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                    35.6  THE LIGHT OF ALL LIGHTS  - 6

              (Summary of Br. U. (4.3.6. 4.3.7. etc.) Bhashya by Adi Shankara)

Now we shall take  some more  important lines from 4.3.9 of Br. U.:


Sa yatra svapiti, asya lokasya sarvAvato mAtrAmapAdAya svayam vihatya, svayam nirmAya, svena bhAsA, svena jyotishhA prasvapiti; atra ayam purushhaH svayam jyotir-bhavati.


When he dreams, he takes away a little of (the impressions of) this all-embracing world (the waking state), himself puts the body aside and himself creates (a dream body in its place), revealing his own lustre by his own light – and dreams. In this state the man himself becomes the light.


In the waking state, the jIvAtmA is associated with  a five-fold set of factors to prompt/help/monitor/influence all its actions.  These five are


  • Sense organs

  • Sense objects

  • The devatAs presiding over the karaNas

  • Sensory experience

  • vAsanAs or samskAras


But when one passes from the waking state to the dream state, the first four above are left aside, and the jIvatmA carries only the vAsanAs into the dream state.


In this 9th mantra the Upanishad introduces three sthAnams (fields of experience) for the jIvAtmA, but these three are not the usual waking, dreaming and sleeping states. The mantra calls the first sthAnaM the iha-loka-sthAnaM (meaning the state in which we experience  this world) and the third one the para-loka-sthAnaM (meaning the state in which we experience  the other world); and then it says there is an intermediary sthAnaM (named the ‘sandhya-sthAnaM’), which the Upanishad identifies itself as the svapna-sthAnaM (Dream state). In this state, the Upanishad says one dreams glimpses of his waking state experience (this is the iha-loka-sthAnaM experience) and as one grows old one may dream some glimpses of his future life (this is the para-loka-sthAnam), because as one nears the end of this life, the vAsanAs that are supposed to sprout  as prArabdha in the next janma may project (not always, not consistently) their sprouts in one’s dreams purely by the power of dharmaadharma according to karma!  So everything in the dream is a mano-vRtti-pariNAma.


This internal world of the dream state is illumined by the sAkshI without the help of any external light or instrument. And the text says: atra ayam purushhaH svayam jyotir-bhavati meaning, In this state the man himself becomes the light. Shankaracharya himself raises the question: Why did the Upanishad say that the Atman is self-effulgent in  svapna-sthAna ? Why the use of the word ‘atra’ (= here) ?  Does it mean there is no self-effulgence in the other sthAnas? No, answers Shankara himself. Atman is self effulgent at all times and in all situations.  But Atman’s self-effulgence is recognisable particularly in dreams, not in the waking state or in the sleeping state.


During the waking state, the Atman is illumining the mind. So the Atman is the subject and mind is the object. But simultaneously the mind is illumining the world; so mind is the subject (with respect to the world) and the world is the object.  Mind illumines the world requiring external lights. The Atman illumines the mind without requiring external light. Any way,  two illuminators are functioning during the waking state. Since two illuminators are functioning we are not able to distinctly understand the Atma as illuminator  (of the mind) separately from the mind as illuminator (of the world).


In sushupti avasthA we are not able to recognise or discuss the Atman as illuminator, because there are no particular objects to be illumined.


In dream we have the ideal situation.  The Atman continues its function as illuminator and it is the only illuminator.  If mind is functioning as illuminator external world would have been present. So it is clear that mind is not the illuminator now and Atman is the sole illuminator. Thus in svapna mind plays only one role namely that which is illumined. That is why the Upanishad says ‘atra’, in this state, the Atman is self-effulgent! The illumined mind becomes now the dream-world, which is nothing but modifications of VAsanA-vRttis of the mind. The modifications take place only in the mind and so mind is the locus of the dream. In other words, dream is a phenomenon occurring in the mind.  And who is the dreamer? It is the mind, because it is that which recollects the dream when the jIva passes to the waking state. If the dream-tiger chases the dream-body, the dreamer-mind  outwits it by making the dream-person dream-climb a dream-tree!  The Atman is only the witness, sAkshI.


Then waking is also a phenomenon, another type of modification of thought, also occurring only in the mind and not in sAkshI.  Therefore mind is the locus of the waking phenomenon.  So Mind alone is the waker.


Sleep also is another modification of the mind. It is also located in the mind.  So Mind is the locus of the phenomenon of sleeping .  Mind alone is the sleeper.


When we say ‘I slept’, ‘I dreamt’, ‘I am awake’, it is ‘I’, the mind,  who is the sleeper, waker and dreamer. Even in the waking state when we say ‘I see a pot’, the ‘I’ refers to the mind only in which the seeing, hearing phenomenon take place as a vRtti.

                                                                CONTINUED AND CONCLUDED IN 35.7

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