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Nostradamus: A Critical Appraisal

MG is an air warrior and a global traveler who loves to visit and explore new places.



Nostradamus's full name is Michel de Nostredame ( 14 or 21 December 1503 – 1 or 2 July 1566), He was a French astrologer and is famous for his book Les Propheties. This is a collection of 942 poetic quatrains( verses) that are supposed to predict the future. The book was published in 1555 and has been reprinted hundreds of times since then. A retinue of scholars has emerged who claim to have researched the verses of Nostradamus and have interpreted various world events. Many researchers have given different interpretations and many have applied his quatrains even to the East, India, and China. To link his interpretations to the east is basically sowing oats in the wind. This is because Nostradamus lived in Europe and at that time not many knew about the East.

A point has been brought out by professor Sheshadari Iyer. He states that most of the quatrains are cryptic and vague and do not lend themselves to any scientific interpretations. The result is that the quatrains can be interpreted differently by different researchers. Another point is that most of the researchers are coordinating events after they have taken place and there is no record of anybody having made any forecast directly of the future.

This contrasts sharply with the Vedic astrologer Maharishi Bhrigue who pinpointed forecasts in the future. The Bhavisiya Puran also clearly forecast the arrival of Jesus Christ and Muhammad among other prognostications.

In the case of Nostradamus, a majority of the quatrains have been correlated after the event has happened. This is the uninteresting aspect of trying to read the prophecies of this man.


The prophesies

Nostradamus wrote in Latin and French. Latin is no longer in vogue and his French is archaic. . He wrote his forecasts in the form of quatrains or verses that are generally vague and open to different interpretations. Over the last 500 years, nearly 200 versions of his works have been compiled and none can say which is the authentic version.

A major lacuna of the prophecies is the extremely general nature of the forecasts without any time period..They are open to interpretation by scholars who can interpret them either way and correlate what they think could be correct.

In a number of quatrains, Nostradamus mentions 'the city of god.' This can refer to any holy city from Mecca to Rome, to Jerusalem, or even Ayodhya. Whatever religion you follow could lead you to make any interpretation. A Christian could relate it to Rome, while a Jew to Jerusalem. There are many such ambiguous references and these are open to interpretation. Many of the latest interpretations have been linked to India and China. I am afraid Nostradamus never knew about India and was far away from his thoughts.

Professor Seshadri Iyer has mentioned that there was a 1970 movie on Nostradamus that predicted that a world war would commence and end in 1999. No world war took place.



Most scientists and academics say that the prophecies of Nostradamus are in the realm of conjecture. To associate the quatrains with world events is pure guesswork. There is no scientific logic behind it. None of the interpretations have stood the test for a forecast that is given an event with time and date. Most of the interpretations are correlated after the event has taken place. Nobody has ever pinpointed an event or a specific time before the event occurred.

James Randi eminent author and magician, and actor, published a paperback in 1993. Randi's book looks past the "mask" of Nostradamus and gives the reader a critical review of some of his alleged prophecies. He brought out how people rewrite Nostradamus predictions to give the illusion of truth. Randi debunked Nostradamus' so-called predictions of Adolf Hitler. Many other critical books are available.

Last Word

However, in defense of Nostradamus, it can be said that he lived in a restrictive age. There is a chance he deliberately disguised his forecasts so has to confuse the authorities as he feared arrest and prosecution. Whatever the reason, the correct interpretation of his quatrains has as yet not been done. And as it stands the forecasts of Nostradamus are far from reality and are just a curiosity.


Wilson, Ian (1 April 2014). Nostradamus: The Man Behind the Prophecies. St. Martin's Press

Randi James (1990). The mask of Nostradamus Scribner.

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