ASI’s 3 Astronomical Errors About Sadhguru’s Statements
Come Mahashivratri every year and Pseudo-rationalists across the country have a field day condemning every small thing about Isha Foundation and its founder Sadhguru. This year was no different, but the twist was a tweet posted by the Outreach wing of Astronomical Society of India (ASI).
This is the video that is being interpreted (or misinterpreted as one will see later):
What Sadhguru actually has ACTUALLY said in the video:
“Mahashivratri has something to do with the astronomical phase of the planet. This planet is a part of a larger family that we call as solar system. That is a part of a larger family that we call galaxies, cosmos, whatever names and names. But essentially, there is nothing happening here in an unrelated way. So, we understand that at certain times, at certain positions, the planet behaves in a certain way. And we have figured out what phases of the planet are most advantageous to us. In that context, Mahashivratri…”
As a counter to the video and Sadhguru’s tweet, the Outreach wing of ASI responds like this on Twitter in a thread:
“Mahashivratri has NOTHING to do with astronomical phase of the planet. In fact, astronomical phase of the planet is not even a real thing. No special astronomical alignment happens on this day. Do not, even for a moment, believe the pseudoscience peddled by Sadhguru”
It is a noble intention to highlight that there is something wrong with someone’s statements. But such a rude response to a simple video seemed unwarranted and so I dug deeper into it.
Let’s look at what 3 things the ASI missed fundamentally in the video.
#1: Terminology of “Astronomical phase”
The traditional Indian calendar has been following both the lunar and solar cycles. For those who do not know this, the traditional astrological calendars of India still are able to define the Amavasya (New Moon) and Pournami (Full moon) with close to precision based on the lunar & solar cycles, without using any telescopes.
Sadhguru is talking about 12 to 13 Shivratris in a year. Shivratri is the day before Amavasya, which is the new moon day of the lunar month.
How is the day before New Moon day not related to astronomy when New Moon day itself is related to the field of Astronomy? This confounded me. The Earth is in a certain alignment with the sun and the moon. So, there seemed nothing wrong in calling it as the astronomical phase of the planet.
Was the ASI completely wrong in making their counter-statement? I gave them the benefit of doubt first and went through some books and websites on astronomy. Then it struck me that they perhaps interpreted Sadhguru’s statement as meaning the astronomy term ‘phase’.
In astronomy, phase (at least in the solar system) is interpreted as the position at which an astronomical body, like the moon, is perceived with relation to Sun and Earth. One can look up these details on websites like this..
Moon Phases 2020 - Lunar Calendar for Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
The Moon phase calculator shows exact times of the various moon phases for Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India in year 2020…
Now that this became clear, I could see why the ASI misinterpreted the simple english ‘phase’ with astronomy ‘phase’.
My advise to the folks there is not watch too much of ‘Big Bang Theory’ and become like Sheldon Cooper who cannot interpret simple sentences without scientifically analysing it.
I am a big fan of the show myself and laugh at many of the jokes, but the series itself is supposed to remind you that there is more to life than just scientific interpretations.
#2: No special alignment happens
Then the ASI also said that there is no special astronomical alignment that happens on this day.
SHOCKINGLY WRONG — in fact, it is because of special alignment of the astronomical bodies of sun, moon and earth only, the whole concept of NEW MOON or AMAVASYA happens. This is simple school-level knowledge of science.
If Amavasya or the New Moon day happens due to a specific astronomical alignment of these entities, it is very obvious that the day before Amavasya — Shivratri — is also definitely a specific astronomical alignment of the planet. For that matter, every single day in the life of Earth sees a specific astronomical alignment.
For the folks at ASI, looking through their telescopes daily, nothing might appear special. For ordinary folks like me, every single day that I am alive and that the Earth is still spinning properly, makes it definitely special.
Then ASI folks go on to say:
“the earth’s location w.r.t. sun and stars is not the same every year’s mahashivratri”
Whoa — hold on, hold on.
Did Sadhguru ever in the video say that the position of earth and all the planets or stars is the same for every year during Mahashivratri?
Is it the way someone at ASI misread and misinterpreted on their own? Most likely … but such an authority should really check what was said really before hastily responding like this.
#3: No positive or negative energies
And finally, ASI tweets saying:
“There is no positive or negative energy flowing, because of any such planetary configuration. No scientific proof for it.”
Once again, Sadhguru did not talk about positive or negative energies at all in this video.
He simply said that the human energies are on a natural upsurge on that day.
It is very baffling to see why ASI is putting out a completely self-interpreted and misrepresented version of what Sadhguru has spoken and trying to rebut that.
This brings us to the more fundamental question of whether there is something called life energy in humans. Many spiritual paths, both in the east and in the west, have considered that there is some fundamental life energy that propels all life in the world. Is there any scientific proof for human energies to be existing? The very fact that we are alive is a proof in itself.
Now whether the life energies surge in a human being based on either some practices like yoga or even martial arts like kung-fu or on some days of the year, it is still a very much debated and under-research topic. Scientific research is very much in its nascent stages with respect to effects of yoga on human body.
To quote in a tone similar to the ASI, no scientist has conclusively proven that a surge in the human energies does not happen either.
So, what makes the ASI make such obviously biased statements? That is something for the agency to introspect, turning the telescopes on its own temperament, scientific and otherwise, before pointing towards the outside world.