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Ancient Indian Omens: Shakuna Shastra in the Treatise Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita

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The Brihat Samhita, a remarkable ancient Indian text penned by the eminent scholar Varahamihira in the 6th century CE, is a treasure trove of knowledge that delves into a myriad of subjects, including astronomy, astrology, mathematics, and omens. Among its diverse content, the section on omens, known as Shakuna Shastra, stands out as a fascinating glimpse into the beliefs and practices of ancient India. In this blog post, we’ll explore Shakuna Shastra as documented in Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita, shedding light on the significance of omens in predicting events. Get ready for a captivating journey through the omens of ancient India that continue to intrigue readers both in India and around the globe.

Understanding Shakuna Shastra

Shakuna Shastra, a prominent branch of Indian astrology and divination, focuses on interpreting omens to predict future events. These omens encompass a wide range of natural phenomena, from the behavior of animals and birds to celestial events. In Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita, we find numerous examples of these omens and their significance.

  1. Bird Omens

Birds held a special place in Shakuna Shastra as they were believed to convey important messages through their behavior and calls. For instance, the Brihat Samhita mentions that if a crow caws to the right, it signifies success and good fortune, while a crow cawing to the left indicates impending danger.

  1. Meteorological Omens

Varahamihira’s work also discusses meteorological omens. An example from the text suggests that the presence of rainbows, halos around the moon, or the appearance of certain clouds could predict upcoming rainfall or droughts. Such observations were essential for agrarian societies.

  1. Animal Behavior

The behavior of animals played a crucial role in Shakuna Shastra. If a cat crossed someone’s path from right to left, it was considered an unfavorable omen, while a snake moving in the same direction was seen as a positive sign.

  1. Celestial Events

The movements of celestial bodies were closely monitored for omens. Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita discusses how eclipses, the positions of stars, and the appearance of comets were believed to foretell significant events, such as wars or changes in rulership.

  1. Dreams

Dreams were also significant omens in Shakuna Shastra. Different dream scenarios were interpreted in various ways. For instance, dreaming of flying was seen as a symbol of success and elevation in status, while falling in a dream indicated potential setbacks.

Significance and Legacy

Shakuna Shastra, as documented in Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita, was not a superstition of the past. It played a practical role in the lives of ancient Indians. Farmers relied on omens to determine the right time for planting and harvesting crops, and rulers sought astrological guidance for political decisions.

Today, while many aspects of Shakuna Shastra may be viewed as outdated or unscientific, it remains an integral part of India’s cultural and historical heritage. The fascination with omens and astrology continues to persist, not only in India but also among enthusiasts worldwide. The Brihat Samhita serves as a window into the mindset of an ancient civilization and their earnest attempts to understand and predict the world around them.


Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita offers a captivating journey into the world of Shakuna Shastra, revealing the importance of omens in ancient Indian society. Bird omens, meteorological signs, animal behavior, celestial events, and dreams all played a role in predicting future events and shaping decisions. While modern science has provided alternative explanations for many of these phenomena, Shakuna Shastra remains an enduring testament to the rich cultural and historical heritage of India, captivating readers both in India and around the globe.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

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