What to make of auspicious and inauspicious omens?


The following is a lucid translation of passages from the Uttara Kamika Agama, chapter 22, verses 1-6, 22-13, 60-65, and 105-110 in which Lord Siva discusses the meanings of dreams. The last five paragraphs include the commentary of Bhatta Narayana, as the original text is very abstruse
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NOW I WILL REVEAL TO YOU THE EFFECTS of various dreams. Normally a disciple could have supremely auspicious visions in dreams during the night prior to the performance of an initiation or any other special ritual. If such dream occurs in the first quarter of the night, the disciple would reap its benefit within one year. If it occurs in the second quarter of the night, the effect of the dream would materialize within six months. If it occurs in the third quarter of the night, the effect of the dream would be seen within one month. If the dream occurs in the fourth quarter of the night, its effect would manifest immediately. There is no doubt about such occurrence of the effects of dreams.

The radiant and resplendent Sun; the Moon enclosed by stars; fire blazing forth, nourished by daily oblations; shining lamps with exceeding brilliance; mother, father, wife, sons or daughters; good-hearted persons—if these are seen by the disciple in his dream, then he will attain inexhaustible wealth. It is specifically good to see in a dream the capturing of cows, lions and elephants of the enemy in a battlefield. Studying the Vedas and the Agamas; being smeared with food; the sprouting of grass or a tree from one’s navel; holding flower; water and the tips of kusha-grass; being smeared with the unguent of white sandal; being attired in white cloth; seeing a brahmin and hearing his words of blessings; seeing white fruits, a hand-held fan, flag, or an umbrella made of lotus flowers and leaves; seeing a mirror studded with diamonds; witnessing light, cowrie, weapons, lotus-shaped insignia, pure water, brilliant gold; conversing with the nation’s leader—these experiences are conducive to the attainment of auspicious benefits.

Seeing the following in a dream would result in inauspicious effects: seeing trees with red flowers; an outcaste; a fowler; the eating of well-cooked meat and sesame and the drinking of blood; dancing; marriage; singing; playing music with non-string instruments; plunging into a stream; taking a bath with cow dung and cow urine or with a muddy substance; lying on the stomach of one’s mother; climbing over a funeral pyre; lightning and thunder; the setting sun, moon and stars; occurrence of portentous phenomenon in distant space; middle space and earth; wrath of the devas, brahmins, king and the guru; embracing young ladies; one’s own body being tortured; being purgative; vomiting; proceeding towards the southern direction; being highly affected by disease; the house falling down; cleaning the house; being seized and tormented by ghosts, demons and other cruel spirits; being seized by monkeys or men; being disrespected by others; outburst of mental worry due to that disrespect; being dressed in ochre cloth; being smeared with oil; drinking; plunging.

If a person sees in his dream a Deity, a brahmin, ancestor, yogi or king who is revealing messages to him, whatever has been told by them would actually materialize.


An auspicious night: A devotee dreams of visiting a sage during sleep
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Usually, the dreams manifest indicating the auspicious benefits or inauspicious effects according to the mature state of one’s own karmic fruits. These dreams are viewed as the indicating factors of auspicious or inauspicious nature of the near future. Such dreams occur of their own accord; they do not manifest “from” the stored karmas of a person.

Dreams occur in two ways—as related to the future events and as related to the concentrated thought of person. If a person continuously thinks of an object already experienced or to be experienced by him and goes to sleep with same concentration, that object would manifest in his dream. For such dreams which occur as related to the concentrated thought, there is no need for the performance of any rite.

There are some unusual or abnormal appearances or events—such as a lion appearing with two heads, winged horses, mountains dashing against each other, riding on two-headed or winged animals—which would occur in dreams. It is such dreams that synchronize with one’s own future events and indicate the inauspiciousness or auspiciousness of the future events of his life. Such unusual events may actually modify or affect the future events of a person.

In this Agama, various dreams have been spoken of only to enable the disciple (sadhaka) to construe in a general way the good or bad nature of the events which are to occur in near future. They have not been spoken of with the intention of alarming him.

The auspicious or inauspicious dreams seen by the disciple are equally based on the important future events of his life. Various dreams mentioned here are true as far as the effects are concerned, because they are related to the happenings of the future. Dreams which indicate inauspiciousness should be appeased. Such appeasement would minimize the severity of future events. But the dreams remain without being falsified; the nature of being the real indicators of the future is not altered. It could be seen by the actual occurrences of the future events, if appeasing rites are not performed.

DR. S. P. SABHARATHNAM SIVACHARYAR, of the Adi Saiva priest lineage, is an expert in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit, specializing in the Vedas, Agamas and Shilpa Shastras. This excerpt is from his recent translation of the Uttara Kamika Agama.