Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 3-2-2

Topic 2 - The soul in dreamless sleep

Now the state of deep sleep or Suṣupti is taken up for discussion.

 Sutra 3,2.7

तदभावो नाडीषु, तच्छ्रुतेः, आत्मनि च ॥ ७ ॥

tadabhāvo nāḍīṣu, tacchruteḥ, ātmani ca || 7 ||

tat-abhāvaḥ—Absence of that (dreaming), in other words Suṣupti; nāḍīṣu—in the nerves; ātmani ca—and in the self; tat-śruteḥ—as it is known from the Śruti;

7. The absence of that (dreaming, i.e. dreamless sleep takes place) in the nerves and in the Self, as it is known from the Śruti.

In different texts Suṣupti (deep sleep) is said to take place under different conditions.

And when a man is asleep . . . so that he sees no dreams, then he has entered into those nerves (Nāḍis)” (Chh. 8 . 6 . 3); “

Through them he moves forth and rests in the pericardium, i.e. in the region of the heart” (Brih. 2. 1. 19);

When this being full of consciousness is asleep . . . lies in the ether i.e. the real Self which is in the heart” (Brih. 2.1.17).

Now the question arises whether Suṣupti takes place in any one of these places, i.e. whether these are to be taken as alternatives, or whether they are to be taken as standing in mutual relation so as to refer to one place only.

The opponent holds that as all the words standing for the places enumerated are in the same case, i.e. the locative case, in the texts, they are co-ordinate and therefore alternatives.

If mutual relation was meant, then different case-endings would be used by the Śruti.

This Sutra says that they are to be taken as standing in mutual relation denoting the same place.

There is no alternative here, for by allowing option between two Vedic statements we lessen the authority of the Veda, since the adoption of either alternative sublates for the time being the authority of the other alternative.

Moreover, the same case is used where things serve different purposes and have to be combined, as, for example, when we say, “He sleeps in the palace, he sleeps on a couch,” where we have to combine the two locatives into one as “He sleeps on a couch in the palace.”

Similarly here the different texts have to be combined, meaning that the soul goes through the nerves to the region of the heart and there rests in Brahman.

It may be questioned why, then, in deep sleep we do not experience the relation of supporter and that which is supported with respect to Brahman and the Jīva.

It is because the individual soul covered with ignorance is lost in Brahman even as a pot of water in a lake and so has no separate existence:

He becomes united with the True, he is gone to his own (Self)” (Chh. 6. 8. 1),

Moreover, in the following text the three places are mentioned together, “In these the person is when sleeping he sees no dreams. Then he becomes one with the Prāṇa (Brahman) alone” (Kau. 4, 20).

Hence Brahman is the soul’s place of rest in deep sleep.

Sutra 3,2.8

अतः प्रबोधोऽस्मात् ॥ ८ ॥

ataḥ prabodho’smāt || 8 ||

ataḥ—Hence; prabodhaḥ—awakening; asmāt—from this.

8. Hence the awakening from this (i.e. Brahman).

In the same manner, my son, all these creatures, when they have come back from the True, know not that they have come back from the True” (Chh. 6. 10 . 2).

In this text the Śruti states that when the Jīva returns after deep sleep to the waking state, it returns from the True or Brahman, thereby showing that in Suṣupti Jīva is merged in Brahman and not in the nerves Hitā etc.

But as it is covered by ignorance it does not realize its identity with Brahman in Suṣupti.