Angavijja: Ancient Book of Body Language and Physiognomy
Angavijja: The Book and its History
Angavijja is an ancient book of reading a person through his body language and physiognomy. Ancient Indians used this technique of reading a person to reveal the occult knowledge and foretell the future. The book was compiled in 4th Century C.E. It was written in ancient Marhatti Prakrit language. The book contains 60 chapters and 9000 stanzas. The author of this book is unknown and we only know that he was a Jain ascetic who credits the work to Jain ascetics of prior periods.
This techniques of reading persons and predicting was prevalent in ancient Indians as a practice. This book is the only book on this subject, which is still available. The book is a huge compilation of techniques developed by the great observers. Thanks to the Jain monks and Jain manuscript libraries who preserved this book for many centuries. The book is a small part of the huge Jain literature.
The book originally was written in about 4th Century, in the period of Gupta and Kushan period, and were preserved in the form of manuscripts. When the manuscripts became old, they were rewritten. Thus the Monks carried forward the book for last 15-16 centuries. They preserved it in the traditional Jain libraries.
It was 1957, when for the first time this book was published in printed form by newly formed Prakrit Text Society. 7 manuscripts from various libraries were used for this work. The book was edited by Muni Punyavijaya, a great monk of 20th Century. A preface in Hindi and English describes the subject of the book in details, and then all the original stanzas are given in the book. The book is dedicated to Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India.
Reading a Person Through Body Language
The book discusses about reading a person and predicting not based on planets, stars, zodiac etc., but the body language, physiognomy and living status. The predicting is based on observing how the person comes, walks, sits, talks, what organs of his body he touches, laughs, cries, is he humble or not, his costume, the ornaments he is wearing, who else has came with him and many other things.
The book discusses about hundreds of acts and gestures of a person including standing, sitting, laughing, crying, yawning etc. It describes 32 types of sitting, 17 types of resting on, 28 types of standing, 14 types of laughing, 16 types of saluting/bowing, 10 types of watching/seeing, 16 types of arriving, 20 types of crying, 7 types of yawning, 14 types of hugging and 16 types of kissing. The book also gives many types of various other acts and gestures.
The book gives 270 types and signs of body features.
Useful to Know about Ancient India
The importance of the book Angavijja is not limited to knowing about reading persons, but it is also important to know about people, their activities and lifestyles in ancient India. The book is very useful to the students and scholars of ancient Ayurveda (medical science), agriculture, animals, coins, commerce, people, metals, weaponry, ornaments, Gods and Goddesses, religions, plants, seasons, vehicles, food, cloths, costumes, political designations etc.
Besides this academic and research use, the book is also useful to Doctors, Lawyers, Judge, Cops, Film Directors, Authors for knowing the techniques of reading a person.
The book is still in Prakrit language. It is need of time that it should be translated in Hindi and English languages. But such translation is not an easy task, as the book is huge and the translator or translators must be familiar to the ancient Prakrit language and also familiar to the various subjects discussed in the book. Muni Punyavijay, the editor of the book says, 'It will be not useful to translate the book unless we fully understand the content in it".
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