As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school, which bases its tenets on the doctrines laid out in the Brahma Sutras, a work by the sage Vyasa that summarizes and systematizes the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads. You can read the Brahma Sutras here. In any case, in Adhyaya 3 Pada 2 Sutra 4 of the Brahma Sutras, Vyasa says this:

sūcakaś ca hi śruter ācakṣate ca tadvidaḥ

(Not altogether) for it (the dream) is indicative (of the future), according to scripture; the experts also declare this.

This translation is written from the viewpoint of the Advaita philosopher Adi Shankaracharya, who interprets this Sutra as saying that even though dreams are an unreal creation of the Jiva, they still have an element of truth insofar as they can predict the future. (This is in contrast to other commentators who think this Sutra is saying that the fact that dreams predict the future imply that they're created by Paramatma, not the Jiva.) Here is what Adi Shankaracharya says in this section of his Brahma Sutra Bhashya:

Well then, as dreams are mere illusion, they do not contain a particle of reality?--Not so, we reply; for dreams are prophetic of future good and bad fortune. For scripture teaches as follows, 'When a man engaged in some work undertaken for a special wish sees in his dreams a woman, he may infer success from that dream-vision.' Other scriptural passages declare that certain dreams indicate speedy death, so, e.g. 'If he sees a black man with black teeth, that man will kill him.'--Those also who understand the science of dreams hold the opinion that to dream of riding on an elephant and the like is lucky; while it is unlucky to dream of riding on a donkey, &c.; and that certain other dreams also caused by special mantras or devatâs or substances contain a particle of truth.--In all these cases the thing indicated may be real; the indicating dream, however, remains unreal as it is refuted by the waking state.

Now the first Vedic verse that Adi Shankaracharya quotes is quoted by other commentators as well, and it occurs in this chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad:

yadā karmasu kāmyeṣu striyaṁ svapneṣu paśyanti samṛddhiṃ tatra jānīyāttasminsvapnanidarśane tasminsvapnanidarśan

If during sacrifices which are to fulfil certain wishes he sees in his dreams a woman, let him know success from this vision in a dream, yea, from this vision in a dream.

But my question is, where in the Vedas is the second verse from, the one that says that seeing a black-skinned man with black teeth in a dream implies that you'll die? I assume it must be from the Vedas since the Sutra says Shruti.

1 Answer 1


I found this verse in two places in the Rig Veda. First of all, in this chapter of the Aitareya Aranyaka of the Rig Veda:

Next come the dreams. If he sees a black man with black teeth, and that man kills him; or a boar kills him; a monkey jumps on him; the wind carries him along quickly; having swallowed gold he spits it out; he eats honey; he chews stalks; he carries a red lotus; he drives with asses and boars; wearing a wreath of red flowers (naladas) he drives a black cow with a black calf, facing the south, if a man sees any one of these (dreams), let him fast, and cook a pot of milk, sacrifice it, accompanying each oblation with a verse of the Râtri hymn, and then, after having fed the Brâhmanas, with other food (prepared at his house) eat himself the (rest of the) oblation.

Second of all, in this chapter of the Shankhayana Aranyaka of the Rig Veda:

Then follow the dream visions. He sees a black man with black teeth. He kills him, a boar kills him, a monkey kills him. He devours stalks; having devoured them he spits them forth. He carries a single lotus. Wearing a wreath of spikenard, he drives towards the south a cow with its calf. If he sees any of the following things, a yellow-looking or black woman, with loosened hair, or shaved, anointing with sesamum oil, a garment dyed with safflower, singing, a buffalo carriage, going to the south, etc., having looked at them he fasts, cooks milk in a pot, using the milk of a cow which has a calf like itself, but on no account a black cow, piles up the fire, sweeps out (the place of sacrifice), scatters grass, sprinkles water around, and, bending the right knee, offers oblations of ghee by means of a ladle.

By the way, at least as these two translators interpret this verse, it's not saying that if you see this black-skinned man with black teeth in a dream, then he'll kill you in real life. Rather, it's saying that if you see him AND he kills you in the dream, then something bad will happen to you unless you do the appropriate Pariharam.

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