What do the stars really foretell for us? Is our destiny written in indelible words across the skies even before we are born, for us to live through a pre-ordained existence, condemned to play a role in which we have no say?
Astrologers would have us believe so, and they have a point, but perhaps not the whole point. Several contradictory theories abound about the veracity of astrology and whether there is a scientific basis to it. Being a greenhorn in the field, I have no analysis to offer in the matter, but I am certainly intrigued by the following conversation from the pages of the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda between the author, when he was a young lad, and his Guru, Swami Sri Yukteshwar Giri:
“Mukunda, why don’t you get an astrological armlet?”
“Should I, Master? I don’t believe in astrology.”
“It is never a question of belief; the only scientific attitude one can take on any subject is whether it is true. The law of gravitation worked as efficiently before Newton as after him. The cosmos would be fairly chaotic if its laws could not operate without the sanction of human belief.”
The pages of this classic autobiography abound with such gems, and have uplifted the consciousness of many of us over the decades. The conversation quoted above is from the chapter majestically titled Outwitting the Stars. Yogananda writes lucidly in it about how we can alter our destiny by striving to make direct contact with God. Thus, while the cosmic law of karma (cause and effect) is precise and mathematical, as our scriptures tell us, it is possible through good conduct and efforts at meditation to actually outwit the stars!
The Yogoda Satsanga Society founded by Yogananda is celebrating 100 years this year, and simultaneously there is a surge in followers of yoga and meditation worldwide.
When Virat Kohli recently posted a picture with the same book, one realises that a section of the younger generation is making efforts along the right lines these days, much sooner than some of us did in our own life-journeys.
The fact of the matter is that while we go about tackling the frenetic nature of our lives, we race from pillar to post in order to seek peace and happiness, but we miss the point ourselves. As human beings, we are inexorably and intricately woven into a web of worldly activities that prevents us from seeing the bigger picture.
We follow our career and relationship paths to grow up, grow old, and make our exits, little knowing that we are not meant to be so boring and predictable! Those who spend some quiet moments every day attempting to connect to their true selves, or to a higher power, begin to realise that there is a way to defeat the series of ups and downs which life subjects us to.
Thus if an astrologer tells us that we cannot ever find happiness in love or in our jobs, we can tell him that we have the awareness, the energy, the wherewithal and the strength to reverse our fortunes. There is something about possessing unlimited will power and faith that can transcend all negatives and propel us to higher levels of pursuit.
As Yogananda wrote, the message of the stars is a rather a prod to pride; the very heavens seek to arouse man’s determination to be free from every limitation.
Thus, he who challenges his horoscope by dint of sheer grit and determination, and by drawing strength from the almighty, is mighty likely to succeed.
Yogananda himself was told by an astrologer that he would marry three times, but he became a monk and literally bypassed any such eventuality in his life!
And from the pen of William Shakespeare came these telling words: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in our selves!”
Thus when we wake up in the morning and scan the sun-signs column, we truly need to stop dithering and try to prove the soothsayers wrong by putting our best foot forward.
Arthur C. Clarke sums it all up thus: “I don’t believe in astrology, I’m a Sagittarian and we’re sceptical!”