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|May 10, 2001||
The Rediff Interview/ Astrologer Bejan Daruwalla
'Astrology? It's more like witchcraft!" believes one school of thought.
"So what if it is not a complete science? It is accurate," asserts another.
The debate gathers momentum after the University Grants Commission issued a controversial notification to universities across the country in February requesting them to submit proposals about courses in Jyotir Vigyan or Vedic astrology.
Declares Bejan Daruwalla, the celebrated astrologer, "I don't care if it's a science or not. Fact is, it works."
And who would know better than Daruwalla? After all, he predicted Sanjay Gandhi's accident, Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, the Gujarat earthquake, and Amitabh Bachchan's return to stardom amongst other forecasts.
In conversation with Kanchana Suggu, the former English professor and poet defends astrology.
The current controversy has resulted in some scientists going to the extent of calling astrology superstition or witchcraft. Do you think they are justified in what they say?
Om Ganeshaya Namaha.
First of all, we Indians do not say astrology. We say jyotish.
Jyot means light and Ish means God. So to us at least, it is the light of God. For example, our festival Makar Sankranti is fixed for January 14. Do you know why? It's because the sun changes signs on January 14 and goes to the makar rashi.
Certain festivals and celebrations are based on astrology. Therefore, let us say that astrology is a part of our life, just as counseling is a part of life in the west. But west is west and east is east.
Having said this, I must admit to one thing. Out of 100, 90 per cent of the astrologers do not cheat. But 10 per cent may cheat. But that holds true for every discipline. Sometimes doctors, psychiatrists or even editors may get caught. We Indians are a little superstitious. Let us take this example. Before launching a rocket, scientists want the blessings of God. Now, why should they do it? All I'm saying is that some things are simply a part of our belief.
A science can be defined as a system of knowledge covering truths that are obtained and tested through a scientific method. Do you think astrology conforms to these pre requisites?
(Excited) This is fantastic. This is called telepathy. This is real astrology. Ask me why?
I am just writing about that. I'm writing about whether it is a science or not and you have come. This is perfect telepathy. So I don't know if astrology is a perfect science, but I know that 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.
Intuition is very important. Even detectives rely on it. They call it hunch. But the beautiful thing is that this is such a coincidence. I was writing about it and you asked me this question. This is called Ganesha's grace. Many astrologers say it's a science, but I'm not very sure of it.
If you really want to know, it does not interest me whether it is a science or not. What really interests me is the fact that it works. It comes correct.
For example, I predicted the earthquake for indiatimes.com as early as April 2000. I also came correct with Tendulkar. I said he would have an ordeal by fire and his father died. He had to come back from the World Cup. Third was about Amitabh. I said in Outlook that from June 2000 Amitabh's lucky period would start and he will have great success.
In 1997, I had said India would have computers and become a superpower. I must admit that sometimes I do go wrong. I am a romantic at heart and I believe that if I go right all the time, it will be so boring and monotonous. So subconsciously, sometimes I want to go wrong. Love and God are most exciting for me.
Where would you trace the origin of astrology to? Some professors are of the opinion that astrology has no mention in the Vedas and that the term Vedic astrology is being propagated only to mislead the common man.
Garga, Aryabhatt, Varahmihir, Maharshi Bhrigu… all of them are giants. I see from both the western and Indian side. The westerners in their own way are equally great. The one lesson astrology has taught me is tolerance. People are very complicated and what may be complete happiness for one person may be complete hell to another. So you have to be tolerant.
But does astrology have a mention in the Vedas?
I think the names I have mentioned are the real giants. They saw everything with their own light. They were fantastic people. They were the supermen of the world. Even the west had a superman, Nostradamus. Sometime even I see things, but I'm not always correct. I do see visions and wars.
I also see that the biggest, best and brightest century in the history of mankind will be the 21st century.
But what is the real purpose of astrology? One is to give direction to your life and the other is to heal. Astrology is not meant for selfish purposes. It is not a business. It is a shastra, a way of knowing something about the future. There are very strong codes of conduct. But basically, I think astrologers are born.
So you don't think astrology can be taught?
Number one, up to a point it can be taught. But even those who do not go to school can become equally successful astrologers.
Have you ever taught anyone?
I once taught a Russian girl and she's doing very well in Russia. Sometimes, I also give lectures. But if you really ask me, you can only teach the basics. It's like this. Everyone cannot become a fine journalist, a great television commentator or a successful filmstar. But training can definitely be imparted.
Finally, it is the grace of God. For example, if Jupiter is in Pisces, there can be five different possibilities and you have to choose the correct one. That comes only from within.
You predicted the death of Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. How much of intuition would you really say is involved in all these predictions? Or are all of them based on in-depth research and study?
You see, I combine everything. But the final trigger is intuition. For example, I could see the face of V P Singh and not Rajiv Gandhi. So I said that V P Singh would become the prime minister. A lot of things go together in it.
For example, if you ask me to match your horoscope with four other people, all of them might be equally good. But finally I will pick one based on my intuition.
Can you tell us what are the things that precede a prediction?
First of all, if the person is there I look at him and get vibrations. Second, the time the person comes is important. Thirdly, what type of day is it? Good, bad or indifferent?
Fourth, lines on the palm. Fifth, the Indian horoscope and lastly, the western horoscope.
So all this goes into a computer called the brain. And after that I look at Ganesha and make a prediction (laughs).
To explain it in layman terms, what basic principle would you say astrology is based on?
The interplay of planets. It is like a chessboard of planets. Which planet will win? Every planet will win differently for different horoscopes.
But how can all the people in the world be divided into 12 different categories?
It really cannot be divided. It is only a matter of convenience. I think about 65 per cent of such predictions come correct and that is a good average. But no, you cannot make predictions like that. You have to read the individual horoscopes and even then you must have it in your destiny to predict correctly. There are certain combinations that make an astrologer.
Like I have Mercury and Jupiter together. That is the sign of an astrologer, teacher, writer, poet or a commission agent. But to pick one of these five, you use your intuition. That is why it is difficult.
Astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar says that observations have been made at lunatic asylums during full-moon time and non-full-moon time and there is no statistical evidence to support any theory of change in behaviour. Do ocean tides and the moon etc really have a significant affect on a person's behaviour?
I have seen people who are affected. But if he says no, he must have done a bigger research. But I'm not saying that astrology is a complete science. I have not tested it, so I don't know. I am not interested in the science of it. I am only interested in the art of it and Ganesha.
Many astrologers fight with people that it is a science. Frankly, I care a damn whether it is a science or not. It works and that is important. You can call it science or you can call it bullshit.
Even planets and planetary positions are supposed to affect human behaviour. But I haven't tested it. But I know that many Virgos fear about their health, many Taureans want possessions, many Leos are egoistic and most Cancerians want family and security.
The UGC says the reason they want to teach astrology in universities is that it helps people manage and make optimal utilisation of time and help see the unforeseen. Do you think the UGC has a good enough reason for teaching astrology?
Up to a point, astrology will definitely help.
Why should astrology be taught at university?
It should be taught because astrology deals with the future. Why should psychiatry be taught? The psychiatrist may think he has cured a murderer and set him free. But this very man may commit a murder again. These things do happen.
But I must say that not everybody who learns it can become a good astrologer.
So you are of the opinion that it should be taught?
Up to a point.
Up to what point?
I mean after the person comes out of university with a degree you cannot say that because he is trained, results are guaranteed. I am sure that there is no astrologer who has always gone correct. Even if a man is not trained, he can be a great astrologer. Nostradamus was not trained. Cheiro was not trained.
If approached, would you like to teach at any university?
I was a professor of English and I taught for about 37 years. I've taught in the United States as well as Philippines. I also taught for a year in Ahmedabad and at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Bombay. I would like to teach astrology part-time and maybe somebody will give me an offer.
See, learning can give you only basics. After that, you have to be on your own. You have got to have intuition, imagination, observation and experience. We are dealing with important human emotions and have to therefore remember not to play with them.
What are some of the qualities that students aspiring to be astrologers must possess?
He must be able to observe and experiment. He must have a sharp intuition and not so much intelligence as imagination, compassion and tolerance. And finally, the grace of God. These are special people. We are like priests and our job is to help. Actually he should be psychic.
Finally, what do you predict will happen? Will UGC win this battle?
Yes, astrology will be taught. But like I said, only up to a point. If not today, it will be taught in a few years. This is India. But again I repeat that even those who don't learn can be as good or even better than those who learn.
But it's a good thing if they teach. It gives a little bit of status and prestige to us astrologers.
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