I firmly believe that astrology is unscientific, superstition and humbug. But I must admit it saved me once. And that too because my wife believes in it.
I have been lucky to have had a good wife, with whom I have been married for 45 years. She has taken care of me ( when it should have been the other way around ), and I do believe I would have perished long ago had it not been for her.
But she is a complete contrast to me in many ways. I am a firm atheist, she is deeply religious, I regard astrology as humbug, whereas she firmly believes in it.
But despite that, I am not such a fool as to quarrel with a person who has been taking care of me. So when she tells me to go with her to Hanuman ( or Rama or Krishna ) temple I do so. When she tells me to fold hands before Hanumanji, I do so. When she tells me to touch his feet, I do so. What do I lose by doing so ?
When I was a judge of Allahabad High Court, there was a retired govt. officer living in Allahabad who was also an astrologer. My wife had great faith in him, and one of my jobs, as a good husband, was to accompany her to the astrologer's residence, which I did many times.
It is that astrologer ( who is now dead ) who told me of the events mentioned below.
Atal Behari Vajpayee, who was then Prime Minister, would also regularly consult this astrologer whom my wife consulted.
Once something happened which so infuriated the then ' Loh Purush ' of BJP that he went after my blood, and was hell bent in getting me transferred to Sikkim, which would have effectively finished my career ( in theory our judiciary is independent, but in practice the govt.has a lot of influence in its functioning ).
Luckily for me it was Vajpayee, and not the Loh Purush, who was the Prime Minister, and Vajpayee consulted the astrologer about me. The astrologer spoke highly of me to Vajpayee, and this saved me.
Now let me tell you about what infuriated the Loh Purush against me.
It so happened that as an Allahabad High Court Judge I had repeatedly given judgments in favour of Muslims ( and this at a time when the BJP was in power in both the Centre and U.P. ).
Not that I am an 'appeaser' of Muslims. I am not in politics, so I do not seek Muslim votes. I have no desire to please Muslims. In fact I have often given them the danda ( over stupid, outdated customs like triple talaq and burqa and the outdated feudal sharia law ), just as I have often given Hindus the danda ( over caste system, cow protection, etc ).
But what I cannot stand is injustice or oppression to anyone, whether Hindu or Muslim or anyone.
I regard all religions as superstitions. Yet I am a strong supporter of freedom of religion. I believe that religion will die out gradually and be replaced by science, but that will take several generations. In the meantime one has to be patient. Any attempt to forcibly stamp out religion will be counter productive, as it will make people more bigoted.
For orthodox Muslims, Friday prayer ( Jumme ki namaz ) is important, and such namaz is usually offered in a mosque. But the state authorities of U.P. were not allowing Muslims to build mosques, even over their own land. There was no requirement in law to get permission for this from the District Magistrate, but the police insisted on getting such permission, and whenever any Muslim applied to the D.M. for permission, the application was promptly rejected. Consequently, on Fridays Muslims in Allahabad and elsewhere in U.P. were often seen offering namaz on the open streets.
This appeared to me as injustice to Muslims. I had seen Hanuman temples springing up overnight everywhere, often illegally and on public land, but Muslims were not being allowed to build mosques even legally on their own land.
So when a case came before me I held that the right of Muslims to build mosques on their own land is part of the freedom to practice religion guaranteed as a fundamental right by Article 25 of the Constitution. There was no legal requirement to take permission from the D.M. for this. Anyone interfering with this right will be severely punished.
In another case, Muslims were not being allowed by the police to take out the Muharram procession ( which is a practice more common to Shias ). I held that the Muslims have a fundamental right under Article 25 of the Constitution to take out the Muharram procession, though it could be regulated by the authorities so that there was no public inconvenience.
I gave several more such judgments in favour of Muslims, saying that this was a secular country, and everybody has a right to follow his religion.
Such judgments gave great relief to Muslims of U.P., but they created great anger among the bigoted Hindus, and evidently they conveyed their indignation and displeasure to the Loh Purush, who regarded himself as another Sardar Patel ( though in fact Sardar Patel was a Raja Bhoj, while the Loh Purush, who has now been cut down to size, was only a Gangu teli ).
The Loh Purush would definitely have done me great harm, but for my wife's astrologer.