Difference between revisions of "Śānti Literature"

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<small>By Swami Harshananda</small>
 
<small>By Swami Harshananda</small>
  
It is natural for the human being to react with the fear of the unknown when eerie unnatural incidents take place. Right from the most ancient times, they have also tried to forestall such happenings that might follow with appropriate propitiatory rites called śāntis by the scriptures in advance. The word is derived from the root śam which means to appease. It is a śānti which  means a rite that can offset or reduce the evil effects prognosticated by bad omens.  
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It is natural for the human being to react with the fear of the unknown when eerie unnatural incidents take place. Right from the most ancient times, they have also tried to forestall such happenings that might follow with appropriate propitiatory rites called [[Śāntis|śāntis]] by the scriptures in advance. The word is derived from the root śam which means to appease. It is a śānti which  means a rite that can offset or reduce the evil effects prognosticated by bad omens.  
  
 
==Reference of Śāntis==
 
==Reference of Śāntis==
Though this word has not been found in the Ṛgveda in this sense, it also finds a prominent place in the Atharvaveda,<ref>Atharvaveda 19.9</ref> the Taittiriya Samhītā<ref>Taittiriya Samhītā 6.1.7.7-8</ref> and Aitrareya Brahmaṇa<ref>Aitrareya Brahmaṇa 13.10</ref>
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Though this word has not been found in the [[Ṛgveda]] in this sense, it also finds a prominent place in the [[Atharvaveda]],<ref>[[Atharvaveda]] 19.9</ref> the Taittiriya Samhītā<ref>Taittiriya Samhītā 6.1.7.7-8</ref> and Aitrareya Brahmaṇa<ref>Aitrareya Brahmaṇa 13.10</ref>
  
 
==Literature on the Śāntis==
 
==Literature on the Śāntis==
 
The literature on the śāntis is quite large. A few of the works may be mentioned here:
 
The literature on the śāntis is quite large. A few of the works may be mentioned here:
 
# Kauśikasutras
 
# Kauśikasutras
# Apastamba Gṛhyasutras
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# [[Apastamba]] Gṛhyasutras
 
# Matsyapurāṇa
 
# Matsyapurāṇa
 
# Mārkandeyapurāṇa
 
# Mārkandeyapurāṇa
 
# Agnipurāna
 
# Agnipurāna
# Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa\Bṛhatsamhitā
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# Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa\[[Bṛhatsamhitā]]
 
# Adbhutasāgara\Śāntikamalākara
 
# Adbhutasāgara\Śāntikamalākara
  
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The treatises dealing with śāntis generally use three words that prognosticate future events. They are:
 
The treatises dealing with śāntis generally use three words that prognosticate future events. They are:
 
# Adbhuta
 
# Adbhuta
# Utpāta  
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# [[Utpāta]]
# Nimitta
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# [[Nimitta]]
  
 
===Adbhuta===
 
===Adbhuta===
Adbhuta refers to any occurrence which has not happened before or a total change coming over what has happened earlier. The adbhutas are divided into seven groups relating to the deities. They are:
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Adbhuta refers to any occurrence which has not happened before or a total change coming over what has happened earlier. The adbhutas are divided into seven groups relating to the [[deities]]. They are:
 
# Indra
 
# Indra
 
# Varuṅa
 
# Varuṅa
# Yama
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# [[Yama]]
# Agni
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# [[Agni]]
# Kubera
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# [[Kubera]]
# Viṣṇu  
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# [[Viṣṇu]]
 
# Vāyu
 
# Vāyu
  
When some adbhutas take place related to these deities, certain śāntis are prescribed. For instance, when a rainbow is seen at night, Indra is the god to be appeased. If there is smoke without fire, the deity is Agni. The śānti consists in the japa of certain mantras of the Atharvaveda.
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When some adbhutas take place related to these [[deities]], certain śāntis are prescribed. For instance, when a rainbow is seen at night, Indra is the god to be appeased. If there is smoke without fire, the deity is [[Agni]]. The śānti consists in the [[japa]] of certain mantras of the Atharvaveda.
  
 
===Utpāta & Nimitta===
 
===Utpāta & Nimitta===
The word utpāta refers to occurrences that portend evil to all. It is the reverse of the usual natural order. Nimitta, on the other hand, is a prognostic sign which may indicate either an auspicious or an inauspicious event. Generally, it is restricted to the throbbing of a person’s limbs, though it may be used in a wider sense as utpāta also. Examples of utpātas and nimittas usually unfavorable occur plentifully in the Mahābhārata.
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The word [[utpāta]] refers to occurrences that portend evil to all. It is the reverse of the usual natural order. [[Nimitta]], on the other hand, is a prognostic sign which may indicate either an auspicious or an inauspicious event. Generally, it is restricted to the throbbing of a person’s limbs, though it may be used in a wider sense as utpāta also. Examples of utpātas and nimittas usually unfavorable occur plentifully in the Mahā[[bhārata]].
  
 
==Inauspicious Signals==
 
==Inauspicious Signals==
 
The chief utpātas and adbhutas foreboding evils are:
 
The chief utpātas and adbhutas foreboding evils are:
* Terrible dreams
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* Terrible [[dreams]]
 
* Falling of meteors
 
* Falling of meteors
 
* Howling of jackals facing south
 
* Howling of jackals facing south
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* Earthquakes
 
* Earthquakes
 
* Solar eclipse at an unusual time
 
* Solar eclipse at an unusual time
* Vultures sitting on temples
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* Vultures sitting on [[temples]]
 
* Spontaneous fires
 
* Spontaneous fires
 
* Halos around the sun or the moon
 
* Halos around the sun or the moon
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==References==
 
==References==
 
{{reflist}}
 
{{reflist}}
* The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore
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* The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram [[Krishna]] Math, Bangalore
  
 
[[Category:Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism]]
 
[[Category:Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism]]

Latest revision as of 16:37, 19 December 2016

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Santi Literature, ZAnti Literature, shaanti Literature


It is natural for the human being to react with the fear of the unknown when eerie unnatural incidents take place. Right from the most ancient times, they have also tried to forestall such happenings that might follow with appropriate propitiatory rites called śāntis by the scriptures in advance. The word is derived from the root śam which means to appease. It is a śānti which means a rite that can offset or reduce the evil effects prognosticated by bad omens.

Reference of Śāntis

Though this word has not been found in the Ṛgveda in this sense, it also finds a prominent place in the Atharvaveda,[1] the Taittiriya Samhītā[2] and Aitrareya Brahmaṇa[3]

Literature on the Śāntis

The literature on the śāntis is quite large. A few of the works may be mentioned here:

  1. Kauśikasutras
  2. Apastamba Gṛhyasutras
  3. Matsyapurāṇa
  4. Mārkandeyapurāṇa
  5. Agnipurāna
  6. Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa\Bṛhatsamhitā
  7. Adbhutasāgara\Śāntikamalākara

These works have dealt with the śāntis in all their aspects quite extensively.

Adbhuta, Utpāta and Nimitta

The treatises dealing with śāntis generally use three words that prognosticate future events. They are:

  1. Adbhuta
  2. Utpāta
  3. Nimitta

Adbhuta

Adbhuta refers to any occurrence which has not happened before or a total change coming over what has happened earlier. The adbhutas are divided into seven groups relating to the deities. They are:

  1. Indra
  2. Varuṅa
  3. Yama
  4. Agni
  5. Kubera
  6. Viṣṇu
  7. Vāyu

When some adbhutas take place related to these deities, certain śāntis are prescribed. For instance, when a rainbow is seen at night, Indra is the god to be appeased. If there is smoke without fire, the deity is Agni. The śānti consists in the japa of certain mantras of the Atharvaveda.

Utpāta & Nimitta

The word utpāta refers to occurrences that portend evil to all. It is the reverse of the usual natural order. Nimitta, on the other hand, is a prognostic sign which may indicate either an auspicious or an inauspicious event. Generally, it is restricted to the throbbing of a person’s limbs, though it may be used in a wider sense as utpāta also. Examples of utpātas and nimittas usually unfavorable occur plentifully in the Mahābhārata.

Inauspicious Signals

The chief utpātas and adbhutas foreboding evils are:

  • Terrible dreams
  • Falling of meteors
  • Howling of jackals facing south
  • Sand-showers
  • Earthquakes
  • Solar eclipse at an unusual time
  • Vultures sitting on temples
  • Spontaneous fires
  • Halos around the sun or the moon
  • Rain of blood red water
  • Sudden darkness in the sky
  • Horses shedding tears
  • Rivers flowing in the reverse direction
  • Throbbing of left eye or arm in men
  • Images of gods trembling, dancing or weeping

Auspicious Signals

On the other hand, the auspicious signs are:

  • Clear and cloudless sky
  • Cool and pleasant wind
  • Fire without smoke
  • Shower of flowers
  • Auspicious birds like herons and peacocks chirping
  • So on

Such omens and portents are generally described as occurring at the certain important times and events as on the eve of battle, coronation or exile of a king and so on.


References

  1. Atharvaveda 19.9
  2. Taittiriya Samhītā 6.1.7.7-8
  3. Aitrareya Brahmaṇa 13.10
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore