[Advaita-l] Is this reading of the mAndukya upanishad correct one?

br_vinayaka vinayaka_ns at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 18 10:05:08 CDT 2007

Dear Advaitins,

I invite the members of this group to comment on the
following observation which I am quoting below taken
from an old book which is no more in print, God
Realization Through Reason.
Strangely, I feel that it is strictly written
according to our anubhava of the sushupti state. Hope
to get new insights on this excerpt from the other

Yours in Sri rAmakrishna,

Br. Vinayaka.

"This is the only Upanishad in which a distinction is
made between the Atman of deep sleep and the Atman of
the state of truth-realization(Upanishads which
shanakra has commented. Some minor Upanishads have
reference to turIya and turIyAtita also). The former
is called prAjna and the latter turIya. turIya other
than the Atman of the deep sleep is the philosophical
superfluity. This will now be borne out by an
examination of the definition of turIya as given in
the Upanishad. The turIya is said to be ‘That which is
not conscious of the internal world nor of the
external world, nor that which is conscious of both,
nor that which is a mass of sentiency, nor that which
is simple consciousness, nor that which is insentient.
It is unseen by any sense organ, nor related to
anything, incomprehensible by the mind, uninferable,
unthinkable, indestructible, essence of the nature of
consciousness constituting the self alone, the
negation of all phenomena, the peaceful, all blissful
and the non-dual. This is known as the fourth, turIya.
This is the Atman and it has to be realized’. (mA,
U.I.7). Now, is there a single term in this definition
of turIya, which is not applicable to the self in deep
sleep? We find there is not. Therefore, the so-called
turIya is none other than samprasAda. We are confirmed
in this view by a key sentence of shankara in the
commentary on the gaudapAda kArika, 1.2, where the
self of deep sleep is sought to be identified with the
turIya which is defined later. “That is designated as
prAjna(when it is viewed as the cause of the
phenomenal world) will be described as turIya
separately when it is not viewed as the cause and when
it is free from all phenomenal relationship such as
that of the body etc. in its absolutely real aspect”.
The identity of the turIya with samprasAda is,
therefore, quite clear. What remains for us is to
explain the introduction of the additional concept,
prAjna. It is necessary to see if the terms applied to
prAjna are verified by experience. That it is desire
less does tally with our experience; that it is free
from dream is also according to experience. But that
it is mass of sentiency in the sense of experience of
the jAgrat and the svapna all dumped together is not
borne out by experience. Therefore, shankara is very
careful to say, ata eva svapnajAgranmanaspandanAni
prajnAnAni ghanIbhUtani iva. The word ‘iva’(as if) is
very significant as showing that it is wrongly viewed
as prajnAnaghana. And discrimination in that state,
se’yam avashA avivekarUpatvAt prajnAnaghanam ucyate.
The description of prAjna as a mass of sentiency is
not, therefore, a description of the experience of
suhupti as such, but our view of it before sufficient
analysis. This is again supported by the other terms
applied to the experience of sushupti such as
sarveshvara, sarvajna, antaryAmin etc., for who has
ever experienced in deep sleep that he is the ruler of
the universe, or is the inner controller of the jivas
and the jagat, or is the all-knowing being, knowing
the past, present and future of all created entities
in the universe or that he is the origin and the
dissolution of all beings? It is quite clear
therefore, these attributes are heaped on the innocent
Atman of deep sleep, rather than experienced. It is a
theological attempt to find a place for a personal god
of the faithful in a philosophical system, but wrongly
placed in sushupti state. The mystics of all religions
have experienced the presence of an all powerful, all
knowing, creating, destroying sentient being in their
heightened mystic states., in savikalpa samAdhi. Such
state would have been the appropriate place for
assigning the experience of the personal god. The true
explanation, therefore, for thrusting the experience
of ishvara into the metaphysics of avasthatraya is
that it is only theological device to give a
philosophical appearance to the concept of personal
god. But experience flatly refuses to certify the
identification of the self of deep sleep with personal

With regard to the concept of prAjna as the state of
bIja, or as the potential state of future creation, it
is significant to remember that the concept of
causality applied to it is only in the sense that
there is no realization of truth in that state. 

This is due to absence of antahkaraNa, the instrument
with which the truth has to be realized. There is not,
therefore, a second positive entity other than the
Atman, which exists potentially as cause of the
bondage. The absence of tattvagrahana in sushupti,
therefore, does not in any way justify our conception
of turIya as different from the self of the state of
jnAna where tattvagrahana and anyathAgrahana is
equally absent. The Atman of deep sleep is therefore,
not more or less related to the world of waking or
dream than the turIya. That it is free from avidyA we
have already seen. For these reasons, our view that
the turIya as the Atman of the state of truth
realization can be put within the waking state is
justified. It may, therefore, be rejected as an entity
experienced in any state other than avasthatrayas. All
the other Upanishad which shankara has commented do
not at all make any reference to this turIya; and
their concept of samprasAda is the same as the turIya
of the mAndukya Upanishad."

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