|This above all||
Saturday, November 13, 1999
I CONFESS that I cannot make friends with two kinds of people: those who dont like dogs and those who believe in astrology. Dog-haters are difficult to detect because unless forced to admit an aversion towards canines, they keep their phobia to themselves. It is only when invited to homes of dog-lovers that they will own up by saying, "Please put that dog in another room while I am here." The dog is chained or locked up in some other room. Dogs are social creatures and hate being excluded from parties.
They bark or howl in protest. Dogs can also smell out people who do not like them and make no secret of their dislike for those who hate them. At times dog-haters conceal their dislike for dogs by taking no notice of them. But dogs being dogs are over-eager to say "hello" to every visitor. Young dogs want to do more: they jump into laps of visitors, lick their faces, and if repulsed, hump their legs. That should be a clear enough signal for dog-haters to depart.
Believers in astrology are a breed apart from dog-haters. While dog-haters form a miniscule minority of our population, believers in astrology form an overwhelming majority over 90 per cent. A few you can recognise from the varieties of rings on their fingers, with their birth or lucky stones. Most are more subtle and will betray themselves by asking silly questions like "Are you a Libra or a Scorpio?" Thereafter they will proceed to dilate on the virtues and failings of people born under different signs of the zodiac. If I get into an argument with them, my blood-pressure shoots up. They will reel off long lists of events predicted long before they occurred by famous astrologers ranging from the Bhrighu Samhita to Nostradamus. They will assure you that just as the moon dictates the ebb and flow of ocean tides, so different stars dictate the destinies of humans. It is not easy to catch them out as they employ delightfully vague terminology in making their predictions. On rare occasions they are specific about the date and time of events to come and then get caught out and fall flat on their faces. I once caught Shri Madan who publishes an astrological magazine from Delhi. He made a prediction of a tragedy to take place in our Parliament on a particular day. Nothing happened. I wrote about it in my column. In reply he abused me, calling me an ignoramus with set prejudices against his tribe.
Astrologers are in great demand before elections. Politicians run to them with their horoscopes and palms out-stretched. All are assured of success; few, very very few, make it. But enough to keep the myth of astral predictions alive. This last election was no different except for the fact that for the first time our newspapers and magazines did not bother to publish astrological predictions but instead published forecasts by psephologists both before and after the votes had been cast. Not to be outdone at least one die-hard believer in astrology was foolish enough to send me a copy of a circular letter enclosing a forecast made by a venerable astrologer whose predictions he swore by. The circular dated September 24, 1999, was from one V. Mohana who described himself as secretary of the Federal India Movement based in Chennai. After expressing anguish over the state of the nation forced to go to polls before schedule, Mohana proceeded to criticise psephologists. He wrote: "The election has raised much din, dust and undesirable talk and practices. Speculators have been gripping the minds of the people. To top up, the exit polls have added much more confusion with regard to the outcome and result of the staggeringly phased election."
Mohana goes on to praise the work of his organisation, extolling the divine vision of their forecaster. I quote his words: "In this milieu, when the counting starts in about a weeks time, the Federal India Movement has been quietly trying to assess the outcome. In our frantic efforts to know the exact result, we have come across an accomplished astrologer Jothinda Ratnam Shri D. Nagarajan who has been keeping a low profile and shuns the limelight. Sitting in one corner of Chennai, he has predicted that present Congress President Sonia Gandhi will undoubtedly lead her party to a comfortable win and form the government at the Centre. After a serious study and research of the planetary positions, he also asserts that whatever be the speculations, thinking, surveys or findings of Exit polls, Sonia Gandhi will be the Prime Minister of India by early October 1999".
The prediction of the venerable Jothida Ratnam (ruby of astrology) D. Nagarajan deserve to be quoted in full:
"I, D. Nagarajan, emphatically and categorically wish to put on record that Sonia Gandhi, President, the Indian National Congress, will lead the Congress-led front to a win with comfortable seat tally in the current Lok Sabha elections. She will form a steady Congress government at the Centre. Based on the indepth analyses and intricate calculations of the planetary placements, numerical considerations and scientific research, blended with my intuition (which the Divine power has blessed me with), I also unequivocally assert that Sonia Gandhi will be the Prime Minister of India and will manage the governance of the country in a satisfactory manner.
"My prediction stems from the data of Sonia Gandhis name value, star, rasi, planetary placements, the number arrangements, her compatibility of numbers with respect to others, details of the party and the Indian National Congress, the serial number of Lok Sabha, the date of announcement of the elections, the date of counting of the votes.
"My findings and predictions were ready a few weeks back. But I withheld the same for specific reasons till the fag end of the polls and a few days prior to the counting. I have pitched the timings of revelation till this day. I have also predicted the apt and beneficial date and time for formation of the ministry, oath-taking etc and will reveal the same shortly.
"It will not be out of place if I add that I have devoted my life to the study of astrology and scored success and accuracy for all my predictions. I had predicted the success of the US Presidents like Nixon, Jimmy Carter and currently Bill Clinton. I am confident that the success of Sonia Gandhi and her becoming the Prime Minister of India, is a foregone conclusion".
Incidentally, the forecast made at the same time by my friend Bhaskara Rao who runs the centre of Media Studies was very close to the actual results for the Lok Sabha and the three states which went to the polls, except in the case of Uttar Pradesh in which he admits of miscalculations. His forecasts were published in The Outlook.
Isnt it time we erased words like Rahukal, Yamagand, Gulikakal and all the mumbo-jumbo of astrological and Vastu vocabulary from our lexicon? They are not becoming of a nation committed to developing a scientific temperament.
Not so lethal
Burglars broke into Bantas house on Divali night. Gathering courage Banta picked up his sons pistol and shouted, "Hands up".
The burglars put up their hands. Banta gave them a sound thrashing while holding the pistol in one hand.
Hearing their cries for mercy, Bantas son woke up and ran to help his father. "Papa, Papa, you wont know how to use this pistol," he said. "First fill it with water, then press the trigger".
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