[Advaita-l] Sleep, tamas and brahman

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Apr 29 21:57:36 EDT 2018

On Sat, Apr 28, 2018 at 7:34 PM, Kalyan via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste
> The brihadaranyaka upanishad equates deep sleep with the highest state of
> brahman.

The Upanishad only gives deep sleep as an analogy to the liberated state
because there is no experienceable duality, no identities of jivas as so
and so, no misery, there is explicit peace and hence the state is called
samprasaada.  The comparison is only instructional, to enable the aspirant
to get an idea of the liberated state.  Vidyaranya says in the Panchadashi,
on a different context, the negation/sublation of jagat means only the firm
conviction that it is mithya and not its disappearance from one's
vision/experience.  If the latter were meant by the shruti, everyone will,
with zero effort, become liberated by just going to sleep.

> Why is sleep then, associated with tamas in the bhagavad gita?

This is because in sleep there is no room for sattva
(knowledge/deliberation/sadhana) and activity, karma, rajas.  In fact the
6th chapter of the Gita prescribes moderate sleep and moderate waking for
the Yogi.  This is because, without the required quantum of sleep, even as
modern physicians, etc. agree, one cannot pursue sadhana properly. The body
needs a certain amount of sleep.  The cosmic correspondence with individual
sleep is pralaya. This is a must since what has been created has to come to
a resolution, dissolution, so as to enable the next cyclical creation.
That is why pralaya is also a tamasic function of Brahman.

> Second question - vide the brihadaranyaka, can we say that sleeping is a
> sAdhana in itself?

No. Sleep is not a sadhana in itself. As shown above, sleep, in moderate
amount, is required for conscious sadhana; therefore sadhana is a
conscious, wakeful activity. Shankara has pointed out that in sleep the
jiva 'merges' in saguna brahman and not the nirguna brahman. If the latter,
he says, the jiva will not emerge from sleep as that will be liberation:
yad gatvaa na nivartante ...of the 15th chapter of the Gita. So too, in
pralaya the jivas/bhutas merge in the saguna brahman, only to emerge later
in srishti.


> Regards
> Kalyan
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