The Indira Gandhi Nationwide Open College (IGNOU) has simply launched a two-year MA in astrology. All alongside we’ve been telling highschool college students that the earth is only a planet, whereas the solar is a star, hundreds of thousands of kilometres distant. Now on the MA stage, we might be instructing them that the solar goes across the earth and is at par with the moon.
Of the 1,000-odd universities in India, about 20 provide programs in astrology. The Banaras Hindu College has a number of departments associated to Sanskrit the place astrology programs are carried out. However, then it got here up at a unique time and in a unique milieu. Within the post-Independence period, IGNOU is the primary well-regarded mainstream college to patronise astrology.
Astrology must be mentioned at two ranges: Within the context of contemporary astronomy, and inside its personal framework. Astrology is a creation of the time when the human notion of the universe was primarily based on the precept that seeing is believing. The universe was assumed to be centred on the earth and human beings. There was no idea of the depth of the sky; it was seen as a tapestry and the star patterns on it have been taken to be bodily vital. Most significantly, it was assumed that the actions within the sky carried divine indicators. If what we all know of the cosmos right this moment had been recognized 2,000 years in the past, astrology as we all know it could not have come into being. The recognition of astrology doesn’t legitimise it nor does its antiquity sanctify it.
Of late, India has developed a break up character. On the one hand, we’re pleased with our IITs and world-class house and missile programmes. We wish our universities to determine prominently in world lists, and we would like our scientists to win the Nobel Prize. On the similar time, we’re growing an unhealthy obsession with historic India. In 1862, Bapu Deva Sastri, probably the most excellent astronomy scholar of his time, publicly declared that historic Indian astronomy needs to be upgraded within the mild of contemporary developments. We might be justly pleased with our historic scientific accomplishments. They, nonetheless, shouldn’t be seen as “our” science versus “their” science, however as middleman levels within the growth of world science. Many well-known mathematical equations have been first formulated and solved by Indian astronomers within the context of the calculation of planetary orbits.
It is very important use phrases of their right sense. There’s a tendency to make use of the phrase Vedic astronomy very loosely, as an umbrella time period for astronomy in pre-Islamic occasions. It needs to be distinguished from its successor Siddhantic astronomy which got here into impact within the sixth century CE. Vedic astronomy talks of 27 or 28 stars/star teams often known as nakshatras and makes use of them to mark the place of geocentric planets and comets, and many others. Zodiac indicators, weekdays and the present-day Vikrami calendar, that are integral elements of Siddhantic astronomy, and the astrological system primarily based on it, don’t determine in Vedic astronomy.
There’s a semi-articulated sense of inadequacy whereas discussing astrology. Jiwaji College, Gwalior, declares that jyotirvigyan “will add a brand new dimension for analysis within the fields of Hindu arithmetic, Vastushastra, meteorological research, agriculture science, house science, and many others.” It is a dishonest try to steer impressionable minds into believing that the science of 1,500 years in the past might be related for contemporary disciplines like house science.
IGNOU guarantees that its astrology course will create employment alternatives. That is most likely true, however is it fascinating? Recognised academic establishments, particularly these owned by the federal government, ought to equip their college students for productive and enlightened roles on the earth of right this moment and tomorrow. Our training system mustn’t propagate bogus and discredited concepts and prepare the scholars to money in on different individuals’s insecurities.
If the state desires to see India make a reputation for itself in world science and know-how, it should not be seen as supporting pseudo-science.
This column first appeared within the print version on July 29, 2021 underneath the title ‘Indicators of Pseudoscience’. The author is a former professor of astrophysics and former director of the Nationwide Institute of Science, Expertise and Growth Research (CSIR)