Seeing Stars

Jessie Kok

Psychics, fortune-tellers, tarot card readers and astrologers… the descriptions of these people tend to border on extremes. From frauds and spin-doctors to sages and masters, what people perceive of them might be as irresolute as the predictions they make. But before you decide on which trajectory to take, read on; because one of the crafts mentioned is not as unorthodox as you think and might even have scientific relations. Jessie Kok learns more.

I am seated comfortably on a cushioned wicker chair in Dr.Theja’s study, surrounded by cream coloured walls and wooden shelves that consist of numerous books placed alongside deity idols. A highly polished, sturdy oak table rises before me, bearing division between the man I had waited for four days to meet and my somewhat surprised self. This encounter with an astrologer speaks nothing of what I had anticipated. Looking around, I fight the inclination to laugh out loud at myself after recalling my initial expectations to see a man clad in white cloth with a turban around his head, foretelling my future in a sparsely decorated house dimly lit by candles.

Dr. Theja’s abode is of the direct opposite. Upon stepping through the front door politely opened by his 18 -year old daughter Piumi, I was enveloped by the warmth and charm his place embodied. The milky white draperies and dark, wooden furnishings blended well with the creamy interior of his house and suggested taste and elegance. The temperature in the house was set to a decent degree: a certain welcome when compared to the cold and wet afternoon outside. My feet padded through the thick butter coloured carpet as his daughter led me into his study where he was on the phone. Still speaking on the line in Sinhalese, the official language of Sri Lanka where he hails from, he gestured solicitously to the wicker chair. I immediately settled down on it gratefully, thankful that there were no floor mats doubling up as seats in this room.

A light, unidentifiable lingering scent of incense tests my olfactory senses as I wait for him to complete his call. Time is not an issue here for the both of us. For a man who has experienced and seen past the human worries and troubles of the world, Dr. Theja emits an aura of calm and tranquillity even as he handles modern day gadgets designed for the busy and the impatient. His flexibility for time is amicable with mine, but the comparison is infinitely paradoxical. My lack of regard for time is because I had scheduled my entire afternoon for this exclusive interview with the reputed reticent man. He only speaks when needed, and there is absolutely no fluff in his words. Add that on to the fact that we were going to analyse my birth chart with a patient audience of one.

He is dressed in a casual but neat attire of a dark green polo shirt and camel coloured pants. A pair of thick glasses perches on his nose and his hands reach up to touch his prominent high forehead ever so occasionally, drawing attention to his crown of well groomed black hair which has gen tly receded through the years. His physique is not one of a thin yoga instructor’s as I had predicted either. The 54 year-old has a comfortable weight for his stature; very pleasing to the eye when correlated to some of the skinny anorexic looking yoga fanatics out there.

Dr. Theja greets me by my name once he is done with his call. “I am glad you could come and see me today.” He smiles benignly through his thick convex lenses as a grandfather would to a child, and I am taken by surprise at how gen ial this man can be. After all, it was only a few days ago when I learnt through his astrology website that this seemingly worldly man has achieved a PhD in mineral science from the University of Berlin in West Germany after five consecutive scholarships that saw him climb steadily in the education status ladder. He has given multiple lectures in astrology and Gemmology at the department of Mineralogy, University of Berlin and in parts of Asia like Singapore , Sri Lanka and Malaysia . The man speaks fluent German, and though the study of astrology is not his main expertise, remaining traces of suspicions are diminished when I find out that he was given the “Rudra Bhatta Award” at the 12 th Asian Astrologers Conference in India- a very major event where reputable astrologers around the world gather for the annual meeting. In light of his achievements, the address he gives himself, “Doctor”, is apparently not just for occupation purposes, since he has all the credits to verify it.

Before we begin with my astrology chart readings, Dr. Theja runs me through the complexity of astrology. According to him, astrology is unlike the other forms of predictions such as tarot card readings, clairvoyance, crystal ball fortune telling and the likes of them. “Astrology is Science,” He stresses while his gaze penetrates through his spectacles at me, pupils enlarged by the convex glasses, bringing across the inkling of irrepressible knowledge and truth. “It is the science that we use to evaluate the life of a person through the positioning of the planets in the sky using their birth dates, time and place,” he maintains.

According to him, different planets serve different purposes in influencing our lives. For example, some people may experience sleepless nights or changes in mental conditions when the full moon is up. Generally, astrologers make charts to study the lives of people, and the alignment of the planets during their birth can be deemed negative or positive. One’s personality is also determined by the planets, and the understanding of it can be applied to enhance an individual’s career and life.

Unlike psychics or tarot card readers who make use of psychological mindsets to predict the future and jargon of words to make customers feel comfortable, astrology focuses on reading the alignment of planets and how that influences the characteristics of a person to give clarity, warn or dispel worries.

Perhaps a few better-known facts about the astrology are that one born under a certain horoscope will have a typical ruler. For instance, Capricorns are ruled by Saturn- the planet that signifies determination, leadership abilities and spiritual growth. Those born under Mercury, or are associated with it, tend to have good communication skills. Making use of this knowledge, a person can choose to forage into professions such as marketing, business, lecturing or any other occupation that requires plenty of interaction.

The Sri Lankan astrologer deems visiting any reputable astrologer as identical to a visit to the doctor. “People visit an astrologer not to test him. People visit an astrologer as one would with a cardiologist.” He weighs his words soberly, speaking at andante with a foreign accent, which could have been used for an air of mystery to befuddle clients if not for the fact that he chooses to focus on the main aspects of Astrology instead of selling the peripheral.

“The cardiologist may run some tests and try to find out what is wrong with a person’s heart. But no science is 100 percent accurate. So similarly, the astrologer looks into the tendencies and gives you some idea. This is what an astrologer does.”

Having rounded off the explanation of astrology in relation to science, he turns to the divine aspect of the subject, telling me that Indian astrology is also partly God’s given wisdom to the ancient Indian seers, which is why there are not many astrologers in Australia .

“You may find in Australia , about 1500 tarot readers, psychic readers, clairvoyants, medium readers. But there are only 3 Indian astrologers in Australia .” He speaks of his practice, smiling with pride. “I am the only one in Western Australia .”

It is no wonder then that the Sri Lankan has up to 3500 number of clientele under his belt within the past four years. They come from all walks of life, from the pious and puritan Buddhists to the wealthy wives of even wealthier businessmen who lunch at the prestigious Tanglin Club in Singapore . Socialites and holy men laud him for his sanctity and respect for God while trusting his ability to use scientific explanations and give accurate judgement on matters relating to life and personalities.

The intricacies of astrology explained, he proceeds with my birth chart and lights incense stones in a tiny pot placed in front of the Indian Deity of wisdom and removal of obstacles, Ganesh. Instantly, cognition strikes my senses. The fragrance I had been trying to decipher all the while is no other than Frankincense- a gift of the Magi during the biblical times and an ancient symbol of wisdom. Dr. Theja touches the deity and utters words of prayer in total devoutness while the white smoke emanating from the pot ascends steadily, seemingly bringing his prayers and praises up to heaven. As quickly as the prayer began, it was done; and he brought out my birth charts for an in-depth analysis.

The charting of the planets during my birth was not done by hand. It was pre-entered into a computer program the day I called to schedule the interview. The planetary alignments during my birth appear on the screen to be analysed by the astrologer. Once again, I witness the fusion of modern day technology and ancient time wisdom. The computer only makes use of science to relate information to the astrologer. He has to rely on his knowledge and understanding of the planets for interpretation of the data. He does this with nondescript effort though, interpretations akin to erudition. The analysis of my chart sails past with a look into my past with interpretations such as having suffered a threatening illness once in my childhood (I was admitted into hospital at the age of four) and a family member was lost between the dates 1992- 1996 (my grandmother passed away in 1993). He also mentioned that as the sun was very close to Saturn during my birth, I would have reasonably financial success in my life. This put a very broad grin on my face, until Dr. Theja warned of achieving a balance and harmony between everything. It is pointless to have wealth when there is no health. With my stellar constellation charts however, it would be rather consistent. But until September 2005, I would face some problems until my timeline leaves moon Rahu- the cause of mental disturbances and travel, and moves into planet Jupiter, planet of spiritual growth, expansion and contentment. The journey would be smoother after that and I would find reasonable stability till I am 38 years old, whereupon Saturn would enter my life once again and my career takes off even further.

After more talk about my personality, present and future, the consultation is over. It all seems too soon though we had already spent three hours in his study. He ends off the session with a Sanskrit chant to bless my life and hugs me like a daughter before telling me I am welcomed to call him anytime. The sincerity of his words and embrace warms me up so much so that the biting air outside his house fails to sting my face.

The session was nothing like my idea of an astrology consultation. The lack of pretences and promises made his words more plausible. As I drive home from one of the most enlightening interviews I ever had, his words of wisdom that sum up the convolutions of astrology reverberates around my mind, “The best forecasts are not those that come true, but those that warn, teach and prepare to lead a happy and contented life.”

These are words of a learned man and trustable astrologer indeed.

*Dr. Theja’s astrology consultation fee AU$150. For enquiries and more information, please call him at (61-8) 93326119 , 9332 5336 or visit his website