The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter IV

Third Brahmana: The Light of Man is the Self

  1. janakaṁ ha vaideham yājñavalkyo jagāma: sa mene: na vadiṣya iti. atha ha yaj janakaś ca vaideho yājñavalkyaś cāgnihotre samudāte, tasmai ha yājñavalkyo varaṁ dadau: sa ha kāma-praśnam eva vavre, taṁ hāsmai dadau. taṁ ha samrāḍ eva pūrvaḥ papraccha.

Such is the glorious teaching. But the teaching is not complete even now. It goes on. Yājñavalkya's instructions to King Janaka unravel mystery after mystery. On a previous occasion when Yājñavalkya met Janaka, the former thought that he would not speak, that he would keep quiet. "I have spoken enough," he thought. It is said that there was a time when there was a discussion between Janaka, Yājñavalkya and other students on the subject of the worship of Vaisvanara, as the Universal Fire, Agnīhōtra, which is described in detail in the Chhāndogya Upaniṣhad. Janaka was well-versed in this art. He was a meditator on Vaisvanara, and every question that was posed before Janaka was answered by him promptly then and there. Yājñavalkya was highly pleased with the knowledge of Janaka, and said, "Ask for a boon." Then Janaka said, "May I be permitted to ask questions whenever I please; whenever I want to ask." That is all the boon he asked for. He should be permitted to ask questions whenever it was his pleasure. And so Janaka was blessed with Kama-Praśna by the sage Yājñavalkya, which means to say, Janaka had the freedom to ask questions whenever they occurred to his mind. So Yājñavalkya could not refuse to teach the king whenever requested.

  1. yājñavalkya, kiṁ-jyotir ayam puruṣa iti. āditya-jyotiḥ, samrāṭ, iti hovāca, ādityenaivāyaṁ jyotiṣāste, palyayate, karma kurute, vipalyetīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya.

Because of the boon that he had received from sage Yājñavalkya, that he could ask questions, Janaka again asks some questions. Here is the beginning of an important philosophy. Janaka asks: "What is the light which illumines this person?" In this human being, what is the light which illumines itself and illumines others? What is the power depending on which the person works? Ultimately, it is a sort of illumination, an awakening, a knowledge, which can be regarded as 'the light'. Now, what is this light? How do you work in this world; with the help of what? What is the aid that you have in this world which enables you to perform your function – Yājñavalkya, kiṁ-jyotir ayam puruṣa iti? Yājñavalkya said: "Well, the simple answer to this question as to what is the light with the help of which people work in this world is that the sun is the source of all light." He gave an immediate, open and simple answer. "It is due to the light of the sun that people perform actions in this world. If the light of the sun were not to be there, activity would be impossible. So your question is answered." What is the light with which the people act in this world, perform their functions here? The light of the sun is the answer. āditya-jyotiḥ, samrāṭ, iti hovāca, ādityenaivāyaṁ jyotiṣāste, palyayate, karma kurute, vipalyetīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya: It is due to the existence of the light of the sun that people move about, perform their activities, and appear to be contended. Janaka agreed that this is so indeed.

  1. astam ita āditye, yājñavalkya, kiṁ-jyotir evāyam puruṣa iti. candramā evāsya jyotir bhavati, candramasaivāyaṁ jyotiṣāste, palyayate, karma kurute, vipalyetīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya.

But when the sun sets, when the light of the sun is not there, what is the light, with the help of which people perform their functions? That is another question which follows the simple answer which Yājñavalkya gave. Astam ita āditye, yājñavalkya, kiṁ-jyotir evāyam puruṣa iti: When the sun sets, and there is darkness everywhere, what is the light, with the help of which people act? Then Yājñavalkya said the moonlight is the only support for them. When the sun is not there, the moon is there. With the help of moonlight, people may work. Candramasaivāyaṁ jyotiṣāste, palyayate, karma kurute, vipalyetīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya: All actions are performed by the moonlight if the sunlight is not there.

  1. astam ita āditye, yājñavalkya, candramasy astam ite, kiṁ-jyotir evāyam puruṣa iti. agnir evāsya jyotir bhavati, agninaivāyam jyotiṣāste, palyayate, karma kurute, vipalyetīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya.

But if moonlight is not there, if sunlight also is not there, what is light, with the help of which you will work? That is the third question – astam ita āditye, yājñavalkya, candramasy astam ite, kiṁ-jyotir evāyam puruṣa iti. agnir evāsya jyotir bhavati: "Fire is the light then." You light a fire if there is no sun and no moon, and with the light and the warmth of the fire that you burn, you may be comforted, and you may do your work.

  1. astam ita āditye, yājñavalkya, candramasi astam ite, śānte agnau, kiṁ-jyotir evāyam puruṣa iti. vāg evāsya jyotir bhavati, vācaivāyaṁ jyotiṣāste, palyayate, karma karute, vipalyeti, tasmād vai, samrāḍ, api yatra pāṇir na vinirjñāyate, atha yatra vāg uccarati, upaiva tatra nyetīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya.

But if fire also is not there, what is the support then? Sun has set, the moon has set, fire also is not burning, for some reason. Then, what is your light, and what is your support? How would you sustain yourself and do your duties? Astam ita āditye, yājñavalkya, candramasi astam ite, śānte agnau, kiṁ-jyotir evāyam puruṣa iti: When everything goes, and no light is there at all, no torch, not even stars twinkling in the sky, everything is pitch darkness, how do you communicate with people? How do you know where what is? By sound, by speech. "Who is there?" "Are you here?" "I cannot see anything, everything is dark," people start saying thus when all lights are off. When somebody says; "I am here", "it is this", "it is that", then by the sound of the speech of the person, you locate where what is. So Yājñavalkya says: "When the sun sets, when the moon is not there and fire does not burn, by sounds and by speech people communicate their ideas with one another. Merely by speech they can work, if everything else fails."

  1. astam ita āditye, yājñavalkya, candramasy astam ite, śānte agnau, śāntāyāṁ vāci, kiṁ-jyotir evāyam puruṣa iti. ātmaivāsya jyotir bhavati, ātmanaivāyam jyotiṣāste, palyayate, karma karute, vipalyeti iti.

But suppose there is nobody around you, and nobody speaks, no sound is coming forth, then how will you act? There is nobody around you; no sound comes; there is no gesture of any kind, externally; you cannot locate anything; everything is dark; sun has gone; moon has gone; fire does not burn – what is the light then? What will you do at that time? Your own self is the light; there is nothing else afterwards. You guide yourself, by yourself. You have a special sense in you. You may call it a sixth sense. Apart from the five senses, we have a sixth sense in us by which we act when everything else fails. It is a kind of inward illumination which begins to reveal itself when everything else fails as a support. That light is our own self. Why is it that we should wait for the time when everything else has failed, before the light within manifests itself to guide us? Is it necessary for the sun to go, moon to go, fire to go, etc., in order that we may know that we have a light within us and that we can be a light to our own selves?

Ordinarily, there are external temptations and stimulations from outward sources. The light within gets attached to these stimulants from outside. It may be sunlight, it may be any object of sense. Our selves get absorbed in the objects outside and become totally dependent on externals. We appear to have some sort of an independence and a capacity to exist by ourselves, only when everything external fails. Normally, we feel that we require many external appurtenances to sustain us from outside. We require a bungalow; we require many other facilities to exist; we require friends and servants; we require food and water; we require so many things. Without these things, we feel we cannot live. But if nothing of this kind is there, still we will exist. And that capacity to exist, when everything goes, reveals itself only when everything goes, not before, because of the dependence and the hope that the self pins upon the objects of sense outside, due to their presence. That you have a light of your own; that you have a worth of your own; that you have a status of your own, you cannot realise as long as you are dependent on things outside. We look like nobodies as long as we are just one in the crowd. But we are not really one in the crowd; we have a status of our own. But that status is never known to us due to our sense of dependence, a habit of hanging on to something else, which we have cultivated right from childhood. We have been brought up in an atmosphere of dependence. Always, we are depending on somebody or something – on parents, on teachers, on society, on bosses, on money, on wealth. All sorts of things are there on which we hang for our support. But there can be circumstances when we are deprived of all supports. When we are deprived of every kind of external assistance, the self that we are, the strength that we are, the status that we have, comes to our relief and begins to act. It is impossible to imagine what that light is and what that strength is. We have got maximum power within us. We are mines of strength. We are not poor weaklings as we appear to be. We appear so on account of certain defects in our personality. One of the defects is the habit of depending on things; the other defect is our intense desire for objects of sense. Every desire draws energy from the body, from the Pranas, the senses and the mind, and pours it upon the objects which we are contemplating. We get depleted of all strength due to contemplation of objects. Secondly, there is also an inward feeling that we cannot exist without these objects. So, for these reasons, the light within gets stifled and smothered and it is not seen. It is like a light inside a bushel, as they say, and its existence remains undiscovered. ātmanaivāyam jyotiṣāste, palyayate, karma karute, vipalyeti iti: You depend on your own self when everything else goes. This is what Yājñavalkya says. Your self is your light; your self is your knowledge; and your self is your strength; your self is your sustenance. There is nothing except your self when everything else fails.

But what is this self? You are telling us that the self is the ultimate support, light, strength, etc. What exactly do you mean by this "self'?

The Different States of the Self

  1. katama ātmeti. yo’yaṁ vijñānamayaḥ prāṇeṣu, hṛdy antarjyotiḥ puruṣaḥ sa samānaḥ sann ubhau lokāv anusañcarati, dhyāyatīva lelāyatīva, sa hi svapno bhūtvā, imaṁ lokam atikrāmati, mṛtyo rūpāṇi.

Katama ātmeti, is the question. Katama ātmeti. yo'yaṁ vijñānamayaḥ prāṇeṣu, hṛdy antarjyotiḥ puruṣaḥ: You ask me, "What is this ātman which is your light, which is your support and which is your power?" It is that which twinkles through your reason and understanding and intellect. It does not fully manifest itself in you under ordinary conditions. It peeps through your intellect. You can infer the existence of this light through the activities of the understanding. You cannot directly perceive it. You can only infer its being. It cannot be perceived, because it is the very self that perceives. It is the seer, therefore it cannot be seen. You have already been told this elsewhere in the Upaniṣhad. The ātman cannot be contacted by any ordinary means, but it can be inferred. If the light of the intellect is to be regarded as an essential property of the intellect only, how is it that we seem to be full and complete in every respect in the state of sleep when the intellect does not act? How is it possible for us to be so refreshed and so happy in a condition where the means that we employ, called the intellect, for purposes of satisfaction, does not operate? What is that which we employ in waking state for the purpose of gaining out desired ends? The means that we employ is the intellect. It is the ruling principle in our waking life When that ruling guide, the great factor of dependence, our reason itself, fails in sleep, naturally everything should get abolished. But that does not happen to be the case. Something in us continues sleep. We do not experience in sleep any sense of weariness, fatigue, exhaustion and sorrow. On the other hand, we wake up into the sorrow when we regain consciousness of the world outside. It is the world outside that causes sorrow to us, not the state of the absence of consciousness of the world outside. It is impossible that the sleep condition can be abolition of all values. Therefore, it must be a false belief which takes for granted that values are there only in the waking world. It is a futile attempt the part of people to run after things in the waking life, under the impression that values are deposited in the objects of sense outside. It is the impossibility to gain what we seek in waking life that drives back to our own self in sleep.

Every day we are tired by the search for that which we cannot get in the world of objects. Every day we are experimenting with different objects of sense and trying to see if we can discover in that object, that which we really want. The whole of the life of a human being is nothing but a series of experiments with things for the purpose of discovering whether what is required is there or not. But the experiment always fails. The days that we pass thus, wear away our senses, wear out our energies, and then we go back for rest to our own home, as it were, which is the state of sleep. Just as people go to the factory and office, get tired of work, and go back to their homes in the evening, so, as it were, the self wanders in this desert of Samsāra, in the world outside, searching in the mirage for a little water to drink and not finding it there, goes back to its mother in the state of sleep and says, "I have found nothing there; I have come back." And the Mother embraces the returned child. The great Father embraces you. The very source of friendship, affection, all vitality, energy and support, becomes your real friend in the state of sleep. How can you regard sleep as a state of unconsciousness? How can it be inert as it is generally taken to be? If it is not inert, if it is consciousness, naturally it should be a wider source of that consciousness than what we discover in the little modicum of its expression in the form of this intellect in the waking state.

This ātman is manifest partially in the intellect, Vijñānamaya, and in the senses – the eyes, ears, etc. It is the activity of the self that is responsible for the activity of the senses. It is the energy of the ātman that is ultimately responsible for the working of all the faculties, intellect included. Sa samānaḥ sann ubhau lokāv anusañcarati, dhyāyatīva lelāyatīva, sa hi svapno bhūtvā, imaṁ lokam atikrāmati, mṛtyo rūpāṇi: Fatigued with all that one sees in the waking up world, fed up with all the search that one makes in the waking life, one goes back to the other world, as it were, where the roots of being are to be discovered and contacted. The self, after its daily wandering in the world of Samsāra in the waking life, goes to the state of dream where it hopes to be free from the trammels of sense, which are veritable forms of death. The Upaniṣhad says here – mṛtyo rūpāṇi – the things that you see in waking life are forms of death. They are there like devils, there to devour. They are not your supports. The senses mistake the objects for supports, for sustenance. But the objects are destroyers because they sap the energy of the senses. They drain away the strength of your personality, and make you empty, as it were, of all that you regard as yourself. Ultimately you get nothing from this world. Inasmuch as the objects outside draw out the senses of the person, and become responsible for his death and rebirth, they are called forms of death – mṛtyo rūpāṇi. Transcending this world of death which is waking life, the individual self, with the instrument which is the mind, goes to the world of dream, and then passes on into the state of deep sleep.

This is the daily routine of the human personality, but due to some mysterious obstruction which prevents the recognition of oneself in deep sleep, there is a return of the mind once again to the waking life. It wants again the repetition of the same old routine of getting fatigued with the objects of sense due to its not finding what it seeks there, and then again going back to the state of sleep. Not discovering consciously what the state of deep sleep is, there is a return once again to the waking condition. This cycle continues, and this is Samsāra Chakra, the wheel of earthly existence.

Due to certain impulses that lie latent in the state of deep sleep, there comes as aforesaid, a necessity to wake up from sleep. The awakening from sleep is caused by the activity of latent desires which sprout into action every day, and seek their fulfilment in the directions given to them by circumstances. But, not finding what they seek in the waking world, they return once again to the state of sleep. And when the body, which has been manufactured for the purpose of serving as an instrument for the fulfilment of these impulses, gets exhausted and becomes finally unfit for action, then there is what is known as death. There is a period of transition, which varies from person to person and from condition to condition, between physical death and the time of rebirth. And then, those impulses which could not be manifested for action through the previous body, regain their strength and project themselves through the new body that is fitted into the mental structure by the circumstance of rebirth.

  1. sa vā ayam puruṣo jāyamānaḥ, śarīram abhisampadyamānaḥ pāpmabhiḥ saṁsṛjyate, sa utkrāman, mriyamāṇaḥ pāpmano vijahāti.

At the time of the embodiment, or the assuming of the body in birth, there is a forceful activity of the senses which are all driven in their own directions by the impulses inside, and what is called good or bad is a result of these actions. The goodness or the badness of an action is connected with the perspective of life, the viewpoint which the mind has in its cognition of objects, whatever it thinks being its relation with objects outside. The question of right and wrong arises when objects are entirely outside with no connection with ourselves. This circumstance cannot be avoided as long as the senses insist that the objects are outside, for their fulfilment depends upon the assumption that things are external. Hence, it is also impossible to get over the necessity to assess things in terms of ethical values. But when there is freedom from this embodiment, there is a withdrawal of the mind from the dictates of the body and the senses, and then there is no such assessment of personal values. It is the connection of the mind with the body and the senses that is the cause of virtue and vice. The disconnection of the mind from the body and the senses becomes immediately a relief for us from the clutches of these evaluations, such as virtue, vice, good, bad, etc. So, as long as there is a body, there is a question of righteousness, sin, etc., but when there is freedom from the embodiment of this personality which the mind assumes for its own purposes, there is also freedom simultaneously from unrighteousness, or evil, or sin, etc.

This traumatic activity of the mind in the waking, dreaming and deep sleep states goes on endlessly like a cycle, like a seesaw, and it does not cease, it does not come to an end, because every death or every new embodiment becomes an incentive to action. And, as is well known, every action is a process of or attempt at fulfilment of impulses within, which, however, cannot be fulfilled. So, activity becomes futile in the end, inasmuch as what is required or what is sought for is not available at the point where it is expected to be. Every object of sense thus defeats the purpose of the mind when it is considered external to the one that is embodied. When the whole life of a person is spent in this manner, in sheer experimentation with things for the purpose of the discovery of the perfection that one has lost, when life ends in this manner without any success in this search, the mind still does not realise the futility of its deeds. It only thinks that more time is needed, and that it has not been able to fulfil its purpose only on account of the shortness of duration of the lifespan. It does not realise that there has been a mistake in its very purpose. The mind never understands at any time that there is an error in its own judgment. It always justifies itself and goads the senses for the purpose of fulfilling its own impulses of desires. Until and unless the mind realises what its mistakes are, it is not possible to free it from the clutches of birth and death. As it is not easy to instruct the mind in the true state of affairs, due to its association with the ego which always asserts that it is right, it becomes impossible to avoid the cycle of birth and death, until the ego is transcended.

  1. tasya vā etasya puruṣasya dve eva sthāne bhavataḥ: idaṁ ca para-loka-sthānaṁ ca; sandhyaṁ tṛtīyaṁ svapna-sthānam; tasmin sandhye sthāne tiṣṭhann, ubhe sthāne paśyati, idaṁ ca para-loka-sthānaṁ ca atha yathākramo'yaṁ para-loka-sthāne bhavati, tam ākramam ākramya, ubhayān pāpmana ānandāṁś ca paśyati. sa yatra prasvapiti, asya lokasya sarvāvato mātrām apādāya, svayaṁ vihatya, svayaṁ nirmāya, svena bhāsā, svena jyotiṣā prasvapiti; atrāyam puruṣaḥ svayaṁ-jyotir bhavati.

The transitional experience, which is called dream, is regarded as something like a borderland between waking life and complete annihilation in death. In the state of dream, we are not alive in the sense of the wakeful personality. We are also not annihilated. We are translucent and meagrely active. So, the Upaniṣhad says that the condition of dream is like a third state, apart from life and death. The waking condition may be regarded as life, and the annihilation of it is death. But dream is something between the two. It is not annihilation, and yet it is not real living. Tasya vā etasya puruṣasya dve eva sthāne bhavataḥ: idaṁ ca para-loka-sthānaṁ ca; sandhyaṁ tṛtīyaṁ svapna-sthānam: There are two alternatives of action-the field of this world and the field of the other world. Idaṁ ca para-loka-sthānaṁ ca: We either live in this world or in the other world. But dream is neither this world nor the other world. It is something midway between the two. So, in the condition of dream, the mind experiences certain consequences of its feelings and actions, in a manner quite different from what it does in waking and in the state of rebirth. Tṛtīyaṁ svapna-sthānam; tasmin sandhye sthāne tiṣṭhann, ubhe sthāne paśyati: In the state of dream, the mind seems to be partaking of the experiences of life and death both. It is living because it is conscious of imagined objects outside, and there is activity of the mind through the psychological senses which it projects out of its own structure. In that sense, there is living, life, and yet it is not a workable living. It is a bare minimum of existence which cannot be called real life in its true definition. It is almost a passage to death, as it were. Perhaps, if the state of dream were to continue indefinitely, it would be the same as death. But this does not take place. The dream state is only of a very short duration each time. So there is either a reversal of the activity of the mind, a coming back into waking, or a temporary sinking into deep sleep. The mind in dream observes the conditions of waking as well as annihilation. It is on the borderland of destruction which is death, and living which is waking – ubhe sthāne paśyati.

Idaṁ ca para-loka-sthānaṁ ca; atha yathākramo'yaṁ para-loka-sthāne bhavati, tam ākramam ākramya, ubhayān pāpmana ānandāṁś ca paśyati. sa yatra prasvapiti, asya lokasya sarvāvato mātrām apādāya, svayaṁ vihatya, svayaṁ nirmāya, svena bhāsā, svena jyotiṣā prasvapiti; atrāyam puruṣaḥ svayaṁ-jyotir bhavati: In dream, what happens is that the mind experiences everything out of its own substance. It has no apparatus from outside. It does not take the assistance of objects from the world external. There is nothing there, really speaking, except itself. But it projects itself into space, time and objects, and creates an imaginary world of its own. And yet, in this imaginary world it can experience all the consequences of its desires. There is love and hatred; there is pleasure and pain, etc. in the state of dream. Just as a person equips himself well before embarking upon a journey, with all requirements or necessities, so does the mind takes with itself its property when it enters the state of dream. What is its property? Whatever it thought and felt, that alone was its property. That which got absorbed into its own being in the form of impressions of perception of objects – these are the things that it takes with it when it enters the dream state, and these are the things it will take along also when the body dies. When the individual dies, casts off the body, what is taken is the mind, only the impressions, only the impulses, only the desires in their subtle forms. Nothing of the external world is taken. The factor that determines the nature of the future birth is the character of the impulses that are hidden in the mind, so that certain aspects, certain parts, some part of the stock of the impulses of the mind are released for action in the next birth. The stronger ones come first, and the weaker ones are kept aside for later opportunities. Some of the impulses, some of the stock of Vāsanās or Samaskāras of the mind (not all of them), get released in the next birth, and these allotted impulses become the model for all the experiences one passes through in the next birth. Just as molten lead cast in a crucible takes the shape of the crucible, experience takes the form of the predominant impulses in the mind.

Our experiences therefore are not borrowed or imported from objects outside. It is therefore not true that our pleasures and pains are caused by things outside. They are caused exactly by the nature of the impulses that are already in the mind, which we have brought with us from the previous life. Just as the quantity of water that you can lift from the ocean depends only upon the size of the vessel that you dip into it, and also the shape that the water will take depends again on the shape of the vessel which is dipped into the ocean, likewise, whatever we experience in this life is cast into the mould of the impulses that we have brought with us from previous lives. So, it is pointless to complain that external objects or things are not in order, and that they could have been better for our satisfaction. They are quite all right. Things are quite in order. There is nothing wrong with things, but we are unable to adjust ourselves with the existing order of things due to certain prejudices that we have already brought with us when we cast off the previous body and took this new body. Having taken this body, the individual experiences the consequences of its good deeds and bad deeds. Virtuous deeds are capable of producing pleasures, and the other ones produce pain. Pain is the consequence of having done something wrong in the previous birth or, at times, in this very birth. Meritorious deeds produce pleasure. Merit, or virtue, is that attitude of ours which tends towards universality, in some degree, and therefore there is, naturally, pleasure. Anything that is a step taken in the direction of universality is a step taken in the direction of truth, or reality. And reality is bliss (ānanda). So, any virtuous action, any generous feeling, any righteous attitude is capable of producing pleasure, satisfaction, ānanda. On the other hand, pain comes as a consequence of evil deeds, and evil deeds are those which are selfish in their nature, which deny universality, which go contrary to the nature of reality, and assert a false independence of body and ego. So, actions performed in the previous lives bring about the pleasures and pains of the present life – pāpmana ānandāṁś ca paśyati.

Sa yatra prasvapiti, asya lokasya sarvāvato mātrām apādāya, svayaṁ vihatya: In the state of dream the body is cast aside, as it were, for all practical purposes. It is not taken into consideration. The existence of the body is not at all noted in the state of dream. It is there, lying as if it is a corpse. But, the totality of the impressions produced by the perceptions and experiences in waking are collected together by the mind, and a part or an aspect of this totality is brought into action in dream. It does not mean that in a particular dream we experience everything of waking life. Only certain things are brought into focus in the dream state according to an arithmetic of its own. So, sarvāvato mātrām apādāya, svayaṁ vihatya, svayaṁ nirmāya, svena bhāsā, svena jyotiṣā prasvapiti, the force or the energy required for action in dream is the mind alone. It does not come from any food that we eat, or nourishment that comes from anywhere, or from any contact that we have with other people or the support that we get. It is nothing of this kind. The mind has no support from anybody in dream. Yet, it can work this miraculous drama all by itself, by putting on the attire of any person, or taking the shape of any object, anything, small or big. Not merely that, it can take the shape of the whole world. It can become a world by itself in dream. It can be the creator, almost, of a Brahmānda comparable to the Brahmānda it is aware of in the waking life. So, in a particular density of action and thought, the mind revels in dream and it becomes its own light. No other light exists for the mind in dream except itself. (The light of the mind is borrowed, again, from the ātman, as is well-known. It does not require any comment.) Sarvāvato mātrām apādāya, svayaṁ vihatya, svayaṁ nirmāya, svena bhāsā: By the light of its own self, by the luminosity of its own self, it, the mind, or the Puruṣha, sleeps and dreams. And here the Puruṣha, the individual, becomes resplendent. The whole luminosity of dream is the luminosity of the mind. Even if there is a blazing sun in dream, it is the mind shining. That brilliance of the dream sun that you may witness in that condition is manufactured by the mind alone. It can become the coolness of water, the heat of the fire, the sweetness of dishes and what not. Anything and everything, it can become – svena bhāsā, svena jyotiṣā prasvapiti; atrāyam puruṣaḥ svayaṁ-jyotir bhavati. It is a wondrous miracle, indeed, this role that the mind plays in dream.

  1. na tatra rathāḥ, na ratha-yogāḥ, na panthāno bhavanti; atha rathān, ratha-yogān, pathaḥ sṛjate; na tatrānandāḥ, mudaḥ pramudo bhavanti, athānandān, mudaḥ, pramudaḥ sṛjate; na tatra veśantāḥ puṣkariṇyah sravantyo bhavanti; atha veśāntān, puṣkariṇiḥ sravantīḥ sṛjate. sa hi kartā.

In that state of dream, there is nothing tangible in the physical sense. There is no physical object, yet we see physical objects. In that state of dream, there are no vehicles, and yet we can drive in vehicles. Na tatra rathāḥ, na ratha-yogāḥ, na panthāno bhavanti: Chariots do not exist in dream, and yet we can sit in a chariot and drive. There are no horses to pull the chariots. Yet, we can manufacture horses. The mind becomes the horses and also the chariots. What a wonder! The mind becomes the vehicle; the mind becomes the horse; the mind becomes even the rider in the chariot. It can become everything. All things it becomes at one stroke. There are no real chariots in dream; there are no animals that pull the chariot; there is no road, and yet the mind can manifest all these in dream, out of itself. A fine track is constructed by the mind like an engineer. What a miracle, indeed! Atha rathān, ratha-yogān, pathaḥ sṛjate: It creates all these necessities for the fulfilment of its own desires. As there are no external objects of sense, there should be no occasion for enjoying anything or suffering anything in dream, one might think. How is it that we enjoy and suffer in dream if joys and sorrows are brought about by factors outside, as we think generally? If person and things outside are the causes of our pleasures and pains, why is it that we have pleasures and pains in dream, also? This is an indication that our conviction that things outside are responsible for our pleasures and sorrows, is wrong. If we can be happy and unhappy in dream without anyone's help, why should we not be like that in the waking state, also? How do you know that you are not in a similar state even now? What is the ground for your assumption that people outside are the causes of your sorrows or your joys? It is a false assumption, indeed. It is the mind that creates circumstances of pleasures and pains due to the appurtenances of Samskāras that it has brought from previous lives. So you are the cause of your joy, and you are the cause of your sorrow. Do not complain against other people and other things. Do not bring about a discomfiture in the creation of God, saying that God could have created a better world. Nothing of the kind; these are only stupid imaginations of the individual who does not know what is really happening. As in dream, so in waking, as in waking so in dream. There is a great joy felt by the mind when it beholds a desirable object. The joy increases when the object is possessed, and the joy becomes intense when it becomes its own. These are our ideas in the waking state, but such objects do not exist in dream. And yet, we have these three states of joy, even in dream. We feel the presence of an object coming near us in dream. We feel like possessing the object, and having possessed it, we enjoy it. But, no real object was there. It was the mind that became the object. It was the mind that drew itself near the dream object and made it look as if the object was approaching it, and the mind had the joy of seeing a friend or the sorrow of seeing an enemy in that dream object. Both were manufactured by itself. It was the friend, it was the enemy, and this was its experience. If this could be the condition in dream, why should it not be similar in waking also? Perhaps we are in a similar state even in waking life.

Na tatrānandāḥ, mudaḥ pramudo bhavanti, athānandān, mudaḥ, pramudaḥ sṛjate; na tatra veśantāḥ puṣkariṇyah sravantyo bhavanti: In the state of dream, there are no real pools of water, but you can see pools of water. You can take a bath in dream. There are no tanks, but you can see tanks. There are no rivers, but you can perceive rivers. So, you can have a bath to your satisfaction in the dream river, and you can be highly satisfied even by a thing which was not there. Even so, you can be satisfied even in the waking life by a thing which is not really there. It is actually even doubtful if the objects in the waking life also really exist, any more than the objects in dream. Atha veśāntān, puṣkariṇiḥ sravantīḥ sṛjate. sa hi kartā: The mind is the supreme doer and actor in this drama. The mind itself fabricates every scene and itself enacts every role.

  1. tad ete ślokā bhavanti:
    svapnena śarīram abhiprahatyāsuptaḥ suptān abhicākasīti;
    śukram ādāya punar aiti sthānam, hiraṇmayaḥ puruṣa eka-haṁsaḥ.

Tad ete ślokā bhavanti: The Upaniṣhad says there is a saying, an old maxim in this respect. What is this old saying? Svapnena śarīram abhiprahatyāsuptaḥ suptān abhicākasīti; śukram ādāya punar aiti sthānam, hiraṇmayaḥ puruṣa eka-haṁsaḥ. This is a verse. Up to this time we have been reading only prose. Now a verse comes. Svapnena śarīram abhiprahatyāsuptaḥ suptān abhicākasīti: In dream, the physical body is completely ignored. It is as if it does not exist at all. And the mind keeps itself awake, while the body is asleep. Keeping itself awake, it also awakens the sleeping impulses, or unfulfilled Samskāras of desires – suptān abhicākasīti. It becomes the witness of the activity of the impulses which were sleeping up to this time. Those impulses which could not manifest themselves in waking life are revealed in action in the dreaming condition. So, the mind that is keeping itself vigilant in dream, awakens also the impulses into action and witnesses their panoramic activity. And then what happens? How does it do it? Śukram ādāya punar aiti sthānam: It takes the quintessence of all the experiences of the previous condition, namely the waking life, enjoys it in dream, and returns once again to the original state of waking. Having played this enactment of dream with the material of the minute essences of waking experience, it does not continue this condition for a long time. It returns once again to the waking life or it may go back to sleep – punar aiti sthānam, hiraṇmayaḥ puruṣa eka-haṁsaḥ: This is a luminous being indeed, self-conscious, infinite essentially and a lone traveller. This soul is a lone traveller – eka-haṁsaḥ: It is always alone. It has nobody outside it. But it appears to be coming in contact with persons and things, tentatively, and these persons and things, which it comes in contact with in life, are the forces of Nature which either get attracted towards it or are repelled by it according to its own inner structure. The structure of the mind sometimes attracts the forces of Nature; then we have friends in the world. Sometimes, the structure of the mind repels the forces of Nature; then we have enemies in the world. So, friends and enemies are due to the nature of the mind alone. They are not objective existences by themselves.

  1. prāṇena rakṣann avaraṁ kulāyam bahiṣ kulāyād amṛtaś caritvā, sa īyate amṛto yatra kāmam, hiraṇ-mayaḥ puruṣa eka-haṁsaḥ.

The body is protected even when the mind has been withdrawn from it in dream. The mind is careful enough to see that the body is not destroyed. It is there, protected by the activity of the Prāṇas. While the mind has withdrawn itself into a different world of action called dream, the Prāṇas are kept as watchmen and caretakers to see that the body does not decay or die. So, the body which is of an inferior character compared to the mind – it is really speaking "an ass", a "brother donkey", as Saint Francis used to say – is protected by the Prāṇas in the state of dream, when the mind gets out of the body, as it were. For the time being, in dream, you are out of the gross body. Out of the body in the sense that you are not in contact with the demands of the body and are not conditioned by the activities of the body. In that sense we may say that in dream the mind is acting independently, disconnecting itself from the limitations of body and senses – prāṇena rakṣann avaraṁ kulāyam bahiṣ kulāyād amṛtaś caritvā.

This mind which thus independently acts, moving out, as it were, from the body, is immortal in its nature, because immortality is what it absorbs from the ātman. And all its desires, it tries to fulfil there. What desires you cannot fulfil in waking, you can fulfil in dream by creating a mental world of your own and manufacturing those objects which you need but which you could not have in waking life. Whatever you need, you can manufacture out of your own mind, and then, of course, your desires are fulfilled. This is what the mind does by subtly alienating itself into objects of sense which are not physical but psychic – sa īyate amṛto yatra kāmam, hiraṇ-mayaḥ puruṣa eka-haṁsaḥ.

  1. svapnānta uccāvacam īyamāno rūpāṇi devāḥ kurute bahūni uteva strībhiḥ saha modamānaḥ jakṣat, utevāpi bhayāni paśyan.

In this state of dream, the mind can become the higher and the lower. You can become a celestial if you like. You can become an angel or you can become an animal. You can become a bird; you can become a fly; you can become a human being. The mind can become anything in dream according to the circumstances of the case, according to the nature and the intensity of the impulses. And all these forms, higher and lower, which are manufactured by the mind are witnessed by it. The bodies of the objects, higher and lower, seen in dream are created out of the substance of the mind alone. Even if a hard brick wall or an object of granite that you see in dream is made up of your own mind. The mind is regarded, generally, as ethereal and non-physical. How is it then that you see 'physical' objects in dream when they are manufactured out of mind alone? You can hit your head against a dream wall; you can break your nose in the dream if you fall on a granite stone. How is it possible if it is psychic only? So, the distinction between matter and psyche is ultimately not sustainable on a generalisation of principle. You do not know what really it is. Sapnānta uccāvacam īyamāno rūpāṇi devāḥ kurute bahūni: In this state it, the mind here called a Devata, manufactures various forms and enjoys its objects of sense, laughs, dances, and sometimes cries. What we observe is the activity of the mind, but what is behind the mind, nobody can see. The director of the drama is always invisible. You see only the dramatic performance. There is some secret operating force which seems to be behind the activities of the mind. That is never observed by anyone. You enjoy the pleasures of dream and suffer the sorrows of dream, but you cannot see what is the cause of the dream itself. The mind cannot go back behind itself or climb on its own shoulders, so to say. It can only project itself outwardly in space and time, even in dream, as it does in waking.

  1. ārāmam asya paśyanti, na taṁ paśyati kas cana: iti. taṁ nāyatam bodhayed ity āhuḥ; durbhiṣajyam hāsmai bhavati, yam eṣa na pratipadyate. atho khalv āhuḥ, jāgarita-deśa evāsyaiṣah; yāni hi eva jāgrat paśyati, tāni sputa iti. atrāyam puruṣaḥ svayaṁ-jyotir bhavati. so'ham bhagavate sahasraṁ dadāmi; ata ūrdhvaṁ vimokṣāya brūhīti.

ārāmam asya paśyanti, na taṁ paśyati kas cana: The drama of the mind is witnessed in dream, as it is in waking, but the director of the drama is somewhere else. He is not to be observed either in waking or in dream. Iti. taṁ nāyatam bodhayed ity āhuḥ: Here the Upaniṣhad says that when a person is fast asleep, you should not wake him up suddenly by a jerk; you should not give a kick to the man and say, "get up". The theory that is brought out here in this Upaniṣhad and certain other scriptures is that the mind disconnects itself from the senses and the whole body in dream, and when you give a jerk to the person who is sleeping and suddenly wake him up, the mind has to come back to the respective senses and the bodily limbs abruptly. Now, it may miss its location. This is what āyurvedic physicians generally say. It may not find time enough to go to the proper channels of action, and so there can be some defect remaining in the limbs of the body. The person can become blind or deaf by the shock he gets due to the jerk that you gave him when waking him up suddenly. So, the Upaniṣhad says: you should not wake up a person in deep sleep suddenly by a jerk, because the opinion of the physicians is – durbhiṣajyam hāsmai bhavati – that you cannot cure an illness which comes as a consequence of this action of yours. If you wake a person by giving a kick or shouting and make that person wake up suddenly, that person can fall sick, and that illness cannot be cured by any kind of medicine – durbhiṣajyam hāsmai bhavati. Yam eṣa na pratipadyate: The reason for this illness is that the mind may do something erroneous in a hurry instead of what is proper in the context of its connection with the body and the senses at that particular time.

Yam eṣa na pratipadyate. atho khalv āhuḥ, jāgarita-deśa evāsyaiṣah; yāni hi eva jāgrat paśyati, tāni sputa iti. atrāyam puruṣaḥ svayaṁ-jyotir bhavati.  There are some people who think that there is absolutely no difference between waking and dream in every respect. Though there is a great similarity between waking and dream, as we have observed now, there is also a difference between waking and dream. The Upaniṣhad states, in a short sentence here, that dream is not like waking, in the sense that there is a greater affirmation of personality in dream and greater generality and duration of experience in waking. The mind manufactures, independently, out of its own substance, the senses of perception as well as the objects of perception in dream; but the objects of perception in waking and the senses which are connected to that perception are in the waking state brought about by circumstances which are wider than an individual mind. That is the Cosmic Mind. So, it is not true that in every respect waking is the same as dream, though there are many similarities between waking and dream by which we can learn deep truths of nature – yāni hi eva jāgrat paśyati, tāni sputa iti. atrāyam puruṣaḥ svayaṁ-jyotir bhavati.

Janaka is highly pleased. This discourse of Yājñavalkya has impressed the King very much. So the King says: "I give you one thousand cows" – so'ham bhagavate sahasraṁ dadāmi; ata ūrdhvaṁ vimokṣāya brūhīti: "Tell me something more for my liberation. I am very delighted to listen to this discourse, this great teaching that you are imparting to me. I want to be liberated. Please tell me more and more of this subject to my satisfaction, to my relief, so that I may be freed from Samsāra." Yājñavalkya continues.

  1. sa vā eṣa etasmin samprasāde ratvā caritvā dṛṣṭvaiva puṇyaṁ ca pāpaṁ ca, punaḥ pratinyāyam pratiyony ādravati svapnāyaiva; sa yat tatra kiṁ cit paśyati ananvāgatas tena bhavati; asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣa iti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya. so'ham bhagavate sahasraṁ dadāmi, ata ūrdhvaṁ vimokṣāyaiva brūhīti.

The mind acts in this manner in dream and moves in the borderland, as it were, between waking and death, touching this side and that side, both. After having passed through experiences with the characteristics of waking and death at the same time, after enjoying things, moving about here and there in different places in dream, witnessing the consequences of good deeds as well as bad deeds in the form of pleasure and pain, again it comes back to the waking condition by the reverse process. The procedure that the mind adopted in going from waking to dream is reversed in its attempt to return from dream to waking – pratinyāyam pratiyony ādravati. Whatever it saw in dream was really that with which it was not really connected, physically – sa yat tatra kiṁ cit paśyati ananvāgatas tena bhavati. It appeared as if it was connected with the dream objects, but it was not really connected. The analogy between waking and dream is instructive, though we should not stretch the comparison beyond limit, of course, as it was pointed out here. Just as we are really not connected with the objects in dream but appear to be connected with them for purpose of experience of these objects, we are not really connected with any object in the waking life also, but appear to be connected. And what really misses our attention in the experience, both of waking and dream, is the role that is played by our own self. We see everything in dream and in waking, but we do not see our own selves. We are so much engrossed in the object-perception and the assessment of values outside that we completely forget the part that we ourselves play in this drama of action in waking and dream.

This is analogous to the well-known humorous story of the tenth man. The story is like this: It appears that ten people wanted to cross a river and somehow crossed it. Afterwards they wanted to know whether all the ten had crossed safely or whether someone had got lost in the water. So one of them said: "Let us count ourselves and see whether all of us are here." One man started counting saying: "You all stand in a line. I will count you." So he counted: "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine," that was all. He counted only nine. He did not count himself. So he said: "One is missing. Oh, what has happened? One man has gone in the water." Now another man said: "Let me see. I shall count. You go and stand there." So the other man counted and he too found nine only. Whoever counted, the number was nine only. Then they began crying and beating their chests, "One of us, our brother who came with us, has died." And they started performing the obsequies for the missing one. And they hit their heads in sorrow and blood came from their noses. They were very upset that one of them was dead. Then a passer-by saw this phenomenon and asked them: "Why are you all crying?" "Oh, our brother is dead." "Which brother, where was he, how did he happen to die?" "Oh, we were ten people when we started to cross the river, and now on this side, we find that we are only nine. One has evidently gone into the water." "But you are ten." "No we are not ten; we are nine." One of them again counted and said: "We are only nine." "Oh, foolish one," the newcomer said. "You too stand there in the line and I will count." Then he counted "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. See, you are ten, not nine." "Oh is it so? No one is missing then. I had forgotten to count myself."

So they say, a Guru is necessary to tell you where you stand. This passer-by symbolises the Guru. Otherwise, if you start counting you will 'find nine' only i.e., you will arrive at a wrong conclusion. You require a teacher to tell you where the mistake lies. Thus is the condition of all our experiences in waking, a mistaking of values, a simple mistake, but a very serious mistake, namely, the forgetfulness of the essential factor in all experience – the experiencer, which is one's own self.

So, we see that there is a constant movement of the mind from one state to another, within the trammels of time, due to the actions of certain qualities of the mind itself. The structure of the mind is dependent upon the stuff of which it is made. As is usually said, the mind is something like a fabric which is constituted of the threads of impressions of previous experiences. Just as a cloth is woven out of threads – warp and woof, lengthwise and breadthwise – there being no cloth independent of the thread – so is the mind not independent of the impulses out of which it is made. Just as you may have various coloured threads in a cloth – they may be red, may be blue, or may be any other colour which woven together give a chequered colour to the entire fabric and create various patterns or colours visible on the cloth, even so, the mind actually is made up of various kinds of impressions. It is not made up of one, similar, uniform type of impression. If that were the case, it will be having only one kind of experience throughout the day and throughout life. On the contrary, we pass through various vicissitudes, ups and downs. Pleasures and sorrows come and go at different periods of time on account of various types of impulses acting and reacting among themselves within the mind, just like the rumbling, rolling and splashing of waves in the ocean which is made up of these very waves.

The waking, dream and sleep conditions are of the mind only. It is the consciousness aspect of the mind which is very important. The impulses and the various impressions of previous experiences are animated by a consciousness that makes us a type of complex substance. We are a kind of many-chequered fabric, a complex, a structure which is formed out of many and varied elements in our mental make up, yet capable of uniting these various types of elements into a single whole, on account of the animation of these parts by a uniform consciousness. So, in spite of there being various impressions in the mind, one impression even contradicting others sometimes, yet all of these can be accommodated within a single mind of a single person, due to the presence of a single consciousness. This consciousness which is hidden behind the mind gets identified with the mind, resulting in a kind of mixture of the psychic aspect and the conscious aspect in every individual. This peculiar blend of consciousness with the psychological function is in fact the human individual. This is what they call in Sanskrit as the 'Jīva'. So, it is the Jīva that goes from one condition to another for the purpose of experience, through which it exhausts its various mental impulses or Vāsanās. The Upaniṣhad continues.

  1. sa vā eṣa etasmin svapne ratvā caritvā dṛṣṭvaiva puṇyaṁ ca pāpaṁ ca, punaḥ, pratinyāyam pratiyony ādravati buddhāntāyaiva sa yat tatra kiṁ cit paśyati, ananvāgatas tena bhavati: asaṅgo hy ayam, puruṣa iti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya. so'ham bhagavate sahasraṁ dadāmi, ata ūrdhvam vimokṣāyaiva brūhīti.

When the dream is over, there is waking up because of a stronger impulse coming to the surface of the mind. The stronger impulses wake up the individual into physical activity, and such physical activity which is carried on in the waking life for a protracted period exhausts the person. The fatigue drives the mind back to the dream condition, and then to sleep. The experience of these three states, waking, dream and sleep, one not identical with the other, each differing from the other in every respect, would be impossible unless there be a uniform feeling of identity of personality, which passes through all these states. This is proof enough of the independence of consciousness from the psychophysical personality. Consciousness is neither the mind nor the body. It is something independent. It is on account of the independence of this consciousness that there can be a memory of the three states by a single person, despite the fact that there is a difference in the constitution of the three states, and a difference in the impulses of the mind which pass through these three states.

  1. sa vā eṣa etasmin buddhānte ratvā caritvā dṛṣṭvaiva puṇyaṁ ca pāpaṁ ca, punaḥ pratinyāyam pratiyony ādravati svapnāntāyaiva.
  2. tad yathā mahāmatsya ubhe kūle anusaṁcarati, pūrvaṁ cāparaṁ ca, evam evāyam puruṣa etāv ubhāv antāv anusaṁcarati, svapnāntaṁ ca buddhāntaṁ ca.

Now the Upaniṣhad gives an example. Like a huge fish in a river moving alternately towards either bank, now touching one bank and now touching the other, even so, this individual experiencer drives himself in different directions, sometimes to the dream side, sometimes to the waking side, for the purpose of the exhaustion of the impulses in the mind which are the causes of these different experiences.