In an earlier post I mentioned how the just-defeated Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, a very superstitious man in a very superstitious country, frequently consulted with his astrologer to ensure that the stars were properly aligned to ensure his success in all things, including his re-election bid. It turns out that even I underestimated the extent of his dependence on astrologers, as this article describes, written two days before the election.
Few people will be watching this week’s presidential election in Sri Lanka with more pointed interest than a balding, prosperous-looking man wearing a gold amulet under his shirt, who claims the title of “royal astrologer.”
For decades, the astrologer, Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena, has stood beside the longtime politician and current president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, occupying a role that, in this part of the world, combines the functions of spiritual adviser, political consultant and life coach. On television, it is not uncommon to see panels of astrologers debating the fortunes of political leaders, in a format something like that of “The McLaughlin Group.”
These days, Mr. Abeygunawardena’s main work is identifying auspicious timing for the president’s political acts — “10:48 a.m. was a strong time, the bird becomes king,” was one recent recommendation. But he also weighs in on such details as whether to submit nomination papers to the election commissioner’s right or left side and performs rituals in an ornate shrine in his attic, which is bracketed by six curving elephant tusks.
This ‘royal astrologer’ was pretty confident that the stars were good for Rajapaksa and terrible for his rival Maithripala Sirisena who defected from the president’s side and ran as his rival.
Asked about the defection, Mr. Abeygunawardena gave a small grimace of regret: He said he was close with Mr. Sirisena until he mysteriously stopped visiting a few months ago.
“I didn’t expect it and didn’t predict it,” he said of the defection, adding that Mr. Sirisena’s horoscope was not strong. “The planet Saturn is in his house, and it’s a bad time for him. A very bad time,” he said. “His house is clearly spoiled irreparably.”
“The president, he has such auspicious time and so much power in his planetary position that he cannot be defeated in an election,” he said confidently.
The article goes on to describe the major role that astrologers play in decision-making by politicians and ordinary people in Sri Lanka. It is a menace and this predictive debacle will not change things because astrologers always have an out.
Identifying auspicious times, [Abeygunawardena] said, is “very dangerous work, very risky work,” and, for astrologers working at his level, potentially career-ending.
“Even if there is a slight defect, it can result in something bad,” he said. If an astrologer errs, “the whole thing goes wrong,” he said, noting, “Sometimes their houses are demolished.”
“I have never received any admonitions,” he hastened to add, “because I have never given any wrong advice.”
I have examined the horoscope of the astrologer favored by the new president and see that the Moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter is aligned with Mars and so predict that the new occupant in the position of ‘royal astrologer’ will have a successful career until his candidate is defeated as a result Saturn secretly creeping into his house when no one is looking and destroying it.
Based on my successful prediction, I will then apply for the newly vacant position of royal astrologer.