No Charge for Mantra

Palmist Misreads Hand Lines

A couple of women on my Hindu goddess study tour had gone off to do a memorial service at the burning ghat for one of their departed mothers, so I found myself with some free time. I thought I’d walk back up to Lallan’s and find out what more information he had gathered about my daughter. She was Jupiterian, weak on Saturn, unusual, research-minded, good on argument, yes. Favorable colors-dark. But what more?

I strode off, about 10 a.m. By 11 I was sweltering on this hike between Assi Ghat and the Ten Horse Sacrifice Market. I took refuge in Hari Om Shalom’s little stall.

Hari is a palmist about half way between Assi Ghat and the main market on Rana Mahal Ghat, next door to Hotel Elena and the Ajay Guest House. He has studied 30 years in the Mahayesh Yoga School. His teacher just died last month in Poland. He chants Hare Krishna after you write your birth date in the big book, and situate yourself on the appropriate chair close enough to the electric fan to feel the cool breeze in the little room to the right of the stairs. On the wall, Hari has painted a large pink and blue palm with the nine planets corresponding to the nine mounts, labeled in Hindi, and indicating some lines.

Hari cuts quite a visual, sitting cross-legged in front of you on a raised platform. He asks you to put your palms down on a blue plastic-covered book, and carefully traces each finger up and down with a pointed flashlight doing a slow wordless inspection. For what, he doesn’t say.

Then he turns over your hand and does the same thing on the other side. As he is slow to speak, you notice he is wearing a wife beater T-shirt, five or six strands of prayer beads, and four jewel-studded rings on his right hand. Plus an orange dot on his forehead, which means he has been to a temple. It is easy to imagine a turban, but there isn’t one. Your browser may not support display of this image.

Then he starts to utter important things. “You had a boyfriend at the age of 20.”

No,” I said.

But your hands say so…you had a boyfriend at 32.”


But that is what your lines say.”

Then they are wrong,” I said.

You will have three children.”

I have one, but I stopped arguing with him and realized this was one of the bad experiences with Indian palmists people often talk about.

Then Hari said, “Your lucky number is 3. March is a good month for you. You should be vegetarian every Thursday.”

This is from the palms?” I asked.

This is from numerology,” he said. “We combine numerology and palmistry in India. You need a moonstone on your little finger or ring finger on your left or right hand. You will develop more spiritually. You will move to a holy city by age 59-60 and be very happy living a spiritual life.”

As my attention wandered I recognized a few words of Hebrew being spoken outside on the steps. I said to the group of travelers perched on the steps outside his booth, I was always surprised to hear Hebrew being spoken in other countries outside of Israel. “You are Jewish?” one asked.


You have anything for a migraine?” she wanted to know next, as if that question followed logically.”

Yes.” I guess it did.

So listen, Hari, where can I get a moonstone ring?” I asked him as I tuned back in just before I left. Suddenly I realized why the string of prayer necklaces behind him on the wall. He was selling his prescriptions to everyone.

Here, I have one, for 150.”

I took it.

Would you like a mantra?” he asked.

I hesitated. “I have to go,” I said. “I have to give some one out there something for a migraine. She is in pain waiting for me.”

No charge for mantra,” Hari said smilingly. “It’s om nava shiva nava shiva…say it five times a day and Shiva will appear to you in a vision.”

Your browser may not support display of this image.Thanks,” I said, as I ducked away.

Batya Weinbaum is a practicing palmist and a prolific writer currently exploring goddesses in India.

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