Hasta means the hand and Sāmudrika its patterns. Palmistry is the art of understanding and interpreting the hand’s patterns, because hands are telling us something – the story of a person’s life. Palmists can give us an insight into a person’s life and experiences.
One special form of palmistry is the Indian variety, and some maintain that India is in fact the birthplace of palmistry, the knowledge of which was brought to the West – so the story goes - by a tribe that left its ancestral homeland in search of pastures new. Their itinerant descendants, it is said, can be found even today, often at fairgrounds, practising palmistry, not always without controversy.
Whether or not you attach much credence to this legend, palmistry certainly has a history, in both East and West. In the early civilisations of Egypt, Babylon and Assyria palmistry was a recognised art, and it experienced a renaissance in the West during the Victorian period, when it was known as chiromancy (divination by the hand). But in the modern scientific age palmistry, like so many esoteric disciplines, fell into disrepute and virtually disappeared. Efforts to give it a scientific veneer under the banner of chirology (science of the hand) proved unsuccessful.
Things were very different in India, however, whose culture has always been willing to absorb new trends, without however abandoning tried and tested methods. Spiritual and esoteric traditions are still very much alive on the Indian subcontinent. Hasta Sāmudrika and many other knowledge disciplines of the Vedic tradition have roots here going back thousands of years. They do not compete with, nor do they contradict, modern discoveries.
The adjective Vedic is derived from the Sanskrit Veda, meaning knowledge, or subtle knowledge, to be more precise. The Vedic tradition is devoted to this knowledge, which helps us to understand life and gain self-knowledge. There are many knowledge disciplines in this tradition that address different life themes. These include Āyurveda, Yoga, Jyotisha Vedānta and Vāstu. Hasta Sāmudrika is also part of the Vedic tradition and is therefore also known as Vedic palmistry.
The Indian art of reading hands
Hands are unique
At first sight every hand looks similar: a palm, five fingers and that’s it. On closer examination, however, it quickly becomes clear how different each hand is, and how individually these differences are expressed in every hand. Indeed, no one hand is exactly like any other. This begins with the differences between your right and left hands. Take a look at the shape of your fingers. You will notice that some joints are longer or bigger on one hand than on the other. If you are still not convinced, have a look at the various lines on your palm. That should make it clear.
The hand has a large number of different structures, which all have their meaning in Hasta Sāmudrika and make interpretative statements possible.
The word palmistry reflects the idea that many people have of this science, i.e. that it involves reading the lines on the hand. And indeed the interpretation of the life line, head line, heart line and the many other lines is important, as the palm and its patterns are an integral part of palmistry. But only in combination with the shape of the fingers can they provide meaningful and well-founded insights into a person’s life.
Whilst the lines on the palm are important, among other things, for identifying the timing of events, a person’s strengths and talents cannot be revealed without studying the many other structures of the hand which are relevant to Hasta Sāmudrika, such as the palm and its ten regions, the fingers and their individual joints, the skin, the nail bed and the fingerprint of every finger, and the primary and secondary lines of the hand. Only through their markings can these structures reveal meaningful information. The symmetry of the hand and its component parts also plays a role, as do length and breadth, size and imprints.
Vedic Palmistry and Karma
The Indian art of palmistry is a sister science of Jyotisha, Vedic astrology. In this way, for example, certain areas of the hand are associated with the planets. These two sciences share the task of determining a person’s Karma, the complex interplay of the causes and effects of actions – our own and those of others – which accompany and shape our lives. The aim of Indian palmistry is nothing less than to discover, using the patterns on the hand, what life holds in store for a person, and when.
e.g the index finger
The index finger is, for example, associated with a person’s leadership qualities. If the finger is long and slim, this suggests competence, combined with friendliness and openness, while a short, thick index finger suggests a strong need to lead, but also a lack of competence disguised by self-important behaviour.
Like most people, you may have just inspected your index finger! Or perhaps you are thinking of certain people you know and their index fingers. That demonstrates the fascination but also the danger of Hasta Sāmudrika. A single, striking attribute of a hand can sometimes provide us with astonishing insights. But caution is needed. Palmistry requires much more. Even if the temptation is strong to use a single structure of the hand and its patterns to draw conclusions about a person, this should always be in the context of the rest of the hand. The art of Vedic palmistry lies in the right combination of the many different features of a hand. The same long, slim index finger we have associated with leadership qualities might be curved and combined with a flat, thin palm, bluish skin colouration and a broad, short nail bed. In that case the friendly, open leader hypothesis would need to be reassessed.
Hasta Sāmudrika // Cosmos Hand
A question of perspective
So that Vedic palmistry can develop its full potential for us, we palmists think in both smaller and larger category terms, which we can describe as macrocosm and microcosm. Thus, the index finger is a microcosm in the macrocosm of the hand. But if we look at the index finger more closely, then it becomes the macrocosm and its joints, nail bed and fingerprint, as well as the region of the palm immediately below the finger, become the microcosm. This way of thinking and observing enables us to penetrate ever deeper into a person’s reality. In other words, we approach the hand and thus the life story starting with the large structures, via the subordinate elements through to the smallest details, without confusing the priorities.
Hand forms and the elements
A good example of this is the use of the five elements of the Vedic tradition in Hasta Sāmudrika. Independently of its forms, every hand falls into the domain of one of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. The fifth element, ether – Ākāsha – forms the framework in which the four others manifest. Determining the dominant element is one of the first considerations in examining a hand. The primary element of a hand can be determined from the interaction between the shape of the palm and the length of the fingers. The shape of the palm, whether broad or long, combines with long or short fingers. In the light of this combination, the overall form of the hand can be assigned to one of the elements. The typical characteristics of the primary element pervade all the other considerations and details of the analysis. If the dominant element is air, the hand is described as an air hand. There are accordingly also earth, fire and water hands.
The element fire denotes, among other things, a high level of motivation, initiative for progress but a lack of steadiness. The element earth suggests slowness, regularity and lack of flexibility. If fire is the dominant element of the hand’s macrocosm, then, in the process of reading the hand, all other details are considered through the filter of this element. In the case of a fire hand, the index finger variants described above (long and slim or short and thick) and the related leadership qualities or lack thereof are driven by a high level of motivation and initiative for progress and a lack of steadiness. The situation is quite different if the hand is examined through the filter of the primary element of earth. In this case, the approach to leadership is slow, predictable, with close attention to rules and requirements.
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Norm and peculiarity in hand analysis
Setting the right priorities
By now you will have seen how Hasta Sāmudrika can reveal the form of the many details of a hand and translate these into a person’s Karma. An ambitious undertaking. As you have also seen, it is not enough simply to list these details and their meaning. Rather, they need to be organised and placed in the right relationship to each other. Just as the conductor of a symphony orchestra is able use his or her musicians to interpret a symphony artistically, so a palmist can coordinate the many details of a hand in order to reveal a person’s Karma. In this context, a deviation from the norm can be crucial to interpretation. The way in which an individual deviates from the norm is what distinguishes one person from another and gives him or her individuality. This individuality is reflected in the hand. The trained eye can recognise this specificity, which can then be made the central focus of the analysis. For one hand this might, for example, be the shape of the thumb, or in another case a particularly strongly etched line. The art of palmistry lies in the inspired arrangement of the many other details around this individual eye-catching feature.
Hasta Sāmudrika dynamic
Hands in action
In Hasta Sāmudrika hands are not only considered statically but also in activity. No other body part (except for the mouth) is so intensively used as the hands when people communicate. Gestures are therefore a fertile source for the palmist. A single finger may become the focus of the interpretation, if it is frequently used to underline words spoken. A raised index finger is a classic example. But the way a person holds his or her hands is also very expressive. Which fingers and areas of the hand are visible and which are hidden? Someone who understands how to interpret the details of the hand can also make use of these. For the palmist, gestures and the position of the hands reveal significant variations in the hands’ expressive movements.
The role of handlines
In addition to “what” happens in a person’s life, Karma also includes the question “when?”. To forecast professional success for a twenty-year-old on the basis of palmistry is not particularly meaningful without placing it in a timeframe. Predictions must include timing. In Indian palmistry, various lines on the palm are used for this purpose. These include the life line, fate line, head line and heart line. Each of these lines has a direction and a person’s age is plotted against this scale. Both the lines themselves and the areas of the hands that they cross are assigned to specific life themes. Markings on the relevant lines and connections with other lines make it possible to identify events and their timing. The past thus becomes transparent, as do the present and the future. Correct timing is the pinnacle of palmistry, which apart from a mastery of detail also requires the inspired combination of all factors.
Vedic Palmistry & Inspiration
More than just facts and logic
Facts and logic are the basis of palmistry. If the details of the hand are not studied and their importance understood, the basis of Hasta Sāmudrika will be missing. But more is needed, in order to tease out a person’s Karma from his or her hand. Vedic palmistry requires inspiration. Without it, logic soon reaches its limits. How a person’s Karma is revealed thus depends to a very great extent on the person reading the hand.
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Focus on hands
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About Hasta Sāmudrika
Every hand is an arrangement of many markings, which an experienced palmist can read subjectively and purposefully to make accurate statements. These statements cannot be objectively verified, however. Thus they do not satisfy the scientific requirements of our western world, which hinders the wide dissemination of Hasta Sāmudrika. Indian culture has much less difficulty in ensuring the coexistence of modern science and esoteric tradition.
Every individual marking of the hand has to be placed in the context of the imprints of the rest of the hand. One and the same marking can thus give rise to different conclusions in two different hands.
Both the right hand and the left hand are important in Hasta Sāmudrika and they complement each other.
Over time palmistry lost the high reputation it had once enjoyed, because the accuracy of its statements and the inspiration of trained palmists could not be objectively verified. In most western countries fairgrounds were the last refuge of the once noble art of palmistry.
When you begin practising palmistry, you always look at the entire hand in detail. With time and experience, however, part of a hand, the position of a finger or a gesture may be sufficient to inspire your understanding.
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