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Applications of Jyotish (1) - Its Legal & Social Status

May 1, 2013

  Based on my interactions of my site visitors , fans and critics both included , I am starting a series on modern applications for ancient Jyotish .  I hope you all will relish it and your comments are welcome .

In this first episode , I am focussing on the legal and social acceptance of Jyotish in India.

Present Legal Status of Astrology in India  

 Before the landmark judgment of Supreme Court of India in 2004 on teaching of astrology in university and its practice as a profession , the so-called English educated population in India considered it as their birth right to denounce astrology , without spending even an hour to understand it. 

  So, when in 2001, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi , the BJP Minister for education , allowed Jyotisha as a UGC approved subject for study in Indian Universities , all hell broke loose. The whole battallion of secularists, leftists, scientists , rationalists and so on made much propaganda in media to take back this decision.

 However , Dr. Joshi ( Joshi surname itself means Jyotishi ), a physics professor , remained unmoved because of his personal good experience about astrology, Yoga and Ayurveda. He himself had seen the benefits of these Indian sciences in case of his daughter Nivedita Joshi , who could get back to normal life from bedridden state of 12 years , thanks to Ayurveda and Yoga, while astrology knowledge kept him assuring that after sometime things would become normal,if he keeps hope. He won finally.

 When Dr. Joshi remained firm on his decision, the Rational Brigade filed several cases in different High Courts of India to ban the education and practice of astrology ,terming it as a Hoax .Finally all cases were bunched together and moved to Supreme Court , where , after 3 years of debates , the Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment in 2004.

Earlier ,the Madras High Court judge  Hon'ble Mr. Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, who later became Judge of Supreme Court also, had pronounced his verdict in the case as given below :

In the Judgment reported in 2004-4-L.W.195 (Dr.K.Natarajan, Director, Dr.K.N..Study Centre for Humanism V. The Union of India represented by its Secretary to the Human Resources Department, New Delhi and another), the learned Judge expressed his views in the following words:

“…..The very purpose of imparting education is to gain knowledge and also education is stated to be the teacher of a teacher. Therefore, there should be every scope for making a study on very many subjects in order to enrich one’s craving for knowledge. Any such attempt from any quarters in furtherance of that pursuit, in my opinion should not, therefore, be stultified. ……By introducing the subject of Vedic Astrology either as a science subject or as an arts subject or under any other category, it will have to held that the same would only help the pupil to gain knowledge in that particular subject. ……When it is for the pupil concerned to select any particular field or subject in furtherance of his future career, merely because the subject has got its basic origin traceable to some cult, or religion, it cannot be held that the same would only result in propagation of a particular religion. On that footing, it cannot be held that there should be a ban on introduction of that subject as a course of scientific study.”

The BJP Govt. at Centre bravely defended its decision and the  affidavit submitted by central government made a difference between astrology and superstitions . In an affidavit filed in reply to the petition, Dr R Ramkrishna, deputy drugs controller, government of India, said, "Ban on astrology and related sciences sought by the petitioner, which is a time-tested science more than 4,000 years old, is totally misconceived and unjustifiable". Further, the affidavit said, the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act does not cover astrology and related disciplines.

On behalf of the Union Government, it was submitted that there was no compulsion in taking up the astrology course, which would be only an optional subject. Even in several Western countries, astrology had been included as a subject of study.The apprehensions of the petitioners were misplaced, the Government said seeking dismissal of the appeal.

The Supreme Court Bench agreed with the Centre's contention and dismissed the SLP.While dismissing the appeal the following observations were made by the eminent judges :

"Astrology requires study of celestial bodies, of their positions, magnitudes , motions and distances etc. Astronomy is a pure science. It was studied as a subject in ancient India and India has produced great astronomers long before anyone in the Western world studied it as a subject. Since astrology is partly based upon movement of the Sun, Earth, planets and other celestial bodies, it is a study of science at least to some extent"

 

 So, the verdict of Supreme Court was very clear and it shut the mouths of the rationalists and scientists once and for all , who considered astrology as their boxing punch bag. It also ended the tragedy of a true astrologer , who was always scared as he could be booked under   Drugs and Magic Remedies Act and for spreading superstitions by astrology baiters and haters. 

 

   And by his landmark decision to allow astrology as a University subject and then his excellent defence in Supreme Court , Dr Joshi paid back the true Guru Dakshina to his ancestral legacy of Astrology and to Sh. BKS Iyengar , who cured his daughter by Yoga , where allopathy and science had failed.

 

Present  Social Status of Astrology 

 

While 99% Indians are aware about Jyotish , because astrology was born here many thousand years ago, the English educated and particularly technically / professionally educated Indians still carry the burden of their rational education and scoff at mere mention of the word astrology. Most of these people are not even aware of the landmark judgment of Supreme Court and still term it as a superstition.

 

With my experience , I can claim that deeper in their hearts, they also yearn for knowing the future and are as curious to know it as any illiterate person. It is something like the subject of sex , which everybody likes and appreciates in privacy but denounces it in public view.

Irrespective of people's view ,like last many millenia, astrology will continue its march ahead till human beings survive.In India, all who matter most, are always in its refuge,though in privacy. Astrology also decides all festivals dates ,match-making , social functions , muhurats of films, oath-taking, inaugurations and foundation-laying ceremonies in India and certainly when anybody wants a ray of hope in a tunnel of despair,unhappiness and depression.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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