(Last Updated on : 12/09/2009)
Hindus always go to sleep with their heads turned towards the south or towards east, and this immemorial practice finds support in the Puranas. Markandsya and Vishnu as well as in the Ahnega Tattwa support this view. When the basic principle underlying the custom is properly understood, it can be found that the profound knowledge of the sages, who insisted on the principle being followed, stands revealed. The majority of the Hindus believe that a violation of this principle may result in ill health.
Everyone knows that the earth is a huge body magnetized by the force generated by the sun's intense heat. It is also known to all, that the earth is almost round and only one-half of it is exposed to the sun's heat at a time. Thus one portion or other of the earth's surface must always remain hot and hence the earth is always being surcharged with the thermal magnetism. The portions that are not so exposed remain lower in temperature than the part so exposed. Perhaps, this combined with other diverse reasons has made the earth retain different kinds of magnetic force at the different poles. However its equilibrium may be disturbed fully bears out this truth.
The human body is a magnet. The aggregate red corpuscles which contain a large percentage of iron contributing to it are not a small measure. This body has a sphere of influence surrounding and interpenetrating it, just as the earth has of the substance called ether, i.e. the medium for such play of forces. It has also the two poles, the positive and the negative, just as the earth has. The sphere of ether can also be known as the sphere of electrons. It is said that objects remain on the surface of the earth because of gravity, but Hindu yogis i.e. sages, who are super scientists, remain suspended in the air against gravity. They have given as explanation that the change of polar magnetism in the body by their willpower makes the earth repel them from its surface and hence they easily float in the space.
Normally, the physical body, the child of the earth, maintains the magnetism unlike that of the earth. Hence by the scientific dictum, 'like poles repel, and unlike poles attract,' remains on earth being attracted towards it.
The sun magnetizes the human sphere of ether as well as the earthly sphere of ether. The earth being a huge sphere and the human sphere being a tiny one, the former is influencing the latter every second and the influence is greatest when man lies over the earth. His whole body is remaining in contact with it. If the influence is to be beneficial, then a man must lie down and sleep with his head turned towards the south or towards the east. When a man lies down and sleeps, the mighty magnet, the earth, pours into or takes away his vitality from man. At the time of night man's vitality is at the lowest level and also deprived of the sun's help. According to the posture he lies in placing his sphere of ether in a position favourable to receive or to give up vitality.
It can be supposed that man's head represents the North Pole and the feet represent the South Pole. The magnetic and other forces pour from the North Pole and flow towards the south. At that point of time it stands to reason that the magnetic force flowing over the earth from the North Pole, will act in unison with that force flowing from the North Pole to the south pole of the sphere in man.
It is an accepted truth that all forces travel in circles and return eventually to the place they started from. The heart sends out good blood and receives back blood saturated with all sorts of impurities. Similarly the forces flowing from the north pole is very pure at first and hence when a portion of it pours into the human sphere by the position it occupies, it results in the man's good health. The forces returning from the south pole is perhaps saturated with all kinds of impure magnetism. A man by lying down with his head turned towards the south, places himself in a position favourable for the flow of impure magnetism into his body. If a man is naturally strong, the flow of force emanating from his body may counteract this flow of impure magnetism and reduce the evil to a minimum. It can also be resulted into ill-health.
It is also the belief of many that by sleeping with the head placed towards the east, one may be enabled to acquire knowledge. His happens by the magnetic and other forces passing over the surface of the earth from east to west tending to stimulate the brain activity in a gentle and healthy way.
The custom of placing a corpse with the head pointed to the south before its cremation takes place. This generally tends to show that the vital magnetism in the body is completely extinct and hence it is only fit to be burnt.
It is also allegorically represented in the story of the elephant headed God, Vinayakar, that one may be deprived of both life and wisdom by sleeping with the head pointing to the north. The story can be told in brief. Vinayakar had originally a human head. One day he provoked his father Siva to anger and consequently had his head severed from the trunk under His orders. Parvati, Siva's consort, begged Siva to restore her Vinayakar. Siva thereupon directed one of his attendants to go into the forest and bring to him the head of an animal that may happen to be sleeping with the head directed towards the north. It means that its life is forfeited to Yama. An elephant was found to be sleeping with its head turned towards the north. So its head was severed from its trunk and brought to Siva who placed it with the trunk on Vinayakar and restored him to life. The elephant represents strength and wisdom and it lost both by sleeping with its head to the north. So by sleeping with the head directed towards the north one may lose both life and wisdom. This is the moral of the story as well.