Malgudi Days

An Astrologer's Day

Characters

Plot Summary

An Astrologer’s Day is about a con man posing as an astrologer. He works in the Town Hall Park along with other sellers. The astrologer always tells his customers the same couple of lines: ‘In many ways you are not getting the fullest results of your efforts,’ or ‘Is there any women in your family, maybe even a distant relative, who is not well disposed in your family?’ and other lines as well. At the end of a long day a man traveling from a distant town comes across the astrologer asking for help on figuring out who had tried to kill him. As the man was walking towards the astrologer a mysterious green light shines down on the two men. The man questioned the astrologer differently than all his other customers, and paid him less than he promised to. After the astrologer finished talking with the man, he gathers his goods and money and heads home to his greedy wife. The astrologer sits on his pyol and thinks about his time as a youngster in his town, when he realizes that he and his friends were the ones responsible for the man's near death experience.


Cultural Background

Jyotisha

The Hindu astrology system is called Jyotisha. Although the man in this story was not a real astrologer, there have been many astrologers and mathematicians who have predicted the future with near perfect accuracy. Jyothisha is an important part of Indian culture because it is described in the Hindu religious texts known as the Vedas. Specifically, Jyotisha is one of the six Vedangas in the Upnishads (an Hindu religious text). As a result of this close tie to religion, astrology has become very important in deciding any major life choices, such as starting a business or getting married. This gives a reason to why the astrologer gets so many clients who are successfully conned: they believe that they will get closer to the gods through the fake astrologer.

Life After Death

In Hinduism, the dogma that guides people's choices is the existence of karma. A bad deed would result in bad karma and a good deed would result in good karma. When the person dies, a person is reborn based upon his past life's karma. Karma accumulates over the past lives and this accumulated karma helps in deciding the status and fate in the next birth. This process continues until the soul attains a stage where only positive karma is there.This particular stage is called 'moksha' or salvation.

Meaning of the Work

Although the Astrologer gets away with his immoral behavior in his present life, his negative karma will punish him when he is reborn.

Quotes and Analysis

"In many ways you are not getting the fullest results of your efforts,’ or ‘Is there any women in your family, maybe even a distant relative, who is not well disposed in your family?" (10)

These are examples of his cons. He says the same things to all of his customers and tricks them into giving him money. This is an example of some immoral actions that he performs.

"Take the train and be gone. I see once again great danger to your life if you go from home." (12)

Another example of an immoral action is when the astrologer tricks Guru Nayak into returning home just to save his own skin. He does things for his own well being and is very selfish. He says this so that he will not have to face the wrath of Nayak.

"We drank, gambled and quarreled badly one day-- why think of it now? Time to sleep." (13)

This quote is spoken by the astrologer to his wife. It shows how the astrologer shows no remorse for his past actions, even stabbing a man in the chest. He does not care about what he did as long as he does not get caught for it. Although he did get away with it in his present life, he will be punished when he is reborn.

Bibliography

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"Picasa Web Albums - Jorge Royan." Picasa Web Albums - Jorge Royan. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.

Pillai, Rajesh. "Only Hinduism." Life After Death Explained ~. N.p., 25 Mar. 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.