By Ravi Perera –
In the midst of all the uncertainties and the ambiguities of the impeachment saga the one firm ground we Sri Lankans have is the comfort of knowing that the impeachment motion was handed over to the Speaker of parliament at the auspicious time. The daily newspapers carried the picture of the smiling parliamentarians, who it was reported had waited patiently for the right “time”, to submit their all important petition. And it was done. What follows, for those confirmed believers in the time tested practice of arranging/reading the future, is just unavoidable destiny.
The impeachment motion now before parliament, if allowed to progress unhindered, should logically conclude in the removal of an incumbent from office and the petitioners may well consider that moment ,when the document containing their charges were handed over to the Speaker, as propitious. On the other hand, for the Chief Justice of the Republic of Sri Lanka, the person facing the charges, the intended result would be an inauspicious end to a career. The long term impact of this action on the overall stability, progress and the legitimacy of the State is yet to be determined, and perhaps needs much deeper analysis by the practitioners of the occult.
It is obvious that the practice of predicting/arranging the future by use of astrology is based on obtaining precise timing. That very moment of handing over the petition will determine its success or failure. As to how the practice functioned in the era before the advent of clocks is open to speculation. Some argue that ancient ways of determining the time, such as by the reading of the length of shadows, were used. It is not clear whether such methods enabled the precise reading of time as we now do with hours divided into minutes, seconds and even less. The length of the shadows would depend very much on the position of the sun, and finding shadows on an overcast day would be hard, placing the astrologers at a considerable disadvantage. They also had to deal with the night hours, compounding the problem further.
Whatever one may think of the practice of astrology, the fact remains that it has a large and ready following in this country. The occult seems to appeal to something deep in our social psyche while fitting in well with the way we see the world. That “vision” of the world presupposes a “fixed” future which can be read by the appropriate means. Today if the horoscope of the Chief Justice can be obtained, an astrologer ought to be able to narrate to us the final act of the impeachment drama. It is already out there, only waiting to be enacted. But then, according to other schools of occult, there are defensive weapons with which the ill-winds of fate can be warded off. We see many individuals carrying on their person talismans, charms and amulets, which act as shields against harmful effects of fate.
Not every culture that sees the world this way. Although they observe the same phenomenon as us, other cultures have come to different conclusions. It can be said that every culture represents a different way of seeing the world. What one may see as a law of nature another may view as mumbo jumbo. Some cultures are noticeably more hopeful of a future which can be changed and fashioned by human effort. Others think life goes around in repetitive cycles with all change ultimately coming to nothing.
It is undeniable that the inspiration for nearly all the public institutions we have today come from cultures that have attempted to change and improve an existing condition. The judicial system that we have adopted is such an institution. So are the concepts such as the rule of law, elective principle, an elected president/legislature, a free media etc which now have become very much a part of our political/social structure. But how much of these foreign concepts, particularly the spirit thereof are understood by our culture is a moot point.
The idea of separation of power, which is in relation to the functions of the State, is quite different to the power that an astrologer will talk about. For him “power” or “bala shakthiya” in our lingo, is a word to be uttered in a deeper tone, eyes glazed, face contorted, emphasizing its undefined, unlimited quality. The person in power can virtually do anything. Power has come to him in a mysterious process which cannot be divined by mere mortal faculties. The holder of power has unerring wisdom, sweeping intelligence, deep cunning, an extraordinary knowledge of human weaknesses and also a magnificent benevolence which will favour the humble subject, if appropriately approached. Controlling that power or creating checks and balances thereto is not the function of the occult.
The judiciary, in its true form and substance is a representation of foreign ideas and ways of looking at things. For instance, some of the desired qualities of a good judge such as an independent spirit, integrity of a high order, an appreciation of fairness, a wide outlook, a natural dignity etc are not obtained by sitting an examination. Often these are the gifts of an individualistic culture, formative influences and childhood up-bringing. On the other hand in the way we see the world, a judicial appointment, like all high appointments, maybe taken as a sign of good fortune. It is an opportunity the appointee should use to advance his family prosperity, to canvass jobs for them, benefit from Presidential and other government funds, obtain sinecures and appointments after retirement and failing everything else at least insist on a retinue of police body guards, enabling him to make an impression.
But whatever our belief system, every day we face a mundane reality which cannot be ignored. In this real world, the things we desire most fervently are simply beyond the reach of our income. A land to build a house , an expensive car , a foreign education for our children and various creature comforts are not possible with the salary earned in a third world country.
It is a situation with tremendous potential for the occult. Why would those who have got their astrological timing all wrong, object to the doings of those who have got their timing all right?