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Copyright 2001 Realization.org.



Mandukya Upanishad

Translated by R. E. HUME

This Upanishad is the source of the famous Hindu theory of the four states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and the fourth state (turiya), which is the state of enlightenment. The Upanishad is named for the sage Mandukya.

Sankara said that this Upanishad, together with Gaudapada's commentary on it, "contains the epitome of the substance of the import of Vedanta."


Om!—This syllable is this whole world.

Its further explanation is:—
The past, the present, the future—everything is just the word Om.

And whatever else that transcends threefold time—that, too, is just the word Om.



For truly, everything here is Brahman; this self is Brahman. This same self has four fourths.



The waking state, outwardly cognitive, having seven limbs, having nineteen mouths, enjoying the gross, the Common-to-all-men, is the first fourth.



The dreaming state, inwardly cognitive, having seven limbs, having nineteen mouths, enjoying the exquisite, the Brilliant, is the second fourth.



If one asleep desires no desire whatsoever, sees no dream whatsoever, that is deep sleep.

The deep-sleep state, unified, just a cognition-mass, consisting of bliss, enjoying bliss, whose mouth is thought, the cognitional, is the third fourth.

  Cognition = prajna


This is the lord of all. This is the all-knowing. This is the inner controller. This is the source of all, for this is the origin and the end of beings.



Not inwardly cognitive, not outwardly cognitive, not both-wise cognitive, not a cognition-mass, not cognitive, not non-cognitive, unseen, with which there can be no dealing, ungraspable, having no distinctive mark, non-thinkable, that cannot be designated, the essence of the assurance of which is the state of being one with the Self, the cessation of development, tranquil, benign, without a second (a-dvaita)—[such] they think is the fourth. He is the Self. He should be discerned.



This is the Self with regard to the word Om, with regard to its elements. The elements are the fourths; the fourths, the elements: the letter a, the letter u, the letter m.

  The letter o is regarded as the diphthong au, so the word Om can be said to have three letters.


The waking state, the Common-to-all-men, is the letter a, the first element, from apti (obtaining) or from adimatva (being first).

He obtains, verily, indeed, all desires, he becomes first—he who knows this.



The sleeping state, the brilliant, is the letter u, the second element, from utkarsa (exltation) or from ubhayatva (intermediateness).

He exalts, verily, indeed, the continuity of knowledge; and he becomes equal; no one ignorant of Brahman is born in the family of him who knows this.



The deep-sleep state, the cognitional, is the letter m, the third element, from miti (erecting) or from apiti (immerging).

He, verily, indeed, erects (minoti) this whole world, and he becomes its immerging—he who knows this.



The fourth is without an element, with which there can be no dealing, the cessation of development, benign, without a second.

Thus Om is the Self (Atman) indeed.

He who knows this, with his self enters the Self—yea, he who knows this!



Commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad
by Swami Krishnananda

This page was published on Realization.org on January 19, 2000 and last revised on April 15, 2001.

Copyright 2001 Realization.org. All rights reserved.