Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes knowledge of omens (nimitta-jnana) which is Chapter 9 of the English translation of the Parama Samhita, representing a manual of the Pancaratra school of Vaishnavism philosophy. These pages summarize ritualistic worship, initiation and other topics, as contained in the various Agamas belonging to the Pancaratra school

Chapter 9 - Knowledge of Omens (nimitta-jñāna)


1. O, Janārdana!, Please tell me how one practising the initiation of others in Dīkṣa understands the significance to the novitiate, of auspicious and inauspicious omens (nimitta).


2. By the fall of the tooth stick, by the understanding of the dreams, and by the form of the flames of the lighted fire, the instructor understands the auspicious and the inauspicious.

3-4. Banyan, fig, aśvatta (Ficus religiosa), plakṣa (Indian fig), darbha (Poa cynosuroides), Bamboo, ĀtmakaraApāvarga, the pith of Apāṅg (Achryanthes aspira, Tamil Nāyuruvi), Dhātakī (Grislea tomentosa. Tam. Verātti), Śamī (Acacia Suma, Tam; Vanni), and other varieties of clean wood should be used for cleaning teeth. Each of the pieces for use must be 12 inches long, unbent, and without knots.

5-7. The wise man, after carefully cleaning these with water, will chew from the root upwards. One must chew the stick looking towards the North, East, West or South in the descending order of caste; then rubbing the teeth with the chewed part, up and down, then breaking it in the middle, and washing it with water again, it must be thrown out. The wise man must then examine how it had fallen.

8-9. If it fell tip towards the east, there will be prosperity; if south-east, augmentation of strength from penance; if south, death will follow; if south-west, loss of wealth; if west, supreme peace; if north-west, coming of disease; if north, accession of wealth and if north-east, supreme happiness.

10. If however it should fall standing upwards great prosperity will follow. In this manner let the omens (nimitta) be understood from the tooth stick.

11. This should be observed on occasions of taking dīkṣā, at the beginning of any great work, or when you desire to know good and evil relating to yourself.

12. Then, having fasted (the previous day) make the observation as prescribed above. I shall now proceed to describe the good and evil to the initiate from dreams.

13-14. Having had a dream one should report it as he had it to his preceptor (Guru). Dreams in the first quarter of the night, bring their fruit a year after; in the second quarter, in eight months; in the third, in three months; and in the fourth, at the end of the month; at daybreak the result follows immediately.

15-23. If one witnesses in a dream the Sun in full glory, the moon surrounded by stars, the glowing fire of the Agnihotra or a blazing fire, mother, father, wives, sons, brothers, and friends; if one dreams of eating uncooked human flesh eating from feet upwards, of taking milk, soma, surā (toddy), blood, sugar, curds, and ghee; drinking water from the sea or flowing river, and the eating of sweet gruel; mounting with ease on man, elephant, etc., terrace of a mansion, palanquin, fruit-trees, carriage, seat, bed; the crossing over of seas, rivers and other bodies of water; meeting with God, Brahman, preceptor (Guru), learned and wise man, saintly men; seeing the following; conch, the discus, the flag, a city in heaven (vision in the sky), the bull, the umbrella, the flag of Indra (rain-bow), rain, looking-glass, gems, fly-whisk, fan of talipot palm, pot full of water, blood, raw flesh; rubbing one’s body with flour, the hearing of holy words, illicit intercourse, being bitten by snakes, scorpions, etc., being bound in every limb, contemptuous turning out by relations, and other such objects and occurrences, understand the advent in a short time of auspicious good fortune.

24-25. If, on the other hand, one sees oneself naked, without dress, incapable of action, mounted on a broken vehicle, with broken umbrella, flag or weapons, Caṇḍāla, a washerman, painter, running barbarian (Mleccha) spies, a heretical ascetic, to him nothing auspicious happens.

26-30A. The mounting of an ass, a camel, a buffalo, a tiger, an anthill; being anointed with, and mounted as before, and proceeding towards the south; the gaining of silver and gold, drinking of liquor and oil, dancing with one’s body bedaubed with mud, and being married; being rapidly borne down a current, the eating of cooked meat, the falling of one’s teeth, the shaving of one’s head, getting drowned in water, mounting with suffering a dried up tree, sunshine in a dream; having seen, these unauspicious sights and other such, no man attains to anything good, and there is no use. further investigating this.

30B-32A. In the midst of his dreams whoever eats sweet gruel mixed with ghee, whoever standing on a hill climbs a tree, whoever being on a mansion crosses the sea by himself, such a person gains a kingdom, as also one who dreams of eating the earth.

32B-33A. Whatever Devas, Brahmans, cows, wearers of liṅga (a sect of Śaivas), the Fathers (manes), king, speak to one in a dream, that happens for certain.

33B-36A. In getting initiated, in consecrating a temple, and when, among people, calamitous changes are seen, carefully note the dreams that one may have. In conducting the; fire-rites, if the fire burns without any effort, or when the flames burn rightwise, when it emits sweet smell and when it appears pleasant looking, the wealth of the officiant (Sādaka) will increase without doubt.

36B-38A. If the fire brought for the homa (oblation) suffers extinction without visible cause, calamities will befall the officiant. There is no need to doubt this. If the fire throws off marks of Viṣṇu (Viṣṇu-liṅga)[1] or evil smell, if it will not glow into a flame or in the right direction, then it is inauspicious.

38B-39. When the maṇḍala is being made, if pouring rain falls or a storm blows, or a halo forms round the sun, the depth of a relation or something unpleasing to the Gods will happen.

40-44. Nothing good will happen to the officiant, O, Brahman. If other signs of good and of great influence should happen, and if the times be auspicious and good, his wealth will increase. Even things difficult of attainment will of themselves come to hiṃ-the grace of God or the great good that one seeks from divine grace. At the attainment of success in the performance, if obstructions come in the way, or calamities resulting from act of God happen, these are called evil omens. In this manner the officiant, by the omens (nimitta) that appear, should determine whether the fulfilment or otherwise of the desired object, would be auspicious or inauspicious.

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the the ninth Chapter entitled “Knowledge of Omens” (nimitta-jñāna)

Footnotes and references:


Seems intended for the whirling of the fire. See Viṣṇu Nighantu.

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