Dreaming LifeDreaming Life

A brief look at non-Western dream culture

Oriental traditions concerning dreams are comparative and philosophical; the dreamer’s state of mind is of more importance than the predictive power of the dreams themselves. Ancient Chinese philosophy believes that the soul is separated from the body while dreaming, that several levels of consciousness exist; the dreamer’s horoscope, time of year, and the individual’s physical condition are all taken into consideration when interpreting dreams.

Many Islamic dreams are concerned with the acquisition of valuable worldly goods in praise of Allah, or of these gifts being received from Allah in return for devoted piety. Bad dreams and nightmares are thought to have been sent by the devil and should not be divulged to anyone.

I pray to Goddess Durga, who has a shinning like a moon; who rides the lion,who holds many types of weapons; who has a fire like flare, who bears the moon, I pray to such Goddess Durga.


Hindu dream interpretation puts great importance on individual dream images, and relates them to gods and demons. This belief that dream symbols may be universal or individual is similar to the more modern ideas adopted by Carl Jung in his theories on the ‘Collective Unconscious’.

The Godess Parvati is the personification of Prakriti (Nature) and is also Shakti and the mother of the universe. All the organisms have arisen out of Nature, hence She is also called Jagadamba. Mother Parvati is also known by other names: Durga, Kaali etc. But despite having so many names she is one in appearance. It was Durga who vanquished the buffalo-demon Mahish. Mahish may have founded the Durga Puja when upon learning of his impending demise at the hands of the goddess he said:

"Durga, I have dreamed of you and in the dream I worshipped you. I will be glad to die in your hands. I only ask that you ensure that along with you I am worshipped by all."

Durga replied,

"In three of my forms you will forever be at my feet and worshipped by the gods, by humanity, and by demons."