Dreams. Illusions. Reincarnation. Karma.
Dreams are a serious matter in Indian myth and religions, especially Hinduism. But are they maya (illusion), lila (God’s play), or an awakening to our real selves? Are we living in a dream dreamt by the Author of the universe as we know it? Are dreams, then, an insight into the reality of that universe? Do they prove the ‘nothingness’ of the world we see or the substantial reality of ‘illusion’ itself?
In this dazzling short book, Wendy Doniger, one of the world’s great scholars of Hindu texts and myths, tries to unravel the dream adventure—encompassing dreaming, forgetting, rebirth and karma—with the help of fascinating stories from the Yogavasishtha (regarded as the greatest text ever written on the subject), the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata Purana and the Matsya Purana.
The stories she retells—whether of the monk who dreamt of Jivata who in turn dreamt of a hundred dreaming souls; Rama and Krishna, who often forget that they are God; or the sage Markandeya, who roamed inside the belly of Vishnu and couldn’t tell whether he was inhabiting illusion or had escaped it—catapult us, readers and dreamers, into new understandings of our waking life.