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State Of Consciousness In Hindu Religion – Jagrat

Jagrat means being awake and, in the context of Hindu philosophy, denote a subjective state. Here is a look at the state of consciousness in Hindu religion. Prashna Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad speak of three states of the baddha jiva (embodied self). These are jagrat avastha (waking state), swapna avastha (dream state) and susupta avastha (dreamless sleep state).

Added later was a fourth state, turiya avastha (consciousness of man’s pure self existence). During jagrat avastha, the jiva experiences the objects of the external world through the mind and the sense organs. Its activities and enjoyments pertain to the sthula (gross) level.

At the macrocosmic level, Mandukya Upanishad speaks of catushpata (four quarters or forms) of Brahman. After propounding that the atma is the same as Brahman, Upanishad explains that this self has four forms – Vaisva, Taijasa, Prajna and Turiya.

Of the four forms, Vaisva, also known as vaisvanara, refers to the waking state. The four states are identified with the three letters comprising the sacred pranava or om, ‘a’, ‘u’, ‘m’ and arthamatra (the half letter). The pranava, as is well known, is considered the symbol of Brahman.

The first three states represent the three sound elements of pranava, while the integral import of pranava is stateless absolute spirit. According to Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, the four forms described in Upanishads refer to the four vyuha manifestations of Paramatman mentioned in Pancharatra Agamas, viz., Pradyumna, Sankarshana, Aniruddha and Vasudeva. Of these,the jagrat state represents vaisva and the letter ‘a’ of pranava, and also the Pradyumna form of Bhagavan. Meditation on the first syllable ‘a’ of pranava, which, as has been mentioned earlier, stands for the waking state, is said to lead to worldly prosperity.