E003: A brief history of Astrology and the need to build a strong longitudinal astrological data base



In simple terms, Astrology can be defined as Applied Astronomy (VP Jain*). Our ancestors were great observers and they closely watched movement of various celestial bodies and recorded astronomical events and linked them with events in lives of individual people. Based on their observations, they built highly complex mathematical system(s) and prediction rules with minimum building blocks.

We can find eloquent use of all elements of modern data science and statistics in their constructs. Their mathematical constructs are of a very high order and deciphering them could shed more light on solving several allied problems in data science as well. Given the advanced level of mathematics involved, they converted that complex system to stories and examples which can be easily understood by a general public. While those stories and examples survived, got magnified and even glorified over time with its lasting impact through religion, the mathematical supremacy behind seemed to be forgotten.

These heights of mathematical prowess wouldn’t be possible, without proper observation, data collection and analysis (from a data science perspective). The effort that went behind making observations and keeping records and correlating planetary movements with lives of people to come up with refined prediction systems can’t be simply shrugged off as superstitious. Imagine that all these has been achieved through mental mathematics and our ancestors were aware of performing complex multi-dimensional analyses in their head, comfortably.

Data is the core element of any astrological system. Data includes birth details, life events of individuals and also corresponding planetary positions associated with that time. A large number of mathematical constructs were developed to capture different type of astronomical data and mathematical points like Rahu-Ketu (True node) were developed to make better mathematical models. There are also strong scientific principles associated with these astrological constructs. Predictions rules were continuously refined and multiple predictions systems were developed over a long period of time by different groups and this knowledge was passed on through family tradition to younger generations. They were also open to learn and embrace the knowledge of others.

In the current times, many of the astrology practitioners do not have a strong footing on the science and math behind the astrological systems and constructs. They also do not put in the labour needed to collect proper data on continuous life events and really understand the system well. Refining the predictions rules to suit the time and place we live was license given to the successive generation, however, its not done in the true spirit. This brings lot of disgrace to a highest system of knowledge that existed once. The current astrological community in India is predominantly driven by commercial, vested short term interests and common men often get cheated in the name of Parihara in the hands of scrupulous elements. Feud between different schools of astrology are very common in social media platforms and they bring disgrace to the profession and drive away many learned men from exploring this knowledge gift from our ancestors.

All different astrological systems were built on strong mathematicians and each of the system got developed over thousands of years. Their survival beyond time testify that there is some inherent truth behind each of the system.

If you are really interested in the domain of astrology and want to contribute to the field, then the greatest service to it can be done by creating a strong, reliable and unbiased data base of life events of individuals, which are periodically updated. This database should be easily accessible for everyone. Anyone, who proclaims the supremacy of their system of astrology should be able to test their system with this common database. This will be a reasonable place to start with. This database can also serve as a base to train and refine current system of astrological knowledge and can be used for publishing scientific papers on astrology.

Across the world, astrology based predictions are normally not taken seriously and majority of people do not trust them for lack of proof. However, if we properly understand the astrological constructs from mathematical perspective and back up predictions rules with scientific testing, then the faith in astrology can be restored. As an enthusiast in astrology, are you going to be part of the problem or a solution?


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