Letter by Kinoo Roy | Reply by H.P.B.
A custom is prevalent among the high classes of well to do Hindus, from time immemorial to have horoscopes prepared b pandits pretending to be versed in Astrology. In such documents all the prominent future events pertaining to the life of a child are embodied by the so called Astrologer, who or course is well remunerated for his labor by the parents or guardians. This custom has been carried out up to the present time. How far the events thus predicted happen to pass and to coincide actually with facts throughout the length of a man’s life, is not easy to find out, as the ambiguous sentences and technical terms used in the horoscopes defeat the aim of an inquirer for testing truth; but on the other hand they lead the majority of credulous persons to form their staunch belief in the same.
Another custom prevalent among Hindus of the better classes and mainly connected with the above subject, is the rigid practice of resorting to calculations made by village or city pandits through the said horoscopes of the “Rasbarg” of a couple intended to be wedded. The consummation of marriage of the latter depends on the various comparative connections with each others “Rasbag,” said to be pointed out by such calculations. These pretend to predict thereby the future mutual love and happiness or woe of the intended consortship; and, unless they predict the required bliss and harmony in every respect, the marriage of the chosen couple (howsoever agreeable in every other way to the feelings and good sense of the parents and friends) cannot be allowed to take place. Nevertheless, and horoscopes notwithstanding, such couples are very often led to form disagreeable and unfortunate wedlocks.
But now as a different class of men is coming out of schools and colleges imbued with Western thought and new ideas, they often succeed, when discussing on such subjects with pandits and astrologers as described above, to defeat them and convince the public with unanswerable arguments that our astrologers are no better than charlatans. They emphatically declare that it is beyond the power of any human being to predict the events of man’s destiny in this world with any degree of truthfulness.
The allegations of one party and the denial of the other having created doubts in my mind as the truthfulness of predictions, horoscopes, and astrological calculations of “Rasbarg” for consummation of marriages, in order to relieve my mind of this burden, I have thought expedient to refer the matter to you. I now solicit the kindness of your taking the trouble to enlighten me with your personal views on the subject.
KINOO ROY, (A.R.R. Dept.)
Saharanpur, 28th October, 1882.
Editor’s Note: Our answer is short and easy, since our views upon the subject are no secret, and have been expressed a number of times in these columns. We believe in astrology as we do in mesmerism and homeopathy. All the three are facts and truths, when regarded as sciences; but the same may not be said of either all the astrologers, all the mesmerists or every homeopathist. We believe, in short, in astrology as a science; but disbelieve in most of its professors, who, unless they are trained in it in accordance with the methods known for long ages to adepts and occultists, will, most of them, remain for ever empiricists and often quacks.
The complaint brought forward by our correspondent in reference to the “class of men coming out of schools and colleges,” who, having imbibed Western thought and new ideas, declare that a correct prediction by means of astrology is an impossibility, is just in one sense, and as wrong from another standpoint. It is just in so far as a blank, a priori denial is concerned, and wrong if we attribute the mischief only to “Western thought and new ideas.” Even in the days of remote antiquity when astrology and horoscopic predictions were universally believed in, owing to that same class of quacks and ignorant charlatans—a class which in every age sought but to make money out of the most sacred truths, were found men of the greatest intelligence, but knowing nothing of Hermetic sciences, denouncing the augur and the abnormis sapiens whose only aim was a mean desire of, a real lust for, gain. It is more than lucky that the progress of education should have so far enlightened the minds of the rising generations of India as to hinder many from being imposed upon by the numerous and most pernicious and vulgar superstitions, encouraged by the venal Brahmans, and only to serve a mere selfish end of aura sacra fames or trading in most sacred things. For, if these superstitions held their more modern forefathers in bondage, the same cannot be said of the old Aryas. Everything in this universe—progress and civilization among the rest—moves in regular cycles. Hence, now as well as then, everything with a pretence to science requires a system supported at least by a semblance of argument, if it would entrap the unwary. And this, we must allow, native quackery has produced and supplied freely in astrology and horoscopy. Our native astrologers have made of a sacred science a despicable trade; and their clever baits so well calculated to impose on minds even of a higher calibre than the majority of believers in bazaar horoscopers lying in wait on the maïdans, have a far greater right to pretend to have become a regular science than their modern astrology itself. Unequivocal marks of the consanguinity of the latter with quackery being discovered at every step, why wonder that educated youths coming out of schools and colleges should emphatically declare native modern astrology in India—with some rare exceptions—no better than a humbug? Yet no more Hindus than Europeans have any right to declare astrology and its predictions a fiction. Such a policy was tried with mesmerism, homeopathy and (so-called) spiritual phenomena; and now the men of science are beginning to feel that they may possibly come out of their affray with facts with anything but flying colours and crowns of laurels on their heads.