Ancient philosophy inspires Bick Shau’s American Dream

Posted by vedic on 26th September 2014 in Feng Shui

Feng Shui … a complex blend of common sense, fine aesthetics and mystical philosophy. An ancient Chinese philosophy which aims to ensure that all things are in harmony with their surroundings. Its application ranges from the planning of entire cities to the placing of a single flower in a vase, from the orientation of high-rise office blocks to the interior furnishings of a humble studio apartment, myself also like apply feng shui in decorating my home, i recently order a custom wall art online from a chinese gallery, it is actually a photo of fishes, i ask the artist to turn into oil painting which i think may help to bring me good things — what we might refer to as the “feel” of a place, good or bad….(*)

Three hundred people are due in for a barbeque. There’s a new chef, and a senior-executive party wants a meal not on the menu. Flower arrangements need to be assembled and busboys have to prep the outdoor dining room for the banquet. Since the forecast warns of rain, the inside dining room will have to be readied as well. In the middle of the bustling is Sandra Sauter, dining room manager, who orchestrates the 45 members of the serving staff that will turn madness into fine dining for the variety of guests. The clientele ranges from locals “getting a bite,” to executives flown in from Asia for a business meeting, to exhausted travelers looking for a retreat. The Harrison Inn/Resort in Southbury, Connecticut, accommodates all.

Two of the waitresses are pregnant, so Sauter–whose makeup isn’t on yet, and who, at just over five feet tall, doesn’t look any older than some of the high school-age part-timers–will schedule them for one of the banquet rooms with busboys. “It’s easier on the women. They’ll have less running to do, and the busboys can carry the trays.” Isn’t this special treatment unfair to the rest of the staff? Sauter looks quizzical and says, “It’s only fair to make it possible for women to have their babies and keep their jobs.”

Creating an environment that promotes harmony, Feng Shui, has long been Sauter’s philosophy, and one that has carried her around the world to this tiny upstate Connecticut community. She was born Bick Shau, in a turbulent China, in 1949. In 1955, her father was granted a visa to leave, but could take only one child with him. He chose Bick Shau, and at age six, leaving her mother and sisters behind, she and her father moved to Kowloon, the main island of Hong Kong.

There they settled in her aunt’s apartment. The only work her father could find was 90 miles away, however, and so he saw his daughter only on weekends. Bick Shau was left to be raised by a violent and demanding aunt, who resented being left with an energetic child after her own son had grown and moved to California. Life was harsh for the six-year-old. A typical day consisted of making plastic flowers or sewing sequins on sweaters — goods that would be sold by her aunt to local factories–housecleaning and preparing the daily meals. Once, when trying to remove a pot of boiling soup from the stove, the tiny child spilled it all over herself. It took months for the burns to heal.

Economic freedom

She started school at age nine and continued to age 15. It was then that Bick Shau learned what freedom an independent income could bring her. She quit school to work as a quality-control supervisor in a Japanese electronics firm. Finally bringing home a pay-check, she was free from the beatings which she had endured from her aunt on a daily basis.

At age 21, Bick Shau married. Her aunt had moved to Los Angeles, so the young couple shared her aunt’s government-subsidized apartment. Bick Shau quit her job when she was pregnant with her first child but, shortly after the birth of her son, her husband was laid off. She returned to work, ironing in a clothing factory. As with her first job, she soon secured a supervisory position. “I always made supervisor in a short period of time,” she relates, which she attributes to her ability to get along with coworkers and management.

Four years later, and pregnant with her second child, she quit again. But again, her husband was out of a job. This time he showed little interest in getting another one. By the time she was six months pregnant, a friend helped her get a position in yet another factory. The Feng Shui wasn’t good. Disillusioned with her husband, his gambling and laziness, she told him to leave.

With two mouths to feed, security became her motivation. “Factory work pays you piecemeal. Each week my wages varied. There was no way for me to budget.” She began working for a security company which placed her with a watch fctory, guarding against internal theft. The pay was good, but the tasks mundane. The personnel manager of Stylex, the watch manufacturer, was impressed with Bick Shau and recruited her. A new job was created for her as a troubleshooter within departments.

The Feng Shui was getting better: She was on a career path but it wasn’t yet the one she’d dreamed of. Despite her harsh introduction to cooking as a child, she always wanted to open her own restaurant. She began taking classes at the local Maria Culinary Art School, where most of her classmates were wealthy housewives. “Sometimes it was so embarrassing,” she recalls. “They would arrive chauffeurdriven. I would walk from the bus. They would talk about which movie stars and socialites were over for dinner, where they would be going on vacations, and things like that. Still, I became friends with most of them.”

Why do I need another husband?

“Everyone Sandra meets, she becomes friends with,” interjects her second husband, Charles. She mock-chastises him to be quiet. The couple has a playfully adversarial relationship. Charles is immensely proud of his wife’s strength and determination. He knows that both evolved from a need to survive. But she disagrees and tells him it was Feng Shui. He acquiesces.

Charles, an American watch engineer with Bulova Watch Company, was relocated to Hong Kong in 1978 after Bulova had been bought out by Stylex. He and Bick Shau, who had now changed her name to a more “businesslike” Sandra, met while working on the same project.

She liked the American, but was reluctant to get too involved. She had not confided in anyone at work about her failed marriage or her two children. Charles surprised her at her home one day and met her nine-year-old son in the kitchen. Undaunted by her “past” and soon to return to the States, Charles proposed. Though she loved him, she refused. “What did I need another husband for?” she jokes. Settled in Cupertino, California, now working for Timex, Charles pursued her. For two years he wrote, trying to convince her that she would be able to realize her goals in this country. Finally in 1981 she agreed to marry him.

With her fiancee visa, she had 90 days to emigrate with the children to the United States, but she needed her ex-husband’s signature on the children’s visas. He refused. For weeks she begged him to change his mind. The clock was ticking and the expiration of her visa approached. She was torn between being separated, even though temporarily, from her children, and being separated from her soon-to-be husband. She made arrangements with friends and with a daycare facility to look after the children.

One day, while they were at school, she boarded the plane. “I could not say goodbye to them,” she says quietly. Her eyes still fill with tears as she recalls the pain and frustration of having to leave her five- and 11-year-old behind. It was so much like her grief of 30 years earlier when she was taken from her own mother. She vowed that she would reunite all of them in the new country.

Having given up so much, she was more determined than ever to succeed. Sandra Sauter enrolled in English classes as soon as she arrived in Cupertino. With her dream to open a restaurant intact, she needed to learn as much as possible about the food service industry. She began working as a waitress in an executive dining room. Charles laughs as he remembers his wife’s first day. “They told her there was no menu and that the waitresses had to memorize the specials. Sandra walked up to the table and, confusing her consonants, said the day’s special was ‘Rundon Bloil.'” Realizing her mistake, she laughed and her customers joined her. Feng Shui. Everything was falling into place.

But, restless with waitressing, Sauter wanted to get into the kitchen. (Feng Shui: “If the chef walks out, I better be able to jump into the kitchen to prepare the meal.”) The commissary had a variety of food stations–fast food, sandwiches, Chinese, hot specials. The first two were the most lucrative for the commissary, but suddenly the interest in Chinese food went up dramatically. An executive from the parent company came down to find out why. When he arrived, he found an attractive woman busily chatting while she stir-fried in two woks. “Why two woks?” she repeated his question. “My customers are on a limited lunch hour. I don’t want them to have to wait.”

All the while, Sauter was fighting for her children. After 13 months, she was able to secure visas for them. “I paid the $3,500 babysitting bill that my ex-husband had ‘overlooked,’ and got the kids out of there.” She and the children flew from Hong Kong to their new home in Middlebury, Connecticut, where Charles had a new job. Settled in, she approached a family-owned Chinese restaurant for work. “We’ll train you,” said the owner, “but no pay.”

Within a week she was on the payroll. For four years, she waitressed and hostessed. Meanwhile, because Charles was a military veteran, Sauter had two years waived from the five-year residency requirement, and she became a citizen. The very next day she applied to have her mother emigrate. Within 10 months, mother and daughter were reunited after 31 years.

Quick learner

During her stint at the Chinese restaurant, Sauter researched the marketplace. Property and equipment were expensive, and there were many Chinese restaurants in the vicinity. Feng Shui: She needed to be competitive in her surroundings. She enrolled in the Waterbury Adult Education Center to pursue a high school-equivalency diploma. She finished within a year. As usual, she made friends among the teaching staff at the school, and soon found herself teaching Chinese cooking. She then enrolled at Mattatuk Community College where she was working toward a joint Associate Degree in Service Management and Hotel Management.

In December, 1987, Sauter joined Harrison as a hostess. She trained for a week, but her real introduction was New Year’s Eve. “There were over 1,000 people in three dining rooms, I didn’t even know where the bread or the water was. I kept telling myself that if I passed tonight, I’d be all right.” And she passed. In short order, she moved into a supervisor’s position, then assistant manager and, in the spring, she was made manager.

Her quick promotions were made possible in part because she would simply assume each position as a vacancy materialized. Where there was a door to opportunity, she walked through it.

When some Asian executives from Exxon were staying at the Inn, they were surprised to see Sauter, an Asian herself, managing the premises. They asked where they could get some great Chinese food. She unabashedly told them only at her house. Intrigued, they asked if she would prepare a Chinese meal for them. After checking with the food and beverage manager, she invaded the chef’s domain and rustled up an authentic Chinese meal.

Pleased and impressed, the Exxon brass often returns–and requests Sauter’s cuisine. While most chefs would be insulted to be pushed aside, Sauter’s chefs were not. Instead they asked her to teach them how to prepare the meals. She agreed.

As excited as Sauter is with her advancement at Harrison, and the obvious room for growth, her primary goal is still to run a restaurant. So when a friend living in Las Cruces, New Mexico, recently told Sauter about a two-year-old restaurant that was up for sale, Sauter didn’t hesitate for long. Although she didn’t like the idea of uprooting her family yet again, Charles and the children were all for it. The harmony was correct, so Sauter took a deep breath and raised $300,000 through private financing to purchase the restaurant. In September, the Oriental Fortune Cookie opens and Sauter will be the only one in charge.

luxury fengshui

Feng shui teaching

Posted by vedic on 26th June 2013 in Feng Shui

Feng shui teachings trace back 2,000 years, and are still central in Asian cultures, where many people wouldn’t consider a move without first consulting a feng shui practitioner. In fact, Hong Kong’s first chief executive under Chinese rule, Tung Cheehwa, recently declined two generous offers of buildings for his government headquarters because his feng shui master disapproved.

In the United States, feng shui has only started to catch on in the past couple of years, says Nancilee Wydra, cofounder of the Feng Shui Institute of America in Wabasso, FL. She reports that about 15 of the 60 or so e-mail messages the institute receives a day are from businesspeople.

Basic feng shui teaches the placement of objects so that energy flow is controlled or unobstructed, just as you wouldn’t put a table in the middle of a pathway where people will bump into it or have to pause to get around it. “All good design incorporates feng shui principles,” says Rebeccah Moore, environmental designer at Moore Creative in St. Louis Park, MN. “Feng shui is not about hanging a firecracker over your door. It is based on practical human psychology.”

For instance, when a team seems disconnected and is having trouble working together, Moore may design a floor treatment in tile or carpet that connects the offices. Or she may use one color to distinguish a department or team. To the untrained eye, this may be just pretty design. But it also serves the feng shui purpose of allowing the energy to flow from office to office, connecting the team.

“It’s important that a person actually feels the energy,” says Laurence. “It’s like when you rearrange your furniture in your home and it just feels right. It works on that level, but it works on a transcendental level, as well.” The transcendental level uses objects to activate energy in one of the areas of the bagua.

A bagua is an octagonal chart that maps out the eight aspects of life, assigning each aspect a corresponding color, element, number and direction. A feng shui practitioner determines which aspect of the chart needs to have its energy activated. At a Long Island advertising agency that wanted to become better known, Laurence used crystals to activate the fame section of the bagua. Of course, in some more traditional corporations you just can’t hang crystals, she admits. In those situations she looks for other ways to activate the energy or ch’i, such as displaying a crystal vase to reflect light.

Which ch’i to activate depends in part on the organization’s intentions, Laurence says. If you want to show corporate growth, for example, you can use an upwardly growing plant. But never display a hanging plant or a dying plant – that suggests downward growth or a company about to go bankrupt.

One note of caution: Don’t take it upon yourself to remove that beam above your desk that is weighing on your spirit. You may suddenly find yourself under a new kind of office pressure.


The Healing Power of Gemstones

Posted by vedic on 16th March 2013 in General Topics

Certainly the most insidious aspect of the current occult boom concerns the sleazy marketing of semiprecious gems, particularly quartz crystals, which purportedly do everything from heal sexual impotence to improve auto gas mileage. Amid the insipid self-styled authorities on this subject and their mounting plethora of pulp publications, Harish Johari’s most recent work rests in serious scholarship and a lifelong devotion to his own native ancient traditions of alchemical tantra, Hindu astrology, and ayurveda.

He begins with a quasi-scientific examination of geology, astronomy, and human physiology in order to provide some rational basis for further discussion on the practical use of precious and semi-precious stones. Then follows a most intriguing survey of mythological references to the origin and deeper nature of gems. Excerpts from numerous Sanskrit scriptures, many provided in translation along with their classic Devanagari script, support the arcane belief in the utility of stones, pearls, and coral to alter the course of human destiny.

The bulk of this text considers the nine planetary gems: ruby (Sun), pearl (Moon), coral (Mars), emerald (Mercury), yellow sapphire (Jupiter), diamond (Venus), blue sapphire (Saturn), hessonite (Rahu), and cat’s eye (Ketu). Separate chapters devoted to each of these materials explicate their scientific, mythic, and occult properties. Descriptions of stone quality, flaws, identification, and sources as well as detailed rituals that include mantras and yantras for preparation and wearing of particular gems qualify this work as a most exhaustive study.

Outlines on the medicinal value of precious stones entail the actual alchemical lab bench techniques for preparing therapeutic gem oxides and pastes. Copious tables, charts, diagrams, and scriptural annotations, which have become the author’s trademarks, remain rigidly faithful to traditional sources. The final chapter, “Healing with Gemstones,” surveys in meticulous detail the fabrication of various gem amulets.

Harish Johari, who once served as guide to Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) during his initial excursion into mystical India, combines the talents of a true renaissance man. He has distinguished himself as a poet, sculptor,  and musician and holds degrees in philosophy and literature from Agra and Lucknow Universities.  Yet his family name Johari refers literally to “the one who knows about jawhart (gems).”

Serious mystics often disdain a fascination with gems as yet another variety of spiritual materialism, a decadent diversion from or substitute for the more laborious process of contemplative discipline and self transformation. Yet Johari’s accounts lend much credibility to the case for jewelry as a useful adjunct to the more conventional methods of spiritual practice. JOSEPH CAEZZA has recently undertaken an extended pilgrimage to India.

I am pretty interested in astrology, it plays very important role in my life, i even get my room decocated with some cheap canvas wall art of nine planetary gems.  I belive gemstones have amazing healing power.




Indian astrology is more complex than Western astrology

Posted by vedic on 8th March 2013 in General Topics

Indian astrology is more complex than Western astrology, with countless authoritative aphorisms to cover every possible situation. Indeed, the few Western authors who have described it for Western use have typically required decades of study before proceeding. But as one of them has noted: “This is of course natural for a society over 6,000 years old whose elders have not only employed astrology but embraced it” (Braha 1986, x).
And there is no Western equivalent to the ways in which those authoritative aphorisms can be modified via suitably chosen amulets, mantras, colors, gemstones (yellow or blue sapphire is said to strengthen Jupiter or Saturn, respectively), and by performing yajnas (a spiritual ceremony involving offerings to fire performed by a Hindu priest). Ironically these modifications specified by the astrologer are essentially fatalistic ways of achieving non-fatalistic outcomes.

Miraculous Nadis

Indian Nadi astrology has many variations, but if any of them worked it would be a miracle. Nadi astrologers, when approached by a client, are found to have a huge collection of horoscopes on ancient palm leaves, one of which turns out to be the client’s. But a little thinking shows that it is not as miraculous as it may seem. Consider the following scenario.

After providing birth details during the first visit, the client is asked to return a few days later on the pretext that it will take time to find his horoscope among the thousands held by the astrologer. While the client is away, the astrologer, based on the information supplied by the client, writes his or her horoscope on a fresh palm leaf and soaks it in a slurry of coconut kernels and mango bark, both of which are rich in tannin. This gives the palm leaf an ancient look (Premanand et al. 1993, 331). During the second visit the client is appropriately impressed that his/her horoscope turned up after so many centuries.


Electronic Destinies

In 1984, the first companies to offer computerized horoscopes appeared in India, seventeen years after they had started business in Europe. In twenty minutes (today, in just a few seconds) they could do the calculations that previously took three months. A computer horoscope may cost twenty-five rupees (about fifty cents) for an ordinary one and fifty rupees (about $1) for a longer one, more in big cities or air-conditioned centers. Predictions cost up to 500 rupees depending on the number of years ahead (Rao 2000, 147). (3) Many websites offer free horoscopes; see, for example,

As in the West, Indian astrologers immediately complained that the computer was devoid of intuition and experience, and did not meet their clients’ need to talk and vent their feelings. Indeed, about two decades ago an educated young man committed suicide after a computer horoscope predicted total failure in everything he did (Premanand et al. 1993, 307). Nevertheless, as in the West, computer horoscopes seem here to stay.

In 1989, I was showing a visitor around my newly established astronomy center in Pune. At that time we had just set up our new computer and I explained its capabilities to the visitor. At the end, I waited for any questions she may have had. Yes, she did have a question: “Does this computer cast horoscopes?”

The Ultimate Accolade

The lobby for Indian astrology had its crowning glory when, in February 2001, the University Grants Commission (UGC) decided to provide funds for BSc and MSc courses in astrology at Indian universities. Its circular stated: “There is urgent need to rejuvenate the science of Vedic Astrology in India … and to provide opportunities to get this important science exported to the world.” Actually, the phrase Vedic Astrology is an oxymoron since the prefix Vedic has nothing to do with the Vedas, the ancient and sacred literature of the Hindus, which do not mention astrology. In fact, scholars agree that the usual planetary astrology came to India with the Greeks who had visited India since Alexander’s campaign in the third century BC.

Within nine months of the UGC’s announcement, forty-five of India’s 200 universities had applied for the UGC grants of 1.5 million rupees (about $30,000) to establish departments of astrology. Of these, twenty were accepted (Siddhanta 2001, 2). To those Indians who believe that astrological considerations influence the course of their business and family lives–and this category includes leaders of major political parties–the UGC’s decision might seem sensible if overdue.

But the decision provoked outrage among India’s academics, especially those in the science faculties. More than 100 scientists and 300 social scientists wrote in protest to the government. Of the thirty letters-to-the-editor that appeared in the Indian science journal Current Science, most of them from scientists in university departments or research institutes, about half dismissed astrology as a pseudoscience, and a quarter felt that decisive tests were needed. Against this, the rest felt there was nothing wrong with funding something that most Indian people believe in. But the protests were without effect because, in Indian law, Vedic astrology is seen as a scientific discipline.

Nevertheless, in 2004, several scientists asked the Andhra Pradesh High Court to stop the UGC from funding courses in Vedic astrology because it was a pseudoscience, it would impose Hindu beliefs on the education system, (4) and it would reduce the funds available for genuine scientific research. However, the court dismissed their case on the grounds that it was not correct for a court to interfere with a UGC decision that did not violate Indian law.

In 2011, an appeal under the act that bans false advertising was made to the Mumbai High Court. It was dismissed by the court arguing that the act “does not cover astrology and related sciences. Astrology is a trusted science and [has been] practiced for over 4000 years….” (as reported in The Times of India February 3, 2011).

Failed Predictions

To justify calling it a science, astrology must fulfil the basic requirement of a scientific theory–it must make testable and correct predictions. Here the performance of astrology in predicting the results of events has been very poor. The nearest we have are follow-ups to predictions of public events such as elections, where failure is the norm. For example, the elections in 1971 were a showdown between Indira Gandhi and her political opponents. The Astrological Magazine was filled with predictions by amateurs and professionals, most of whom predicted that Gandhi would lose. In fact, she won with an overwhelming majority.

The 1980 elections attracted another frenzy of predictions, most of which saw Gandhi losing. For example B.V. Raman (whom I discussed earlier), in a rare departure from his usual vagueness, predicted that Gandhi’s efforts to regain office “may misfire. Her ability to influence the Government will be disconcertingly limited in effectiveness” and the outcome “may not see a stable Government.” An Indian horary astrologer (one who answers questions) predicted that Gandhi “can never become the Prime Minister.” However, she won with a huge majority, was prime minister, and formed a very stable government.

Also in 1980, at a large international conference organized by the Indian Astrologers Federation, both the president and secretary of the Federation predicted a war with Pakistan in 1982, which India would win, and a world war between 1982 and 1984. All wrong! These examples and many more are given by Rao (2000,113-122), who notes that no astrologer predicted Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, and that the golden rule seems to be “predict only those things which please the listener’s ego.” (5)

Lack of Criticism

In the West, books critical of astrology are not hard to find, but in India the reverse is true. Some excellent books exist, such as Premanand et al. (1993) and Rao (2000), but all are hampered by a lack of Indian tests with which to counter true believers. Even Current Science had to wait until Manoj Komath’s (2009) review, which drew heavily on Western sources such as the critical but user-friendly Unfortunately, given the low level of income and high level of illiteracy of the masses, web sources may not be very effective in general.

UGC’s funding of astrology might have been justifiable had Indian astrology ever been a source of new knowledge (it hadn’t; see Siddhanta 2001, 13), or if its modus operandi had been verified by controlled tests. But unlike astrology in the West, where several hundred controlled tests have found no support commensurate with its claims (Dean 2007), astrology in India had hitherto been without controlled tests, even though its focus on predicting yes/no events would make testing easy. (6) I will now describe a controlled test that my colleagues and I conducted recently.

Our Experiment

Our experiment was performed in the university city of Pune (formerly Poona) about 160 km (100 miles) southeast of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) in the state of Maharashtra, which is the second-largest in population and third-largest in area of India’s twenty-five states. Pune itself has a population of about 3.5 million.

For the experiment I was assisted by Professor Sudhakar Kunte from the Department of Statistics at Pune University, Narendra Dabholkar from the Committee for the Eradication of Superstitions, and Prakash Ghatpande a former professional astrologer who has subsequently turned into a critic of astrology.

Indian astrologers claim that they are able to tell intelligence from a person’s horoscope. So volunteers from the Committee for the Eradication of Superstitions went to different schools and collected the names of teenage school children rated by their teachers as mentally bright. They also collected names from special schools for the mentally handicapped. The destinies of these cases could hardly be more different, so they were ideal for testing the above claim. From the collected data we selected 100 bright and 100 mentally handicapped cases whose age distribution is shown below.


Birth details were obtained from their parents because birth certificates are rare in India. Professional Indian astrologers routinely assume that birth details provided by parents are correct, so our procedure followed the norm. Each horoscope (birth chart) was calculated by one of us (PG) using commercial astrological software. All horoscopes were coded and stored in safe custody by Professor Kunte at Pune University, so that neither the experimenters (our group of four) nor the astrologers could know the identities of the individuals.


We announced our experiment at a press conference in Pune May 12, 2008, and invited practicing astrologers to take part. We explained that each participant would be given forty horoscopes drawn at random from our set of 200 and would have to judge whether their owners were mentally bright or handicapped. We also invited established astrological organizations to take part, for which they would be given all 200 horoscopes, a respectably large sample size.

The press conference, which was reported in almost all local and regional newspapers, proved to be an efficient way to reach astrologers. Within a few days we received about 150 telephone calls from astrologers all over Maharashtra expressing interest. We asked them to send us their names, experience, and method of prediction used, together with a stamped self-addressed envelope for mailing the forty horoscopes. They were then allowed one month for making their judgments. In due course, fifty-one astrologers asked for horoscopes, of which twenty-seven from all over Maharashtra sent back their judgments. The rest did not tell us why they chose not to participate.


Astrologers from the Pune and Maharashtra astrological societies expressed concern that, because the data had been collected by skeptics, the experiment would be biased. We assured them that the skepticism of data collectors had no active role in running the experiment, and that the experiment was of the double-blind kind to make sure it was entirely fair. But they were not convinced, and tried (unsuccessfully) to dissuade other astrologers from participating.

A month later, at a Pune astrological seminar, we explained that tests, indeed many tests, are necessary if astrology is to establish itself as a science. The organizer then said he could provide a set of ten rules that would tell whether a horoscope’s owner was mentally bright or handicapped, and urged the astrologers present to participate in our experiment.

In India, leading astrologers have their own astrological organizations, and so we wrote to those on our list (about a dozen) inviting them to judge all 200 horoscopes. Two responded with expressions of interest, of which one sent in its judgment. The other remained silent.

An Interesting Sub-Test

Although the Maharashtra Astrological Society had urged astrologers to boycott our experiment, its president kept meeting with us. Among other things he gave us a rule for predicting sex and another rule for predicting intelligence, both of which he claimed were correct in 60 percent of cases. But when applied to our set of 200 horoscopes, the predictions were respectively 47 and 50 percent correct, which offers no advantage over pure guessing or tossing a coin.

Results of Our Main Test

Of the twenty-seven astrologers who participated, not all provided personal details, but fifteen were hobbyists, eight were professionals, nine had up to ten years of experience, and seventeen had more than ten years of experience. So they clearly formed a competent group. Their average experience was fourteen years.

If the astrologers could tell intelligence from a person’s horoscope, they would score at least twenty-eight hits out of forty. In fact the highest score was of twenty-four hits by a single astrologer followed by twenty-two hits (by two astrologers). The remaining twenty-four astrologers all scored twenty hits or less, including one professional astrologer who found thirty-seven intelligent and three undecided (so none were mentally handicapped!), of which seventeen were correct. The average for all twenty-seven astrologers was 17.25 hits, less than the twenty expected by chance (e.g., coin tossing) and well within the difference of [+ or -] 3.16 needed to be statistically significant at p = 0.05. So much for the benefits of their average fourteen years of experience! Certainly no scientific theory would survive such a poor success rate!

The institution whose team of astrologers had judged all 200 horoscopes got 102 hits, of which fifty-one were bright and fifty-one were mentally handicapped, so their judgments were, again, no better than tossing a coin.

Tragically, our statistician, Sudhakar Kunte, died in an accident in 2011, and the security he imposed on data storage has so far made it difficult for us to perform further tests, such as whether the astrologers agreed on their judgments, whether they could pick high IQ better than low, and whether the three astrological methods used (Nirayan, Sayan, Krishnamurty) differed in success rate. We hope that the access to this data will eventually be possible.

Only two tests of Western astrologers have involved the judgment of intelligence. In Clark (1961) twenty astrologers averaged 72 percent hits for ten cases of high IQ paired with cerebral palsy, but this famous result could not be replicated by Joseph (1975), where twenty-three astrologers averaged only 53 percent hits for ten cases of high IQ when paired with the severely mentally handicapped. In any case the sampling error associated with N = 10 is more than enough to explain both results, which is consistent with the dozens of other tests that have been made of Western astrology (Dean 2007). It is also consistent with the few tests of Western astrologers who practice Vedic astrology, for example Dudley (1995).


Our experiment with twenty-seven Indian astrologers judging forty horoscopes each, and a team of astrologers judging 200 horoscopes, showed that none were able to tell bright children from mentally handicapped children better than chance. Our results contradict the claims of Indian astrologers and are consistent with the many tests of Western astrologers. In summary, our results are firmly against Indian astrology being considered as a science.


The Department of Statistics, Pune University, and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, provided infrastructural support while this experiment was being conducted. A brief account appeared in Current Science 96(5), 641-643, 2009. My special thanks to Geoffrey Dean of Perth, Western Australia, for providing information on tests of Western astrology as well as giving me a general background of astrology in the West versus the East.


Origin of Astrology

Indian Astrology

Posted by vedic on 4th March 2013 in General Topics

In the world of astrology, India has many claims to fame. It has an astrology fundamentally different from both Chinese and Western astrology,  possibly more part- and full-time astrologers than in the rest of- the world put together, and the world’s longest-running English astrological monthly (The Astrological Magazine 1895-2007). Its main government funding agency, the University Grants Commission, provides support for BSc and MSc courses in astrology in Indian universities. And as for the general public, one finds almost universal belief in it.

Indian astronomer and astrology critic Balachandra Rao (2000, 149) notes: “The belief in astrology among our masses is so deep that for every trivial decision in their personal lives–like whether to apply for a job or not–they readily rush to the astrologers with their horoscopes.” Likewise, many will consult an astrologer to ensure their marriage date will be auspicious. In 1963, the astrologer’s advice, for example, led to a postponement of the wedding of the Crown Prince of Sikkim by a year. A day seen as generally auspicious can thus lead to a large number of weddings taking place, putting severe pressure on facilities like wedding halls, caterers, etc.

Prediction of Events

Western astrologers are generally taught that astrology is nonfatalistic and therefore not a good bet for predicting events. Indian astrologers hold the opposite view, and every astrologer worthy of the name must be able to make such forecasts. Unfortunately, these predictions do not carry any controls. For example, B.V. Raman (1912-1998), publisher-editor of The Astrological Magazine, wrote that “when Saturn was in Aries in 1939 England had to declare war against Germany” (note the fatalism) in a work intended “to present a case for astrology” (Raman 1992, 119). However, this reasoning fails to notice that Saturn was also in Aries in 1909 and 1968 when nothing much happened other than overseas state visits by Edward VII and Elizabeth II, respectively.

Indian astrologers often make extreme claims about Indian astronomy, as when The Astrological Magazine for March 1984 claimed Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto had been discovered around 500 BC (Rao 2000, 36). But their claims about Indian astrology tend to be even more extreme, as in the August 25,2003, Indian Express wherein Raj Baldev, who claimed to be “an authority on the subject of Astronomy, Astrology, Cosmo-Mathematics and Metaphysics” said that ancient Hindu astrology “is a complete science” where even one million billionth of a second “makes a lot of difference.”
Skeptics might wonder at this, since it implies that the shadows cast on ancient sundials were routinely positioned to better accuracy than a hundred millionth of the diameter of an atom. Even at night. Can we believe it?


Your “Personal Year” for 2011

Posted by vedic on 20th February 2013 in General Topics

Within the exciting world of numerology, each number is equated with differing frequencies and attractions that ultimately affect us on a personal and even global level. There are myriads of calculations one can do (e.g. life path, expression, soul, karma, etc.), but as we are stepping into the shocking waters of 2011, it’s incredibly important for us to understand what this present year of our life means.

Your Personal Year (PY) is the given vibration of the current calendar year that affects given life situations and events you will come across. Numerologists believe that each year of your life is part of a general cycle composed of nine distinct years, each with its own overall unique pattern connected to it. Have you ever noticed some years you feel restless and want to change your life completely, while the next you are content to stay settled and focus on your immediate environment? Or what about those years when nothing seems to be within your control and you have to let go of so much with which you previously assumed would remain a permanent fixture in your life path. You can partially thank the numerical influence of the PY!

Once you recognize your numerical vibration for the year, you can work with the characteristics of this frequency as to receive its benefits. Your PY’s rhythm is based on the vibrations of 1 – 9. Starting annually January 1st, you work through one of the nine PYs as it runs concurrently. Once you hit new years eve on December 31st, get ready to begin your next PY (and note, if you are in a 9 year, then the next year you will enter a 1 PY).

In addition, there is also the Universal Year (UY) describing the general planetary vibrations during the entire year. This is quite simple to calculate: you just add the numbers of the current year and reduce it to a single digit. For instance, 2011 → 2 + 0 + 0 + 1 = 4 UY. Numerologists describe the 4 UY as “foundational” since 2011 is the base and structure on which, at least, the next 5 years of our lives will rely on. If we build a weak foundation, then the consequences may unfortunately lead to much dissolution.

Once you know the Universal Year, you are ready to calculate your Personal Year. To figure this out, just add your month and day of birth to the current Universal Year. As an example, consider breakout artist Nicki Minaj: She was born December 8, so her PY is → (1 + 2 = 3) + (8) + ( 2 + 0 + 1 + 1 = 4) = 6 PY.

This works well for Minaj since creative endeavors are often favored during a 6 PY. She will find herself multi-tasking through the various responsibilities and demands in her life, but with more ease than other years have allowed.
Now it’s your turn – all you have to do is calculate:

Birth Month + Day of Birth + Universal Year = Personal Year

These are some key phrases for each year:
1 PY = beginnings, opportunities, strategy, rebirth, renewal
2 PY = relationships, partnership, balance, harmony
3 PY = creativity, abundance, power, encouragement, joy
4 PY = patience, honesty, maturity, leadership, authority
5 PY = movement, diversity, education
6 PY = maturity, family, serenity, wisdom, structure
7 PY = peace, contemplation, consciousness, wisdom
8 PY = victory, honor, pride, power, authority
9 PY = endings, freedom, change, recognition

If you’re calculation is reduced to a “Master Number” of 11 or 22 it’s always a good idea to look at both the Master Number and regular number, since you will likely feel the influence of both.



The Sun, Moon & Your Astrological Identity

Posted by vedic on 19th February 2013 in General Topics

When we think “zodiac,” we usually only consider our “Sun Sign.” This is definitely a major facet in your astrological makeup and whichever sign the Sun was in at your time of birth is the easiest to discover. However, it is important to remember that your Sun Sign is only one part of your horoscope, and your astrological identity.

Your “horoscope” is a blueprint of your personality and character indicated by the exact position of the Sun, the Moon and the eight planets of our solar system based on the date, time and location of your birth. If you choose to have a personal astrological reading, your astrologer will interpret and synthesize your natal birth chart so you can use your unique blueprint as a handy tool-guide. Essentially, astrology offers useful indications, pointers and insights into your personality, in addition to “forecasting” conditions you may come across in your life. Astrology will never tell you exactly who you are or what you should do, but by understanding the how the heavenly bodies above correspond with your life, you are in a better position to decide, for yourself, how to react and respond below on earth.

The “body and soul” of the horoscope are the Sun and Moon, while the “antennae and arms” are the eight other planets in our Solar System. Thus, all planetary vibrations must be considered in light of the Sun and Moon, for together, this is your character and your basic nature that the other heavenly bodies enhance or modify. Indeed, these planets can have profound influences on your life, but they will never cause you to act counter to the combined influence of Solar-Lunar makeup.

The Sun, in many ways, is the dominant force in your horoscope and your life. Like its vibrant rays shining down upon us, your “Sun Sign” indicates your appearance before the world and the psychological biases that dominate your actions. The Sun’s position by sign determines what motives and urges govern your life. When discovering the signs of Moon and the other eight planets, one must always keep in mind the basic influence of the Sun, insofar as these other influences play a visible role in your life. The Sun is what you are, and to be your “best self” in terms of your Sun is to have your own energy work along the path in which they receive maximum help from the other planetary vibrations in your horoscope.

Your Moon sign, on the other hand, illustrates the desires of your heart and inner world. What you “feel,” your moods, and whether or not you can easily express this in our physical world is a product of the Moon’s position during your birth. In other words, the Moon’s position by sign reflects your subconscious mind and your emotional biases – how you express your feelings. Moreover, the Moon influences how we assimilate the outer world and where one is. This area of your chart illustrates your emotional changeability and how to best handle the stepping-stones you will come across in your life.

[To calculate your moon sign, you will need your birth time and location – if you do not know your exact birth time – you can still figure out your Moon Sign, though it would be best to find out a general time during the day your were born, since the Moon goes through all twelve zodiac signs within a 28 day period. I like this website for calculating your Moon Sign. However, I like to use Café Astrology’s interpretation of the Moon in the Signs.]

Ultimately, the Sun and Moon together form a team. The Moon has a critical bearing on your personality and temperament, explaining how one emotionally handles the characteristics and traits indicated by your Sun Sign. The Sun’s vitality is equally important Moon’s governance over your life. The Moon’s position modulates the Sun, and for some people, they may express more Moon Sign qualities than that of their Sun Sign. Ultimately though, by understanding the combined energy of the Sun and Moon, you can gain a richer and fuller sense of who you are and how you can best handle what is yet to come.