The other day I wrote about an astrologer who was busted and sentenced for some extremely nasty conduct within the context of his astrological practice in Aspen Colorado. A similar case has come to light in India, where astrology has long been a respected and integral part of Hindu culture, evoking enough outrage in the fortune-teller community that not only has the story has been picked up by the Times of India, but has also inspired a demand of a formal code of conduct.

Arun Dwivedi, an astrologer in Gwalior, was arrested on June 7 for allegedly making sexual advances towards a woman in his house on the pretext of reading her horoscope, police said.

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The incident has shaken the astrologer community in Madhya Pradesh. Many agree that a model code of conduct should be enacted and those in the profession be registered with the government.

“We have been held in high esteem for ages. But if such elements are allowed to survive in this profession, people will lose faith in us. Already money minting by some astrologers has lowered our dignity,” said a city-based astrologer.

“There are only a handful of competent astrologers who are not greedy for money. The majority, particularly among the new generation, not only fool people in the name of conducting pujas to change their fate but also charge heavily,” Suresh Prasad Shukla, an eminent astrologer said.

“The job of an astrologer is only to guide the person about the bad or good times ahead. No power on earth, be it a puja or a gemstone, can change anyone’s fate. Unfortunately many astrologers misguide people to go in for gemstones or pujas for the sake of earning money,” Shukla said.

“Astrology is a sacred science and it should not be misused for the sake of money. There should be a model code of conduct for astrologers too and it should be followed in letter and spirit,” said Hem Purohit, a renowned woman astrologer who offers her services only to women.

By contrast, the issue of unethical conduct is rarely broached among western astrologers, and if it is, the consensus seems to be to sweep it under the proverbial carpet. In fact, the simple mention of ethics seems to be surrounded by a great deal of fear, and indeed, the only time I have ever seen it spoken of publicly was in the 2002 June/July issue of the Mountain Astrologer in an article entitled Shining Light on a Dark Issue. Not irrelevant is the fact that the writer, “Morning Star,” choose to publish it under a pseudonym.