By Swami Harshananda
Utpāta literally means ‘reversal of natural order’.
Meaning of Utpāta
Belief in certain unnatural occurrences presaging future events is common to mankind since the ancient days. Such occurrences are called adbhuta or nimitta or utpāta. The words adbhuta and utpāta are used as synonyms. Utpāta always indicates the evil happenings. The epics and the purāṇas are full of descriptions of these utpātas. Their effects can, generally speaking, be offset or reduced by the performance of śāntis.
Classification of Utpāta
The utpātas are divided into three classes:
- Divya - It denotes arising from heavenly sources. It is indicated by the abnormal condition of the planets and the stars, like eclipses and appearance of comets.
- Āntarikṣa - It means springing from the atmospheric region. They are hurricanes, unusual clouds, fall of meteors, abnormal reddish appearances of the quarters and strange rainfall like blood red water.
- Bhauma - It means appearing on the earth. It symbolizes earthquakes and unusual states of water reservoirs.
Utpātas as per Epics and Purāṇas
A few of the utpātas mentioned in the epics and the purāṇas are:
- Terrible dreams
- Constant howling of jackals
- Solar eclipse at an unusual time
- Flashes of lightnings without clouds
- Carnivorous birds like vultures sitting on temples
- Fort-walls and bastions
- Spontaneous fires
- Holes around the sun and the moon
- Rain of mud or blood-red water
- Images of gods trembling, dancing, laughing or weeping
- Strange births as of an ass from a cow
When such utpātas occur, it is the duty of the king to perform appropriate śāntis.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore