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Samudrika Shastra in Hinduism – Morphology – Anga Lakshana Shastra

Samudrika Shastra in Hinduism is a Sanskrit term for the Hindu school of morphology. It is also known as Anga Lakshana Shastra and is a sort of occult science that uses physical features of a human body to prognosticate its future.

Like astrology and palmistry, it originated in India and is recognized as an occult science.

Samudrika Shastra gives seven golden principles to judge a person’s future. One would be fortunate if one has:
  1. Long arms, long eyes, long waist, long nostrils and a long front part (above the waist).
  2. Short neck, short ears, short back and short thighs
  3. Well developed nose, eyes, forehead, teeth, head and chest
  4. Soft and subtle finger tips, hair, nails and skin.
  5. Red or rosy palms, soles, nails, palate, tongue, lips and the edge of the eyes
  6. Deep voice, intelligence and navel
  7. Well spread forehead, chest and shoulders.
After a methodical compilation by Sage Samudra (Samudrena) during 4th Century AD it came to be known as Samudrika Shastra.

The three main branches of Samudrika Shastra are:
  • Mukhapriti Vijnana (Study made on the basis of reading the face and the general structure)
  • Hasta Rekha Vijnana (palmistry)
  • Pada Lakshana Vijnana (study of the lines on the sole, also called solistry.)
The method of prediction studies the entire hint and structure of a human body and foretells its owner’s future on the basis of these ancient observations.

Samudrika Shastra received notable contributions from Hindu sages like Valmiki, Veda Vyasa, Sage Parashara, Varahamihira and Samudrena.

Samudrena had compiled all the observations of his predecessors and gave this study the form of a regular discipline.

According to a verse attributed to Varahamihira, Samudrika Shastra studies thirteen attributes of a body. They are
  1. Anuka – shape or general appearance of the face
  2. Unmana – quantity or volume
  3. Kanti – glow
  4. Gati – Gait
  5. Prakriti – Basic nature
  6. Mana – Weight
  7. Varna – Complexion
  8. Sattwa – essential or steadfast wisdom
  9. Sneha – smoothness of the body
  10. Samhati – the way the joints are formed
  11. Sara – Basic material
  12. Swara – the nature note from the throat
  13. Kshetra – the division of the mental, practical and basic worlds in the overall personality.
Later on, the element of gandha (natural odor) was added to the list to make it a study of fourteen basic parameters to reveal the features of a body.

Since everything has been created from the five basic elements – earth, water, fire, space, and air – it is the dominant influence of these elements that gives clues in the assessments.

Anukha means the shape or appearance. Although the study of the face dominates this section, general appearance of the entire body is taken into consideration. Those with a square face are practical, whereas those with a round face are unwise, people with a spatulate face are short tempered but tenacious; persons with an oval face are more thoughtful and persons with the inverted pitcher-like face are more imaginative.
There are many subdivisions of each category of face, made on the basis of the angularity of the nose, its concavity or convexity and the like, also on its semblance with the face of beasts of animals.

Earlier, unmana was used to analyze the height of a person; subsequently, two other dimensions were added. In order to measure these dimension, the unit employed is angula or roughly the breadth of the finger; and hatha (hand’s length, i.e., from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.) While 24 angulas are equal to one hatha, one hatha is believed to be 18 or 19 inches long. Proportions of the face with the entire body, length of the nose, and breadth of the forehead are some of the proportions that are studied to predict the fate of a person. For example a man with a broad forehead is likely to succeed in the administrative field, a man with a convex forehead is more of a communicator and hence good for a marketing job, and one with a concaving forehead is of reflective temperament and is ideally suited for creative jobs.

Kanti or mrijja discusses the natural glow of a person that gives an aura to the personality. This glow is again studied with regard to the predominance of the basic elements, and accordingly the man’s potential to cash in on his talents and abilities can be predicted.

Gati the manner in which one carries one’s body reveals a lot about the person’s demeanor, confidence, tenacity and the capacity to achieve success in one’s mission in life.

Prakriti refers to the basic nature of a person. This factor is indispensable in any study of Indian origin. Following the Ayurvedic dictum, this branch of knowledge also divides all human beings into three categories – pitta prakrti, phlegmatic (kaphat prakriti) and windy (vata prakriti); accordingly their capabilities and success or failure in life is determined.

In Samudrika Shastra, mana means the body weight. It is believed that ancient acharyas of this knowledge could prognosticate about a person once they knew his or her exact weight. Not only this, when they would have no scale, they would make the person sit in water in a specially built vessel. The weight of the water displaced by the person’s body would give them a clue about his/her weight. This ratio of the general appearance and the weight factor was used to know more about the person.

Those with fair and reddish varna are generally successful in life. Those with a pale complexion are generally of an artistic temperament, but shining, dark-complexioned persons are normally great achievers.

Sattva determines the steadfastness of the wisdom of a person. Only with natural confidence in oneself is generally a born achiever.

Those with a smooth body are generally soft by nature and are easy going people. Their lives are full of missed opportunities and lost chances. Its excess is not good in hair and teeth, its excess in skin and tongue is indicative of luxurious living.

Samhati studies the person’s body joints. The lesser the joints are visible, the better it is for the health of the person.

Sara means the overall impact of the personality, which depends upon the genes or Samskara. This is noticeable in those persons whose approach life is very cautious. Those with a gay and cavalier attitude may lack it.

Swara is an important parameter and an independent branch; Swarodaya Vidya has evolved from it. Every person has a distinct swara (natural voice). The interaction among the thousands of nadis results in one’s special swara.

Kshetra determines the division and hence domination among the mental, practical and basic worlds. According to this knowledge, a mere look of a person reveals his basic characteristics.

Every person has his/her own distinct gandha (odor). There are seven kinds of smell –
  1. karpuni gandha (camphor – like), 
  2. kasturi gandha (musk like), 
  3. pushpi gandha (flowery), 
  4. unarki gandha (betel-mint  like), 
  5. varuni gandha (wine-like and over powering), 
  6. tivra gandha (pungent like that of a vinegar), and 
  7. smell of putrefaction. 
Those with kasturi gandha are always successful, and those with the last type never give up.

Source – Notes taken from Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IX (IHRF). (page 155 - 157)