The author Salman Rushdie was attacked onstage while giving a lecture in New York on August 12th. A man rushed the platform and stabbed Rushdie in the neck and body, before being dragged away by police. Rushdie was taken immediately to hospital and put on a ventilator, where he is said to be in a stable condition, though severely injured. This incident happened 33 years after the Ayatollah Khomeini originally pronounced a fatwā against the author after The Satanic Verses, his 1988 satirical novel which radical Islamists declared to be blasphemous. This death sentence has never officially been lifted, and though not in full-time hiding since 1998, Rushdie had the underlying threat ever since. The fatwā was made in his Saturn-Mercury period, and the backdrop to his 19-year Saturn mahadasha was concerned with hiding out, close protection, and living with a price on his head (Saturn in fourth house).
June 19th 1947, 02:30am, Mumbai, India
Rushdie was born precisely at a New Moon, in Gemini-Mrigashira, the nakshatra symbolized by a Deer being chased across the skies by Brahma, the Creator, which shows the native either pursuing something or being pursued. Mars rising in Aries, closely opposed by ninth and twelfth-lord Jupiter in Rushdie’s chart is also a symbol for a self-righteous religious crusade. Twelfth lord of imprisonment aspecting lagna lord (the body) across the horizon in particular describes the author’s life-defining predicament. Rushdie is currently going through eighth house transit of Saturn (Ashtama Shani) from his Chandra-lagna, a period which can bring a brush with mortality, by way of a focusing of life priorities. If Rushdie had a personal astrologer (highly unlikely), would s/he have warned him of an impending threat to life? He is currently in Ketu mahadasha, with natal south Node in the eighth, ruled by Mars in the first house of the body and health. This signature seems to have followed Rushdie around, with Ketu-Rahu period being particularly dangerous and unpredictable. Rahu in the second house is ruled by Venus, a double-maraka (death-dealing planet) for Aries asc., while the second house rules the neck. Perhaps the fact Venus and Rahu are both strong in Taurus prevented the attack being even worse. Ketu is karaka of accidents, and though very likely premeditated, the incident had a random and senseless ‘nodal’ quality. It also occurred a couple of days after Rushdie’s Mars exact return in Aries and the day before the brooding Full Moon in Capricorn, conjunct Saturn (mentioned in last month’s Astrovedas). So in fairness, the danger signs were there, and despite this whole business seeming like yesterday’s news, the issue clearly has not gone away. The Satanic Verses itself received an indifferent literary reception in 1988, and if not for the controversy, would likely be long forgotten. More ironies, that Rushdie has thankfully survived this attack will, if anything, further cement his reputation as a secular icon of free speech.