mANDUkya upaniShad Part 5

Mantra 4

*** Read Part 4 ***

स्वप्नस्थानोऽन्तःप्रज्ञः सप्ताङ्ग एकोन्विंश्तिमुखः प्र्विविक्तभुक् तैजसो द्वितीयः पादः॥ ४॥

svapnasthAno.antaHpraj~naH saptA~Nga ekonaviMshatimukhaH praviviktabhuk taijaso dvitIyaH pAdaH || 4 ||

dvitIyaH pAdaH – The second aspect (of the Self)
taijasa – is called taijasa.
svapna sthAna – (Its field of action is) the dream state.
antaHpraj~naH – (Consciousness is) turned inwards (as opposed to the waking state in the previous mantra, where it was turned outwards).
sapta a~Nga – (As with the waking state) (it has) seven divisions.
viMshati mukhaH – (and) nineteen interfaces.
praviviktabhuk taijasotaijasa is the enjoyer (bhug = bhuk = bhoktA; experiencer, enjoyer) of the private, internal world (pravivikta).

The second aspect of the Self is taijasa. This is the dream state in which one’s awareness is turned inwards. taijasa has seven parts and experiences the dream world via 19 interfaces.

The word vivikta is given in Monier-Williams (Ref. 47) as ‘separated, kept apart, isolated, alone’ and pra as ‘excessively, very much’ (when used as a prefix to an adjective) so it translates as ‘very much alone’, i.e. ‘private’. Swami Sivananda in Ref. 22 translates it as [pra – differentiated and vivikta – from the objects of the waking state] although I don’t see any justification for this from the dictionary. But it amounts to the same thing as he goes on to say that objects in the world have reality for everyone, whereas those in dream have reality only for the dreamer.

Professor Dave (Ref. 21) simply translates it as ‘subtle’; i.e. the ‘subtle enjoyer’ or ‘enjoyer of the subtle world’. Swami Paramarthananda also translates as ‘subtle’ and this is clearly the simplest and most obvious since the second pAda is all about the subtle aspect.

taijasa literally means ’consisting of light’ or ‘the brilliant or luminous one’. It is so-called because it generates its own world inside the mind without the assistance of any external illumination or power. As with vishva-vaishvAnara-virAT, the individual Self in the subtle dream world is not only the observer of that world but also the dream world itself. This entire dream world does not consist of external objects but is made up of the light (of the dreamer) himself. No external, gross objects are seen at all. Of course this is much more obvious here, since even non-Advaitins accept that the dream is entirely a product of their own minds and that the ‘stuff’ of that world is also nothing other than their own minds. (Pedantically, one has to point out that vishiShTAdvaitin-s do not accept this. They believe that the dream world is just as real as the waking world!) Also, one has to acknowledge that, not only am I the individual microcosmic subtle dreamer, but I am also the macrocosmic aspect, called hiraNyagarbha.

In respect of the macrocosmic or samaShTi view of the entire creation, hiraNyagarbha is the subtle level; virAT is the gross and Ishvara is the causal level. From the individual or vyaShTi aspect of creation, taijasa is the subtle, vishva the gross and praj~nA the causal level. I have never found hiraNyagarbha to be a particularly obvious concept, nor a necessary one! Swami Krishnananda says that Ishvara ‘becomes’ hiraNyagarbha:

Teachers of the Vedanta tell us that the coming down of Ishvara to the Hiranyagarbha state and then to the state of Virat is something like the process of painting on a canvas (Note that this is Shankara’s metaphor). The canvas is stiffened with starch for the purpose of drawing outlines on it by the artist. The canvas is the background on which the outlines are drawn. Hiranyagarbha is the outline of the cosmos, Virat is the fully-colored picture of the cosmos, and the background of this screen is the Supreme Absolute, brahman, appearing as Ishvara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat. (Ref. 34)

Thus, there is a sort of ‘condensation’ of the ‘steam’ of the causal Ishvara, to the ‘water’ of the subtle hiraNyagarbha and then a ‘freezing’ to the ‘ice’ of the gross virAT, representing a progressive ‘grossification’ in the apparently manifesting creation.

It (hiraNyagarbha) is also equated with the creator-god brahmA in some texts, although quite what the connection is I am not sure! And it is described as the golden womb (this is the literal meaning of the word – hiraNya means ‘gold’ and garbha is a womb) or egg out of which brahmA was born. The RRig veda saMhitA (10.121.1) says that: “In the beginning there appeared hiraNyagarbha, born the one lord of all that exists” (quoted in Ref. 35). It should be understood as the ‘universal mind’ or ‘cosmic intelligence’ (mahA tattva). Sri Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam compares the stages to a seed (causal, Ishvara), a sprout (subtle, hiraNyagarbha) and the tree itself (gross, virAT). He says: “Hiranyagarbha, therefore, represents the shining and resplendent form of the universe before its manifestation, which is apparent to us as the creation.” (

Swami Paramarthananda simplifies things to the ‘knower’ of the subtle dream state being taijasa and the ‘known’, objective dream world being hiraNyagarbha, the samaShTi nAma-rUpa, universal name and form. Thus, he says (Ref. 5) that I effectively ‘divide myself into two’. At first sight, this is easy to understand and the idea of a microcosmic knower, with all of the known being macrocosmic, seems very reasonable. However, whilst this seems obvious at the gross level, it is less so at the subtle level, since it seems that I (the jIva) create my dream world, which is not accessible to anyone else (fortunately). We do not do this consciously; it is ‘as though’ it is created for us.

The seven divisions and nineteen interfaces referred to have the same meaning as in the previous mantra, except that now they refer to the subtle, dream body and ego rather than the gross. We have dream-senses and dream-organs of action etc. to interact with all of the dream objects, which are themselves ‘made out of’ my past impressions (vAsanA-s). In the dream, this identity has the same seeming reality to us as has our waking body in the gross world, and our imagined dream world totally supplants what we normally call the ‘real’ world. The waking ego is vishva; the dreamer ego is taijasa. Who we really are is the Atman identifying with first the gross, then the subtle realm. The waking state is the realm of transactional reality, vyavahAra; the dream state is the realm of the illusory, pratibhAsa.

Shankara’s commentary supports what is also the modern scientific view regarding dreams, namely that they are created out of the past impressions that we have gained, together with desires (kAma) and fears (bhaya) we might have had in the waking state, whether from actual experiences or from things we have read or seen etc. He says that:

the mind (in dream) without any of the external means, but possessed of the impressions left on it by the waking consciousness, like a piece of canvas with the pictures painted on it, experiences the dream state also as if it were like the waking. This is due to its being under the influence of ignorance, desire and their action.” (Ref. 4)

The paintings here should be understood to be super-realistic ones, as opposed to impressionistic or abstract ones, so that we are readily deluded that we are looking at a real world!

Shankara also notes in passing that the objects perceived in the waking state are ‘as if external, though (in reality) they are nothing but states of mind’. This might easily lead someone down the path of idealism, but we should interpret this in the sense of the Chandogya Upanishad’s vAchArambhaNa sutras.

Swami Nikhilananda (Ref. 4) adds the footnote that “External objects are nothing but mental existents produced by avidyA. There are no such independent external entities as objects; they are creations of the mind.” This reference to avidyA is not, in my understanding, what Shankara is saying here – see my essay ‘Ignorance – not so obvious!’ at One could certainly say, however, that what we call external objects are effectively seen as separate as a result of language. But, at any rate, it sows the seed for later discussions on such topics as the illusory nature of cause and effect. The point of the ‘painted canvas’ is that we see the dream world in the same way that we see the waking world, and believe it to be just as real at the time of dreaming.

Shankara cites two scriptural references in support of the argument that the dream arises from prior impressions in the waking state. Firstly, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.3.9:

When he dreams, he takes away a little of the (impressions of) this all-embracing world (the waking state), himself puts the body aside and himself creates (a dream body in its place), revealing his own luster by his own light – and dreams. In this state, the man himself becomes the light.

 Here, the word for light is the more general jyotiH, not taijasa but Shankara’s commentary on this Upanishad states that:

When, however, that luster consisting of the impressions of the waking state is perceived as an object, then, like a sword drawn from its sheath, the light of the Self, the eternal witness, unrelated to anything and distinct from the body and such organs as the eye, is realized as it is, revealing everything. Hence it is proved that, ‘in that state the man himself becomes the light’.” (Ref. 32)

Secondly, he quotes the Prashna Upanishad IV.5:

Here, in dream, the deity called mind experiences glory. It sees whatever has been seen before; whatever was heard it hears again; the experiences it had in different countries and directions it experiences again and again. Whatever was seen or not seen, heard or not heard, experienced or not experienced, real or unreal, all that it sees, being itself all.

 (Shankara points out here that there cannot be impressions of what has never been experienced so that the references to ‘what has not been seen’ etc. refer to experiences in previous lives.) (Ref. 33)

*** Read Part 6 ***