And now, adulterated astrology

"The man who is ignorant of the science of astrology deserves to be called a fool, rather than a physician" Hippocrates

ASTROLOGY, THE study of mystic influence of stars and numbers on human destiny, is breaking fresh ground in medical science, what with young couples across Kerala being struck by `Astromania'. This can be better described as the art of manipulating horoscopes for a better, auspices birth star through timed, elective caesarean. The occult science is gaining significance in medical science, something never felt before. And no wonder, many `new-age' couples are fascinated by the way they can manipulate the wheel of their children's destiny with the help of astrology.

If the gynaecologists in Kerala are to be believed, there has been an unprecedented rise in this manipulation. "It has been only a few years since the trend started. In the last few years there has been a steady spurt in the number of parents who insist on elective caesarean to gain a better horoscope for their babies. However, I never encourage this", says Dr. Kalyani Devi, a leading gynaecologist in Kochi.

"The trend has risen to such an alarming level that husbands of some of our patients give prefixed time for the caesareanto get their elective star", remarks Dr.Santha Kumari, a well-known gynaecologist in Thiruvananthapuram. The demand for elective caesarean for auspicious horoscopes like `pooram' and `makam' has been on the rise, she reveals, also confessing that she neither encourages nor discourages this practice.

Dr.Rajkumari Unnithan, another leading gynaecologist in Kochi, recalls a shocking incident that goes on to prove how astrology has influenced the modern-day couples. "There was this instance when I was asked to perform a caesarean on a premature pregnancy. They wanted me to do it at a prefixed, odd time on a Sunday as it matched with a fortunate star".

Most of the astrologers also vouch for this new, alarming trend. Mr. Attukal Radhakrishnan, an eminent astrologist, endorses the views of the gynaecologists. "The number of parents who come to me seeking a better horoscope has increased over the recent years". And another noted astrologer, Mr. Chandiroor Vijayan, subscribes to this view. "It has become a practice among young couples to look for a suitable star to time the birth of their progeny".

Till recently, astrology, the mystic science of periodicity, was considered a jumble of fortune-telling trash. Today, astrology seems to have gained a pivotal role in day-to-day life, as many, cutting across religious barriers, rely on astrological forecasts predicted through the print and electronic media.

True, astrology is the oldest science known to mankind. The origin of astrology, according to Oriental records, coexisted with the creation of mankind. History tells that Seth, the third son of Adam, was so well-versed in astrology that foreseeing the flood, he erected two pillars in Palestine. He carved the pillars with the signs of the Zodiac and other astrological information so that his knowledge might not be destroyed when the Deluge swept over the earth.

This tradition is confirmed by noted Hebrew historian Josephus, who relates in his own time, "... ... ... he saw one of the pillars of Seth standing in the land of Syria". In the first book of Josephus, he writes, "Man lived so long before the Deluge that he learned the art of science, especially astrology".

Astrology has gathered so much relevance in medical science that some hospitals in India, like the Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre (MMHRC) in Madurai, have full-fledged medical astrology departments headed by astrologers.

Despite its fascinating merits, the hard-core questions about abused astrology still remain. Is astrology being misused to obtain unholistic goals? Is juggling with horoscopes yielding desired results? Can this be called a scientific practice? Are the doctors, who encourage this practice, doing justice to medical ethics?

"Horoscope manipulation is unscientific and against the law of nature", says Mr Chandiroor Vijayan. "Fate of a child is determined at the time of fertilisation in the womb of its mother. The planetary position at the time of fertilisation has immense influence on the baby and that is exactly what fixes the destiny of a child", adds Mr.Vijayan. According to him, juggling of horoscopes has no better effect than a psychological one, but it only helps upset one's real `yoga'.

"It's true, the planetary position at a time of fertilisation counts a lot in determining the fate of a person. But, since there is no system available to ascertain the precision of fertilisation time, it is better to rely on the time of birth to predict one's destiny. And it works", argues Mr.Attukal Radhakrishnan.

Dr.Rajkumari Unnithan believes in astrology but feels that the practice of elective caesarean, twist one's horoscope, is against medical ethics. "Why should we advance or postpone a caesarean when it can be performed at the right moment?" she argues. Unnecessary and deliberate caesarean can harm the child severely. It can even damage the brain of the child.

It is true; a patient needs satisfaction from the medical, psychological and emotional angles. Doctors who are the advocates of clinical astrology justify their act saying, the application of astrology in medical practice results in providing their patients psychological and emotional satisfaction.

"I don't find anything wrong in doing an elective caesarean to opt for an auspicious star", says another Kochi gynaecologist, who requested anonymity. "If the parents believe that they can manipulate a horoscope to achieve positive results, what's wrong?" asks the doctor, admitting that she advises her patients to consult an astrologer before fixing time for a caesarean.

Mr. Manoj Nair and his wife Ms Sudha, parents who opted for elective caesarean endorses the doctor's views. "If the delivery is through a caesarean, why can't we synchronise it with an elective janma nakshathra", ask the Nairs. However, they admit, delaying birth just for the sake of an elective horoscope should not be encouraged.

"It is mere ignorance about astrology that forces one to go for a manipulated horoscope", says Mr.Vishwambaran, a leading astrologer in Kochi. He questions the veracity of this horoscope selection. "How can one change the fate of another, by merely manipulating one's birth timing?" he asks. In Hindu mythology Lord Krishna was destined to be the cause of his uncle Kamsa's death even before he was born, points out Mr.Vishwambaran.

This practice of manipulating the wheel of destiny is gaining popularity and a section of gynaecologists is silently backing this trend. But does this new concept find any social acceptance?

Not precisely. "Let my baby be born at a time willed by God. I will not question His action,'' quipped Mr. Anil Kumar, an advocate, despite being advised by a gynaecologist in Kochi to go in for elective caesarean.

Mr.Satheesh Chandran Kartha, a Rubber Board official, scorns the concept of manipulating horoscopes. He feels that this is a desperate, futile exercise of `Astromaniacs'.

Man has made a giant leap in development. But even as science and technology gallops to a new era, is all this an unholy trick to turn back the clock? The argument continues... .

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