Sunday, January 28, 2007

Are you a Sagittarian?

If your answer is yes, good for you. If not, contact me immediately and i will give you an expensive gem that will remedy the situation. Now! hurry up! Rush!....

"This is the year of the Leo. So Sagittarians and Geminis are bound to be successful", thus spaketh Mr. Bejan Daruwalla.
And the context? Apparently the producers of Big-Shetty-Brother have contacted him on "how religion plays an important role in the life of Indians and also asked me the role of astrology in India".

How convenient for these reporters. Catch the right people in India to potray the usual "Caste, Cows, Curry, Constellations" trash. Do not expect any mention in this programme of how religion* influenced science, arts, architecture, literature etc. in India.

Anyway, more insights:
“It was such a coincidence that Shilpa, who is a part of Channel 4’s ‘Big Brother’, is born on June 8 and this lady’s (the reporter who contacted Mr. Daruwalla) date of birth is June 9. Both of them are Geminis, and Shilpa may perhaps win,” he says.
My mind is spinning. Just like the planets Mr. Daruwalla claims to have a total impact on your life. This is really a revolting brand of astrology.

Here's a piece of advice from Sri Mantreswara, author of the 16th century astrology classic Phaladeepika:
"Planets are constantly favorable to one who is always calm, possessed of self-control, who has earned wealth through virtuous means, and who is always ethical and moral".
Classical Indian thinking was never totally deterministic. The theory of Karma is not an easy one to understand. Ignorance, superstition, bad translations of Sanskrit works and charlatans wanting to make a quick buck have created one big mess.

Ancient texts are flooded with examples on how a person's destiny (if you believe in the concept of 'destiny'. I do. But not in Mr. Daruwalla's sense) has been changed with a combination of right thinking and right action. The Gita Itself says that one just has to do the required tasks at the right time with the right effort and attitude (no attachment to results).

Bottomline: If you believe in astrology and do want to go to an astrologer, please stay away from those who:
1) Put fear into you
2) Tell you that everything is pre-ordained
3) Lead you into thinking that unless you purchase some gem you will be ruined for life

Link to the news article here.
* The word religion itself is probably not the right word for Indic dharmas like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism


Anonymous said...

Can you please blog on how religion influenced science in India? Want to read both good and bad, if any.

Sharan Sharma said...

Sure, SSK. Hope to get around to doing that sometime (and given my recent laziness, it's not looking good :)

But for now:
1) The basis for Indian mathematics comes from Vedic ritual.
Requirement of construction of altars necessitated the formulation of formulae. An example is Baudhayana's formula - now known to us as Pythagoras' theorem (formulated *at least* 600 years before Pythagoras). Many of these rules/formuale are in the Shulba sutras .

2) There is an excellent book called the "Astronomical Code of the Rigveda" by Dr. Subhash Kak, who's well-known for his work on neural networks (inventor of the Kak Neural Networks) and Vedic literature. Wiki profile here

The books demonstrates how the Veda is replete with explicit astronomical information (now being discovered through telescopes and other equipment)

3) I am not sure if i can give a "bad influence" that you indicated. Because i do not know of any such influence. I am glad i belong to a culture where 'religion' and science have always gone hand in hand. In fact, Indian culture in my opinion, has always been about a holistic way of life. 'Religion' and Science were not divorced. Both contributed to the individuals understanding of the world. In fact, most mathematicians belonged to the priestly community.

4) Having said that, one thing i know is that there is not much emphasis on detailed proof in the sutras or other literature. There seems to be heavy emphasis on intuition. For example, the speed of light is accurately given in a 10th Century (!) commentary on the Yajur Veda by Bhatta Bhaskara. But no proof. Just a mention. This has prompted some skeptics to say that the value "was a guess". I find that extremely hard to believe. You just can't make up a number like 186000 mps.

Hey, does this qualify as half a post?!

Anonymous said...

Dating of Indian history is based on Megasthenes account of Sandracottus. Megasthenes's account was a original 'Indica/Indika' much of which is lost. The dating assumes this Sandracottus was Chandragupta Maurya.

There is a opinion that this was the Gupta - Chandra Gupta. This will move dates of Indian History, including Budha, Shankara etc back.

This was a surprise to me when I read this on the web. I read this first a few years back and was skeptical. But later accounts I read about Indika were surprising - apparently there are claims there that Pandya kings were descendents of greek mythology figure Heracles, and Pandya women bore child at age six!

I wanted to do a post on this, but...

Sandeep Bhasin said...

No! I am not!!! and i understand what you want to say over here. have spent a fortune on knowing what's in store for me in the future. The only thing that i got to know after spending all these monies is that i am an idiot. Astrology, as i understand, is something that shapes based on our actions. There are astrologers who try and implant fear into our minds and extract money from us. There are others as well but i have not met any this far!

On relationship between science and religion, i can only say that there are books like 'Code Name God', 'God is in the equation' and 'God invented Integers' that actually define the concept of God in a beautiful manner. All these books have said the same thing: what is unknown is code named GOD by some and 'x-factor' by others!

Sharan Sharma said...

Hi Reason and Sandeep,
Thanks for your great comments. Will respond to them soon.

Anonymous said...

Since we are talking God, there is another topic of interest - 'free-will'. Scott Adams spends a lot of time on this, if you read his blog. Free will is a big thing in christianity because there is a God and a Satan, and you have to accept God in your 'free-will'. And God is also omnipotent so how do you have a free-will outside of that in the first place.
My (crude?) understanding of Hinduism is, a idea of cause and effect such that you can not escape effects of your actions, but there is a way that you can do this by detaching yourself - as seen in the gita. In the normal course, you are responsible for all your actions, and though the effects are the result of actions, they work under the laws of Ishwara (phala-dhata).

The idea of free-will and Hinduism is another topic I wanted to post on,but it is easier to post a comment :-) May be I should quit posting those rants on my own blog and do this instead... :-)

Sharan Sharma said...

Hi Reason,
Yes, i find Scott Adams' posts quite interesting on this topic.

> another topic I wanted to post on,but it is easier to post a comment :-)

Same here :)...i find it easier to post comments than put a coheren post together

> May be I should quit posting those rants on my own blog and do this instead... :-)

No! We'll miss out!

Kshitij L said...

I am not sure if i can give a "bad influence"
True. Indian science has a remarkably cordial relationship with religion
the thought processes involved. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I think the attitude religion, especially destiny/determinism based religion (which is how most people take it, even though the Vedas don't mean it that way), instills in people is pretty antithetical to the frame of mind required for science.
It's just a minor gripe, really. I'm glad India doesn't have a science vs. religion issue.

Sharan Sharma said...

Hi Kshitij!
Thanks for your comment. Yes, i guess there is a big gap in the way Indian dharmas put it and the convenient interpretation that people adopt.

Interestingly, even if a religion were totally deterministic, it's scientific thinking followers would probably try and predict what's in store. In which case too, science and religion can go hand in hand. I think the problem comes when religion refuses to accept what is visible and logical (Galileo). Luckily we never had that issue in India, like you say.

Ajith said...

Hi Sharan, great post!
A shining example of how religion and science go hand in hand that I have personally experienced is senior BARC scientists who double up as temple priests in the local temples in BARC.....its sad that Indian culture and frequently the Hindu 'way of life' is frequently associated with superstitious beliefs without really understanding the scientific temper behind!

Sharan Sharma said...

Thanks Ajith.

Crizzie Criz! said...

An old timer!

How have you been?

Sharan Sharma said...

CC!!! Where have you been?! I kept checking your blog from time to time but gave up because i thought you'd stopped. Now i know you're still around in the blogosphere...

Sandeep Bhasin said...

Change the address (on your profile)!

Sandeep Bhasin said...

Still waiting for your response :-)

Sharan Sharma said...

ok, short answer finally :)

Best to just focus on the present. As Ramana Maharishi said, God in his infinite grace has made us forget the past and not know the future. It would cause problems either way. So best thing to do is focus on the present.

This does not mean not planning for the future. But going to astrologers for every small thing, well...