Brihat Samhita

by N. Chidambaram Iyer | 1884 | 135,584 words | ISBN-13: 9788171104215

This page describes couches and seats (shayyasana) which is the seventy-ninth Chapter of the English translation of the Brihat-samhita. This work, written by Varahamihira in the 6th century, is classified as jyotisha literature, also known as Indian astronomy. It contains however, also content regarding astrology, palmistry, agriculture, gardening, perfumes, medicines and various other encyclopedic topics.

Chapter 79 - On Couches and Seats (śayyāsana)

1. As Cots and Seats (śayyāsana) are useful to all people at all times and especially so to Kings, I begin to treat of them here.

2. The wood of the following trees is suited for the construction of cots and seats—Asana[1] Spandana,[2] Candana, Haridra, Suradāru,[3] Tindukī, Śāla (Palm), Kāśmari,[4] Añjana, Padmaka, Śāka and Śiṃśapa.

2. The trees described below shall be rejected: tree that have fallen owing to an attack of lightning, flood, winds or elephant, those containing bee-hives or in which birds dwell, those that grow in places of worship, in cremation grounds or in roads, those whose barks have dried up or which or covered with twining creepers.

3. Trees which are covered with thorns or which grow at the junction of great rivers or in temples or which when cut fall on the western or southern side shall also be rejected.

5. If cots and seats be made of such trees, the family will suffer miseries and there will be diseases, fear, loss, quarrels, and the like.

6. If there be the wood of any trees already cut down available for the purpose it shall first be examined: if a child gets on it, a person will get cows and children by its use.

7. If white flowers. a rutting elephant, curdled milk, coloured rice, water pots, gems and the like benefic objects be observed at the time, there will be prosperity.

8. The length of 8 grains of barley rice placed close and parallel to one another, is known as the Carpenter’s inch; the length of the king’s cot shall be 100 such digits.

9. The cots of the first Prince, the Minister, the Commander in Chief and the Priest shall respectively be 90, 84, 78 and 72 digits long.

10. The breadth of the cot shall be 7/16th of the length, according to Viśvakarman; and the height of the legs shall be a third of the length.

11. If the cots be wholly made of the wood of Śrīparṇi or Tinduka, there will be acquisition of wealth, and if made of Asana, there will be health.

12. If the cot be wholly made of the wood of Śiṃśapa, there will be prosperity in various ways; if of Sandal, a person will be freed from troubles from his enemies, and will live long, leading a life of virtue and renown.

13. If the cot be wholly made of the wood of Padmaka, there will be long life, prosperity, wealth and skill in the use of weapons; if of the wood of Śāka or Śāla there will be happiness.

14. A king who uses a cot made wholly of sandalwood and covered with gold set with various gems will be honoured even by Devas.

15. if the wood of the Tinduki. Śiṃśapa, Śrīparṇi, Devadāru or Asana be coupled with other wood, it will not conduce to prosperity.

16. The wood of Sāka and Śāla may be used either separately or jointly. The same remark applies to the wood of Haridra and Kadamba.

17. A cot made wholly of the wood of Spandana will not conduce to prosperity; one made wholly of the wood of Amba will bring on death and one made of the wood of Asana coupled with other wood will bring on numerous miseries.

18. If the legs be made of the wood of Spandana, Amba or Candana. they will conduce to prosperity. Cots and seats made wholly of the wood of fruit trees will also conduce to prosperity.

19. Cots made of wood and set with ivory are excellent; various ornamental works shall be done in ivory.

20. In cutting ivory a length equal to double the circumference at the root of the tusks shall be left; if the elephant be one dwelling on water banks, a larger portion shall be left and if it be one dwelling in the mountains, a smaller portion may be left.

21. If, in the cut, there be lines of the shape of the cross or a dish, an umbrella, a flag-staff, or a Cāmara, there will respectively be health, success, wealth, prosperity and comfort.

22. If the lines be of the shape of a weapon there will be success; If quadrangular in shape the king will recover a lost country. And if of the shape of a clod, he will recover a country obtained and lost.

23. If the lines be of the shape of a woman there will be loss of wealth: if of the shape of a golden pitcher, the king will get sons; if of the shape of a pot, he will get hidden treasure, and if of the shape of a club, his intended journey will be stopped.

24. If the lines be of the shape of a bloodsucker, a monkey, or a snake, there will be dearth and disease, and the king will fall into the hands of his enemies, and if the lines be of the shape of a vulture, an owl, a crow, or a hawk, the king’s subjects will suffer from plague.

25. If the lines be of the shape of a rope or a headless trunk, the king will die or his subjects will suffer miseries respectively; if blood comes out, or if the cut be black or red-black or of disagreeable appearance or of bad smell, there will be misery.

26. If the cut be white, even, glossy and of good smell, there will be prosperity. The effects ascribed to the cutting of ivory apply also to the cutting of wood for cots and the like.

27. In joining the beams of a bed-stead the ends shall be made to come round from left to right;[5] if the reverse be the case or if the ends do not point to all the four quarters, there will be an attack of evil spirits.

28. If a single leg should have its end pointing to the ground; the person will suffer injuries to his leg; if two legs should be so, he will suffer from indigestion; and if three or four, he will suffer from grief or be killed or imprisoned.

29. If the knot at the top of the leg be found with a hole or of a bad colour, there will be suffering from disease, and if there be a knot at the centre of the leg there will be suffering from belly-ache.

30. If there be a knot just below the centre, the master will suffer injuries to his shanks; if the knot be a little lower down, he will suffer loss of wealth.

31. If there be a knot at the foot of the leg, hoofed animals will suffer; if there be three knots in the frames, there will be much suffering.

32. The holes in the four frames of a bedstead are of 6 sorts, known as—Niṣkuṭa, Kolākṣa, Sūkaranayana, Vatsanābha, Kālaka and Dhundhuka.

33. A hole which is large within and with a small mouth thus resembling a pot is known as Niṣkuṭa; a black hole of the size of a grain of black gram is known as Kolākṣa.

34. An irregular hole which is of one of the main colours and whose length is that of a finger joint and a half is known as Sūkaranayana and one which turns from right to left, which is split and of the length of a finger joint is known as Vatasnābha.

35. A black hole is known as Kālaka and one which is split is known as Dhundhuka. Generally, if the holes be of the colour of the wood, they do not point to evil.

36. A Niṣkuṭa hole will bring loss of wealth, a Kolākṣa hole will bring the min of the family; a Sūkara hole will bring fear and injury from weapons, and a Vatsanābha hole will bring suffering from disease.

37. Kālaka and Dhundhuka holes as well as a hole caused by worms will not conduce to prosperity; if the holes be in knotty parts, the wood is fit for no purpose.

38. If the cot, seat and the like be made of one wood of fruit trees, there will be gain of wealth; if of two sorts of wood there will be great gain of wealth, if of three, sons will increase, and if of four, the person will become wealthy and famous.

39. If the cot be made of five different sorts of wood of fruit trees, the person sleeping on it will meet with death; and if it be made of six, seven or eight different sorts of wood, his family will suffer ruin.

Footnotes and references:


Asana: the tree Terminalia tomentosa.


Spandana: the tree Dalbergia ougcinensis.


Suradāru: the Devadāru; pine; Pinus deodera.


Kāśmari: the tree Gmelina arborea. The other terms have already been explained.


The end of the northern frame shall point to the cast, that of the eastern one shall point to the south and so on.