The following account by Mr Seshadri Ramachandran, an amateur astronomer cautions us that there may be some truth in the age old customs related to eclipses. The inter-planetary struggle is too real that we can not ignore the impact of the combined pull of Sun and the moon on the fluid contents of the world and of our own body.
He says that though not everyone may be affected by this disturbance, the total eclipse could cause hardships to many. "The polio vaccine is administered to all because we want to ensure that no child is afflicted with polio Fasting during the eclipse is similar to this," he said.
Another precaution is about pregnant ladies being kept off during the eclipse. The fetus is a fluid or semi-fluid mass in the initial months. No scientist has studied the impact of the eclipse on the fetus. It is also true that not all babies in womb were affected by eclipses. But we can not say the level of vulnerability of the fetus to a possible influence from an eclipse. No scientific studies have been done on any issue related eclipse pre-cautions. Such being the case, the scientific community can not give a clean chit right away.
One must know that there is no restriction to move out during the eclipse. Eclipse is the time people will go to the sea shores and rivers to pray to their ancestors. An account by an Englishman who was in India to witness the total Solar eclipse on 22-01-1898 (published in The London Times and reproduced in the NewYork Times dated 07-02-1898) reveals that Hindus were doing japa, chanting hymns and prayers at the time of eclipse. They were barred from taking bath in Back Bay in Bombay at that time due to the prohibition by the Plague committee. But elsewhere people congregated in shores to take bath. The use of Darbha grass to protect the food stuff is also mentioned by that Englishman.
The article in New York Times says, "There was general fasting, but not much alarm seemed to be felt. It is the impression of some of the Hindus that when there was no Mohammedan or British Raj in India, the solar eclipses occurred once in twelve years and that they are now more frequent on account of sins and misdeeds."
The article ends with a note that "The Nizam of Haidarabad has released fifty prisoners, each of whom received a present of money and cloths."
The scientific community is still in the process of analyzing an eclipse. But there is more behind the eclipse that what can be physically observed. A part of it was already discussed in the following post
It is a myth that venturing out in the open during an eclipse is harmful.
Hindu Thought does not say so. There is no harm to anyone in the open.
Eclipse is the time earth, moon and the sun come in direct alignment with another part of the Universe called Pithru loka (Constellation of Virgo) where the departed souls go and rest before being born again.
There is some influence from the eclipse which is stopped by the Darbha grass. The Darbha grass is found to be effective in stopping X-rays. The use of this grass on food items during an eclipse must therefore be intended to stop some radiation. The details of the effect of Darbha grass can be read here.
Before dismissing this as superstitious, it is desired that some scientist conducts some research on this and disproves it. The use of Darbha grass is limited only to decaying food substances. This goes with the recommendation of fasting to start well before the eclipse so that the stomach will be empty at the time of eclipse.
The scientific community can include these issues also and experiment them at the time of eclipses.
Astronomer supports eclipse fasting
Even as non-believing scientists of the Tamil Nadu Science Forum are getting ready to `celebrate' the total solar eclipse of July 22 with free breakfast, an amateur astronomer has warned the general public about consuming food during the eclipse hours. Mr Seshadri Ramachandran, a professional builder with passion for astronomy, has said there were many scientific reasons for fasting observed by traditionalists during an eclipse.
"Solar eclipse occurs when the Moon comes between the Sun and Earth. There is a gravitational struggle between all planets and this gets intensified during an eclipse. This gravitational struggle makes enormous changes in ocean tides," Mr Ramachandran told Deccan Chronicle.
He pointed out that 75 percent of the earth is water.
"Seventy-five percent of the human body is also water.
The inter-planetary struggles get extended to the tectonic plates with the Moon making it more aggravated.
This leads to the weakening of the digestive system of the human body," said Mr Ramachandran.
Though not everyone may be affected by this disturbance, the total eclipse could cause hardships to many. "The polio vaccine is administered to all because we want to ensure that no child is afflicted with polio Fasting during the eclipse is similar to this," he said.
Mr Ramachandran als claimed that natural disasters have occurred as fallout of eclipses in the past. "I was on a Full Moon da (December 26, 2004) that tsunami struck the India coast. The earthquake tha ravaged Kurile trench, nort Japan, on 26 September wa on a New Moon day. Simi e larly, it was on a New Moon o day (December 26, 2003) s that an earthquake occurred e at Bam in Iran which o claimed more than 30,000 . lives," said Mr Ramachandran.
He also said the 2001 o Gujarat earthquake in which - more than 20,000 died was t on a New Moon day. "We t should not belittle somey thing only because it finds a mention in the scriptures.
n What we need is compret hensive research to establish h the links between these diss asters and the solar fea- tures," he said.