Mumbai: Is astrology a science or an art of making money? The city-based NGO, Janhit Manch, has started a debate on the issue in the Bombay high court.
A public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the manch and its convener Bhagwanji Raiyani, along with his associate Dattaram Kumkar, has questioned the validity of predictions by well-known astrologers, including Bejan Daruwalla, and unknown babas like Brahmarshi Shri Kumar Swami.
Is Daruwalla and Brahmarshi were not represented by their advocates, the court issued notices to them to file their replies in four weeks. The more than 100-page petition pointed to several cases, including that of Indira Gandhi and Charan Singh becoming prime ministers, despite opposite predictions.
Hearing the submissions, justice Rebello remarked: “It is difficult to understand how wearing a stone on a finger can change one’s fate! But astrology is a science and that has been accepted by the Supreme Court.”
The PIL referred to Daruwalla, the “famous name of an astrologer and that numerologist among the elite class” who operates “somewhere from Colaba and Ahmedabad”, with his contact numbers on his website. When Kumkar contacted the astrologer’s office, Bapu, his personal assistant, told him to send a Rs25,000 cheque/cash for an appointment, which would be any time after 10 days; if the appointment was urgent, an extra charge of Rs3,000 would have to be made, the PIL stated.
Representing the Union government, advocate Advait Sethna told the court that even the SC had accepted that astrology was a science and many universities had included it as a subject. “Science, which is 4,800 years old, cannot be banned,” Sethna argued.
The PIL urged the authorities to ban articles, advertisements, episodes and practices promoting astrology and its related subjects like vastu, reiki, feng shui, tarot, palmistry, zodiac signs and rashifal.
“Local trains and newspapers are full of advertisements regarding astrological predictions. They misguide innocent people,” Raiyani told the court.
First of all, of course, reiki, palmistry and tarot don’t really have anything to do with astrology.
But this does speak to the question of whether we can, and even should, predict the future using astrology even if we do use specific techniques such as the Vedic traditions offer.