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Foretelling the future

The Pioneer
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Paul may yet prove it's possible!

Since ancient times oracles and soothsayers have played a significant
role in shaping the course of events and, to that extent, history.
The Pharaohs had their high priests who would read a variety of signs
-- from stellar constellations to ripples in the Nile's deep blue
water -- and predict the future. If the signals were ominous, there
were corrective measures that could be taken, for instance
sacrificing an animal in the temple to please the gods. The Romans
were sticklers for checking out what soothsayers had to say and many
a Roman King -- and his Queen -- was given to abiding faith in what
we would now consider as no more than superstition. But apparently it
helped them survive palace intrigue and conspiracies hatched by those
eyeing the throne (and the riches in the treasury). Julius Caesar was
plain unlucky, or perhaps he had greater faith in Mark Antony than in
his soothsayer. The Greeks were given to rational thinking and logic,
but that did not prevent them from reading tea leaves or checking out
what the oracle had to say. Both Grecian history and mythology are
replete with examples of predictions coming true, often with terrible
consequences. Crystal ball gazing was fashionable in later centuries
in high society Europe which otherwise had nothing but scorn for
Gypsies. The Church, and later the Reformists, sought to stamp out
belief in the supernatural and superstition. As did those who led the
Renaissance in Bengal. Success was mixed: Many who publicly denounced
palmistry and astrology would secretly have their palms read and
astrologers predict their future (which, incidentally, is very common
with our politicians); others simply refused to be persuaded. The
modernists sniffed at the rest.

Yet, even in this age of declining faith in Europe where both young
and old are increasingly equating cynicism with modernism, an octopus
kept in a public aquarium has captured the popular imagination.
Referred to as 'Octopus oracle Paul', the mollusc has been the centre
of much attraction and excitement in Germany and beyond as he is
believed to have the 'supernatural power' to predict the German
team's performance in a match -- whether it will win or lose. And he
has been doing a fine job of it too. Apparently, he has erred in
foretelling the future only once, when he said the Germans would win
the European Championship final but the Spaniards scored the winning
goal. During the ongoing FIFA World Cup, however, Paul has been bang
on target: He foresaw the Argentinian team being shoved out by the
Germans. In the event, the Germans won the match 4:0, defying every
football enthusiast's prediction and leaving Maradona in tears (tough
men do cry!) last weekend. But to the dismay of Germans, Paul is not
too sure about the outcome of the semi-final match between Germany
and Spain on Wednesday; in fact, he has picked the Spaniards as his
favourite. Will he prove right? Or will it be the second error of his
life as a celebrity soothsayer?

More at:

Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi
Om Shanti

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