Good friend Krishnan had sent me the link to a lecture by Swami Sarvapriyananda at IIT Kanpur on Shloka No. 7 of the Mandukya Upanishad. That shloka leads the student to an answer for the most important but difficult question of defining the Self. In his ‘Wisdom of the Upanishads’, Shri. M. characterises ‘Turiya’ as the fourth state. But, Swami Sarvapriyananda, in his lecture, says that ‘Turiya’ means fourth. It does not mean that it is the fourth state after ‘Jaagrata’, Swapna’ and ‘Sushupti’. It is the consciousness that acts in and through the other three states. He keeps the example of bangles, ring and necklace and gold in view, as he goes about explaining ‘Turiya’.
I have not seen or heard a more lucid explanation of ‘Turiya’ than this lecture. It is about an hour long. Time well worth spent. I am yet to listen to part 2 of his lecture.
The implications of understanding this in our daily life are enormous. After we listen to the lecture, it is clear as to why separating the form and substance is so difficult for us and why we lose ourselves in form, symbols, labels and identities. It is because reality is so much intertwined with these that it is virtually hard to separate the reality (truth) from these and since reality (truth) expresses itself through these forms, we mistake the form for real. So, realising and retaining the idea that much, most and all of our lives is ‘maya’ (illusion) is not easy at all. That is why very few get it.
But, in the waking state, the dream state is not real and in the dream state, the waking state is not real. Both are not enduring realities. The more we keep reminding ourselves of this, slowly, slowly and steadily, we may be able to achieve a certain sense of detachment, objectivity and shed various false identifications one by one. It may take many, many births too, for it to happen. But, a beginning has to be made somewhere.
This lecture is a good place to start.
As I found out that he teaches at the RK Mission’s Vivekananda University, I checked out the website of the University. Some of their lecture materials taught in Vedanta classes are available for free download.