When Lord Louis Mountbatten announced that India would become independent on 15th August, 1947, most people were thrilled except one community: astrologers.
In their seminal work, Freedom at Midnight, authors Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins write that astrologers all over the country went into a tizzy when they heard about the date of India’s independence.
Some astrologers even argued that India “would be better advised to tolerate the British one day longer rather than risk eternal damnation.”
The authors give the example of a Calcutta (now Kolkata) based Swamin Madamanand who did India’s astrological charts based on the date and was extremely alarmed by what he saw.
“..that day would be passed under the influence of Saturn, a notably inauspicious planet, dominated by Rahu, scornfully labelled by astrologers ‘the star with no neck’, a celestial body whose manifestations are almost wholly malign. From midnight, 14 August throughout 15 August, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus all lie in the most accursed site of the heavens, the ninth house of Karmstahn.,” writes the book.
Looking at this chart, the astrologer apparently exclaimed: “What have they done? What have they done?”
He then shot off a letter to Mountbatten. “For the love of God,” he wrote. “Do not give India her independence on 15 August. If floods, droughts, famine and massacres follow, it will because India was born on a day cursed by the stars.”
Of course, Mountbatten did not take heed of the astrologer. India became independent on 15th August, 1947.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
(Lessons from History is our series which looks at interesting, fascinating nuggets from Indian and world history)