By Swami Harshananda
Historical Account of Nidrā
One of the purāṇic stories reveal that Rāma gave the boon to Nidrā, the goddess of sleep, after she left Kumbhakarṇa, who was killed by Rāma, to reside in the hearts of those evil persons who try to listen to Rāmānāma or the purāṇas and in lazy students not interested in the acquisition of knowledge.
Nidrā as per Prādhānikarahasya
The Prādhānikarahasya is a supplementary text of the Devimāhātmya. It describes Nidrā as a goddess and an aspect of Mahākālī. Iconographical works show her as a lady reclining on a couch. Some texts like the Lakṣmitantra state that Nidrā is one of the four consorts of Viṣṇu. The other three are Lakṣmī, Prīti and Vidyā.
Nidrā as per Patañjali
Patañjali defines nidrā as the vṛtti or the modification of mind dependent on tamas, which is responsible for the absence of the waking and the dream states. It is actually deep dreamless sleep that is indicated here.
Nidrā as per Māndukyakārikā
Nidrā as per Other Scriptures
Aspects of Nidrā
The word ‘nidrā’ is most commonly interpreted as ‘sleep’. It has two aspects:
Signficance of Nidrā
Nidrā is needed for the health of the body. When the three dhatus, basic humors of the body, are in a state of equilibrium, good health is attained. Sound sleep at the right time is an aid to good health. Good sleep is denied to those who are stricken with poverty or disease or to the immoral persons. It comes easily to healthy persons and who are pure in heart. Yogic works describe that sleep over-takes a person when his mind enters the medhyānāḍī, one of the several nāḍīs in the human body.
- Prādhānikarahasya 10
- He lived in 200 B. C.
- Yogasutras 1.10
- Tamas means darkness or ignorance.
- Waking means jāgrat state.
- Dream means svapna.
- Māndukyakārikā 3.44, 45
- Sārīrasthāna 4.32
- Hṛdayapuṇḍarīka means heart-lotus.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore