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How shall we sleep?


© 2006 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö 

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IT appears that the opinion of Mr. Seeta Nath Ghose and of Baron Von Reichenbach are in direct conflict on the subject of this paper, the latter recommending the head of the sleeper to be northward, the former entirely condemning that position.

It is my humble opinion that both writers are right, each from his own standpoint, as I shall try to show. What is the reason that our position in sleep should be of any consequence? Because our body must be in a position at harmony with the main magnetic currents of the earth ; but as these currents are not the same in all parts of the world the positions of the sleeper must, therefore, vary.

There are three main magnetic currents on our earth – viz., in the northern hemisphere, from north pole towards the equator; in the southern hemisphere, from south pole towards the equator; these two currents meeting in the torrid zone continue their combined course from east to west. So the position of the sleeper must vary according as he finds himself to the north or south of the torrid zone or within it.

In the north frigid or temperate zone, he has to lie with his head northward; in the southern, southward; in the torrid zone, eastward – in order that the magnetic current may pass through him from head to foot without disturbance, as this is the natural position for magnetization.

The following diagram may give a clearer view of the case, and thus help us to answer the second part of the question, whether and when we ought to lie on the right or the left side, on the stomach or on the back :—

The able writer of  “How Shall we Sleep? shows, in his cross diagram, that he thinks the head to be entirely positive and both feet negative. I think that this is not the case, but that the right side of the head and the left foot are positive, and the left side of the head and the right foot negative, and similarly the right hand is negative and the left hand is positive.

As the north pole is positive and the left side of the head negative, the natural position in sleep for those living within the northern zones would be on the right side, head northward; and it is obvious that in the southern zones the position must be exactly the reverse. As to those who live under the tropics, lying on the stomach seems to me to be the most natural position, since the left, or negative side of the head, is turned to the north or positive current, and vice versa.

For many years I and my family have been sleeping with our heads either to the north or the west (the right position in our hemisphere, in my opinion), and we had no occasion to regret it; for from that time forward the physician has become a rare visitor in our house.

Mr. Seeta Nath Ghose says, in his interesting paper on “Medical Magnetism,” that Mandulies (metallic cells) are worn to great advantage in India on diseased parts of the body. The curative properties of these cells I have seen verified in authentic instances. When, years ago (I believe about1852), cholera was devastating some parts of Europe, it was remarked at Munich (Bavaria) that among the thousands of its victims there was not a single coppersmith. Hence, it was recommended by the medical authorities of that town to wear disks of thin copperplate (of about 2½ inch diameter) on a string, on the pit of the stomach, and they proved to be a powerful preventive of cholera. Again, in 1867, cholera visited Odessa.

I and my whole family wore these copper disks; and while all around there were numerous cases of cholera and dysentery, not one of us was attacked. I propose that serious experiments should be made in this direction, and specially in those countries which are periodically devastated by that disease : as India, for instance. It is my conviction that one disk of copper on the stomach, and another of zinc on the spine, opposite the former, will be of still better service, the more so if the disks are joined by a thin copper chain.

                                                                                                                                            GUSTAVE ZORN.

In the first place it is necessary to say that the rules laid down by Garga, Markandeya and others on the above subject, refer to the inhabitants of the plains only, and not to dwellers on mountains. The rule is that on retiring a man should first lie on his right side for the period of sixteen breathings, then turn on his left for double that time, and after that he can sleep in any position. Further, that a man must not sleep on the ground, on silken or woollen cloth, under a solitary tree, where cross-roads meet, on mountains, or on the sky (whatever that may mean). Nor is he to sleep with damp clothes, wet feet, or in a naked state; and, unless an initiate, should not sleep on Kusha grass or its varieties. There are many more such rules. I may here notice that in Sanskrit the right hand or side and south are signified by the same term. So also the front and north have one and the same name. The sun is the great and chief source of life and magnetism in the solar system.

Hence to the world the east is positive as the source of light and magnetism. For the same reason, to the northern hemisphere the south (the equator and not the north) is positive. Under the laws of dynamics the resultant of these two forces will be a current in the directed from S.E. to N.W. This, I think, is one of the real causes of the prevailing south-east wind. At any rate, I do not think the north pole to be positive, as there would be no snow there in such a case. The aurora cannot take place at the source of the currents, but at their close. Hence the source must be towards the equator or south. The course of life, civilization, light, and almost everything seems to be from E. to W. or S.E. to N.W. The penalty for sleeping with the head to the west is said to be anxiety of mind, while sleeping with the head to the north is considered fatal. I beg to invite the attention of the Hindus to a similar penalty of death incurred by any but an initiate (Brahman) pronouncing the sacred Pranava (Om). This does not prove that Pranava is really a mischievous bad word, but that, with incompetent men, it is fraught with danger. So also, in the case of ordinary men of the plains, there may be unknown dangers which it would not be prudent for them to risk so long as they do not know how to meet them, or so long as they are not under the guidance of men who can protect them. In short, ordinary men should move on in their beaten course, and these rules are for them only.

As an instance of the infringement of the rule the following anecdote is given

After Ganesha (Siva’s son) was born, all the
Devas (gods) came to congratulate the family and bless the child. Sani or Saturn, was the last to come, and even then he came after he had been several times inquired after. When he went to see the infant, it appeared headless! This at once created a sensation, and all the Devas were at their wits’ end. At last Saturn himself approached Mahadeva with folded hands and reminded him that it was due to his presence, and the child having been kept in a bed with its head to the north. For such was the law. Then the Devas consulted together and sent out messengers to find out who else was sleeping with the head to the north. At last they discovered an elephant in that position. Its head was immediately cut off and placed on the shoulders of Ganesha. It need not be said that Ganesha became afterwards so learned and wise that if he had not had an elephant’s head, a human head would never have been sufficient to hold all he knew. This advantage he owed to the circumstance of his sleeping with head to the north, and the blessing of the Devas. To the elephant, the same position but minus the blessing of the Devas proved absolute death.


                                                                                                                                               N0BIN K. BANNERJI.

Reading Mr. Seeta Nath Ghose’s paper on “Medical Magnetism” and having studied long ago Baron von Reichenbach’s “Researches in Magnetism,” I am sorely puzzled, inasmuch as these two authorities appear to clash with each other most completely – the one asserting “head to north never, under no circumstances,” the other “head to north ever and under all circumstances.” I have pursued the advice of the latter, not knowing of the former for many years, but have not found the effect on my health which I had hoped for, and what is of more importance, I have not found a law of certain application to humanity and bringing health to all. It seems to me on carefully reading this article that a most important point has been omitted or passed over –  i.e., the position of the sleeper, whether on his face or on his back? This is most important, for a correct answer may go far to reconcile the two theories, which, be it remembered, claim both to be supported by experiment and by observation. I cannot conceive that a one-sided position is a natural one for man, and thus leave two alternatives. Is the proper position in sleep lying on the back or on the stomach? Not one word has been said as to the position in which experiments were tried on either side.

Now the one thing which seems clear in all this is, that positive should be toward negative and negative toward positive. Let us then draw a diagram and these positions will follow with these results–taking the north as positive and south as negative, east as negative and west as positive.

            Position.  I. – Lying on the Back.

    A. Head to East                  Accord in all.

B. Head to North                Discord – Head and feet.
                                               Accord – Hands.

    C. Head to South                Accord – Head and feet.
                                               Discord – Hands.

    D. Head to West                 Discord in all.


Now, from this will come some light, I think on the apparently contradictory theories, if we could ascertain (1) Which position did the renowned Garga and Markandeya contemplate as the proper position for men to sleep in? (2) In which position did those on whom Baron von Reichenbach experimented lie?

This is a most important question for all who value the gift of health, as well as for those who would be wise. In my sojourn in southern countries I have noticed that the natives of the lower classes at least always sleep on their stomachs, with their back turned to the sun, and all animals do the same, while sleeping on the back is most dangerous, at least in the sun. Is not this a guide or hint as to the true position?



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