Tracing the Will of the Stars: Indian Astrology and Divination About Natural Disasters and Threats
This research sets out to explore traditional Indian explanations of earthquakes and other natural disasters based on the mythological and religious semantics of primary Sanskrit sources. How were these natural phenomena embedded in cosmological and religious discourses? What role did the science of portents or unnatural occurrences play in traditional India? How were portents interpreted and their consequences counteracted? On what epistemological foundations were the applications of Indian astrology and divination grounded? Opposing the common assumption that astrology is merely an expression of archaic and degrading superstition, my research suggests that the Indian divination system as a cultural system lends human experience value and meaning. Thus cultivation of astrology in traditional Indian society should not be viewed in isolation from the timeless human impulse to contend with unpredictability. The Indian astrological system implies its own epistemological foundations that must be understood within the broader context of an Indian cultural and intellectual agenda. As a body of social and natural knowledge, divination developed both out of interest in prediction and control, and under the impetus of expedient preventive interest.