Ramana on the deep-sleep state

SInce some of the participants in discussions at this site respect the words of Ramana Maharshi above those of most other sources, I thought the following might be instructive for the present topic of the deep-sleep state.

from “Maha Yoga Or The Upanishadic Lore In The Light Of The Teachings Of Bhagavan Sri Ramana” by “Who”, SRI RAMANASRAMAM, Tiruvannamalai, 2002

The State of Deliverance is egoless. So is deep sleep. So it would seem as if one can become free by merely going to sleep. But it is not so. No one becomes free by going to sleep. When he awakes he finds himself as much in bondage as ever before. We have seen that even the Yogi, when he comes out of his trance, called Samadhi, is in the same predicament. The question is: “Why does not the sleeper, who becomes egoless in sleep, stay egoless? Why does the ego revive again on waking?”

Before we consider the answer, we may notice another feature of sleep, which we find from Revelation. Not only is sleep not the gateway to Deliverance; it is also an obstacle to It. We shall see later on that if the seeker of the Self falls asleep while engaged in the Quest, he has to begin over again on waking. Only if he keeps wide awake all the time, and persists actively in the Quest till the Revelation of the Self takes place, does he become free from bondage. We find this indicated in the third part of the Taittiriya Upanishad, where we are told that Bhrigu, who received his teaching from his father, Varuna, obtained Experience of the real Self – therein named Bliss, Ananda – straightaway from the sheath of the intellect; he did not shed that sheath and become lost in the sheath of bliss – the Anandamaya – which would have meant falling asleep. This last sheath – the causal body – is not separately transcended, but only along with the sheath of intelligence.

When this question was put to the Sage, he referred to the Upanishadic lore, where the question is answered. There is a vital difference between the two states. The Sage enters the Egoless State by the utter and final extinction of the ego, which is the primary ignorance. In the language of relativity he is said to lose contact with the subtle and gross bodies by the dissolution of the causal body – otherwise called the sheath of happiness – which is just this primary ignorance. He passes straightaway from the waking state – by the extinction of the ego – to the Egoless State, which is beyond relativity. Hence it is clear that the Sage becomes free from the causal body. But for this body, there is no sort of connection between the Real Self – which the Sage is – and the other bodies. Therefore he is bodiless and mindless.

The case of the common man going to sleep is quite different. His causal body – the primary ignorance – is not dissolved. Into it the ego and mind are merged and remain there in seed-form until the time of waking. The mind having become quiescent, there is happiness in sleep; but this happiness bears no comparison whatever with that of the Egoless State. The Sage tells us: “The happiness of sleep is like the meagre light of the moon that passes through the thick foliage of a tree and lights up the ground beneath; but the happiness of the Sage is like the unobstructed moonlight that falls on open ground.”

This vital difference between the sleeper and the Sage is illustrated in the ancient lore by the analogy of an ordeal by fire, in which an accused person took hold of a red-hot axe, making protestation of his innocence. If he was burnt he was adjudged guilty and punished. If he was not burnt he was declared innocent and set free. Here the guilty man got burnt, because he covered himself with a lie when he grasped the burning iron. The innocent one was not burnt, because he covered himself with the truth, which protected him from being burnt. In the same way the common man goes into union with the Reality in sleep, covering himself with the false knowledge ‘I am the body.’ Thereby he is a liar, and by that lie he is thrown out and returns to bondage. The Sage becomes one with the Reality, covering himself with Right Knowledge – that is, giving up the ego-sense – and is not thrown out.

The Egoless State is therefore something unique. It does not belong to the world-order at all, to which the three states belong. We have seen already that there is a profounder sleep, the sleep of ignorance, by which the real Self is veiled, so that it is possible to take the ego at its face value, as the real Self. The Egoless State is the State of unclouded Reality, where It shines as the pure ‘I AM.’ This is called the Fourth State, to distinguish It from the three. But this is just a tentative description. The Mandukya Upanishad is careful to say: “They regard It as a Fourth State.” The Sage tells us: “The peaceful and timeless state of the Sage, called Waking-Sleep, which to those that live in (the vicious circle of the three states namely) waking, dream and sleep, is said to be the Fourth State, is alone real; the other three are merely false appearances; therefore the Wise Ones call that State – which is Pure Consciousness – the Transcendental State.”

Thus it is clear that there are not four states, but only one, which is the Natural State of the Self as the sole Reality.

The description of the Natural State as Waking Sleep is very instructive. It tells us that It is the true Waking, but that It resembles sleep. This is clearly brought out in the Gita, which says: “The Sage is awake to That, which is (as good as) Night to all creatures; all that to which the creatures are awake is night to the wide-awake Sage.” The meaning is that the Sage who abides in the Egoless State is awake to That which alone is true, namely the Self; the world is Night to him, because being unreal it is not seen by him at all. Thus Day and Night are distributed between the Sage and the ignorant. What is Day to the Sage is Night to the ignorant, and what is Night to him is Day to them. We have seen already that this Day of the Sage is beginningless, as well as endless, because time is unreal.

17 thoughts on “Ramana on the deep-sleep state

  1. Hi Dennis,

    Nice quote from Lakshmana Sarma, though you have to remember that he wrote Maha Yoga to demonstrate that Ramana’s teaching was consistent with Vedanta (which I think it is).

    To understand the nuances of Ramana’s teaching, you need to put together a few pieces of the jigsaw.

    LS also wrote in Sri Ramanaparavidyopanishad:
    310 Bhagavan Sri Ramana, our Guru, makes it clear to the seekers of Deliverance, from the experience of all men in deep sleep, and from the experience of sages in the Supreme State, that these three [space, time and causality] are unreal.

    Then consider what Bhagavan himself wrote in Nan Yar:
    “Since all living beings desire to be always happy without what is called misery, since for everyone the greatest love is only for oneself, and since happiness alone is the cause of love, [in order] to attain that happiness, which is one’s own [true] nature that is experienced daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of the mind, oneself knowing oneself is necessary.”

    And in Guru Vachaka Kovai, he says:

    455: Even though people enjoy the highest happiness in deep sleep where no other thing exists, instead of understanding that it is the true happiness, and trying to achieve it in life, craving to obtain other things, sense objects, as if they were the remedies for the miseries the occur, is utter foolishness
    457: Terming sleep as a sheath is only on account of the foolishness of Self-forgetfulness in which the waking state is considered to be a state of knowledge. If the concept that the waking state is a worthy and true state of knowledge is lost, then the very sleep will shine as the one, non-dual Reality.
    460: When the beginningless impure tendencies, which were the cause of waking and dream, are destroyed, then sleep, which was considered to be leading to bad results [i.e. tamas] and which was said to be a void and ridiculed as nescience, will be found to be Turiyatitam itself.

    So Bhagavan is, like Sri Atmananda, using deep sleep as a pointer to our true nature as [‘the screen of’] pure non-dual consciousness. However, we have to realise this in our waking state (which is where the suffering occurs), by letting go all of our attachments and identification (neti, neti).

    Best wishes


  2. Hi Venkat,

    I don’t really disagree with any of that.

    I would change is the word ‘unreal’ to ‘mithyA’ in “these three [space, time and causality] are unreal.”

    I have never heard anyone refer to sleep as a ‘sheath’ but, if this is equating it with Anandamaya koSha, vivekachUDAmaNi (209) specifically states that this is a ‘mental modification born of tamas’ and ‘pervaded by reflected Ananda’. Also, being a ‘sheath’, it effectively ‘covers’ Atman – it cannot be equated with it.

    Ananda manifests in deep sleep because it is the nature of Atman and there is nothing else there to obscure it, since the mind and ego are resolved. But they are in a temporarily unmanifest state only and reappear when we move to waking or dream state.

    Finally, as regards the deep-sleep state NOT being the same as turIya, Gaudapada kArikA 1.12 is pretty explicit: “prAj~na knows neither himself nor others, neither truth nor untruth. But that turIya is ever the all-seer.” Hence the table I reproduced in the last post: deep-sleep state associated with ignorance; turIya with neither ignorance nor error.

    Best wishes,

  3. Hi Venkat,

    No difference. A j~nAnI knows he/she is brahman in the waking state but still dreams and sleeps. The body-mind continues until death (when prArabdha karma expires) and it still functions in vyavahAra, regardless of Self-knowledge.

    Best wishes,

  4. Our scriptures are flush with several teaching tools and devices within the “tradition” of Advaita in conveying the essence of the ineffable highest Truth experientially “realized” by the ancient Indian Sages. One of such tools is the analysis of the “(usually taken for granted) three states of consciousness. Its popularity comes from the fact that the three states are known to everyone. They are easily accessible without any pre-requisite eligibility criteria and readily available for a critical examination and detailed observation in the lab of one’s own life.

    Based on that device, the teachers built a wide range of “Models.” While some teachings use the “Models” reducing the 3 states into 2 or even 1, a few teachers even expand them to 4 or 5.

    i) Ramana appears to have used the Model of 5 (with turIya and ‘turIyatIta added).

    ii) Mandukya is the ONLY Upanishad which favored the Model of 4 (introducing ‘turIya’). It casts the Model as a prakriyA amenable for adoption as a “doer-centered upAsana” which requires a Godhead (Ishwara) in its modus operandi.

    iii) As explained by Martin in his Comment on the previous thread, Shri Swami Sachdanandendra Saraswati (SSSS) argued for the Model of 3 following the Upanishads like brihadAranyaka etc.

    iv) Swami Ishwarananda of RK Mission also supported and used the Model of 3 in his approach of Knowledge Path.

    v) Sage Vasishta in Yogavasishta and some other scriptures favored the Model of 2 in their teaching (the dream and awake world are pooled together as one).

    vi) Aitareya Upanishad lumps all the states together and talks of a Model of 1.

    Irrespective of whatever “Model” is felt to be ‘dear’ to himself/herself, the incontestable fact is “there are not four states, but only one, which is the Natural State of the Self as the sole Reality,” as observed in the OP.

    Therefore, it is unwise for anyone to bet on any particular “Model” of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 as the the sole Truth or “The only Model that represents the Reality” with high fidelity.

    Dennis ended his Comment quoting Gaudapada kArikA 1.12 to say that “the deep-sleep state NOT being the same as turIya…”

    Swami Ishwarananda devoted the last three pages in his Monograph on “God Realization through Reason” specifically referring to Shankara’s commentary on GK I – 2 in which there is a key sentence that reads:

    तामबीजावस्थां तस्यैव प्राज्ञशब्दवाच्यस्य तुरीयत्वेन देहादिसम्बन्धजाग्रदादिरहितां पारमार्थिकीं पृथग्वक्ष्यति ।

    ‘That designated as prAjna, (when it is viewed as the cause of the phenomenal world) will be described as turIya separately when it is not viewed as the cause and when it is free from all phenomenal relationship such as that of the body etc. in its absolute real aspect.’

    This sentence, the Swami argues, identifies turIya with deep sleep.

    He further says that deep sleep is wrongly viewed as prajnyAnaghana, quoting Shankara again:

    सेयमवस्था अविवेकरूपत्वात्प्रज्ञानघन उच्यते ।

    He holds that the “description of prAjnya as a mass of sentiency is not a description of the experience of sushupti as such, but our view of it before sufficient analysis.”


    • That quotation (tAmabIjAvasthAM…) is pointing out that prAj~na is not everything. It is only the causal state. Certainly prAj~na is turIya, as are the other two states. There are not 4 states; there are 3 states with one, non-dual substratum. turIya is not a cause and is neither waking, dream nor deep-sleep. It is like ring, necklace and bangle are all gold, but gold is none of these.

      (Obviously I accept that all of these are models/metaphors and have to be discarded in the end. I am ‘attached’ to the model that I describe purely because it is the one advocated by Gaudapada/Shankara and because it seems most in accord with our experience and reason.)

      Best wishes,

      • Dear Dennis,

        ” That quotation (tAmabIjAvasthAM…) is pointing out that prAj~na is not everything. It is only the causal state. ”

        Your observation as above regarding the meaning of the sentence “tAmabIjAvasthAM…,” I am afraid, needs a relook. It does NOT say that “prAj~na is not everything.”
        It does NOT also say that “It is only the causal state.”

        The quoted Sanskrit wording of Shankara actually says:
        What is described here as prAjnya will be referred to as turIya separately ( i.e. later on, anticipating the description under I-12 that you made a reference to in your previous Comment). The subtle difference which is the reason for using two words – prAjnya and turIya – is brought out in this sentence. Shankara says it is turIya in its acausal (abIja) form and the same is prAjnya when it is not free from its phenomenal relationship such as that of the body etc.

        Re: The Model “advocated by Gaudapada/Shankara”:

        It is, perhaps more important to keep constantly in mind, IMHO, the background based on which the whole argument is being developed. The background is that it is a prakriyA for a seeker who starts with the belief that s/he is a finite separate self, and proceeds progressively in steps using the sounds A, U and M as props, to shed his imaginary gross, subtle and causal sheaths. The overall basis is the first mantra which says that :

        ओमित्येतदक्षरमिदं सर्वं …..

        Shankara’s introduction preceding the second mantra makes clear the objective of the approach adopted here starting with the sentence:

        अभिधानाभिधेययोरेकत्वेऽपि अभिधानप्राधान्येन निर्देशः कृतः ‘ओमित्येतदक्षरमिदं सर्वम्’ इत्यादि ।

        (“Though the name and the object signified by the name are one and the same, still the explanation (of what is intended to be taught by the Upanishad text) has been given (here) by giving prominence to the name (AUM) …)

        We have Gaudapada explaining to us in 3-15, as you are well aware, that “shruti only provisionally teaches creation and the tAtparya of shruti is not creation. It is only an upAya to drive home the message (sovatAraya) of Brahman, from which there is no actual creation. The verse 3-16 makes it even more explicit by stating, “there are students of different caliber – superior, middling, weak and out of compassion for the latter two categories of students, upAsana and karma (progressive steps) have been prescribed by shruti.”

        Therefore, it looks to me that only the sense of your humility is speaking when a person of the high caliber like you with extensive knowledge and study of Advaita says that ” I am ‘attached’ to the model that I describe …”


        • I’m away for the next few days, I’m afraid. Sorry! Will see if the thread is still active when I return and whether my enthusiasm for following this up is still present!

          Best wishes,

  5. Thanks Ramesam – I quite like the model of 2. On Ramana, he was pretty flexible on the models, depending on the audience.

    Hi Dennis, if a jnani does not experience sleep any differently from an ajnani, then an issue arises with the sentence you quoted from MK, which surely implies that turiya, being ever the all-seer, must know the truth in deep sleep, unlike the state of prajna.

    So I go back to fact that in deep sleep, there is just pure consciousness, not aware of any subject-object division. That is the substratum that is being pointed to. And dream and waking states are just images that go across that substratum. Jnana then is, identifying with that pure non-dual consciousness, rather than any individual body-mind. Then the concept of turiya is simply putting some distance for the jiva from his everyday experience.


  6. Dennis, just to clarify . . if for a jnani, sleep is as for everyone else, then who is to say whether ignorance is there or not in deep sleep for the jnani or the ajnani. The only difference arises in the waking state, in which the mind-body is not mistakenly taken to be one’s identity, as opposed to the underlying substratum which is all that is present in deep sleep.

  7. Venkat,

    We know (when we wake up) that we knew nothing while in deep-sleep. This tells us that Consciousness was there but covered over by ignorance (as it were).

    Deep-sleep is known as the ‘causal state’ because the waking/dreaming mind is in an unmanifest state, ready to manifest as we move to those states.

    The idea that a j~nAnI does not dream or sleep, or continues to realize his true nature in those states, goes along with ideas such the world disappearing on realization. The world carries on; vyAvahArika existence carries on for the j~nAnI until prArabdha karma is exhausted and the body-mind dies. The difference is that all this is known by the j~nAnI’s (waking) mind.

    Regarding your earlier question (” if a jnani does not experience sleep any differently from an ajnani, then an issue arises with the sentence you quoted from MK, which surely implies that turiya, being ever the all-seer, must know the truth in deep sleep, unlike the state of prajna.”):

    As with most Upanishadic statements, you cannot be too literal with the translation! In saying that turIya is the ‘all-seer’, what is meant is that it does not sleep (or wake), it is neither cause nor effect – it does not change state (becuase it is the substratum of the 3 states). It does not know; it is knowledge (if you like).

  8. Hi Dennis,

    You may have misunderstood me (or vice versa). I’m not trying to make the case that a jnani, in some mystical way, is aware during deep sleep. (Though I do find it fascinating that Nisargadatta, JK, and arguably Ramana, have made passing reference to this – though not majoring on it).

    I’m simply saying that as a teaching methodology, and taking the principle of Ocaam’s Razor, why postulate a theoretical turiya, when actually deep sleep works as a simple, direct pointer? Which is I think the elegance of Swami Ishwarananda’s paper.


  9. Hi Venkat,

    You seem to be regarding turIya as some sort of ‘state’. It is not a state; it is another word for brahman – the non-dual reality. So, if you want to use Occam, there is ONLY turIya. All ‘states’ are mithyA, (i.e. their ‘substratum’ is turIya), whether you recognize deep-sleep as a state or not. You can’t get much simpler than that!

    Best wishes,


    The following are some excerpts (relevant to our current discussion on deep sleep) from an article of mine published in 2010 in SOPHIA (‘Sleeping, Dreaming, Awakening’). Two things to be noted: 1) I adopted a three-fold classification of reality: wakefulness, dreaming, and deep sleep, as a metaphor for increasing degrees of understanding. Thus, waking and dreaming are stages 1 and 2; deep sleep is stage 3 (corresponding to Being). Thus, EXISTENCE (1 & 2), BEING (3), and BEYOND BEING (‘the fourth’). 2) Also partially adopted Nisargadatta’s terminology related to the meaning of Consciousness and awareness. All this becomes clear in the process of reading the selections chosen.

    ‘… The first two stages emerge from and disappear into the third one, dreamless state (non-manifestation – from now on, Consciousness or Being). This explains the placing of the ‘wakeful state’ as the first stage of what is in fact , metaphysically or spiritually speaking, “dreaming” Consciousness (“life is a dream”, as we would say), though the word is reserved for the second stage (svapna). Unlike the Mandukya Up., the Brihad. Up. describes only three stages, but it does mention the last one, turiya, as a symbol of the sun (Gayatri or Savitri): “He is supra-mundane because he shines alone on the whole universe as its overlord. He who thus knows the fourth foot of the Gayatri shines with splendour and glory” (5,14,3 – Nikhilananda, p. 243)

    The third stage, deep sleep, “wherein one asleep neither desires nor sees any dream… in whom all experiences become unified, who is, verily, a mass of consciousness, who is full of bliss and experiences bliss” (Mandukya Up., 5), ‘contains’ (see below) the other two and it is said to be ‘antecedent’ to them, differing from them in that there is an absence in it of either gross objects or subtle impressions . It is antecedent because “it is the door leading to the knowledge [of dreaming and waking]”; what this amounts to has been elucidated in the above paragraph, where this third stage is identified with Consciousness itself. On the other hand, it is clearly only in the so called ‘waking state’ that a person can think about the dream state and deep sleep. In that Upanishad it is stated that one can pass from one state to the other, in either direction (something which – at least in this case – is confirmed by ordinary experience); there is a hierarchy, evident from what has already been explained, inasmuch as ‘deep sleep’ points at a higher state of consciousness (or realization), and that is why it is said that it contains the other two. Of this state Shankara says that “the infinite being” [purusha] discovers his identity with everything, he is one with all”. As we will see in the next paragraph, the third stage is not the final one on the way to knowledge, to full awakening (or is it?).


    “This state of silence is a complete peace, in which the mind stops being concerned with the unreal. In this silence that which knows is Brahman, with the bliss of an unending happiness” (Shankara – Viveka-suda-mani, sloka 526).

    This, the deepest, or highest , “state” of consciousness can only be described negatively, first of all as being “the one without a second”, and for which there are no words: “It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, un-inferable, unthinkable, and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self [in the three states], It is the cessation of all phenomena… This is Atman, and this has to be realized” (Man7).

    Clearly, turiya goes beyond desire and attachment, beyond all pairs of opposites (including consciousness and unconsciousness, taken as concepts, as in the above quotation), and since the third state which, as we said, corresponds to (manifest) Consciousness or Being, this highest reality (‘the fourth’) has to be understood as ‘beyond Being’. “The essence of Consciousness”, in the above quotation, points precisely at this level. As described in the Mandukya karika of Gaudpada (I, 11-12): “… only this fourth one is eternal witness of everything”. We quoted Sri Ramana Maharshi (and also Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj) in foot-note 6 to the effect that, in reality, there is only one state, turiya, which contains the other three; the former has also said that these three cannot be real because they come and go, hence it cannot be asked concerning them what degree of reality they have. How better, then, than calling what is beyond Being Brahman or Atman? It is the Absolute itself, and Pure, or Absolute, Consciousness (expressions that have often been used for it), are also quite appropriate – but since Consciousness has been equated here with ‘Being’ (3rd level), consistent with Nisargadatta, ‘awareness’ (which is the ultimate witness) is an alternative term (cf. f.n. 5 & 7) . These last four terms are the ones used in the translation into English of the equivalent terms (in Marathi) pertaining to the teaching of the great contemporary master of Advaita Vedanta, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (see bibliography).

    [F. Schuon and the Traditionalists or Perennialists consider three levels of reality: Beyond Being, Being, and Existence (for some Sufis there are five)]

    One more quotation from the profound, enlightened teaching of this master (NM) will suffice to illustrate the point we are making with respect of the terminology employed here in the last two stages on the way to self-realization, namely, ‘Being’ or ‘Consciousness’ and ‘awareness’: “Those who have realized Brahman, the Highest Reality, merge the self in Turiya because they have transcended the notion of cause and effect, which inheres in the third quarter of Atman. They are not born again, for they have realized their identity with causeless Turiya.” (Nikhilananda, p. 167)

    He is also stated as saying that the bliss that is experienced unconsciously during sleep is experienced consciously in turiya.
    “In Consciousness there is movement; awareness by itself is motionless and timeless, here and now” (Nisargadatta Maharaj, p 233)
    5 Sri Nisargadatta uses also ‘I am-ness’ as an alternative to ‘Being’ or ‘Beingness’.

    “The gnani is the supreme and also the witness. He is both being and awareness. In relation to consciousness he is awareness, in relation to the universe he is pure being”. A little below he says this about the Supreme: “It is neither conscious nor unconscious. Don’t think of it in terms of consciousness or unconsciousness. It is the life, which contains both and is beyond both”.

    “Those who have realized Brahman, the Highest Reality, merge the self in Turiya because they have transcended the notion of cause and effect, which inheres in the third quarter of Atman. They are not born again, for they have realized their identity with causeless Turiya.” (Nikhilananda, p. 167)

    (I could not copy & paste all f.n./s. Sorry!) I would do something about it if requested).

  11. Having seached for Shankara writings on the deep-sleep state, I concede that there are numerous instances where he effectively equates the deep-sleep state with (pure) Consciousness, the Self. So I can now see where Swami Ishwarananda was coming from.

    However, I was approaching the topic from the vantage point of Gaudapada’s kArikA-s, since this is the source with which I am most familiar and I would like to quote from Shankara’s commentary on GK III.34-35. This appears to make my viewpoint explicitly.

    “It has been said that through the awakening to the sole reality of the transcendent Self the mind becomes checked and its motion stilled. It indulges in no ideation, and, because there are no external objects, it subsides like a fire subsiding in the absence of fuel. And it has been further explained how in this state, where the mind is no mind, there is no duality. The text goes on to speak about this further.

    “The yogin should form an accurate conception of the condition of the mind when its motions have been stilled, when it is without any ideation and is possessed of discrimination.

    “Perhaps you will say that its condition when its motions have been stilled is the same as its condition in dreamless sleep, where all ideation is also absent. Since there are no ideas in its suppressed condition either, what could be the difference between the two states? But we reply that this objection does not hold. For the condition of the mind in dreamless sleep is one thing and its condition when stilled is another. In dreamless sleep it is swallowed up in the darkness and the delusion of nescience. It is dissolved into seed-form, retaining the latent impressions of evil and activity. In its stilled state, on the other hand, the seeds of nescience, evil and activity have been burnt in the fire of the awakening to the sole reality of the Self In this state it is independent and free from all the dust of the passions. So the two states, as the Teacher (Gaudapada) says, are ‘not the same’, and it was right that one has to form an accurate conception (of the state of the mind when its motions are stilled to see how it differs from dreamless sleep).

    “He then goes on to explain the reason for the difference of the two states. In dreamless sleep the mind is dissolved. And hence it attains then to a seed-form of darkness, without any manifest distinctions, but associated with all the seed-like impressions of future experiences consisting in nescience and the other passions. But when it is in its stilled state the mind enjoys discriminative knowledge, and it is not dissolved, and hence does not assume a seed-state of darkness. Hence it was eminently reasonable to maintain that there was a difference between the mind in dreamless sleep and the mind in the state of deep spiritual concentration (samadhi).

    “When the mind is void of the two impurities of subject and object set up by nescience it becomes the Absolute, transcendent and non-dual. That is the fearless state, because of the absence of duality, which is the cause of fear. The Absolute is at peace and fearless, and so the enlightened one has no grounds for fear.”

    bhAShya on Gaudapada kArikA III.34 – 35
    A Shankara Source Book: Volume 3 – Shankara on the Soul
    Compiled and translated by A. J. Alston
    Shanti Sadan, London. ISBN 0-85424-057-8

    So the final comment has to be (as was made earlier): All explanations are provisional only; they are necessarily mithyA, being dualistic, and are rescinded in the final understanding. Whichever serves the purpose of advancing one’s understanding is useful.

  12. Interestingly, in Alston’s source book vol 1, ‘Shankara on the Absolute’, he quotes:

    But when in dreamless sleep that nescience which sets up the appearance of beings other than the Self has ceased, there is no apparent entity separated from oneself as if it were another. At that time, what could one see, smell, or understand? Then one is wholly embraced by one’s own Self as Consciousness, of the nature of self-luminous Light. One is then all serene, with one’s desires attained, transparent as water, and this is all on account of the absence of any second . . . This is the immortal, the fearless state. This is the World of Brahman . . . O King, says Yajnavalkya, at this time (i.e. when the soul passes into the state of dreamless sleep), the supreme Reality, having thrown off all external adjuncts such as the body and the senses, shorn of all relationships, rests in its own Light.

  13. Yes, as I said above: ” I concede that there are numerous instances where he effectively equates the deep-sleep state with (pure) Consciousness, the Self.”

    If you look at Volume 3, you will find many more quotes to support your view. In fact, I think you ‘win’ by about 9 quotes to 5!

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