In Unit 25, we studied the nature of ajnyana and understood that ajnyAna is abhAvarUpa. In this unit we will continue with the ajnyAna and see how it differs from mAya. In this unit, we start a new topic - the three states of the jIva.

kAraNa for jagat - mAyA or avidya?

We have known from our foregoing study of jagat and Brahman that

  1. mAya is the kAraNa for the creation, sustenance and dissolution of jagat, and
  2. The transactions of jagat are superimposed on NirguNa Brahman due to avidya.

So the question arises - Is jagat, karya of mAya from (1) above or is it the kArya of avidya from (2) above. Is the first correct, the second correct or both correct? If so, are mAya and avidya synonymous?

The adyhArOpa-apavAda process clearly leads us to the following without any doubt. VaishNavI mAyA (not avidya) is the upAdAna for the jagat. Brahman, with its power of mAyA creates the jagat for the benefit of jIvas, associated with avidya, to experience their karma. The number of jIvas are infinite; even, if one or two were to shed avidya and are not reborn, the creation, sustenance and dissolution of jagat (by the power of mAyA) continues from beginningless time (anAdi) to endless time (ananta) for the benefit of the jIvas still in samsAra.

avidya cannot be the kAraNa for jagat for the following reasons.

a) It is the awareness of every individual that he/she is not the creator of jagat
b) How does a single jagat come out of the varieties of avidya of different jIvas?
c) Multiple jagats from multiple avidya would create a chaos
d) avidya-free jnyAnis like vyAsa have also lived and interacted in this jagat; so avidya-free individuals also interact in jagat. So how can
avidya be the kAraNa for jagat?

Similar arguments establish that the jagat is not the kArya of ajnyAna, but it is the kArya of mAya. This begs a question - then what is the meaning of jagat being imagined by avidya? It is answered as follows. With or without avidya, the jagat is not different from Brahman. However, a
person afflicted by avidya experiences that jagat is different from Brahman; a person free from avidya will experience jagat as not different from Brahman. With this knowledge, he recognizes that NirguNa Brahman is the only Reality. So avidya imagines a jagat (of names and forms) and does not cause a jagat (even vidya cannot cause jagat, so what to speak of avidya?); avidya makes a person believe that the jagat is independent (this is an imagination). So the enquiry helped him understand that the jagat is the kArya of mAyA. On realization (advent of jnyAna), this imagination that the jagat is independent disappeared. With the advent of jnyAna, he comes to realize that the jagat he had come to experience was imagined due to avidya. With jnyAna, he still interacts with jagat; however, this interaction is with a jagat that is NOT DIFFERENT from Brahman (jagat is not independent).

mAyA and avidya

Are mAyA and avidya synonymous? Absolutely not. mAya is associated with Iswara and not jIva; avidya is associated with jIva and not Iswara. The jagat resulting from mAyA is identically seen by everyone; the imagination or projection (adhyAsa) of jagat due to avidya is an individual experience. mAya helps jIva see Brahman in the form of jagat; avidya impels him in the cycle of births and deaths. mAya is the power of Brahman, while avidya is a weakness in the jIva. Crossing mAyA results in liberation, while dropping avidya results in liberation. mAyA is supported by Brahman, while avidya is supported by mAyA. Many more differences can be listed to show that mAyA and avidya are not synonymous. This completes the study of ajnyAna (or avidya), which is also called kAraNa sharIra.

Three States of jIva

The jIva experiences three states - waking, dream and deep sleep states.

Waking State.
During the waking, the 19 principles activate the gross body - his sense organs, organs of action and the inner organ -antahkaraNa are all activated. During the waking state, he interacts with the outside world through the organs of the gross body.

Dream State.
As he gets tired of the waking activities, the activities of the gross body are suspended, the mind is still engaged in its activities. This is the dream state. During the dream state, the vital airs are still protecting the gross body. The experiences of the dream state are driven by the imprints (vAsanas) within him. All the activities of the waking state are present in the dream state. He creates his own jagat, though this jagat is not experienced by others. This jagat is not the jagat of the five elements created by Brahman (through the power of mAyA). So the good or bad deeds of the dream state do not accrue to the karma of the jIva. There is no difference between the waking and the dream states at the mind level. As much as the outside environment of the jagat controls the mind in the waking state (spatial or temporal limitations), there is no such control of the mind in the dream state - the mind does not experience the limitations of the physical space and the time. The experiences of the dream world are false, while the experiences of the waking world are for true. The jIva is the creator of the dream - the experiences of the waking state manifest as dream.

The mind is the upAdhi in the creation of jIva's dream. The light that illumines the dream is the light of the Atman - " tam Eva bhAntam anubhAti sarvam tasya bhAsA sarvam idam vibhAti" (kaTha upanishad 2.2.15). It is the same light that illumines the activities in the waking state. However, in the waking state, the light from the sun or moon (light of the atman supported by the upAdhi of sun or moon), appears to overpower the light of the Atman; therefore it appears to takes backseat.

Deep Sleep State.
The activities of waking state through the gross body and mind and in the dream state via the mind will tire the jIva and he is immersed in deep sleep, to rest. In deep sleep, the jIva has no association with either the gross body or the subtle body. Here the jIva is embracing Brahman; however, he is still in the lap of ajnyAna - because, when he wakes up, he again identifies with the body and mind etc. There is one difference in the deep sleep state vs. the waking and dream states - The experiences of waking and dream states of all jIvas are different as narrated by their own experiences; however, the deep sleep experience is the same for all jIvas, since all jIvas embrace the one and only Brahman in deep sleep. Because, "I slept well" does not need additional explanation between jIvas; there is no second question like "how well was sleep" to understand the experience of sleeping well (the need for additional explanation to narrate the waking state experience of taste or sight etc. experiences between jIvas is obvious). So in deep sleep, there is no difference in the experience of jIvas. So in the absence of association with body and mind (upAdhis), there is no difference in the experience - the same happy state; there is no pain in deep sleep state. This happiness or bliss ends with the end of deep sleep state. Back in the dream or waking state, the upAdhis of gross and subtle bodies bring in the associated pain or pleasure. This is the only deficiency of the deep sleep state.

The bliss of the deep sleep state is not exceeded by any other bliss. He is alone, without the second. This is the state without any fear; this is paramAtma, this is supreme bliss. How to know this? It has been our experience that interaction with (external) sense objects provides happiness for some finite time, beyond which continued indulgence in the sense objects may not continue to provide the same level of happiness. With the loss of happiness, we may not even be inclined to associate with those sense objects again to regain the happiness. There may or may not be happiness in association with sense objects; even the happiness derived, is from the sense object or not cannot be firmly determined. However, it is clear that there is happiness in deep sleep, without any association with sense objects. In reality, the happiness arising out of contact with sense objects is not different from the happiness of svarUpa (of the self); however, it appears as the happiness derived from sense objects, caused by the disappearance of the layers of ignorance covering the svarUpa. So the transactional happiness (from sense objects) is a subset of the bliss of Brahman.

The Levels of Bliss.

Void of all upAdhis in deep sleep, Atman is alone, with the disappearance of many. This characteristic of deep sleep is the reason for that bliss in that state. This supreme bliss is not just the domain of deep sleep. A jIva, knowing its svarUpa has shed the many; he experiences this supreme bliss in waking, dream or deep sleep states. This happens in stages, as the jIva drops the coverings enclosing the Self. As all the coverings are shed, the differences disappear and the same bliss is experienced (unity with the Brahman). One, whose all desires are destroyed, enjoys the supreme bliss, in this life in all states.

Om shAntih, shAntih, shAntih ( Om peace, peace, peace).

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