The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Astrologers declare war on quacks

Ahmedabad, April 27: Post-Emergency, Mohanbhai Patel received a duplicate telegram — the original had been sent to Indira Gandhi — predicting that she would win from Chikmagalur as her Jupiter was strong.

The sender, a Bangalore-based astrologer who identified himself as Dr Kusum, wanted it to be published as an advertisement in astrology magazine Bhavishya Nidan that Patel, now the president of the All-India Astrologers Federation, brought out.

Indira Gandhi won, but not because her Jupiter was strong. “When I studied her horoscope, Jupiter was not powerful,” said Patel. But the “self-proclaimed astrologer” went to town, claiming he had correctly predicted Indira Gandhi’s fate.

Intrigued, Patel made enquiries about this astrologer and was shocked to learn that he had sent a similar telegram to her rival, predicting his victory as well. He was a fraud.

“It was then (that) I decided to work out some mechanism to ban quacks,” said Patel. Years later, Patel is still grappling with the problem, one of the main issues at the just-concluded 32nd national seminar on astrology here. The solution is not easy, Patel knows. But he must have seen something in the stars to keep his optimism going.

What truly worries the astrologer fraternity is that quacks outnumber genuine astrologers today. The reason is lack of awareness about the subject. “Once there is a university imparting proper education, the quacks masquerading as astrologers will vanish,” believes Patel.

Though thanks to human resources development minister M.M. Joshi, astrology — the subject he prefers to call “Vedic science” — is today taught in as many as 22 universities in the country, the federation is not satisfied. It is not enough and certainly not the right way to promote astrology as a subject.

Instead, it suggests, the government should set up a university exclusively to teach astrology if it is serious about promoting and popularising astrology and other Vedic subjects.

Apart from pressing for a university, the federation plans to file petition in the court, seeking a ban on practising quacks. Pointing out that astrology is a subject well defined in our scriptures, the astrologers say they expect a clear ruling defining norms for making predictions that will force the quacks to close shop.

It should be made clear that predictions be considered false if any “astrologer” does not make them based on shastra (scripture), said Patel. Frauds would be exposed if a sizeable number of people know the subject and Vedic scriptures, Patel said, arguing further for a university.

Patel, who has written more than 60 books on astrology and edits Bhavishya Nidan, said it galls him that not only are quacks making easy money, but they are also more popular than genuine astrologers.

With the University Grants Commission recognising astrology as a subject and several university showing keen interest in it, Patel — who is not a practising astrologer, but teaches the subject — hopes it will no longer be easy for quacks to make easy money by cheating people.

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