76: Divine Mothers

76: Divine Mothers

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

Divine Mothers

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.

~Abraham Lincoln

I don’t know if I chose to be a palmist, or if palmistry chose me—but I do know that if not for a mother’s love and guidance, I would never have followed my heart and fulfilled my true destiny.

Deciding to become a palmist may strike some in the West as an odd career choice. But in India, where I grew up, palmistry is a venerable profession whose origins stretch back thousands of years to the teachings of the Vedas, Hinduism’s most sacred scriptures.

My earliest memories are of my grandfather practicing palmistry in the courtyard of our home. He was a deeply spiritual man who spent decades studying the Vedic Arts of Ayurvedic healing, astrology and palmistry. When he retired from the construction business, he devoted his life to helping others with his great spiritual knowledge.

I was in awe of his ability to diagnosis the exact cause of a person’s physical, emotional, or psychological ailment by studying their palms, help them heal themselves by suggesting specific changes they could make in their diet, attitude, habits or behavior—and never once charging for his services. To Grandfather, palmistry was about growing closer to God and teaching others to do so. When we meditated together he always encouraged me to invite “Mother Divine” — the female essence of God and embodiment of compassion and love — to guide me along my path in life because “a mother’s love will never steer you wrong.”

He taught me about the geography of the hand, how the delicate lines crisscrossing our palms form a roadmap of our lives that can reveal great truths about ourselves and lead us toward happiness. His passion for palmistry took root in my own young heart and I began reading the palms of both my schoolmates and strangers on the street. I kept sketchbooks filled with pictures of the hands I had studied; I was drawn to an open palm like an explorer to an uncharted continent.

But my enthusiasm soured when I discovered that Grandfather’s approach to palmistry was unique. Because most Indians believe their destiny is determined more by fate than freewill, palmistry was used as a tool for fortunetelling, not for personal and spiritual growth. And I had no interest in becoming a fortune-teller.

Thankfully, Mother Divine stepped in.

She arrived in the form of our white-haired family astrologer, who was summoned on my twelfth birthday to read my astrological chart. The entire family gathered for the event and were astounded at the great sage’s pronouncement:

“This boy will revolutionize palmistry. One day he will travel far and wide teaching thousands about the spiritual benefits of Vedic Palmistry the way a minister teaches the Gospels.”

My grandfather was overjoyed, but my father, a no-nonsense military man who expected me to follow in his footsteps, was quiet. Dad had tolerated my palmistry preoccupation as a childish dalliance but now he worried his eldest son could end up as a mad monk reading palms on a New Delhi street for a pittance. So he made an announcement of his own — I was being shipped off to a militaristic boarding school.

However, Mother Divine must have chosen the school because it had an enormous collection of Vedic texts in its library, which I spent the next three years devouring. To keep peace in the family, I promised my father I would get a university degree before setting out to become a professional palmist, which I did.

Several years later, I had a fulltime government job teaching physical education at a college and was married with two small children. I had also realized my dream of opening up a Palmistry Center in New Delhi and had a busy private palmistry practice. By all accounts life was very, very good. But the fatalist Indian mindset had not changed—people still came to palmists to have their future predicted, not to seek ways to improve their lives and change their destiny. I feared I would never be free to fully practice the spiritual palmistry I had learned from my grandfather.

Then, in early 1970, I saw a newspaper ad placed by a Montreal restaurateur looking for “the best palmist in all of India” to work in his Indian restaurant in Canada. I knew nothing about Montreal except that it was in the West, where freewill was valued over fatalism. The realization hit me: Montreal was where I needed to be! More than 600 palmists applied for the job, but it was offered to me—provided I could be packed and ready to go in four days.

But everyone was against the idea. My friends predicted I’d starve in a snow bank, my wife accused me of abandoning her, my father wouldn’t lend me the money to buy a winter coat, and my boss refused to accept my resignation. The general consensus was that I was crazy.

I didn’t eat or sleep for three days, wracked with guilt and indecision, as my extended family set up camp inside my house, hoping to dissuade me. The night before my flight, I was praying for guidance when suddenly, my anxieties calmed. I saw a shimmering pool of light in front of me and the beautiful face of Mother Divine.

“Mother?” I asked, completely flabbergasted.

“You are going,” she answered, in a voice as soft as sweet music. “Don’t worry about what others think, they will accept your decision later. But now, you must follow your heart and go.”

A moment later, she vanished. I left for Montreal the next day—my own saintly mother was the only one to see me off. We rode to the train station together in a rickshaw before dawn.

“You are doing the right thing,” she told me, in tears. “Your grandfather told us long ago that your destiny would take you away from us.”

A few days later, I was in the Montreal restaurant excitedly preparing to give my first reading when I noticed something odd—the restaurant patrons were all English-speaking white people.

“Where are the Indian customers?” I asked the owner, in Hindi.

“We don’t have any,” he said.

“But . . . how will we understand each other during the reading?”

He looked shocked: “You mean . . . you don’t speak English?”

I shook my head.

“I’ve got sixty clients waiting for readings. I’m ruined!” he cried out, throwing his arms up in despair. “I guess I’ll have to make you a bartender.”

I politely excused myself and retreated to the men’s room, where I promptly burst into tears.

“Oh, Mother Divine! Did you take me far away from my home and family only to embarrass me and turn me into bartender?”

Suddenly, I felt Mother Divine’s calming presence again, and heard her sweet, soothing voice.

“Dry your tears and go out there with a smile. You can do it. I will be with you.”

I went back to the dining room and told the owner I was ready. While I’d been weeping in the bathroom, his wife had volunteered to translate for me until I learned English. Moments later my first client was ushered in — a glowing young woman who was nine months pregnant. I smiled: Mother Divine!

I can’t for the life of me remember what I said to that first client, but it must have been good because she approached the proprietor afterward.

“This is the best palmist you’ve ever had,” she told him. “Don’t lose him, he’ll be great for business!”

That was more than forty years ago. I’ve been in Montreal practicing my beloved Vedic Palmistry ever since. I’ve even been able to open my own lakeside Palmistry and Wellness center on a beautiful 500-acre forest reserve north of the city where I am happily teaching college-level courses in palmistry to students from all over the world.

I owe my good fortune to all my Mothers Divine, whom I will always heed. I know from experience that Mother knows best.

~Ghanshyam Singh Birla with Steve Erwin

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