We were selected by India Trade Promotion Organisation, New Delhi, to participate in the Expo 2000 at Hannover, Germany. We were to promote and give a taste of Indian Astrology to the visitors of this five-month long international exhibition whose theme was ‘Human Being, Nature and Technology’. We were given a small stall to conduct our activities as a part of India Pavillion. There were 20 odd other ‘shops’ selling Indian handicrafts, jewellery, textiles and nick-knacks, quite like Delhi Haat.
We went there armed with the most sophisticated computer programmes of astrology with the notion that there would be a lot of interest in astrology amongst the Europeans and specially the Germans. We put up small posters to indicate that we were offering computerised Astrological reports, Prashna, Matching of Horoscopes, Muhurta, Varshaphala, etc. We tried to do this in as short yet as explanatory a manner as would drive home the idea. But it failed to create a longing in the hearts of the visitors to make use of these services. Most of these were so foreign to them that they did not appreciate the very idea behind them. They failed to understand how the methodology of Prashna could work or how some body other than the couple themselves could vouch for the compatibility in marriage. Our concepts of ‘gunas’ (which we called the Compatibility Index) or ‘Muhurta’ (which we called finding the most auspicious time to start a new venture) had few takers. In an exhibition it is possible to cater to a de-mand that has caught the fancy of the visitors but it is a quite a task to create demand where none exists.
Within a day we realized that we would not survive here on the staple diet of astrology alone. We have to invent something new to sell, and that too pretty fast, and it has to be in the line of astrology, something for which at least a little demand already exists. And we stumbled upon Palmistry. My colleague had been doing it ever since he was in the womb of his mother who herself has been an exceptionally gifted palmist. And I had stopped doing it ever since I found a wife through Palmistry. When I was a bachelor, a Chhaya Shastri in Bombay. Chhaya Shastri is apractitioner of a variation of ‘Prashna’ or Horary astrology who constructs the Prashna chart by measuring the shadow of the querist. He probably uses it to fix the lagna of the Prashna chart. He had told me that my wife would have a cross on her mount of Jupiter (which indicates happy married life). So, when I was looking for a bride, I would make sure to look at the palm of every prospective girl. The moment I found a girl matching the description given by the Chhaya Shastri I gave the much awaited nod to my family. As if the purpose of learning palmistry had been fulfilled, I practically stopped seeing the palms of people except when I would be recruiting fresh talent in my company. It was beyond my wildest imagination at that time that a day would come when I would have to resort to my favourite pastime (nay, a passionate and absorbing hobby of holding delicate hands of nubile young girls) for economic survival. As it turned out later, I saw a couple of thousand hands in five months, as against a fraction of this in the previous 33 years. What you learn in your youth, I realised, comes back to you spontaneously flying back on the wings of time. After the whole experience I took a vow never to do astrology alone; I must combine it with a good look at the palm too.
Insufficient interest in Astrology
While trying to find reasons behind lack of interest in astrology amongst the masses in Germany (and probably in the whole of Europe) several reasons surfaced.
• Performance of Western Astrologers: The first and the foremost seemed to be a dismal performance of the western astrologers as a class (individual exceptions notwithstanding). The common man gets the taste of astrology through its practitioners. If his expectations are not fulfilled he loses interest in astrology. We found that an astrologer is more a target of ridicule there than respect. Our Indian experience had made us ‘assume’ that we would be accorded respect automatically because we were providing astrological services. That our assumption was false came to us as a painful revelation. Their argument was seemingly impenetrable that ‘If you can’t change the future what is the use of knowing the future; and if you can change the future then what is the use of taking the prediction’. Either way the astrological activity is good-for-nothing. Our counter arguments convinced but a few. The ones who had preconceived notions were harder nuts to crack, but crack we did.
• Attitude of the Church: For many centuries the church had got the state to ban the practice of astrology and palmistry. The church perceived that its authority would be undermined due to the growing influence of astrologers and palmists in around the 16th century. So, the teaching in the school was that these kinds of vidyas were unscientific, more like black magic and fit for consumption only by the weak minded. (Vidya means a body of knowledge which can be learnt and taught either through books or by a teacher. I am using this term to avoid a controversy that very often arises due to the use of the word ‘science’.) Any one found to be engaged in these activities was doing so illegally. The law abiding citizen thus would not like to be seen anywhere around an astrologer or a palmist irrespective of his personal inclinations.
• Scientific Attitude? Similarly, the scientific community would not like to be caught having a reading or consultation from an astrologer/palmist for fear of ridicule by the peer group – even if one had a genuine desire to test and explore the veracity of these vidyas. This reminded us of the Indian scientific community who scores hardly any better on this account than their European counterparts. They both equally shun the responsibility of providing proofs for these vidyas (science/art/craft). The astrologer/palmist does not have the wherewithal of providing a scientific explanation for his vidya; he can only successfully demonstrate that there is truth in his vidya and this he demonstrates time and again in the form of readings, consultations and predictions for his clients everyday. The burden of finding the ‘science’ behind everyday occurrences, whether in nature or in practice by individuals, must obviously fall on the shoulders of the scientists. But the scientific community has betrayed the most unscientific attitude towards these vidyas by rejecting them ‘without testing them’.
• Useful branches of Indian Astrologer: The western astrologer probably does not deliver any of the more ‘useful’ offshoots of astrology as does the Vedic astrologer. Only a few western astrologers practice Horary. Matching of horoscopes is done by a few on psychological lines; they have nothing as concrete as guna in matching.
They do not seem to be doing sufficient work on actual event-predictions because they have no system like dashas. All their work is focussed on transits which are never the primary causative factors for actual events. That transits are subordinate to dasha indications is a well-digested dictum for every Indian astrologer. Thus most of the work done by western astrologers confines to ever-flexible psychological pronouncements. This amounts to the condition of a hypochondriac who has every sickness that happens to have been mentioned in the book. This is not to say that no western astrologers have ever done any significant work in the realm of actual predictions. This is also not to say that majority of Vedic astrologers keep making unfailingly accurate predictions everyday. But the popular perception is always formed on the basis of consultations churned out by the majority of astrologers. My stress is on the more useful aspects of astrology mentioned above. Those aspects are missing from the arsenal of the western astrologers. Therefore, the common man in Europe does not find astrology or astrologers very useful for his day-to-day life or even during his exceptional circumstances.
• Faith in Karma: An Indian should be more tuned to belief in Karma because he has Gita’s teachings flowing through his blood from early childhood. Alas, it is not so. An average German/European has more belief in his power and ability to shape the destiny through his own efforts. The material advancements in their countries support their belief. Therefore, their disdain towards astrology is understandable.
As it turned out, Palm-readings were more readily accepted though there was no dearth of cynics, disbelievers and down right ridiculers. Yet the more open-minded people started trickling in. There were various reasons due to which they came. The most important can be broadly classified as:
- For the sake of pure fun.
- For the sake of curiosity, how it is done? Can it really be done? Is it not some magic?
- Some real problems that would be gnawing at their hearts or haunting their minds and they would want to know what lay in store for them in future.
- Some friend or colleague recommended that they must visit the Indian Palm-readers as they are something special.
- The last but the foremost was ‘When will I meet the love of my life?’ or ‘when will my big love come?’ or ‘Is my current love the love of my life?’
The fun lovers just wanted to have the experience of what it is like to have the palm read as they had no previous experience of it. Generally, they were suitably impressed and happy to have got it done. Their apprehensions turned out to be unfounded. One case comes to mind. A young American girl got her palm read and left money enough for 3 persons. A little later she came to say that we should see her friend’s palm but not tell him that we had been paid since the friend did not believe in all this. The friend refused to come despite her persuations. They came back again after an hour and this young man then got his palm read. He was amazed how we could tell so much from the palm. He disbelievingly accepted my explanation that it is a language that can be learnt by anyone. His scientific mind(?) had received a big jolt and he had gathered enough food for thought for a whole life-time. Atleast this is how he described his experience of the reading.
You know a lot of me!
Then there was this class of curious people. Many of them would just watch us doing the palm from outside the stall. They just stood fascinated watching that such a thing could be done. We were the subject of innumerable flashguns fired by such curious people. They would take the photo even if they did not know the person showing his/her palm.
After the reading many of them expressed their approval by a quaint remark, “You know a lot of me”. One such person came again after 10-12 days and asked for a repeat reading. I suggested that in 10-12 days there would have been no difference in his lines and, therefore, my reading would be the same. He told me that he wanted to ascertain if the other day I was not doing some magic, because that day I had told him something significant and he wanted to test whether I would tell him the same thing again. For a moment I was in a fix. It was nearly impossible to recall what I had told him 10 days back. Here was the question of protecting the honour of my science of palmistry. I searched hard for any abnormality or special thing in his hand and told him whatever I found. I was unsure whether I had repeated (covered) that one thing that he wanted to hear. To my utter relief (and I am sure his too) he confirmed that last time I had told him that he had had a legal hassel related to his love life (an influence line from lower mount of Mars was cutting the life line at the age of 34-35 and going towards the marriage line) at the age of 34 years and today I told him the same thing at the age of 35 years. Since the difference of 1 year was hardly material he congratulated me and promised to send a photograph of me which he had taken the last time. In a week’s time I received a letter of appreciation from him and a very crisp digital printout of my photo looking at the palm of a lady, his new conquest that earlier evening.
There were many amongst the curious who wanted to show their hands but did not want us to tell them anything bad. A very large number of people had this apprehension that if we told them about any tragic event in their future, how would they handle it. This was in direct contrast with the Indian clients who would insist that we told them everything as it is. Of course, a wise and compassionate palmist would never tell about tragic or strongly unfavourable things as it is because he has clients’ well being at the back of his mind. He also gets a fairly good idea of how well the client can take bad news by one look at the palm. Generally, a hard hand with straight head line will be able to get the useful message from the bad news and will be able to make efforts in the direction of averting the calamity. As opposed to this, a soft hand with drooping headline, pointed fingers and badly rayed mount of Moon has to be handled with care, bad news broken gently and remedial measures, if any, advised simultaneously.
I used to tell the client who forbade me from telling the bad news that he was paying for the full bottle of Coca Cola, drinking the half and throwing away the remaining half. Towards the end of the all-positive reading I would ask for the client’s permission if now he/she was ready for the bad part. Most of them were in a state of reassurance by now and gave the permission for the bad news also. Actually, it is the bad news in which lies the useful aspect of palm-reading – the palmist’s advice. If everything is going great guns where is the need for any palm reading or advice?
A Typical German Hand
Having seen so many German hands, in such a short time, the picture of a typical German person was etched on our minds. As are the characteristics in the palms of its people so are the characteristics of a nation. With practice it had become possible for us to announce that even if a curtain was put between us and the client we would be able to pronounce whether we were seeing the hands of a German or a national of some other country. So typical is the hand of a typical German that we caught ourselves using the following words almost parrot-like: sincere, honest, ambitious, practical, hardworking, strong willed and well-disciplined. The palms had the features to warrant this type of reading – a well formed mount of Jupiter and the heart line commencing from it or sending an offshoot to it, square tips, head line nearly straight with a slight droop towards the end, semi hard hand and an unbending thumb. Another feature which could be considered as a ‘constant’ was present in majority of cases. It was a malformed heart line after the mid point. This indicated emotional unhappiness or stress after the age of 35 or 40 years. If one could generalise from these sample cases, it seemed as if the whole nation was suffering from emotional disturbances. Almost everyone was suffering from insecurities in his/her relationship. No one could say with any degree of confidence how long their present relationship would last. And that is why that was the oft-repeated question to us. It was understandable if a person would come alone and ask this question. But this question was asked even by husband-wife teams who came together – though there were few such teams. This question was an open admission in front of each other that they could be having some one else in their minds – otherwise why this question? On our reassuring them that there seemed to be good indications in the hand that they would stay together for a long time, they would express their happiness by planting a kiss on the lips of each other right in front of us.
The third category was of people who had some real problems at present and were looking for possible solutions or guidance in how to solve these problems. At one point of time we realized that our proficiency at palm reading would not suffice. A mere mention of a problem at present or in future does not help people. They are looking for solutions to their problems and guidance in that direction. And that is what is not given in the books on palmistry. It is only your own life-experience, your own special training or your own special interests that can help the situation.
There were all kinds of questions directed at us which had no direct answers in palmistry. My colleague had a degree in Business Management and I in Engineering. In these curricula none of what was taught to us came to our rescue. Even if our proficiency in Palmistry were ten times higher these questions would have remained unanswered if we did not make use of the techniques we had learnt from psycho therapeutics, meditation, management, or general readings in spirituality or self-development.
The techniques that were spontaneously developed and repeatedly used were mainly drawn from: Transactional Analysis (psycho therapeutics), Vipas-sana (meditation), seven Habits of Successful People by Steve Cauvey (management), seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Dr. Deepak Chopra (spiritual management), Wisdom of the New Millennium by Sri Sri Ravishankar (spiritual evolution). It would be difficult for me to place my finger on a specific source of inspiration for a specific answer as often times the guidance offered would be a mixture of several of them. These sources are any way known for their porous boundaries.
The clients who had specific health problems were advised a suitable remedy from Naturopathy or other alternative therapeutic systems. It came to us as a great surprise that homoeopathy was not such a popular therapy in the land of its birth as it is in India, even though the world imports its best medicines from Germany. We developed a technique to diagnose whether a client was predominantly Vaata type or Pitta or Kapha type by looking at the palm. I experimented with prescribing homoeopathic medicines such as Nux Vomica to Vaata type and Pulsatila to Pitta type because the description of Vaata imbalance matches exactly with the medicinal profile of Nux and of Pitta with Pulsatila. These medicines could work for the respective types as constitutional remedies — a concept unique to homoeopathy. We met with many cases of skin diseases. Some people reported back miraculous recoveries who had been recommended a wash with Neem-water — a harmless remedy practised in rural India. We recommended the use of emerald in the little finger, after a thorough appraisal of their horoscope, if afflicted Mercury was the planet causing their skin disease. This was prompted by a badly rayed mount of Mercury in the palm.
Simple remedies that are known to most Indians such as drinking 2-3 glasses of water in the early morning to cure constipation were reported back by some as miraculous. Bad digestion is detected easily by a badly broken line of hepatica and can be cured easily in its early stages by the above method or other naturopathic methods which have no adverse side effects. Of course we left the more complicated diseases to be handled by the well trained ayurveda experts, who were also present in the India pavillion. But unlike the physician, an astrologer or a palmist can detect a possible disease much before it manifests on the body and, therefore, a preventive regimen can be profitably prescribed.
Palmistry can offer very sound advice on careers and many young men and women took advantage of that. I think personality traits and potential are more easily discernible from the palm than the horoscopic chart — at least to me. Since many people in Germany continue to study till late – even up to the age of 30 or 35 years (with intermittent breaks), what to study that will offer them a better professional success becomes a perennial question. We broke many a young heart by advising them that they should concentrate on their studies because they were not likely to become famous pop-stars. They neither had the proper Sun line nor an appropriate mount of the Moon. A strongly drooping headline with conic tips and soft hands would never give them the tenacity or perseverance so necessary to succeed in such a competitive line.
One young girl, exceptionally beautiful, was the first client one fine morning. She wanted me to guide her whether she should study medicine, psychotherapy or law. Her hand revealed that she was more beauty than brains. I took her permission to take a picture or two before giving the answer. In the process of taking her portraits I realized how photogenic she was and how powerful were her eyes. I advised her to take to modelling rather than the studies she was contemplating.
What was very surprising was that several young girls who had either passed the examinations for becoming doctors or were about to complete their courses themselves had very poor health – a very strongly criss-crossed hand, soft and delicate, islanded life line, depressed mounts of Mars, etc. Of course they had very good headlines indicating sharp minds. They had to be advised to avoid physical and mental stress so as not to fall prey to nervous breakdown because the basic vitality was low.
We saw the hands of many psychotherapists who were themselves in urgent need of therapy. Some of course were very good but the majority had serious problems in their own lives. They were vaguely aware of the benefits offered by meditation specially by Vipassana. We extolled the virtues of meditation and told them what profound effect it had had on our lives and that they must try it not only for their own benefit but also for the benefit of their clients. One psychotherapist is coming to my mind whose head line was so defective that I was suspicious that he must be causing damage to his clients rather than offer them any improvement. On entering into a dialogue with him my suspicion got confirmed because he had a very poor practice and most of his clients did not return to him after a couple of sessions with him. His heartline was also full of islands indicating that he did not have emotional stability either.
Characters of an author
It was a matter of great delight to see the hands of many musicians, dancers and actors. To one person I told that he must be an author, a poet or a philosopher. He said he was an author. I said, “You are not writing on history, social sciences or articles based on facts; you must be writing fiction.” He said ‘yes’ and asked me, “Now that you have told a lot about my character, can you describe the characters I write?” Now this was like a second order equation in algebra, quite difficult to solve. The author had a strong imagination (bulging mount of Moon) but then so had I. The author had a strong mount of Jupiter and so had I. I told him that his characters, specially the hero, is an extremely idealistic man and would fight for the cause he stands for till the last drop of blood in his body. I had seen that this author was an idealistic man but compromised with his principles as he was also very comfort-loving. So, what he could not become in his real life he could project onto his characters and satisfy his fancies and idiosyncrasies. I was dead right as the author confirmed my description of his hero. But he kept wondering aloud whether I was reading his hand or his novels or I must be having some supernatural powers.
Many other instances come to the mind. One notable case is of the actor who had come from Holland and his play was running at the Expo. He wanted me to tell him what roles he should choose so that he could turn in a powerful performance. He was advised that he should pick up high energy roles with sincere and profound dialogues because that went better with his own personality – high mount of upper Mars, strong mount of Mercury and a very good mount of Jupiter; good space between his lines of head and heart and the heart line starting from mount of Jupiter.
Some people wanted an opinion on whether their new venture would succeed or not. To most of them we gave reassurance that they would succeed except to those in whose hands clear danger signals were visible or a special character flaw would not allow them to succeed. A good fate line if supported by a fine Sun line is a sure formula for success. But if the fate line in subsequent years had islands or breaks they were advised to make their moves rather cautiously. On the other hand, some people had plans and proposals but were hesitant to take the final step. They needed a little push to come out of their fear or complacency. There came a physics teacher who was a very fine man but was a bit too shy. He was being asked by the members of his village community to take on the responsibility of supervising the village welfare schemes. He was very hesitant. I told him to go ahead as this post could open the doors for his future evolution and influence. He had to be convinced that with his scientific and logical mind he could do a lot of good work for his community. He promised to give it a try in pursuit of his ideal of selfless social service. He had a good Sun line and a good head line besides many other supporting features in his hand.
There was this other lady who had inherited her father’s business but not his business acumen. She was very perplexed about how to make her staff work according to her plan. Now this should have been a question to a management guru and not to a palmist. But the question was asked with a confidence that we would be able to answer it easily. We had noticed that the lady had a bit of a headstrong character and did not think high enough of others in comparison to herself. Drawing upon our experience of dealing with our own workers we told her the game plan. “You should invite each worker to your cabin and explain the job. Then ask the worker to explain the plan how he/she is going to achieve the target.. Suggest at the appropriate time gently, how about doing it ‘this’ way. The worker can go back with the idea that the whole plan is his/her’s. Once the worker has the ownership of the plan he/she automatically takes the responsibility of making it work enthusiastically. It relieves you of the burden of constantly supervising or pushing them to work harder”.
There were many such hints that were offered to various people which went beyond the confines of astrology or palmistry as such.
(To be concluded)
© Vinay Aditya, Vedic Astrology Magazine.