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Experiences of the Four Stages

by Swami Sivananda

JAGRAT is the waking state in which man enjoys the five gross objects of senses as sound, etc., through the five organs of knowledge, viz., ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose. He is conscious of the world. He has externalised consciousness (Bahih Prajna). Jiva is called Visva in this state.

Svapana is the dreaming state in which man enjoys the five objects of sense through Vasanas or impressions created in his waking state. The body and all senses are at rest and the mind alone works. Mind itself is the subject and the object. It creates all dream-pictures. Jiva is called Taijasa in this state. There is Antah-prajna (internal consciousness). The scriptures say When he falls asleep there are no chariots in that state, no horse and roads, but he himself creates chariots, horses and roads. (Brihad. Upa. IV-3-9-10.).

In deep sleep state or Sushupti all senses and the mind are at rest. The mind is involved into its cause, the Karana Sarira. The Jiva is called Prajna in this state. The Anandamaya Kosha is functioning. There is a veil between the Jiva and Brahman.

A king gets into his car and moves about in the city. This corresponds to Jiva's wandering in the world in the wakeful state. He returns back and enters his palace. This corresponds to the dreaming state. He enters his bed-room at night. This corresponds to the deep-sleep state.

Mind is not a heavy thing. It is like a light diffusible gas or vapour or fume. When a scented stick is burnt the fumes pervade the whole room in a minute. Even so, the mind pervades the whole brain as soon as it emerges out from the causal body from deep sleep.

If you put a grain of musk or potassium permanganate in a very large basin of water, it gets itself diffused in the whole water. Even so, the mind gets itself diffused in the brain.
Karana Sarira is like a small seed which contains the whole tree within itself. It is otherwise known by the name, 'seed-body'. The whole physical body, mind, Prana, senses, etc., have come out of this seed body.

During meditation the aspirant enters into a half sleepy state. This is called Tandri. He begins to doubt whether he was meditating or sleeping. If one is really meditating his body will be light and his mind will be cheerful. If he is sleeping the body will be heavy, the mind dull and the eye lids heavy.

In swoon there is half of deep-sleep as it is different from the other three states, viz., waking, dreaming and deep-sleep states. A man in a swoon does not perceive any object. The body of a swooning person falls down on the ground. Therefore a man in swoon is not awake. He is not dreaming as he is totally unconscious. Is he dead? No, he is alive as he has life and warmth. He continues to breathe. Swoon is not deep-sleep. The body of a man is swoon trembles and his face is dreadful. His eyes are starring and wide open. But a man who is sleeping looks calm and peaceful. His eyes are closed. His body does not tremble. A sleeping man may be awakened by a slight touch with the hand or by calling him by his name; whereas a man in swoon cannot be awakened even by a blow with a stick. Swoon is caused by a blow on the head with a stick or some such causes, while sleep is due to weariness or fatigue.

Swoon is only half sleep. You should not mean by this that man in swoon half enjoys Brahman or that the soul becomes half-united with Brahman.

The state of swoon partly resembles sleep. The senselessness belongs with one half to the side of deep-sleep and with the other half to the side of death. It is the door to death. If there is a remnant of Karma he comes back to consciousness; if no work remains he dies. The mind is swoon neither rests in Karana Sarira nor in the Hita Nadi in the throat. It is in a state of stupefaction. It is in a state of being stunned. It takes its rest in a place midway between Hita Naid and Karana Sarira.

When one is under chloroform anaesthesia the activity of the cells of the brain is inhibited by the effect of chloroform. The mind which has its seat in the brain during waking consciousness now rests in a place midway between the throat and the heart and so one has no feeling of pain even when his leg is amputated. Man feels pain only when the mind is connected with the body. When one is under chloroform the mind is disconnected from the physical body.

The slight interval or Sandhi between deep-sleep state and the waking state is called Tushnim Bhuta Avastha or state of quiescence of mind. Similarly there is an interval or Sandhi between the waking state and the deep-sleep state. In the former Sandhi the mind is coming out with the experience or Rasa of deep-sleep; in the later Sandhi it is going into the recesses of the heart with the experience or Rasa of the worldly objects. In these two Sandhis the mind is free from Sankalpas and attraction or repulsion. The Scriptures say:

Suptaprabodhayoh Sandhavatmano gatimatmadrik,
Pasyanbandhamcha moksham cha mayamatram na vastutah.

The seeker after Atma Tattva should see it at the junction between the waking and sleep state. He should see that bondage and liberation is only due to delusion of Maya of the individual and not a reality. (Bhagavatam, VII. 13, 5).

The Self is covered by Avarana during sleep and by Vikshepa during waking state. That which is above Avarana and Vikshepa is the Atman. The Yoga Shastra says:

Nidradau jagarasyante yo bhava upajayate,
Tam bhavam bhavayan Nityam muchyate netaroyathi.

A Yati (anchorite) should always meditate on the Bhav which is experienced just before sleep and at the termination of the waking state by which only he is freed and by none else.

This is only a prop or Alambana to get at the real Nissankalpa or Nirdvandva state.

Sometimes during waking state also the mind passes into a state of quietude for a very short time and it is free from Sankalpa and the two currents of love and hate. In this state, the Prajna or consciousness is internal (Antah-prajna). It is not untied with the mental Vrittis.

A desire arises in the mind. It is gratified. Another desire arises. In the interval between two desires there is perfect stillness of mind. The mind is free from Sankalpa and love and hate during this interval. There is perfect peace during the interval or Sandhi between two Vrittis of the mind also.

The scientist draws his conclusions from his observations and experiences of the wakeful state only. Hence they are not correct. True experiences include the experiences of the three states, viz., waking, dreaming and deep-sleep states. The Vedantin studies the three states. He gains more real knowledge from the deep-sleep state. He gets a clue for the existence of the fourth state or the state of Turiya from a study of the deep-sleep state.

Turiya or the fourth state transcends the above three states. The sage who has controlled the mind and the senses, who is above body-consciousness, and the three Guans, who is identifying himself with the Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman is in the enjoyment of this blissful or super-conscious state. This is the transcendental state of Moksha or final beatitude.

As there is no language to describe Brahman or the Self to aspirants, sages, generally compare the quietude of the various states previously described, to Brahman just as Akasa is compared to Brahman. They take examples from the worldly experiences to explain the nature of Brahman to the aspirants.

Marvellous is this universe! Most wonderful is this world! Each star brings a message from the Lord, the message of His self-luminous nature. Each flower brings a message from the Lord, the message that He is the Beauty of beauties. Each creature that moves and breathes in this earth brings a message from the Lord, the message that He is the source of life. He is existence absolute, in Him all beings live and move and have their very being. Ether brings the message that He is all-pervading, air brings the message that He is omnipotent, fire brings the message that He is the Light of lights, water brings the message that He is all-purity, earth brings the message that He supports everything. Have a vision of the Infinite in nature. Behold the Self everywhere!

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