Concept of Svapna (Dreams) in Ayurveda

Svapna is one of the unexplored concepts in Ayurveda. Svapna literally means loss of touch or ignorance. As in Svapna the most important requisite of Jnana or knowledge i.e. the contact of sense organs with their objects is absent, it is also described as one of the Avidhya or Ignorance. During the waking phase that which is seen and heard created wishes and desires in the mind of the person and are expressed as factual illusions in sleep. They are called as Svapna or dreams.

Genesis of Svapna

In the genesis of Svapna, all the four components of life or Ayu (Atma, Manas, Indriya and Sharira) play an equal part. Just like in a chariot, the charioteer binds the horses, here the chariot is compared to the Sharira (Physical body), Manas (Mind) to be the reins, which lie in the hands of the charioteer, i.e. the Atma (Soul or Self), it binds the horses, which are the Indriyas (Sense organs). So it can be understood that though the soul controls the functions of the sense organs and the body, it is only through the mind. Hence at times it is the mind, which is seen to perceive knowledge through the sense organs. Similarly in case of Svapna, though the initiator is the Atma or Soul, it is the mind that is responsible for creating the dream images.

Types of Svapna

Svapna experienced either himself or by others also indicate the good or bad. They are classified into seven types as below.

  1. Drstam – Visual perception / matters that are seen
  2. Srta – Auditory perception / matters that are heard
  3. Anubhutam – Experienced
  4. Parthivam – One’s own desire
  5. Kalpitam – Imaginary
  6. Bhavikam – Natural premonition
  7. Doshaja – Produced because of aggravation of doshas

The first five types of dreams, dreams due to one’s constitution depending upon the influence of the doshas viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha, those dreams that are experienced during the day, which are either too short or too long, which are forgotten and which have occurred when the person is not fully asleep are not meaningful for a physician as they are ineffective and cannot be regarded as having any premonitory value.

The imaginary dreams and dreams which occur as premonitions are meaningful. The dreams that occur as natural premonitions may have auspicious or inauspicious results depending upon the nature of the dream. The doshaja type may be responsible for the causation of diseases as a result of the aggravation of the same dosha.

Effects of Svapna

Effects of Svapna can be broadly classified into two types – those that do not have any impact on a person’s health or life and those, which have an impact on the person’s health or life. In Harita Samhita, the duration of result after seeing a dream is mentioned. If a person sees a dream in the first part of night, the result occurs in one year. If a person sees a dream during the second part of night or during daytime or in rainy season, the effect occurs in six months. Similarly the effect of dreams seen in third part of night occurs in three months and the effect of dream, which is seen in the fourth part of night or in early morning, occurs in ten days.

Dusvapna Phala Nivarana (Getting rid of effects of bad dreams)

The person who has visualized by either dreadful or pleasant dreams, should take bath on the following morning and if offers black gram, white yellowish sesame seeds or mustard seeds with some ghee, iron and gold to the Brahmanas, chanting auspicious hymns such as Tripada Gayatri Mantra, will be relieved of sin and also from all the ailments.

Prasata Svapna (Auspicious dreams)

Seeing the following kinds of auspicious dreams can be interpreted as having long life. Dream Interpretation / Decoding

Dream Interpretation / Decoding


Doshaja Svapna

Vata prakriti (Vata body type) people commonly experience dreams as if flying or moving in the sky, climbing trees or mountains, wandering about in land, riding camels or other animals, dried and crooked trees and rivers, hearing rumbling voices, whirling of wheels of chariots, etc. Pitta persons have adventurous dreams, often characterized by conflict situations. Their dream is commonly seeing fire, flash, lightning, sun, meteors, golden mountains, entering into fire, embracing flames, gold, red flowers of Butea monosperma (flame of the forest) and trees which are red in color, fire, lightning and falling meteors, red colored sky, sun, bright flames or light in dreams. Dreams of Kapha persons include those dreams that are pleasing to the mind, clouds, water reservoirs, ponds and calm lakes with blooming lotus flowers, swans, ruddy Sheldrake and other water birds, swimming in the sea water or sea of milk, sprinkling with shower of rain, silver mountains, etc.

Dreams during pregnancy

Svapna heralding the sex of the foetus is explained in Susrutha Samhita. The objects seen in the Svapna can be evaluated and classified as having masculine and feminine gender on the basis of which dreams can be classified as signifying a male gender and female gender. If a pregnant lady sees in her dream as doing activities as that of male, taking food and drinks as that of a male, sees flowers (Lotus, Water lily) or fruits (Mango) denoting male gender, signifies the male gender. If a pregnant lady sees in her dream as doing activities as that of female, taking food and drinks as that of a female, sees flowers (Rose, Hibiscus) or fruits (Banana) denoting female gender signifies the female gender.

Viphala Svapna (Ineffective dreams)

Dreams, which are usual to one’s constitution, those that are forgotten quickly or forgotten after the next dream, those seen when the person is worried, those seen during day sleep are ineffective.

It was rightly said by Carl Jung – “The art of interpreting dreams cannot be learnt from books.” Each detail of the dream matters and is necessary for decoding a dream.
Proper interpretation of dreams helps to learn more about the person’s personality, mental attitudes, health status, disease predisposition and fatal signs of his illness. It only requires attention for exploration, decoding and application, sincerely with patience and devotion.