When I was your age, Pluto was a planet.
I read this ad flashing on my facebook page several days ago. This harmless jibe on one of the Navgraha made a deep impression on me. I remember the good old days of satyanarayan puja. The dexterity with which Punditji, a very interesting character, used to lay down the kaccha chaawal(uncooked rice), different types of dal , haldi , sindoor and other paraphernalia to prepare for the puja. The puja was usually conducted in my household on the special occasion of me successfully clearing the exams. Mom prayed for divine intervention, because she was always unsure whether I would make it to the next year or not. So, I was the center of attraction in these events and willfully participated in these cosmic endeavors.
What I liked most about the puja was Punditji. Whenever I saw his wrinkled face, the chandan fragrance, flawless Hindi and humorous attitude - I wanted my teachers to be more like him. Unlike other pundits, even his elder brother (a more famous and successful pundit), who are interested only in conning the devotees for their self-justified beliefs, he seemed an outlier. Sometimes he would give the anecdotes a comic twist usually accompanied by giggling children, and strained brows from parents. No doubt, he was a favorite amongst children. Whenever there was a katha in the neighborhood and children came to know he was coming, they used to crowd the houses to the dismay of unwelcoming hosts. What a paradox!
What reminds me of Pluto is his Navgraha graffiti on the wood board. The carefully drawn columns and beautiful planets all in the exact order. I once asked Punditji," Gyarah khane kyon? (Why eleven sections?)"He said "the sun, the moon & nine planets."
I asked him since how long has this process been followed. He replied it's been done since ages and is written in several ancient Hindu texts. I asked him since when is HE doing it? He said," I was born in 1932 I learnt it from my father in teens and am doing it since then. My elder brother has done the same." I didn't have the knowledge or inclination to test him then, since I believed him, but suddenly a question popped in my mind. How did pundits know there were nine planets long before Pluto was discovered and given the status of a planet? Does this prove ancient wisdom?
I had forgotten these questions but it all came back to me when I read the facebook ad. Now that Pluto is no longer a planet, should we revise the ancient Navagraha graffiti?
I fancy myself going back home and organizing another satyanarayan puja for contemplating on this Satya with Narayan himself. I wonder how the innocent punditji will react to this news. I remember him being proud and confident in his knowledge.
However our definition of a planet still amuses me. A poetic wiki on the definition of planet, has made me question a very basic thought mentioned there in the first paragraph. It says," As knowledge of the universe grew, the word "planet" grew and changed with it, casting off old meanings and adopting new ones, though never arriving at a single, concrete definition."
Obviously from a Hindu perspective this is not exactly right since we knew the existence of 9 planets long before westerners thought about them. Besides, what difference does it make if Pluto doesn't come in the category of planets according to the NEW definition since the NEW is constantly evolving. I know that a lot of people across the globe share the same view.
Though I am a fan of science but in this case i am with my beloved Punditji, 'cos there is something wrong or incomplete with this nomenclature.
I was and still remain an avid Plutophile and for me the mnemonic stays the same.