Astrology in India

Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.

Most Indians, perhaps 90% or more, believe in astrology, and many astrologers in India have flourishing businesses, being consulted by persons even in the highest echelons of our society, e.g. ministers, judges, bureaucrats, businessmen, etc

When I went to take oath as Chief Justice of Madras High Court in 2004 I was advised by the then Registrar General of the High Court not to take oath during ‘rahukaalam’  ( inauspicious ) time. A very senior South Indian lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court told me that his south Indian clients ( most of them educated and prosperous ) often tell him not to read their brief during rahukaalam time.

And this is not confined to South India. All over India, most people have strong belief in astrology. Often, Ministers, Judges etc consult their astrologer and take the oath of office only at the auspicious time as told by the astrologer. Many people wear clothes ( or avoid wearing them ) of color depending on their ‘raashi’. They wear ‘rudraaksh’ or other things like gems as advised by their astrologer.

Now astrology is pure superstition, unscientific, and humbug. Even a little commonsense will make us understand that the movements of the stars and planets have no connection with our lives. Yet most people believe in astrology. Why?

The reason is that the chance factor plays an important role in our lives. We plan something, but something else happens. For instance, a businessman may start an enterprise aiming at profits, but it is sometimes unsuccessful and result in heavy losses, despite his careful planning.. So most people start believing that there are some forces, like the heavenly bodies, which control our lives.

This chance factor in our lives is not due to heavenly bodies or supernatural forces like gods and goddesses, but because the development of science in the world is as yet still at a relatively low stage ( as compared to what it will be after, say, 100 or 200 years from now ). When science will reach a high stage of development we will be able to use our scientific knowledge to control our lives. What we plan will happen, and the chance factor in our lives will largely disappear. Nobody will believe in humbug-like astrology then.