“Never lie down to sleep with your head northward or westward” is a common injunction given from time immemorial by the Indian mother to her children. Almost every Hindu- orthodox or heterodox- observes this dictum of his ancestors, but he doesn’t know the rationale or significance behind the dictum, although it has been handed down to him through generations.
For example, Vishnu Purana says: “O King! It is beneficial to lie down with the head placed eastward or southward. The man who lies down with his head placed in contrary directions becomes diseased.” The Varshaadi Nool says: “Sleeping eastward is good; sleeping southward prolongs life; sleeping westward and northward brings ruin.” The Mahabharata says: “Men become wise by sleeping eastward and southward.”
There are two Tamil proverbs which run thus: “Vaaraatha Vashvu Vanthaalum Vadakkae Thalai Vaikkakkuudathu”, meaning; ”Even in the heyday of sudden fortune, one should not lie down with head to the north”, and ” Vidakkeiyayinum Vadakkaakaathu”, meaning: “Even the head of the dried fish should not be placed northward.” The Ayurvedic physician seats his patients facing eastward before diagnosing the disease or administering his medicine. Brides and bridegrooms are always seated facing eastward on the wedding day. Even corpses are placed down with the head southward.
The explanation for such advice and practice as discovered recently is as follows: This dear Earth, on which we live, has been for ages past, and is still being subjected to constant exposure to the source of all Energy-Heat, Light, Electricity and Magnetism- the Sun. When its eastern half is heated by the sun, its western half remains comparatively cold.
In consequence, a strong and constant current of thermal electricity generated by the sun, travels across the earth from east to west. By this current of electricity the earth becomes magnetized, and its geographical north pole, being to the right-hand side of the direction of the current, is made the magnetic north pole; and its geographical south pole, being to the left-hand side of the same current, is made the magnetic south pole. Thus the earth is rendered a mighty thermo-electric magnet. This is evident from the fact that by the attractive and repulsive forces of its poles, the compass needle, in whatever position it is placed, is invariably turned so as to point to the North and the South.
We have learnt inside the class rooms that a non-magnet kept in contact with a magnet is eventually converted into a magnet, or that magnetism is imparted to it. And that the poles of the magnet have infused opposite polarity into the ends of the non-magnet. Now, we human beings are in perpetual contact with the huge electro-magnet, the Earth. We are all therefore converted into small magnets. It has been found by the experiments that the human body also is a magnet-able object, though far inferior to iron or steel. This cannot be denied that, for in addition to other causes, there is a large percentage of iron in the blood, circulating through the body.
Further, as our feet are magnetized by contact with the northern hemisphere of the earth, where all the properties of north polarity is induced in our feet, and consequently, north polarity is induced in our head.
It has been found by the experiments that the human body also is a magnetable object, through far inferior to iron or steel. This cannotbe denied that, for in addition to other causes, there is a large percentage of iron in the blood, circulating through the body.
At school when experimenting with magnets we have seen: “Unlike poles attract each other; like poles repel.” We used to restore the magnets back to their place in the laboratory with their unlike poles in contact, so that the polarity may not be destroyed. Now, it is very easy to conceive that if you lie down with your head placed southward and feet northward, the South Pole of the earth and your head, which is the North Pole of the human magnet, as also the North Pole of the Earth and your feet, which is the South pole of your body, being juxta-position, will attract each other, thus the polarity of the human body, natural to it, will be preserved; which if you lie with your head placed northward and feet southward, the like poles of your body and the Earth being in the juxta-position, will repel each other, and thereby the natural polarity of your body will be destroyed or its intensity diminished. In the former position, the polarity acquired by the human body during the day by standing, walking or sitting on the ground, is preserved intact at night during sleep; but in the later position, the acquired polarity is seriously tampered with and destroyed.
This arrangement of the poles in the human body is natural to it, and therefore conducive to our health and happiness. The body enjoys perfect heath, if the polarity natural to it is preserved unaltered, and it becomes subject to disease if that polarity is in the least degree altered or its intensity diminished.
This would lead us to infer these arguments apply only to the inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere. The inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere must lay down their bodies with head northward, for similar arguments. That the bulk of the human race live on the Northern Hemisphere, appears to have been known to the ancient Hindu Sages, as the dictum appears to have come down without any qualifying remark.
Why the Eastern direction is preferred to the Western for placing the head in the lying down posture is explained thus: It has been established by experiments on medical electricity that if a current passes from one part of the body to another, it exercises a wholesome influence where it enters, and produces some inflammations in that part of the body whence it goes out.
If you lie down with head eastward, the current of thermal electricity, which is constantly passing over the surface of the earth from east to west, passes through your body also from head to feet, and therefore subdues all inflammation present in the head, where it makes its entrance; while if you lie down with head westward, the same current of the electricity passes through your body from the feet to the head, and therefore produces some kind of inflammation in the head, whence it goes out. The head contains the most vital of organs, and the most delicate of mechanisms- the Brain. It is a clear and healthy head that can easily acquire knowledge, and not an inflamed or congested head, which, on the other hand is the hot-bed of vague and distressing thoughts.
The head contains the most vital of organs, and the most delicate of mechanisms – the Brain. It is a clear and healthy head that can easily acquire knowledge, and not an inflamed or congested head, which, on the other hand is the hot-bed of vague and distressing thoughts.
What was once commonly considered a superstition has now been proven to be for our benefit. From this, it is plain that the Sciences of Electricity and Magnetism were not only extensively cultivated by the Ancient Hindus, but also highly developed, and the principles applied in their practical daily life. As other instances of their advanced knowledge of the Sciences, we find that iron or copper rods are inserted at the tops of all temples that mindulies (Metallic cells) made of either gold, silver or iron are worn on the diseased parts of the body, and that asanas or seats made of either silk, wool, kusha grass, or hairy skins of the deer or tiger are used when saying prayers.
The function of the rod at the top of the temple is the same as that of the modern lightening conductor. The mindulies serve the same purpose as the electrical belts and other appliances of the present day electrical treatment of diseases. The woollen and skin asanas protect our lives during a thunderstorm. So do the wooden sandals or mithiyadi worn by the sanyasis of old.
For the same simple reasons described above, it is the age long custom among Hindus that younger people should prostrate before the elders and touch their feet with their head so as to acquire magnetic energy and more particularly before the saintly persons, as these saints had magnetized their system by their Tapasya, i.e., by observance of brahmacharya (celibacy), conducting poojas, by practice of Yoga asanas, pranayamas and meditation, and by austere observances and various spiritual practices.
Unfortunately for us, our ancient sages and saints have left us only a legacy of short, crisp, epigrammatic aphorisms without an amplification or explanation of the rationale behind each. In our littleness we have denominated the legacy as a bundle of superstitions. This one instance must be an eye-opener to us and an incentive to do some research and thinking to get at their real and inner significance.
~ Author Unknown