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Omens through Birds and Beasts
1-4For the delectation of his disciples has Varahamihira written this science, the source of super knowledge abridging all the existing works on this science of Omens, having read the works of Rishabha who incorporated in his work the teachings of Indra, Sukra, Brihaspati, Sage Kapisthala and Garuda, of Bhaguri, of
Devala, of the blessed king Dravyavardhana, ruler of Avanti, and born of the family of great emperors who followed the work of Sage Bharadwaja, of the seven Seers, of Garga and other sages, of several authors on the subject of ‘Journey’ and other works in Sanskrit and Prakrit .
5Daring a man’s journey, an omen reveals the fruition of his deeds good and bad, done in a previous birth .
6Omens are of various kinds, as those through beings that are rural, wild, aquatic, terrestrial, heavenly, diurnal, nocturnal and diurnal – nocturnal. The sex of the creatures is to be determined from their cry, gait, look and speech .
7Since it is very difficult to distinguish their sex owing to the multiplicity of their genera arid the absence of a fixed habitat, Sage Garga, the senior, has written the following two verses explaining their general characteristics.
8-9“The male creatures have fleshy, high and large shoulders, broad necks, a fine breast, small but deep sound and great valour (or firm gait?); whereas the female ones have slender breast, head and neck, small face and feet, little courage and harmonious and melodious voice. Those that are possessed of characteristics different from these are eunuchs .”
10The creatures that live in villages, forests, etc., are to be understood only from conventional knowledge. Here I should like to delineate in brief only those that are relevant to journeys.
11A man going on a journey ought to consider the omens, good or bad, as relating to his own person; in a marching army, they relate to the sovereign; in a city, to the tutelary deity (or to the Mayor); in an assembly, to the chieftain. When there are many chieftains of the same rank in a concourse, they refer to one who is senior most by virtue of his birth, learning and age.
12For three hours after Sunrise the Northeast is called Mukta Surya (i.e., one that has abandoned the Sun), the East, Prapta-Surya (i.e. one that has attained the Sun) and the South-east, Eshyat Surya (one that is going to get the Sun); for the second watch of the day, the East, South-east and South respectively get those names; for the third watch, the South-east, South, and South-west; for the fourth watch. South, Southwest and West; for the first watch of the night, Southwest, West and North-west; for the 2nd watch, West, North-west and North; for the third watch, North-west, North and North-east; and for the fourth watch. North, North-east and East. The effects of omens in the respective directions are as signified by their names given above, i.e., in the Mukta-Surya quarter, the effect of the omen is already spent up; in the next quarter, it is to be experienced the same day ; and in the next, it is impending. The three quarters named above, via. Mukta, Prapta and Eshya (abandoned, prevailing and coming) are severally termed Angara (charcoal), Deepta (burning) and Dhumini (smoking), and the remaining quarters, tranquil .
13Omens occurring in the 5th directions from these three—Charcoal, Burning and Smoking augur well equally for the past, present and future. The good or bad effects of omens occurring in the remaining two quarters will have to be judged from their proximity to the particular Tranquil quarter.
14Omens occurring nearby and at a lower level bear fruit (good or bad) immediately; whereas those far off and at a higher place, in distant future. Moreover, the predictions will have to be made suitably after a consideration of the growing or diminishing nature of the place on which the omen is perched.
15An omen is said to be blasted by a divine agency when it occurs in a malefic Muhurta, lunar day and lunar mansion, when the wind blows foul and the Sun is in opposition ; whereas it is blasted by action, when it has untoward gait, position, disposition, sound and movements of limbs. In both the sets, the power of each element is greater than its predecessor.
16In the same manner there are ten varieties of omens that are ‘Tranquil’. One eating grass and fruits is a ‘Tranquil’ or benefic omen, while one eating meat and ordure is ‘blasted’ (malefic). One eating cooked food is supposed to be of a mixed kind, i.e., “Tranquil cum blasted”.
17Most excellent are the omens that are situated in mansions, temples (or palaces), auspicious abodes (such as are occupied by Gods, Brahmins and cows), and places that pleases the heart (by cool shade and fine carpet of grass), as well as those perched on trees that are laden with sweet fruits, that are milky, that have flowers and fruits.
18Creatures that roam by day are strong during daytime on mountains (elevated places); likewise, those that roam by night are strong on water at night time. Among hermaphrodite, female and male ones, each is stronger than its predecessor.
19Strong are creatures (omens) that possess superior speed, species, strength, position, jolly mood, courage (fearlessness) and voice, and are in their respective haunts, whereas those that are deficient in the above things are weak.
20The cock, elephant, Pirili (a bird), peacock, Vanjula, muskrat (or civet cat?), Simhanada and Kutapuri are strong in the East.
21The jackal, owl, Harita, crow, ruddy goose, bear, ichneumon, dove, as well as weeping, crying and cruel expressions are strong in the South.
22The cow, hare, Krauncha, hair-eater (jackal?), swan, osprey, Kapinjala, cat, as well as festivities, instrumental music, singing and laughter arise strong in the West.
23The woodpecker, deer, rat, antelope, horse or donkey, cuckoo, blue jay, porcupine, as well as the sound of chanting Vedic hymns, of bells and of conch shells, are strong in the North.
24Rural creatures should not be taken into consideration when they are found in forests, nor the wild ones, in villages. So too, a diurnal creature should not be considered when it is found at night and vice versa.
25Omens that are in pair, sickly, frightened, anxious for light or meat, separated by a river and intoxicated (owing to the season) should never be taken into consideration.
26The Rohita deer, horse, goat, donkey, deer, camel, antelope and hare are to be known as of no consequence in the winter season (Magha and Phalguna months); so also, are the crow and the cuckoo in the vernal season.
27The boar, dog, wolf and the like should not be considered in the month of Bhadrapada; likewise the swan, cow and Krauncha in autumn (Aswina and Kartika); and the elephant and the Chataka bird in the month of Sravana.
28Tigers, bears, monkeys, leopards, buffaloes, burrow-dwellers (mongoose and the like) and all young animals are of no consequence in Hemanta (Margasira and Pushya); but boys do influence.
29Divide the space between the East and the South-east into three equal parts so as to have three points in between these two extremities, and assign then from left to right in order to Kosadhyaksha (lord of the exchequer), Analajeevi (those that live by the fire, goldsmiths, etc.), and Tapasas (Hermits).
30The three parts between the South-east and the South are occupied by Silpin (Artisan or artist), Bhikshu (a religious mendicant), and Nagna Stri (a nude woman); and those between the South and the Southwest, by Matanga (elephant or a Pariah), Gopa (cowherd) and Dharmika (man engaged in righteous deeds).
31Tlie three parts between the South-west and the West are assigned to Pramada (an intoxicated young woman), Suti (confinement or child birth) and Taskara (a thief) ; and those between the West and the North-west, to Saundika (toddy-wonder), Sakuni (fowler) and Himsra (murderous fellow).
32The parts between the North-west and North are occupied by Vishaghat.ika (one who murders by poison or removes the effect of poison), Goswami (owner of cattle), and Kuhakajna (a sorcerer); and those between the North and North-east by Dhanavan (wealthy person), Eekshanika (astrologer, diviner) and Malakara (a florist).
33The parts between the North-west and the East are occupied by Vaishnava (a devotee of Lord Vishnu) Charaka (a spy), and Aswarakshaka (a groom). In this manner, there are altogether 32 divisions enumerated including the eight quarters beginning with the East.
34The eight quarters beginning with the East are owned by the King, Prince, Commander of the, army, envoy, merchant, spy, Brahmin and manager of the Elephant yard respectively. Similarly, the four quarters East, South, West and North belong to the Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Sudras and Brahmins in order.
35If an omen (bird or beast) stands in a particular division of the quarters and cries, when a person is standing still or is going on a journey, it should be declared that he will meet the individual occupying that division.
36Sounds that are broken, harsh, piteous, distressed, rough, feeble or gruff—are unfavourable, whereas those that are serene, merry or natural are good.
37The Jackal, Syama, Rala, Chuchchu (a kind of rat, probably rabbit), ichneumon, lizard, sow, cuckoo and those that have male names are favourable, when they are on the left side of a traveler.
38Birds or beasts that have female names,Bhasa, Bhashaka (dog?), monkey, Srikarna, Dhikkara (a kind of deer), vulture, peacock, Srikantha, Pippika» Ruru deer and hawk are beneficial to the right of a traveller.
39The sounds of intoxicated beings (?), clapping, Vedic benediction, songs, conch shells, water, instrumental music and Vedic chanting are auspicious to the left of ta traveler. All other kinds of auspicious sounds are favourable on the right side.
40The Madhyama and Shadja notes as well as Gandhara are auspicious; but Shadja; Madhyama, Gandhara and Rishabha notes are practically beneficial for a journey.
41The Bharadvvaja, goat and peacock as well, the mongoose and Chasha bring good luck through, their cries, the mention of their names, and their sight i I whereas the sight, of a bloodsucker in front is of harmful effect.
42The mention of the names of the Jahaka (leech?), serpent, hare, boar and the big lizard is favourable, while their sight and cry are not good; but it is the reverse, in the case of the monkey and the bear.
43An odd number of deer, mongooses or birds moving from left to right of a traveler is commendable, whereas the Chasha and mongoose are good in the afternoon, when they move from right to left of a traveler in the opinion of Sage Bhrigu.
44The Chikkara (jackal?), Kutapuri and Pirili (bird) are favourable in daytime when they move from left to right; whereas tusked animals, and porcupines, mongooses and the like are always commendable when they move from right to left.
45The horse and any white object are very good in the east; a dead body and flesh, in the South; a virgin and curd, in the West; a cow, a Brahmin and a pious man, in the North.
46Hunters with nets and hounds are not desirable in the East; (men armed with) weapons and butchers in the South; wine and eunuch in the West; a wicked fellow, a seat and a plough in the North.
47In doings, meetings, wars, entering (a new house, etc.) and searching for a lost article, the reverse of what has been laid down for journeys is to be taken. And the following are the special rules pertaining there to.
48-49The Rufu deer, antelope and monkey during day are. to be treated as. for a journey similarly are to be treated the Chasha, Vanjula and cock in the fore noon. In the latter half of the night, the Naptrika, owl and Pingala are to be considered as for a journey. In bevies of ladies, all the above birds and beasts should be taken in the reverse order both for journey and doings, etc.
50-51aFor an interview of the Sovereign, and also for the entering of the royal palace, the omens are to be considered just as during a journey. As for climbing mountains, entering forests and bathing in (crossing) rivers, those that are auspicious to the left and right for a journey are favourable in front and behind respectively.
51b-52If during a journey there be; two omens called which are blasted by action, op both sides of a person, there would be the ruin of the traveler. The same two omens situated in their respective quarters (right and left) and having pleasant cry and movements are called “Omen gates” and lead to the acquisition of wealth.
53Some hold that an “omen gate” is caused by birds or beasts of the same species, standing on both sides of a traveler and having tranquil movements and cries.
54When one omen speaks favourably and another contrariwise, ‘the mutual contradiction’ that is engendered is harmful to a traveler, and the stronger of the two is to be adopted.
55Should an omen become at first favourable for an ingress and then for a journey, it would be an indication of the easy accomplishment of, the traveler’s object, while the reverse is to be taken, in the case of an ingress.
56If one and the same omen tells success of a journey and then forbids it, it is an indication of the traveler’s death at the hands of his enemy, of an armed feud, or of disease.
57Omens that being situate in a “burning” quarter move from right to left, presage peril. An omen in a “burning” direction at the commencement of an undertaking likewise reveals danger to it in the middle of the year.
58Omens that are ‘blasted’ by a lunar day, wind, the Sun, lunar mansion, position and movements, are respectively dangerous to wealth, army, strength, limb, desired object (or beloved person) and work.
59Omens situate in the ‘Burning’ direction during peals of thunder foretell danger from wind ; while during the two twilights, they indicate peril arising from weapons.
60-61Omens stationed on funeral pyres, hair, or skulls (or potsherds) bring about death, imprisonment or murder respectively; those on thorns, firewood or ashes, quarrel, weariness or grief respectively; those that are ‘blasted’ and stationed on hollow objects of stones, failure of an undertaking or danger respectively but if they are ‘tranquil’ their evil effects will be negligible.
62Omens that pass excreta or eat their food should be understood to cause the failure or fulfilment of their undertakings respectively. If one goes away after crying from its place, it indicates a journey; if it comes to its place crying, some -body’s arrival.
63Omens that have a ‘blasted’ voice and position cause in order quarrel and battle; while those that after crying aloud produce a low sound, cause trouble.
64If ‘blasted’ omen stands crying in the same place (for a whole day), the village will be destroyed in a week; the city, in two months; and the King, in a year.
65All omens except snakes, rats, cats and fishes, eating the meat of their own species, cause famine.
66Creatures mating members of another species bring about the ruin of the country, exception being given to the birth of a mule, and to the sexual union of human beings of different classes.
67If an omen passes by a person’s feet, thighs or head, he will suffer from imprisonment, hit or danger respectively; if it is found to eat tender grass, drink water, eat meat or cooked food, there will be in order trouble, rain, wound or imprisonment.
68If an omen is standing in any of the eight quarters beginning with the ‘Burning’, men will meet in order cruel, hot-tempered, sinful and wicked persons, ministers, kings, preachers and old men.
69If an omen be strong and accompanied by some substance, there wouf4 be the arrival of a person with something in his hand. If the omen be lustrous and looking down, though auspicious, the person arriving would be a perpetrator of heinous crimes.
70If the cry of an omen stationed in a ‘Burning’ corner be followed by another to its left, it indicates a man’s marital alliance with a woman of the type indicated by that direction.
71The cry of an omen standing in a “Tranquil” quarter being followed by another stationed in a “Burning” one that is fifth from the ‘Tranquil’ quarter, bestows victory, or indicates the arrival of the person assigned to that quarter. If it be otherwise, (one cry in a ‘burning’ quarter followed by another in a ‘tranquil’ quarter fifth from it), troubles will arise.
72An omen standing between two others to its left and right with its cry being reciprocated by them indicates severally peril to a person from his own kith and kin and foes. (If both the flanking omens cry after it, then there will be trouble for both the quarters.) All the three crying simultaneously portend death.
73An omen standing at the top, middle or foot of a tree, indicates severally the arrival of a person riding an elephant, horse or chariot; one standing on a long substance, a lotus or the like of it or something whose top is chopped off, indicates severally the arrival of a man carried by another man, by a ship or by a sedan chair.
74An omen situated on a lofty height (such as a mountain) indicates the arrival of a person in a cart; one in the shadow, of a person holding an umbrella. Whatever good or bad consequences are indicated by the omens situated in the four quarters, East etc. or in the other corners, South-east, etc., will come to be felt in order in one, three, five and seven days.
75The lords of the eight quarters. East, South-east, South, South-west, West, North-west, Norths and North east are respectively Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirriti (King of evil Spirits), Varuna, Vayu, the Moon and Siva- The four prime quarters are masculine, while, the corners, feminine.
76In the circle of quarters divided into 32 parts, if there be an omen in the eight directions beginning with the East, the respective materials on which writing may exist are a tree, palm-leaf, a worthless fragment of leaf, cloth, water-product (lotus-leaf), reed, leather and silk. The effects of the omens will be felt in the respective divisions.
77If omens are found in the eight quarters, their effects will be felt severally near a place of military exercise, near a fire-place, where some sound is heard, where a quarrel takes place, near water, where fetters and the like are kept, where Veda is chanted and where the bellowing of cows is heard. The colours of things that may be found as a result of omens in the prime quarters beginning with the East are in order, red, yellow, black and white; but in the corners, they are mixed.
78The signs of the eight quarters beginning with the East are: a banner, something burnt, a burial ground, a cave, water, a mountain, a sacrifice and a hamlet of cow herds (or proclamation?). Good or bad omens stationed on these signs augur a meeting with some good person or danger respectively. Other things viz., good or bad doings (presaged by omens) take place in auspicious or inauspicious quarters.
79When the question refers to women, omens appearing in the several quarters beginning with the East point to a buxom woman, a virgin, a woman of, defective limbs, one that is stinking, one of blue-saree, a wicked woman, a tall one, and a widow respectively. These are useful in questions pertaining to meetings.
80When at a query the querist or an omen stands in any of the eight quarters, the question refers severally to silver, gold, a sick person, a charming damsel, a goat or sheep, a vehicle (or journey), a sacrifice or a cow-shed- Similarly the trees corresponding to these quarters are in order, the banyan, a red tree, Lodhra, bamboo, mango, Khadira, Bilwa and Arjuna.