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When the fortune cookie crumbled

On the day of Shani, a fortune-teller was the star of an up-and-down debate with rationalists here at one of the country's biggest scientific institutions. In a packed lecture theatre, where young doctors stood in the walkways and many waited outside, the man labelled black magic expert did mesmerise some and disenchant many.

chandigarh Updated: Sep 02, 2012 20:05 IST
Vishav Bharti

On the day of Shani, a fortune-teller was the star of an up-and-down debate with rationalists here at one of the country's biggest scientific institutions.


His faux pas of referring to the Higgs Boson particle as God discovered, his calling astrology a science, and his putting across his work as social service made the P Khurrana lecture an object of scorn, amusement, and a stormy debate on Saturday afternoon at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh.

In a packed lecture theatre, where young doctors stood in the walkways and many waited outside, the man labelled black magic expert did mesmerise some and disenchant many.

Khurrana began by putting down astrology as 70% accurate. Then he moved to the recent discovery of Higgs Boson subatomic particle (sometimes called God Particle for the suggestion that it might be the first and smallest building block of life in the universe). "Now that it has been established that God exists," he said, "every country wants to take credit for the discovery."

"Why can't the medical science find answers to many questions and why is its diagnosis sometimes inaccurate?" he tossed a question at doctors.

He recalled how on the advice of astrologers, film and television stars had changed the spellings of their names and turned their luck. His son, Ayushmann Khurrana (notice the two n's) turned his fortune with the movie "Vicky Donor". The soothsayer talked about the science of human relationships, and laughter and colours therapies.

There was no dearth of believers in a sea of sceptics, and some senior doctors even said they treated astrology with respect.

Hazy clairvoyant

After the talk, came what Khurrana could hardly have predicted-a grill session. Occasions where reasoning failed him:

Dr KS Chugh, former head of nephrology, PGI: How is astrology linked with the treatment of patients?

Dr S Prabhakar, head of neurology, PGI: (Giving him some hands to study) If you can tell us what diseases they have, we'd like to employ your services

Dr Neerja Chawla, wife of PGI director Dr YK Chawla: Astrology is not a science. It thrives on the fear of people. Is not so?

Narinder Nayak, rationalist: After looking into the horoscope, can you foretell who will become what? (When Khurana nodded in agreement) Then, we should stop conducting entrance examinations and start picking candidates you recommend

Former PGI employee union leader RK Khainchi: Do star-charts tell you who will suffer from which disease, so that the PGI can tackle it at an early stage?

The mystery of black

"I have written a book on black magic," P Khurrana said at the lecture, "but I don't understand the noise about it. I have written in it that one shouldn't believe in black magic, yet I am the one projected as black magic expert."

His website also states that he has written books on black magic, mantra, yantra, and moles. The blurb on the jacket of his book, "The Mystery of Black Magic", reads: 'Black magic, also referred to as dark magic, stands for a form of sorcery that draws on dark and mysterious arts.

It has been associated with harmful occult practices that can be harmful to people. It encompasses all those material that are unconventional, perceptive and linked to the mysterious things in life such as jadu-tona, mysticism and occult. Unlike all other works on black magic and its study, "The Mystery of Black Magic" delves deeper into the layers of this art.