NAMAH Journal
Moving Forward
New Issue
About us
Peer Review
Contact us
Publication Ethics
Other Publications
Print version

Namah Journal

Notes on counselling

Premonitory Dreams

Dr. Soumitra Basu


Premonitory dreams, unlike the subconscious or unconscious, arise from the subliminal plane and are veridical in nature and often carry transcripts of the future.


While travelling by train to Chennai, this scribe dreamt on the night of 8th December, 2004 of a certain catastrophe that left the town of Pondicherry undisturbed except for a breach in the earth. Otherwise, not a tree had been affected and not a leaf was blown away. He rushed to his home at Pondicherry on the evening of 9th to see if the terracotta sculptures on the walls of his residence were in place. In the early hours of 26 December, a tsunami struck the Chennai coastline, leaving 131 people dead and devastating nature and buildings and hutments all along the shore. The effects spread along the coastline, but Pondicherry was completely spared except for a breach in the bed of a canal flowing to the sea. His American psychiatrist friend rang to say that he had dreamt some months back that the water level in the sea was rising in Pondicherry and Sri Aurobindo came out and stalled the rise of the water by his spiritual strength.

Thus, both the catastrophe as well as the fact that Pondicherry would be saved were ordained beforehand or were events that took time to materialise from the subtle physical where transcripts antedate physical expression. As Sri Aurobindo explains, “Men see events as unaccomplished, to be striven for and effected. This is false seeing; events are not effected, they develop. The event is Brahman, already accomplished from of old, it is now manifesting (1).”

A hijack

In the early hours of 24th December, 1999, this scribe dreamt of a red airplane carrying well-dressed passengers landing in front of his house with its roof open, much like a hood-opened motor vehicle. To his surprise, he saw that the pilot was missing and two young thieves from an Urdu-speaking slum boarding the cockpit and flying off with the plane. There was public disbelief and, on the ground, there were vehicles to catch up with the flight but that seemed impossible. There was a big hall where people were discussing the affair.

At 5.30 pm on the same day, an Indian plane was hijacked from Kathmandu by gunmen, flown to Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai and forced to land in Taliban-infested Kandahar on the morning of 25th December. By that time, one passenger had been stabbed. The crisis ended after India released three captive militants in lieu of the passengers on 31st December. The hall in the dream resembled exactly the office in New Delhi where the government held daily briefings.

In retrospect, one could say that the status of the hijackers who were represented as petty thieves in the dream gave two indications. Firstly, the symbol of the thieves was correct as they really ‘stole’ the plane. Secondly, the fact that they represented unsophisticated ruffians showed that they could have been tackled more deftly. Ten years after the incident, the chief Indian negotiator, A. K. Doval regretted that the then Indian government could have acted faster for a quick release of passengers.

These premonitory dreams which carry a veridical significance are different from the ordinary chaotic dreams of the subconscious. They must have another origin other than the subconscious. Sri Aurobindo describes that these are dreams originating in the subliminal plane or inner being that stands behind the outer being or surface personality.

When we sleep, the surface mind is at rest but the inner consciousness is active and can enter into new activities, but only a part of that which is near to the surface is remembered. There is near to the surface mind an obscure subconscious which is a dream-builder and behind it is the subliminal or inner being which represents “the totality of our concealed inner being and consciousness…. (2).” But first let us have a look at the subconscious, which in psychoanalytic terminology is known as the unconscious.

Normally it is the subconscious that projects its formations as dreams, “….. constructions marked by an apparent inconsequence and incoherence (3).” They may be fugitive structures selected from circumstances at random or seem to be pure phantasy but psychoanalysis has revealed in them “a system of meanings, a key to things in us which need to be known and handled by the waking consciousness (4).”

Below the subconscious is the Inconscience. The subconscious is “the extreme border of our secret inner existence where it meets the Inconscient”, while from another viewpoint, it is “the antechamber of the Inconscient…. (5)”, through which its formations arise in our being. “When we sleep and the surface physical part of us, which is in its first origin here an output of the Inconscient, relapses towards the originating Inconscience, it enters into this subconscious element…. and there it finds the impressions of his past or persistent habits…. In its effect on our waking self this recurrence often takes the form of a reassertion of old habits… In the dream-consciousness the phenomenon is an apparently fanciful construction, a composite of figures and movements built upon or around the buried impressions with a sense in them that escapes the waking intelligence because it has no clue to the subconscient’s system of significances (6).” After some time, the subconscious sinks back into complete Inconscience which we interpret as deep dreamless sleep. Or, we may have gone to a too deep layer of the subconscious, too deep to bring into the surface its embedded material as dream-structures!

The subliminal — a greater dream-builder

A dreamless sleep may also mean that a part of the mind, which is active in sleep, has entered the subliminal. This is a new realm of the being described by Sri Aurobindo and is different from the subconscious. The subliminal or inner being rests between the soul-space and the surface personality. It opens into the cosmic consciousness, rises into the Superconscious and descends to the Inconscience. It has a subliminal or inner mind, subliminal or inner vital and a subtle-physical. The subliminal does not display the dreams of the subconscious but the activity of the inner dream consciousness continues there. This inner dream activity becomes obvious to us “when we become more inwardly conscious…. (7)” Actually, it is possible to become conscious deeply within our subliminal being and, “we are then aware of experiences on other planes of our being…. A transcript of such experiences reach us; but the transcriber here is not the subconscious, it is the subliminal, a greater dream-builder (8).”

The subliminal dreams carry the following characteristics (9):

1. They are veridical in nature.
2. They can bring a series of thoughts.
3. They can solve problems which we could not solve when awake.
4. They often carry warnings, premonitions, indications of the future.
5. They can bring “structure of symbol-images, some of a mental character, some of a vital nature: the former are precise in their figures, clear in their significance; the latter are often complex and baffling to our waking consciousness, but, if we can seize the clue, they reveal their own sense and peculiar system of coherence (10).”
6. They can register records of happenings or experiences on other planes of our being or universal being. These may or may not have any bearing to our own inner or outer life or life of others.

We usually remember our subconscious dreams but sometimes the subliminal dream-builder can be powerful to stamp out its activities on our waking memory. “If we develop our inner being, live more inwardly than most men do, then the balance is changed and a larger dream-consciousness opens before us; our dreams can take on a subliminal and no longer a subconscious character and can assume a reality and significance…. A coherent knowledge of sleep-life, though difficult to achieve or to keep established, is possible (11).”

The subliminal being or inner being has not evolved from the Inconscience like our surface physical being; “it is a meeting place of the consciousness that emerges from below by evolution and the consciousness that has descended from above for involution (12).” It has an inner mind, an inner vital and a subtle physical and is independent of the construction by the Inconscient World-Energy or a natural developed functioning of our surface consciousness or a reaction of it to impacts from the outside universal Nature …. (13)”, though it takes part and influences that construction and functionings.

The subliminal self or being is directly connected with the universal consciousness. It does not depend on external senses but has inner senses, a subliminal sight, touch, hearing which are channels of the subliminal’s direct consciousness of things rather than its informants and, “only give a form to its direct experience of objects; they do not, so much as in waking mind, convey forms of objects for the mind’s documentation or as the starting-point or basis for an indirect constructive experience (14).” The subliminal has an entry both into the evolutionary worlds of the physical, vital and mental and into the non-evolutionary worlds formed during involution of consciousness. “It is into this large realm of interior existence that our mind and vital being retire when they withdraw from the surface activities whether by sleep or inward-drawn concentration or by the inner plunge of trance (15).” The subliminal with the subconscious as its annex is part of the “…..behind-the-veil entity — is the seer of inner things and of supraphysical experiences; the surface subconscious is only a transcriber (16).”

How does the subliminal contact with the superficial self? Ordinarily there is no direct communication but the superficial self receives unknowingly the, “….. inspirations, intuitions, will-suggestions, sense-suggestions, urges to action (17)” from it. A conscious contact is possible under two conditions: (a) trance state which signifies an inner waking; (b) the inner subliminal cognition getting access to the luminous supernormal clarities of vision when it gets into habitual contact with the waking self (18).

The only other way of communication is in sleep through dreams where one can get, “…..visions, absorbed states of inner experience (19).”

This is why the Upanissad describes the subliminal being as the Dream Self and the Superconscient as the Sleep Self because there all mental and sensory experiences cease. There two selves in addition to the Waking Self can be considered as illusory since the only reality is “the incommunicable Self or One-Existence (Atman, Adwaita) which is the fourth state of Self, described by the Vedanta (20).” Yet, these three Selves can also be considered as three different states of one Reality or as three states of consciousness “… which is embodied our contact with three different grades of self-experience and world-experience (21).”

The truth of subliminal dreams shows that dreams are not, “….. a mere unreal figure of unreal things…. (22)” and the analogy of the world as illusory as a dream, fails. It may be said that dreams are not realities but transcripts of realities, and similarly our waking experience of reality is a transcript of reality. After all, our waking experience is based on images based on our senses which can be considered as symbols of truth that we only partially express in life. If that were so, our life-experience can be equated with a dream. But there is, “….. an automatic intuition (23)” that relates the image with the object imaged to get a tangible experience of it. “Therefore we may conclude that we experience a real universe through our imaged sense-transcript by the aid of the intuition and reason, — an intuition which gives us the touch of things and a reason which investigates their truth by its conceptive knowledge (24).”


1. Sri Aurobindo. The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, Volume 12. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1997, p. 465.

2. Sri Aurobindo. Birth Centenary Library, Volume 18. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1970, p. 422.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., pp. 422-23.

6. Ibid., p. 423.

7. Ibid., p. 424.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., p. 425.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid., p. 426.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., p. 427.

17. Ibid., p. 426.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid., p.427.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid.

23. Ibid. p. 428.

24. Ibid.

Dr. Soumitra Basu, a practising psychiatrist and member of SAIIIHR, is the Director of a school of psychology, Integral Yoga Psychology. He is also one of the editors of NAMAH.

Share with us (Comments,contributions,opinions)

When reproducing this feature, please credit NAMAH,and give the byline. Please send us cuttings.



A hijack


Sri Aurobindo


Veridical dreams


Universal consciousness


Subliminal dreams