Mandukya Upanishad

माण्डूक्य उपनिषद्

(Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad)

Translated by Charles Johnston (incl. Gaudapada's Karika)

See also: The Mukhya Upanishads, by C. Johnston

Mandukya Upanishad

“‘Om’: This imperishable syllable is all that is. Its expansive expression is: What has been, What is, What shall be. All this is ‘Om.’ And whatever else there is, beyond the threefold division of Time, that, also, verily, is ‘Om.’ For all this is Brahma, the Eternal; and the Self, Atma, is the Eternal. And this Self stands in four worlds.

“In the world of Waking Consciousness, Jagrat, objectively perceiving, of sevenfold form, with nineteen mouths – organs of sense and action – an enjoyer of gross matter, this is the Natural Self, Vaishvanara, the first measure or foot.

“In the world of Dream Consciousness, Swapna, subjectively perceiving, of sevenfold form, with nineteen mouths – organs of sense and action – an enjoyer of finer matter, this is the Psychical Self, Taijasa, the second measure or foot.

“Where, entered into rest, he desires no desire and beholds no dream, this is Dreamless Consciousness, Sushupti. Dreamless consciousness, unified, collective perception, verily, made of bliss, an enjoyer of bliss, perceiving through the heart, this is the Spiritual Self, Prajna, the third measure or foot. This is the All-lord, this is the all-knower, this is the Inner ruler, this is the womb of all, the forthcoming and indrawing of beings.

“Neither subjectively perceiving, nor objectively perceiving, nor perceiving in both ways, neither collective perception, nor perception nor non-perception; unseen, not to be apprehended, not to be grasped, without sign of separation, unimaginable, unindicable, the essence of the consciousness of the Self, in which the manifest world ceases, full of peace, benign, secondless, this is held to be the Fourth Consciousness, this is the Self, Atma, this is the goal of wisdom.

“This Self, Atma, corresponds according to syllables with the ‘Om’ according to its measures. The measures are as the feet, and the feet are as the measures: A, U and M, to wit.

“The Natural Self in Waking Consciousness, is the A, the first measure, so called from being the first, and from acquiring. He passes beyond all desires and becomes first, who thus knows,

“The Psychical Self, in Dream Consciousness, is the U, the second measure, so called from its up-raising and uniting. He is upraised to the highest knowledge, and becomes united, nor in his family do knowers of the Eternal fail, who thus knows.

“The Spiritual Self in Dreamless Consciousness, is the M, the third measure, so called because it measures all, or because all merges in it. He measures all, and in him all merges, who thus knows.

“Without measure is the Fourth, not to be apprehended, wherein manifestation comes to rest, the benign, secondless. Thus the ‘Om’ is as the Self, Mind. Through the Self, he enters the Self, who thus knows, who thus knows.”

See Also

The Measures of the Eternal

Mandukya Upanishad

Translated from the Sanskrit with an Interpretation

By Charles Johnston

Full Text Online (PDF)

Gaudapada’s Poem on the Mandukya Upanishad


“Objectively perceiving, wide-extending is the Natural Self; subjectively perceiving is the Psychical Self; collectively perceiving is the Spiritual Self; the One Self, verily, is thus manifested as three.

“The Natural Self has its center in the right eye, and the mouth; the Psychical Self is centered in the mental and emotional nature; in the pure ether and in the heart dwells the Spiritual Self; thus it dwells in its vesture threefold.

“The Natural Self is the enjoyer of gross matter; the Psychical Self is the enjoyer of finer matter; the Spiritual Self is the enjoyer of bliss. Learn thus the threefold division of feasts.

“The gross gratifies the Natural Self; the finer gratifies the Psychical Self; but bliss delights the Spiritual Self. Know thus the threefold order of delights.

“He who knows both what is enjoyed in the three dwellings of the Self, and also who is the enjoyer, he, indeed, even though enjoying, shall not be stained. (5)

“The forth-coming of all beings from what has been before is certain; the One Life, the Spirit, causes each fragment of consciousness to be born.

“Some who ponder on manifestation think that all comes forth by evolution; by others manifestation is deemed to be of the nature of dream or glamor.

“Some think of manifestation that it is manifested through the mere will of the Lord. Those who believe in Time, think the evolution of beings comes through Time alone.

“Some think all things were manifested for enjoyment; others that all was made for sport. But the universe is the very being of God; and what desire could there be in Him, who has attained all desires?

“Master of the surcease of all pain, the Lord who passes not away, secondless, the God of all beings,—this is the Fourth degree of consciousness, the Divine. (10)

“The bonds of cause and what is caused rule the Natural and Psychical Selves. The Spiritual Self is bound by cause; but these two rule not in the Fourth degree of consciousness, the Divine.

“The Spiritual Self perceives not beings divided into Self and Others, nor divided into the real and the inverted image of reality. The Fourth degree of consciousness, the Divine, forever beholds the All.

“Divine Spiritual Self and the Divine Self have this in common, that neither perceives duality. The seed of the illusion of separateness dwells in the Spiritual Self, but no longer exists in the Divine.

“Dream-forms and the illusion of separateness condition both the Natural and the Psychical Selves; the Spiritual Self has the seed of separateness without the forms of dream; but those who are established in the Fourth degree of consciousness, the Divine, perceive neither the illusion of separateness nor the forms of dream.

“Through the forms of dream, things are seen as other than they are; through the illusion of separateness, one knows not the Real. When these two inversions of perception are overcome, then one enters the Fourth degree of consciousness, the Divine. (15)

“When the individual Life is awakened from the dream of beginningless world-glamor, then the unborn, undeluded, undreaming, secondless Divine is known.

“If the manifest world had real being, it should pass away in time. But this duality is sheer illusion; transcendental being is one and secondless.

“If the world were built up by anyone, that building should pass away in time. This expression of duality lasts only while instruction lasts; when the truth is known, duality comes to an end.

“The Natural Self and the letter A have this in common, that they stand at the beginning; they have also in common the power of acquiring.

“The Psychical Self and the letter U have in common the power of up-raising; they are also brought together by having the power of uniting. (20)

“The Spiritual Self is connected with the letter M through the power of measuring; through the power of merging, it is also united with it.

“He who knows certainly that which is the quality in common, in the three dwellings of the Self, he is to be honored of all beings; he is to be praised as a perfect seer.

“The letter A leads to the Natural Self, the letter U leads to the Psychical Self; the letter M again to the Spiritual Self; there is no going in that which is without measure.

“The ‘Om’ should be known as according with the four realms of consciousness; for without doubt these four realms correspond to the measures of ‘Om.’ When one has understood the ‘Om’ as according with the realms of consciousness, thought need go no further.

“Let him bring his consciousness to union in the sacred syllable ‘Om’; for the ‘Om’ is the fearless Eternal. He who is ever united in the ‘Om’ sees no fear anywhere. (25)

“The ‘Om’ is the manifest Eternal, and the unmanifest Eternal also. The ‘Om’ has nought before it, nought within it, nought without it, it passes not away.

“For the ‘Om’ is the beginning of all things, it is likewise the middle and the end. Knowing thus the ‘Om,’ he straightway enters that Supreme.

“Let him know the ‘Om’ as the Master, dwelling in the heart of every being. Understanding the ‘Om’ as the all-embracing, the wise man sorrows no more.

“By whom the ‘Om,’ the measureless, the immeasurable, the surcease of duality, the benign, is rightly known, he indeed, and no other, is the silent seer.


“The wise have declared that all forms seen in dream are unsubstantial; because they are subjective, and not formed of gross matter. One does not actually go to the places he beholds in dream, for the time is too short; and on awaking, he does not find himself in the place he was dreaming of.

“The Scripture also declares that chariots and horses seen in dream are unreal, as logic has shown. Therefore it is proven that things seen in dreams are unsubstantial.

“It is taught that all things separate from the Self, though seen in waking life, are as unreal as things seen in dream. They are distinguished from these only because dreams are subjective, and of finer stuff.

“The sages have declared that things seen in dream and waking are equally unreal, because both are separate from the Self, and nought but the Self is real. (5)

“That which is nothing in the beginning, and nothing at the end, is likewise nothing in the middle. Separate things are like the mirage, though they are viewed as real, not as mirage.

“The efficiency of these things ceases in dream; therefore, as they have both beginning and end, they are declared to be unreal.

“That dream-scenes appear in unprecedented forms, is due only to the character of him who is in the dream-condition; just as the unprecedented scenes of the heaven-world arise from the character of those in the heaven-world. He who goes there, views these things and understands them, just as one well-taught here understands what he views.

“In the dream-condition, also, that which is perceived subjectively is recognized as unreal, but that which appears objectively is held to be real; yet both are equally illusory.

“So in the waking condition, what is perceived subjectively is recognized as unreal, but what is grasped objectively is held to be real; yet it is fitting to hold both equally illusory. (10)

“If in both these conditions, we admit the illusory nature of all things seen as separate, who is it that thinks them separate? Who is the creator of these forms?

“The Self, Atma, of Himself makes Himself appear in these forms, as a God, by his magical power of glamor. It is He who thinks these forms separate from Himself. This is the certain teaching of the Vedanta.

“He as Lord molds the various forms that are ranged in subjective consciousness; it is He also who builds up the forms that are set in external consciousness.

“The forms that exist only in the time that we are conscious of them in thought, and the forms that appear externally at two different times, are all equally built up by imagination; they are of different degrees, but not otherwise different.

“Subjective forms which are not outwardly manifested, and things which are clearly seen as external, are all alike built by the imagination; the only difference between them is the difference of the powers which perceive them. (15)

“The Self, Atma, first forms the Individual Life, Jiva; thereafter the Self shapes beings of varied form, both those which are external, and those which are in self-consciousness. According to the inherent knowledge of the Individual Life, so is its memory.

“As the rope, which cannot be perceived distinctly in the dark, is changed by imagination into various forms, such as a serpent, or a streak of water, so is the Self, Atma, changed by imagination into various forms.

“As the imagined form vanishes when the rope is distinctly seen, and it is perceived that there is the rope, and nothing else, so is the clear perception of the Self, Atma.

“The Self is imagined to take the forms of the life-breaths and numberless other forms; this is the magical glamor of the God, whereby Himself is concealed from view.

“Those who believe in the Life see Him as Life; those who believe in the elements see Him as the elements; those who believe in the Nature-powers see Him as the Nature-powers; those who believe in the forms of matter, see Him as the forms of matter. (20)

“Those who see the four degrees of consciousness, perceive Him as the four stages of consciousness; those who believe in objects, see Him as objects; those who believe in worlds, see Him as worlds; those who believe in Gods, see Him as the Gods.

“Those who believe in the Scriptures, the Vedas, see Him in the Scriptures; those who believe in sacrifices, see Him in sacrifices; those who think of the consciousness which enjoys, see Him as the enjoying consciousness; those who think of what is enjoyed, see Him as what is enjoyed.

“Those whose thought is set on the subtle, see Him as the subtle; those whose thoughts are set on the gross, see Him as the gross; those who think of the formed, see Him in the formed; those who think of the formless, see Him in the formless.

“Those who think of Time, see Him as Time; those who think of space, see Him in space; those who are set on words, think of Him as words; those who dwell on the worlds, think of Him as the worlds. Those who dwell on emotion, think of Him as emotion; those who dwell on pure thought, think of Him as pure thought; those who dwell in imagination, think of Him as imagination; those who dwell in law, think of Him as Law; those who disregard law, think of Him as above law. (25)

“Some see Him as the five-and-twenty powers, others as the six-and-twenty; others as one-and-thirty; yet others as innumerable.

“Those who think of the realms of life, declare Him to be the regions of life; those who think of the stages of development, see Him as the stages of development; those who think of difference of sex, think of Him as feminine, masculine, neuter; others think of Him as the Higher and the Lower.

“Those who believe in evolution, think of Him as evolution; those who believe in involution, think of Him as involution; those who believe the world is stationary, think of Him as stationary. Thus all ever perceive Him, each after his own thought.

“In whatever form He may appear to anyone, that form each beholds; He protects him, becoming that form; and he who thinks on Him under that form, enters into Him.

“He, who is not divided, appears divided through these various forms; he who knows this truly, may without fear imagine Him in any form. (30)

“As a dream or an illusion of glamor, or as fairy-city seen in the air, such is all this world declared to be, by the seers, in the Vedanta teachings.

“There is no coming to an end, there is no manifestation, there is none bound, there is none seeking to attain, there is none seeking freedom, there is none freed, this is the transcendental, the final truth.

“By Him, though ever One, this is imagined in unreal forms; the forms are all produced by the One; therefore Oneness is the blessed state.

“These varied forms are not of the same nature as the Self , nor are they of independent nature; they have no being either separate from the Self, or not separate from the Self; thus have the knowers of the Real perceived.

“By those from whom passion and fear and wrath are gone, the Masters of silence, who have crossed to the farther shore of the Vedas, is this Unchanging One beheld, in whom the worlds come to surcease, who is secondless. (35)

“Therefore, knowing Him thus, let him fix his memory on the Secondless One; gaining the Secondless One, let him walk the world as though it were inert.

“Let him who has conquered himself be above praise, seeking no adoration, ceasing from offerings to spirits; though amid the mutable, yet dwelling in the immutable; meeting the events of life as they come.

“Seeing the reality beneath self-consciousness, and seeing also the reality beneath external things, let him become the reality, finding his pleasure-ground therein, never falling below the Real.”


“One takes refuge in devotion, thinking that he has been evolved by the Creator, and that before this evolution nothing was; such a one is deemed of mean understanding.

“Therefore I shall tell of that which is beyond mean understanding, which enters not into birth, which is forever equal; since, though seeming to enter into birth, this is not born at all.

“The Supreme Self is likened to space, which is made up of the sum of spaces enclosed in jars, and includes the jars also. This is the best simile for evolution.

“When the jars and other containing vessels are destroyed, the spaces that were contained in the jars and the like melt into universal Space. So individual selves melt into the infinite Self.

“Just as, when the space contained in any jar is soiled by dust and smoke, the space contained in other jars is not soiled. So all individual selves are not affected by the happiness or sorrow of one individual self. (5)

“Everywhere there is difference of form and nature and name. But there is not therefore any difference in Space. This again is a simile of the Universal Self.

“Just as the space contained in a jar is neither a separated part nor an evolved effect, of Space, so likewise the individual self is neither a separated part or an evolved effect of the Self.

“As space, in the thought of the inexperienced child, seems stained, so does the Self seem to be stained, to those who are unawakened. As far as dying, being born, going and coming are concerned, in the case of all beings it is just as in the case of Space.

“All separate beings are like the creatures of a dream, sent forth by the glamor-power of the Supreme Self. Their relations, of greater and less, or of equals, are no proof that they are real. (10)

“For the substance of the Five Veils of the Self, enumerated in the Taittiriya Upanishad, is of the Highest Being, as in the illustration of the portions of space, and Space.

“In the contrasted terms of the Teaching of Nectar, the oneness of the Supreme Eternal is taught; just as Space is one, whether it be the space contained in the earth, or in the body of man.

“The unity of the individual soul and the universal Soul is proclaimed. The thought of diversity between them is reproved. Therefore their oneness is the truth.

“The description of the individual soul and the universal Soul as separate before the growth of the soul is attained, is only to make intelligible the growth of the soul. It does not represent a reality.

“Similes for the Soul, taken from clay that can be molded, from iron that can be welded, from sparks that come forth from the flame, are different in character. They are but means for the understanding to pass over. There is no real division at all. (15)

“As there are three stages of life, the lower, the middle and the higher, so there are three stages of vision. This way of devotion is taught for the sake of attaining these.

“Those who believe the individual soul is separate from the universal Soul, each set firm in his own opinion, are in conflict with each other. But this teaching of Oneness is in conflict with none.

“For the teaching of Oneness is the transcendental Truth, and duality is a part of it. As they also teach duality, this Truth does not conflict with them.

“The Eternal, ever unborn, appears to be divided through Glamor only, for, were the division real, the immortal would take on mortality.

“Some would have it that the unborn, everlasting Being comes to Birth. But how could the unborn, the immortal, come to mortality? (20)

“The immortal becomes not mortal, nor does the mortal become immortal. For nothing can become the contrary of its own nature. If any think that what of its own nature is immortal can come to mortality, how can he hold that it stands immortal and changeless? The Scripture holds the same teaching regarding birth, whether that birth be real or unreal; that alone is certain which is taught by Scripture and affirmed by reason.

“Such sentences of Scripture as that which declares ‘There is no separateness,’ and ‘Indra, through glamor, appeared as manifold;’ prove that He, the ever unborn, appears to be born through Glamor alone.

“The sentence of Scripture, which forbids worship of the Formative Power, proves that the Formative Power is not final Reality. And the sentence, ‘Who can bring Him into birth?’ proves that causation is not final Reality. (25)

“‘It is not that, not that!’ This sentence denies all properties in the Self. The Real is sought to be indicated by sheer incomprehensibility.

“The birth of the Real is perceived only through Glamor; it is not a reality. He for whom the Real is really born, must think of it as perpetually reborn.

“The Unreal never enters birth, whether in reality or through Glamor; just as the son of the barren woman is never born, whether really or in seeming.

“As in dream the mind divides itself into the seer and the thing seen through the power of Glamor, in just the same way the mind, in waking, divides itself into the seer and the things seen, through the power of Glamor.

“As the mind, which is really not divided, appears as divided in dream; in just the same way the Mind, really not divided, appears as divided in waking. (30)

“Whatever division there is, among things animate or inanimate, is an appearance of the Mind’s making. When Mind transcends mind, no division any longer exists.

“When by awakening to the reality of the Self, the mind’s imaginings are brought to rest, then does Mind transcend mind, ceasing to grasp after externals, since naught is left, other than Self, for it to grasp.

“The true knowing is declared to be free from imaginings, and not separate from what is known; the Eternal, unborn, everlasting, is what is known; by the unborn the unborn is comprehended.

“The condition of the mind which has transcended itself, which is free from imaginings and has reached wisdom, is beyond the condition of dreamless sleep, and different from it.

“For in dreamless sleep the mind has simply sunk into quiescence; but when Mind transcends mind it has not simply sunk into quiescence, but has entered completely into the realm of wisdom, the fearless Eternal. (35)

“Unborn, beyond drowsiness, beyond dream, beyond both name and form, shining out all at once, all knowledge, beyond the need of specific forms of service.

“It has passed beyond all descriptive speech, it has risen above all forms of imagination; it has entered into peace, it is all at once full of light, it is pure vision, unmoved and fearless.

“Where no form is perceived by the thought, there is naught to grasp nor to surrender; then the power of knowing has come to rest in the Self. Reaching perfect being, it knows no further birth.

“The union with the intangible is hard to perceive for the seekers of union; the seekers of union draw back in fear from That, seeing fear where there is no fear.

“The seekers of union think that on perfect control of the mind depend freedom from fear, the conquest of pain, awakening to the light, and everlasting peace. (40)

“Just as it is possible to empty the ocean, by picking it up drop by drop on the tip of a blade of kusha grass, so it is possible completely to control the mind by infinite perseverance.

“By the right means one should gain control over the mind, whether it be scattered abroad after the feasts of desire, or sunk down in sluggish sloth; for lust and sloth are equal dangers.

“Let him turn the mind back from lust by holding in memory the pain of all perishing things; for remembering that all is unborn, he ceases to perceive what is manifest through birth.

“Let the mind that is sunk in sloth be awakened; let the mind that is scattered be brought back to peace. Let him know that the mind is prone to unrest and lust; therefore, when it has gained peace, let him keep it in peace.

“Let him not allow it to hold with relish to the happiness of this peace, but let him through spiritual vision break free from all attachment. Let him by effort of will bring the mind to oneness with the Self, keeping it poised, in perfect stillness. (45)

“When the mind sinks not back in sloth, and scatters itself no more abroad, no longer like a flickering flame, no longer catching false reflections, then it is one with the Eternal, in perfect stillness.

“Self-sustained, full of peace, entered into Nirvana, ineffable, is that most excellent joy; it is declared to be the all-knowing unborn, at one with the unborn goal of all knowing.

“The individual soul is not really born; it has no real separate being; that is the highest truth, which perceives that naught is really born.”

IV. Quenching of the Fire-Brand

“He who, by wisdom clear and wide as the ether, illumining through union with what is known, has realized that all visible qualities are but as the visible sky which rests in the ether: him I praise, of men most excellent.

“He who teaches the Union which is limitless, bringing happiness to all beings, beings free from dissonance or discord; to him in reverence I bow.

“There are some who affirm the world is the manifestation of what has had previous being; others, as wise, declare it the manifestation of what has had no previous being. Thus they contradict each other.

“But what has previous being is already manifested, object these latter. What has had no previous being can never be manifested, object the former. Thus they come to the teaching of the Advaita, which declares that manifestation is unreal.

“For we gladly accept the objections to the reality of manifestation, which they thus raise. Know therefore we have no dispute with these. (5)

“There are those who wish to maintain the real manifestation of that Real, which is ever unmanifest. But how can the unmanifest, immortal Real come to mortality?

“The immortal becomes not mortal, nor can the mortal become immortal. For it is impossible that anything can become the opposite of its own nature.

“He who says that what is by nature immortal may become mortal—how can he maintain that what enters into manifestation nevertheless remains immortal?

“The nature of a thing is that which is complete in itself, that which is its very essence, that which is innate, that which is not added to it from without, that which does not lose its inherent character.

“All real beings are of their own nature free from old age and death. If they accept the thought of old age and death, they fall away from their own nature. (10)

“He who admits that the cause and the effect of life are one, believes the process of causing is the origin of manifestation. But how can the unmanifest pass into manifestation? Or how can the Eternal One be divided?

“If it be meant that the effect is not of other nature than the cause, and if the cause be unmanifest, then how can the cause of an effect, which is manifest, be itself changeless?

“If one assert that an effect comes into being from a cause which is unmanifested, then there is no example of this. Or if it be said that the effect springs from a cause already manifest, and this from another, then no solution is reached.

“There are those who declare the result is the source of the cause, and the cause again the source of the result. How can such maintain that either cause or result is sourceless?

“When they say the result is the source of the cause, and the cause again the source of the result, they assert a progression like the birth of the father from the son. (15)

“You must determine the order of cause and result in manifestation. Two things which appear simultaneously cannot be related causally, like the two horns of an ox.

“A cause which has its source in a result can have no perfect being. How can a cause which is imperfect accomplish a result? If the completeness of the cause depend on the result, and the completeness of the result on the cause, which of the two comes into being before the other? For the completion of the one depends on the other.

“This dilemma rests either on inability to explain, or incomplete knowledge, or the fact that the order of succession breaks down. In each case, these learned views only serve to illumine more brightly the teaching that manifestation has no real existence.

“There is the illustration of the tree produced from the seed. But this is of the same nature as the relation of cause and effect. Therefore it is not fitting to use in explanation a case of the same nature as the thing to be explained. (20)

“Inability to determine which is first and which is last likewise strengthens the teaching that manifestation is unreal. For how could it be said of anything which comes into being, that its antecedent is unknowable?

“We teach that no reality comes into manifestation either from itself or from any other thing. Whether it be being or non-being or both, no reality ever comes into manifestation.

“The cause of the beginningless cannot come into manifestation, nor can the result come into manifestation of itself. For if anything is beginningless, then it never begins at all.

“But this objection is raised; There must be a cause which gives birth to perceptions; otherwise both would cease to exist. And also from the existence of pain, the reality of external causes must be accepted.

“We admit that reason demands that a cause be assigned for perception. But the nature of things equally demands that this cause shall be itself causeless. (25)

“The imagination does not come into contact with objects, nor is there a mirroring of objects in the imagination. For the object has no permanent reality, nor does the mirrored image exist apart from the object.

“The imagination never touches any real object whether in past, present or future. And how could there be a mistaken impression of something that has no existence?

“Therefore there is no external manifestation either of objects or of the mind. They who see such a thing are looking at something as non-existent as a footprint in the sky.

“People say that the unmanifested comes into outward manifestation. But its very nature is to be unmanifested. And nothing can possibly depart from its own nature.

“And it is illogical to say that the circle of birth and rebirth is beginningless, and at the same time to say that it is non-eternal. And likewise, unless Liberation be beginningless, it cannot be eternal. (30)

“That which has no being in the past, and has no being in the future, must also have no being in the present. Things which seem not to be illusions are nevertheless of like nature with illusions.

“Though they seem to be means to an end, yet this seeming ceases in sleep. Therefore, as they have beginning and end, they cannot have real being.

“All things beheld in dream are but mirages, for they have no existence outside the body. For how could there be a beholding of real objects in so circumscribed a space?

“Nor can it be that the dreamer beholds distant things by going to them, for no time is taken in going. Nor does the dreamer find himself at the distant place when he awakes.

“Though he has talked with friends in dream, he does not find them there when he awakes. Even if he has laid hold of anything, he does not find it in his hand when he wakes. (35)

“The body in which we take part in dreams is unreal, since there is still the physical body apart from it. And as is the dream body, so are all things; they are all but figments of the imagination.

“Because dreams are so like waking experiences, the latter must be their cause. Therefore, it may be said, waking experiences must be real.

“But we say that nothing is ever really manifested outwardly, since outward manifestation has no real existence. And further the unreal is never caused by the real.

“Having experienced the unreal in waking consciousness, he who is saturated with it sees it again in dream. And having experienced the unreal in dream, the man wakes up, and sees it no longer.

“It cannot be that both the unreal and the real have their cause in the unreal. Even the real cannot be said to have the real as its cause; how then could this be said of the unreal? (40)

“Just as in waking, through imaginative illusion one can seem to touch things not to be thought of as real; so in dream, through imaginative illusion, one sees things possible only in dream.

“But the teaching that manifestation is a reality is put forward by the sages, only for the sake of those who are afraid of the thought that manifestation is no reality, those who rest their belief on common experience and on the adequacy of ritual acts.

“Those who are afraid of the thought that manifestation is no reality, and who rely on experience, suffer no great detriment thereby, though they do fall short of truth.

“As an elephant which is a mere hypnotic illusion may be the basis of experience and the cause of action, in just the same way what we call objectivity is the basis of experience and action.

“The One, which is ever at peace, which is pure Consciousness, without manifestation, motion or material existence, appears to have manifestation, appears to be in motion, appears to material. (45)

“Thus, verily, neither is imagination outwardly manifested, nor are objects outwardly manifested; thus, verily, the wise fall not into these inverted illusions.

“Just as a fire-brand whirled in the air appears to make straight or crooked line of light, so Consciousness set in motion gives the appearance of perceiver and perceived, subject and object.

“Just as the fire-brand does not really take these shapes, but remains apart from this illusion and unchanged by it; so, verily, does Consciousness remain apart from the illusion of manifestation, and unchanged by it.

“When the fire-brand is whirled about, the appearances it gives rise to, do not come from any external source; nor do they go anywhere else when it ceases to be whirled, nor do they withdraw into the firebrand.

“They do not go out of the fire-brand, because they have no substantial existence; just the same is true of Consciousness, for the illusion of appearance is common to both of them. (50)

“When Consciousness is in motion, the appearances in it do not come from any external source; nor, when its motion ceases, do they go to any other place; nor do they withdraw again into consciousness.

“They do not go out of Consciousness, because they have no substantial existence; they are always incapable of being accounted for by thought, because they are outside of causality.

“Substance is the cause of substance; what is other than substance is the cause of what is other than substance. But conscious selves are neither substance nor other than substance.

“In the same way, conscious selves are not the effect of imagination, nor is imagination the effect of conscious selves. Thus the wise take refuge in the truth that there is no real manifestation of cause and effect.

“So long as there is a belief in cause and effect, so long will there be the seeming operation of cause and effect. But when the belief in cause and effect fades, then also will the seeming operation of cause and effect pass away. (55)

“So long as there is a belief in cause and effect, so long will the sequence of birth and rebirth continue; but when the belief in cause and effect fades away, the sequence of birth and rebirth will cease.

“Through the enveloping power of delusion all manifestation comes into being, therefore it is not eternal. As everything is in reality not manifested, through its non-separation from the Real, therefore there is no destruction of anything.

“The conscious selves that seem to come into manifestation, do not really come into manifestation. It is through Glamor that they seem to come into manifestation. And Glamor has no real being.

“Just as from a seed which is the result of Glamor, a sprout which is the result of Glamor comes forth, and is neither eternal, nor subject to destruction, so is the manifestation of conscious selves.

“Since conscious selves do not in reality come into manifestation, they cannot be said either to be eternal as such, or not to be eternal. Where no distinctions of quality exist, there can be no distinguishing description (60)

“Just as in dream the imagination plays at subject and object, through the power of Glamor; in just the same way, in waking, the imagination plays at subject and object, through the power of Glamor.

“And as there is no doubt at all that the imagination, which seems thus divided in dream, is not divided, so there is no doubt at all that the imagination, which seems to be dual in waking, is not really divided.

“The beholder of a dream, moving about in dream in all the ten directions of space, sees all kinds of living things standing there, whether egg-born or sweat-born, or whatever they be.

“But they exist only in the imagination of the beholder of the dream, and have no existence separate from him; in just the same way the imagination of the beholder of the dream has no existence apart from him.

“So one who is awake moves through the ten directions of the waking world, and beholds all kinds of living things, whether egg-born or sweat-born. (65)

“But these beings are visible only to the waking consciousness, and have no existence apart from it. In just the same way, the imagination of waking consciousness has no separate existence.

“The two depend for their seeming existence on their mutual interaction; both are beyond the range of every instrument of mental analysis, for such instrument exists only in them.

“Just as the being seen in dream appears to pass through birth and death, so all these beings in the world neither are nor are they not.

“Just as the being produced by glamor seems to pass through birth and death, so all these beings in the world neither are nor are they not.

“Just as the being created by suggestion seems to pass through birth and death, so all these beings in the world neither are nor are they not. (70)

“No being is really born; there is no real manifestation for him. This is the supreme truth, which teaches that naught is really manifested.

“This dual world of perceiver and perceived comes into being through the motion of the imagination. Therefore the imagination is declared to be unrelated to objects, everlasting, unattached.

“The being that is built up by the enveloping power of illusion has no transcendental reality. So things held to exist by the delusions of other schools of thought, have no transcendental reality.

“The Real is spoken of as unmanifest, through the illusion of defective thought, but it cannot in the transcendental sense even be said to be unmanifest. It is said to be unmanifest, only with reference to other defective schools of thought, which speak of it as manifest. (74)

“Firm faith persists only in that which does not come into being; in that, there is no duality. He who understands that duality is unreal, is beyond causation, and does not fall into birth.

“Where the imagination accepts no causes, whether good, bad or middling, then it falls not into birth; for without a cause, how can there be an effect?

“The non-manifestation of the imagination, which is thus without a cause, is non-dual and unconditioned; the same is true of everything unborn, for it is but the work of the imagination.

“Awaking to the truth that causation is not a final reality, and finding no external, separate cause for manifested existence, one reaches the heart’s desire, the resting-place that is free from fear and beyond sorrow.

“Belief that unreal things are real attaches us to unreal things. But when we wake up to the fact that outer things are unreal, we become free from attachment to them.

“Poise unshakable is his, who is free from the illusion of outward reality and manifestation. This is the aim of the awakened; this is the unconditioned, the unborn, the One. (80)

“The Self is unborn, free from drowsiness and dreams, self-illumined; by the very nature of its being, it is ever self-illumined.

Through our grasping after one outer object after another, the joy of the Self is perpetually concealed, and suffering fills our field of view. But the Lord, the real Self is there, awaiting us.

“The childish minded fails to find the Self, because he is wrapped up in arguments as to whether it is or is not, is and is not, or exists not at all; arguments drawn from the ideas of things moving or stable or both, or non-being.

“The Self is perpetually being concealed by predicating of it one of these four alternatives. He is the perfect Seer, who beholds the Self as untouched by these.

“When he has attained complete omniscience, the secondless resting-place of the Eternal, which is without beginning, middle or end, what remains for him to long for? (85)

“This is the highest virtue of the twice-born, this is called the true peace, this is the true control which springs from the conquest of the lower nature; he who knows this, shall enter into peace.

“The sense of the world as dual, made up of outer things and inner emotions, is a worldly perception. The sense of the world as single, made up of emotions without outer things, is equally worldly.

“That which is beyond outer things and emotions is declared to be above worldly experience; it is proclaimed by the wise to be at once wisdom, and the goal of wisdom and knowledge.

“When the knowledge of the three worlds is grasped, when they are known in ascending degrees, then the sage enters into perfect knowledge of all things.

“The first steps of knowledge, concerning what is to be abandoned, what is to be known, what is to be acquired, what is to be ripened, are all but figurative expressions, except that which concerns what is to be known. (90)

“All different forms and characters should be known as by nature like the ether, beginningless. Their difference is not real at any time, in any place.

“All forms and characters but dwell in thought, through their very nature; from the beginning, they are clearly defined. He who accepts this truth, builds for immortality.

“By their very nature, all forms and characters are devoid of true outward existence, they are essentially unreal, they have no being apart from the Self, the unborn, which brings us light.

“Those who dwell in the thought of separateness do not reach the Light. Those who are in bondage to separateness, who declare that objects really exist apart from the Self, are pitiful. (94)

“But those who will dwell firm-set in the unborn One, they indeed are wise in this world; but this wisdom the world cannot reach.

“True wisdom is that which, being unmanifest, does not hold itself to be dependent on forms and characters which have no real being. Wisdom, thus independent, is declared to be free from attachment.

“There can be no true detachment for the unwise in whom dwells even an atom of the sense of separateness; is not this the very thing that conceals the Real?

“Since all forms and characters are of their very nature one with the stainless Self, they have never been the cause of the Self’s concealment. From the beginning they are nothing but thought; they can be known, only as being nothing but thought.

“The wisdom of him who has reached illumination, who is full of fervor, does not concern itself with characters and forms; for him, forms and characters have no true reality. This is not the same as saying that the subjective is real.

“Having thus realized the One, which is hard to behold, which dwells in the deeps, which is ever equal, which is full of light, that resting-place where there is no separateness: let us bow down to that One, in the measure of our enlightenment. (100)

See Also

Natural Psychical and Spiritual Bodies

Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Poem

Translated from the Sanskrit with an Interpretation

By Charles Johnston

Full Text Online (PDF)

Translated by Swāmi Nikhilānanda

Mandukya Upanishad

I. Hariḥ Aum. Aum, the word, is all this. A clear explanation of it (is the following). All that is past, present and future is verily Aum. That which is beyond the triple conception of time, is also truly Aum.

II. All this is verily Brahman. This Ātman is Brahman. This Ātman has four quarters.

III. The first quarter (Pāda) is Vaiśwānara whose sphere (of activity) is the waking state, who is conscious of external objects, who has seven limbs and nineteen mouths and whose experience consists of gross (material) objects.

IV. The second quarter (Pāda) is the Taijasa whose sphere (of activity) is the dream, who is conscious of internal objects, who has seven limbs and nineteen mouths and who experiences the subtle objects.

V. That is the state of deep sleep wherein the sleeper does not desire any objects nor does he see any dream. The third quarter (Pāda) is the Prājna whose sphere is deep sleep, in whom all (expeirences) become unified or undifferentiated, who is verily, a mass of consciousness entire, who is full of bliss and who experiences bliss, and who is the path leading to the knowledge (of the two other states).

VI. This is the Lord of all; this is the knower of all; this is the controller within; this is the source of all; and this is that from which all things originate and in which they finally disappear.

VII. Turīya is not that which is conscious of the internal (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the external (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of all sentiency, nor that which is simple consciousness, nor that which is insentient. (It is) unseen (by any sense organ), not related to anything, incomprehensible (by the mind), uninferable, unthinkable, indescribable, essentially of the nature of Consciousness constituting the Self alone, negation of all phenomena, the Peaceful, all Bliss and the Non-dual. This is what is known as the fourth (Turīya). This is the Ātman and it has to be realized.

VIII. The same Ātman (which has been described above as having four quarters) is, again, Āum, from the point of view of the syllables. The Aum with parts is viewed from the standpoint of sounds (letters). The quarters are the letters (parts) and the letters are the quarters. The letters here are A, U and M.

IX. He who is Vaiśwānara, having for its sphere of activity the waking state, is A, the first letter (of Aum) on account of its all-pervasiveness or on account of being the first (these being the common features of both). One who knows this attains to the fulfilment of all desires and becomes the first (of all).

X. Taijasa, whose sphere of activity is the dream state, is U, the second letter (of Aum) on account of superiority or on account of being in between the two. He who knows this attains to a superior knowledge, is treated equally by all alike and finds no one in his line who is not a knower of Brahman.

XI. Prājna whose sphere is deep sleep is M, the third part (letter) of Aum, because it is both the measure and that wherein all become one. One who knows this (identity of Prājna and M) is able to measure all (realise the real nature of the world) and also comprehends all within himself.

XII. That which has no parts (soundless), incomprehensible (with the aid of the senses), the cessation of all phenomena, all bliss and non-dual Aum, is the fourth and verily the same as the Ātman. He who knows this merges his self in the Self.

See Also:




Gauḍapāda’s Kārikā


Śankara’s Commentary

Translated and Annotated by

Swāmi Nikhilānanda

Full Text Online (PDF)


Translated by Manilal Dvivedi


I. Aum is the word, all this is an explanation of its (meaning and power) past, present and future. All, indeed, is Aum; even all that is beyond the triple conception of time.

II. For all this is Brahman, this âtman is Brahman, and this âtman has four quarters (pâdas).

III. The first quarter (foot) is Vaiśvânara whose sphere is the state of waking, who is cognisant of the objective, who has seven members, and nineteen mouths, and whose fruition consists of the gross.

IV. The second quarter is the Taijasa whose region is dream, who is cognisant only of the subjective, who has seven members and nineteen mouths, and whose fruition consists of the subtile.

V. That is the state of deep sleep wherein the sleeper does not imagine anything, and does not see any dream. The third quarter therefore is the Prâjna, whose sphere is (this) deep sleep, in whom all melts into one, who is a mass all sentiency, who is all bliss, whose fruition is of bliss, and who is the way of sentiency (to the objective).

VI. This is the Lord of all, this is the all-knowing, this is the antaryâmin, this is the source of all—the origin and final resort of all beings.

VII. The Fourth is that which is not conscious of the subjective, nor that which is conscious of the objective, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is simple consciousness, nor that which is a mass all sentiency, nor that which is all darkness. It is unseen, transcendent, unapprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable, indescribable, the sole essence of the consciousness of self, the negative of all illusion, the ever peaceful, all bliss, the One Unit;—this indeed is âtman, it should be known.

VIII. This is that âtman even with regard to the letters (of the word aum); it is aumkâra with its parts. The quarters are the parts, and the parts the quarters, the former being a, u, m.

IX. The first part A is vaiśvânara whose sphere is the condition of waking, on account of all-pervasiveness, or on account of being the first. He who knows this has all his desires fulfilled, and is the first (of all).

X. The second part U is Taijasa whose sphere is the condition of dream, on account of superiority, or on account of being in the middle. He who knows this has his knowledge refined to the highest point of superiority, he finds no cause of difference with anyone, nor is any one ignorant of Brahman born in his family.

XI. The third part M is Prâjna whose sphere is the condition of sleep, on account of its being the measure, or on account of its being that wherein everything loses its identity. He who knows this is able to measure all and to comprehend all within himself.

XII. That which has no parts is the Fourth, indescribable, free from the illusion of experience, all bliss, one without a second. This is aumkâra. He who realizes âtman in himself, loses self in the Self.

See Also:

The Mandukyopanishad


Gaudapada’s Karikas

and the

Bhashya of S’ankara

Translated into English by

Manilal N. Dvivedi

Full Text Online

Translated by Vidyavachaspati V. Panoli

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