this science was studied and practised in all the civilized countries of the Ancient World, including China, Tibet, Persia and Egypt. It flourished in Greece, where it found favour with those who are now honoured in various fields of human learning, such as Aristotle, Pliny, Paracelsus, Albertus Magnus, and the emperor Augustus.
Then came a period of neglect all the world over due to the jealousy of the early Christian Fathers over the sway of this old-world science. For in mediaeval Europe it was denounced as sorcery and witchcraft, and no honourable and educated person dared to study and practise it. It inevitably fell into the hands of gypsies and such other ignorant people, who brought it into disrepute. Despite numerous attempts at revival, it did not regain its former life and influence; not even in India, the lands of its origin, where it was confined to a few leading Brahmin families, who closely guarded their ancient lore. For
this reason many treasures in Sanskrit, at the present day, lie buried and hidden, thanks to the selfish traditions of the Brahmins. Every attempt to rescue them from oblivion and irretrievable loss has failed; their guardians cannot be persuaded with money or any other human means to part with their treasures. It is well known that a Brahmin guru or teacher does not impart instruction to anybody, except to carefully chosen disciples, whom he binds with a solemn oath not to reveal the teachings indiscriminately to any other fellow human being.
Neglected by the people who gave it birth, maligned, misunderstood, and suppressed by European nations, hand reading has persisted down the ages, in spite of unscrupulous charlatans; so much so that in the nineteenth century European savants took to it seriously and proved that it was a genuine science worthy of the attention of seekers of the highest kind of knowledge. If palmistry today has an honoured place among recognized sciences, it is owing to the good work of outstanding practitioners, like D'Arpentigny, Desbarroles, Cheiro, Ben-ham, Mrs. St. Hill, Mrs. Robinson, Count St. Germain, and Mr. Noel Jaquin. These outstanding palmists have made it what it is today, and to them we owe an immense debt of gratitude.
It is surprising that palmistry as an exact science has not developed in India to the extent it has in Europe and America. This is mainly due to the fact that its exponents here, Brahmin priests, do not keep abreast of modern research, and adhere to antiquated rules and techniques, preserved in Slokas and Sutras hoary with age. These have to be interpreted and illustrated in the light of twentieth-century findings, when they will undoubtedly make valuable contributions to the science.
European scholars, we agree, are singularly proficient in reading character, mental and physical tendencies, possibilities of a career, and the loves, joys and sorrows of man. They are able to read correctly and forecast the future of one's children, brothers, sisters and parents. But there are invaluable rules and methods, peculiar to and characteristic of Indian palmistry, that have been altogether bypassed and ignored by them, for example, the unusual marks and signs, such as those of the fish, trident, canopy, conch, flag, balance, and various types of triangles and squares. Their importance and significance in life have not been adequately recognized and stressed. In order to make palmistry a complete and comprehensive science, it is imperative to explain and include these aspects and mysteries of human existence.
Is another book on palmistry at all necessary, when standard works in great numbers—by famous palmists, ancient and modern— are available? For my part, after exhausting the English literature on the subject, I had to turn to the Sanskrit and Hindi texts found in this country. And my impression is that
the Indian system appears to be in a better position to interpret many complex and bafling aspects than any other system in the world. As an instance, I may refer to the signs of greatness and eminence, fully treated of in our Hasta Samu-drika, but completely overlooked by western palmistry. With this in mind, I reel tnat a book that combines both Eastern and Western methods of hand-reading would complete and round off our knowledge of this subject and meet a long-felt need.