By Swami Harshananda
The epics and the purāṇas contain innumerable verses on dreams. The work Adbhutasāgara of the king Ballalasena of Bengal (A. D. 1168) is considered as a great authority on this subject.
Usage in Advaita Vedānta Philosophy
Snakes and dreams have been used profusely by Advaita Vedānta philosophy to prove one of its cardinal teachings viz., the unreality of this world. If the ‘snake’ in the rajju-sarpa-nyāya proves the absolute unreality of this world, the dream proves its relative reality. Just as the dream is real as long as it lasts, this world is also real as long as we are under the sway of avidyā or nescience.
According to Ayurveda
Dreams assume a much greater significance in other fields of knowledge like Āyurveda (health-science) and prognostication or futurology. Directions have also been given in these fields as to how to utilize them for one’s advantage if they predict good things and how to offset them if they forebode evil.
Cause of Dreams
Dreams can be caused by physical causes like:
- The disturbance of the humors (kapha or phlegm, vāta or wind and pitta or bile)
- Past experiences of this life
- Experiences of the past lives
Conclusion of Dreams
Depending upon the type and the time of occurrence of the dreams, the results are predicated. They can be denoted as:
- Dreams occurring in the first part of the night will give their results in one year.
- Dreams occurring in the second part will occur in eight months.
- Dreams occurring in the third part will occur in three months
- Dreams occurring at the dawn will occur in 10 days.
- The result may be immediate if the person wakes up at once.
- If the person sleeps again after the dream or tells others about it, the dream will not give its results.
Seeing the following in a dream is considered as auspicious:
- A king
- A bull
- A cow
- A lighted lamp
- A maiden
- An umbrella
- A chariot
- A flag
The following objects seen in a dream forebode evil:
- Shaving of the head
- Wearing dirty garments
- Falling from high spots like a hill
- Riding boars, asses and camels
- Killing horses
- Ascending a funeral pyre
- Falling of sun and moon
- Playing with goblins
- Plunging into oil or drinks
- Wearing red garments
- Applying red unguents
Antidote for Bad Dreams
The remedies suggested to offset the effects of bad dreams are:
- Performing a śrāddha like the one on an amāvāsyā day
- Reciting the Durgā saptaśati
- Reciting the Visnusahasranāma
- Reciting the Gajendramoksa part of the Bhāgavata
- Performance of appropriate śāntis
- Rajju-sarpa-nyāya is the maxim of the rope appearing as a snake in insufficient light
- Śānti is the religious rite to bring about auspicious result.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore