The Four States


How the four quarters are said to indicate Ātman –is thus explained…

The first quarter (Pāda) is *Vaiśwānara whose sphere (of activity) is the waking state, who is conscious of external objects, who has seven limbs and nineteen mouths and whose experience consists of gross (material) objects.

[*In Hinduism, Vaishvanara, meaning “of or related to Visvanara” is an abstract concept. It is related to the soul atman, the Self or self-existent essence of human beings. Etymologically, Vaishvanara is a derivative of the conjoined word Vishvanara i.e. Vishva + Narah i.e. the ‘Universal or Cosmic Man’. In the Rig Veda, Vaishvanara is an epithet of the fire god deity Agni.]

Śaṅkara: Jāgaritasthāna, i.e., his sphere? (of activity) is the waking state. Bahishprajna, i.e., who is aware of objects other than himself. The meaning is that consciousness appears, as it were, related to outward objects on account of Avidya. Similarly Saptanga, i.e., he has seven limbs. The Sruti says, “Of that Vaiswanara Self, the effulgent region is his head, the sun his eye, the air his vital breath, the ether (Akasa) the (middle part of his) body, the water his kidney and the earth his feet.” The Āhavanīya fire (one of the three fires of the Agnihotra sacrifice) has been described as his mouth in order to complete the imagery of the Agnihotra sacrifice. He is called Saptānga because these are the seven limbs of his body. Similarly he has nineteen mouths. These are the five organs of perception (Buddhindriyas); the five organs of action (Karmendriyas); the five aspects of vital breath (Prana, etc.); the mind (Manas); the intellect (Buddhi); egoity (Ahamkāra); mind-stuff (Chitta). These are, as it were, the mouths, i.e., the instruments by means of which he (Vaiśwānara) experiences (objects). He, the Vaiśwānara, thus constituted, experiences through the instruments enumerated above, gross objects, such as sound, etc. He is called Vaiśwānara because he leads all creatures of the universe in diverse ways (to the enjoyment of various objects); He is called first (quarter) because the subsequent quarters are realized through him (Vaiśwānara).

Unborn Commentarius: Essentially, these four quarters are the states of consciousness of Aum. Firstly, the waking state initiates the First Principle (Vaiśwānara) to experience phenomenal realms. It is the “A” in Aum. It becomes Self-aware of Itself through conscious awareness. The space/time continuum now becomes a dominant and determining factor that is all too-often fathered through the seed of avidya (ignorance). The result is a skandhic personal “I” which identifies exclusively with the false body consciousness. In this fashion, all becomes covered by the Veil of Maya (Illusory World).


The second quarter (Pāda) is the Taijasa whose ‘sphere (of activity) is the dream, who is conscious of internal objects, who has seven limbs and nineteen mouths and who experiences the subtle objects.

Śaṅkara: He is called the Svapnasthāna because the dream (state) is his (Taijasa) sphere. Waking consciousness, being associated as it is with many means, and appearing conscious of objects as if external, though (in reality) they are nothing but *states of mind, leaves in the mind corresponding impressions. 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, is due to its being under the influence of ignorance, desire and their action. Thus it is said, “And when he falls asleep) then after having taken away with him (portion of the) impressions from the world during the waking state (destroying and building up again, he experiences dreaming by his own light.”)

* (States of Mind) External objects are nothing but mental existents produced by Avidya. There are no such independent external entities as objects; they are but creations of the mind. In fact we are not conscious of any external objects independent of the mind. We take our mental creations to be such objects. Again those who seek for the cause of these mental creations or ideas, which we think we see as external objects, are led into a logical regressus. This causal chain leads nowhere. It will be shown later on that the whole idea of cause and effect is unreal.

Unborn Commentarius: Just as day-consciousness is the fabric of the waking state, just so is night-consciousness the determining factor of the dreaming state. This is the “U” in Aum. It experiences the same space/time continuum, but now it’s fluctuating in a sea of phantasmagoria. Even though the energy is inner-directed it’s still influenced by external events. It is fed through the shifting sands of the Alaya-receptacle and thus is held spellbound to whatever kaleidoscope-like images present themselves.


(Swami Krishnananda) The third quarter is prājña, where one asleep neither desires anything nor beholds any dream: that is deep sleep. In this field of dreamless sleep, one becomes undivided, an undifferentiated mass of consciousness, consisting of bliss and feeding on bliss.

Śaṅkara: ‘Wherein,’ that is to say, in which state or time, the sleeping person does not see any dream, nor does he desire any desirable (object). For, in the state of deep sleep, there does not exist, as in the two other states, any desire or the dream experience whose characteristic is to take a thing for what it is not. He is called the ‘Sushuptasthāna’ because his sphere is this state of deep sleep. Similarly it is called Ekībhūta, i.e., the state in which all experiences become unified—a state in which all objects of duality, which are nothing but forms of thought, spread over the two states (viz., the waking and the dream), reach the state of indiscrimination or non-differentiation without losing their characteristics, as the day, revealing phenomenal objects, is enveloped by the darkness of night. Therefore conscious experiences, which are nothing but forms of thought, perceived during dream and waking states, become a thick mass (of consciousness) as it were (in deep sleep).

Unborn Commentarius: Verily, this is a state of non-perception. It is the “M” in Aum. All is now outside the space/time continuum. Here, the body-consciousness itself is rendered mute. It is unadulterated and undifferentiated awareness that is totally [un]conscious and oblivious to the garish affairs of the outside world. Its resting serenely on the Unborn bosom Itself.


This is the Lord of all; this is the knower of all; this is the controller within; this is the source of all; and this is that from which all things originate and in which they finally disappear.

Śaṅkara: This in its natural state, is the Lord Iśwara of all. All, that is to say, of the entire physical and ‘super-physical universe. He (Iśwara) is not something ‘separate from the universe’ as others hold. The Śruti also says, “O good one, Prana (Prajna or Iśwara) is that in which the mind is bound.” He is omniscient because he is the knower of all beings in their different conditions. He is the Antaryāmin, that is, he alone entering into all, directs everything from within. Therefore He is called the origin of all because from Him proceeds the universe characterized by diversity, as described before. It being so, He is verily that from which all things proceed and in which all disappear.

Unborn Commentarius: A break now occurs in the sequence in order to further identify the presence and supernal qualities of the Absolute Unborn Lord when in creative-mode.


Turīya is not that which is conscious of the internal (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the external (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass all sentiency, nor that which is simple consciousness, nor that which is insentient. (It is) unseen (by any sense organ), not related to anything, incomprehensible (by the mind), uninferable, unthinkable, indescribable, essentially of the nature of Consciousness constituting the Self alone, negation of all phenomena, the Peaceful, all Bliss and the Nondual. This is what is known as the fourth (Turīya). ‘This is the Atman and it has to be realised.

Śaṅkara: The fourth quarter which now comes in order (for explanation) has to be described. This is done in the words of the text: “‘not conscious of the internal object.” It (Turīya) does not admit of description or indication by means of words, for all uses (affirmative or negative) of language fail to express it. Therefore Turīya is sought to be indicated by the negation of all attributes (characteristics). Hence it (Turīya) is “unseen”; and because it is unseen therefore it is “‘ncomprehensible”. Turīya cannot be apprehended by the organs of action. Alakshanam means “‘uninferable’’, because there is no Linga (common characteristic) for its inference. Therefore Turīya is ‘“unthinkable” and hence “‘indescribable” (by words). It is ‘‘essentially of the nature of consciousness consisting of Self”. Turīya should be known by spotting that consciousness that never changes in the three states, viz., waking, etc., and whose nature is that of a Unitary Self. Or, the phrase may signify that the knowledge of the one Atman alone is the means for realising Turīya, and therefore Turīya is the essence of this consciousness or Self or Atman. The Śruti also says, “It should be meditated upon as Atman.”

Unborn Commentarius: Turīya is another symbol for the Unborn Absolute. Its only attribute is Imagelessness, and this devoid of all phenomenal outflows. It is the Ultimate Stateless-State and thus Undivided in stature. It is not conscious of Itself. This is silence or Ātman corresponding to Turīya—It has no corresponding letter or sound, and thusly is deathlessness Itself. As such, It is the silence THAT follows Aum.  Turīya can be approached in Deep-Samadhi and comes closest to THAT aura of Blissfulness that is the hallmark of the True-Self (Unborn Ātman).

The following chart is a composite sketch of today’s blog, breaking-down the Four States in relationship to the Divine Aumness:


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