[Advaita-l] Ishwara Turiya?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Mar 13 17:35:30 CDT 2012

> As far as I see, BG 8.18 refers to the states of Avyakta and Hiranyagarbha,
> not Ishwara, who is beyond these states.

And pray, who or what are avyakta and hiraNyagarbha, if they are not figurative
states ascribed to ISvara/brahman?

There is a reason why the SAnkara bhAshya says "brahmaNaH svApakAla"
and "brahmaNaH prabodhakAla". I would encourage you to read the bhAshya
on all of gItA chapter 8 in some detail, because it is based on a meditation on
the auMkAra, but focusing on the saguNa brahman. This is closely allied to
what is described in praSnopanishad also and is explicitly described in the
bhAshya as an upAsana leading to krama-mukti.

There are too many correspondences to list here, but if you are serious about
understading how Sankara talks of ISvara, you have to take the time and effort
to understand why he always ties saguNopAsana to krama mukti and why he
distinguishes it from sadyomukti. You will find much needed references in the
gItAbhAshya in chapter 8 itself. If I may make a friendly suggestion, master
that first before touching turIya in mANDUkya.
> > Where is ISa here? Are you thinking of the word Siva in the above
> sentence as
> > referring to ISa? If yes, I suggest you study the kArikA bhAshya on this
> properly.
> I am referring to the following:
> "Mandukya Upanishad Verse VII:
> VII: Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world,
> nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which
> is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not
> simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived,
> unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable.
> The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three
> states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss
> and non—dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman
> and this has to be realized.
> 10 Turiya, the changeless Ruler, is capable of destroying all miseries. All
> other entities being unreal, the non—dual Turiya alone is known as
> effulgent and all—pervading."

The verse you are talking of is "nivRttes sarva-duHkhAnAm ISAnaH prabhur
avyayaH | advaitas sarvabhAvAnAM devas turyo vibhus smRtaH ||"
For someone who talks of the importance of textual references, you should be
more careful with verse numbering. The above verse is not kArikA 7, but the
10th kArikA in the first chapter. It is usually found after the 7th sentence of the
mANDUkya upanishat. Please pay attention to the numbering of the kArikAs,
which is different from the numbering of the mANDUkya vAkya-s. Also note
that turya in this verse is just another form of the commonly found turIya.
I also think you should move on from other people's translations to the Sanskrit
originals. In particular, with all due respect to whichever translator you quote
above, the English construction, "all other entities being unreal, the non-dual
turIya," is not what is conveyed by the Sanskrit words "advaitas sarvabhAvAnAM
devas turyaH" here. Rather, the verse intends that the turIya is remembered
(smRtaH) as deva = effulgent and vibhu = all-pervading, because it is the never
changing (avyaya), non-dual (advaita) common base of all experiences (sarva-

In these verses, gauDapAda has not yet built the case for questioning the reality
of the bhAva-s in which the non-dual fourth is always present. That comes only
later in the kArikA-s. If you don't pay close attention to this, you will never come
to appreciate what gauDapAdAcArya says about the "experience" of the fourth,
in the rest of his kArikA-s. And if you don't appreciate that, you will never be
able to understand what post-gauDapAda writers, Sankara downwards, mean
when they use the word turIya.
Finally, please see what the corresponding SAnkara-bhAshya has to say about
ISAna in this verse. It has nothing to do with actual "ruler"ship over a creation,
as you would normally understand ISvara/ISa/ISAna. And it has much less to
do with a supposed "body" of ISvara/brahman. If at all Sankara bhagavatpAda
would have wanted to say that ISvara with an aprAkRta "body" IS turIya, this
kArikA would have been the best place to say so. But he does not. Instead, he
brings out gauDapAda's intention perfectly, by relating ISAna to prabhu, avyaya
and duHkha-nivRtti. I will leave it as an exercise for you to find out the exact
details of what he does say, why and to figure out what its implications are. 
> > ps. In some of your other recent posts, it seems as if you want to
> particularly
> > differentiate between guNa and viSesha in some way. What exactly is your
> > idea of guNa and how is it different from your idea of visesha?
> A person is lazy and unclean. We say he is tamasic. The adjectives, lazy
> and unclean are viseshas. The generalised cause tamas is guna. For samsara
> and panchabautika loka, trigunatmika apara maya is the cause. For viseshas
> such as Rama, Krishna, Linga etc., Paramaya, non-different from Ishwara,is
> the cause. I am not referring to the panchabautika bimbo created by us of
> Rama, Krishna etc., but to His avirbhava manifestation by His sankalpa.

Your viSesha understanding of the term viSesha is not what is meant by the
usage of viSesha when Sankara bhagavatpAda (or any other advaitin) says
"nirviSesha brahman". For all practical purposes in advaita works, nirguNa,
nirviSesha and nirupAdhika are more or less interchangeable in usage.

Note also that the word guNa in these works is not limited to the sattva-raja-
tamo guNa-s of mAyA/prakRti. In the most general usage, guNa simply means
attribute, nothing more and nothing less. In other contexts, guNa is contrasted
from dosha and has a positive connotation to it, e.g. amAnitvAdi guNa-s in the
kshetra-kshetrajna yoga chapter of gItA. In yet other contexts, guNa only means
the particular qualities of each of the elements, e.g. tataH panca-mahAbhUta-
guNa-viSishTA pRthivI in upadeSasAhasrI. I deliberately picked this example
to showcase how viSishTa, an adjectival form allied with the noun viSesha, is
used right next to the word guNa by Sankara bhagavatpAda. Unless you take
into account the context in which these terms are used, you will only end up
confusing yourself.
In response to another member, you wrote:
>> 2. I did not come across "turiya" as an "avastha" anywhere, can you give
>>me any references to that effect? I do not understand what you mean by
>>being "in Turiya"?
>It was used by Sri Vidyasankar. Turiya is what is used by Gaudapada and
>Sankara. But turiyAvatha is figuratively right. It is the akhandakara vrtti
>of a jnani.
Please see gauDapAda kArikA-s, chapter 1, multiple verses from #11 onwards,
where the ekavacana saptamI vibhakti form, "turye", is used. Note, the bhAshya
on these verses explicitly uses the form "turIye". Finally, note that the English
"in turIya" is nothing more than a literal translation of the ekavacana saptamI
Sanskrit form turye/turIye.

I will leave this thread with this response. If you are to make sense of the ISvara-
turIya conundrum you have created for yourself, you need to grasp the meaning
and intent of the mANDUkya kArika-s first. The correct understanding of the kArikA
verses and their bhAshya is something you have to accomplish on your own. My
well-intentioned advice (perhaps a wholly unwelcome one at this stage) is for you
to go preferably to the original Sanskrit. If you need to rely on a translation, please
consult at least two or three different translations and try to make sense of them.

ps. Please turn off the spell-checker / auto-correct feature when you type. I think
you meant to write panchabhautika bimba, not bimbo. :-)

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