20 – Tattva Bodha: Analysis of Your Waking, Dream & Deep Sleep States


Discourse 20 analyses the 3 states of experience, and show “I” cannot be the Waker, Dreamer or the Deep Sleeper.

Source: Tattva Bodha

Verse: What are the 3 states?

avasthā trayaṃ kim? Jāgrat-svapna-suṣupti avasthāḥ
What are the three states? They are the waking, dream and deep sleep states.

  • Takeaways for inquiry regarding the 3 states:
    • Atma (awareness) doesn't go to sleep (aluptadṛk; never blinks), else you'd never know there was sleep.
    • 3 States should be seen, just like the 3 bodies — as upadhis or incidental superimpositions, and have no power to affect atma. Just like different coloured cloth behind a crystal doesn't pass it's color onto the crystal.
    • You (awareness) are the light that illumines all 3 states.
    • You (awareness) never become the numerous roles, mistakes and merits created by the Waker. Meaning your track record is spotless. You (awareness) have never done anything appropriate or inappropriate. 

Verse: Waking State

jāgradavasthā kā? śrotrādi-jñānendriyaiḥ śabdādi-viṣayaiḥ ca
jñāyate iti yā sā jāgrad-avasthā
sthula-śarīra ahimānī ātmā viśva iti ucyate

What is the waking state? That (in which state) the objects, of cognition beginning with sound, etc., are cognised by the organs of perception such as the ear, etc., that is the waking state. ‘I’ (ātmā) identifying with the gross body is called viśva.

  • Waking state is special because it’s only state where you can pursue goals and attain mokṣa.
  • Waking state is where the subtle sense organs (which belong in the subtle-body) go out through the gross senses (golakas, which belong to physical-body), and perceive the empirical world of sound (śabdādi), form-color, taste, etc. In other words, to be awake is for subtle perception organs (belonging to subtle-body) to be operating through and connected with the gross sense organs (EG: physical eye which belongs to gross-body) – thus picking up worldly experiences.
  • Sthula-śarīra-abhimanī ātmā: In waking, Ātmā is identified with all 3 bodies (Causal, Subtle, Physical) — thus Ātma erroneously assumes status of “Waker”. In truth, Waker is Atma, but Atma is not Waker/Sleeper. Waker is given a name called “Viśva“, which means “complete”. Only a complete person can have both kartṛtva (capacity of free will / doer-ship) & bhoktṛtva (capacity to experience, enjoyer-ship). In Dream only bhokta is available; that's why can't plan your dream. Similarly heaven is bhokta only, thus can't gain moksha there. To look forward to heaven is to basically look forward to having the greatest gift taken away from you; capacity of free will!
  • WHY DOES IT SEEM LIKE ALL PERVASIVE CONSCIOUSNESS IS LIMITED TO ONE BODY? In waking, atma, being all pervasive, is enclosed by one subtle-body, which obtains in one physical-body — thus atma (you) seem limited to a single body-mind, thereby experiencing yourself as pocket of unique consciousness (he, she, you, me, etc).
  • All phenomena of Waking state depend on a conscious being “I”.

Verse: Dream State

svapnāvasthā kā iti cet, jāgradavasthāyāṃ yad
dṛṣṭaṃ yat śrutaṃ tat janita-vāsanayā nīdrā-samaye yaḥ
prapañcaḥ pratīyate sā svapna āvasthā
sūkṣma-śarīra abhimānī ātmā taijasaḥ iti ucyate

(If it is asked) what is the dream state? (It is) the world which is experienced while in sleep, (projected) by the impression born of what was seen, what was heard in the waking state. ‘I’ ātman identifying with the subtle body is called taijasa, the effulgent one.

  • SUMMARY: Waking state events are stored in memory which comes out in Dream. Waking impressions sculpt your dream. Dreamer is called “Taijasa“, meaning Atma identfied subtle/causal. If I was intrinsically the Waker, then could never give it up (EG: King, CEO, parent). Thus purpose of dream analysis is to show “I” am not the Waker.
  • HOW DREAM IS FORMED: In waking state (jāgrad-avasthāyām), impressions are formed. These impressions, the book calls “vāsanā, which means “fragrance”, which means even after the impression/experience has passed, it leaves a trail or fragrance behind it. Therefore from what was seen/heard (yad dṛṣṭam yat śrutam), the manifested dream world is created.
    • This also implies:
      • One has to first gather memories in the real world to have dreams. For example toddlers start dreaming after around 2-3 years. Although even past-life waking state impressions may sculpt your dream.
      • One can't experience things in the dream that haven't been experienced in Waking. What about man with tail? Saw man & tail in Waking!
  • In dream you are sṛṣṭi-kartā (creator of world). In reference to Dream, you are as though God.
  • PURPOSE OF DREAM: Dreaming serves as psychological release. The mind’s bottled-up pressures (unresolved in waking state) are released or resolved, like shaking a soda.
  • NO GROSS: No identification with gross body. Thus hunger/pain unfelt.
  • SENSE-ORGANS INACTIVE: In dream, you don’t see external objects, but see internal objects (imagination). Thus sense-organs are inactive in dream. Sense-organs are only needed for external world.
  • nidrā-samaye: From waking, you don't go straight to dream. Must first die to the waking world, to have a clean dream experience. Else waking would be superimposed over the dream world. So first sleep, then either Wake up, or dream (half-awake).
  • Taijasa: A mental body is created by your mind, and then “I” (ātma) identifies with the mental body with a different personality to Waker; then I am called a dreamer (taijasa: “mind excited/brightened”; meaning mind becomes brightened/heightened/excited like brightness of fire all over / ever-excited thought).

Verse: Deep Sleep State

atha suṣupti avasthā kā?
ahaṃ kimapi na jānāmi
sukhena mayā nidrā anubhūyate iti suṣupti avasthā,
kāraṇa-śarīra abhimānī ātmā prājña iti ucyate

‘I do not know anything. Happily the sleep is experienced by me.’ Thus, (this is) the deep sleep state. The Self identified with the causal body is called Prājña.


  • SUMMARY:I don't know anything“. Purpose of deep sleep is to shows “I” am not the Gross-body nor Subtle-body, else can't give up awareness of them during deep sleep. Sense of I, entirely identified with Causal-body is called Prajna.
  • Deep sleep is:
    • “I don't know anything; neither the subject nor objects”. For example, if you're asked, “What did you see in deep sleep?”. You'll answer, “nothing”. How do you know it's “nothing”? Because You (awareness) was there. So even “nothing” is a something in reference to awareness. 
    • sukhena mayā nidrā anubhūyate: “I experienced absence of dukha (suffering)”. Positively stated, “I experienced fullness (my nature)”.
  • How to prove “I” am there in deep sleep? We make preparations for uninterrupted sleep. Everyone agrees deep sleep is an inviting experience. And after waking, we are unwilling to come out of it easily. Furthermore, if “I” wasn't present in deep sleep, then everyone would be afraid to sleep, as it would be mean “end of my existence”. However it's clear, no one is reluctant to go to sleep.
  • Deep Sleep is the great Equalizer: All are equal in sleep: the waking king/beggar die to their role. They are equal self in sleep. That is why Atma called “Prājña” (wise) as a deep-sleeper. Because in waking, we feel limited by our self-imposed roles. While in sleep, the self-impositions disappear, which is the reality for a Wise person (jivanmukta). However one is ignorant of one's “wisdom” in deep sleep.


  • What is deep sleep? 
    • It's when Subtle-body goes back to seed form, into Causal-body. Because Subtle-body is unavailable, upon waking, you’re unable to tell WHEN you went to deep sleep. Unlike dream, we can vaguely say, “I started dreaming soon after closing eyes”.
  • Experience of deep sleep:
    • What’s experienced is absence of objects/thoughts/memories/emotions (all processes of Subtle-Body).
    • It’s same partless, homogenous, non-dual experience for all. Both beggar & king are the same.
    • It’s experience of nirvikalpa (meaning no vikalpa or duality); meaning no subject/object split. Reason why yogis enjoy inducing nirvikalpa-samadhi, because it’s like deep sleep, except I am awake. Then the yogis say “I was nirvikalpa”. While śāstra makes you understand you already ARE nirvikalpa (non-dual awareness), despite subject/object split.
  • Analysis of sleep upon Waking:
    • Upon Waking, when we say “I slept”, we don’t refer to dreaming process, but a period of time when “I was completely free of everything / I knew nothing”. This freedom is why we value sleep so much. However, the freedom is actually blissful ignorance. It’s not freedom/experience of knowing you are the WHOLE (sat-cit-ānanda).
    • To remember “I slept & knew nothing”, implies you experienced it (you were not absent). Meaning I continue to BE despite absence of gross/subtle-body.
      • Objection: How can I remember deep sleep in Waking, when mind is resolved? Because memory was present in subtle form called abhava-vritti, recording absence of thoughts. Upon waking, the memory recognizes contrast between not having captured anything, and waking. Noticing this, you’re able to say “nothing / happiness / peace was there”.
  • Prājña: When “I” (ātma) relinquishes identification with Gross/Subtle body, and identifies with Causal Body; then I am called a deep-sleeper (prajna).
  • What wakes you up in morning? Pressure of your past-causes (karma) wakes you up in order to continue experiencing happiness/sorrow. Rebirth is exactly the same, except Subtle-Body wakes up in a new Gross-Body.
  • PURPOSE OF DEEP SLEEP TEACHING: To show that experience of nothingness/ignorance (experience of Causal Body) depends on a conscious being, “I”. Meaning, 3 states have no connection to each other, while “I” am through-and-through them all.

Putting it Together Visually: 




  1. Explain in 1 sentence.
    1. What specifically defines the waking state? 
    2. What specifically defines the dream state? 
    3. What specifically defines the deep sleep state? 
  2. How would you show that “I am not the waker (gross body)”?
  3. How would you show that “I am not the dreamer (gross & subtle body)”?
  4. How would you show that “I am not the deep sleeper (gross & subtle & causal-body)”? HINT: To answer #4, refer to last week “Causal Body” teaching.

Extra Resources:


Credit for help in Tattva Bodha to Chinmaya Mission's Swami Advayananda, and Arsha Vidya's Swami Dayananda.

Recorded 8 Oct, 2023

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