By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
A strologers of various shades and hues are popping up all over the city like mushrooms and people have been falling over them like ninepins. And in all this hullaballoo it is the astrologer who walks away with the cake. Actually their profession is very lucrative, and nobody has the guts to question these astrologers on the authenticity of their predictions and solutions. Possibly they are afraid that the superman may be annoyed at their disbelief and might even pronounce a curse on them for daring to question his asseverations.
Actually the astrologers are very astute professiols. They know the pulse of their visitors as clearly as they know the back of their own hands. They know only too well that the people who come to them must have suffered some knocks in life, or why would them come to them. The astrologers play on their misfortune as well as on their emotions. Misfortune and suffering of others bring joy and luck to the astrologer. It is as simple as that.
Guwahatians are getting star-oriented and so the astrologers have become very necessary to bring a ray of hope to the victims of fate. You must have seen the fingers of many persons sparkling with precious stones inserted in gold rings, as recommended by some astrologers. Apparently these gems are essential to drive away some evil forces which make life a hell for us. As to why the evil forces gang up to torment the innocent people and help the astrologers to fill up their coffers, your guess is as good as mine. The astrologer has only to look like a saintly person in dress, appearance and behaviour. And the gullible people worship him and accept his word as a divine command.
All these fortune-tellers are not equally lucky or wealthy. Some of them charge as much as Rs 5000 per visit and some are happy with as little as Rs. 20 per customer. You must have seen multitude of these astrologers or fortune-tellers sitting on the pavements in some crowded busy places with various parapherlia, which proclaim their profession. Crowds of people huddle around them with hope and faith. The irony is that these road-side astrologers have not been able to make their own fortune, yet they claim to do that for others.
I think that the astrologers of all categories earn their fortune from the misfortune of others. A drowning man catches a straw to save himself, as they say. But the straw may not be sufficient for his survival. In the same way when a person suffers acute misfortune, he may believe in anything for getting rid of his adversity, even though he may be a strong hard-headed man otherwise.
I think this happens to most people, as it happened to myself recently. In fact, I have always prided myself on the belief that I am a very strong-minded person, who cannot be swayed to the wrong direction. I have also told many of my friends, perhaps with a superior smile, that it is incredible that even educated and enlightened persons are superstitious enough to believe in miracles. But I did not realise that anybody, even some of the most confident strong-willed persons sometimes fall victim to their misfortune and succumb to certain ways which they would never have accepted in their good times.
Only a couple of months back I had suffered some misfortune and for a time I had to go through acute mental agony. Some well-wisher advised me to go to some famous astrologer, who apparently could make possible even what was considered as impossible. The friend told me that the astrologer had the power to remove all the evil from one’s life and to make life happy. She advised me to take the horoscopes of all the members of my family and she also promised to accompany me to the astrologer’s home so as to lend me moral support. She also warned me that being such a reputed astrologer, his charges were rather high and so I had to take some money with me.
Armed with the horoscopes, I went to the residence of the astrologer with my friend. His home was on a hillock in the city. The scenery was attractive. There were trees all around the place, giving an illusion of the hermitages of the ancient era. For me it was a hazardous journey I had to climb up a long way to reach his home. Still I persevered in my effort, since my friend had told me that the astrologer could ward off the evil spirits from my home, who were causing havoc at my home. We filly reached his home and went to his chamber. He really looked very impressive. With his white flowing beard he looked like a saint. He had a large tilak of vermillion on his forehead and a rudraksha galand adorned his neck.
I plunged into my problems straight away and brought out the horoscopes. He told me confidently that he could certainly dispel all the evil planetary and celestial influence from my home if I followed his instructions faithfully I requested him to do all he could to bring back peace and happiness to my home and I also promised to obey all his directions. He wrote the mes of several precious stones for each member of my family, since according to the expert they too were under the influence of some evil spirits.
The astrologer asked me to buy the gems in a particular firm, which sold genuine gems according to him. He also recommended several measures to be adopted for peace at home besides the gems. He asked me to collect water from three sources of the river, and some other things like mustard seeds, dry chilly, some flowers etc. and take them to him. He said that he would cast a spell on them and then those simple things would gain magical power to destroy the evil spirits at my home. And despite my boast of being a no-nonsense person, I believed whatever he said.
On my enquiry about his fees, he said piously that he never bothered about money, that he merely wanted people to be happy. I thought that since he did not accept money, I would bring him a nice gift next time I came to see him. But I could have saved my breath. He told me that he charged Rs 10000/- as consultation fees from his clients per visit. I was stunned. His illusory cloak of divinity fell off his appearance and my respect for him diminished a little. But the very next moment I chided myself for being so selfish. After all, the poor man had to earn money for the maintence of his family. How could he feed them if he did not take money from his clients? I paid up and left.
Next day I went to the jewellery firm recommended by the astrologer. It was a very aristocratic place with sophisticated sales personnel. I saw that they were familiar with the astrologer and he was held in high esteem. The mager himself came to talk to me and he openly acknowledged his admiration and deep respect to the astrologer. I had a niggling suspicion that perhaps the jewellery firm had some understanding with the astrologer. Actually being away from his magnetic presence, my common sense was slowly returning. Still I could not turn back in that stage. The sparkling gems were displayed for my scrutiny.
I asked him about the cost of all those precious stones. I nearly had a heart attack when I learnt about the staggering amount I would have to pay. But the very next moment I recovered my equanimity and remembered the instructions of the astrologer. To ward off the evil forces I had to buy the stones, even if I had to borrow or steal the money. Anyway, filly I placed order for all the gems recommended by the astrologer and I asked them to make rings with them. When they were ready I bought them all and gave them to the members of my family as per the astrologer’s direction. They were reluctant to wear them, but could not disobey me. Yet they did say that it was crazy to waste such huge amounts of money on useless things.
That was three months back. In the meantime, I had gone to visit the astrologer several times and each time he demanded a hefty sum apparently for doing some puja or meditation for the welfare of my family, of which activities I did not even have a glimpse. In spite of spending all that money and despite all those visits, my luck has not changed for the better. Peace and happiness are still far away.
I am of course not denigrating Astrology, which I believe it to be a study of supposed planetary influence on human affairs. There may be some genuine astrologers, who have studied the subject seriously. But I object to those who cheat people with false assurances. We have to realise that pleasure and pain are like two sides of a coin. Fortune and misfortune come in a circular way. When one is struck by misfortune he has to catch the proverbial straw to save himself from the calamity, though he may not succeed in his attempt. At such times, reason goes out of the window and heart rules over the head.
Now I think that none can remove the misfortune of another person. Everybody has to confront misfortune sometime or other. We have to bear our misfortune with calmness. I believe that we must have faith on God and only He can help us in the long run. No astrologer can do that. I know very well that it is very difficult to remain calm when misfortune strikes us. But we can do nothing about it except bear it with patience. Self-help is supposed to be the best help. So let us try to face misfortune boldly and patiently It is no use wasting hard-earned money on fake astrologers, who have not a spark of sympathy for us nor can they remove our sufferings. Let us remain firm in the face of misfortune, dear reader. It is only a temporary phase. Perhaps tomorrow the sun will shine brighter and fortune will smile on us. Let us keep hoping for good days to come.