Career Focus

Career Focus

Stars augur well for astrologers

The formal teaching-learning of astrology recently received a boost with the UGC approving the conduction of certificate diploma, undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph D study programmes in jyotish vigyan

Though the introduction of astrology as a degree level study programme in Indian universities by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, hitherto Union minister of human resource development aroused the ire of intellectuals and contributed to his ignominious defeat at the hustings, there’s no gainsaying that there is widespread acceptance within Indian society in particular, of the ‘science’ that is astrology.

Like ancient emperors and potentates who governed according to astrological advice based on planetary positions, so also contemporary ministers, mantris and businessmen consult professional astrologers before taking momen-tous, even commonplace decisions. As a consequence reading the position of stars and planets and interpreting their influence on human beings has become a lucrative vocation for millions of professional and amateur astrologers in India.

Tripathi at work: thorough study
Lucknow-based Dr. Ram Tripathi, popularly known as Shastriji, regards astrology as social service. "An astrologer comes into contact with a whole spectrum of people and builds up networks. It becomes possible to pull strings, get concessions, speed up clearance of files, influence transfers, postings and the like. And then of course if a reputed astrologer were to talk favourably about a young boy or girl, their chances of getting a good match for marriage are suitably enhanced," he says, tongue firmly in cheek.

Although popularly regarded as the parent discipline of astronomy, astrology is often rubbished by scientists for lack of credible causal theory and consistent rules. However, not a few men of science, including Tyco, Brahe, Carl Jung, Kepler, Aldous Huxley and Copernicus were renowned astrologers. Moreover astrology is recognised worldwide as a science with numerous institutes offering diplomas, Master’s degrees and even doctorates in the subject.

Though he tends to be jocular about his chosen profession, Tripathi has studied it thoroughly, having completed a 15-year study programme from the Sampuranand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, Varanasi which entitles him to use the honorific acharaya. After spending a number of years with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ved Vigyan Vishwapeeth he went solo and currently runs the Sai Jyotish Kendra, Lucknow which attracts clients from all sections of society. His computer equipped consult-ation chamber where the latest software is employed to draw birth charts and cast horoscopes employs eight software professionals. Tripathi was once a regular consultant and soothsayer of newspapers and popular magazines and a favourite guest on local broadcast channels. But with his clientele having expanded, he now has little time for these pursuits. Next on his list of must-dos is a periodical dedicated to promoting jyotish vigyan, i.e the science of astrology.

Among the more renowned Indian institutes which offer diploma, degree, postgraduate and doctorate level courses in the subject are Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Udaipur, (one year diploma course in Bharatiya Jyotish); Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic Vishwavidyalaya, Jabalpur (BA/ MA/ Ph D in astrology); North Gujarat University, Patan, (two year graded course in Vedic astrology); P.S. Telugu University, Hyderabad (MA in astrology through correspondence); Awadesh Pratap University, Rewa, Madhya Pradesh (BA (Sanskrit) jyotish, MA (Acharya) jyotish); Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar; and Sampuranand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, Varanasi.

The formal teaching-learning of astrology recently received a boost with the UGC approving the conduction of certificate diploma, undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph D study programmes in jyotish vigyan. The commission has endorsed a proposal to offer higher education in astrology to "rejuvenate the science of Vedic astrology in India, to allow this scientific knowledge to reach to the society (sic) at large and to provide opportunities to get this important science even exported to the world."

Numerous private institutes also offer short-term certificate and diploma courses in astrology. The All India Federation of Astrologers’ Societies conducts several courses through its network of countrywide centres. There are no special prerequisites to enroll in these courses except a Plus Two school leaving qualification. Since the subject requires a lot of calculations, a good grasp of mathematics is likely to prove handy. Moreover with astrological calculations also being made by computer software such as Future Fortune and the Leo series, a working knowledge of computers is also useful.

Career options in this field are largely unorganised with a few individuals having established brand names. Teaching in a Vedic school, joining media related fields or even the hospitality industry as an astro consultant are other options. However there is no dearth of clients and depending on popularity or reputation, astrologers’ fees could range from Rs.100 to Rs.10,000. Rates are calculated on an hourly basis and on the number of questions asked. Looking ahead, Tripathi believes the stars augur well for the profession.

"Today most astrologers pursue astrology as a part-time vocation. With greater social acceptability and demand it is set to become a popular career option in the near future. Moreover its acceptance as a valid course of study upto university level will result in the emergence of professionally qualified astrologers while getting rid of spurious practitioners and quacks from the arena. As long as the human mind is plagued by fear of uncertain futures and people are willing to seek solutions, astrology will remain a popular science," says Tripathi confidently — a confidence which is undoubtedly influenced by favourable planetary positions.

Vidya Pandit (Lucknow)