New Publication "The Indian Night, Sleep and Dreams in Indian Culture"

Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Fri Apr 17 14:39:13 UTC 2009

I read a scholarly work on the history of sleep and nighttime activities in early modern and modern Western Europe, whose title I can't seem to recall or retrieve.  It said that people used to talk about first and second sleep, and a period of waking in between, in which people might inspect the livestock, make love, do chores, say prayers, or other activities.  Manuals of devotion included prayers specifically for this period.  (On might also wonder if the monastic custom of rising in the middle of the night for prayers was based on this.  And some of the Psalms give me the impression middle of the night prayers were not unknown to the ancient Jews.)

On the other hand, the author notes that the evidence for this routine and accepted period of waking comes from people who went to bed pretty soon after dark.  Diaries of people of the upper strata who routinely stayed up much later, such as Pepys and Boswell, never mention it.  

The author thinks that with electricity and electronic entertainment the pattern has shifted towards the second one.

Do the papers mention any such thing in India?  One might wonder whether in view of the Indian habit of going to bed fairly late, especially in the hot season, and having a substantial nap in the afternoon, India might lean towards the second pattern.

If anyone is familiar with the book I am referring to I'd appreciate the reference.


Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian
Team Coordinator
South Asia Team, Asian Division
Library of Congress, Jefferson Building 150
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732; fax 202-707-1724; athr at
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of Congress.

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