Vedānta series 15

Tattvabodha, after having discussed about the three types of bodies, proceeds to discuss about three states of existence, known as avasthātrayam. The three states of existence are active state, dream state and deep sleep state or jāgrat, svapna and suṣupti. These three states are related to the mind. As discussed earlier, mind is the sole important factor in realising the Brahman. The entire process of Self-realisation happens only in the mind. The human mind is so structured by the act of the Brahman, liberation is possible only in a human birth and hence human birth is considered as a divine gift. Instead of realizing the Brahman, mind by default, gets addicted to various sensory pleasures, thereby missing out the God given opportunity to attain salvation.

Awakened state or active state is when the mind receives sensory inputs. In this state, mind is fully alert, thereby making all the three bodies – gross, subtle and casual – awake. When the gross body is active, subtle and casual bodies are also active. Perceiving is impossible without the active support of the casual body, where the mind forms an important component. In the active state, all the nine apertures of the gross body are fully energetic. Casual body and gross body together make all the perceptions possible. The interdependence between gross and subtle bodies is strong during the active state. For example, a person sees a snake. The eyes (gross body) convey the image of the snake to the mind (casual body) which orders the person to run away from the snake (legs – gross body). It can be observed that the casual body has no role to play in any of these actions. It merely remains as a mute spectator to the happenings. However, without the casual body, the other two bodies cannot even exist. The following chart will explain the interdependence of gross and subtle bodies during the active state.

Snake (object) à eyes (organ of perception – gross body) à sight/form (tanmātra - subtle body) àmind (subtle body) à legs/feet (organ of action – gross body) à action/running.

A person who is in his active state is called viśva. Viśva is the state of jīva (individual soul veiled by ignorance), when it is associated with sensory inputs. However, during the active state, māyā is at its best. The veil of ignorance around the Brahman (in this context, Brahman refers to the individual soul) induces the soul (jīva) to believe all that exist are different from each other and that pleasures can be derived from these objects through senses. Advaita philosophy goes haywire at this stage and leads to duality. Duality prevails when a person considers every object as different from him. In this state is ego is predominant. In the active state, a person is associated with I, me, mine, etc.

In this state, all the three types of bodies are active. Gross body performs actions, subtle body is the cause for the actions of the gross body, and the casual body believes that it is the doer because of ignorance. The causal body only believes, but does not act by itself nor causes an action. It believes that it is the doer and enjoyer. The soul is afflicted with delusion and ego. Pleasure and pain are realized only in the active state. Karma is also accrued only during the active state. Vedānta does not accept this kind of active state as the awakened state. According to Vedānta, true awakened state is only when a person has realized the Brahman within. He alone is the true awakened person, who has transcended the effects of māyā. Realisation of the Brahman also happens only in the awakened state.

Further Readings:

Vedanta - Dream and Deep Sleep States

Vedanta - Five Sheaths

Types of Vedanta Philosophy