How astrology and science co-exist

India attained a significant scientific milestone this week by putting a space probe to orbit around Mars. However there’s another fascination with all the celestial bodies which is a lot older than India’s space program.

Astrology plays a part in the daily lifestyles of countless Indians. And how can a major Indian practitioner view this particular study of individual fate as superstition or mathematics?

“Neither,” states K.N. Rao, a retiree who served as director general of India’s vast Comptroller and Auditor General’s office, akin to the Office of Management and Budget at the U.S.”It’s a superscience, not an ordinary science, because it is extraterrestrial. Right?”

Rao provides a discourse on the 12 houses of the zodiac, the positioning of the planets, as well as the complexities of math in his chosen career. Switch his Indian tunic to get a black lady, and also the white-bearded Rao could walk from the webpages of Harry Potter as Hogwarts’ headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

It requires a whole lot of concentration. Very great deal of instruction,” Rao says.

“The USA and Obama will maintain a really aggressive mood, until the 19th of October. You will see major competitive conclusion taken by the USA,” he said.

H.S. Hande, a retired wing commander in India’s Air Force, informs me during a visit that”the planet which we think has impact on human life is Saturn.”

“I know he understands what he is doing. He is not a quack of an astrologer, such as quacko physicians,” she says.

Hande describes astrology as a”judicious mixture between fate and self-effort.”

For the purpose this is really a tool. Now it’s left for me to utilize the instrument or not,” Hande says.

At 6 months she had her daughter’s horoscope prepared. Years later, she obsessed over her daughter’s marriage prospects.

“When will I get married? I was 22 and my mom started visiting an astrologer to test out when am I going to get married. I got married in 36, so we went through several astrologers,” Mangharam recalls, laughing.

Mangharam, who has one child, says that 60 percent to 70 percent of what Hande wrote for her in a horoscope eight years ago has come true. He predicted she would have a child in 2010 and that she would become inexplicably ill. Both those things happened.

“So I really do believe in certain force, but I do not know whether I’d let that rule my own life,” Mangharam says.

Shruti Modi is not one bit hesitant to say astrology is central to her and her family’s existence. She planned the birth of two children around astrological charts.

The alignment of the planets at the time of your birth determines your destiny, according to the basic tenet of astrology. A real estate developer, Modi hails from a long line of believers.

“We all go to astrologers,” She says. “Every single member of the family is super-affluent. Each of the children of the family are likely to Harvard, Princeton, Wharton — it is not a coincidence. But we’re lucky to have the appropriate folks directing us”

Believers cross all social strata and paths with nonbelievers.

On the other side of the issue, and the room, sits Bangalore homemaker Shveta Mehra, who says charlatans all too often exploit the gullible and vulnerable.

“The [bulk of the] population goes to individuals who likely aren’t so great at their job. Allow me to simply mention that… a great deal of it’s superstition-based,” Mehra says.

Shruti Modi interjects that she’s studied it, and”I think it is a science”

Not quite, says columnist and writer Aakar Patel. He calls it”as much amusement as it’s a pseudo-science.”

But anthropologist Shiv Visvanathan says”be cautious” calling it superstition.

Nor does he say astrology can be put in a scientific box. “You can’t put down everything science,” he says. Astrology is just another cosmology, he says.

“At a certain level, it may even be a replacement for a specific type of spirituality. Because essentially, it is a technique to become closer to nature, closer into the cosmos, closer to the stars. Obviously, part of it’s bunkum.”

Bunkum notwithstanding, Visvanathan says so pervasive is the practice that”you would not begin a company in India without consulting an astrologer.”

“Let me inform you: You would not start a science lab without consulting an astrologer. However, nobody will admit it for you,” he says.

Astrologer K.N. Rao says you go to an astrologer”to take smart advice. That’s great.” But”if you head from morbid fear,” he adds,”that the astrologer will exploit you, deceive you, make cash from you. That is what’s happening around India.”

Rao says people seek astrologers in India the way some in the West seek psychiatrists. But he says the astrologer”does something much higher, because he sees that the true event happening. I am able to combine both counselling and forecast “