Tens of millions of people visit astrologers for various reasons. Out of those millions, a few thousand email me every year. Often, they write to me when they are worried about something their astrologer has told them about the future. And, generally, the same fortune teller also tells them some upaya, remedy, like wear this stone or do this or do that, and the impending doom will be taken care of. Often (not always though), the prescribed remedy has a monetary value too. This is where the astrologer profits.

If they charge you for giving you a remedy, they profit from it directly. If they tell you to do something where no money is involved, they gain from it indirectly by winning your trust. You think, this is a good astrologer. He has no vested interest, he stands to gain nothing from it. But, the truth is today he’s telling you a “free” remedy, tomorrow he’ll tell you a paid one. Or, to you he’s giving a free amulet and he’ll charge the next reference client you will bring to this good fortune teller.

I’m not suggesting that all astrologers are out there to dupe you. On the contrary, there are many who are well-read, wise and intuitive. There are good ones too who genuinely believe in their systems of prediction. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean the system is genuine. Recently, a betrothed one wrote the following:

We consulted an astrologer for advise on our marriage and were told that both our birth charts indicated that we would have serious conflicts and friction in our marriage unless we changed the date and the time zone of our wedding and also that my partner’s life could be in peril if we married and stayed in India after marriage. Please advise.

Before I tell you what I really think about this question and the astrologer, let me share a little story with you from a Hindu text.

Once upon a time, a certain master who was a great tapasvin, rishi, with many powers, had a brilliant pupil who was only 10 years old. The master, who happened to be an accomplished astrologer too, checked his student’s chart and realized that he was destined to live only till the age of 12. Greatly disturbed, he set out to change the course of destiny.

Taking his student with him, he approached Brahma, the creator, urging him to grant a longer lifespan to the young student.
“I see your plight,” Brahma said. “He’s bright and can help the mankind. But, my job is to create. We’ll have to implore Vishnu.”

With a view to help, Brahma accompanied them to see the blue-god, Vishnu, who said that his role was only to sustain the creation and therefore, he couldn’t possibly add more years to the student’s life interfering with the wheel of time. He advised them to go to Shiva.

Both Brahma and Vishnu joined the teacher and his student to meet Shiva, the destroyer. The foremost yogin, Shiva, pondered over the matter and replied that his job was to merely destroy in accordance with the laws of nature. That it was not appropriate to use his power to stop the wheel of dharma. They advised the master to let nature unfold the way it was planning to.

The master, however, wouldn’t relent and requested them to accompany him so he could plead his case with the god of death. The holy trinity, the student and teacher, went to Dharmaraja — the god responsible for ensuring death of each living being. Meanwhile, two years had passed and the boy turned 12. He dropped dead in the palace of Dharmaraja — in the presence of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, his guru, and Dharmaraja himself.

The teacher was startled. “The most powerful gods are here,” he said, “how can my student die now in your presence?”

Dharmaraja looked up, as if examining the divine record of the pupil to ascertain the cause of death and shook his head in disbelief.

“What happened?” the teacher asked.
Dharmaraja said, “This boy of exceptional intelligence was destined to do great things. Indeed, it was beyond my power to capture him. For, he could only die when none other than Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, along with his teacher and the student himself, in flesh and bones, would all come together and visit me in my abode! It was impossible had you not looked into his chart.”

I hope you get the idea. Let’s gracefully accept somethings and work on others.

If there’s any way to change your destiny then it is by working on yourself. Everything falls in place then. Gems and stones, totems and trinkets, and what have you, cannot change the course of time. If your marriage is on the rocks then both partners have to work on it. If you are under debt then you’ve got to cut down your expenses and increase your income. Wearing a certain stone or pacifying a certain planet is not the answer, if you ask me.

Besides, in the classical texts of astrology, there’s nothing called upaya or a “remedy”. Astrology is broadly categorized into two types: calculative astrology (ganit jyotish. IAST: gaṇita jyōtiṣa) and predictive astrology (phalit jyotish. IAST: phalita jyōtiṣa). Calculative or computational astrology is a branch of astronomy and is primarily concerned with the movement of planets and stars. Predictive astrology is about the impact of such movements on you as an individual. There are no “upayas” or remedies. There is nothing called if you do this or that then you could avoid such and such incident. (I say this based on two things. One, there’s not a classical text on astrology that I haven’t read. And, two, for many years, I professionally practiced astrology.)

Does that mean you should discard every solution prescribed by an astrologer? I’m not saying there’s no truth to astrology. I’m only suggesting that remedies etc. are all fluff. Think of them as placebo. Use it only for your psychological advantage. It hasn’t anything else to offer. And, let me tell you my simple principle. If anyone ever creates fear in you, be that person an expert astrologer, a religious authority, a preacher or swami etc., it’s a good time to abandon him or her. It is so easy to bank on fears. For your own good, if you wish to lead a life of freedom, don’t give anyone the right to instill fear in you. In any which way.

If you have read my memoir then you would know what I really think about astrology. Let me sum it up for you, nevertheless: I never consulted astrology before taking any major or minor decisions in my life. Whether that was starting or naming a business, buying a house or moving to a new country, investing in a company or embarking on a new journey. I just did what suited my schedule. I only consult the lunar calendar for some of my spiritual practices to honor certain traditions.

If astrology could solve your problems, why would an astrologer’s life have any problems at all? Why would they fall ill or have wayward children? Why would they struggle financially or go through divorces? Something for you to think about.

Do you think that the world’s most powerful, richest people, the greatest minds, inventors, philosophers, scientists, entrepreneurs went around consulting astrologers or fortune tellers? Please wake up and look within you for all answers. Take control of your time and act accordingly. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.

Have faith in yourself, in your God. Do the right thing, make the right choices, be compassionate and don’t give up. You won’t have to worry about astrology then. Instead, you’ll carve your way through adversities and obstacles like a river moves through earth and stones.

P.S. Happy Independence Day to fellow Indians at home and overseas. Vandē mātaram.