When I was little, Sundays were always a day to remember. Filled with afternoon intellectual science quizzes with Dad, surfing through mythological television shows with Grandma, and constructing sand castles with my brother. These were the times to remember, as well as the time to learn. Every Sunday we would take a break from regular toothpaste and make homemade toothpaste with pure mustard oil and salt granules. My Dad taught us the benefits of natural ingredients though all I really cared about was how good it tasted.
Twenty years later amid one of those “Kya aapke toothpaste mein namak hai?” (Does your toothpaste have salt in it?) commercials, I reminisced of the times when I used hing (asafoetida) for my upset stomach and ash to wash hands during camping trips. Salt in toothpastes, dirt and ash in soaps and beauty packs, everything is making a comeback.
Especially science in nature.
The first to take advantage of this were the big western conglomerates as they spread across metropolitan areas throughout India. Even though they earlier sold to us the idea of how their products, infused with chemicals and packaged in bright colors were the only way to go. According to them, their products were cleaner, more efficient and revolutionary against the ancient homeopathic ways of medicinal India. While there were definite improvements in our infrastructure and society through western integration and globalization, there were caveats to chemicals and cons to conformity.
Two sides of a coin
While Western science gave us modern medicine it created resistant strains of microorganisms, becoming increasingly elusive to contend against. It gave us faster means of transportation while slowly killing the planet that we live on. It gave us means to produce more food while polluting the very soil our food comes from. What else did western science get wrong? What else did it ignore or hide from the world to feed its capitalistic hunger? What else did our ancestors have right from the very beginning?
The three pillars of ancient Indian society – Ayurveda, Yoga and Astrology
The three aspects of life that humans have been attempting to illuminate are: Body, Mind and Soul.
The betterment of these three is what we have all been working towards since the hunter-gatherer era blossomed into its cycle of renaissances. Ancient India pioneered the movement in providing guiding tools for all its human counterparts to achieve the same. And it began with an insight into the body.
Ayurveda (Wellbeing of the body)
Ayurvedic disciplines sparked never before seen natural remedies for a plethora of bodily disorders as well as a systematic maintenance using products that didn’t come from a factory across the ocean, but in the soil and gardens of our Mother Earth. They worked slowly, steadily and permanently.
Yoga (Wellbeing of the mind)
Though we often think of health and wholeness as it pertains to our hearts and lungs and BMI, the yogis have always known that true wellbeing begins with the mind. Yoga as it has been accepted in todays definition in a spiritual and postural exercise and routine began back with the Vedas in meditation. A quintessential combination of oneness in mind as well as in body breathes back beyond the days of the yoga mat and into something much deeper within. Where one cannot exist without the other.
Astrology (Wellbeing of the soul)
The constructs of Indian astrology dates back to just after the onset of Yoga itself. Some say it is the keystone that unites the other two pillars together. Ancient Indian societies basking under zero light pollution skies and with zero dank memes to distract them, fled to the stars in the search for answers which can conclude the birth of Astrology. These pillars are the foundation upon which the holistic nature our ancestors had towards life as it stands today.
After decades of foreign ideologies attempting to harmonize our practice, Western science ultimately accepted its framework. Yoga, as we all know after initially being dismissed as an Eastern societal hocus-pocus has been accepted and proliferated across a growing global market. Repackaged and supplemented, split into various forms and fed to the masses as a new age, comprehensive and life-changing workout. The ayurvedic discipline itself has become a selling point through an incessant branding and though we are unable to escape its watered-down availability as a top shelf commodity, its accessibility speaks of the true constitution of its effectiveness.
The same principles of awareness and expansion apply to astrology. Struck across by many as a pseudoscience, countless followers throughout the world come to know the possibilities and fruits of the answers it provides.
Patterns in astrological texts were considered a scientific means from the Indus Valley to South East Asia and from Greek communities down to the Iberian peninsula for centuries. Even within the realm of the scientific method, ‘reality’ is more complicated than a simple yes or no.
Art and science can coexist
Astrology is considered as much an art as it is science by its practitioners as was by its founders. That must have been difficult to understand for western science which functions through highly linear argumentation. It was either ‘for this’ or ‘for that’ with which nonbelievers embezzled from us the freedom to be creative with our sciences.
For these highly developed ancient societies, it was often a blend of ‘this’ and ‘that’ which proved to be the most creative approach to science. It led the ancient societies of Sumeria, Egypt, Babylon into making such marvellous discoveries and breakthroughs that we still hold true today. The wheel, the sundial and the forge are a few of the fundamental examples that exist because of the artist’s experimentation, belief, and approach to reason.
Numerous sundials, temples and buildings were constructed to house worship and the study of the cosmos. The biggest example of this blend and balance between science and art is the conceptualisation and erection of the Pyramids of Giza. The capability to achieve the exactitude of their geocentric position, structural integrity and immense size of pyramids still baffles the experts when using sheer logic alone.
It cannot explain really how something so monumental could have been built thousands of years ago without modern knowledge and technology. Quite simply put, the cosmos dictated our lives for the ancient societies, so the stars and planets became Gods; an identity placed upon them to attribute their movements and interactions upon our chemical nature. The world was balanced just right.
Science wasn’t a strict set of rules that lacked imagination, it was a percentage of art and a percentage of common sense that brought about an equilibrium to the world. Not everything had to be broken down into systems and structures of rationale, somethings were just acquired because they worked, moulding the world into the world we have today.
Towards a better society
Just as ayurveda and yoga have helped hundreds of millions of people, the science of astrology has brought about the art of our coexistence with our cosmic identification of the elements.
Studying the night sky painstakingly and recording the patterns of celestial bodies is the science. Deducting the effect of these same celestial bodies on us is the craft. Astrology has the facility to aid awareness and make better informed decisions concerning our lives both now and in the times to come. If something helps humanity, it simply does!
It is now up to us to ask if we had got it right in the first place, to conduct the search both within and around. And like the Sundays constructing sandcastles with my brother, the pillars of our spiritual arts built within the sandbox of the scientific landscape has shaped the very world we live in.