Auspicious and Inauspicious

This year in January I received a pocket calendar from a sweetmeat shop. Inside the front cover I found auspicious and inauspicious times on different days of the week.  The page also contained two footnotes which attracted my attention. They were written in Telugu and the impact was more. Translated into English, the footnotes conveyed the following

“The above is not applicable for the tasks that are to be carried out immediately.”
“All times are auspicious for good deeds.”

I see profound wisdom and simple rational thinking in the above.

The so-called auspicious moments are a part and parcel of our Hindu culture. Weddings, Upanayanams , Gruhapraveshams and similar happy events are to be performed on certain days of the year only and at specific times on those days. Such auspicious moments are called MUHURTHAMS. One of the social implications of these Muhurthams is that Marriage and Function Halls are idle for more than half the number of days in any given year. For example, in Tamil Nadu there will be no religious ceremony between December 15th and January 15th (Dhanurmasam) and the time is to be devoted solely for devotional activities.

 Things don’t stop here. Where possible, people even try to time births (Caesarian Section) and deaths (brain death) so that the child is born with a good star (Nakshatra) and the deceased persons go straight to the Heaven.

There is an irony here. The so-called auspicious moments are no universally same for all Hidus. They vary geographically and also are strongly community and caste dependent. For example in Karnataka and Andhra no function is celebrated on new moon days. But in Tamil Nadu, the new moon day is considered very auspicious and it will supercede all other factors which may otherwisw be inauspicious.

There is no great harm in sticking to the auspicious moments for performing functions. However, there is great danger in believing that non-“auspicious moments” and times are inauspicious which, in turn, inculcates fear in the mind.

The auspicious and inauspicious nature of any given time is an essential ingredient of Astrology. Astrology is a pseudoscience based on the belief that the astronomical positions control events in the human world. It is just one form of superstition.

One of the most intriguing things in this context is the belief in “Rahukaalam”. According to this belief on a given week day there are certain periods (for example 7.30 AM to 9.00 AM on Mondays, 9.00 AM to 10.30 AM on Saturdays) which are very bad. During these hours nothing of significance, like starting a journey or payment of admission fees, should be done.

I say intriguing because this is far from scientific even if Astrology is seen to have some rational basis. It is to be noted that planets and other celestial objects are God-made. The weekdays, on the other hand, are man’s creations. The seven days of the week are the creations of ancient Greek people who identified seven heavenly objects – five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) along with the Sun and the Moon. They assigned a day for each of the identified object. Thus we have Sunday for Sun, Monday for Moon etc. Thus there is certain amount of arbitrariness with regard to the week days. It is debatable that if Uranus was also observed at that time we would have had eight-day week. This being so, it follows that there can be astronomical significance associated with week days. There is no astronomical commonality between two Mondays, or two Fridays. In fact nobody knows what happens on every Monday between 7.30 AM and 9.00 AM or on all Saturdays between 9.00 AM and 10.30 AM. But beliefs are beliefs and the concept of Rahukaalam is so much deep rooted in the minds of people for generations that it is unshakeable. Possibly, such beliefs are becoming stronger than ever before.

India’s famous Astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar, in his book The Scientific Edge, The Indian Scientist from Vedic to Modern Times (Penguin Books, 2003), has expressed deep concern about  the rising trend of superstitions among Indians including the highly educated elite. Among other things he laments the fact that UGC has legitimized the teaching of Astrology (rechristened as  Jyotirvigyan) as a Science in the year 2001 (during the NDA rule).

This book referred to above is a highly recommended reading.

More By  :  Dr. KS Raghavan

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Dear vmdd, Whether the concept started from India are from Greece, the fact is that it is prevalent all over the world. The seven days got assigned to seven terrestrial (observed) objects. This is irrelevant as far as the contents of post are concerned.

29-Nov-2014 06:13 AM

Comment the concept of ancient greeks named the days of the week,would be saying that the greeks were here first, don't you think? check this out. i found is on the web. Why seven days make a week? And where from the names of these seven days have come? Every Indian will be pleased to know that it is also a gift of India to the entire world. We have seen earlier that, 60 gha?is or da?das make one day and night or ahor?tra. Indian astronomers dedicated each gha?i of the day to a planet as its lord and derived the name of the day as per the lord of the first gha?i of the day. surya sunday soma monday mangala tuesday budha wednesday guru thursday shukra friday shani saturday rahu & ketu eclipse

29-Nov-2014 00:52 AM

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