[INDOLOGY] Indian criticisms of astrology?

Martin Gansten martin.gansten at pbhome.se
Fri Feb 3 15:58:23 UTC 2017

With apologies for cross-posting:

I should be interested to know if anyone is aware of Indian criticisms 
of astrology (particularly of the Hellenistic variety or /horāśāstra/, 
although earlier forms of divinatory /nakṣatravidyā /would also be 
relevant) and/or of divination generally, preferably criticisms 
formulated in the pre-Islamic era. I am familiar with the (relatively 
mild) censure of diviners found in the /dharmaśāstra/ literature, 
signalling the low social status of their occupation, but what I have in 
mind is criticism of the fundamental truth-claims of astrology -- 
basically, authors who claim that astrology (or divination generally) 
does not or cannot work.

Such criticism is often found in, say, Muslim or Christian contexts, but 
I have not so far encountered it in Sanskrit literature. Halbfass says 
in his /Karma und Wiedergeburt /that 'it can hardly be doubted' that the 
early stages of astrology in India saw a belief in an independent power 
of the stars to determine one's fate, not related to karma theory, but 
given the apparent lack of textual evidence I find it very easy to doubt 
this proposition. If astrology had presented a model of theodicy (using 
the term broadly) rivalling that of karma, I should have expected to see 
attacks on that model from proponents of many different schools. As it 
is, I am not aware of any astrological Sanskrit text proposing such an 
independent model, and indeed, even the earliest works seem explicitly 
to uphold the karma theory. But perhaps there are sources I have missed?

Martin Gansten
Lund University

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