HAST SAMUDRIKA SHASTRA
THE INDIAN SCIENCE OF HAND READING
Secretary and Educational Adviser, Ministry of Education, Government of India.
I have been asked by my old friend and school fellow, Mr. K. C. Sen, to write a foreword to his book on Palmistry. I have consented to do so after weeks of hesitation and diffidence because I regard myself as entirely unqualified to write on a subject about which I know next to nothing. Ultimately, courtesy has overcome commendable discretion and here I am doing something which I can imagine myself advising my friends, under similar circumstances not to do ! Only once before have I allowed myself to be placed in a similar awkward position and that was some years ago in Kashmir when my friend. Pandit Brijlal Nehru (then Accountant General in the State) persuaded me, against my better judgment, to write an introduction to his collection of poems in English. Only, I have even less title to speak about Palmistry than I had about English Poetry! I hope this frank confession will disarm likely critics who would be quite in order if they raised their fine, supercilious eyebrows at this unwarranted act on my part.
And yet it will be wrong to imagine that I or for that matter, any one else—can be quite indifferent to this fascinating field of speculation. I do know of some people who reject outright anything to do with Palmistry which they regard as so much 'bunkum.* This attitude is just as irrational as the credulous attitude which accepts as gospel truth anything that the street vendor of Palmistry may offer. A scientific attitude of mind should be ready to examine critically and without prejudice any data or evidence that comes its way and it should maintain a state of suspended judgment' till the truth or otherwise of a theory or a position is duly established. Personally, I hold this position though, from the little that I have read about it or the few contacts that I have had with palmists, I am inclined to think that there is a good deal in this ancient Art. (I do not know whether it can be given the status of a 'science' as some of its advocates claim for it.) I have read some accounts of the wonderful predictions made by Cheiro and seen the testimonials given to him by eminent persons whose veracity cannot very well be doubted. I have also had some experience of predictions made to me and about
me by certain personal friends who had studied Palmistry as a fascinating hobby and not as a commercial 'stunt/ I might perhaps share a couple of these predictions with the readers of this book. It was the end of December 1937 and I was then Principal of the Training College at Aligarh where I had been living for over ten years. I met a friend of mine at a Conference and he offered to read my hand which I let him do in a light-hearted spirit. He said many pleasing tilings (which one usually expects from friends ancl, if one is sensible, one does not take them seriously) and then towards the end he remarked, "In about six months from now you will be leaving Aligarh and taking up another kind of administrative post elsewhere which will give you a broader scope for work/ I said (or possibly only thought to myself) that it was impossible as I had no intention of going elsewhere and had settled down at Aligarh (so far as I knew) for good. In May 1938 I received an invitation from the Kashmir Government to take over the Directorship of Education in the State and next month I had joined the post! My friend, reading the news in the papers, wired to me saying "Congratulations on the fulfilment of my prophecy!" The other incident occurred some years later when, during a visit to Delhi, I came across another friend who had also taken palmistry as a hobby. I said to him casually that I had been asked to join a deputation which was going abroad shortly for a Conference. He looked at my hand and said 'No,' there is no such indication in your hand for the next few months/ I was rather amused and said, "My hand may have failed to catch up with my programme but I have actually received the invitation to go/' He said, "I do not know whether or not you will go but I can only tell you about the indications as I find them in your