Consciousness is a term which has been of interest to all – philosophers, scientists, faith-followers, religions and the general public. Modern youths are also interested in it. It is the theme that was discussed in Mandukyopanishad some five thousand years ago. The Mandukyopanishad is under the realm of Atharba Veda. It has only 12 verses – slokas- which present the gist of its knowledge and finding. The writing of Gaudpadacharya in the Upanishad is considered to have high quality of wisdom and expression. Equally high quality is the comment on it scripted by Adi Shankaracharya.
Gaudpadacharya’s writing in Mandukyopanishad constitutes the foundation of Adwait Vedanta which clearly states that all realities and all things in the experienced world have roots in Brahman, which remains unchanging. Its gist is there is no duality or difference between a creator and the created universe. Mandukyopanishad also sheds light on the importance of Om with having syllables such as A, U and M.
The Upanishad talks of consciousness in detail and presents a narrative on four states of consciousness- waking, dreaming, deep sleep and turya (the fourth state which constitutes the point of enlightenment). Consciousness, according to the Upanishad, is finer than mind matter and is considered all pervasive, omnipresent and omniscient. It is represented and reflected in Atma.
Different categories of consciousness are classified as absolute consciousness, cosmic consciousness, individual consciousness and indwelling consciousness. The distinctions, according to the Upanishad, are due to limiting adjuncts and are not intrinsic to the true nature of consciousness which in reality is by itself one and non-dual. The Vedanta explains there is a substratum of this universe, even finer than energy energy, dubbed Brahma Chaitanya. The very nature of this substratum is Sat Chit Ananda, absolute existence, pure consciousness, and bliss.
By Shirish B. Pradhan
(See corporatenepal.com for Nepali version)