The Prashna Upanishad with Shankara’s Commentary
अत्रैष देवः स्वप्ने महिमानमनुभवति । यद्दृष्टं दृष्टमनुपश्यति श्रुतं श्रुतमेवार्थमनुशृणोति देशदिगन्तरैश्च प्रत्यनुभूतं पुनः पुनः प्रत्यनुभवति दृष्टं चादृष्टंच श्रुतं चाश्रुतं चानुभूतं चाननुभूतं च स्च्चासच्च सर्वं पश्यति सर्वः पस्यति ॥ ५ ॥
atraiṣa devaḥ svapne mahimānamanubhavati | yaddṛṣṭaṃ dṛṣṭamanupaśyati śrutaṃ śrutamevārthamanuśṛṇoti deśadigantaraiśca pratyanubhūtaṃ punaḥ punaḥ pratyanubhavati dṛṣṭaṃ cādṛṣṭaṃca śrutaṃ cāśrutaṃ cānubhūtaṃ cānanubhūtaṃ ca sccāsacca sarvaṃ paśyati sarvaḥ pasyati || 5 ||
5. In this state, this Dêvâ (mind) undergoes a variety of changes, sees again what it has seen, hears again whatever was heard, experiences again what it had experienced in different lands, and directions. What was seen and not seen, heard and not heard, experienced and not experienced, existent and non-existent, it sees; being all, it sees.
Com.—Thus, of the knower, from the time of the cessation of the activity of the ear to the time of his waking from sleep, till then he enjoys all the fruits of a sacrifice and not misery, as in the case of the ignorant. Thus, being a knower, is eulogised. For, it is not, alone, in the case of the knower, that the ear, etc., cease from activity, or the Prâna-fires keep watch, or the mind being free in the waking and dreaming conditions merges in the condition of sleep every day. It is well known that all living creatures pass through the waking, dreaming and sleeping conditions by turns. Therefore, this context must be regarded as praising the state of a knower (and not as laying down any rules). As regards the question, which of the dêvâs sees, dreams, he replies: ‘When the ear, etc., cease activity’ and prâna and other airs keep watch for the support of the body before reaching the condition of sleep, during this interim, this dêvâ (mind) with the ear and other senses absorbed in it, like rays of the sun sees in dreams his own greatness, i.e., assumes diverse forms in the nature of subject and object. It may be urged that the mind is only the instrument of the enjoyer, i.e., the Âtman is enjoying the various forms and that it cannot be said to enjoy independently; for, it is the Âtman that is independent. This is no fault; for, the independence of the Âtman is due to its conditioning mind; for, the Âtman does not really in its own nature dream or wake. It has been said in the Vâjasanêyakôpanishad that its waking and dreaming are caused by its condition, mind. Combined with mind and becoming a dream, it seems to think and to move, etc. Therefore, the statement that the mind is independent in enjoying diverse forms is only logical.
Some say that the selfluminosity of the Âtman will be marred during dreams owing to its combination with the condition, mind. That is not so. This false notion of theirs is caused by their ignorance of the drift of the srutis; because even all the talk that the Âtman is self-luminous, which endures only till emancipation, is produced by conditions such as mind and is within the pale of ignorance. Where there is something like another, then one sees something distinct from himself; of him there is no connexion with what is visible according to the sruti ‘ but where all becomes the Âtman alone, there who could be seen by whom, etc.?’ Therefore, this doubt arises only in those who know only the lower Brahman and not in those who know the one Âtman. It may be urged that, if this be so, then the distinction in ‘here, i.e., in dreams, this Purusha is self-luminous’ will become meaningless. It is here replied that what is stated is very little. The self-luminosity of the Âtman, enclosed in the cavity of the heart, according to the text ‘he who sleeps in the âkâsa, within the cavity of the heart, will be marred in a greater degree. If it be urged that though this is really a fault, still that half the burden, i.e., half the obstacle will be removed in the matter of the selfluminosity of the Âtman by assuming the absence of mind during dreams. This is not sound; for, even on that supposition, from the sruti, ‘ he sleeps in the nerve called, Purîtati,’ the notion of removing half the hindrance, in the matter of self-luminosity of the Âtman, is certainly false; because, even in sleep, the Âtman rests in the nerve called ‘Purîtati.’ How then is it said, ‘here, this Purusha is self-luminous.’ If it be said that as that sruti is found in another branch of the Vêdâs, it is not in point here, that is unsound; for, it is admitted that the purport of the srutis must be identical; and one Âtman being the subject of all Vêdântâs is desired to be taught and to be known. Therefore, it is right that the appropriateness of the assertion that the Âtman is self-luminous in dreams should be explained. Because, srutis serve to reveal the real truth. If this be so, hear the purport of the sruti, abandoning all conceit. Not by all who think themselves learned, could the drift of the srutis be known, even in a hundred years, by mere conceit.
Just as the self-luminosity of the Âtman is not affected in sleep, because it is possible to represent him as distinguished from the âkâs of the heart, and the purîtati nerve where he sleeps, because he is not connected with them; so, the self-luminosity of the Atman, as distinct from the visible reminiscences of the observer, who is different from all effects and instruments and who sees, on account of ignorance, as separate objects, the reminiscences, which, as the result of karma, are left in the mind full of tendencies due to ignorance, desire and karma, cannot be marred even by the proudest logician. Therefore, it is properly said that when all the senses are absorbed in the mind and when the mind is not absorbed, the Âtman, as manômaya, sees dreams. How it realizes a diversity of experiences is explained. Whatever has been seen, such as friend, son, etc., the mind influenced by unconscious impressions thinks from ignorance that it sees the son, the friend, etc., produced from such impressions. Similarly, it seems to hear what has been heard, owing to such impressions; and from ignorance, it seems to experience what it has experienced in different lands and directions. Similaily, what was seen in this birth and what was not seen, i.e., what was seen in previous births; for, there can be no unconscious impressions of what was never seen; similarly, what was heard and not heard, and what was experienced in this birth by the mind alone, and what was not experienced, i.e., what was not experienced by mind alone in previous births what is existent such as real water and what is non-existent such as waters of the mirage; in short, sees all said and not said; being all, i.e., being conditioned by all the unconscious impressions of the mind, sees all. Thus, the mind, being in itself all the senses, sees dreams.