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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 2: Karmanusmritisabdavidhyadhikaranam: Topic 3 (Sutra 9)

The same soul returns from deep sleep.

Sa eva tu karmanusmritisabdavidhibhyah III.2.9 (327)

But the same (soul returns from Brahman after deep sleep) on account of work, remembrance, scriptural text and precept.

Sah eva: the selfsame soul (which went to sleep); Tu: but; Karmanusmritisabdavidhibhyah: on account of Karma or work, memory, scriptural authority and precept; (Sah: he; Eva: only, and no other); Karma: activity, on account of his finishing the action left unfinished; Anusmriti: remembrance, on account of memory of identity; Sabda: from the Sruti; Vidhibhyah: from the commandments.

Here we have to enquire whether the soul when awaking from deep sleep is the same which entered into union with Brahman or another one.

The word 'tu' (but) removes the doubt.

If another self arose from sleep, the consciousness of personal identity (Atmanusmarana) expressed in the words "I am the same as I was before" would not be possible.

The Purvapakshin or the opponent holds that there is no fixed rule on this point. There can be no rule that the same soul arises from Brahman. When a drop of water is poured into a big basin of water, it becomes one with the latter. When we again take out a drop it will be difficult to manage that it should be the very same drop. It is hard to pick it out again. Even so when the individual soul has merged in Brahman in deep sleep it is difficult to say that the self-same Jiva arises from Brahman after deep sleep. Hence some other soul arises after deep sleep from Brahman.

This Sutra refutes this and says that the same soul which in the state of deep sleep entered Brahman again arises from Brahman, after deep sleep, not any other for the following reasons.

The person who wakes from sleep must be the same because what has been partly done by a person before going to sleep is finished after he wakes up. Men finish in the morning what they had left incomplete on the day before. It is not possible that one man should proceed to complete a work half done by another man. If it were not the same soul, then the latter would find no interest in completing the work which has been partly done by another. In the case of sacrifices occupying more than one day, there would be several sacrifices. Hence it would be doubtful to whom the fruit of the sacrifice as promised by the Veda belongs. This would bring stultification of the sacred text. Therefore it is quite clear that it is one and the same man who finishes on the latter day the work begun on the former.

He has also a sense of self-identity. He experiences identity of personality before and after sleep, for if sleep leads to liberation by union with Brahman, sleep will become the means of liberation. Then scriptural instructions would be useless to attain salvation. If the person who goes to sleep is different from the person who rises after sleep, then the commandments of the scriptures with reference to work or knowledge would be meaningless or useless.

The person rising from sleep is the same who went to sleep. If it is not so he could not remember what he had seen, etc., on the day before, because what one man sees another cannot remember. He has memory of past events. One cannot remember what another felt. He has memory or recollection in the shape of "I am the person who had gone to sleep and who have now awakened."

The Sruti texts declare that the same person rises again. "He hastens back again as he came to the place from which he started, to be awake" (Bri. Up. IV.3.16). "All these creatures go day after day into Brahman and yet do not discover Him" (Chh. Up. VIII.3.2). "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 mosquito, that they become again" (Chh. Up. VI.10.2). These and similar texts which appear in the chapters which deal with sleeping and waking have a proper sense only if the self-same soul rises again.

Moreover, if it is not the same soul, Karma and Avidya will have no purpose.

Therefore from all this it follows that the person rising from sleep is the same that went to sleep.

The case of the drop of water is not quite analogous, because a drop of water merges in the basin of water without any adjuncts. Therefore it is lost for ever but the individual soul merges in Brahman with its adjuncts (viz., body, mind, intellect, Prana, sense). So the same Jiva rises again from Brahman on account of the force of Karma and desire.

When the individual soul enters Brahman in deep sleep, he enters like a pot full of salt water with covered mouth plunged into the Ganga. When he awakens from sleep it is the same pot taken out of the river with the same water in it. Similarly the individual soul enveloped by his desires goes to sleep and for the time being puts off all sense-activities and goes to the resting place namely, the Supreme Brahman and again comes out of it in order to get further experiences. He does not become identical with Brahman like the person who has obtained liberation. Thus we hear that the same soul which had gone to sleep awakes again into the same body.

Hence it is an established fact that the same soul awakes from deep sleep.