Friday, August 11, 2017

Fault In Our Stars

Published in Deccan Herald dated 11 Aug 2017

Fault in our stars
Brig A N Suryanarayanan
He predicted a profession of artillery and a four-figure salary in 10 years.

Astrologers and palmists in peril”: Such were the headlines in
newspapers recently, alluding to the Anti-superstition Bill. That took my mind back over the years, to many encounters.

In the late fifties, a palmist in a safari suit (!) used to stand outside Teppakkulam, Trichy, from 6 pm to 7 pm. His paraphernalia: one-foot-square table, foldable stand with a till and a tiny bulb and a huge magnifying glass hanging from his neck. The rates were four annas (25 paise) for a quick palm-reading and a rupee for five written answers.

          Even four annas was a king’s ransom when coffee or masala dosa cost just 2 annas (wrongly shown as Rs 2 in DH print)! While examining the palm and rattling off names of ‘mounds and lines’ in English, he would ask for “approx age.” A brief gist in Tamil of your future would follow: studies, employment, salary, illnesses and life-span, usually ending with “No danger to life in the near future.”

In 1958, a collegemate insisted we try it for fun. Out went two four
anna coins, which he deftly moved to the line of coins. One had to follow the sequence, when he would move it into his till. He predicted a profession of artillery (I had not even finished my degree then nor planned a career) and a four-figure salary in 10 years (while graduates were only earning Rs 140 to Rs 200 in 1959). Both proved amazingly true and my friend narrates it even today.

Another encounter was with a 90-year-old blind retired Physics professor, who offered free consultation for matching horoscopes. If you read out the chart, he would calculate mentally and offer his views. There was a hitch when he compared mine (my exact time of my birth wasn’t recorded) with the prospect and told dad so.

My love-life was in danger! After a year, at my
insistence, my sister and her husband went to him again. The moment he read it, the professor said: “I had asked you to avoid it when your father had brought the same set. But, if they insist, let them (the couple) be happy for 15 years.” The time limit wasn’t revealed to me then.

It was my brother-in-law who finally broke it to me when I lost my wife after 15 years and 2 months of marriage. Two years later, when I was facing a rough patch in my career, my father-in-law took me to an astrolger in Vyalikaval, who extrapolated my time of birth as 12.10 pm. He rightly predicted that I would be rid of my troubles in three years, and I was.

As a Brigadier, I met the younger of the two famous
astrologer-brothers near Jammu where I had been the Station Commander earlier. This man predicted that my elder daughter would pass CA before the age of 23 with flying colours, join investment banking at a seaside location and later go abroad.

The same year, a colleague in Belagavi insisted I meet a ‘rice- reader’ at 5 am just to know my future. I did. He, too, predicted almost the same but insisted on seeing the girl once. While most of it came true, she passed away a few months later in Bombay. This made me lose faith in astrologers, who hadn’t warned me of the impending doom. It’s been 23 years; I have not consulted anyone since.


Darshan Nangia said...

Astrology is a science, unfortunately not many people are proficient in that.

I like to read my forecasst everyday but look only at positive things. Negative comments make a little careful.

Prem said...

Astrology is fascinating and the accuracy depends on the dedication and focus of astrologers. I have never taken them seriously enough to lean heavily on predictions made.i took/take them lightly and view them in retrospect, is when I derive most fun and joy. "That guy predicted xxxxxx and by golly he was right/ wrong". So many predictions made, and many were correct and some were plain BS. That way you retain a detached faith (?) in astrology and don't write it off, as you appear to have done. If you believe in the laws of karma there are no accidents, no victims and no coincidences. Most everything is 'ordained' and then there is the fun of living one moment and day at a time so that "I" can learn from what comes at the next step whether it's right or wrong, good or bad !!

cks sabu said...

Really an interesting piece. Thanx for sharing.
Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means for divining information about earthily events and human affairs. It is rooted in calendar systems used to predict signs of divine communications.
Astrology was always a scholarly tradition. Indians developed elaborate systems from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest systems, is still in use.
Contemporary astrology is associated with systems of horoscopes that explain a person's personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects. However, 20th century scientific methods have challenged astrology successfully on both theoretical and experimental grounds. It has no scientific validity and is today considered as pseudoscience.
This is largely on account of the new discoveries about the universe in general and our solar system in particular. The ninth planet has been recently discovered. Scientific rationalization lies at the root of this trend. Also, Cicero argued that if astrology explains everything about a person's fate, then it wrongly ignores the visible effects of inherited ability and parenting. Changes in health brought about by medicine, or the effects of other earthily effects.
Albeit, a large percentage of Indians and approx 25% of westerners still continue to believe that stars and planets positions affect their lives.
I guess finally it a result of one’s own beliefs and attitudes.

R K Deb said...

Dear Sir, I know you all since decades. It is amazing for such accurate prediction. I believe a proficient astrologer will predict correctly albeit all inputs are given to him / her correctly. I have similar experience and surprisingly very true. One incident I mention here. My friend's son got married and after two days the bride left. When we went to the lady astrologer she promptly said that you have come to know about your son's married life. We both were stumped. After calculating from chart she said that your son was married and now divorced. Do not get him married again without treatment. This news was pretty shocking for both of us. Since the father could not speak to his son, I spoke. On lot of persuasion he admitted of erectile problem. So there goes astrology.

Prabir said...

Sir, I have had a No of run-ins with sooth sayers. All famed ones. Your recount shows regular accuracy in prediction. In my case, the past was accurate but the future, some yes, mostly nay.
While I have been to these forecasters, I never have had too much faith in them.

Your article is thought provoking, rather personal and I do feel your sense of loss and probably being, wrongly, uninformed.
Reading a piece from you after quite a while. Hope you are keeping well.
With regards,

SURYA said...

Thank you Darshan.

SURYA said...

Thank you Prem, Each has his experience. But the wearer alone knows where the shoe pinches!

SURYA said...

Thank you Sabu, Nice hearing rom you and to find you have almost given a short treatise on it! Grateful.
Trust all well.

SURYA said...

Hi Jangali,
Sorry to hear about your friend's son's problem. Yes you know us from 1976... during good times and bad.
Keep up the friendship.

SURYA said...

Thank you Prabir.
The Tamil astro/palmists do have a system of conveying the bad in nicely couched words in Tamil such as "NO danger to life in the near future" " Avoid fire.. sea. water, driving motor vehicle during so and so period etc? They never said anything that is my crib!
I am fine, except for minor problems age-related.
Reg writing so few and far between, there are many more writers and only 2 papers publish short musing/middles in the whole country.

Reji Koduvath said...

A very well narrated sequence of events - which has come true - more so the tragic ones. That is what hurts.

It is all pure coincidence I suppose. For all those who believe in Astrology, it is a science and for those who do not, it is a mere coincidence.

If astrologers could predict everything, then life would never be interesting.

Gayatri Chandrasekharan said...

Dear uncle,
Perhaps it is best we are not aware of certain things in life. Beautifully written and I am at a loss for words. God bless you and Vinutha.

Joseph Abraham said...

Dear Uncle,

I enjoyed the way you have put across your views!!! Looking forward for more


SURYA said...

Thank you Reji,
Yes it hurts many to know tragic events in advance. That's why probably my late sister and bro-in-law didn't tell me in 1966/67. It was in Jul 1983, when you were with me in the Regt that I was informed.

Being a Keralite and having been TN for many years, you might know that most palmists and astrologers do say" NO danger to body or life in the near future" or " Stay away from water, fire, driving a 2 wh/4 wh" etc, which they didn't for my daughter.. then why only give the rosy picture alone when danger was lurking just a few months away?

SURYA said...

Thank you Gayathri, My response to Col K Reji above refers also.
I wish you would read my book which you took but passed on to the Author-Aunt! It has many more instances interspersed in many stories, mostly me and family.
Thanks for the best wishes for VINITA ( note the spellings!) and I reciprocate the same for you three and Mom.

SURYA said...

Thanks Joseph for reading and giving a compliment.