20 सितंबर 2010

Defending Astrology in the Supreme Court

yogimoorkhanand and k n rao 1984
Defending Astrology in the Supreme Court

K.N. Rao: More important during this period was the Supreme Court case against astrology. A judicial case first started in Madras, and no astrologer went there as a petitioner in person, which the Indian law allows. Fortunately, it was dismissed on initial grounds. There was another case in the Andhra high court and it was also dismissed on initial grounds. South Indians who are said to be proud of their Indian culture never took even the slightest interest in defending astrology. That was the most disgraceful part.

Then, K. Padmanabhaiah, a scientist and a rich man who lost the case in Andhra Pradesh, decided to appeal to the Supreme Court. I personally appealed to astrologers from all over India to file petitions as petitioners in person. They promised they would come and file petitions. This number was 60-80 astrologers. But, when the case was finally admitted, I was the only one. There was no one else from the country. When the case was being called on the merits, again I was the only one. There was not even another astrologer in the audience at the court hearing the case, other than two of my teachers from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. You can understand the level of hypocrisy. These people talk about the great rishi tradition of India, but when it actually comes to showing solidarity to fight for astrology not one man came.

I fought this case despite my sickness, since I had not been well after the year 2000. But anyway, by God’s grace, I went and fought it and today astrology is legally protected in the country. Now for the first time in the history of India, astrology is being taught as a regular subject in the university. Over 20 universities are now teaching astrology classes. That is a big achievement. In that sense I have completed my mission. There is nothing left now. At Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan we have a tradition of teaching, a tradition of producing research, a tradition of writing books and publishing them. And all this we have been able to achieve with only a two-day weekend course of maximum three hours per day. That is the most remarkable part. The universities have five-day per week courses at five hours a day and they hardly achieve anything. We have achieved so much. That is God’s will, that is the vision of Moorkhanandji.

A Fragmented Jyotish Tradition

Vaughn Paul: So this is a cornerstone of your teaching of astrology, this research-based, academic approach. Can you explain more about that?

K.N. Rao: What you must know is that in the year 1834, when the English rule began to introduce English education, they totally destroyed the Sanskrit legacy and tradition in the process. That has not been resurrected till this day. There is no Sanskrit tradition, there is no Sanskrit parampara, there is no astrology tradition, and there is no astrology parampara. The only small rudimentary parampara that still exists is the karmakanda parampara where they do rituals for marriage and other events, etc. Nothing more. Everything the Englishman systematically destroyed by introducing English education. That was the mischief, that was the intention. This can be best understood by what Thomas Babington Macaulay stated in his speech of February 02, 1835, in the British Parliament. Please see this quote:

"I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such high caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation."

So what happened was that the educated class, the Brahmins, had taken to western English education quickly, they distinguished themselves, but the Sanskrit tradition, which astrology was traditionally a part of, got destroyed totally. Brahmins who remained in the countryside, and did not have the benefit of an English education, became neglected. They eked out a living out of the fragments of their knowledge of karmakanda and some rudimentary astrology. In both of the National Commissions for Backwards Classes of India (Kaka Kalelkar’s in 1955 and B. P. Mandal’s in 1978), astrologers have been classified as a backward class.

So those of us who are now doing astrology have inherited a fragmented tradition. In the year 1901 we had 10% male literacy and ½% female literacy. Such was the miserable condition. There was never any question of any Jyotish tradition. People make all kinds of claims about Jyotish paramparas, but don’t believe them. It all got destroyed basically. Then, slowly it got revived. Dr. Raman’s grandfather B. Suryanarayan Rao and some others revived it in South India. In Andhra Pradesh, people brought out small booklets in Telegu, the local language. In northern India it was revived in Varanasi, Lucknow, and Bombay. In Lahore they brought out books in Urdu. Slowly they brought them out, but there was no tradition. It was all in fragments. Whatever book I got I read.