Malefic Saturn in your zodiac sign

Of malefic Saturn and the costs involved.

On June 30 / July 01 Venus and Saturn presented a rare celestial phenomenon in the western skies when both the planets appeared less than one degree apart. It was visual treat of a rare type. This event happened just thirteen days after another spectacular one had taken place involving Moon and Venus with the latter momentarily and partly hiding behind the former. In scientific parlance this is termed occultation. People watched the occultation either out of curiosity and fun or for the sake of gaining some knowledge about orbits and movements of heavenly bodies. These as well as other such events are part of completely natural phenomena which could be precisely calculated and predicted. Nothing abnormal or supernatural about it.

However, in India some people have entirely different versions of the events. Majority of the population would like to perceive and interpret such events religiously. They view such happenings in astrological terms wherein anything occurring in the sky has a bearing on us in the shape of our fate and future.

That day a popular TV channel while reporting on the event had one astrologer stationed in the studios. The man was predicting effects (both good and bad) on the lives of individuals falling under different signs of zodiac. He even predicted political disturbance and economic downturn for the country. In case of one particular zodiac sign he was predicting rather a longer period of suffering. He said that this meeting of Saturn and Venus signaled a terrible start of the seven and half years period of malefic effects on all those people who had a particular configuration in their birth charts. Then he went on to dividing this seven and a half years period into further three sub periods of two and a half years each. Each sub period would have different intensity of suffering for the native.

As is common with astrologers they don't stop at merely making predictions for, that would only half serve their purpose. They need to complete their job by spelling out in detail the solutions to the problems created by malefic effects of such planetary positions. Yes, you can ward off the ill effects by making a trade off with the gods and goddesses. Offer them money, eatables, clothes and precious metals or rare stones so as buy peace. Such propitiatory rites coupled with visits to holy places, shrines and rivers complete the ritual of getting rid of the ill effects of a 'dark' Saturn.

While watching the TV show I made some quick back of the envelope calculations so as to estimate in monetary terms the yearly outgo from the pockets of the believers who must appease the Saturn god. While people of all religious beliefs in India consult astrologers (and why shouldn't they when one strong candidate for the President claims, if media reports are to be believed, to have spoken with the soul of her guru) astrology is mainly in the domain of Hinduism, though not exclusively. Assuming about 75 million of Hindus, one twelfth of the country's Hindu population, falling under one zodiac sign which would suffer the severest wrath of the malefic Saturn and further assuming that only 50% (a very conservative estimate) will seek resolution we arrive roughly at a figure of around 40 million individuals seriously seeking remedial measures.

There is no limit to spending on appeasement of the gods. Assuming that the average expenditure incurred by an individual in one year is pegged at paltry rupees one thousand i.e., about USD 25 – a pittance in the wake of huge digesting capabilities of bulging bellies of the priests in India, we arrive at a figure of 40 billion Indian rupees or USD one billion. Over a period of seven years this money would multiply accordingly. Moreover it is an ongoing cycle for, Saturn will not be satiated and would rush towards another zodiac sign and capture fate of many more. Imagine this immense flow of money going down the rituals drain.

And all this in a country where reflections of poverty in the shape of mothers selling their children to buy rice, slavery, child labor and starvation deaths periodically emerge. Any takers, among believers, for this argument or stance?