DREAMS- An Indian Point of View


Dr. V.K.Maheshwari M.A. (Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Manjul Lata Agrawal. M.A. (History) B.T.

Former Principal S.K.V, Delhi Cantt. Delhi.



In Hinduism dream can provide a window into the future. Objects, characters, and emotions that appear in a person’s dreams all take on symbolic meanings to be analyzed and interpreted. Some symbols are harbingers of great luck or grave danger, while others may predict a mix of fortunes. The Indian dream specialists have continuously worked upon and discovered many mysterious and exciting theories regarding dreams. These theories can aid any person who wishes to unravel the cause and the mechanism of dreams.

Hinduism deal with the state of dream state and it is considered as the play of mind in a very subtle form over a short duration. But despite the shortness, the mind creates a make-belief of even days and years passing too in a dream!

According to them, our awareness exists in three states;

  • jagrat (wakeful state),
  • swapna(dream state)
  • sushupti (dreamless deep sleep state). Normal human beings alternately remain in any one of these states every day, life long.

But our true existence transcends all these 3 states. In absolute reality, we are AtmanJagrat and swapna are simply the plays of mind. The mind functions under the power of atman and the mind is NOT atman. Only when we are in deep sleep state, our mind rests and there is true peace when the mind is totally at rest. That’s why all of us love to have deep sleep. If we miss a good sleep for a few days, we feel miserable.

Hinduism unequivocally believes that the jagrat state itself is in reality a dream. Whatever we see, feel, experience, enjoy and suffer are all just the play of mind. Even the human body is a creation of mind, according to them. While a dream state is a play of mind for a shorter period of time, the Jagrat state is also a play of mind — a dream of longer period of time, with some sort of continuity.

As long as we are in dream state, we believe in all that happens in the dream irrespective of the absurdness that many dreams consist of. Likewise, our wakeful state is another dream where we totally believe whatever happening in that state to be true.

When a man wakes up from dream state to wakeful state, he understands that whatever experience he has been undergoing so far, which looked absolutely real till then, is false and it is just a dream. In a similar fashion, a true Gnyani (the knower of the self) clearly wakes up in a state transcending the three states — which is called turiya, (the 4th state) and in that state, the Gnyani clearly perceives that the wakeful state too is just a dream!

In the philosophical literature of the Hindus we find an elaborate account of the  process of dreams. The different schools of philosophers had different views as to the nature, origin, and functions of the dreams. Their views were based mostly on their systems of philosophy,though they advanced certain facts of experience in support of their views. The Hindu accounts of the dreams are widely different from those of Western physiology, because they are based more on  metaphysical speculation than on scientific observation and experiment.

Kanada defines a dream-cognition as the consciousness produced by a particular conjunction of the self with the central sensory or manas in co-operation with the subconscious impressions of past experience, like recollection.

Prasastapada defines a dream-cognition as an internal perception through the central sensory or mind, when all the functions of the external sense-organs have ceased and the mind has retired within a trans-organic region of the organism. When the internal organ (manas} retires within itself, the peripheral organs cease to operate and consequently cannot apprehend their objects as they are no longer guided by the mind. During this retired state of the mind, when the automatic vital functions of in-breathings and out-breathings profusely go on in the organism, dream-cognitions arise through the central sensory from such causes as sleep, which is the name of a particular conjunction of the self with the mind, and subconscious impressions of past experience ; these dream-cognitions are internal perceptions of unreal objects.

Udayana says that in the dream-state, though the external sense- organs cease to operate, we distinctly feel that we see objects with our very eyes, hear sounds with our very ears, and so on. Udayana distinguishes dream-cognitions from illusory perceptions of waking life and doubtful and indefinite perceptions. Though dream-cognitions are illusory perceptions, since they apprehend objects which are not present at that time and place, and as such resemble illusory perceptions of waking life, they differ from the latter in that they are produced when the peripheral organs are not quite operative, while the latter are produced by the peripheral organs. Then, again, dream-cognitions are not to be identified with doubtful and indefinite perceptions. For dream-cognitions are definite and determinate in character, in which the mind does not oscillate between alternate possibilities, while doubtful and indefinite perceptions are uncertain, because in them the mind is not fixed on a definite object but wavers between two objects without any definite decision.

Samkara Misra also holds that though a dream-cognition is produced by the mind when it has retired, and the external sense-organs have ceased to operate, it is apprehended as if it were produced by the external sense-organs (indrtyadvareneva) .

Sridhara also regards cognitions as presentative in character. He says that dream-cognitions are independent of previous cognitions, and as such are not mere reproductions of past experience ; they are produced through the retired central sensory or mind when the functions of all the peripheral organs have ceased ; they are direct and immediate presentations of a definite and determinate character.  These dream-cognitions arising from sleep and subconscious impressions are direct and immediate presentations (aparoksasanw edema) of objects which have no real existence at that time and place. Thus Sndhara clearly points out that dream-cognitions are presentative in character ; they are not mere reproductions of past experience. But dream-perceptions are not produced by the external organs which cease to function at that time, but they are produced entirely by the mind (manomatraprabhavam). And these dream-perceptions are not indefinite and indeterminate in nature  but they are definite and determinate in character (pariccheda-svabhava}. And these dream-perceptions are not valid but illusory, since they do not represent real objects present to the sense-organs ” here and now “.

Srldhara also holds that dream-cognitions are definite and determinate perceptions as distinguished from indefinite and indeterminate perceptions. And also he clearly shows that dream-cognitions,arising either from the intensity of subconscious traces, or from intra-organic disorders, or from unseen agencies, are purely illusory, since they consist in the false imposition of an external form upon something that is wholly internal, and as such are not essentially different from the illusions of our waking life, the only difference lying in the fact that the former are illusory perceptions in the condition of sleep, while the latter are illusory perceptions in the waking condition.

Sivaditya defines a dream as a cognition produced by the central sensory perverted by sleep. Madhava Sarasvatl points out the following distinctive marks of dream-cognitions as defined by Sivaditya.

  • Firstly, they are produced by the central sensory or mind, and as such are different from the waking perceptions of jars and the like, which are produced by the external sense-organs.
  • Secondly, they are produced by the perverted mind, and as such are different from the waking perceptions of pleasure and the like, which are produced by the unperverted mind.
  • Thirdly, they are produced by the mind perverted by sleep, and as such are different from waking hallucinations which are produced by the perverted mind in the waking condition.

Hallucinations are pure creations of the mind. And some dreams also are pure creations of the mind (manomatraprabhava}. Both are centrally initiated presentations. Both are definite and determinate in character. And both are unreal. So there is a great resemblance between dreams and hallucinations. The only difference between them lies in the fact that the former are hallucinations in sleep, while the latter are hallucinations in the waking condition.This distinction has been pointed out by Madhava Sarasvatl.

Prahistapada, Sndhara, Samkara Misra, Sivaditya and others recognize the central origin of dreams. Though they hold that certain dreams are produced by organic disorders within the body, they do not recognize the origin of dreams from the external sense- organs. But Udayana admits that in the dream-state the peripheral organs (at least the tactual organ which pervades the organism) do not altogether cease to operate ; external stimuli, if not sufficiently intense to awaken the person, may act upon the peripheral organs and produce dream-cognitions. Thus Udayana recognizes both peripherally excited and centrally excited dreams, or in the language of Sully, dream-illusions and dream-hallucinations. Udayana also holds that though drearn-cognitions are generally perceptual in character being produced by the central sensory or mind, sometimes, though very rarely, they assume the form of inference, when, for instance, a person dreams that he sees smoke in a particular place and from the sight of the smoke infers that there must be fire behind it, Thus the Vaisesikas generally advocate the presentative nature of dreams.

Jayasimhasuri holds that dreams are illusions in the condition of sleep. Dreams are illusions because in them things which were perceived in the past and in some other place are perceived here and now.

The earliest references to dreams are found in Rig veda which are mystic than symbolic. It is said that dreams are manifestations of evil spirits. By praying to Lord Varuna, a person can protect himself from the evil dreams.
There are verses on dreams in Atharva veda which speak about Swapna in two-fold characteristics, namely, the state of sleep whose Lord is Yama and what it (sleep) contains.

The second one is about dreams which are in nature of retributive justice done to the dreamer by the Lord of Rta – by praying whom one can get the evil dreams transferred to the evil-doers (how?) But one important verse in Atharva veda found in XIX-57 gives an indication of prophetic nature of dreams. It says, ” Thee that are `harsh’ by name, mouth of the black-bird (shakuni) – thee, o sleep, we thus know completely.’ The term `krishna shakuni’, meaning black-bird is symbolic of omens.

There are many references to dreams in a number of upanishaths. But the core theme of all had been that it is Brahman who creates the dreams.The pramanas for dreams as being the creation of Brahman can be found in Ramanuja Bhashyam to Brahma
sutras 3-2-1 to 3-2-5. But the very next sutra says that dreams serve as omen. Thirijada’s dream in sundara khandam and Andal’s dream are worth mentioning here.

The ancient Naiyayikas also consider dreams as presentative in character. Gautama does not include dream-cognition in recollection. Vatsyayana regards dream as distinct from recollection. Udyotkara and Vacaspati also agree with Gautama and Vatsyayana.

Thus the Naiyayikas and the Vaisesikas generally recognize the perceptual character of dreams. But there are some Nyaya-Vaisesika writers who hold that dreams are representative in character ; they are recollections of past experience due to revival of subconscious  impressions.

We find a crude classification of dreams in Caraka-samhita. Caraka says that a person sees various dreams through the mind which is the guide of the external sense-organs when he is not in profound sleep. Some of these dreams are significant ; others are not. These dreams are of seven kinds, viz. dreams of those objects which have been seen, heard, and felt, dreams of those objects which are desired, dreams awakened by imagination, dreams that are premonitions of future events, and pathological or morbid dreams.

The main book of reference for dream –interpretation is Charaka-samhita by Charaka, part of which is supposed to be based on ValmikiRamayana.Scholars are of the opinion that Charaka has based his interpretations on `consensus of opinion’ on different dream implications that existed at his time .

Role of Dreams in Tamil Saivite Literature

Lord Shiva has played a very active role in the dreams of Saivite saints and Saivite devotees. Those who believe in such dreams will not accept the western interpretation of dreams.

Hindus are the only race in the world who give importance to dreams and good sleep. In the famous Rudram and Chamakam of Yajur Veda, the devotee prays for good sleep (Sayanam Cha Me, Su Dhinam Cha me)! Brahmins are supposed to do Sandhaya Vandhanam (Water oblation and Gayatri Mantra recitation) three times a day in which they pray for the destruction of nightmares (Dus Swapna Nasanam).

Hindus knew about the sleep and dream patterns. They even categorised the dreams as good and bad. The traditional Panchangam (calendar) gives good dreams and bad dreams. Through their scriptures we read the epic characters’ good and bad dreams.

Girls’ names like Swapna, Sapna, English words like Somnambulism, all came from the Sanskrit word for dream: swapna.

In Tamil Sangam Literature over 40 dreams of humans are reported. In the Tamil epic Silappadikaram, we read about the bad dreams of Kannaki just before the execution of her beloved husband Kovalan ( Gopalan). In Tamil Periyapuranam also we come across several dreams in the stories of Nayanars. Periapuranam is a book written in poetry form by poet Sekkizar in 11th century detailing the life history of 63 Saivite saints called Nayanars.

Sweet Dreams

Sundarar was one of the four important Saivite saints. After marrying Paravaiyar, he fell in love with another girl Sangiliyar. She used to make garlands and bring them to the temple. Sundrar prayed to Lord Shiva to make this marriage happen. Lord Shiva appeared in the dreams of Miss Sangiliyar and asked her to marry saint Sundarar. Though Lord fulfils devotees’ requests, it is up to the devotees to bear all the consequences.  Sundarar’s life also took some unexpected turns.

Another important dream is found in Kannappa Nayanar story. He was the first one who did eye transplant ‘operation’ 1500 years ago.When the Brahmin priest who did traditional rituals was very upset with the unconventional rustic puja of Kannappan, Lord Shiva appeared in the dream of priest Sivagochariar and asked him to watch Kannappan the next day from a hiding place.

In the story of Tiru Nalai Povar alias Nandanar, Siva appeared in the dreams of two opposing parties and coordinated his temple visit.  Tiru Nalai Povar who belonged to a lower caste wanted to enter the most sacred shrine of Tamil Saivites—Chidambaram Temple. Lord made a compromise by appearing in the dreams of ‘’Thillai 3000’’ Priests and Mr Tomorrow. He asked  him to undergo a Fire bath like Sita Devi to prove that he was pure. He appeared in the dream of Thillai Priests to arrange a Fire Walking ceremony and then bring him inside the temple. This shows how the fire walking ceremony was started by Sita Devi and spread to Tamil Nadu and practised till today.

Appar and Sambandhar

In the story of Appar, Lord Shiva appeared in the dream of his sister Tilakavathy. Shiva convinced her that her brother would return home and reconvert himself to Hinduism. When Appar started a fast against the removal of Shivalinga by the Jains in Vadathalai temple, Lord Shiva appeared in King’s dream and ordered him to restore order. In the story of Nami Nandi Adikal also we see a similar dream.

Tiru Jnana Sambandar, the boy wonder of Saivism, was given pearl palanquin by the Lord. He revealed the location of the palanquin in the dreams of the town people. Same dream came simultaneously to the devotees. This type of episode cannot be explained by science or psychoanalysts.

In the story of Pusal Nayanar we read about the construction of a temple by two methods. Pusal Nayanar did build a temple mentally. Pallava king built a temple physically. Both of them fixed the same auspicious day for consecration. But God appeared in the dream of Pallava King and asked him to postpone it.

In another story about Tiruneelakanta Yazpanar , God appeared in several peoples’ dreams and asked them to bring him inside the temple so that Lord can hear his sweet songs.

In the story of Pusal Nayanar the construction of a temple by two methods. Pusal Nayanar did build a temple mentally. Pallava king built a temple physically. Both of them fixed the same auspicious day for consecration. But God appeared in the dream of Pallava King and asked him to postpone it.

In another story about Tiruneelakanta Yazpanar , God appeared in several peoples’ dreams and asked them to bring him inside the temple so that Lord can hear his sweet songs.

Classification of Dreams

The Yatiestka Classification

Prasastapada, Srldhara, Udayana, Samkara Misra and others describe four kinds of dreams :

  • Dharmadharma-    Dreams due to the unseen agency (adrsta) i.e. merit and demerit
  • Dhatudosa-   Dreams due to mtra-organic pathological disorders
  • Samskarapatava-    Dreams due to the intensity of subconscious impressions;
  • Svapnantika jnana-  ” Dream-end cognitions ” or dreams-within-dreams

The Buddhist Classification

Mr. S. Z. Aung says that Ariyavansa-Adiccaransi attempted a systematic explanation of dream-phenomena from the Buddhist standpoint nearly a century ago in Burma. He recognized four kinds of dreams :

  • Dreams due to organic and muscular disturbances, e.g. the flatulent, phlegmatic, and bilious humours ; The first category includes the dreams of a fall over a precipice, flying into the sky, etc., and what is called ” nightmare ” ;
  • Recurrent dreams consisting in recurrence of the previous dreams, due to previous experiences The second consists of the ” echoes of past waking experiences ” ;
  • Telepathic dreams due to suggestions from spiritualistic agents The third may include dream coincidences ;
  • Prophetic dreams due to the force of character of clairvoyant dreamers.The fourth is of a clairvoyant character.”

Thus the Buddhists add to the Vaisesika list dreams due to spirit- influence, or telepathic dreams. In addition to these various kinds of dreams, Caraka recognizes dreams which are wish-fulfilments.

Madhusudana and Samkara also recognize the influence of desireson dreams.

Kinds of Dreams

We have seen that according to most Indian thinkers, dream  cognitions are presentative in character. They are felt as perceptions and are aroused by external and internal stimuli. They are sometimes produced by extra-organic stimuli, and sometimes by intra- organic stimuli in the shape of peripheral disturbances and other organic disorders. These dreams may be called dream-illusions. And there are some dream-cognitions which are produced by the strength of subconscious impressions of a recent experience coloured by an intense emotion. These dreams are centrally excited and hence may be called dream-hallucinations. Among the Western psychologists, Spitta, first of all, drew a distinction between these two kinds of dreams, and called the former Nervenreiztraume  and the latter psychische Traume.

(i) Dreams Due to Peripheral Stimulation (Dream-Illusions)

Dream-illusions are those dreams which are excited by peripheral stimulation either internal or external. Udayana has discussed the question of the extra-organic and intra-organic origin of dreams. Udayana says that in dream-cognitions peripheral stimulation is not altogether absent. Dreams are not altogether without external stimuli  they are excited by certain external stimuli in the environment, and certain intra-organic stimuli. In the state of dream, we do not altogether cease to perceive external objects, since the external sense-organs are not entirely inoperative. For instance, we perceive external sounds in dream, when they are not sufficiently loud to rouse us from sleep  and the faint external sounds perceived through the ears even during light sleep easily incorporate themselves into dreams. Even if all other external sense-organs cease to function in dream, at least the organ of touch is not inoperative, as the mind or central sensory does not lose its connection with the tactual organ even in dream, which is not confined to the external skin but pervades the whole organism according to the Nyaya-Vaisesika. This is the peculiar doctrine of the Nyaya-Vaisesika. In dream we can perceive at least the heat of our organism which serves to revive the subconscious traces of past experience. Hence certain extra-organic or intra-organic stimuli serve as the exciting cause of the revival of subconscious traces in dream.

Prasastapada also describes the intra-organic stimulation of dream- illusions, which has been explained and illustrated by Udayana, ridhara, Samkara Misra Jayanarayana   and others. There are some dreams which are due to intra-organic disturbances such as the disorders of the flatulent, bilious, and phlegmatic humours of the organism, which are supposed by the Hindu medical science to be the causes of all organic diseases (dhatudosa).

Those who suffer from disorder of flatulency dream that they are flying in the sky,wandering about on the earth, fleeing with fear from tigers, etc. These are kinesthetic dreams of levitation.  And those who are of a bilious temperament or suffer from an inordinate secretion of bile dream that they are entering into fire, embracing flames of fire, seeing golden mountains, flashes of lightning, meteor- falls, a huge conflagration, the scorching rays of the mid-day sun, etc. And those who are of a phlegmatic temperament or suffer from phlegmatic disorders dream that they are crossing the sea, bathing in rivers, being sprinkled with showers of rain, and seeing mountains of silver and the like.

Dream- Hallucination

There are many dreams which are not excited by peripheral nerve-stimulation but by the intensity of the subconscious impressions left by a recent experience (samskarapatava).^ On the physical side, these dreams are due to central stimulation, and hence may be called dream-hallucinations. These dreams are generally excited by intense passions. For instance, when a man infatuated with love for a woman or highly enraged at his enemy, constantly thinks of his beloved or enemy, and while thus thinking falls asleep, then the series of thoughts produces a series of memory-images, which are manifested in consciousness as immediate sense-presentations owing to the strength of subconscious impressions. These dreams are purely hallucinatory in character.

But Udayana surmizes that even these centrally excited dreams due to the revival of subconscious traces are suggested by extra- organic or intra-organic stimuli.

Dreams as the fulfilment of Desires (Dream- hallucinations)

Caraka says that some dreams are about those objects which are desired (prarthita}.  Madhusudana defines dream as the perception of objects due to the desires (vasana] in the mind (antahkarana] when the external sense-organs are inoperative.  Sarhkara also recognizes the influence of desires (vasana’) on dreams. These dreams also should be regarded as dream-hallucinations, because they are not excited by peripheral stimulation  they are centrally initiated presentations or hallucinations.

Prophetic or Veridical Dreams

Not all dreams are prophetic. The individual who is self- controlled, leads a moral life and is self-surrendered at the feet of the Divine would be relieved of evil dreams. With an increase in his morality and Divine consciousness, he would not dream at all. For him the dreams are of true nature, occurring in real life.
The true dream is said to happen to him at twilight, the sandhya between waking and sleep state when he is receptive (consciously) to Divine manifestation within himself. The impressions as unfolded by the Divine at that time is remembered by him as dreams and they are found to happen in real life.

Most dreams are retributive in nature having an ethical justification. They evoke joy or sorrow or pleasure or pain.
There are dreams in which the dreamer smells or tastes etc. These feelings are in consonance with the nature
of karma that the dreamer is destined to undergo. This is understood by the fact that good dreams have after-results of bodily fitness and bad dreams leave one physically and mentally exhausted and weak. Added to this is the feeling of dis-quiet and fear after a bad dream or a nightmare.

But all dreams cannot be explained by peripheral stimulation, due to the action either of external stimuli or internal stimuli, and by central stimulation. There are certain dreams which are prophetic in character ; they are either auspicious or inauspicious. Auspiciousdreams betoken good and inauspicious dreams forebode evil. The former are due to a certain merit (dharma) of the person, and the latter, to a certain demerit (adharma). Some of these prophetic dreams are echoes of our past waking experiences, while others apprehend entirely novel objects never perceived before. The former are brought about by the subconscious traces of our past experience, in co-operation with merit or demerit, according as they augur good or evil, while the latter, by merit or demerit alone, since there are no subconscious traces of such absolutely unknown objects. But merit and dement are supernatural agents ; so this explanation of prophetic dreams seems to be unscientific. But we may interpret the agency of merit and demerit as ” the force of character of clairvoyant dreamers ” after Mr. Aung.

Prasastapada and his followers recognized only three causes of dreams :

  • Adrsta or merit and demerit of the dreamer.
  • Intensity of subconscious impressions,
  • Intra- organic disorders, and

Telepathic Dreams

And besides the peripherally excited dreams, centrally excited dreams, and prophetic dreams, Ariyavansa-Adiccaransf, a Buddhist writer, has recognized another class of dreams which are due to spirit-influence, or ” due to suggestions from spiritualistic agents “in the language of Mr. Aung ; these may include ” dream- coincidences “. They may be called telepathic dreams.


Besides these dream-cognitions which we do not recognize as dreams during the dream-state, sometimes we have another kind of dream-cognitions which are recognized as dreams. Sometimes in the dream-state we dream that we have been dreaming of something | this dream-within-dream is called svapnantlka-jnana which has been rendered by Dr. Ganganatha Jha as a ” dream-end cognition ”  ; in this ” dream-end cognition ” a dream is the object of another dream. Such a ” dream-end cognition ” arises in the mind of a person whose sense-organs have ceased their operations  so it is apt to be confounded with a mere dream- cognition. But Prasastapada, Sridhara and Samkara Mis’ra rightly point out that our ” dream-end cognitions ” essentially differ from mere dream-cognitions, since the former are representative, while the latter are presentative in character. The ” dream-end cognitions ” are recollections of dream-cognitions, while dream-cognitions resemble direct sense-perceptions. Dream-cognitions are presentative in character, though they arise out of the traces left in the mind by the previous perceptions in the waking condition ; and these presentative dream-cognitions again leave traces in the mind which give rise to ” dream-end cognitions “. Thus dreams-within-dreamers are representative in character.

Morbid dreams

Caraka and Susruta describe various kinds of dreams which are the prognostics of impending diseases and death. Caraka suggests a physiological explanation of the morbid dreams which precede death. These horrible dreams are due to the currents in the manovahmnadis being filled with very strong flatulent, bilious, and phlegmatic humours before death.

From this we may infer that dreams are due to the excitation of the manovaha nadi which, in the language of Dr, B. N. Seal, is ” a generic name for the channels along which centrally initiated presentations (as in dreaming or hallucination) come to the sixth lobe of the Manaschakra “,

Samkara Misra says that dreams are produced by the mind when it is in the svapnavahansdiznd disconnected with the external sense- organs except the tactual organ ; when the mind loses its connection even with the tactual organ and retires into the punt at there is deep dreamless sleep. Thus dreams are produced when the mind is in the svapnavaha nadi}-

Thus, according to Caraka  the manovaha nadl is the seat of dreams  and according to Samkara Misra, the svapnavaha nadi is the seat of dreams. What is the relation between the manovaha nadl and the svapnavaha nadl ? Dr. B. N. Seal says that according to the writers on Yoga and Tantras,  the Manovaha Nadl is the channel of the communication of the Jtva (soul) with the Manaschakra (sensorium) at the base of the brain. It has been stated that the sensory currents are brought to the sensory ganglia along different nerves of the special senses. But this is not sufficient for them to rise to the level of discriminative consciousness(savtkalpaka jnand). A communication must now be established between the Jiva (in the Sahasrara Chakra upper cerebrum) and the sensory currents received at the sensorium, and this is done by means of the Manovaha NadL When sensations are centrally initiated, as in dreams and hallucinations, a special Nadi (Svapnavaha Nadi) which appears to be only a branch of the Manovaha Nadi serves as the channel of communication from the Jtva (soul) to the sensorium

Hindu approach to dreams is entirely different from Western analysts .The western interpretation of dreams is incomplete. Their interpretation could not be applied for all the dreams .If one devotee dreams and it comes true we may consider it a coincidence or a dream come true by luck. But we read in Saivite literature that God appeared simultaneously in several people’s dreams. This is unique. Hindus take dreams seriously. In the olden days, they did what they were instructed to do. Even now they remember them and they approach their close relatives and friends and ask for explanation/interpretation of the dreams.

Dream Interpretation Symbols and Meanings and their Interpretation

Here are some of the dreams that you might have and the Hindu interpretation of them. Many symbols surprisingly indicate the opposite of what you might expect, while others are cognate with what they seem to portend

Abducted-If you are being abducted, then significantly it means that you are being manipulated by someone in reality. it implies the feeling of helplessness.

Abuse- Dreaming of abusing someone indicates that you are victimized in the real life and that you have been taken advantage of by someone.

Accident: These dreams symbolize personal afflictions such as physical pain or emotional hardship.

Accusation: Being accused of something in your dreams can indicate that great misfortune lies in your path.

Adultery: Signal impending troubles, despair, and lost opportunities.

Advancement: This is a sign that you will achieve success in all that you undertake.

Advocate: A dream in which you are an advocate indicates that you will be prominent in the future. You will win universal respect for your efforts.

Affluence: Contrary to what you may think, dreams of affluence actually symbolize poverty of some sort, be it financial or spiritual.

Anger: Dreams containing anger symbolize a conflict with or negative feelings for someone you consider a close friend.

Ass (animal): All your great troubles, in spite of despairing circumstances, will end in ultimate success after much struggle and suffering.

Baby: If you are nursing a baby, it denotes sorrow and misfortune. If you see a baby who is sick, it means that somebody among your relatives will die.

Bachelor: Dreaming of a bachelor indicates that you will shortly meet with a friend.

Balloons- If you are blowing up the balloon, then you are setting your goals and ambitions for something. But to see it ascending, it means that your current life is frustrating and you need to rise above it.

Bankruptcy: Although you may not find yourself financially bankrupt in waking life, dreams of bankruptcy should be viewed as a warning to exercise caution in all business transactions.

Beauty: Like many dream symbols, this represents the inverse of its literal meaning. Dreams of being beautiful suggest that you will become ill or infirm and your physical appearance will deteriorate.

Birth: For unmarried women, to dream of giving birth to children is indicative of inevitable adultery. For married women, it indicates happy “confinement.

Blind: To dream of the blind is a sign that you will have no real friends.

Blood-To dream of blood means that you have a very deep underlying life experience that goes beyond your awareness. It might be the sense of guilt.

Boat: To sail in a boat or ship on smooth waters is lucky. On rough waters, it is unlucky. To fall into water indicates great peril.

Books: To dream of books is an auspicious sign, suggesting your future life will be very agreeable. Women who dream of books while pregnant will give birth to a son who loves to read.

Bread: You will succeed in earthly business pursuits. Eating good bread indicates good health and long life. Burned bread is a sign of a funeral and, thus, is bad.

Bride, Bridegroom: This symbol is an unlucky one that indicates sorrow and disappointment. You will mourn the death of some relative.

Bugs: Bugs indicate illness or that other people intend to cause you harm.

Butter: Butter represents joy, bounty, and good fortune. If you are suffering for any reason, the distress will pass quickly, replaced by feelings of contentment.

Camel: Heavy burdens will come upon you. You will meet with heavy disasters, but you will bear them with heroism.

Cat: Another negative dream symbol, cats represent treachery and fraud. Dreaming of killing a cat suggests your enemies will be discovered.

Chased- it indicates that you have been avoiding alarming issues in your own life. Subconsciously, you have realized that you have been falling behind to address your own issues.

Clouds: Dark clouds indicate that great sorrows lie in your future—but they will pass away if the clouds are moving or breaking away in the dream.

Corpse: Seeing a corpse in a dream indicates a hasty and imprudent engagement in which you will be unhappy.

Cow- Cattle can represent many things in Hindu dream interpretation. Milking a cow represents the arrival of wealth or fortune. But dreaming of being pursued by a cow represents being pursued by an enemy.

Crow: Seeing a crow in a dream indicates a sorrowful funeral ceremony.

Darkness- Darkness signifies failure in work that you are attempting. It also is related to ignorance, subconscious, evil, death, fear of the unknown and many others.

Dead- it might mean that you have some things to resolve with someone who has passed. If the person has been dead for a long time, then it means that your current situation is in some way related to the person’s past situation.

Death: Dreaming of death symbolizes a long, rich life. If you are ill and dream of death, that means your health will improve.

Desert: Traveling across a desert in a dream says that a long and tedious journey is inevitable. If the sunshine is present, your journey will be successful.

Devil: Dreaming of the devil suggests great harm may lie in store for you in the future. The best course of action after such a dream is to lead a virtuous life and avoid temptations.

Dinner: Eating dinner symbolizes a future where food and sustenance may be hard to come by. Your enemies will try to impugn your reputation, and you must be careful when choosing friends.

Disease: If a sick person dreams of disease, it means recovery from illness. To young men, dreaming of disease is a warning against evil company and intemperance.

Dying-This is usually associated with your deep underlying emotional pain in your life, and the dream is a warning for the upcoming danger and risk in your life.

Earthquake: Dreams of an earthquake predict a great loss, either personal, professional, or financial. Family ties may be strained or broken, especially if a death occurs, and fear and heartbreak lie in store.

Eclipse: This is one of the bleakest dream symbols. An eclipse symbolizes death, the loss of hope and pleasure, and friendships that end in betrayal.

Elephant: Dreaming of this animal represents good health, success, strength, prosperity, and intelligence.

Embroidery: This symbol serves as a warning that the persons who love you are not true. They will deceive you.

Falling-This is a very serious dream. It signifies anxiety and your loss of control in your waking life. Alternately, it can indicate abandonment issues.

Famine: In dreams, famine represents prosperity for the many and comfort for the individual. It suggests a time of love and leisure.

Father: In dreams, the image of a father (yours or someone else’s) is a representation of love and well-being. If you dream of your father dying, however, great misfortune may lie in your future.

Fields: To walk in green fields represents great happiness and wealth; it is a time of widespread happiness and contentment. On the other hand, dreaming of scorched fields suggests a future of hardship and famine.

Fighting: Fighting in a dream represents domestic discord, family fights, and misunderstanding between lovers. It bodes ill for merchants, soldiers, and sailors.

Fire: Dreaming of fire predicts health and great happiness, kind relations, and warm friends.

Floods: Successful trade, safe voyage for traders. But to ordinary persons, it indicates bad health and unfavorable circumstances.

Flowers- Dream of flowers signifies the events based on the various development cycle of the flower.

Forest-Forest dreams imply experience, vision, emotion. They also indicate unresolved feelings about something or not being able to see through a problem.

Frogs: Dreaming of frogs indicates that you will achieve success in your endeavors, whatever they may be.

Ghost: Ghosts are a very bad omen, suggesting that your difficulties will be overwhelming and your enemies will overpower you.

Giant: You will meet a person who will pose a tremendous challenge to you or block your ambitions. But if you meet these challenges with determination and courage, you will succeed.

Girl: Dreaming of an unmarried girl represents success and hope for the future.

God: Although this is an uncommon dream symbol, dreaming of encountering a spiritual entity suggests you will have a transformative experience soon.

Grave: This is a harbinger of death, usually of someone close to you.

Hanging: Dreaming of being hanged in a positive omen, predicting that you will rise in society and become wealthy.

Hell: A vision of hell is a prediction of physical suffering or mental anguish in your future, which may be caused by friends or enemies.

Home: A house symbolizes a domestic life that is peaceful and prosperous. You will find contentment with your family.

Husband: Dreaming of a married man indicates that a wish you hold will not come true. If you dream of having an affair with this man, it suggests you are becoming a vicious person.

Injury: Dreaming of being injured by someone suggests that person may be an enemy. But fleeing your home is not the answer; you must courageously confront the person.

Itch: Being itchy suggests that you are unhappy or restless in your life.

Jail: If you dream that you are in jail or otherwise imprisoned, it is a sign that prosperity and good fortune are in your future.

Journey: A journey in a dream indicates that a great change is coming in your life. Dreams of a good journey indicate positive conditions in your future, while a bad journey suggests impending troubles.

Keys-Keys are related to opportunities, access, control, secrets, freedom, knowledge or responsibilities. If you are locking, then it might mean that you are keeping your feelings and emotions inside. If you are unlocking, then it means that you are close to finding the answer to something. In case the key is a skeleton, then it refers to an old memory that you have locked away.

King: To appear before a friendly king is a sign of great success, but if you encounter a cruel king it is a symbol of misfortune.

Lamp: Lamps represent a warm, happy home life.

Learning: Dreams of knowledge and education indicate that you will attain influence and respect.

Leprosy: Dreaming of this disease suggest serious calamity in your future, one that may change your very being. Enemies abound.

Light: To dream of lights is very good. It denotes riches and honor.

Limbs: A broken limb symbolizes broken vows of marriage or fidelity.

Lion: Dreaming of this noble beast suggests that honor and recognition lie in your future. You may accumulate great power or fame, and you will be very happy.

Money: Receiving money in a dream denotes earthly prosperity, while dreams of giving it away suggest a generosity of spirit.

Mother: Dreams of your mother symbolize health and well-being. If you dream of your mother being ill, that represents her own future sickness.

Mountains-Dreams of mountains symbolize a victory of the certain instance.

Mourning- It signifies some disturbing influence in your social construct.

Mouse-To dream of the mouse means that you have fear or lack of assertiveness within you..

Murder: To dream that you have murdered somebody suggests a violent and criminal future await you.

Naked-In case you have a naked dream, it symbolizes insecurity, humiliation, shame or feelings of vulnerability.

Nectar: To drink nectar in a dream indicates riches and prosperity; perhaps you will marry a handsome person who is very wealthy.

Nightmare: You are guided by foolish persons. Beware of such people.

Noises: To dream of hearing noises suggests a future of family quarrels and unhappiness in your life.

Ocean: Dreams of the sea depend on how they appear. If you dream of a calm ocean, then you will have a peaceful life. If the ocean is stormy, your life will be tumultuous.

Office: Your workplace represents negative feelings. If you dream of being fired or laid off, it suggests a future of professional and personal misfortune.

Owl: This animal represents sickness, poverty, disgrace, and sorrow in Hindu dream interpretation.

Palace: To live in a palace is a good omen. You will be elevated to a state of wealth and dignity.

Pigs: A mixed omen, dreams of pigs suggest misfortune will befall you. But you will overcome whatever obstacles appear because you will receive help from others along the way.

Rain: Gentle rain symbolizes a happy and calm life, but heavy rain suggests trouble at home.

River: Much like rain and oceans, dreams of rain have different meanings. A gently flowing river predicts peace ahead, while a river in flood warns of danger.

Ship: This represents good fortune if the sailing is smooth, but a ship navigating stormy waters represents personal peril ahead.

Singing: If you dream of singing, it may suggest a future of sorrow and crying. A loved one may grow ill or pass away.

Slow motion- It indicates your inability to move straight forward or progress towards your waking life. If you feel trapped in it, then there is something that is holding you back.

Snake- It  might symbolize temptation, danger or forbidden sex or that there is someone around you who can’t be trusted. You have sly and dangerous enemies who will injure your character and state of life.

Teeth- It signifies that you are aware of the fact that you have fear of being found unattractive in your dream, but not in reality. If you go deeper, it signifies your loss of power in your conscious life.

Thunder: This ominous symbol suggests that you face great personal danger. Close friends will desert you in your hour of need, and you will be forced to face the danger alone.

Tunnel-Tunnel dream refers to the cycle of death and birth.

Umbrella- Dreams of the umbrella is pointing towards the need to take a closer look at your worries and fears.

Vehicles-Vehicle dreams refer to the control you have in your waking life.

Volcano: Like thunder, this explosive symbol represents a future of upheaval and violence.

Water- Water dreams are related to cleansing and emotional state.

Water: This indicates that a baby will soon be born.

Wedding: This symbol means that you will attend a funeral in the future. If you dream that you are the one who is marrying and you are single, it means you will never wed in real life. Dreams of marrying a sick person mean that person will die.

Young: If you dream that you yourself are young, that means you will soon die. But if you see young people in your dreams, that means you will have a happy life



  1. Caraka Samhita, Indriyasthana, ch. v.
  2. Compendium of Philosophy p. 48.
  3. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. v, p. 29.
  4. English translationof Nyayakandali of Srldhara (V.S.S., Benares, 1895).., p. 388.
  5. Kiranavall of Udayana (Benares, 1885 and 1887, p. 273.
  6. Nyayakandali of Srldhara (V.S.S., Benares, 1895).,p. 185. 2 p
  7. Nyayakandali of Srldhara (V.S.S., Benares, 1895p. 185.
  8. Nyayakusumanjali, ch. iii, p. 9.
  9. Nyayatltparyadipika of Jayasimhasuri (B.I., 1910)., p. 67
  10. Prakaranapancika of alikanatha (Ch.S.S., 1903-1904)., p. 183.
  11. SaptapadarthI of Sivaditya (V.S.S., Benares, 1893).., p. 68
  12. Siddhantabindu, p. 189. 6 S.B., iii, 2, 6.
  13. Umesha Mishra : ” Dream theory in Indian Thought,” The Allahabad University Studies, vol. v, pp. 274, 275.
  14. Upaskara of Samkara Misra (Gujrati Press, Samvat, 1969)., ix, 2, 7.
  15. Vaisesika Siitra (Gujrati Press, Samvat, 1969).., ix, 2, 6-7.
  16. Vedantic thought and Culture y p. 172.




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