Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes portents of death (arishta) which is Chapter 11 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 11 - Portents of death (ariṣṭa)


1. I have been told by you, O Puruṣottama! that obstacles prove of benefit to us, and that Yogins should understand, by the practice of the Yoga, how they happen to us?

2. How is a coming evil to be understood and at what times? I am very anxious to know, pray expound it to me.


3. O, Pitāmaha! Evil which is otherwise called apara, whether it shows itself in ourselves or in others, ought to be understood as exhibited in our behalf.

4. It is understood that there are in men, possessed of body, five kinds of vital airs, namely, PrāṇaApānaUdānaSamāna and Vyāna.

5. Long expiration, yawning or relaxation of the mind (manojṛmba), asthmatic hiccup and sneezing are the activities of the ever up-moving breath (prāṇa).

6. The in-breath, swallowing, the evacuation of bowels, the excretion of urine, and the sexual processes are the work of the down-moving breath (apāna).

7. Vyāna (diffusing air) pervades all the body............ The uprising air (udāna) brings about loud declamation (production of sounds in high tone).

8-10. The Samāna air stimulates the fire in the stomach always (and brings about digestion). Of these vital airs, placed in different parts of the body, their throbbing and the sounds they produce, are seen in their respective places., In the ankle, the knees and elbows, and the secret parts, on the left side of the joints, in the throat and at the root of the ears, in the temporal bones, on the crown of the head, and in other places the throbbing produced by it are to be seen.

11. In the midst of the throat, in the voice, in the stomach and in the joints, and in all parts of the body observe their activities as they occur.

12. These and other changes in the airs pervading the body when normal, give length of life; and when they get to be abnormal, bring about destruction of the body.

13.[1] The vital air, prāṇa, moves alternatively through the nostrils. The movement of this breathing which takes place without intermission, should be understood.

14. The breath in the left nostril moves through to the right, and that in the right moves through to the left; the path between is to be understood as the time when the breath is stationary (viṣṇu kāla).

15. Many movements of this breath (Prāṇa) make the months. Twelve of these make the year, Six of these months make the Ayana (half year). One expert in the practice of Yoga should understand this with sharp intelligence.

16. Beginning with five breathings, and increasing it by five each time till you reach twenty-five of these, count this as a full day (ahorātra).

17. From thence onward, the progress is by one day each time till the total comes up to thirty-three day-night combination in the order of progress.

18. If, starting with the Sun’s month, man’s breathing keeps increasing from the beginning of it, having grown by continuous movement, then listen to the length of life of the man.

19-20.[2] It may be three, two or one year, two, one, one-half (quarter or an eighth) of a month......, three, two or one full day (ahorātra) that the breaths keep moving in due order; of this there is no doubt,

21. One must understand at the very outset his own time of breathing. By its increase, understand approaching evil.

22. By hour (nālika), month, year, measure its growth. Count their consequences as increasing stage by stage.

23. Note separately the time when evil approaches, keeping the cause and the consequences separate.

24. A wise man should daily contemplate alone, the particular hour, the month and the day of the calendar when evil could befall him.

25. There is nothing finer than this method for determining length of life, O, Pitāmaha! which discriminates from shortening and lengthening of the air in the lungs

26. If the activities of the other vital airs decline, a wise man will understand, even from this, the approach of death (aparānta).

27-28. The destruction of the powers of the indriyas (senses), variation in the shadows, dullness of vision, and the cessation of throbbing in the fingers and the thumb; these symptoms, when they appear in a man, indicate he has no more than six months’ life left.

29. If the throbbing ceases in the lower limbs of a man to above the knees, death is certain for him in three months.

30. If the throbbing ceases in the sex organ, the hip-joints and the armpits, his life ceases in the course of a single month.

31. Death comes in half a month[3]if one fails to see sweat bubbles on his body. If the evil creeps into the stomach, death follows in ten days.

32. If the eyes see light as that of the fire-fly, death follows in five days. If the tip of the tongue cannot be seen death comes in three days.

33-35.[4] If the tip of the nose cannot be seen by one, his death comes in two days. If humming in the ear, incoherence of speech and delusion of mind continue without disappearing, his life has only a day’s length left. In this manner, O Pitāmaha! a man of learning should regard these and other omens as indications of approaching death. When death comes near, a Vaiṣṇava should remain fearless.

36. Even when death has come close to you, do not give way to too much anxiety (for others), as work and the means therefor, do take their course of their own nature.

37. If one’s life has less than twelve years to run, the nature of its course can be understood by men well practised in Yoga.

38-39A. Knowing the approach of final emancipation, those Vaiṣṇavas who are not educated in the Yogic knowledge of the vital airs stimulating the primary organs of the body, but who are in the enjoyment of association of those possessed of this knowledge (Sādhus) will have to learn the evils approaching them mostly from other indications.

39B-41A. One who does not see the orb of the rising moon, nor the line marking the boundary of the waning moon, or in the same manner, unable to see the star Arundhatī even, or the milky way in the sky, his death will occur before the end of the following year.

41B-42A. If one sees the sun and the moon without brightness, or fire bereft of its bright glow, he reaches the world of death in the eleventh month.

42B-48A. If one sees the aerial cars, or the cities of YakṣasRākṣasas, and Piśācas (evil spirits) in the mid-summer (Grīṣma) he has a life of ten months left. If a man in good health sees trees and hills of gold, he will live only for nine months more. Vomiting gold and silver, as also various kinds of gems, if one sees himself upside down, his head covered with blood, he can live only eight months longer. If one, having put his foot in dust, ashes or mire, sees it broken, he can live only for seven months more. A blood-red dove or crow, without casting shadow, perches upon one quickly, or remains perched for a while, or if a dust storm is seen behind him without due cause, six are the months of his life and no more, O, Lotus-bom.

48B-49. Seeing the shadow of a man, without his head, in the sky, or if a man present before him appears truncated (kabandha) black in colour fearsome-looking, he can live only for five months.

50. While one is in a faint or asleep, if he sees a woman gone black or his own head break, he can live only for four months.

51. If one sees another man as of black colour and fear-inspiring and as a Rākṣasa or Piśāca, he lives only for three months more.

52. If one sees in the evening, by himself alone, without being urged by any one, in the cremation ground, night-walking Rākṣasas, his life is only for two months longer.

53-55A. One whose urine has the smell of a goat when not suffering from disease, or whose whole body has that smell, or if he sees a Brahmarākṣasa (ghost of a Brāhmaṇa), or those who have become corpses by some cause, or the slaughter of many; if he dreams of being drowned or of great sorrow afflicting him, in regard to these, one must determine one’s coming death which would be varied and not definite, by reasoning or the circumstances of each case.

55B-57A. If well-disposed relations of one should appear perchance as ill-disposed (in a dream), he loses his life before a month expires. If one sees the sun and the moon as if bathed in blood, or if the sky itself be rubbed over with blood, he lives for only one year.

57B-59A. If one sees his reflection in a mirror, or in water in front of him, in fearsome form or defective of limbs; or if, in a burning lamp, one sees the flame disconnected with the wick, his death comes to him in twelve days.

59B-60A. If the upper lip is seen out of its place, or if the nose is seen bent; if the ear is seen moving out of its place, the life of the person is only six more days.

60B-61. One whose tongue turns black or his face, usually of the colour of lotus, or if one develops a distaste for food, though anxious to live, or if his temples lose their beauty and become red, his further life is only three days long.

62. If one sees a bird of a grey-blue colour mounting on his head as he sees it, his life is only two days more.

63. If one sees the above often through a glass or water his death follows in a day for certain.

64-65. A wise man, who sees the approach of his end, should become composed in mind, and, putting aside all anxiety, accepting the highest form of non-desire even though of bodily strength, and giving up all sorrow and fear, should adopt the practice of Yoga mentally, giving up all activity.

66. Going to a holy place, with mind composed and serene, and senses under control, worshipping the Supreme God with his whole soul, one should place himself under His protection.

67. Reverencing Vaiṣṇavas in the practice of the Yoga and enquiring and learning of them, pursue the path of the Yoga without remissness and quite composed.

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra the Eleventh Chapter, entitled Ariṣṭa (Portents of Death)

Footnotes and references:


Cf. Pādma Saṃhitā Yoga Pāda III 32 etc.


This sloka is broken at the end.


The text is corrupt here, Padma. Yoga. V 5.


Ibid śloka 7.

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