Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


CHAPTER THREE: SADHANA ADHYAYA

Section 2: Mugdhe'rdhasampattyadhikaranam: Topic 4 (Sutra 10)

The nature of swoon.


Mugdhe'rddhasampattih pariseshat III.2.10 (328)

In a swoon (in him who is senseless) there is half union on account of this remaining (as the only alternative left, as the only possible hypothesis).

Mugdhe: in a swoon; Ardhasampattih: partial attainment of the state of deep sleep or death; Pariseshat: on account of the remaining, because of excess, as it is a state in addition to all others.

The state of a swoon is now discussed.

The Purvapakshin says, "There are only three states of a soul while living in the body, viz., waking, dreaming and deep sleep. The soul's passing out of the body is the fourth state or death. The state of swoon cannot be taken as a fifth state. A fifth state is known neither from Sruti nor Smriti."

What is swoon then? Is it a separate state of the soul or is it only one of these states?

It cannot be waking, because he does not perceive external objects, by the senses.

May this case be similar to that of the arrow-maker? Just as the man working in the preparation of an arrow, although awake, is so absorbed in his work that he perceives nothing else, so also the man who is stunned by a blow may be awake but may not perceive anything else as his mind is concentrated on the sensation of pain caused by the blow of a stick.

No, we reply. The case is different owing to the absence of consciousness. The arrow maker says, "I was not conscious of anything but the arrow for such a length of time." The man who returns to consciousness from a swoon says, "I was conscious of nothing. I was shut up in blind darkness for such a length of time." A man who is waking keeps his body straight or upright but the body of a swooning person falls prostrate on the ground. Therefore a man in a swoon is not awake.

He is not dreaming, because he is totally unconscious.

It is not deep sleep because there is happiness in deep sleep whereas there is no happiness in the state of swoon.

He is not dead also, because he continues to breathe and his body is warm. When a man has become senseless and when people are in doubt whether he is alive or dead, they touch the region of his heart in order to find out whether there is warmth in his body or not. They place their hands to his nostrils to find out whether there is breathing or not. If they do not perceive warmth or breath they come to the conclusion that he is dead and take his body to the crematorium to burn it. If there are warmth and breathing they conclude that he is not dead. They sprinkle cold water on his face so that he may come back to consciousness.

The man who has swooned away is not dead, because he comes back to consciousness after some time.

Let us then say that a man who has swooned lies in deep sleep as he is unconscious and at the same time not dead. No, we reply. This is also not possible owing to the different characteristics of the two states.

A man who has swooned does sometimes not breathe for a long time. His body shakes or trembles. His face is dreadful. His eyes are staring wide open. But a sleeping man looks calm, peaceful and happy.

He draws his breath at regular intervals. His eyes are closed. His body does not tremble. A sleeping man may be waked by a gentle stroking with the hand. He who is lying in a state of swoon cannot be wakened even by a blow with a stick. Swoon is due to external causes such as blow on the head with a stick, etc., while sleep is due to fatigue or weariness.

Swoon is only half-union. The man in the state of swoon belongs with one half to the side of deep sleep, with the other half to the side of the other state, i.e., death. It is only half sleep. We do not mean by this that he half enjoys Brahman. We mean that it partly resembles sleep. It is half death, a state almost bordering upon death. In fact it is the door to death. If there is a remnant of Karma he returns to consciousness. Else, he dies.

The man in the state of swoon belongs with one half to the side of deep sleep, with the other half to the side of the other state, i.e., death.

Those who know Brahman say that swoon is half-union. In a swoon the person partially attains the state of deep sleep as there is no consciousness in that state and he returns to consciousness and partially the state of death as he experiences pain and misery which are expressed through distortion of face and limbs.

The objection that no fifth state is commonly acknowledged is without much weight, because as that state occurs occasionally only it may not be generally known. All the same it is known from ordinary experience as well as from the science of Ayurveda. It is a separate state, though it happens occasionally. As it is a mixture of the two states, viz., deep sleep and death it is not considered as a fifth state.