It is a free world and it is the individual's choice. Promote scientific temper if you want, but don't try to enforce. Please don't insist that everyone has to agree to your views and call those who do not agree as fools.

Point no.26 – The petitioner has quoted “ The brahmins making living on performing puja and practicing nakshatrajyotish should be excommunicated “ from Mahabharatha.
Without proper reference to the exact location of this statement in an epic running into thousands of pages it was a herculean task to identify it. However, when identified it turned out to be not in line with the content therein. It looks as if the petitioner has not referred to the original text in Sanskrit and tried to understand its context and meaning.

The author of Mahabharata is Sage Vyasa who is the great grandson of Sage Vasishta and son of Sage Parasara. All these rishis including Vyasa have been considered as the creators and developers of vedic astrology (ref: Parasara Hora). Each one has at least one textbook to his credit. How can Vyasa himself make such a statement ? It was unbelievable.

Secondly Brahmanas were a reverred lot during those times. The following quotes from the very same Mahabharata show this.

"Worship the gods through various sacrifices and provide wealth and clothes etc. to the Brahmanas. “(santi parva)

“By duly worshipping gods, serving guests, protecting all creatures, by worshipping Brahmanas, and by honesty, we shall certainly attain to desirable worlds of bliss.'" (santi parva)

'Among quadrupeds the cow is the most sacred. Of metals, gold is the best. Of speech, mantras, and of bipeds, the Brahmanas, are the foremost.” (santi parva)

“O Yudhishthira, Brahmanas conversant with Vedic texts and rites, and men of wealth, should especially be protected.” (santiparva)

“not giving dakshina to the brahmanas and their humiliation are declared to be sins by those conversant in dharma sastras"( santiparva)

“The son of Pandu gave thousand high-souled Brahmana snatakas thousand Nishkas each. “(santiparva)

“Brahmanas should be worshipped. They are gods on earth. They protect the vedas and the Sacrifices” (santiparva)

“The Brahmanas are the gods of the gods. Whatever they would say is for your benefit.” (santiparva)

“Whoever desires prosperity should make presents to brahmanas.” (santiparva)

“One should worship those learned brahmanas worhipping Gods and devoted to their duties. When they come one should stand up and touch their feet. One should make them to offer blessings by such acts." (santiparva)

“The person who offends brahmanas should be exiled.” (santiparva)

The mahabharata also ordains as follows –

“Brahmana who takes up acts that are not laid down for him, deserves no respect. If not engaged in his dharma , he should not be trusted.” (santiparva)

“Duties laid down for brahmanas are the foremost for them. If he doesn't follow them he can be punished like a sudra." (santiparva)

Now the pertinent sloka of chapter 77 (rajadharmanusasana) of santiparva reads as follows.

Aahvayakaa Devalakaa Naakshatragramayajakaaha
Etey brhmanachandaalaah mahaapathikapanchamaaha

Aahvayakaah – those brahmanas acting as messengers

Devalakaah – those braahmanas working in temples on wages
( the definition of the word devalakah is – yastu poojayatey devam vittharthee vatsaratrayam ; saiva devalako naama havyakavyabahishkritaha meaning one who does worhip of devas for money for a period of three years can no longer take part in the yajna involving havya and kavya.He is called devalakah.)
During the time of Mahabharata, idolatry was just taking roots in India. The main mode of worship was through yajnas. The noble brahmanas who were well versed in the vedas never used to approve of installation of idols in temples and worship of them. Hence, it was the not so educated brahmanas who undertook this task for money ( vetana or wages is the term used). The King was told to discriminate between the noble brahmanas who were well versed in the vedas and the devalakas who used to perform worship for money.

However, receiving dakshina and gifts in yajnas (called pratigraha) was one of the six fundamental duties of the Brahmana together with adhyayana (learning), adhyaapana(teaching), yajanaa (performing yajna for self), yaajana (performing yajna for others) and daana (gifitng to others).

The clear distinction is that while a brahmana is entitled to receive dakshina and gifts as part of vedic rituals, it was considered lowly to perform worship for wages.
The other word misinterpreted is “naakshatragraamayajakaaha”. It is not nakshatra, but naakshatra with a deergha following the syllable na. Naakshatra means someone who is not a kshatriya (Vaisyas and Sudras). Brahmanas were forbidden from performing yajnas for Vaisyas and Sudras. There was discrimination against brahmanas who still went ahead and performed yajnas for the non kshatriyas. The term naakshatrah has nothing to do with “nakshatrajyotish” as alleged by the petitioner. Graamayaajakah means one who performs yajnas for an entire village rather than an individual. This was also forbidden as the yajna was always meant to be performed for an individual called the yajamana and a village would include all the for varnas. These categories of brahmanas were considered as chandalas(lowly) and discriminated against.
This discrimination may not be relevant anymore in the changed social context, however intercommunity marriage between vedic brahmanas and archakas of temple are still not encouraged in several parts of the country (eg: Iyer and Kurukkal communities of Tamil Nadu.)

There are also comments from Jawaharlal Nehru, Shakespear and Dr.Abraham Kovoor against astrology. They have every right to express their views.

The petitioner quotes Claude Pecker as saying" North pole has six month long day and six month long night.There are no graha nakshatras in the north pole, horoscopes for people living there can not be made, still they live happily"

Why are there no graha nakshatras for north pole ? Is he talking about visibility? A horoscope for north pole can definitely be made. Do all of them live "happily"?

Point no.27 - mentions that one Prof.Silverman studied horoscopes of 2978 couples out of which 478 have taken divorce. Many of the horoscopes of couples who did not take divorce were not matching perfectly. The following points may be noted.
Prof.Bernard Silverman was a psychologist attached to the Michigan State University. He “studied” the horoscopes of 2978 couples who were “going to get married” (not ones who had been married for a considerable period of time) and 478 who were going to get divorced. He found that incompatibly signed men and women got married as frequently as compatibly signed ones."

Are we talking about compatibility factor or the sun sign statistics of these marriages ? What was the aim of the study? Did he check the actual state of compatibility among the couples against the predictions as per their horoscopes ? No. He has only concluded that incompatible men and women got married as much as compatible ones. No objections.

Moreover, the principles of compatibility that he applied were based on the 12 sun signs as per western astrology which is too broad (there is no likelihood that one – twelfth of the world population will have the same kind of life experience). This is not how a vedic astrologer would study marriage compatibility. Some important points the vedic astrologer would consider are given below –

1. Physical and mental well being in both the horoscopes as well as financial matters.
2. Psychological disposition in both the horoscopes.
3. Dina koota to understand the intensity of the relationship
4. Gana koota to understand psychological disposition
5. Yoni koota to understand latent characteristics
6. Rasi koota to understand mutual compatibility
7. Graha maitri koota to understand conjugal harmony
8. Rajju koota to understand the longevity of the relationship
9. Vedha koota to understand chances of disagreement
10. Vasya koota to understand natural adjustment
11. Mahendra koota to understand financial prospects of the couple
12. Stree deergha koota to understand mutual attraction
13. Nadi koota to understand physiological factors
14. Varna koota to understand spiritual development. Compatibility is tested on all the above factors.
15. Child birth prospects through beeja sphuta and kshetra sphuta.
16. Checking for the four harmful nakshatra charanas of Aslesha, Visakha, Jyeshta and Moola and also exceptions.
17. Checking for vihaga, tatva, vadha – vainashika and samagotra dosha
18. Checking for compatibility of malefic content in both the horoscopes – with reference to the houses 12,I,4,7 and 8 from Lagna, Chandra,Sukra and 7th lord in both Rasi and Navamsa charts.
19. Checking for concurrent malefic periods in both the horoscopes

I wonder whether Prof.Silverman has even heard of all these, forget studying charts on the basis of these.

The petitioner further states that “ Western Reserve University’s physicist Prf.Macgrave studied the horoscopes of 16634 scientists registered with American men of science and 6475 politicians listed in who is who in American politics. It didn’t prove similarities of horoscopes of scientists and politicians vis-à-vis zodiac constellations."

This sounds like - me “studying the MRI scans 13368 brain damaged persons and declaring ‘I don’t find anything wrong.” I can’t make head or tail of those pictures.

Presuming for once that the 16634 scientists and 6475 politicians had with them their accurate birth details ready including the time of birth. I wonder how many years it must have taken for Prof.Macgrave to personally contact each one of them and to collect those details. Are we again talking about the 12 sun sign based horoscopes here. A vedic astrologer does not rely on them.

To get a fair idea about a person’s professional life, at least the following factors should be studied in detail.

1. Strength of lagna and lagna lord to ascertain the overall impact of the horoscope
2. Strength of Sum, Moon and 10th lord in the rasi chart, their placement in the navamsa chart and their dispositors there.
3. Strength of the 10th house in Rasi chart and Dasamsa chart.
4. Strength and placement of the 10th lord in the Rasi and Dasamsa charts.
5. Planets in the 10th house in the Rasi and Dasamsa charts.
6. Planets aspecting the 10th house in Rasi and Dasamsa charts.
7. Planets having Rasi Drishti on the 10th house in Rasi and Dasamsa charts.
8. Planets having Argala and Virodhargala on the 10th house in the Rasi and Dasamsa charts.
9. Planets conjoining the 10th lord in Rasi and Dasamsa charts .
10. Planets aspecting the 10th lord in Rasi and Dasamsa charts
11. Planets having Rasi Drishti on the 10th lord in Rasi and Dasamsa charts
12. Planets having Argala and Virodhargala on the 10th lord in Rasi and Dasamsa charts
13. The strengths of the respective planets and house in terms of shadbala, vimsopaka bala, ashtavarga bala etc.
14. Yogas such as Raja yoga enhancing these strengths.
15. Yogas such as Shakata yoga marring these strengths.
16. Effects of various dasas, antardasas etc such as Vimsottari dasa to identify favorable and unfavorable periods.
17. Effects of transit planets.
18. Effects of annual progressed horoscopes such as tithi pravesha, nakshatra pravesha.

No wonder Prof.Macgarve could not make out anything. A Dentist was told to treat a heart patient.

The petitioner further says “ Astrology says that the men with mangal will become a great warrior and that with sukra will be handsome or a good lover. Keeping this in mind Prof.Janes Birth and James Banet studied the horoscopes of all navymen who had joined during 1962 to 1970 but no such thing was found.”

Everybody has got a Mangal and Sukra in his horoscope. I think the petitioner intends to say “a strong Mangal”. (what an irony, even this I have to point out!)

Vedic astrology does not say so. There are many significations (areas where the planet is interested in or can primarily show influences) attached to each planet. For example some of the significations of Mangal/Mars (ref ; Phaladeepika) are Mental and Physical strength, all that grows on earth, well being of siblings, cruelty, battle field, courage, enemity, kitchen fire, gold, kindred, weapons, thieves, zest, adultery, falsehood, manliness, magnanimity, wickedness, wound and injury and army command.

A person who has got a strong Mars in his horoscope can show martian attributes in areas where the planet influences. Mars is primarily a planet of energy and aggression. This is the reason to associate mars with battlefield.
A benefic strong mars associated with the houses related to career can make a person among hundreds of possibilities, a soldier, an athlete or sportsperson, a gymnast or wrestler, policeman, any of the uniformed professions, fire force professional, Karate master, forensic expert, investigator, detective, weapons designer/maker, butcher, engineer, architect, printer, real estate agent, property caretaker, restaurateur, cook, metallurgist, miner, metals trader, chemist, trader of chemicals, trader of explosives, surgeon, hemetologist,electrician, boiler technician, furnace operator, owner of gas filling stations etc. A weak mars associated with the houses of career will lead a person to take up menial jobs in the above areas. A defense person could be a general or an orderly. People who take up and fight for public causes (eg:- the petitioner in this case) will have strong martian influences in their horoscope. Mars gives the fighting spirit, courage, enthusiasm and the zeal.

A malefic mars associated with the houses of career will make a person for example a thief, fraud, hacker, gangster or a terrorist by profession.

In vedic astrology nothing works in isolation. So many different aspects are to be studied before coming to a conclusion. From the statement of the petitioner it looks as if the study was whether all the said navy men belonged to the two sun signs Aries and Scorpio owned by Mars or something similar to this. It’s not so simple. The basic premise of the study itself is wrong. Secondly you are looking for the wrong evidence. Please don’t think that horoscopes of all army men will show strong martian influence. Rahu and Ketu are also significtors of army. The horoscope of a doctor working for the navy will show more of sun’s influence than that of mars and that of signals person will show more of mercury’s influence. A person who works for the forces for a few years and later takes up some other career will show more of that influence in his horoscope.

I still feel that if the professors had undertaken a proper study with the right parameters they could have found some establishable link with mars either with respect to the nature of work or the environment in most of the cases. A sun sign approach is not going to help. Accurate birth data including time of birth is required for all the candidates.

The petitioner goes ahead to say that “The well known astronomers Rojer Kalvar and Philip Lenua collected samples of 3011 astrological predictions.90% of them proved wrong.”

I wonder whether the petitioner is actually in possession of any of the above mentioned studies or they are second hand and third hand citations. A search in Google and Yahoo search engines for the “well known astronomers Rojer Kalvar and Philip Lenua “ did not yield any result.

Anybody can come out with a statement like “ Prof.Thomas Fry the famous Physician studied 756 allopathic medicines available in the market and found that 95% are not effective.”

Point no.28 – Vide this point, the petitioner complains that Rahu and Ketu whom astrologers widely use are not even planets. They are imaginary spots or nodes in space. It is absurd on the part of astrologers to say that they have influence on the destinies of mankind.

It will not be long before we started using terms like “imaginary husband”, “imaginary wife”, “imaginary friend” to be scientifically correct because these relations are difficult to prove through a DNA test.

The petitioner is half right. Rahu and Ketu are not planets, but points in space (but not imaginary as stated). The north node where the moon’s path around earth intersects the ecliptic is called Rahu and the south node Ketu.

Vedic astrology makes use of many such derivatives – the 14 upagrahas, sahmams, points of exaltation, debilitation etc. The division of the zodiac into 12 signs of 30 degrees itself can be termed as imaginary. The astrologer makes use of many such imaginary divisions even to the extent of 3600 divisions in ardha nadi chakra. In Horary astrology even factors like environment where the question is asked, the breathing pattern of the astrologer, astrologer’s state of mind, which part of the body the querist touches when he is asking the question, the sign mounted by the querist with respect to the astrologer, the disposition of the querist and the direction he faces, his mannerisms, the way he looks(up or down or sideways) , his attire and the omens are taken into consideration before drawing conclusions about the question asked. It may sound all weird to the scientist. But, it works. The time factor in vedic astrology revolves around the dasa system (in fact 180 different systems) which may also look imaginary to the layman as they don’t conform to the Gregorian calendar that he is so much used to.

As far as influence of imaginary Rahu and Ketu are concerned, for the astrologer, the grahas are not bodies of influence, but points in space and time to which karmic influences are aligned. The maths part of astrology is highly complex. Until the invention and popularization of computers we were not able to put to use even a small percentage of the astrological knowledge base.

If it is to tell lies and cheat people nobody would take such great pains to develop, evolve, learn and practice such an elaborate and complex branch of knowledge. It takes a few years of study and the experience of reading and understanding at least a thousand horoscopes before someone develops some proficiency in this subject and of course, lot of divine grace.

The petitioner says that the astrologers first thought that Rahu and Ketu were serpents swallowing the sun and moon and changed their stand when they found that it was untenable. Sir, please don’t say that you don’t understand it is only an allegory.

The petitioner further states that the planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto do not find place in the data and chart of astrologers. Is the petitioner not aware that the scientists themselves have thrown Pluto out of their planetary system. They must be deliberate omissions as the Rashes and scholars must have found it satisfactory with whatever parameters that are used.

Why should a doctor take into account a person’s religion while treating him for fever ?

Point no. 29 - The point is about a few challenges to astrologers to make predictions and win prizes.

Astrology is not a wrestling competition to participate in and win prizes.

Point no.30 - In this point, the petitioner quotes from an article by Madhav Risbud that appeared in ‘Indian Skeptics”. He says 3 babies born at the same moment at different parts of earth will have Rahu placed in different houses of the horoscope (5, 7 and 9) and should give different results. He says to do this Rahu should know that he is in different houses simultaneously and he should know what results to give to each baby. Unless until Rahu performs this feat the Siddhant will not operate at all.

When it is mid noon in Mumbai, it will be midnight in America, sunrise elsewhere and sunset elsewhere. Does the sun need to calculate how much light he has to give at each place ? Results indicated in the horoscopes are coming out of one’s own past karma. Planets only point towards them.

The petitioner goes ahead quoting “Siddharaju Kothati” saying “ One must think why the astrologers ask money from the people for prediction. Why can’t they predict the winning numbers in the state lotteries ?”

A similar argument “ If doctors know all about health, why do they fall sick?”

This point repeats Buddha’ view on astrology which has been answered earlier.

It further says “ Bhaskaracharya, our ancient astronomer being himself a famous astrologer had lost faith in astrology after his own daughter hugged early widowhood and has written in his book Siddhanta Siromani – we have to tell the truth before the people who have blind faith on their tradition, it is impossible to believe all the statements of our ancestors without condemning the faults in them.”

Very true. The petitioner will also become an “ancient” thousand years from now. Will the world then is to accept all his views only because he is an “ancient” ?

There is a proverb in Sanskrit – Puranamityeva na cha sadhu sarvey meaning nothing is to be taken for granted only because it is ancient. Hinduism is a dynamic and evolving religion. So many theories have been propounded, evaluated, criticized, debated upon, accepted, discarded, modified and redefined. This is an ongoing process in Hinduism. A branch of study called nyaya exists only for this purpose. Dualism and Monism coexist in Hinduism. Supporters don’t go after each other’s throat or burn effigies. The don’t seek to get the other banned through a court of law. Some Hindus consider Siva as the highest God and some others Vishnu. This plurality is the essence of Hinduism. The point raised by Bhaskaracharya is the very essence of Hinduism. Manusmriti has been rewritten so many times. Polygamy and even polyandry had the support of dharma sastras at some point of time and later on rejected. Varhamihira’s 5th century text Panchasiddhantika explicitly rejects some of the earlier siddhantas saying “ they are no longer operational.” Such is the spirit of Hinduism and astrology. Vedic astrology has stood the test of time and will continue to be so for thousands of years to come.

Point no.31 - The petitioner expressed his concern that only some astrologers use Uranus, Neptune and Pluto the newly discovered planets. This point has already been raised elsewhere and answered.

Point no.32 - This point is about observations of Jayant Narlikar and Dr.M.G.K.Menon on a decision by UGC to introduce astrology courses in Universities. Dr.Menon has nothing against the concept, he only wants a cap on the turn out in terms of number. He even expressed that there is no need to throw the baby with the water.

The matter already stands settled as a PIL in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and a subsequent SLP in the Supreme Court challenging the decision were summarily dismissed in the years 2001 & 2004 respectively. The supreme court even went to the extent of saying that astrology is a science at least in part - more than what was asked for.

Point no.33 - This point is on a news item (Mid-day, 3-2-2001) about the arrest of some “ astrologer” who predicted doomsday and created panic among people in Gujarat. Good work by the state machinery. Let the law take its course and decide on the fate of this “astrologer”. There is frequent news about bomb hoaxes and people who made those calls getting arrested subsequently. Thank God all of them are not “astrologers”. They must be either publicity mongers, sadists or mentally deranged people requiring psychiatric treatment.

Point no.34 - is about Art.51 A(h) of the constitution on fundamental duties which directs to develop scientific temper and humanism. The petitioner feels that sufficient steps have not been taken by the governments in this direction,

It’s upto the government to answer this point.

Point no.35 - It's about a personal tragedy in the family of the petitioner. In the year 1945, his sister died of rabies. When she was bitten by the dog, she was taken to an exorcist rather than a hospital.

It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that medical facilities are available all over the country and to every citizen. Spreading of awareness and proper health education should be taken at a faster pace.

It is shocking to realize that even though rabies vaccine was developed in the year 1885 it became freely available in India only in the 1970s and even today we are facing shortage at times. The government should take urgent steps to ensure it availability.

Already an act of law has been enacted to prevent magic remedies. The government should make sure that it is enforced. Praying for a patient and seeking divine intervention through pujas and rituals ordained by one's own religion should not be construed in the wrong way.

Point no.36 - This is the petitioner's appreciation for Indian astronomy.

Point no.37 - The petitioner complains about various advertisements carried out on Television channels and newspapers selling problem solving gadgets and also articles promoting astrology and supernatural powers.

There is no need to under estimate the intelligence of the average educated urban Indians who are the targets of these advertisements and promotions. They are the ones who build cities, run the corporates, elect governments and behind every intelligent human activity. They can not be fooled by anyone so easily. Are they not capable of looking after themselves or they need to be protected from the "bad world" like babies ?

If there is dissatisfaction at the end of the customers of these gadgets and services , they can approach the consumer forum and there are also regulatory authorities for ethical advertising and trading. The appropriate fora can be approached for remedies. The media should also show its social responsibility by curtailing the promotion of publicity mongers masquerading as "astrologers" to create sensationalism. It can also use its discretion to discourage such advertisements.

As such there is no need to stop publishing of informative articles of academic interest in astrology.

Point nos.38 to 49 - These are the last points where the petitioner points out lack of initiative and zeal on the part of government authorities in enforcing various laws such as those for prevention of magic remedies. He seeks direction from the court to the government to file affidavits in these matters.

Apart from filing of these affidavits the prayers are to

1. ban articles and advertisements promoting astrology and related subjects such as Vastu, Reiki etc.
2. To make it mandatory for operators in these areas to put a disclaimer that it is only for entertainment and is not tried and tested.

The court has to take a decision.

As a conclusion the following points are worthy of consideration.

1. Vedic astrology is part and parcel of Hindu religion and is absolutely essential for the practice of its ritualistic side.

Astrology is so important in Hindu religion that it is assigned the status of one of the six organs (shadangas) of the vedas and is called the "eye of the vedas"

The time factor of the universe in Hindu religion is explained and taught by astrology. Astrology is also called kalavidhanasastra or knowledge of time and its divisions. Time cannot be perceived by the sensory organs, so the only way to determine time was through movement like that of sun and moon.

A Hindu is duty bound to perform many rituals to guarantee his well being in future lives, a place in heaven and subsequently moksha or release from the cycle of births and deaths. It is astrology based on planetary positions which tells him when to perform these rituals. Nothing or nobody else other than the panchanga based on planetary positions can tell him when is amavasya, when is makara samkranthi, when is yugadi, when is ashtaka, when is anvashtaka, when is akshaya triteeya and the like.

Yajnas are performed as ordained in the vedas and they are dependent on appropriate timing. Astrology is what guides us through timing. Hence astrology deserves the position as an anga of vedas. (ref : Sidhanta Siromani of Sankaracharya)

At the start of of every Hindu ritual, there is a procedure called sankalpa in which the geographical location of the ritual, the time and the purpose are declared. The declaration of the time includes the yuga, year, month, tithi, vara, nakshatra, yoga, karana and the planetary positions. These are all astrological factors. It is believed that in the absence of the sankalpa, the ritual will go aimless and will not yield any result. Astrology is essential part of every Hindu ritual. To deprive the priest of astrological data is like asking the doctor to go without a stethescope. Muhurta chintamani says “ pratyaksham jyotisham sastram chandrarkou yatra sakshinou vinaitadakhilam srouta smarta karma na sidhyati “ – Astrology is a visible sastra whose witnesses are the sun and moon ; in the absence of astrology it will not be possible to perform the rituals ordained in the vedas and smrutis.

Only the horoscope tells the Hindu what kind of karma he has accrued from the past life and this will help him in taking up steps such as penances to exhaust this karma and progress in his spiritual path.

Identification of the right spiritual path for the Hindu sadhaka draws great help from astrology following principles laid down in texts such as Rudra yamala.

Hinduism advocates performance of penances for sins committed in the present and past lives. Only astrology can throw light on sins committed in the past lives.

Hinduism considers the nava grahas as divine powers and they are propitiated by offerings at the onset of every ritual. This is called graha preeti daanam. Every Hindu Gruha pravesha and every Satyanarayana pooja involves worship of the navagrahas.

Navagrahas are worshipped in navagraha temples all over India.

Hindus worship their ancestors during a 15 day period called pitrupaksha every year. The Gregorian calendar does not tell when this period is. Hindus are dependent on the panchanga based on astrology to identify this period. In the absence of astrology, Hindus will be deprived of the opportunity to perform this worship which can invite the wrath of the ancestors on account of non performance of this worship or through performance at the wrong time.

Any effort to restrict astrology will be violate article 25(1) of the constitution of India.

2. The Supreme court has already settled the matter while hearing a SLP of a similar nature in the year 2004. The present PIL is only old wine in new bottle.

3. There are already provisions in the law of the land and also various acts to handle unscrupulous elements of the society. Appropriate remedies can be sought under them.