Something seems awry. No, everything seems awry. Things are not going as planned. You have not been able to land the job you thought was meant just for you; you are facing problems in your relationships; and you are going through sudden bouts of sickness.
Somewhere deep down in the pit of your stomach you feel everything is falling apart, yet there’s no fault of yours. Slowly drowning in a cesspool of negativity, you discuss your situation with your peers who suggest something might be wrong with your stars. This gets you thinking. What is in store for me? Is this how it’s always going to be? What does the future hold for me?
No matter how beautiful or ugly our todays are, we are always driven by an innate curiosity to catch a glimpse of our tomorrows. The human mind yearns to know what the unknown future holds. To satiate this curiosity, man explored ways to peek into the future. But can something really help see the future? The answers to these questions and many others lie in the world of fortune-telling.
Fortune-telling has been practised by man for millennia. According to historians, it dates back to an era when history was not even recorded. It is said that it has its roots in folklore, having been associated with nomads and gypsies and practised by the Egyptians and the Chinese in as early as 4000 BC. Of the hundreds of methods of fortune-telling, the most popular ones include astrology, taromancy (cards), palmistry, numerology, parrot astrology, face reading, feng shui and clairvoyance among others.
Astrology–the study of the movements of celestial bodies–is one of the most widely practised methods of fortune-telling. According to ISKCON Chowpatty vice-president Gaur Gopal Das, astrology is an authentic science known as Jyotish Shastra in the Vedic literature. It is widely believed that the movement of celestial bodies has an influence on human affairs. Astrology also attempts to interpret the influence of these bodies on human affairs. “Astrology is purely based on mathematical calculations. It is basically numbers so the calculations are the same. What differs is the way these numbers are interpreted which mainly depends on the experience, expertise and understanding of the person who interprets it,” explains Das. For instance, in stock market investments, the figures are the same but the forecast is based on the evaluation of the stockbroker. One might say the stocks will be up, another might say it is moderate and not worth it. The onus here is on the understanding and expertise of the stockbroker.
“One always has the freedom to choose what he wants to do and his destiny is based on these choices.”
Some dismiss this practice as a pseudoscience, but experts argue it is backed by science. Nagaraj Sharma, astrology teacher and general secretary of Bengaluru-based Bhartiya Jyotish Sansthan, says, “One cannot predict the movement of planets without the backing of science. In astrology, there are two important factors–destiny and free will. One always has the freedom to choose what he wants to do and his destiny is based on these choices. We can only predict major events and suggest corrective measures to minimise pain and maximise happiness.”
Das says astrological predictions are based on karma. “They cannot predict anything beyond karma. They are more or less like a road map. For instance, you have a road map and the GPRS guides you. But until and unless you drive, you cannot reach the destination,” he adds.
But human beings are not just satisfied with possibilities.We want to know what lies in these possibilities. On being asked what drives man to know the future, Das says happiness and security. “If there is one primary emotion that drives the world it is happiness. You ask people why they want security, the answer is obvious–to be happy,” he says.
If the desire to be happy is primarily the reason why we seek out the future, curiosity is yet another. Tarot card reader and numerologist Sheelaa M Bajaj says, man is intrigued by the future as it is ambiguous and unknown. The very thought of wanting to be in control and prepared drives him to know the tomorrow.
Another pertinent thought that emerges in this discussion is the power of choice. Our choices make or break us. Darth Vader’s ominous announcement in Star Wars puts this into perspective: “Your choices define your destiny.” To this, Das says, “Whatever is going to happen will happen whether you are aware of it or not. Why can’t we make better choices today so our tomorrows are better? For instance, when we take a flight, the take-off, landing and turbulence is not in our control. But what is in our control is how we spend our time on board. Similarly, life, death and turbulences (problems) are not in our control, but we can certainly change something in the journey of life. And those are our choices. We make them.”
Sheelaa believes in the power of choice too. “Basically, your choices create your reality. If you make powerful choices you can change your destiny. If everything was about fortune, you could sit at home and do nothing,” she says humouredly.
According to Das, “Destiny is the effect that has come due to a cause. This cause may not be from this life but from your previous life. Everybody says man is the maker of his destiny. We cannot change situations, but we certainly can change our response to these situations.”
Several schools of thought and their thoughts all seem to boil down to one conclusion.Your choices and actions are what matter. Destiny is dynamic and your choices decide it. Good times and bad are like joys and sorrows that dot the lives of human beings. Some days are perfect, while others are not. If something has to happen it will happen, no matter what. And if we want to know whether something will happen in future, well, it may or may not. But the future will remain the unthreaded, unconquered territory.