Vedanta: Concepts

Elucidation of Terms and Concepts in Vedanta
[Based on the Commentaries of Sri Sankaracharya and other authoritative texts]
By S. N. Sastri


1. Adhyaasa (Superimposition)
2. Advaita - Jnaana and Upaasanaa
3. Aatma - Indwelling Self
4. Avidyaa (Nescience)
5. Avidyaanivr.Tti
6. Ahamkaara
7. Brahman
8. Cause and Effect
9. Creation
10. Creation of the Subtle Elements
11. Creation of the Organs of Sense
12. Creation of the Organs of Action
13. Creation of the Antahkaranam or Internal Organ
14. Creation of Praana (Vital Air)
15. Quintuplication of the Subtle Elements
16. Three Bodies of the Jiiva (Individual Soul)
17. Five Sheaths
18. Three States
19. Jiiva (Individual Soul)
20. Iis'vara
21. Maayaa
22. Jnaanam and Dhyaanam - Difference
23. Karma
24. Mukti (Liberation)
25. Path of the Manes and Path of the Gods
26. Transmigration
27. Om - Symbol and Name of Brahman
28. Mahaavaakyas
29. Means to Self - Realization
30. Four Preliminary Requisites
31. Scope of Reasoning (Tarka)
32. Two Kinds of Vision
33. Process of Visual Perception
34. Upanishad - Meaning
35. Mind, Vital Force and Speech
36. Upaasanam (Meditation)
37. Deva and Asura - Meaning
38. Parinaama and Vivarta

Statements expounding particular terms and concepts in Vedanta are found scattered at different places in the Upanishads and the commentaries thereon. For example, if we take the concept of mukti (liberation), the answers to questions such as, what is mukti and what are the means to it, are found in various places. It was felt that if statements relating to each topic were collected and put together, that would be of considerable help in getting a total view about that topic. This is the task undertaken in this work. This is not by any means an exhaustive collection of all the statements relating to any particular topic. The attempt has been to gather together as much as is necessary to get a clear idea about each topic. Another purpose that this topic - wise grouping would serve is to make it possible to trace the exact place where a particular point has been elucidated. (The code used for transliteration of Sanskrit words is ITRANS 4.0 with some slight modifications).

1. Adhyaasa (Superimposition)

Brahmasuutra - - - (B.S.) - adhyaasabhaashya of S'rii S'ankara - smr.tiruupaH paratra puurvadr.shTa avabhaasah - - - adhyaasa (superimposition) is the illusory appearance, in another place, of an object seen earlier elsewhere. It is similar in nature to recollection. (On seeing a rope in dim light and not recognizing it as a rope, a person mistakes it for a snake which he has seen elsewhere. The snake is not absolutely unreal, because it is actually experienced, and produces the same effect, such as fear and so on, as a real snake would. At the same time, it is not real, because it is no longer seen when the rope has been recognized. It is therefore described as anirvachaniiya, or what cannot be classified as either real or unreal).

In the above definition, the words 'similar in nature to recollection' are intended to exclude recognition. 'Recollection' is of an object previously experienced, but which is not now present before the person recollecting. 'Recognition' is when the same object previously experienced is again present before the person.

B.G.13.26 S.B. - - - In this verse it is said that everything in this world is brought into existence by the association of the 'field' and the 'knower of the field', or, the self and the non - self. S'rii S'ankara points out in his commentary on this verse that the association of these two is only by superimposition, since there cannot be any real association between the self, which is absolutely real and the non - self which has only empirical reality. The non - self, (namely, the body, mind and organs,) is superimposed on the self and, consciousness, which is the nature of the self, is attributed to the body, mind and organs.

S'rii S'ankara further points out in his adhyaasa - bhaashya on the Brahma suutras that, when there is superimposition of one thing on another, the latter is not affected in the least by the good or bad qualities of the former. (e.g., nacre does not become more valuable because it is mistaken for silver, nor does a rope get the qualities of the snake which it is mistaken for). The implication of this statement is that the self does not undergo any of the changes, nor does it experience any of the joys and sorrows, of the body, mind and organs. It is, however, only because of this mutual superimposition of the self and the non - self that all action, both secular and religious, becomes possible. The self, by itself, is neither a doer of actions, nor an enjoyer of the results. It becomes a doer and an enjoyer only because of this superimposition, as a result of which, as S'rii S'ankara says, the real and the unreal, namely, the self and the non - self, are blended into one, as it were. All action, including the various rites laid down in the Vedas, thus come within the sphere of avidyaa or nescience, which is the cause of superimposition.

Superimposition is of two kinds. When a rope is mistaken for a snake, the snake alone is seen. The existence of the rope is not known at all. Here the snake is said to be superimposed on the rope. This is known as svaruupa - adhyaasa. The second kind of superimposition is when a crystal appears to be red in the proximity of a red flower. Here both the crystal and the flower are seen as existing, and the redness of the flower is attributed to the crystal also. This is known as samsarga - adhyaasa. Both these kinds of superimposition are present in the mutual superimposition of the self and the non - self.

Because of the superimposition of the non - self on the self, the existence of the self is not recognized at all, and the non - self, (that is, the body, mind and organs), is alone recognized as existing. This is svaruupa - adhyaasa. In the superimposition of the self on the non - self, only the consciousness of the self is attributed to the body, mind and organs. This is samsarga - adhyaasa. The result of this mutual superimposition is that every one identifies himself with the body. This is the root cause of all suffering. Giving up this wrong identification with the body - mind complex and realizing that one is the self which is beyond all suffering and all the pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, success and failure and so on, is vidyaa or knowledge. It is this knowledge that is contained in the Upanishads.

svaruupa - adhyaasa is also known as 'nirupaadhika adhyaasa', or superimposition without a limiting adjunct or upaadhi. The superimposition of an illusory snake on a rope is of this type. upaadhi has been defined by Bhaskararaya in his commentary on the name 'nirupaadhiH' (No.154) in the Lalitaasahasranaama as - - upa samiipe aadadhaati sviiyam dharmam -- that which gives its quality to an object near it. A red flower which makes a transparent crystal near it look red is an upaadhi. The superimposition of the red colour on the crystal is a superimposition with upaadhi and it is known as 'sopaadhika adhyaasa',which is the same as samsarga adhyaasa.

In the superimposition of the snake on the rope, the substratum is considered to be the rope. But the rope itself is not real, and is a superimposition on Brahman or Consciousness. Therefore it is said in Vedaanta that the substratum is 'rajju - upahita chaitanyam',or, Consciousness apparently limited by the rope.

The illusory snake is said to be 'praatibhaasika'; the rope, like everything in this world, is 'vyaavahaarika',or empirical reality. Brahman alone is 'paaramaarthika', or absolute reality.

B.S. - Adhyaasa - bhaashya - - - adhyaaso naama atasmin tadbuddhiriti - - - - - -

adhyaasa, or superimposition, is the cognition, as a particular thing, of what is not that, like the cognition of what is not silver as silver. Other examples given here by S'rii S'ankara are - - - when one's wife or son is happy or unhappy, one considers oneself also as happy or unhappy; one attributes the qualities of the physical body, such as fatness, leanness and so on, to oneself, as one says - "I am fat, I am lean, etc"; one says - "I am blind, deaf, etc", attributing the qualities of the sense - organs to oneself. This superimposition is beginningless, it is of the nature of illusory cognition and is the cause of the notion of agency and enjoyership. The truth is that one is the aatmaa which is free from all these qualities. The wrong identification with the body, mind, organs, etc., can be removed only by the realization of one's real nature. The aim of Vedaanta is to enable one to attain this realization.

2. Advaita - Jnaana and Upaasanaa (Non - dual Realization and Meditations)

Similarity and difference between the two.

Ch.up. Introduction - S.B. -- yathaa advaitajnaanam manovr.ttimaatram - - - - - - - - - saamaanyam.

The similarity between non - dual realization and meditations is that both are mere modifications of the mind.

svaabhaavikasya aatmani adhyaaropitasya - - - - - - - - - - - - - - iti vis'eshaH.

The difference between the two is this -- non - dual realization removes totally the cognition of all such differences as agent, instrument, action and results, which are superimposed naturally on the action - less Self, just as the appearance of a snake is superimposed on a rope. This superimposition is removed by the knowledge of the substratum. But meditation consists in establishing a continuous flow of similar modifications of the mind with regard to some object as prescribed by the scriptures, and uninterrupted by any other thought.

3. Aatma - Indwelling Self

- - is self - luminous, unattached, etc.

Br.up.4.3.14.S.B. - - - svayamjyotiH aatmaa asti iti svapnanidars'anena pradars'itam. By the illustration of dream it has been proved that there is the self - luminous aatmaa and that it transcends the forms of death (i.e. the body and organs).

Br. Up. 4.3.17.S.B. - - - yathaa asau svapne asa.ngatvaat - - - - - - - - - - - buddhaantena.

Just as, being unattached in the dream state, the aatmaa is not affected, on its return to the waking state, by whatever appeared to have happened in the dream state, so also, it is not affected by anything done in the waking state. (In other words, the aatmaa is not at all affected by anything experienced either in the dream state or in the waking state).

Aatmaa in the three states

Br.up.4.3.19. S.B. - - - yasmaat jaagarite sasa.ngaH samr.tyuH - - - - - - - -

It has been shown that in the waking state the self appears through ignorance as connected with attachment, death (meaning here action) and the body and organs. In the dream state it appears to be connected with desire, but free from the forms of death (meaning the body, mind and organs -- See Br.up.4.3.7.S.B. - svatah kaaryakaraNaani eva asya ruupaaNi). In the state of deep sleep it is perfectly serene and unattached. This non - attachment is the special feature in this state. Considering all these passages together, it becomes clear that the self is by nature eternal, free, self - luminous and pure.

The jiivaatmaa is not a part (ams'a) of Brahman

Br.up.2.1.20.S.B."kshudraa visphuli.ngaaH"Br.up.2.1.20

"mamaivaams'aH" - B.G.15.7. - paramaatmaikatva - pratyaya - - - -

The passages such as 'tiny sparks', 'a part of Myself', are intended to convey the idea of identity. We are aware that sparks of fire are identical with fire. Thus a part may be considered as identical with the whole. Therefore words such as 'part of the Supreme Self', as applied to the individual self, are meant only to convey the idea of the identity of the two. (The supreme Self has no parts. It is one homogeneous entity).

The individual self appears as a separate entity because of the limiting adjuncts (upaadhi)

Br.up.2.4.12. S.B. - - - yathaa adbhyaH suuryachandraadipratibimbaH - - - - -

Just as reflections of the sun, moon, etc, arise in water, or a transparent crystal appears red because of the proximity of a red cloth, so also, because of the limiting adjuncts (upaadhi) in the form of the body and organs, Brahman appears as a separate individual entity. On the realization of one's true nature as being identical with Brahman, the notion that one is a separate individual entity comes to an end. As the reflections of the sun, moon, etc, and the redness of the crystal, disappear when their causes, namely the limiting adjuncts in the form of the water and the red cloth are removed, and the sun, moon and the transparent crystal alone remain as they are, so also, the endless, infinite and limpid Pure Consciousness, or Brahman, alone remains.

Consciousness pervades the whole body, mind, etc. -- an illustration - - Br.up.4.3.7 S.B -- yathaa vaa marakataadiH maNiH - - - - - - sarvaantaratamatvaat.

Just as an emerald or any other gem, dropped into a vessel of milk, imparts its lustre to the milk, so does this luminous self, being subtler than even the mind and the intellect, impart consciousness to the whole body, mind and organs. (When an emerald is dropped into milk, the latter gets a green hue. Similarly, the self, being pure consciousness, makes the insentient mind, body and organs sentient.)

Why people identify themselves with the body, mind, etc.

Br.up.4.3.7 S.B - - - buddhistaavat svachchhatvaat - - - - - - - yathaa vivekam jaayate.

The intellect, being transparent and next to the self, easily catches the reflection of the consciousness of the self. Therefore it is that even wise men identify themselves with the intellect first; next comes the mind which catches the reflection of the self through the intellect; then the organs through contact with the mind; and lastly, the body, through the organs. Thus the self successively illumines with its own consciousness the entire aggregate of body and organs. This is the reason why all people identify themselves with the body, mind and organs, to a greater or lesser degree, according to the extent of their discriminating capacity.

4. Avidyaa (Nescience)

Br.up.4.3.20 S.B. - - - ata idam avidyaayaaH satatvam uktam - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - tataH phalam.

Therefore, the nature of nescience is that it represents what is infinite as finite, projects things other than the Self, which are non - existent and makes the Self appear as limited. From this sense of limitation arises the desire for things that appear to be different from oneself (due to ignorance of the truth that everything is but Brahman). This desire prompts one to action for its fulfillment. Action produces results, and this leads to further birth. Thus the cycle -- kaama, karma, janma -- desire, action, rebirth, goes on indefinitely, as long as ignorance continues.

tasmaat na aatmadharmaH avidyaa - - - - Ignorance is not a natural characteristic of the Self, because that which is natural to a thing can never be eliminated, like the heat and light of the sun.

B.S.Adhyaasabhaashya - - - avidyaavadvishayaaNi eva - - - - - - s'aastraaNi ca.

All the means of valid knowledge, such as perception, and even the scriptures, have validity only as long as a person is ignorant of the Self. (All these function only on the basis of the superimposition (adhyaasa) of the body, mind and organs on the Self. This superimposition comes to an end when avidyaa is eradicated. After that even the scriptural injunctions cease to be applicable).

This primal ignorance is described as beginningless. But this word is not used here in the same sense as that in which it is used in respect of Brahman. avidyaa is beginningless only in the sense that it has no cause. avidyaa is the cause of the entire universe according to Advaita.

It is not possible to classify this avidyaa either as real or as unreal. What is unreal (asat), like a sky - flower, or the horn of a rabbit, is never experienced. Since avidyaa is experienced, it is not unreal. According to Advaita, that alone is real, which never changes or ceases to exist. avidyaa, being removable by knowledge, is not real. It cannot be both real and unreal because the two are contradictory. So avidyaa is described as 'anirvachaniiya', different from both real and unreal. This does not mean that it is absolutely unreal. avidyaa has empirical (vyaavahaarika) reality. The universe, which is an effect of avidyaa, also has the same level of reality. avidyaa, as well as the universe, are said to be indeterminable (anirvachaniiya) and illusory (mithyaa).

Locus and content of avidyaa

All are agreed that the content (or object) of nescience is Brahman. But there is difference of opinion with regard to its locus.

MaNDana Mis'ra says in Brahmasiddhi that the jiiva is the locus of nescience.

Vaachaspati Mis'ra holds the same view - see his commentary on Brahma suutra - 1.4.3.

Aanandagiri - - - - Brahman is the locus -- commentary on Brahma suutra - 1.4.3.

Sures'varaachaarya - - - Brahman is the locus - - - Naishkarmyasiddhi Ch.3.1.

Sarvajnaatmamuni - - - Brahman is the locus - - - Samkshepa s'aariirakam -- 1.319

Prakaas'aatman - - - - Brahman is the locus - - - - - - VivaraNa -

avidyaa is positive

avidyaa is not mere negation, as it is antagonistic to Knowledge. In Vedaantasaara of Sadaananda, ignorance is defined thus: - Ignorance is something positive, though intangible, which cannot be described as either being or non - being, which is made of three guNas (sattva, rajas and tamas), and is antagonistic to Knowledge. Ch.2.34

In B.G.5.15, the Lord says that Knowledge is covered by Ignorance. What covers can only be positive and cannot be negative. In Samkshepas'aariirakam 1.320 and in VivaraNa it is established that avidyaa is positive.

The same conclusion has been arrived at in Sures'vara's Vaartika on taitt. Up. Bhaashya - 2.179.

See also Samkshepas'aariirakam Chap.3.111.

It must, however, be noted that it is only from the empirical point of view that it is said that avidyaa, while being other than the real as well as the unreal, is positive and not mere absence of knowledge. From the absolute point of view, avidyaa does not exist at all. See also under the heading 'Maayaa', where verses from Panchadas'i have been quoted.

avidyaa has two powers

avidyaa or Nescience covers Brahman with its veiling power (aavaraNa s'akti) and projects the universe with its power known as vikshepa s'akti -- see Viveka chuuDaamaNi, verses 113 and 115.

In Vedaantasaara it is said: - Just as a small patch of cloud, by obstructing the vision of the observer, conceals, as it were, the solar disc extending over a very large area, similarly, ignorance, though limited by nature, yet obstructing the intellect of the observer, conceals, as it were, the Self, which is unlimited and not subject to transmigration. Such a power is the power of concealment. (Para 52).

The Self, covered by this concealing power of ignorance, becomes subject to transmigration characterized by the notion of being a doer and an enjoyer. Just as ignorance regarding a rope, by its inherent power, gives rise to the illusion of a snake, etc., so also, ignorance, by its own power, creates in the Self covered by it, such phenomena as aakaas'a, etc. Such a power is called the power of projection. (Paras 53 and 54).

avidyaa and maayaa -- whether the same or different

S'rii S'ankara treats avidyaa and maayaa as identical - See B.S.Bhaashya - 1.4.3.Sures'vara also does the same.

Samkshepas'aariirakam - 3.108 - 109 expresses the same view.

In Panchadas'i, VidyaaraNya says that prakr.ti constituted of pure sattva is maayaa and when constituted of sattva mixed with rajas and tamas is avidyaa. Brahman reflected in maayaa is iis'vara, who is omniscient and is the controller of maayaa. Brahman reflected in avidyaa is jiiva.

In Patanjali's Yoga suutras avidyaa is described as one of the five 'kles'a - s', or causes of man's suffering. (Suutra 2.3); the other four are egoism (asmitaa), attachment (raaga), aversion (dvesha) and the desire to cling on to life (abhinives'a). avidyaa is said to be the cause of the other four (2.4). avidyaa is defined as looking upon what is non - eternal as eternal, what is impure as pure, what is painful as pleasant and the non - Self as the Self (2.5).


In deep sleep there is avidyaa as well as avidyaavr.tti. avidyaa, which is the adjunct (upaadhi) of the Self in deep sleep, is the causal condition of the mind. While the mind is dormant in deep sleep (sushupti), it is through avidyaavr.tti that ignorance and happiness are experienced. On waking up, the mind again comes out of its causal condition and there arises the memory of what was experienced in sleep.

svaruupa - jnaana, which is the very nature of Brahman, is not opposed to primal ignorance. It is this svaruupa - jnaana which reveals the ignorance. The primal ignorance which is the cause of bondage is destroyed by the mental mode (akhaNDaakaaravr.tti) generated by the mahaavaakyas. This final vr.tti - jnaana also disappears immediately thereafter, in the same way as the medicine itself disappears after removing the disease.

5. Avidyaanivr.Tti

There are three views on what is meant by 'avidyaanivr.tti' or the cessation of ignorance.

1. It is identical with Brahman - Aatman.

2. It is different from Brahman - Aatman and yet it is not anirvachaniiya, but is of a fifth kind.

3. It is identical with the direct experience of Brahman - Aatman.

See Samkshepas'aariirakam - 4.13 onwards.

Madhusuudana Sarasvati rejects the second view stated above -- see Vedaantakalpalatika -

The first view derives support from Sri Sankara's Haristuti -- tam samsaaradhvaantavinaas'am harim iDe.

MaNDana favours the third view above in Brahmasiddhi.

Madhusuudana Sarasvati supports the first and third views in his Advaitasiddhi -- tasmaat ajnaanahaanih aatmasvaruupam tadaakaaraa vr.tti vaa iti siddham - - - -

6. Ahamkaara

VivekachuuDaamaNi - verse No.106 - - - ahamkaaraH sa vijneyaH -- In his commentary on this verse, H.H. Svaami Chandrasekhara Bhaarati says - ahamkaara, the ego - sense, is the antaHkaraNam (the internal organ or mind) with the reflection of the consciousness of the Self in it. It then identifies itself with the body and senses. This antaHkaraNam considers itself as doer and enjoyer. It acquires the states of waking, dream and deep sleep by conjunction with rajoguNa, sattvaguNa and tamoguNa respectively.

Sri sures'vara points out in his Naishkarmyasiddhi ,Ch.2, verses 46 to 51 that (1)the internal organ is the connecting link between the Self and the non - Self (verse 46), (2) it makes the Self which is one appear as many (v.47), (3) it is because of it that the Self, though free from action and attributes, appears to have all of them (v.49), and (4) it makes the non - relational Self relational, as it were (v.51). The internal organ assumes the form of the external object which is presented to it and when this modification of the internal organ (antaHkaraNa - vr.tti) is illumined by the Self which is reflected therein, the internal organ assumes the role of the knower or the seer, though by itself it cannot be the knower since it is insentient. In the absence of the internal organ, as in sushupti, the Self has no relation with anything and does not experience anything, subjective or objective.

B.G.3.27 - S.B - Ahamkara is looking upon the aggregate of body and organs as 'I'.

7. Brahman

taitt. Up. 2.1 S.B. - - - br.hattamatvaat Brahma - - - Being the greatest, it is known as Brahman.

The sentence - Brahman is truth, knowledge and infinite - is meant to be the definition of Brahman.

A thing is said to be satya - true - when it does not change the nature that is ascertained to be its own; and a thing that deviates from the form in which it has been once ascertained is said to be unreal. (This is the literal translation of the statement in the Bhaashya. The gist of this is that, the meaning of the word 'true' in Vedaanta is - - - that which never undergoes any change at any time. Brahman alone is true in this sense). Every modification is therefore unreal. The s'ruti says - all modification is mere name, created by words alone; what is called clay is alone real. (Ch.up. 6.1.4). Various forms such as pot, etc, made out of clay are all unreal. Their reality is only as clay. Thus, by the word 'truth' the s'ruti distinguishes Brahman from all changing forms.

By the word 'knowledge' the s'ruti makes it clear that Brahman is not insentient like clay.

By the three words - truth, knowledge and infinite - it is made clear that Brahman is different from everything in the universe which is always subject to change, is insentient and limited by time, space and other objects.

Here knowledge means 'consciousness' and not a particular knowledge, which has a beginning and an end and is therefore finite. This consciousness is not distinct from Brahman, but is its essential nature, like the light of the sun or the heat of fire. This consciousness is eternal and is present even during deep sleep. A specific act of knowing takes place only when the mind functions in association with the relevant sense - organ, but this must be distinguished from consciousness, which is ever present. It is this consciousness which is known as Brahman. Brahman, which is Pure Consciousness, becomes a 'knower' only when the intellect is superimposed on it.

Upades'a saahas'rii - (Metrical portion) - Ch.18. Verse 65 -- The Self is looked upon as a knower only because of the superimposition on it of the knowership of the intellect. Similarly, the intellect is considered as a knower only because of the superimposition of consciousness on it.

Since the words truth, knowledge, and infinite are only intended to convey that Brahman is different from all that is subject to change, all that is insentient and all that is limited, and since such an object is not known to anyone, it may be argued that Brahman is non - existent, like the objects mentioned in the following statement: -

"Having bathed in the waters of the mirage and adorned his head with sky - flowers (i.e. flowers which grow in the sky), here goes the son of a barren woman, carrying a bow made out of the horn of a hare". The answer to this is that, since the words are intended as a definition of Brahman and a definition is given only for something that exists and not for something non - existent, the argument is not tenable. Here Aanandagiri says -- The word truth connotes unfailing existence, the word consciousness connotes self - luminous knowledge of all objects and the word infinite connotes all - pervasiveness. Thus each of these words conveys a positive idea, while excluding the opposite and does not mean a mere negation.

The words satyam, jnaanam, etc, apply to Brahman only in their secondary sense (lakshyaartha) and not in their primary sense (vaachyaartha) -- see Samkshepas'aariirakam Ch.1. verses 178 to 184.

Brahman is in reality attributeless

In Brahma suutra 3.2.11 to 3.2.21, it is established that, though the scriptures describe Brahman as both qualified (Ch.up.3.14.2) and as unqualified (Br.up.3.8.8), Brahman is really attributeless. The description of Brahman as qualified is only for the purpose of Upaasanaa (meditation).

Brahma suutra 3.2.22. S.B. - - - In Br.up.2.3.1 it is said that Brahman has two forms -- gross and subtle, mortal and immortal, limited and unlimited, defined and undefined. Then it is said in Br.up.2.3.6 - "Now therefore the description (of Brahman) -- neti, neti -- not so, not so". These two negatives deny the two aspects, gross and subtle etc. By this the reality of all creation is denied.

Two kinds of definition of Brahman

There are two kinds of definition of Brahman -- (1) svaruupalakshaNam -- definition with reference to the essential nature, e.g. satyam jnaanam anantam brahma -- taitt,up. 2.1. (2) taTasthalakshaNam -- This is based on an accidental feature, which helps to distinguish the object defined. An example is the identification of a house by pointing out a crow sitting on it. While the crow may fly away, it nevertheless helps a person to know which is the house meant. In the case of Brahman, such a definition is -- yato vaa imaani bhuutaani jaayante - - - - - - That from which all these beings are born, that by which they live and that towards which they move and into which they merge. (taitt.up,3.1.1).

How the Self pervades all bodies -- examples

Br.up.1.4.7 S.B. - - - yathaa cha kshuraH kshuradhaane - - - -

As a razor lies in one part of its case, as fire lies in wood, pervading it, so does the Self dwell in the body, pervading it in a general and particular way. There it is perceived as doing the functions of living, seeing, etc.

The meaning of "neti, neti' - - -

Br,up. 2.3.6.S.B. - - - aades'o nirdes'o BrahmaNaH. KaH punarasau - - - - - - - - neti neti iti nirdes'aH.

How is it sought to describe Brahman , the Truth of truth? By the elimination of all differences due to limiting adjuncts, the words "Neti, neti" refer to something that has no distinguishing mark, such as name, form, action, heterogeneity, species or qualities. Words refer to things through one or more of these marks. But Brahman has none of these distinguishing marks. Therefore it cannot be described as, "It is such and such ", as we can describe a cow by saying, "There moves a white cow with horns". Brahman can be described only by the superimposition of name, form and action. When, however, we wish to describe its true nature, free from all differences due to limiting adjuncts, the only way is to describe it as - not this, not this.

Brahman transcends all qualities

Br.up.3.5.1.S.B. - - - avivekibhiH talamalavadiva gaganam - - - - -

As the sky, fancied by the ignorant as being concave and blue, is really without these qualities, being untouched by them, so also Brahman - Aatman, although thought of by the ignorant as being subject to hunger, thirst, etc, really transcends all these qualities. The S'ruti says -- "It is not affected by human misery, being beyond it" - KaTha up. 2.2.11

Brahman, the individual self and iis'vara

Br.up.3.8.12.S.B. - - - kastarhi bhedaH eteshaam?

What is the difference among them? It is only due to the difference in the limiting adjuncts. Intrinsically, there is neither difference nor identity among them, for all the three are in essence Pure Consciousness, homogeneous like a lump of salt. When the unconditioned Self has, as the limiting adjuncts, the body and organs which are characterized by ignorance, desire and action, it is called the transmigrating individual self. When the limiting adjunct is the power of eternal and unlimited knowledge, which is Maayaa, the same Self is known as iis'vara, who is the antaryaamii or Inner Controller. The same Self, free from all limiting adjuncts, is Brahman. When the limiting adjuncts are the bodies of hiraNyagarbha, the gods, men, animals and others, the same Self assumes those particular names and forms.

Br.up.4.4.5.S.B. - - - sa vaa ayam ya evam samsarati - - - - - - as'anaayaadyatiitaH.

The transmigrating self is indeed Brahman, which is beyond hunger, etc.

Br.up.4.4.25.S.B. - - - ya evam yathoktam aatmaanam - - - - - - - - -

He who knows the self described above as the Brahman which is beyond fear becomes Brahman. This is the purport of the whole Upanishad put in a nutshell. It is to bring out this purport that the ideas of creation, maintenance and dissolution of the universe, as well as the ideas of action, its factors and results were superimposed on the Self. Then, by the negation of the superimposed attributes the true nature of Brahman as free from all attributes has been brought out. This is the method of adhyaaropa and apavaada, superimposition and negation, which is adopted by Vedaanta.

Br. Up.5.1.1.S.B. - - - yadyapi Brahmaatmaadis'abdaaH - - - - - - -

Although the words 'Brahman', 'aatman' etc, are names of Brahman, we see from the s'ruti that Om is its most intimate appellation. Therefore, Om is the best means for the realization of Brahman. Om is both a symbol for Brahman and its name.

Brahman is both the material and the efficient cause of the universe.

Panchadas'i - 1.44 - - - Brahman becomes the material cause of the universe when it is associated with that aspect of maayaa in which there is predominance of tamas. It becomes the efficient cause when associated with that aspect of maayaa in which there is predominance of sattva.

Brahman is free from all the three types of differences

Panchadas'i - 2.20 and 21. - - - Differences are of three kinds. The difference of a tree from its leaves, flowers, fruits, etc, is the difference within an object. This is known as svagata bheda. The difference of one tree from another tree is the difference between objects of the same species. This is known as sajaatiiya bheda. The difference of a tree from a rock is the difference between objects of different species. This is known as vijaatiiya bheda. None of these differences exists with regard to Brahman, because there is nothing else of the same species or of a different species and there is no internal difference because Brahman is homogeneous. This is what is affirmed in the Chhaandogya upanishad (6.2.1) by the words "ekam eva advitiiyam" - one, only, without a second. The word "one' negates sajaatiiya bheda, the word 'only' negates svagata bheda and the words 'without a second' negate vijaatiiya bheda.

Brahman is free from all limitations

Panchadas'i - 3.35, 36, 37 - - - Being all - pervasive, Brahman is not limited by space. Being eternal, it is not limited by time. Since all objects in the universe are merely superimposed on Brahman, Brahman is not limited by any object, just as a rope is not limited by the illusory snake superimposed on it .

8. Cause and Effect

Taitt. Up. 2.1.S.B. - - - na hi kaaraNavyatirekeNa kaaryam naama vastutaH asti - - - -

There is no such thing as effect in reality apart from the cause. The effect has no real existence apart from the cause.

Ch.up.6.1.4 - - - All modifications exist in name only, being created only by words.

Anubhuutiprakaas'a of VidyaaraNya -- 1.20 -- Just as a pot made out of clay is really nothing but clay, so also this universe which has originated from the Supreme Self (Brahman) has no reality apart from the Supreme Self.

9. Creation

The real object of the description of creation

The Upanishads describe the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe. This should not, however, be taken to mean that creation, etc, are real. According to Advaita, creation is not real, but is only a superimposition on Brahman, which alone is real in the absolute sense. The universe, which is a transformation of maayaa, is anirvachaniiya. It cannot be described either as real or as unreal. It has empirical reality only. The description of creation, etc, in the Upanishads is only to bring out the truth that Brahman, the cause, alone is real. The effect, universe, has no independent existence apart from the cause, Brahman. The following passages from Sri Sankara's Bhaashya bring out the real purpose of the statements about creation, etc, in the Upanishads.

Br.up.2.1.20.S.B. - - - tasmaat upakramopasamhaaraabhyaam - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - vaakyaani iti.

From the introduction and conclusion it is clear that the passages speaking about the origin, sustenance and dissolution of the universe are intended only to strengthen the idea that the individual self is the same as the Supreme Self.

Br.up.2.1.20.S.B. - - - tasmaat ekaruupaikatvapratyayadaarDhyaaya - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - paramaatmanaH

Therefore, the mention in all the Vedaanta texts of the origin, sustenance and dissolution of the universe is only to strengthen our idea of Brahman being a homogeneous entity, and not to tell us that the origin, etc, is real. Nor is it reasonable to suppose that a part of the indivisible, transcendental Supreme Self becomes the relative, individual self, because the Supreme Self is intrinsically without parts.

The theory of vivarta

Advaita Vedaanta explains the creation of the world by the theory of vivarta. This theory is different from the theory of aarambha vaada of Nyaaya - Vais'eshika and the pariNaama vaada of Saankhya. According to aarambha vaada the effect was not pre - existent in the cause and is something new which has come into existence. This theory is also called asatkaarya vada, because according to this the kaarya, effect, did not previously exist. According to the pariNaama vaada, the effect was existent in the cause and is only a transformation of the cause. It is therefore also known as satkaarya vaada, because the kaarya, effect, was existent in the cause. According to Advaita, the effect is not an actual transformation of the cause. Brahman is immutable and there can be no transformation of it. It only serves as the substratum (adhishThaana) for the appearance of the universe, just as the rope serves as the substratum for the appearance of the illusory snake.

This nature of the universe as a mere appearance on Brahman is brought out beautifully by Sures'vara in the following verses: -

Naishkarmyasiddhi.1.1 - - - I offer my salutation to Hari, the destroyer of darkness and the witness of the intellect, from whom the universe consisting of ether, air, fire, water and earth has arisen like a snake from a garland.

Taitt. Up. Bhaashya Vaartika.2.378 - - - He, the Supreme Lord, the controller of maayaa, having created the universe with His maayaa, entered that very universe in the same way as a garland can be said to enter the illusory snake projected on it. (By this, the statements in the taitt.up.2.6.1 and the Br.up.1.4.7 that the Lord, having created the universe, entered into it, are also explained).

This appearance of the universe is due to avidyaa, or nescience, which conceals Brahman by its veiling power (aavaraNa s'akti) and projects the universe by its power of projection (vikshepa s'akti). The universe is therefore said to be only a vivarta, or apparent transformation, of Brahman. Like the illusory snake with rope as the substratum, the universe is illusory, or mithyaa, with Brahman as the substratum. But there is a vital difference between the illusoriness of the rope - snake and that of the universe. While the snake is purely illusory, or praatibhaasika, the universe has empirical, or vyaavahaarika, reality. That means that the universe is real for all those who are still in ignorance of Brahman. It loses its reality only when Brahman is realized as the only reality and as identical with one's own self, or, in other words, when identification with the body - mind complex completely disappears. Bondage is nothing but identification with the body - mind complex. This identification being due only to the ignorance of the truth that one is really the aatmaa, which is the same as Brahman, it can be removed only by the knowledge of one's real nature as Brahman.

Madhusuudana Sarasvati therefore says in Siddhaantabindu that the following statements in the s'ruti, which say that bondage ceases when Brahman is known, establish by implication the illusory nature of the universe: -

MuND.up.2.2.8 - - - When that Self, which is the cause as well as the effect, is realized, the knot of the heart is cut asunder, all doubts are resolved and the effects of past karma are destroyed.

S'vetaas'vatara up.3.8 - - - By knowing that Self one goes beyond death.

Ch.up.7.1.3 - - - The knower of the Self goes beyond sorrow.

It is further pointed out in Siddhaantabindu that the following statements bring out explicitly the illusoriness of the universe: -

Br.up.3.4.2 - - - Everything other than the Self is subject to destruction.

Br.up.4.4.19 - - - There is no difference whatsoever in it (Brahman).

Br.up.2.3.6 - - - Now therefore the description (of Brahman) -- Not this, not this.

Bearing in mind the real import of the statements about creation, we may now go into the description of creation as found in the Upanishads and other Vedaanta texts.

10. Creation of the Subtle Elements

Taitt.up.2.1.1.S.B. - - - tasmaad etasmaad brahmaNaH aatma - svaruupaat - - - - -

From that Brahman, which is identical with the indwelling self, aakaas'a, space, was created. aakaas'a means, that which is possessed of the attribute of sound and provides space for all things that have form. From that aakaas'a was born vaayu, air, which has two attributes, namely, its own quality, touch, and sound, the quality of its cause, aakaas'a. From air was produced agniH, fire, with three qualities, namely, its own quality, colour and the qualities of air and space. From fire was born aapah, water, with its own quality, taste, and the qualities of fire, air and space. From water was produced the element, pr.thivii, with its own quality, smell and the qualities of water, fire, air and space. These are the five subtle elements.

In Ch.up.6.2.3, the creation of only three elements is mentioned, namely fire, water and earth. S'rii S'ankara says here that it is logical to assume that, after creating space and air, Brahman created fire. The intended meaning is that all these have originated from sat, Existence, or Brahman and are therefore sat alone. The statement that all these elements arose from Brahman is clarified in Panchadas'i 1.18 by saying that these elements arose at the command of iis'vara from that aspect of prakr.ti in which tamas predominates.

11. Creation of the Organs of Sense

Vedaanta paribhaashaa.Ch.7 - - - These subtle elements have arisen from prakr.ti, which is made up of the three guNas, namely, sattva, rajas and tamas, (which can be described as serenity, activity and inertia respectively). These elements are also therefore constituted of the same three guNas. From the sattva part of space, air, fire, water and earth are produced, respectively, the indriyas, known as ear, sense of touch, eye, the sense of taste and the sense of smell. It must be noted that these are not the organs, such as eye, etc, in the physical body. These latter are called golaka. The indriyas are the subtle counterparts of the external organs and form part of the subtle body, which will be described later. The presiding deities of these five indriyas are, respectively, the devataas of the Quarters, Air, the sun, VaruNa (the god of the waters) and the two As'vini devas. (See also Panchadas'i.1.19).

It may be noted that each sense - organ is produced from the particular subtle element whose distinctive quality it has the power to reveal. For example, the organ of hearing reveals sound, which is the particular quality of aakaas'a, from the sattva part of which it is produced. The organ of smell is produced from the sattva part of pr.thivii, whose distinctive quality, smell, it reveals. S'rii S'ankara says in his commentary on Br.up.2.4.11 -- The s'ruti considers the organs to be of the same category as the objects, not of a different category. The organs are but modes of the objects they perceive.

12. Creation of the Organs of Action

Vedaanta paribhaashaa.Ch.7 and Panchadas'i.1.21 - - - From the rajas part of these five elements are produced, respectively, the organs of action called the tongue, the hand, the feet, the anus and the organ of generation. These, again, are not the physical organs bearing those names, but their subtle counterparts in the subtle body. The presiding deities of these organs are, in order, the devataa of Fire, Indra, VishNu, Yama and Prajaapati.

13. Creation of the Antahkaranam or Internal Organ

Vedaanta paribhaashaa Ch.7 and Panchadas'i.1.20.From the sattva part of all the five subtle elements together is produced the antaHkaraNam which is known by four different names according to the function. The four names are - manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaara. (Sometimes only two names, manas and buddhi, are mentioned, as in Panchadas'i.1.20, the other two being included in them). These four functions are explained in VivekachuuDaamaNi, verses 95 and 96. The function of cogitation is known as the manas or mind. When a determination is made, it is known as buddhi or intellect. The function of storing experiences in memory is called chittam . Egoism is ahamkaara. The word 'mind' is also used to denote the antaHkaraNam as a whole when these distinctions are not intended. We shall use the word 'mind' in this sense hereafter.

There is difference of opinion among Advaitins on the question whether the mind is an indriya, organ, or not. Vaachaspati Mis'ra, the author of Bhaamatii, considers the mind as an indriya. Prakaas'aatma muni, the author of VivaraNa, takes the view that the mind is not an indriya. The author of Vedaanta paribhaashaa also takes the same view. This point assumes importance when the question as to how realization takes place through the mahaavaakyas is considered. This will be dealt with later at the appropriate place.

In Panchadas'i.2.18, the number of indriyas is mentioned as eleven, indicating that the mind is also considered as an indriya there.

The mind is finite, being of medium magnitude (madhyama parimaaNa). It can therefore be connected with one or more of the organs at the same time. It has the capacity to expand and contract and take the form of any object.

The mind, being made of extremely subtle and transparent substance, receives the reflection of the consciousness of the Self. Because of this, it appears to be sentient, though it is really inert. All knowledge arises only through an appropriate modification of the mind, corresponding to the object of knowledge. (See further elaboration under 'Process of visual perception').

The mental states of pain, pleasure, fear, hope, and the like are illuminated directly by the witness - self without any intermediary. So they are said to be manifested by the witness - self alone (kevala - saakshi - bhaasya). The mental states become known as soon as they arise.

Panchadas'i.2.12 - - - Mind, the ruler of the ten indriyas, is not independent, but depends on the organs of sense and action for its function in relation to external objects.

At the same time, no sense organ can function without the co - operation of the mind. In his Bhaashya on Br.up.1.5.3, S'rii S'ankara says - There is a mind apart from the external organs such as the ear. For, it is a well - known fact, that even when an object is in front, a person does not see it, if his mind is elsewhere. Similarly, a person does not hear what is said, if he is absent - minded. Therefore it is clear that in the absence of the mind, the sense organs do not perceive their respective objects. Hence it is through the mind that everyone sees, hears, etc.

Br.up.1.5.3 describes the mind thus: - Desire, resolve, doubt, faith, absence of faith, steadiness, unsteadiness, shame, intelligence and fear -- all these are but the mind.

Another fact proving the existence of the mind is also stated here by S'rii S'ankara -- 'Because if one is touched by anybody even from behind, one is able to know distinctly whether it is a touch of a hand or of a knee. If there is no mind to distinguish them, how can the skin alone do this? That which helps us to distinguish between different perceptions is the mind'.

Panchadas'i.2.13. It is the mind which examines the merits and defects of the objects perceived through the senses. The conclusion which the mind comes to will depend on the proportion of the three guNas in it at the time.

Panchadas'i.2.15. When sattva guNa is predominant in the mind, merit (puNya) is acquired; when rajas is predominant, demerit (paapa) is acquired.

Panchadas'i.2.16. When tamas is predominant in the mind, neither merit nor demerit is produced, but life is merely wasted.

Mind is the cause of bondage, as well as of liberation

Amr.tabindu upanishad, mantra 2, says that the mind is, verily, the cause of bondage as well as of liberation; engrossed in objects of sense, it leads to bondage; free from attachment to objects, the same mind leads to liberation.

In samaadhi the manas (mind) becomes 'no - manas'; it attains to the state called amaniibhaava -- GauDapaada's MaaNDuukya Kaarikaa, AdvaitaprakaraNa, verse 31. In verse 32, the term amaniibhava is explained -- "When by the conviction of Aatman's reality, manas ceases to imagine, then it becomes 'no - manas', unperceiving for want of objects of perception".

14. Creation of Praana (Vital Air)

From a combination of the rajas aspect of the five subtle elements, is produced praaNa, or vital air. This has five divisions, according to the function performed. These are described in the Bhaashya on Pras'na Upanishad.3.5, thus: - - - He (praaNa) places apaana, a division of himself, in the two lower apertures, as engaged in the work of ejecting the excreta . praaNa himself, who occupies the position of the sovereign, resides in the eyes and the ears and issues out through the mouth and nostrils. In the navel is samaana, which is so called because it assimilates all that is eaten or drunk, distributes them equally in all parts of the body and effects digestion. udaana, another division of praaNa, moves throughout the body and functions upwards. It leads the soul out of the body at the time of death and takes it to other worlds according to one's puNya and paapa. vyaana regulates praaNa and apaana and is the cause of actions requiring strength. (See also Br.up.1.5.3.S.B).

Br.up.3.9.26.S.B. - - - The force called praaNa would go out (through the mouth and nostrils) if it were not held back by apaana. The force called apaana would also depart (through the lower orifice) if it were not held back by vyaana. All these three forces would go out in all directions, if they were not fixed to udaana. All these four forces rest on samaana.

Taitt.up.2.2.S.B. - - - praaNa is that aspect which goes out through the mouth and nostrils.

B.G.4.29.S.B - - - Exhalation through the mouth and the nostrils is the movement of praaNa; as opposed to that, inhalation is the movement of apaana.

Vedaantasaara -- Paras 84 and 85 - - - According to Saankhya, there are five more vital forces known as naaga, kuurma, kr.kala, devadatta and dhananjaya. Their functions are, respectively, causing vomiting, winking, creating hunger, producing yawning and nourishing the body.

15. Quintuplication of the Subtle Elements

Panchadas'i.1.26,27 - - - The omnipotent Lord combined the five subtle elements by the process known as 'panchiikaraNam' (Quintuplication)and produced gross elements to provide the jiivas (individual souls) with physical bodies and objects of enjoyment. The process of combination of the subtle elements is -- Each subtle element is divided into two equal parts. The second half of each such element is divided into four equal parts (i.e. to get one - eighth of each element). Then the first half of each element is combined with one - eighth of each of the other four elements to make a gross element. The result is that in a gross element of earth one half is earth itself and the other half is made up of the elements of water, fire, air and space in equal shares. Similarly with the other four gross elements.

In the Chhaandogya upanishad, the creation of only fire, water and earth is spoken of (Chapter 6). It is further said that these three are combined (6.3.3). In Vedaantasaara, para 101 it is said that the authoritativeness of the compounding of the five elements is indirectly supported by the description of the combination of three elements in Ch.up.6.3.3. This combination of the three elements is also referred to in Brahma suutra 2.4.22.

16. Three Bodies of the Jiiva (Individual Soul)

prakr.ti, which is made up of the three guNas, is of two kinds. When the element of sattva is pure, that is to say, not mixed with the other two, it is called Maayaa. When sattva is mixed with rajas and tamas, prakr.ti is known as avidyaa. Brahman reflected in maayaa is iis'vara, who is omniscient and the controller of maayaa. Brahman reflected in avidyaa is jiiva, or the individual soul. jiivas are many.


The jiiva has three bodies, known as the causal body or kaaraNa s'ariira, the subtle body or suukshma s'ariira or li.nga s'ariira and the gross body or sthuula s'ariira.

Causal body

The avidyaa or nescience, is what is known as the causal body or kaaraNa s'ariira. It is the cause of the transmigratory existence of the jiiva and so it is called KaaraNa or cause. Though it has no form, it is called s'ariira or body, because it is liable to destruction on the dawn of Self - knowledge. The word s'ariira means,'that which is perishable' (s'iiryate iti s'ariiram). In deep sleep the mind and the senses are dormant and nescience alone is present. The jiiva identifies himself with nescience in deep sleep. The jiiva is then known as praajna.

Subtle body

Panchadas'i.1.23 and 1.24. - - - The five organs of sense, the five organs of action, the five praaNas, mind and intellect, these seventeen together form the subtle body. In some of the Upanishads ahamkaara and chittam are also counted separately, and the number of constituents is stated as nineteen, e,g. MaaNDuukya Upanishad. When the jiiva identifies himself with this body, as in the dream state, he is known as taijasa.

Gross body

Vedaantasaara. Paras 104 to 109. The gross or physical body is produced out of the five gross elements. Gross bodies are of four kinds -- jaraayuja,or those born of the womb, aNDaja, or those born out of eggs, svedaja, or those born from moisture and udbhijja, or those which spring from the soil. The first kind are men and animals. The second kind consists of birds and reptiles. To the third kind belong creatures like lice. Plants and trees belong to the last kind.

When the jiiva identifies himself with the gross body, as in the waking state, he is known as vis'va.

17. Five Sheaths

The three bodies mentioned above are grouped in another manner to form five sheaths or Kos'as. These are -- annamayakos'a, praaNamayakos'a, manomayakos'a, vijnaanamayakos'a and aanandamayakos'a. These are described in taitt.up. Ch.2.

annamayakos'a or the Food - sheath - - - This is the same as the gross body. See Viveka chuuDaamaNi, verses 156 to 158 for a description.

praaNamayakos'a - - - The five praaNas, together with the five organs of action, form this. See Viveka chuuDaamaNi, verses 167 and 168.

manomayakos'a - - - This is made up of the mind and the five sense - organs. See Viveka chuuDaamaNi, verses 169 onwards.

vijnaanamayakos'a - - - The buddhi (intellect) and the five sense - organs constitute this. See Viveka chuuDaamaNi, verses 186 onwards.

The praaNamayakos'a, manomayakos'a and vijnaanamayakos'a together make up the subtle body.

aanandamayakos'a - - - See Viveka chuuDaamaNi, verses 209 and 210. This sheath is the modification of avidyaa and appears as a reflection of the aatmaa which is Pure Bliss. It is fully manifested in dreamless sleep. In the waking and dream states it is experienced a little due to the presence of desired objects. In Brahma suutra 1.1.12 to 19 the contention of some schools that this sheath is Brahman is refuted with detailed reasons and it is established that this sheath is also non - self. This sheath is the same as the kaaraNa s'ariira.

18. Three States

The jiiva has three states -- waking, dream and deep sleep.

Waking state

Viveka chuuDaamaNi - Verse 91. In the waking state the jiiva identifies himself with the gross body and experiences gross objects through the external organs. The jiiva is known as vis'va in this state. Brahman associated with the totality of gross bodies (the macrocosm) is called vais'vaanara or viraaT. MaaNDuukya upanishad, mantra 3 says about this state -- The first quarter ( of the Self) is vais'vaanara whose sphere is the waking state, whose consciousness relates to things external, who is possessed of seven limbs and nineteen mouths, and who experiences gross (external) objects.

Dream state

Viveka chuuDaamaNi (V.C.) Verse 100 -- This is the special state of the subtle body. In this state the buddhi shines by taking the role of the agent, with the vaasanaas (impressions) derived from the waking state. In this state the sense - organs are dormant. Under the influence of ignorance, desire and past action, the mind, possessed of the impressions of the waking state, creates objects. Br. Up.4.3.10.S.B. says - There are no chariots, nor animals to be yoked to them, nor roads there, but the jiiva creates them in this state. In this state the jiiva is known as taijasa. The corresponding macrocosm is called hiraNyagarbha. MaaNDuukya up. mantra 4 says - - taijasa is the second quarter, whose sphere is the dream state, whose consciousness is internal, who is possessed of seven limbs and nineteen mouths, and who experiences subtle objects.

Deep sleep state

V.C. Verse 122 - - - sushupti, deep, dreamless sleep, is the special state of the causal body. This state is characterized by the dissolution of the activities of all the sense - organs and the mind. The mind remains only in seed - form. This state is described in MaaND. up,mantra 5, as the state in which there are no desires and no dreams. In Vedaanta the waking state is also considered to be similar to dream, because the Reality is not known and what is unreal is projected in both these states. In deep sleep, though the Reality, Brahman, is not known, there is no appearance of what is unreal, as in the waking and dream states. In this state the jiiva is called praajna. The corresponding macrocosm is iis'vara.

In MaaND. up. Mantra 2, it is said that the Self has four quarters. The waking, dream and deep sleep are the first three quarters. The fourth, turiiya, is aatmaa unconditioned by the three states. MaaNDuukya kaarikaa, 1.14 says -- The first two are endued with dream and sleep, but the third is endued with dreamless sleep. There is neither dream nor sleep in turiiya. Here sleep means ignorance of the Reality and dream means projection of the unreal. The fourth, turiiya, is the state of samaadhi.

The self desires to go into the state of deep sleep

Br. Up. 4.3.19.S.B. - - - tadyathaa asmin aakaas'e - - - svamaatmaanam pravis'ati.

As a hawk or a falcon, flying in the sky, becomes exhausted, and stretching its wings, goes towards its nest, where it can have perfect rest, so does this infinite being run for this state, where, falling asleep it craves for nothing and sees no dream. The waking state is also considered by the s'ruti to be only dream. As the bird goes to its nest to recover from fatigue, so also does the jiiva, who is fatigued by the experiences of the waking and dream states, go to his abode, which is his own self, free from all attributes and devoid of all exertion caused by action. In this state he becomes one with the supreme Self, as the following quotation from Ch.up, shows.

Ch.up. 6.8.1.S.B. - - - tatra hi aadars'aapanayane - - - - - - - - mana aakhyaam hitvaa.

Just as the reflection of a person in a mirror appears to merge back in the person himself when the mirror is removed, so also, in deep sleep, when the mind and organs become dormant, the supreme Being who had entered the mind as a reflection attains his true nature, giving up his appearance as an individual soul, which is called the mind.

Ch. up. 6.8.1.S.B. yadaa svapiti iti uchyate - - - - - - - - - gamyate iti abhipraayaH.

When a person is in deep sleep, he becomes identified with Existence (Brahman). Having discarded his nature as an individual soul he attains his own self, his own nature, which is the ultimate Reality.

Ch.up.6.9.2. S.B. yathaayam dr.shTaantaH - - - - - - - -

All these creatures, after merging in Existence day after day during deep sleep do not know that they had so merged.

Ch.up.6.9.3. S.B. yasmaat cha evam aatmanaH - - - - - - - vaasanaa saa na nas'yati ityarthah.

Since they merge in Existence without knowing that it is their own nature, they wake up again as the same beings as before. Their vaasanaas do not get destroyed. (The implication is that the vaasanaas continue and they are born again and again in accordance with them, as long as they do not realize that they are in reality Brahman).

Br.up.4.3.15.S.B. tatra charitvaa iti - - - - -

'Roaming' in that state of dream and becoming fatigued, and thereafter going to the state of deep sleep, he comes back to the dream state and then to the waking state.

Br.up.4.3.17.S.B. na, kaarakaavabhaasatvena - - - - - - na lipyate kriyaaphalena.

No. The self does not do anything even in the waking state. Its being looked upon as an agent is merely attributable to its revealing the actions (performed by the body). Agency is attributed to the self because of the limiting adjuncts such as the body and is not natural to it. See V.C. verse 131 -- Because of whose mere presence, the body, sense - organs, mind and intellect perform their functions as if prompted (by it).

Br.up.4.3.18.S.B - - - evam ayam purushaH aatmaa - - - - - - - vilakshaNaH. - - Thus it has been brought out in the preceding paragraphs that the self is itself the light and is different from the body and organs as well as their causes, desire and action and is not attached to them. We know that it is not attached, because it moves from the waking to the dream state and then to the state of deep sleep and again back to the dream and then the waking state, proving that it is distinct from all these three states. To explain this further, an illustration is given here. Just as a big fish in a river moves freely from one bank to the other, never affected by the currents of the river, so does this infinite being move to both the states of dream and waking. The point of this illustration is that the body and organs, which are described as forms of death, together with their causes, desire and action, are the attributes of the non - self and that the self is distinct from them.

Br.up.4.3.6.S.B - - - sushuptaat cha utthaanam - - - We awake from deep sleep with the remembrance that we slept happily and knew nothing.

Br.up.4.3.21.S.B - - - sa yadi aatmaa avinashTah - - - - - - - duHkhii veti veda. - - - - - A doubt may arise -- If the self remains unaffected and in its own form during deep sleep, why does it not know itself then or know all other things, as it does in the waking and dream states? The reason is unity. This is explained by the s'ruti with an illustration. As a man, when fully embraced by his beloved wife, both desiring each other's company, does not know anything at all, either external, such as 'This is something other than myself', or internal, such as 'I am happy or unhappy', but he knows everything external and internal when he is not embraced by her and is separated, so also, this infinite being, the individual self, who is separated from the supreme Self (in the waking and dream states) because of having entered the body and organs, like the reflection of the moon in water, becomes unified with the supreme Self in deep sleep and does not know anything external or internal, such as 'I am happy or unhappy'.

Br.up.4.3.22.S.B. - - - atra cha etat prakr.tam - - - - - - - - "In this state a father is no father, a mother is no mother, worlds are no worlds, the gods are no gods, the Vedas are no Vedas. In this state a thief is no thief, the killer of a noble braahmaNa is no killer, and so on".

The form of the self that is directly perceived in the state of deep sleep is free from ignorance, desire and action. The s'ruti says that in this state a father is no father. His fatherhood towards a son is on account of the action of begetting. Since he is dissociated from all action in the state of deep sleep he is not a father then. Similarly, the son ceases to be a son in the state of deep sleep. All other relationships also cease to apply in this state.

Br.up.4.3.23.S.B. - - - striipumsayoriva ekatvaat - - - - drashTr.bhaavinii hi saa. - - - It was said that the self does not experience anything during deep sleep because of unity and this was illustrated by the example of a couple. It was also said that the self is pure consciousness. Now the doubt arises -- if consciousness is the very nature of the self, just as heat is of fire, how can it give up that nature even in sleep and fail to see anything? The answer is - the reason for its not seeing anything in sleep is that there is then no second thing separate from it which it can see. What caused the particular vision in the waking and dream states, namely, the mind, the eyes and forms, were all presented by nescience as something different from the self. They are all unified in the state of deep sleep. The organs and objects are not there as separate entities in sleep. There is therefore no particular experience, for such experience is produced by the organs and objects and not by the self, and only appear as produced by the self. But the vision of the self can never be lost.

Br.up.4.3.32.S.B. - - - yatra punaH saa avidyaa - - - - - - s'rutivachanametat.

When, however, that ignorance which projects things other than the self is at rest, in the state of deep sleep, what can one see, smell, or know and through what? Then, being fully embraced by the self - luminous supreme Self, the jiiva becomes infinite, perfectly serene, with all his desires attained. Then there is no second entity different from the self to be seen. In deep sleep the self, freed of its limiting adjuncts, remains in its own supreme light, free from all relationships.

Br.up.4.3.32.S.B. - - - etasyaiva aanandasya anyaani - - - - - - vibhaavyamaanaam. - - - On a particle of this very bliss, projected by ignorance, and perceived only during the contact of the organs with objects, all other beings are sustained. Who are they? Those who have been separated from that bliss by nescience and consider themselves as different from Brahman. Being thus different, they subsist on a fraction of that bliss which is experienced through the contact of the sense - organs with their objects. (It follows from this that when one realizes one's identity with Brahman one enjoys this bliss in its plenitude, nay, one becomes that very bliss itself).

In Panchadas'i, ch.15, the process by which one experiences happiness in the waking state is explained. Any happiness experienced by any person is really nothing but the bliss of Brahman. As long as there is some unfulfilled desire, the mind remains agitated. When the desire is fulfilled the mind becomes temporarily calm and sattvaguNa becomes predominant. In such a mind the bliss of the self becomes reflected clearly, The happiness experienced is therefore the result of the mind having become calm, but it is wrongly attributed by people to the fulfillment of the desire. When the mind is free from all desire, when there is total detachment, the bliss of the self is experienced in its fullness. So it is said in Panchadas'I,15.18 that the greatest happiness results only from detachment.

MaND.up.5.S.B. - - - manasaH vishayavishayyaakaara - - - - - -

He is full of joy (in the state of deep sleep), his abundance of joy being caused by the absence of the suffering involved in the effort of the mind in experiencing objects; but he is not Bliss itself, since the joy is not absolute.

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