Friday, May 29, 2009

Nadi Astrology (Jyosium)- Busted!

Nadi Astrology - have you heard of it?
The theory is that the Ancient Saints/Rishis through their power of mediation predicted the life of every one in India. This information is documented in Palm Leaves. A group of families living in a place called Vaitheswaran Koil in Tamilnadu have taken possession of these palm leaves, and they are secretly guarding this for the last 1000 years or so. For a small fee they would retrieve valuable information about you from their palm leaves collection!

The buid up from a Beleiver

I learned about this from one of my relatives who was a great follower of this. He told me that a Nadi Astrologer took his finger prints, and based on that he retrieved a bunch of palm leaves which provided a detailed description of his life. My relative showed me a little notebook where they have written his life history. My relative’s name, his age, his wife’s name, number of children, his father’s name etc were accurately written in that note book. The relative swore that he had never been to Vaitheswaran koil in his life and never met any one there. Still they managed to provide so much information about him.

My relative also told me that they gave him information about his Previous Birth. (How on earth would you verify that?) Apparently in his previous life, my relative had been a king (good for him!). But he seemed to have killed a child by poisoning the milk, and the sin has followed him to this present life. To clear his criminal history, he had to perform some special pujas. Without going into the details of the Pujas, it is suffice to say he spend around Rs15,000 towards remedy. God seemed to have amended his criminal records and every thing in life is Jolly good from that point.

I was curious about all this and wanted to get to the bottom of this. So I decided to find out myself. I asked my relative to take us to Vaitheswaran Koil.

The journey and the experience

We landed in Vaitheswaran koil. My relative led us through the narrow street filled with Nadi experts (this is the Wall Street of Vaitheswaran Koil). He took us to a Nadi Astrology center which was a traditional brick house. My relative spoke with the some one inside and we were told to pay the fee and wait outside in the veranda. After about 15 minutes wait, we were allotted a Nadi Reader. My brother aggreed to be their client, I decided to observe the proceedings.

The Nadi Reader initially took an impression of my brother’s thumb, and then disappeared into the back of the house. A few minutes later, he came back with a bunch of dusty palm leaves. He started reading (or blabbering) some thing in what he called as “ancient Tamil”. Even though I am a Tamilian, his so called “ancient Tamil” did not make any sense to me. He then asked a series of questions. My brother was supposed to answer “yes” or “no” to the questions. Apparently the reader was doing this to make sure he picks up the right bunch of palm leaves.

After a series of questions, he told us that it was not the right palm leaves bunch. He then went inside and took out another bunch of palm leaves and started asking questions again (Like: “are you named after any god?”, “your father has more than one child?” etc)

The cyclic sequence: Questioning>> disappearing to the back>> picking up a new bunch of palm leaf>> Questioning - went on for about one hour. After an hour the reader disappeared inside for about 15 minutes and came up with a bunch of palm leaves. He told us that he got the right palm leaf bunch. He started blabbering some thing again in what he called “ancient Tamil” . This time instead of asking questions, he told us the answers- my brother’s name, my father’s name etc.

I was not surprised this time, because by now I have figured out how exactly he managed to pull this trick.

The Logic
It is a variation of COLD READING. I will try to explain in other ways..

Have you ever played a guessing game? . It works as follows:

You will be part of a team consisting of 3 or 4 people. You will go to a person in an other team who will whisper something in your ear. You go and stand in front of your team, and your team mates will then ask a series of questions. You can only answer “yes” or “no”, and you cannot speak or give any other clue. Your team mates should find out what was whispered in your ears based on your “yes” or “no” answer.

If you have played this game, you will understand how the Nadi Reader predicted things about my brother. It is a matter of asking questions, and based on the response, you ask further questions to narrow down the answers.

During the initial stages, the Nadi Astrologer failed to get my Brother’s actual name (his actual or legal name is “Dilip Kumar” which is a north Indian name). Then some thing interesting happened, my mother started to associate the Astrologer’s questions to my brother’s spiritual name which is “Vaithyanathan”. After my mother started guiding the Nadi reader towards my brother’s spiritual name (without knowing of course), subconsciously both my mother and brother were cooperating with the Reader to make this work. To explain, look at the following questions and corresponding response:

“Are you named after a god?”
“Are you named after Vishnu”
“Are you named after Shiva”
“Does your name start with any of the following sounds: “ Ka,se, va (க, ச, வா )

If the above questions were associated with my brother’s legal name, then the answer to all the above questions should be “no”. But to make this work (subconsciously), my family was leading the Nadi Reader towards the spiritual name by answering yes.

The Nadi reader was not asking the questions in the above order to camouflage his technique. So he jumbles his questions around. For example his first question would be related to my brother’s name, the second question would be related to my father’s name, the third question will be related to my mother, and the fifth question will be related to my brother name, and so on.

I reconstructed the whole sequence of questions & answers later on and demonstrated how the Nadi reader established the facts about my brother. I also explained to my family how they volunteered more information in addition to the simple “yes” or “no’ during the process.

The Nadi reader regularly disappears from the room, during which I think he is passing on his clues to some one else. His inside accomplish deciphers the information and provides fresh set of questions, and then they narrow down the clues as they go further. Once they are satisfied that they have learned sufficient information, they compile it in one go to give you this magnificent effect - that the palm leaf bunch has every thing about you!

The Nadi reader showed us the palm leaf bunch that apparently contained my brother’s personal information. In the palm leaf, most of the writings did not make sense (did not resemble any thing similar to the Tamil alphabets that we read in school) except for my brother’s name which was clearly readable. For believers it gives some sense of authenticity (“hey it has got my name so that should be the right “).For a rational person it doesn’t make any sense. Why would the ancient palm leaf writers write the person's Name in modern Tamil but write the rest of the information in the so called ‘ancient Tamil”? .

I realised it would be a hell of a task for this guy to crack unusual names. If you have a name like “Jose Marina de Gonzalis” or “Marvin Attapattu” there is no chance in hell that you would get a Nadi Astrology prediction. I watched the Nadi Astrologer go through the same process with an other man (who looked like North Indian). After one hour of questioning, the Nadi Reader claimed that he couldn’t get the right palm leaf bunch. I figured out that they have failed to crack him. In the end the Nadi Reader gave up and told his customer that the palm leaves will only appear when the time is right!

Let me draw attention to the beginning of this article.
My relative told me this:
  • The Nadi Reader predicted his past based on reading from palm leaves
  • The palm leaves were retrieved from a simple thumb impression.
He did not tell me that we would go through one hour of rigorous questioning. Most of the people who had been to this Nadi Astrolgoy never mention the questioning process. When I ask them specifically about the questions they respond like “Oh yah, they asked a few questions to make sure they are picking up the right bunch of palm leaves”. I am surprised that an important element of the whole process goes unnoticed by the people who visit the Nadi center. It is what I call “Unconscious exaggeration”. When you believe in some thing, you only remember and analyse the things that support your belief. It is a classic case of believers in astrology- they filter information to support their faith and leave out other details which provide clue for an objective analysis. I don’t think the believers are doing it on purpose. It is self deception.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the whole Nadi Astrology was true and that the great Rishis in the past predicted the life story of fellow citizens. How many people’s life they predicted? No one knows.

Assume they predicted the life of say 100,000 people in India (it is less than 0.01% of the total population of India). Going by the data provided by the Nadi Astrologer, for each person they have around 72 pages worth of data. For a sample size of 1 Lakh people, you should have approximately 7.2million page worth of information. If the Great Rishis predicted some thing like this 1000 years back they should have predicted for more than 100,000 people (because you have to consider all the people who lived in India in the last 1000 years). So we are talking about billions and billions of pages worth of data. Even if you assume that the Nadi astrologer has a secret bunker where he is holding billions of palm leaves, there is one more problem. The palm leaves have limited life and you would have to transfer the information to a new set of leaves periodically to keep the information alive. This would require a massive workforce of full time palm leaf writers in industrial scale.
In a nut shell- Nadi Astrology - what a load of bull shit.
Post Script:
Some bleiver will tell me that they had a different experience. May be they were never questioned for one hour, may be they got the palm leaf stright away. May be every thing the Nadi Astrologer predicted came true.
Would that mean I went to a fraud and that is not the fault of Nadi Astrlogy? No, it that just means that the guy used a different technique! and you have not carried out an objective anlysis of his prediciton.

Here is a good clip form Sun TV. Exposing the Nadi leaves as fake.  They are not 1000 years old, they are made locally with some gibberish!

About Me

I am an Engineer by profession. Spritual and Anit-guru advice is my part time job!