The Taittiriya Upanishad

1903 | 206,351 words | ISBN-10: 8185208115

The Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the older, "primary" Upanishads, part of the Yajur Veda. It says that the highest goal is to know the Brahman, for that is truth. It is divided into three sections, 1) the Siksha Valli, 2) the Brahmananda Valli and 3) the Bhrigu Valli. 1) The Siksha Valli deals with the discipline of Shiksha (which is ...

Chapter VI - States of Consciousness

The objects seen in svapna are unreal.
(Vedānta-sūtras, III. ii. i—6)

(Question):—Is the creation of objects in dream real or unreal?

(Prima facie view):—The śruti speaks of the creation in dream (svapna) of carriages and other things, in the words “he himself creates chariots, horses, and roads.”[1] This creation must therefore be real so far as our ordinary expe rience goes, like the creation of ākāśa, &c. We do not find any distinction between tbe waking state and the dream state, since the act of eating and the like occurring in the latter serve alike the actual purposes of appeasing hunger, &c. So we hold that the creation in question is as real as the creation of ākāśa, both being alike the acts of Īśvara.

(Conclusion):—The dream-creation must be false, as there are no appropriate time and place. Certainly, within the nāḍīs which are very narrow like the thousandth part of the hair, there is no sufficient room for mountains, rivers, oceans and the like; and in the case of one who goes to sleep at midnight, there is no appropriate time for the occurrence of a solar eclipse. Neither are there, in the case of a boy who has not undergone the ceremony of upanayana, occasions for exultation at the birth of a son. Moreover, the objects seen in dream prove false in dream itself. The object perceived to be a tree at one moment comes at the next moment to be regarded as a mountain. As to the allegation that dream-creation is taught in the śruti, it may be seen that the śruti speaks of the creation as fictitious:

“There are no (real) chariots in this state, no horses, no roads, but he himself creates chariots, horses and roads.”[2]

Therefore the śruti means that the cars, &c., which in reality are non-existent, are mere illusory appearances like silver in the mother-of-pearl. As to its similarity with the jāgrat state adduced above, even that is not of much avail here, inasmuch as we have pointed out points of disparity— such as want of appropriate time and place—which preponderate over those of similarity. It has been also alleged that dream-objects are created by Īśvara; but this is untenable, for, in the words “The man that wakes when others sleep, dispensing all desires,”[3] the śruti also teaches that it is jīva who is the creator of the objects of dream-consciousness. Therefore the dream-creation is illusory.


Where jīva lies in suṣupti.
(Vedānta-sūtras, III. ii. 7 — 8.)

(Question):—Regarding the suṣupti state, the śruti says:

“Then he has entered into these nāḍīs.”[4]

“Through them he moves forth and rests in the purītat”[5]

“He lies in the Ākāśa which is in the heart.”[6]

In these passages the śruti declares that in suṣupti jīva lies in the nāḍīs, in the purītat, and also in Brahman, here designated as Ākāśa. The question is, Is it separately or conjointly that these places—the nādīs, &c.,—constitute the seat of jīva in suṣupti?

(Prima facie view):—They constitute the seat of jīva separately, each by itself, inasmuch as all of them severally serve the one purpose in view. When the śruti says “let a man sacrifice either with rice or with barley,” we understand that two alternatives are meant by the śruti, inasmuch as either one of them serves the one purpose of furnishing the sacrificial oblation. So also, the purpose to be served here being one and the same, namely, suṣupti, we should understand that three alternatives are meant here by the śruti; that jīva attains suṣupti in the nāḍis at one time, in the purītat at another time, and in Brahman at yet another time.

(Conclusion):—We do not admit that they all severally serve one and the same purpose; for it is easy to shew that they serve distinct purposes. Now the nāḍīs serve as the paths by which the jīva who has been wandering in the sense-organs of sight, &c., may pass to Brahman dwelling in the heart. Hence the words of the śruti, “through them he moves forth,” shewing that nāḍīs are the means by which jīva passes. The purītat, the envelope of the heart, serves as an enclosure, like a bed-room, and Brahman forms the seat, like a bed-stead. Accordingly, just as one enters by the gateway and lies on a bed in a room, so jīva passes through the nāḍīs and lies in Brahman within the purītat. Distinct purposes being thus served by them severally, they conjointly constitute the abode of jīva in suṣupti.

(Objection):—If jīva lies in Brahman during suṣupti, then how is it that we are not then conscious of their relation as such?

(Answer):—Because they have become one, we say. When a pot of water is immersed in a reservoir of water, we do not see its existence as distinct from the reservoir; so also, we are not conscious of jīva, conditioned by the upādhi of antaḥ-karaṇa, as distinct from Brahman, inasmuch as he as wed as his enshrouding darkness is then merged in Brahman. It is for this reason that the śruti elsewhere speaks of jīva becoming one with Brahman during suṣupti: “With the Existent, my dear, he then becomes one.”


Identity of jīva who sleeps and wakes.
(Vedānta-sūtras, III. ii. 9)

(Question):—Is the jīva who wakes from sleep necessarily the same as he who went to sleep? or, may he be a different one?

(Prima facie view):—When a drop of water has been cast into the ocean, the identical drop cannot again be unfailingly aken out from the ocean; similarly when one jīva has been merged in Brahman during suṣupti, it is not possible that necessarily the identical jīva wakes from sleep. Therefore it may be that any one of the many jīvas wakes from sleep.

(Conclusion):—As against the foregoing, we hold as follows: The two cases are not quite analogous. Tbe jīva is a conscious entity, and when he becomes merged in Brahman, he is still enveloped in his karma and avidyā; whereas when the drop of water is cast into the ocean, it is unenclosed by anything. When a glass, filled with the water of the Ganges and with its mouth covered, is thrown into the sea, the glass can be taken again out of the sea, and we can clearly identify the water of the Ganges therein contained. Similarly, the identical jīva may wake from sleep. Therefore the śruti says:

“Whatever these creatures are here, whether a tiger, or a lion, or a wolf, or a boar, or a worm, or a midge, or a gnat, or a musquito, that they become again and again.”[7]

Thatistosay, whatever bodies the tiger and other jīvas have severally occupied prior to sleep, the same bodies are occupied by those jīvas on waking after sleep. Neither can it be contendèd that the jīva who attains Brahman during sleep cannot again come into being, in the same way that the liberated one does not come into being; for, in the case of the former, the limiting upādhi still exists, so that when the upādhi starts up into being, the jīva must start up into existence. Therefore, when a jīva goes to sleep, it is the same jīva that wakes from sleep.


Swoon is a distinct state of consciousness.
(Vedānta-sūtras, III. ii. 10)

(Question):—Is swoon (mūrchhā) comprehended in any one of the three states above referred to, or is it distinct from them all?

(Prima facie view):—We are not aware of a state of consciousness distinct from jāgrat, svapna and suṣupti. Therefore, swoon is comprehended in one of those states.

(Conclusion):—As it stands quite alone, we must admit that it is a distinct state. It cannot be included either in jāgrat or svapna, for, unlike these states, there is no consciousness of duality in it. Nor can it be included in suṣupti; because the two states appear to be quite different. When a man is asleep, his face is calm, his breath balanced, and his body motionless; whereas, in the case of one who is in a fit of swoon, the face becomes agitated, his breath is uneven, and his body shakes. It is true that swoon is not a state quite familiar to children and the like because it is not of daily occurrence like jāgrat and other states; still experts do know the state of swoon occurring on rare occasions and apply proper remedies. Therefore, it is a distinct state of consciousness.


Elimination of foreign elements from jīva.

Thus, in these four articles, the nature of the jīva—the ‘thou’ in “That Thou art”—has been divested of all foreign elements. In the first place, by shewing that the world of dream is an illusion, it has been shewn that though we are then conscious of pleasure, pain and agency, jīva remains free from attachment; and so far, the foreign elements have been eliminated from jīva’s nature. It has been further taught that this absence of all attachment in jīva’s nature is to be found in our own experience during sleep, because, it has been shewn that jīva becomes then one with Brahman. By shewing that the same jīva that goes to sleep wakes also from sleep, it has been impressed upon us that he is not impermanent. Lastly, by way of discussing the state of swoon, it has been taught that, though breathing and all other signs of life fail at death, it should not be supposed that jīva is then dead.

Taittiriya 1

Footnotes and references:


Bṛ. Up. 4-3-10.


Bṛ. Up. 4-5-10.


Kaṭha. Up. 5-8.


Chhā. Up. 8-6-3.


Bṛ. Up. 2-1-19.


Bṛ. Up. 2-1-17.


Chhā. Up. 6-9-3.

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