Brihat Samhita

by N. Chidambaram Iyer | 1884 | 135,584 words | ISBN-13: 9788171104215

This page describes anga-vidya (prediction through limbs) which is the fifty-first Chapter of the English translation of the Brihat-samhita. This work, written by Varahamihira in the 6th century, is classified as jyotisha literature, also known as Indian astronomy. It contains however, also content regarding astrology, palmistry, agriculture, gardening, perfumes, medicines and various other encyclopedic topics.

Chapter 51 - Aṅga-vidyā (prediction through limbs)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

1. It shall be the duty of an astrologer to examine and note indications connected with the dik (direction), sthāna (place), and āhṛta (anything carried), as well as the ceṣṭā (motion) connected with the body of the querent or of any other person, and time. For the All-knowing Universal Intelligence pervading all movable and immovable objects indicates coming events by motions and casual words to devout souls who have faith in Him.

2. That place is known as Sama-sthāna which is shaded over by trees overgrown with fruits and flowers, inhabited by birds of fine glossy plumage, unapproached by evil birds and bearing good names. Dwelling places of the Devas, the Ṛṣis, the Brāhmaṇas, the Sādhus and the Siddhas, places rendered agreeable by fragrant flowers and crops, and places covered over with green turf, and from its purity and waters calculated to exhilarate one’s spirit, are also good places.

3. That is not a good place in which are found trees cut or split, or eaten through by worms or covered with thorns, or burnt or of ugly appearance, or crooked or inhabited by evil birds, or of bad names or with most of their leaves or their bark dry or fallen.

4. That is not a good place which is either a cremation ground or a deserted place of tapas (psychical training) or any uneven ground, or ground with barren or saline soil, or ground with excrement, charcoal, pot-shared, ash or dried grass.

5. That is not a good place in which is found a person who has abandoned all worldly cares, or a mute person, or a barber, or an enemy, or which may be a place of detention or custody, or in which may be found butchers, Cāṇḍālas, gamblers, ascetics or diseased persons, or which may be a place where weapons or liquor may be sold.

6. The east, north and north-east indicate good luck to the querent; the north-west, west, south-west, south and south-east do not indicate good luck. Forenoon indicates good luck, night, twilight hours and the afternoon do not indicate good luck.

7. The various good and bad indications described in my work on Yātrā are also applicable here. Judgment on queries shall be pronounced on examining the things before the astrologer, the things that may be brought before him or that the querent may have in his hands or about his clothes.

8-9. The organs that point to a male are the thighs, lips, nipples, testicles, feet, teeth, arms, hands, cheek, hair, throat, nails, thumb, arm-pit, shoulders, ears, anus and the genital organ. The organs that point to a female are the brows, the nose, the buttocks, folds of the belly, the hip and fingers with good lines; also the tongue, the neck, the calves of the leg, the heels, the ankles, the navel, the sides, the heart, the chin, the eyes, the the breast, or the lower part of the spine.

10. The organs that point to a hermaphrodite are the head and forehead. Face and other parts of the body point to delay in effect. Parts of body that point to a hermaphrodite as well as parts of disagreeable appearance or that may be wounded or broken, do not point to success in undertaking.

11. If the big toe is either touched or shaken, it indicates sore eyes; if any other toe is touched or shaken, there will be grief on account of one’s daughter. If the head is struck, there will be fear from the rulers.

12. If the breast is accidentally struck, husbands and wives will part from each other. If any torn or dirty clothes over a person be pulled, there will be poverty; if while putting the query, the querent should have his clothes stuck to his feet, the querent will gain his desired object.

13. If lines be drawn on the ground with the big toe, the matter quested relates to fields; if the feet be scratched by the hand, the matter relates to a maid servant.

14. If palm, bark-dress or clothes be seen, the matter quested relates to a cloth remaining in a place where hair, husk, bones, or ash is deposited; if a rope or net be seen, there will be disease, and if bark-dress be seen, the matter relates to one’s kinsmen.

15. If long pepper, pepper, dried ginger, vārida,[1] rodhra, kuṣṭha, cloth, water, cumin seed, gandha-māṃsi,[2] sonph, or tagara be seen, the matter quested relates respectively to what follows:

16. A woman, a man, an offender, an afflicted person, roads, son, wealth, grain, son, a biped creature, a quadruped and the earth.

17. If the fruits of the Nyagrodha, Madhuka, Tinduka, Jambū, Plakṣa, the Mango, or Badarī be seen in the hand, the matter relates respectively to the acquisition of wealth, to gold, mail, metal, cloth, silver or copper.

18. If a vessel full of grain or water be seen, there will be an increase of family. If the excrement of an elephant, a cow or a dog be seen, the matter relates respectively to stolen property, or gild or friends.

19. If a cow, an elephant, a buffalo, a lotus, silver or a tiger be seen, there will be a large acquisition of sheep, wealth, dwelling house, sandalwood, white silk or jewels.

20. If at the time of query, there be seen an old man, a Baudha, an ascetic, or a Sannyāsin, the matter quested relates to a friend, to gambling, to wealth, to a prostitute, to a king or to a woman just delivered.

21. If a Baudha, a preceptor, an Arhat, a naked Sannyāsin, any omen, a scientific work, or a fisherman be seen, the matter relates to a thief, a general, a merchant, a maid servant, a soldier, an article for sale, or a person to be killed respectively.

22. If a hermit be seen, the matter relates to a person who has gone abroad to travel; if a dealer in liquor be seen, the matter relates to the protection of animals; if a person be seen gathering grains in market places, the matter relates to some danger or difficulty.

23. If the querent be heard to say, “I like to question,” the matter relates to a wish to enjoy a woman; if he begins by stating “say,” the matter relates to a family; if the expression be “I want to see,” the matter relates to gain; if the expression be “requests that orders may be made,” the matter relates to wealth.

24. If the expression be “may the information be given,” the matter relates to success; if the expression be “examine soon and discover my thoughts,” the matter relates to something connected with roads; if the expression be “what is in the midst of all people should be soon examined,” the matter relates to kinsmen who have been abducted away.

25. If the Ceṣṭā (motion) refers to the inner organs, the matter relates to one’s own people; if to the outer organs, then, to other people; if to the toes or lingers, then, to man or a maid servant; if to the knees, then, to one’s servant; if to the navel, then, to one’s younger sister; and if to the heart, then, to one’s wife; and to the toes or other fingers, then, to a son or daughter.

26. If the Ceṣṭā refers to the belly, the query relates to one’s mother; if to the head, then, to one’s preceptor; if to the right or left arm, then, respectively, to one’s brother or brothers’s wife.

27. If, after leaving the inner organs, the outer organs be touched, or if at the time of query, the querent drops down anything in his hand while ejecting phlegm or passing urine or excrement, the matter quested relates to theft

28. If any part of the body be greatly bent and then concealed, or if any person be seen to possess an empty vessel, the matter relates to thieves; if at the time of query, such expressions as “carried away,” “fallen,” “wounded,” “forgotten,” “lost,” “broken,” “gone,” “stolen,” "dead,” and the like be heard, then, the stolen property cannot be recovered.

29. If the husk of grain, bones or poison be seen, or if moaning and sneezing be heard, the sick man will die; if the wind should blow on one’s body and then carry away some heavy substance from within a room, judgment shall be pronounced that a person after eating to excess and being over satiated has died.

30. If the forehead be touched or barley be seen, then Śalya rice is indicated; if the breast be touched, then the Ṣaṣṭika rice is indicated; if the neck be touched, barley rice is indicated.

31. If the abdomen, nipples, belly or knees be touched, the matter relates respectively to black-gram, milk, gingelly, or barley; if one is seen to swallow or lick the lip, sweet flavour is indicated.

32. If the tongue be struck against the pallet, the matter refers to an object of desire; if one is seen to make a wry face, sour substance is indicated; if one is seen to hiccough, then the substance indicated is either pungent, bitter or astringent; if one is seen to sputter, salt substance is indicated.

33. If one is seen to spit phlegm, a small dry bitter substance is indicated: if the brow, the cheek, or the lip be touched, the flesh of the vulture has been eaten.

34. If the head, neck, hair, chin, throat, ears, the śaṅkha, the knees or the lower belly be touched, judgment shall be pronounced that the meals eaten contained respectively the flesh of the elephant, buffalo, sheep, pig, cow, hare or deer.

35. If bad omens be seen or heard, the meals eaten contained the flesh of the iguana and the fish; questions connected with pregnancy shall be determined as follows:

36-37. If the organs or parts of body representing the male, female or hermaphrodite sex be seen, thought over or touched, a child of that sex will be born; if any drink, rice or flower be seen, prosperity is indicated; if the point between the brows or if fingers be touched by the thumb, the matter relates to pregnancy; if honey, ghee, gold, gems, corals and the like be touched or seen, or if the mother or ṛhe nurse or the son should be near, pregnancy is indicated:

38. If the hand is seen on the belly, the matter relates to pregnancy; if bad omen should occur, the matter does not relate to pregnancy; if the belly be pulled or the seat be disturbed, or if the hands be seen one over the other, the matter does not relate to pregnancy.

39. if the right nostril be touched, the delivery will occur after a month; if the left nostril be touched, after two months; not so if the ears be touched, but after two months, if the right ear be touched, and after four months, if the left ear be touched; also after four months if the right nipple be touched, and after eight months if the left nipple be touched.

40. The root of the plaited hair indicates 3 sons, the ears indicate 2 daughters, the hands 5 sons, the tip of the thumb 3 sons, the tip of the big toe 5 sons, the two heels a daughter.

41. If the right or left thigh be touched, a son or a daughter is indicated; if the centre or end of the forehead be touched, 4 or 3 sons will respectively be born.

43. The head, the forehead, the brows, the ears, the cheek, the jaw, the teeth, the neck, the right shoulder, the left shoulder, the hand, the chin, the wind pipe, the breast, the right nipple, the left nipple, the heart, the sides, the belly, the hip, the buttocks, the anus, the genital organs, the two thighs, the knees, the ankles and the feet are respectively parts of the body represented by the twenty-seven asterisms from Kṛttikā.

44. Thus I have described the several matters connected with Aṅgavidyā on a full examination of the treatises relating to the subject; that person who, possessed of a broad intellect and of a generous disposition masters this branch of the science, will be respected by the king and people.

Footnotes and references:


Vārida, otherwise known as Cala, a kind of perfume or fragrant grass, Andropogon schoenanthus.


Gandha-māṃsi: a kind of Indian spikenard.

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