Monday, April 4

Value added Tradition

Note: I have hyperlinked some words for a better understanding of the content

Some months ago, I read a news article stating an addition of a zodiac sign and a shift of the existing zodiac sign periods by one month from 2011. Simply put, this change is due to a relative wobble of earth's axis in the earth-moon system. So all the sidereal astrological systems would be affected due to this wobble. Vedic astrology, which your next-door astrologer practises, is a sidereal system and so your zodiac sign would also change due to this wobble

This was a regular news item for me, but I saw it was some sort of question of existence for some (actually, many) people around me. One fellow was discussing how his zodiac sign would change and was frustrated about how one could become a Virgo all of sudden while he/she was a Gemini till the day before. I couldn't stop my enthusiasm to know how the fellow thinks and asked him what difference could a change of zodiac sign do to in his life. He replied that a change in zodiac sign would change his horoscope and so the predictions of his qualities, life and marriage would change. And his entire life was changed just because earth-moon system had a wobble. He said that it was unfair as it affects people's career, marriage and lifestyle.

So I told him that he should switch his belief system to palmistry which won't be affected due to this wobble, instead of astrology which might change anytime when some cosmological event happens. His answer was that he doesn't believe in palmistry. Then I asked him why he would believe astrology in that case. He replied saying he has absolute faith in it as it's part of Indian tradition and it's by his tradition that how he is defined and made.

Yes, he's correct. Every person is built out of his own tradition. I'm what I am due to the tradition in which I was brought up. We get many things from tradition. Our language, dressing style, food habits, social norms, customs, ethics (to some extent), way of looking at human relationships (to some extent) and many more come from tradition. It is a template in which we get raised and it is marked by a long chain of history and civilization that flourished and paved way for our existence. Some aspects of tradition are purely sociological, whereas some are religious. Throughout our life, we really cannot change the way how some aspects of tradition influenced us in our childhood.

And as he said, astrology is part of the contemporary Hindu tradition. And going back in history, Ashwamedha was part of the Hindu tradition at least during the Mauryan dynasty (185 BC). But the exact ritual is not a part of contemporary Hindu tradition. Most of us don't know the exact ritual of Ashwamedha as mentioned in the Yajurveda. So, why is it not part of contemporary Hindu tradition anymore?

Ok, let's suppose Indian government now starts performing Ashwamedha in the truly Vedic way for supremacy in the world and to make India the No.1 economy in the world and to eradicate poverty in the country. Would anyone welcome it with their share of support? Of course no one would. This is because people are enlightened enough in animal welfare and women rights to oppose this and draw a line. But again, Ashwamedha is one of the most powerful and pleasing sacrifices to the Gods as mentioned in the Vedas and every other Emperor in Hindu mythological epics performed this ritual and it worked well for them in bringing success and supremacy.

So, is it fine to discard insensible and irrational aspects of tradition as times change? Or we would be betraying the holy texts of canon composed by people in 2nd century BC if we leave some of them as nonsense and not applicable? If the ritual mentioned in Yajurveda was a divine revelation to the Aryans, then that should be the exact and only way to perform it to please the Gods. Who are the 21st century people to discard or change it just for a whim of animal welfare and women rights?

Now coming to astrology, it's the alleged "science" (people often forget it's astronomy which is science) that explains the effect of a handful of stars and planets on the the entire 7 billion world population, to the level of individual human behavior, luck, marriage, career, health, children, success, earning, expenditure.. and so on.. Physicists (who don't know anything the Aryans knew 3500 years back) have discovered some fundamental interaction forces till date in the entire universe. None of those explain the effect claimed by astrology. Even though some physicists claim these are the only possible forces present in universe, if there is any other force present in this universe (the astro'logical' force), it should hold good to a statistical study.

I'm giving reference to one study conducted in India here. It was a double-blind trial to verify the statistical success of astrological predictions. The results showed that the astrological predictions were as accurate as that of a coin toss, around 50%, whereas statistically meaningful predictions would be 70% or higher. If one would do the same experiment to check electromagnetic force between a pair of charge carriers, the success of predictions would safely be above 99.99% (It would be 100% if any applicable quantum mechanics is included)

So, next time, if you are about to consult an astrologer for a match-compatibility, hold on and toss a fair coin. Look up as yes for heads, no for tails, check the result and proceed accordingly.

Even if you consult the astro-guy, the probability of a successful prediction from him would be the same !!

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Srinivas DMS said...

It is good that the study has been done, and i was wondering about the 13th sign too when I first saw it in Microsoft's WWT.

What makes me wonder is, how would my horoscope change if the 13th zodiac sign has crept in to the suns path, and I really need to know a lot on it.

And to add some more of my ideas, considering vedic astrology, your horoscope is decided on the day you are born and it does not get affected if the sun goes cold or some planet hits the earth or some asteroid changes the direction of the moon.

And if your friend has good faith in Vedic astrology, he should not be worried because, if a new constellation or few constellations creep in to the suns path because of earths wobble or change in the angular position of solar plane, it would have already been taken in to consideration while making the rules itself, after all astrology has a lot to do with future. If it is capable of letting you know your future, with out you being born after some 5000 or 20,000 what ever years after it is formed, then it is capable of knowing the positions of the 88 constellations at least.

One more thing being, how the astro-physicists divide the sky into constellations is if not copied, would vary a lot with what Greeks did and what the Aryans or who ever did.

Sarath Teja Somina said...

@DMS: I did not understand the last para of your comment

Shravan said...

Hyperlinking is cool. Once again, a well researched and sarcastic masterpiece.

Srinivas DMS said...

Ophiuchus according to the astro-physicists is a constellation. But, the part of Ophiuchus on the ecliptic is a part of Scorpios according to the Vedic astrology, can't it be.

That is what I meant in the last para. The way you make your constellations is different than what how I make mine.

Sarath Teja Somina said...

@DMS: Got ur point.. the reason why opiuchus is seen as part of scorpio in Vedic astrology is because of the sidereal coordinate system used by Vedic astro to map the ecliptic. The sidereal system views constellations in a 30degree arc. Many times, even tropical and sidereal systems differ in the exact times of sun/moon entering a constellation due to this 30deg arc. If opiuchus lies in the 30deg arc of scorpio, sidereal system sees it as part of scorpio

I'll tell you one interesting thing here. Mapping of stars was started in ancient days for navigation. People observed that even the pattern of motion of stars is not consistent over a period of time. So, they started observing exceptions also for a long periods of time. This was the start of astronomy.

Point to note here is that, back then, astronomy didn't use laws of gravity or general relativity to estimate the motion of stars. It was much novice, as we can put, in which observations were modeled into a mathematical systems with exceptions in the calculations based on sum over histories. One example to demonstrate this is that the ancient astronomy (which is used by the contemporary astrologers) cannot predict the motion of Gliese-710 star which might come close to earth in distant future.

Back then, people observed patterns in climate corresponding to the motion of stars. And prediction of climate was of great importance in those days for agriculture. What started as prediction of climate was extended to human behavior and aspects of human life as time passed. This is analogous to extending the concepts if id, ego and super-ego to animals :)

Srinivas DMS said...

So you mean if they have applied general relativity to the motion of stars, astrology would have been valid?? :)

anyways, what about your view on this statement, "Astrology is the effect of planets on human glands and hormones." Want to hear something on this.

Sarath Teja Somina said...

If we apply general relativity to ancient astronomy, it will give us modern astronomy, period. It wouldn't give us astrology. General relativity doesn't discuss how the position of planets influences human behavior.

"Astrology is the effect of planets on human glands and hormones." I think this statement is not even worth a comment from a scientific point of view.

There's this joke in Alice in wonderland. Alice is thundering the door on pepper cook's kitchen and she can't get in. And the frog footman says "I'll tell you what I'll do for you.."
Alice looks at him, and he says "I'll tell you what I'll do for you. Nothing. Would that be any good for you? I can't do it straight away, because all these things keep cropping up. If I was to do nothing for you, I'd have to find time to squeeze it in"

There is a beautiful intelligibility about this joke. But the reason why it's a joke is that the frog footman uses the word "Nothing" as if it were something about which we can talk

Any statement claiming position/motion of planets effecting human biological system is in the same lines. It's just fashionable nonsense

Srinivas DMS said...

I am not able to understand the joke. Any ways, I am able to get what you want to say. Thanks nice! I have no more knowledge on this to discuss. Lets meet for some other discussion later.

Sarath Teja Somina said...

Sure man :)