Author: Dr. Mandar V. Bichu

In 1555, French astrologer Nostradamus (1503-1566) first published his famous series of predictions in cryptic quatrains (4 lined verses). Even today, more than four centuries later, his so-called prophecies have continued to intrigue and interest the world. Scholars are divided in their opinions whether he was a genuinely gifted foreteller or just a fluke fake. Discovery Channel’s DVD- Nostradamus presents an interesting double feature, examining the facts and fantasies associated with this famous personality.

Early Life:

One of the features is a fictionalized account Notradamus’s early life. Born in a small French town Provence, Michel de Nostradamus spent his early youth running a mobile apothecary- a mix between a pharmacy and a grocery! He first learnt astrology from his grandfather, who dabbled in the occult and was famous for making predictions about future. Tragedy struck when Nostradamus lost his wife, child and grandfather to ravaging plague. This personal loss seemingly triggered some extra-sensory powers in him and started bringing him the visions of future events! Initially these new powers tormented him but one of his friends convinced him to publish his ‘predictions’! The prediction that first made him a household name in France and later in Europe was the one he made about the then French king getting fatally wounded in a jousting game. The grisly prediction came true and the then French queen Catherine became a firm believer in Nostradamus’s powers.

Real seer or fluke fake?

The 1000- odd quatrains that Nostradamus recorded about his ‘visions’ supposedly include references to many catastrophic events the world has witnessed over last 4 centuries. Some Notstradamus- experts claim that the gifted seer had already written down details of the 1666- Great London fire, Hitler’s rise and fall, the atom-bomb explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Kennedy assassination and the 9/11 World Trade Centre attack.

In the feature- ‘Nostradamus- the truth’, we see academicians seriously questioning the veracity these famed ‘prophecies’. They contend that Nostradamus wrote his predictions in coded words to avoid wrath of Church Inquisition and over the years, those words have been tampered with to ‘suit’ the events! These critics say- “Nostradamus was a product of a very turbulent era full of wars, religious animosity and disease epidemics. He had studied the famous historic catastrophes in detail and he had this belief that history repeats itself in cycles. So using his occult and astrological knowledge, he just portrayed some grim events in future and presented them in mysterious verses! The weary public anxious to know anything about its future just lapped up these writings as prophecies!”

But despite these academic reservations, so strong is mass appeal of Nostradamus’s predictions that the topmost Google- searched name after the 9/11 attack was not ‘George Bush’ or ‘Osama Bin Laden’- it was Nostradamus!


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