Samudrika Shastra part of the Vedic tradition, is the study of face reading, aura reading, and whole body analysis. Samudrika Shastra is a Sanskrit term that translates roughly as “knowledge of body features.” Often used in Vedic astrology, as it is related to astrology and palmistry (Hast-samudrika), as well as phrenology (kapal-samudrik) and face reading (physiognomy, mukh-samudrik). It is also one of the themes incorporated into the ancient Hindu text, the Garuda Purana.
This tradition assumes that every natural or acquired bodily mark encodes its owner’s psychology and destiny. Elevation, depression, elongation, diminution, and other marks become relevant. There are five main types of human elements in terms of the Samudrika: Agni, Vayu, Jal, Akash and Prithvi. Traditional stories in India thus abound with descriptions of rare auspicious markings found on the bodies of memorable people. Legends about the Rama and Krishna Avatars, Gautama the Buddha, and Mahavira the Tirthankara conform to this tradition.
Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains share this ancient Samudrika Shastra tradition. Fragments of it pop up in other cultures as well. Phrenology and face reading evoke its principles. Sheldon’s typology of body forms, ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph (called somatotypes) also mimics the ancient Samudrika Shastra’s impulse.