Sleep is a biological necessity and an integral component of our daily routine. Whether one remembers or not, dreams do appear in specific phases of sleep of every person. An extensive research by Dr. Edwin Dismond, an eminent american dream scientist, has shown that a normal healthy person experiences about 5 to 6 dreams per course of sleep. On an average, these dreams last for about 20 minutes. Dreams, in his view, are essential for maintaining mental health.
Dreams are called 'Swapna' in Sanskrit language. The literal meaning of the word conveys "seeing (experiencing) that as real which is not experienced in the real (perceivable) world." Dreams have been the focus of curiosity and enquiry since the beginning of human civilization. Haphazard or vague dreams are experienced during the 'subconscious' (Swapna Nidra) or 'disturbed' sleep due to sickness, stress, etc. Such dreams are often shortlived, perplexing and meaningless. In a state of deep sleep (sushupti) dreams either do not appear or they appear with sharp impressions and are of longer duration. The dreams which are clearer and longer attract attention of the dreamer and he is curious to know the cause and implication of such dreams.
The Hindu scriptures are the most ancient source on supernatural faculties of human mind. The subject of dreams has been discussed in detail in Atharva veda, Brahma sutra, Katha, Chhandyoga, Brihadaranyak, Prasna and other Upanishads, besides Agni Purana and Matsya Purana among others. The genesis of dreams is elucidated in the 'Brahma Sutra' (3/2) as "the result of transition of mind from the conscious to the unconscious state, or from a state of cognition to that of subtler impulses of mental activity."
The Indian Rishis of yore had given greater importance to spiritual elevation, rather than materialistic opulence, and realised high realms of spirituality and enlightenment, which gave them premonition of the future, experience of the past, including the past lives, and clairvoyance. Several Purana were written by them on the basis of insight acquired through dreams. Maharishi Valmiki had written the 'Ramayan' describing the life of Lord Shri Rama in detail much before the latter's incarnation. The "Bhavishya Purana' and the 'Kalika Purana' highlight the future events hundreds of thousands of years ahead.
The Hindu shastras contain deeper knowledge of the relation between the soul (Jiva), the mind, and the omnipresent consciousness (Brahman), and describe dreams as the expressions and mode of subtle linkage between them. The shastras affirm the soul as 'Trikaldarshi' (clairvoyant which can experience the past, present and the future with equal ease. The Upanishada state that when the mind gets active linkage with the soul, it can experience the world beyond the limits of time and space, supernatural realizations of future and divine inspirations through dreams.
In Brihadaranyak Upanishad (4/3/9) Rishi Yagyavalka tells Raja Janak that "The soul can move beyond the periphery of this world. It can express itself in this gross physical world, in the invisible (extrasensory) world beyond, and also in the junction state. The junction state is the state of dream in which the individual self can experience either or both the worlds."
In Kathopanishad (2/1/4) Yama Deva tells Nachiketa that "which sees the dreams like the visions of an awakened state is the omnipresent soul."
In Prashnopanishad (4/5), in reply to the question 'what is that who sees the dream?" posed by Muni gargya, Rishi Pipplada replies that "The soul experiences its limitless existence in the dreams. It sees what it (individual consciousness) has already seen (in awakened state. Listens which it has already listened. It also experiences what has been seen and not seen, listened and not listened, experienced and not experienced, real and unreal, it sees all."
The scriptures further point out that the type and quality of dreams depends on one's intrinsic nature, tendencies and indications, and that by controlling and purifying his inner thought one can control the nature of his dreams. Maharishi Vedavyas mentions in Brahma Sutra (3/2) that "the dreams of a serene and intuitive mind are capable of forecasting the major events of future."
The serene state of mind in deep sleep during Brahma Muhurta (early dawn) is regarded the most peaceful, free from the disturbances of the conscious and subconscious states, and naturally conditioned for experiences of dreams. Because of their faith in the ancient wisdom, people in India often believe the dreams in Brahma Muhurta as indicative of what is likely to be experienced in near future.
The ancient Indian science of medicine (Ayurveda) also recognises the role of dreams in understanding the cause and nature of diseases. The Sushruta Samhita by Acharya Sushruti, a surgeon of yore, describes the relation of dreams with Tridoshas (the three vital elements - Vata, Pitta and Kapha) which control the internal and external functions and conditions of the body, and discusses the modes of treatment under dream based therapy. The individuals wind and movement in space in their dreams. Those with imbalance of pitta have dreams of fire, light and heat. The dreams of those having kapha imbalance experience the scenes associated with water, ponds, rivers, sea, etc., in their dreams. The book emphasises that the implications of dreams may vary according to the nature of psychology of the dreamer and these should not be generalised without taking into account the possible subconscious effect of the surroundings or the external conditions.
Some of the notable dreams about future in recorded history are as follows. Few people might know that the great maratha King chattrapati Shivaji, had once seen a hidden treasure in dream. The very next day he searched the spot seen in his dream, quietly dug it up with the help of his close associates, and did find a stock of wealth as depicted in the dream.
Before the birth of Lord Buddha, his mother Rani Maya had experienced a mysterious dream. She narrated it to her husband. King Shuddhodhana as "An elephant with six teeth and body mightier than iron, whiter than silver and snow, brighter than the light of the Sun and Moon, had entered in her womb in dream." The erudite astrologers invited to explain the implications of this unusual dream deciphered it as a symbolic indication of the birth of an extraordinary and enlightened child who, because of his divine generosity and sacrifice, will be honoured as the king of all kings. He will be a nomad said who will win over all desires and renounce all attachments, which proved correct.
Similarly, when prince Vardhaman was in his mother's womb, the latter saw a sequel of celestial dreams with unprecedented experiences. The wisemen of the court had interpreted these as arrival of a divine soul, the reflections of whose past births were depicted rhetorically in those mysterious dreams. The child indeed proved to be exceptional and became Mahavir Swami the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism.
The dreams of Tipu Sultan, king of Mysore, were very significant and he was often amazed by the intimations of future events given by his dreams.
The American President Abraham Lincoln had dreamt one night that he is hearing loud cries in the white House. He is moving around to find out from where this lamenting noise is coming and why? The dream continued. Then he saw a corpse wrapped in white cloth in a nearby room. A large number of people had gathered around the body and were weeping in grief. In the dream he asked one guard about who had died? "President Lincoln", he replied, "Someone had assassinated him by bullets." Next day, the President discussed his dream with some of his friends. Everyone just laughed at the dream. But unfortunately, the dream proved true just after a short span of four days when President Lincoln was shot dead by an actor on the stage, while he was watching a play in the Ford Theatre.
Edgar Allen, Mozart, Einstein and many other scientists, writers and poets have acknowledged the supernatural help and guidance received by them through dreams which contributed significantly to their extraordinary accomplishments. Citing his experiences, Einstein has acknowledged that many a time when he slept after deep engrossment and mental struggle in solving some complicated facts of mathematical equations, he found some unknown super-conscious power in the dream who showed him simplified solution procedure. These flashes of guidance enabled him solve the difficult problems with ease soon after he woke up. He also reiterated that there is a deep secret hidden in the mystery of dreams which the scientists are unable to decipher.
It is said about Swami Ramtirtha that whenever he would be tired after working hard on an intractable problem in mathematics he would get the solution in his dream few hours after he fell asleep the same day.
The popular stories cited in "Betal Pacchisi" are based on the experiences of King Vikramaditya or Ujjayini in a subconscious state of dreams.
The Western Approach to dreams:
In the early days of western civilization, people in some countries believed that during the state of sleep the soul traverses in a new world out of the body. So strong was the conviction that waking up someone from sleep was regarded risky because of the apprehension that his soul may not have returned to his body before its scheduled time and so waking him up during the period may cause his untimely death.
The Greek Philosopher Aristotle was of the view that dreams could sometimes prove to be an excellent medium of knowing further and deeper across the unconscious layers of mind. Explaining the dream process he said that "when the external excitement and the agility of the conscious mind diminishes and the mental power (consciousness) moves introvert, it can bring immense knowledge from the depths of inner self. This is what gets expressed in the serene dreams of steady and peaceful sleep."
Plato's views on dreams were different from those of Aristotle in the sense that though he gave importance to the possibilities of divine origin of dreams, he also accepted the role of inner instincts and suppressed desires in some dreams. In "The Republic" Plato writes" "Apparently moral and modest gentlemen may also possess hidden instincts of immorality and wild tendencies, which might be expressed in the state of sleep." This view of plato was highlighted and emphasised by the noted western psychologist Sigmund Freud 2300 years later.
During the early stage of modern scientific development and the industrial revolution, the ancient philosophy of life and the science of spirituality were hidden in the smog of misconceptions and deformed notions of religious practices in the aftermath of the medieval era. The early enthusiasm of scientific achievements in this materialistic and perceptible world of nature, coupled with the ignorance, superstitions and unscientific interpretations in the domain of consciousness, had led to the virtual disbelief in the existence of the soul. However, the trend of scientific thinking changed towards early 20th century with the rising need of experimenting with the subtler and subtler particles of matter, deciphering the structure and function of the human brain and unfolding the human mind.
Sigmund Freud is regarded as the first among the western psychologist who studied the effect of bodily, mental and emotional conditions on dreams. After extensive analysis of authentic information of nearly 3000 dreams, Freud explained the psychological implications of these dreams in his book 'Theory of Dreams'. He concluded that the suppressed emotions, unfulfilled (sexual) desires, and aspirations in personal and professional life, etc., trigger reactions in the conscious and unconscious domains of mind, which are expressed and artificially materialise in the imaginary world of dreams.
Freiud's view held sway for a considerable period. His hypothesis was first criticised and proved to be incomplete by the eminent thinker and psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. In his notable work "Memories, Dreams and Reflections", Jung expounded his principle of Universal Pattern of Collective Consciousness', and said that although the aspirations, emotions and the reactions to ups and downs of daily life bear substantial impact on dreams, the latter could not be confined to such reflections alone. He defined dreams as "expressions of the 'communications' of the individual consciousness with one or more of the infinite impulses of the cosmic consciousness. In his view, deciphering of dreams may give us some, though indirect, idea of linkage of the individual consciousness with the omnipresent para consciousness. Jung thus affirmed the possibility and reality of premonition and extrasensory experiences through dreams.
One of the objections to Freud's Theory of Dreams was that it could not explain the dreams seen by blind men. Freud himself across with dreams that were inexplicable by his Theory. In his latter book " Interpretation of Dreams" Freud accepted that dreams may sometimes reflect something beyond the reach of the aspirations and imaginations of 'physical' mind.
Modern psychologists initially analysed dreams in terms of mental and bodily conditions. For instance, thirst during sleep might be expressed as a dream associated with river or water spring. If one felt suffocation in dream or felt as though someone is holding his throat tight and putting pressure on his chest, then the dreamer is quite likely to suffer from cough or some lung related disorder. A possible disorder of digestive system or the intestines might be indicated by the dream of rotten or uncooked food stuff in dreams.
The research at mac Fee dream Research Institute, USA, on correlating people's mode of living, eating habits, psychological make up, character and purity of thoughts with specific kinds of dream, has concluded that the dreams of the people who are used to oily, spicy and non-vegetarian food and intoxicating substances like liquor, wine, etc, are usually dull and hazy, and often comprise of some dreadful experience. Those who followed austere mode of living and whose minds were relatively free from negative instincts of hatred, anger, jealousy, sensual passions, etc., were, on the contrary, found to enjoy good sleep and had meaningful dreams.
The statistical analysis of dream reports of 30,000 persons belonging to different age group and socioeconomic background from Mexico, Australia and Nigeria by Dr. Kelvin Hall, a reputed psychologist and dream science expert of U.S.A., has shown that the artificial life-styles and passions of negative tendencies, on an average, account for 2 out of 3 dreams as horrifying or obscene. Those having instability of mind or stress of ambition, often see 7 to 8 vague dreams per night during their disturbed sleep. His survey further showed that saintly people, on an average, experience one dream in rather peaceful sleep and their dreams are usually clear, long and meaningful. The dreams of spiritually elevated people are soothing and premonitive.
The dream research conducted by the psychologists and physiologists of the West in 20th century has affirmed the hypothesis of the vital role of the unconscious mind and its hidden connection with one's inner self. However, this revelation constitutes only a small fraction of the immense knowledge already deciphered by the Indian Rishis and Yogis of yore and incorporated in the Hindu Shastras.
The best way to benefit from the dreams is to purify our mind by inculcating piety in thought and action. Pure and saintly minds are more likely to be charged by the spiritual force of the soul. When such a mind gets linked with soul even for a little time, our dreams at that moment would reflect the glimpses of our divine origin.
Implication of Various Dreams
The implications of some commonly seen dreams compiled from different sources are as follows:
Dream seen Benefic result
Clear Sky Increase in fame
Mango tree Birth of child
Dishonour Freedom from worries
Own Death Increase of longevity
Flourishing crop Gain of wealth
See dead body Freedom from illness
Construction of Gain, prosperity
Elephant, cow, Gain, prosperity
Climb up Prosperity
Cemetery Increase in honour
Black snake State honour
River Ganges Happy events
Ride a horse Promotion
Lizard Sudden gain
Run out of fear Relief from problems
Palanquin Fulfilment of desire
Stars Fulfilment of desire
Sword Victory over enemies
God/Goddess Happy event
Making bed symbol of gain/better health
Wealth/jewels Happiness from children
Dust rising Go on trip
Out lemon Relief from borrow/illness.
Court Victory in case
Eat sweets Increase in honour
Green forest Happiness
Fail in examination Success
Receive letter Happy news
Flying flag Victory
Plate full of Happiness
Copper coin Gain of wealth
Talk with Relief from illness
Cook food Happy news
Turn rosary Good luck
Go on straight Success
See open door Success in new enterprise
To fly crow away Relief from on going problem
Finding a substantial gain
White clouds Chance of promotion
Thick dark clouds Successful meeting with boss
Watching a mirror Progress in love affair
Dreams with malefic implications
Dream seen Malefic result
See fire illness connected with bile
Lift fire Problems
Own marriage Trouble
Coming of guest Sudden problem
See darkness Unhappiness
Storm Problem in voyage
Owl Illness or sorrow
Self hung Dishonour
Cut off head worry/problem
Bitten by dog Fear from enemy
Fall from horse Problem/loss
Theif Lose of wealth
Pickpocket Lose of wealth
See a broom Lose
Seeing a pig Monetary loss
Seeing a cage Suffering
Pulling a wire/ Sign of tension
See a falling star An ill omen
Self drowning Ann ill omen
Fall of wall lose of wealth
See tap worry
See oneself nakad Face difficulties
Fall from height Lose
See a gun Problem
See cat Fight with others
Giving speech Altercation
Throw letter An ill omen
See a crow An ill omen
See door locked Stopping of project
Plate without food An ill omen
Walk on rough road Problem
Seeing a buffalo Risking a trouble
Seeing a hefty ox Loss in agriculture
Seeing untidy half possibility of monetary loss
Seeing a land slide Outbreak of epidemic
Laughing Worries in future
Eating watermelon Symbol of sorrow
Wearing over Quarrel with partner
Falling sick Distress/pain
Seeing the dance of an old and black lady, or a naked fakir dancing and looking at oneself, or a person with black clothes and holding an iron rod in hand, is indicative of death.
Fructification of dream result
The night consists of four prahars (3 hr. duration each). A dream seen in the first prahar does not produce any result. That seen in second prahar fructifies in 8 months time. A dream seen in the third prahar fructifies in three months time. A dream seen in fourth prahar gives result in a month's time. A dream seen a little before Sun rise fructifies within 10-15 days, if the person does not go to sleep again. The result of benefic dreams gets reduced by telling it to others.
According to Shastras if a person sees a bad dream and goes to sleep again, then its result does not fructify. To ward off the effect of very malefic dream, the person should worship Pipal tree, recite Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, Shri Vishnu Sahastranam Stotra, Gajendra Stotra or Durga Saptasati, followed by havan, feeding of brahman and giving dan according to one's resources.