Friday, March 23, 2012

The Pandora's box

I know a lot of mothers who are teachers.
I truly believe that you can find striking similarities between the nature of men and women in any profession. All the doctors of the world will have certain traits in common. All journalists of the world will have certain traits in common and so on.
So yes, the 'teacher' mothers - perhaps, if my theory is right , all have strong administrative skills and are well reputed for their ability to keep things going, keep the system going.
And then, I have known a few 'Doctor' mothers; a few 'Banker' mothers and yes, one 'Police woman' mother.

Each role comes with its pros and cons for the child. Manageable ones.Yet, the most interesting turn of fate occurred when my mother chose to professionally learn  'Astrology'.

Yes. Doomsday.

I would at times receive calls at the middle of the night from her with the weirdest of questions. Apparently, my birth chart has been chosen by beloved mom for careful experimentation. No, no evil intentions on her side. It is just for pure academic purpose, I am told. Just as the genetic engineer doesn't really hold any personal grudge against his lab rats. They simply ended up at the wrong time at the wrong place to pave the path for the betterment of Science.

So, coming back to the weird questions -
Mom: "Did you profit by anyone today in financial terms?"
Me: "huh?"
"Yeah. Tell me."
"well....umm...I don't know. Financial?....heh, well, yeah, Varun got me a soda and puff"
"Point noted"
She hangs up

Life is never boring with an 'astrologer' mother. This is not to undermine any of the effort or dedication she puts behind it - which then, brings us to the next crucial question - Do I believe in Astrology?

Answer: Yes and No.

I once asked someone if he believed in zodiacs. He smiled, paused and asked me back - Do you believe in oxygen?

It was a smart reply; one that I would remember for a long time to come.

My point -  Stereotypes force us to associate a cluster of topics with stupidity and superstition. I would only ask you to study something in all its entirety and then come to an informed conclusion. If you want to truly refute something like astrology, first study it with an open mind from a learned scholar and then, declare that it is bull shit. I will respect your opinion, not that I will accept it. 

Personally, the field fascinates me - not so much for its predictive claims but for the fact that a system believes that it is possible to establish health, character, personality, talents, interests and preferences - merely from a birth date; that intrigues me. Perhaps years back, one might have scoffed that a drop of blood or strand of DNA could predict all the aforementioned aspects. So, 'why not?' 'what if?' - are questions one needs to always be open to. 

That said, the non-believer is better-off; he is happier. A believer can retain his peace too, provided some will-power is mustered from his side. Years back, I was determined to muster that will. I told myself, I would never seek to know what my charts hold for me. Yet, what is more tempting for the human mind than knowing about the self and most importantly, the future? I succumbed and still do to that occasional desire to know what the next moment holds and it has had noteworthy consequences.


Anonymous said...

:) You have certainly graduated from Humor101 (with honors). That tete-a-tete with your mom proved it.

As regards astrology I 'strongly' disbelieve it; yes - strongly, otherwise I might fall prey to its addiction. :)

Leaving aside the predictive value, I am more concerned about its claim to correctly identify the characteristics of persons belonging to different zodiac signs. More often this works like a self-fulfilling prophecy and believers try to fit themselves into the traits associated with a zodiac.


Sinduja said...


You strongly disbelieve it? Hmmm... sure about it? It might not be bad you know ;)

Yeah, I really agree with you on the self-fulfilling prophecy part. I truly do. Nevertheless the Indian system goes a lot more to the details than the western one I think. But yeah, I will spare you a lot of 'noteworthy consequences' and let you stay a non-believer. :)

CHIBI said...

haha, you've got an "astro-mom" :P sounds superhero types rite.. JK.

belief in astrology.. as a strong believer in "pattern"omics.. I strongly believe in it too.. astrology is as much science as astronomy. people believe in astronomy, still follow phases of moon, solar eclipse n stuff according to astronomical predictions done way back (ex. panchangam),then why not believe in the same type of research, which is astrology. It's all about mathematical patterns,there's a logic to every calculation.

I agree, these days, there's a lot of astrologers who give fake predictions to make their fortunes better.. but those who are genuine, can actually predict near exact future. I've had some astonishing experiences with some genuine ones. it really made me realize, our ancestors were super awesome..!!

non-believers may not use astrology for knowing their future, but there's hardly anyone who's does not wish to know their future (zen masters are exceptions) the curiosity is either fueled by desire to find a direction or to know if the travelling route is correct.

Sinduja said...

Chibi, I take a bow to your thought process. I don't know what else to say. Science and religion are indeed seen as separate dimensions by many.

Esp. loved your last para. Yes, whether through proper channels or otherwise, most of us are fixated with the future and life is a gamble of choices which are often painstakingly taken after considering where they might take the future. So, we all have tried to predict it, one way or the other.

Arumugam said...

Chibi,That was an extremely interesting analysis:-)

Sinduja,'That need to know' is the only reason that people become vulnerable not only to astrologers but with the desire to alter the future through feng shui,vaastu,numerology,birth stones etc etc to numerous other folk,mostly charlatans.

Also,for some people free will is scary,its comforting to know that somewhere everything is already laid out,your story already written

You missed out on mentioning marriage.Thats where it hits where it hurts in the most personal way.
Not because of personality incompatibily but horoscope incompatibility:-)That alone has enough power to turn anyone into an absolute cynic.

Anonymous said...

Predictions on weather, stock-market or one's own life, I've found, rarely say anything of value.

The stock-market and the weather, are known to be influenced by factors / variables (liquidity, macro-economic growth or humidity, temperature, pressure). Even in these supposedly scientific disciplines predictions are very often inaccurate. I've heard market analysts say, if the Nifty moves above 5350 it can go up to 5400 or if it goes below 5200 it can go down to 5150 - hardly a useful prediction.

In astrology, clear cause and effect has not yet been demonstrated, so it is yet to become a science. That said, I know that certain associations of traits and planetary positions have been documented - but they are yet to be proved by experimentation. Until that time, astrologers can have a field day.

I for one, 'read' palms, and I've found hardly anyone who hasn't succumbed to the temptation of knowing about oneself. What I say, is often based on what I know about the person, suitably decorated with some frills. For me it is timepass, as I presume it is for the other person. When an amateur can get away with this, it would be child's play for the professional to say something meaningful to the client.

PS: Do try to read palms and see how people eagerly respond.

PPS: Sometimes you can tell them their traits and future, and at other times just spit into their palms to make them wild. ;)
Have fun.

Between life's doings said...

Haha how uncanny!! My sister and I have recently had to out up with out astrology mom as well. She has become fascinated with it And her teacher who is in the US right now does Skype lessons with her!! She has certainly taken gossip to a new level I she say, all she needs now is the dob and time of birth and she uncovers some interesting dirt from the lives of our counsins and relatives!! It never ceases to amuse me. Now when she asks me what I want for bf/ what I'm thinking I ask her to look at my charts!! A fun post indeed :-)

Between life's doings said...

Sorry abt the typos :-) I hate auto correct!

The Visitor said...

@Sindu @Aarathi - I'm game to offer birth data for experimental purposes. Could you ask your moms if they'd like to use it?


karthick r said...

Astro mom? Naaice. So, you are her lab rat. :)
There will be times in your life [I hope we all don't get too many of'em] when no matter what you do, you wont get the desired results. It was during such times I sought the help [after amma's continuous pampering] of this particular astrologer. He kept it really simple. Asked me to visit a few temples [lesser known deities] and asked me to say few mantras on a daily basis, which I followed meticulously. Call it coincidence or whatever, things started to work out.
Since then, I've been a believer. Anything that's logical and not too expensive - I'm game :)

Controversial topic. You've handled it well but I felt it to be incomplete. Where's the message to the society huh? Put some Kamalahassan like punch at the end no ;-)
~ cheers.!

Anonymous said...

@Karthick- Have you heard of the Godman's blessing and the Sportsman's curse?

Have a look.


CHIBI said...

@ Sindu and armugam : Thanks..! the ancient indian science is far advanced than the modern day science, it's a sad thing that it's been considered to be a myth and sentiment, and no step was taken to actually prove it.

@V - your point is valid, there's no proof of cause and effect, why? cos ppl who knew the actual science hid it from the common people. it's the Indian ego. sharing is not something in our nature you see. but i'd like to say, i've read a lot and discussed about these astrology and astronomy to the field experts, this is completely a mathematical calculations, done with help of some really old scriptures..

long back in europe, when they were debating if earth or sun was the center of system, we had scriptures about the helio centric theory, 9 planets and their moons, calculated solar/lunar eclipse, weather predictions and a lot more..

our ancestors definitely did not guess all of those things.. it's 100% facts, science.. since we do not understand it completely, we do no respect it.

CHIBI said...

Again @ V and Karthik :
Have you heard of the Placebo effect? this is pretty similar to it, if anyone had just said, "put your heart and mind to your work, things will get better".. he may not have done it meticulously, cos of all the distraction our mind has.. but put in god, manthras into it, when you are at the temple chanting the mantras, your brain subconciously, focuses on the aspect of making the life better, eventually, a routine makes this reflect in reality, life becomes better. cos, the human mind is so powerful, if you put your mind and soul into something you really want.. it gets it for you.! God and astrology are things that help in the way,making the mind get focused on it..

this is science.. not a myth or sentiment.

P.S. i apologize for the length and typos if any..!

sumitra said...

Mine is a teacher mom. Lol! Funny post, should be real fun having an astro-mom. Sounds sci-fi'ish'.

I don't believe or disbelieve astrology. But I prefer to steer clear of it in any case :D

Sinduja said...

Ha ha, you people rock! :) Sometimes your comments really keep my day going!

@Arumugam: I think, more than the need to know, it is the 'fear of misfortune' that keeps us doing these things.

Free will? :) There is no free will, Arumugam.

Its funny that you mentioned marriage here. That is what actually spurred the whole post in the first place.

Sinduja said...

@V: I think it is definitely possible to have exact, extremely accurate predictive systems. Maybe we have still not progressed so far.

"In astrology, clear cause and effect has not yet been demonstrated, so it is yet to become a science." - Or perhaps Science has not caught up with it or become good enough to demonstrate it. Just because something cannot be proven doesn't mean it doesn't exist right. Personally I have found many astonishingly correct facts in astrology. Many have been wrong too. But this according to me, only signifies that we have not perfected the art and science of it.

You read palms? :O Wow, V. Who would have thought? :) True, there is a lot of psychology involved in this trade and its success. Oh, I have read palms too ;) Yes, it is an instant energy creator in the room. Somehow without a second thought, people like to show their palms for reading but many hesitate to have their charts predicted. I wonder why. Perhaps they fear that finer nuances of themselves will be revealed in the chart.

Sinduja said...

@Aarathi: You have an astro-mom too? Hi-fi! :D Skype sessions? Wow, def a notch higher than mine. Lol.

Sometimes, I would be tempted to ask subtly the birth details of some people I know, so that I can come back home and can ask her to tell me things about them. Ha ha. Evil indeed. Never tried it yet though and I think I won't. :)

Sinduja said...

@V: Are you sure about this? I could get to know a lot about you, you know ;)

On a more serious note, I suggest you give it to Aarathi's mom. The first things I get to know about you - I don't want it to be through astrology. It is a malicious, cruel field and not something I have pleasant memories associated with! :)

Sinduja said...

@Karthik: Wow, your comment sounded like the testimonials I see on many 'guruji' sites, recommending their products. :D
I am not too sure about cures and miracles. I am tempted to say that it could be the placebo effect but again, I don't know. I can only say, I am glad things worked for you.
And yes, smart fella. It was an incomplete post. I restrained from putting a 'to be continued' because whenever I do that, the next part never sees the day of light! :D

@V: Interesting post. Really!

Sinduja said...

@Sumitra: "But I prefer to steer clear of it in any case :D"

It might be the best thing you could have ever preferred, trust me! :)

@Chibi: Really agree with you on the placebo thing.

harishsram said...

Reading on astrology always reminds me of my grandfather (who was an astrologer). He used to say its a waste of time if you depend on it for a better living.

Btw i couldnt stop noticing the stark reality of how these reader friendly topics get a lot of comments. I hope you dont become eclectic based on the response :)

Sinduja said...

@Harish: I agree. It could be an intellectual activity for some but for the passive dependents, it is definitely a foolish wasteful activity.

Btw, eclectic - 'Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.' Right? I didn't get you. You mean, I should stop focusing on a broad platter of topics?

harishsram said...

by eclectic i meant choosing the well received topic over some more profound ones.