The stars don’t always foretell



Some weeks ago, I was fascinated to read my colleague Pankaj Vohra’s account, on his blog, of astrologers and diviners who mostly got it right. But I have not been so fortunate — I have yet to meet one who doesn’t go wrong!

Perhaps New Delhi has the genuine variety but, in Bombay, I have noticed these ‘raj jyotishis’ hovering around politicians are mostly charlatans and astrological quacks. One of them quite turned the head of one of my friends who ruined her life and career waiting for things to happen to her as he had promised they would. They never did.

So, at one of the numerous post-election parties in Bombay, when another friend came to me excitedly to say that one of these jyotishis had `predicted’ that he would soon be travelling in a `laal batti waali gaadi’ (car with a revolving red beacon light), I asked him if he had been either lobbying with his party high command or been assured by any of his leaders that he would soon have a job in the new government.

“No,” he said.

“Then don’t believe him. Or, at least ask him to put that down on a piece of paper for you. You can hold him to it if he goes wrong. And, if he is right, I will take you both out to dinner!”

I hated to burst his bubble but, over the years, I have got to know how these so-called astrologers operate. They hang around reporters and politicians in the know and keep fishing for information – like who might become the next Chief Minister, who might be in or who might be out of favour vis-à-vis the party top brass, etc. And then, armed with this information, they descend on potential candidates and `predict’ that they will soon be in positions of power.

Much of the importance these kind of astrologers are being accorded is because many local television channels in Bombay routinely programme them into their daily schedules, for they get the maximum TRPs and callers during those shows. Never mind that the astrologers are mostly wrong more than half the time!

This particular astrologer my friend was raving about, I had noticed, had `predicted’ before the election results that no force on earth would be able to defeat Poonam Mahajan, Pramod Mahajan’s daughter, whose stars, according to him, were so strong that ‘nothing would come between her and victory’. She was contesting against one of her father’s own former confidantes (who was on Raj Thackeray’s ticket) from a Bombay suburb. He knew all the tricks of the trade better than she did and I knew as a matter of fact that she would face an uphill task against him. Nevertheless, I waited to be proved wrong. I wasn’t. Poonam lost and she was not even the runner-up, having to take third position in that race. So where did her stars all disappear on counting day?

Then, again, another astrologer had said Ashok Chavan was so badly in the grip of rahu and ketu that he could/would never return as Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Once again, I waited to be proved wrong. Five days later Chavan was designated the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. So where had his rahu-ketu disappeared, again? Perhaps the same place as Chavan’s detractors who had fed that information to that astrologer in the first place!

No wonder, then, that Chavan had no time for the likes of these quacks and this particular one was not to be found at any of his celebration parties. Instead, Chavan decided to felicitate and honour quite another quantity – the Sathya Sai Baba — at his official residence at Varsha last week. Of course, the jury is out on the Sathya Sai Baba — while I am a disbeliever, I have loads of friends who swear by him; so I hold my silence for their sakes.

But, seriously, while I know Sonia Gandhi’s reasons for doing so, I would have liked to ask the Sathya Sai Baba how he chose between Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan this time round. Both are devout believers. Both had appealed to his higher office and sought his blessings. Deshmukh once even chose to disappear from a tea party he was hosting for the opposition on the eve of an Assembly session – unprecedented in the history of Maharashtra — to pay obeisance to the Sathya Sai Baba who came visiting his home in Latur. And, of course, ensured that Deshmukh lasted all but the last eight months of his term as Chief Minister (he was supposed to last the full term but obviously terrorists have no respect for the Sathya Sai Baba and so Deshmukh got derailed).

I would not wish any similar derailment on Chavan and would want my friend to be sworn in as Minister. But I would rather their success be based on quality and performance than just some divine intervention!

But just for the record, speaking of divine intervention, I remember I was tickled pink in 1995 when, soon after the elections, Manohar Joshi trotted off to Tirupati to pay his respects to Lord Balaji. Joshi did not inform any one and, in the era before mobile phones as that was, Bal Thackeray was left looking for him for days. When he returned and told his supremo about where he had been, Thackeray said, quite sternly, “The only ‘Balaji’ you should be praying to is me. Only ‘Bala’ saheb can determine if you will be Chief Minister!” Joshi burst into tears and fell at his leader’s feet in a full sashtang pranam. He was Chief Minister a few days later!

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  • Anil Kumar

    I have gone through the utter belief to utter disbelief and then partially back to belief with heavy dose of cynicism and doubt. Hopefully my spritual metamorphsis has platued but then you never know.
    In early days well I got my sanskar from my parents and went through spritual abuse by my parents. Every parents do that through the incoherent mumbo jumbo of religious stories where an impressionable mind gets scarred in most case irreparably. My parents too did their bit of introducing me too the basic routine of hindu scriptures.

    Around seventh standard I started asking questions and the trigger was my science teacher a fairly logical guy. One day when he was tutoring us there was this nearby temple which kept beaming the Sitaram-sitaram chant continuously. it was getting pretty difficult for him to raise his voice above the din of that chanting.
    Visibily peeved he asks a rhetorical question how would you feel if someone keeps shouting in your ear your name as a token of worship to you. Gioven it was a rhetorical question he was not expectign any answer for me but I did smile in a gesture of faint approval . Came back home and asked my father same questyion obviously expecting some logical answer but I didn’t get any. That was the seed which culminated into the ideological tree of utter disbelief by the end of my under-grad years in those godless iit campus.

    Once againanother round of slow attrition in disbelief started through the knowledge of limitation of vistas of sceince. This partial disbelief or for that matetr partial belief whatever you like to call it is where I am currently subscribed to. In thsi world view there are very many things which are beyond the ambit ofcience and will remain so. Science is fundamentally limited to answer those queries. So with gurdging despaiI have come to the conclusion that there is some super natural power but all these dharma gururs who give you hard and fast recipe which supposedly lead to them at best is an honest attempt never a certainty.

    HEalthy doubt in God’s existance and its empire is what God expects if at all there is anythingalled God. If not he would have presented himself in flesh and blood and cleared all the doubts

    [Reply]

    K Reply:

    Apparently he/she did !! You (& I) werent around (in our current forms) then !

    [Reply]

    Anil Kumar Reply:

    Well he presented himself in other yuga but unless he does in the socalled kalyuga we are not convinced..

    [Reply]

    ripal mehta Reply:

    whatz the problem with this lady suajatha… she disagrees and defames any thing and everything remotely associated with hindu religion. why dont you write and criticise things associated with other religions also whatz you problem huh? you dont believe in stars, jyotishi, hindu saints.. i care a damn but why do you keep writing and defaming them on blogs and columns which is there for every body to read. dont you have guts to write and criticise wrong things in muslim and christian religion. your kind people are just fueling enimity , prejudices and religious fanatism. How can anybody tolerate continous defaming of ones religion by non hindu bigots like sujata anandans. i appeal to hindustan times to ban this lady from writing anything and everything .. she is a lady with sick mind.. who doesnt have anything constructive to write .. i condemn this sujatha anandan for all her columns and blogs she has written in her life time… down with sujatha anandans…

    [Reply]

    Anil Kumar Reply:

    She got to keep her job and that demands sucking up to congress and abusing everything else

    [Reply]

    Sameeta Reply:

    Hi Anil,

    GOD does exist and HE does show himself to us everyday through small small miracles like the birth of a child, growth of a child, moon, sun, stars, nature, the precise working of biology (I am a biology student). We just have to open our heart and mind to HIM and you will feel him as real as anything.

    As to the rituals, I agree they might not be of much use, if they are done just as rituals……..

    Also, I was reading some of the other comments that have appeared for this blog. I would like to say that astrology is not hinduism and hinduism is not astrology. Similarly the yogis/pujaris/rishis are not hinduism. In fact, all these priests, popes, maulanas are not representatives of their religion. All of us would do a great favour to GOD, to ourselves, to our religions and the world if we could take these popes, priests, maulanas, rishis, munis less seriously. 99% (1% just in case someone is really good!)of them are not men of GOD (as we believe them to be), but are corrupt power hungry people. So, the author is doing more good than harm in exposing such people.

    [Reply]

  • http://deleted Renu

    Hi Sujata,

    Can you tell me whom to reach to raise the issues of 40+ women, specially from
    middle class and medicore females.

    This is the most neglected segment of our society. Nobody seems to
    care for them. They are neither here nor there.

    [Reply]

  • Anil Kumar

    But I have not been so fortunate — I have yet to meet one who doesn’t go wrong!

    Rights words should have been : I am yet to meet..

    Sunithaji your writing comes as very amatuerish so often. At least use the spelling/grammar checker inbuilt in word program. It doesn’t look good on indian journalism

    [Reply]

    Bob Mathews Reply:

    This is laughable!!!

    “Sunithaji your writing comes as very amatuerish so often. At least use the spelling/grammar checker inbuilt in word program. It doesn’t look good on indian journalism.”

    The keetle calling the pot black!!!

    [Reply]

    Anil Kumar Reply:

    Mr. idiot I am not being paid to write and hence I am free not to check spelling..
    And what is keetle by the way..

    idiot

    [Reply]

    Bob Mathews Reply:

    “As for the demented, I hold it certain that all beings deprived of reason are thus afflicted only by the Devil”
    Martin Luther quotes

  • Bob Mathews

    The kettle calling the pot black!!!

    [Reply]

    Anil Kumar Reply:

    Der ho gai beta

    [Reply]

    ripal mehta Reply:

    this sujatha is like ” khuda meherbaan to gadha pehelwan” she is not paid to write because of her talent but because of her political connections or probably she is a relative of some hindustan times director. anil calling her writing amature is a modest criticism. i think most of the people writing on these blogs are much much better writers. for that matter none of the writers writing in hindustan times have either talent or guts to tame saudi arabia import abu azmis and vatican import bob mathews’s..

    [Reply]

    ripal mehta Reply:

    popat ban gaya bichare bob ka… he..hee..heee

    [Reply]

    Bob Mathews Reply:

    “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it will contract.”
    Oliver Wendell Holmes

  • Atul

    Astrology is a science, But interpretation is an art.

    Normally, I have found that people who practise it for the sheer joy of it tend to be more precise. They do not give definitive prediction, only indications. Their point is that no one can be 100% certain..

    We have lots of gullible people in the country, so the money making ones will prosper.

    [Reply]

    Rajeev Reply:

    Astrology is not science but superstition. Please don’t pollute science with this mumbo jumbo.

    [Reply]

    Atul Reply:

    Wilful ignorance is no excuse.

    Inspite of your ignorance if you still wish to opine, you are called upon to show some restraint.

    [Reply]

  • Abu Ahmed

    Its good business both for the rich and the poor – from small eateries to 5 star hotels, from airliners to small taxi cabs, from luxury items to cheap curios, everything sells around the venue. Not to speak of the satta bazaris, who would be at the vanguard of it all!

    [Reply]

  • Sushant Kumar

    I am really delighted not to find any news on cricket in sports pages in decades. Isn’t it amazing?
    Sushant Kumar
    Sydney

    [Reply]

  • Bala

    Supersonic means one that exceeds the speed of sound.Cars are not supersonic.Fighter jets are super sonic.

    [Reply]

  • SINGHAL2727

    REALLY IT IS GREAT EXPERIANCE

    [Reply]

  • Gyan

    PM should not have met Zardari, as this wasn’t his political visit. It was just a pilgrim tour. India is a emotional fool, expecting lot of things from a loser.

    [Reply]

  • Gt12563

    We know Mr.Zaradari has no real power and he is living on the mercy of so called strong army man Kayani.He lives always in fear that coup can happen any time and just collecting corrupt money more and more.After becoming President Mr.10% rate has gone up.He did nothing good for his people and they are fed from his adminstration and want change.But for India there is no hope to resolve any of issue with this PPP president.My guess is his days seems to be over.

    [Reply]

  • Abu Ahmed

    Some in Pakistan like the LeT and many others are beasts; like our very own Sangh Parivar goupies viz the Bajrang Dal, Ram Sene etc etc.. We cannot kill those beasts, for that would mean killing millions. So the next best thing to do is try to tame them. Now this taming of the beast business is a very long drawn, time consuming and patience-testing one. One has to weild the stick as well as dangle the carrot before them. This is how the US is dealing with Pakistan – culling as well as carassing the target population. One cannot boycott or remain ignorant of a next door neighbour – whatever happens over there impacts us too like earthquakes, floods or cyclones as well as bouts of violence and incidence of extreme poverty and ill-health. Therefore PM Singh is handling the neighbours with the right amount of carassing – we always do the culling when required while calling ourselves peaceful (thats our Chankayaneeti – when our atomic-bomb tests are successful we encode it by declaring the incidence as Buddha smiled – how deadly can be this Buddha’s smile is not hidden from any body). So trade, culture and sports are the tools of taming that we have to use – and when push comes to shove then the Pakistanis have learnt it the hard way many a times that we can beat the shit out of them. Deal with Pakistan from a position of power and strength and yet in a tolerant manner – for that is the way to tame the beast.

    [Reply]