Astro – Is that a legacy to cherish or a myth? Are astronomy and astrology really superfluous?
Astronomy serves to be the root of astrology. In its real sense, it is pseudoscience and probability.
Dr. Robert Aitken, in his paper stated that, “To give man ever more knowledge of the universe and to help him ‘to learn humility and to know exaltation’, that is the mission of astronomy.”
Indian rishis framed the almanac. It is the basic element of astronomy. Our civilization dates back to 16000 B.C. Our science has been fabricated with mythological stories to slip it into the minds of laymen and ergo, the science has been forgotten.
It is a known fact that all the celestial bodies revolve in an elliptic path. The path is said to be an open ellipse as the celestial bodies never retrace the same path. Two factors are to be considered, one being, it is the earth that rotates around on its axis and the other being, the earth revolves around the sun. With consideration of the concept of relative velocity, the former can also be said as the stars going around the earth and the later as the sun going around the earth.
Now look at the infographic below,
It comprises of concentric elliptic circles. With the center as the sun, all the circles have been divided into 12 sectors with an angle of 30 degrees each with the innermost circle having 108 divisions. All the celestial bodies move in a fixed zodiac. Every zodiac can be divided in the way mentioned above.
The names of the nakshatras have been written around the innermost circle. The path of the moon has been divided into 27 parts. The nakshatra at any moment is the division the moon is in at that moment. In Vedic mythology, it is said that, Daksha Brahma had 60 daughters and of which 28 of them were married to the moon(Chandra). The 28th wife went away as pole star in 10,000 B.C and he ended up having 27 wives. In other words, 27 wives being the 27 nakshatras. It is also said that the favorite wife of the moon is Rohini(name of a nakshatra), which means to grow. In Indian astrology, nakshatras denote the power of consciousness that creates growth.
Each nakshatra is further divided into 4 parts(padas). The nakshatras are aswini, bharani, krithika, rohini, mrigashirsha, ardra, punarvasu, pushya, ashlesha, magha, purva phalguni, uttara phalguni, hasta, chitra, swati, vishaka, anuradha, jyeshta, mula, pashada, uttara ashadha, shravana, sravishtha, shatabisha, purva bhatrapadha, uttara bhatrapadha and revati. The 108 divisions in the inner circle represent the padas of the nakshatras.
The next concentric circle has the names of the lunations. One lunation or lunisolar month is considered to be time taken by the moon to complete one revolution around the earth. The lunations were named after the nakshatra in which the full moon of that particular lunation occurred in.
The next concentric circle consists of rashis. The 12 sectors of 30 degrees each have been named here. Each rashi has 3 nakshatras owing to the fact that they each can comprise of 9 padas.
These three concentric circles help us in deducing the relation between the lunations, rashis and nakshatras.
The outermost circle comprises of various historical events in epics namely, Ramayana and Mahabharatha. Through this, the month and nakshatra in which the event had taken place can be deduced.
The circle prior to the outermost one consists of various seasons and their onset can be linked with the lunations mentioned in the circle above.
The image also denotes the present position of perihelion and aphelion through the dotted lines. Since the earth travels around the sun in an elliptic path, it is understood that the sun is not exactly in the center of the orbit. Hence, the distance between the sun and the earth varies during the revolution of the earth. The perihelion is the point at which the sun is nearest to earth and aphelion is the point at which the sun is farthest to earth.
During the revolution, the sun is directly above the equator twice a year. That time of the year is known as equinox. In march, the northern hemisphere begins to tilt towards the sun, owing to the inclination of earth. The onset of this is known as vernal equinox(summer solstice). It indicates the start of spring. Similarly, the southern hemisphere begins to tilt away from the sun, indicating the start of fall. This is known as autumnal equinox(winter solstice).
Both equinox and perihelion are important to understand the cycle of seasons. It is due to these factors, that we get to witness different seasons, and also is a major reason for life on earth. But, both equinox and perihelion have movements. As per calculations, the winter solstice coincided with perihelion 700 years back and will coincide with summer solstice in 10000 years.
The long-term changes in the climate are due to these factors. The ice age, the inter glacial periods and the periods that are yet to come can be predicted by calculating the position of perihelion, the equinox and the eccentricity of the orbit.
Sir Isaac Newton was an astrologer himself, and so were many other renowned personalities. It is a known fact that the famous mathematician Bhaskaracharya also possessed knowledge about astronomy. He also possessed knowledge on the lines of astrology. Child marriage was prevalent during his era. It is said that, his daughter named Leelavati of age 8 was about to get married. He predicted that she would live her life as a widow soon after her marriage. He referred a lot of books, and made a lot of calculations and arrived at a date and time, in which, if married will ensure that she has all the elements of a marriage. He decided to get his daughter married during that day and time. During his era, hourglass was used to measure time. On the day he had made this prediction, a bead from his daughter’s jewellery fell into the hourglass and partially blocked the passage of sand. This malfunction was unnoticed and eventually, Leelavati got married but not during the auspicious day that she was supposed to be married on. Leelavati’s husband died on nuptial night, leaving her a widow for the rest of her life.
Astronomy holds importance in the prediction of the position of celestial bodies. Astrology may not be pure science unlike astronomy, but the fact that the level of precision in prediction using astronomy is well appreciated even today is to be considered. Once such application of astronomy is astrology. Astrological principles, methods of calculations and predictions are all based on observations and past. Astrology has empirical evidence which cannot be regarded as just mere coincidence. Embrace our ancient science and think twice before rejecting it.