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Philosophy of Dreams – Swami Sivananda – Part 1

This book is available as a free download from Divine Life Society and is reproduced here in its entirety in three parts.

Swami Sivananda

Philosophy of Dreams

1. Songs Of Dream
2. Dream
3. Study of Dream-State
4. Dream Philosophy
5. Philosophy of Dream
6. Who is it That Dreams?
7. Lord Creates Dream Objects
8. Prophetic Dreams
9. Spiritual Enlightenment Through Dreams
10. Waking as a Dream
11. The Unreality of Imagination
12. Why Jagrat is a Dream?
13. Waking Experience Has Relative Reality
14. Waking Experience is as False as Dream Experience
15. Jagarat is as Unreal as Dream
16. Remove The Colouring of The Mind
17. Upanishads And Dreams
18. Prasna-Upanishad on Dreams
19. Dream
20. The Story of a Dreamer Subhoda
21. Raja Janaka’s Dream
22. Goudapadacharya on Dreams
23. Sri Nimbarkacharya on Dreams
24. Dream of Chuang Tze
25. Dream Hints
26. Dream-Symbols And Their Meanings
Publishers’ Note

Though Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj is an Advaita Vedantin of Sri Sankara’s School, he is unique in that in his life and teachings he synthesises the highest idealism and dynamic practical life. His “Divine Life” is ideal life, ideal and divine only because it is possible to live it here and now.

The sage, therefore, has directed the beam of his divine light on all problems that face man. Not confining himself to the exposition of philosophy and Yoga, he has enriched our literature in other fields, too, e.g., medicine, health and hygiene and even “How to Become Rich.”

And now we have from his divine pen his inspiring and enlightened thoughts on one of the most interesting phenomena viz., dreams. He has viewed dreams from several angles and thrown such a flood of light on it as to expose not only its unreality, but also the unreality of the waking state. Thus the sage leads us to the Supreme Reality that alone exists.
16th February, 1958.
Maha Sivaratri Day



The analysis of dreams and their cause by psychoanalysts are defective. They maintain that the cause of dream creation lies in the suppressed desires of the dreamer. Can they create dreams as they like by suppressing desires? No, they cannot do that. They say that desires stimulate or help the dream creation. But they do not know what supplies the material out of which they are made and what turns the desires into actual expression, enabling the dreamer see his own suppressed desires materialised and appearing to him as real.

The desires only supply the impulse. The mind creates the dream out of the materials supplied by the experiences of the waking state. The dream creatures spring up from the bed of Samskaras or impressions in the subconscious mind. Indigestion also causes dream. The Taijasa is the dreamer. It is the waking personality that creates the dream personality. The dream personality exists as the object of the waking personality and is real only as such.

The waking and dreaming states do not exist independently side by side as real units.

Why do we dream? Various answers have been given to this question. Dreams are nothing but a reflection of our waking experience in a new form. The medical view is that dreams are due to some organic disturbances somewhere in the body, but more particularly in the stomach. Sometimes coming diseases appear in dreams.

According to Sigmund Freud all dreams without any exception are wish-fulfilment. The physical stimulus alone is not responsible for the production of dreams. The dream mechanism is very intricate. The wishes are of an immoral nature. They are revolting to the moral self, which exercises a control on their appearance. Therefore, the wishes appear in disguised forms to evade the moral censor. Very few dreams present the wishes as they really are. Dreams are partial gratification of the wishes. They relieve the mental tension and thus enable us to enjoy repose. They are safety valves to strong impulsions. You will know your animal-self in dream.

The objects which manifest during the dreaming state are often not different in many respects from those which one perceives during his waking state. During the dreaming state he talks with the members of his family and friends, eats the same food, behold rivers, mountains, motor cars, gardens, streets, ocean, temples, works in the office, answers question papers in the examination hall, and fights and quarrels with some people. This shows that man does not abandon the results of his past relation with objects when he falls asleep.

The person who experiences the three states, viz., Jagrat or waking-state, Svapna or the dreaming state, and Sushupti or deep-sleep state is called Visva in the waking state, Taijasa in the dreaming state and Prajna in the deep sleep state. When one gets up from sleep, it is Visva who remembers the experience of Prajna in deep sleep and says, “I slept soundly. I do not know anything.” Otherwise remembrance of the enjoyment in deep sleep is not possible.

The reactions to dreams differ according to mental disposition, temperament and diet of the person.

All dreams are affairs of mere seconds. Within ten seconds you will experience dreams wherein the events of several years happen.

Some get dreams occasionally, while some others experience dreams daily. They can never have sleep without dreams.

The sun is the source and the temporary resting place of its rays. The rays emanate from the sun and spread in all directions at the time of sunrise. They enter into the sun at sunset, lose themselves there and come out again at the next sunrise. Even so the state of wakefulness and dream come out from the state of deep sleep and re-enter it and lose themselves there to follow the same course again.

Whatever appears in the dream world is the reproduction of the waking world. It is not only the reproduction of the objects seen, experienced or dealt with in the present life, but it may be the reproduction of objects seen, experienced or dealt with in any former life in the present world. Therefore the dream world cannot be said to be independent of the waking world.

The objects that are seen in the state of wakefulness are always seen outside the body. It is, therefore, external to the dreamer, while the dream world is always internal to the dreamer. That is the only difference between them.

During the dream state the whole wakeful world loses itself in the dream state. Therefore, it is not possible to find the distinctive features that would help the dreamer to distinguish the waking world from the dream world.

Scientists and Western philosophers draw their conclusions from the observations of their waking experience. Whereas the Vedantins utilise the experiences of the three states viz., waking, dream and deep sleep and then draw their conclusions. Hence the latter’s conclusions are true, correct, perfect, full and integral, while those of the former are partial and one sided.

Certain kinds of external sounds such as the ringing of a bell, the noise of alarm-clock, knocks on the door or the wall, the blowing of wind, the drizzling of rain, the rustling of leaves, the blowing of the horn of a motor car, the cracking of the window etc., may produce in the mind of the dreamer variety of imaginations. They generate certain sensations, which increase according to the power of imagination of the sleeper and the sensitiveness of his mind. These sounds cause very elaborate dreams.

If you touch the dreamers’ chest with the point of a pin, he may dream that some one has given him a severe blow on his body or stabbed him with a dagger.

The individual soul does not know that he is dreaming during his dream state and is not conscious of himself as he is bound by the Gunas of Prakriti. He passively beholds the creations of his dream mind passing before him as an effect of the workings of the impressions (Samskaras) of his waking state.

It is possible for a dreamer to remain cognisant during his dream state of the fact that he is dreaming. Learn to be the witness of your thoughts in the waking state. You can be conscious in the dream state that you are dreaming. You can alter, stop or create your own thoughts in the dream state independently. You will be able to keep awake in the dream state. If the thoughts of the waking state are controlled, you can also control the dream thoughts.

Sometimes the dreams are very interesting and turn out to be true. They foretell events. A man living in Haridwar dreamt on the first January 1947 that he will be in Benares on the night of the third January. It really turned out to be true. An officer dreams that he will be transferred to Allahabad. In the following morning he gets the transfer order. Another man dreams that he will meet with a motorcar accident on the coming Saturday. It also turns out to be true.

Profound wisdom comes through reflection on dreams. No one has known himself truly who has not studied his dreams. The study of dreams shows how mysterious is our soul. Dreams reveal to us that aspect of our nature, which transcends rational knowledge. Every dream presentation has a meaning. A dream is like a letter written in an unknown language.

Many riddles of life are solved through hints from dreams. Dreams indicate which way the spiritual life of a man is flowing. One may receive proper advice for self-correction through dreams. One may know how to act in a particular situation through dreams. The dreams point out a path unknown to the waking consciousness. Saints and sages appear in dreams during times of difficulty and point out the way.

The Vedantins study very deeply and carefully the states of dreams and deep sleep and logically prove that the waking state is as unreal as the dream state. They declare that the only difference between the two states is that the waking state is a long dream, Deergha Svapna.

So long as the dreamer dreams, dream-objects are real. When he wakes up the dream world becomes false. When one attains illumination or knowledge of Brahman, this wakeful world becomes as unreal as the dream world.

The real truth is that nobody sleeps, dreams or wakes up, because there is no reality in these states.

Transcend the three states and rest in the fourth state of Turiya, the eternal bliss of Brahman, Satchidananda Svaroopa.

Swami Sivananda
1. Songs Of Dream
Guru Guru Japna
Aur Sab Svapna,
Guru Guru Japna
Jagat Deergha Svapna.

Jagat Deergha Svapna
The world is like a long dream.
Take shelter in Guru
Everything is unreal. (Guru Guru)

When you perceive the things in Dream
You take them all to be real,
When you wake up and perceive
They are all false and unreal. (Guru Guru)

The world of name and forms is like
The dream you have during the night,
You take them all as real things,
But they are only false and transient (Guru Guru)

The only one which really exists
Is that God with Brahmic Splendour
Wake up, wake up, wake up to Light,
Wake up, wake up, from Maya’s sleep,
And see the things in their proper light. (Guru Guru)
2. Dream

Svapna is the dreaming state in which man enjoys the five objects of senses and all the senses are at rest and the mind alone works. Mind itself is the subject and the object. It creates all dream-pictures. Jiva is called Taijasa in this state. There is Antah-Prajna (internal consciousness). The scripture says, “When he falls asleep, there are no chariots in that state, no horses and roads, but he himself creates chariots, horses and roads.”

The dreaming world is separate from the waking one. The man sleeping on a cot in Calcutta, quite healthy at the time of going to bed, wanders in Delhi as a sickly man in the dream world and vice versa. Deep sleep is separate from both the dreaming and the waking world. To the dreamer the dream world and the dream objects are as much real as the objects and experiences of the waking world. A dreaming man is not aware of the unreality of the dream world. He is not aware of the existence of the waking world, apart from the dream. Consciousness changes. This change in consciousness brings about either the waking or the dream experiences. The objects do not change in themselves. There is only change in the mind. The mind itself plays the role of the waking and the dream.

The dreamer feels that the dreams are real so long as they last, however incoherent they may be. He dreams sometimes that his head has been cut off and that he is flying in the air.

The dreamer believes in the reality of the dream as well as the different experiences in the dream. Only when he wakes up from the dream, he knows or realises that what he has experienced was mere dream, illusion and false. Similar is the case with the Jiva in the waking world. The ignorant Jiva imagines that the phenomenal world of sense-pleasure is real. But when he is awakened to the reality of things, when his angle of vision is changed, when the screen of Avidya is removed, he realises that this waking world also is unreal like the dream world.

In dream a poor man becomes a mighty potentate. He enjoys various sorts of pleasures. He marries a Maharani, lives in a magnificent palace and begets several children. He gives his eldest daughter in marriage to the son of a Maha-Raja. He goes to the Continent along with this wife and children. Then he returns and visits various places of pilgrimage. He dies of pneumonia at Benares. Within five minutes, he gets the above experiences. What a great marvel!

As in dream, so in the waking, the objects seen are unsubstantial, though the two conditions differ by the one being internal and subtle, and the other external, gross and long. The wise consider the wakeful as well as the dreaming condition as one, in consequence of the similarity of the objective experience in either case. As are dream and illusion a castle in the air, so say the wise, the Vedanta declares this cosmos to be.

Dreams represent the contraries. A king who has plenty of food, dreams that he is begging for his food in the streets. A chaste, pure aspirant dreams that he is suffering from venereal disease. A chivalrous soldier dreams that he is running from the battlefield for fear of enemy. A weak sickly man dreams that he is dead. He dreams also that his living father is dead and weeps in the night. He also experiences that he is attending the cremation of his father. Sometimes a man who lives in the city dreams that he is facing a tiger and a lion and shrieks loudly at night. He takes his pillow thinking it to be his trunk and proceeds to the Railway Station. After walking a short distance he takes it to be a dream and comes back to his house. Some people dream that they are sitting in the toilet and actually micturate in their beds.

As soon as you wake up, the dream becomes unreal. The waking state does not exist in the dream. Both dream and waking states are not present in deep sleep. Deep sleep is not present in dream and waking states. Therefore all the three states are unreal. They are caused by the three qualities: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Brahman or the Absolute is the silent witness of the three states. It transcends the three qualities also. It is pure bliss and pure consciousness. It is Existence Absolute.
3. Study of Dream-State

Once a disciple approached his Guru, prostrated at His Lotus Feet and with folded hands put the question:

Disciple: O My Revered Guru! Please tell me the way to cross this cycle of births and deaths.

Guru: My dear disciple! If you can understand who you are, then you can get over this cycle of births and deaths.

Disciple: O Guru! I am not so foolish as not to understand me. There is no man on earth who does not understand himself; but every one of them is having his rounds of birth and death.

Guru: No, No. You should understand the nature between the body and that person for whom this body is intended. Then only any one is said to have understood himself.

Disciple: Who is the person to whom this body belongs?

Guru: This Deha (body) belongs to the Dehi (Atman). Try to understand the true nature of the Atman.

Disciple: I do not see anybody besides this body.

Guru: When this body was asleep, who is the person who experienced your dreams? Again in deep sleep who is he that enjoyed it? When you wake up, who is he that is conscious of the world, your dreams and the soundness of the deep sleep?

Disciple: I am just beginning to have a little idea of the nature of Atman who is present in all the three states.

From the above conversation between the Guru and the disciple, it is clear that the dream and the deep sleep states are worthy of our study in order to understand the true nature of the Atman, as we already pretend to have some knowledge at least of our waking consciousness.

Dream is but a disturbance of the deep sleep and the study of the former, as to its origin, working, purpose and meaning will naturally lead us to the study of the deep sleep state also.

The best way to study a subject is to trace its history and development in the hands of eminent authors and to focus our critical faculty on what we have studied from their treaties and to rectify any omissions, when we shall have a complete and satisfactory survey of that subject.

The dream reveals within itself those unconscious mental mechanisms evolved during the course of development for the purpose of controlling and shaping the primitive instinctual self towards that form of behaviour demanded by the contemporary civilization. A working knowledge of the dream as a typical functioning of the psyche—that is, a knowledge of the dream mechanisms and of the theory of the unconscious symbolism—is therefore indispensable for dream interpretation. This knowledge may be gained intellectually from the books written by authorities on that subject, but emotional conviction is the result only of personal analytic experience. Dream should be considered as an individual psychical product from the storehouse of specific experience, which indeed the dreamer may in consciousness neither remember nor know that he knows.

In the analysis of a dream, one would say that the assimilation of knowledge of the unconscious mind through the ego is an essential part of the psychical process. The principle involved in valid explanation is the revelation of the unknown, implicit in the known in terms of the individual. This principle underlies all true dream interpretations.

The value of a dream therefore lies not only in discovering the latest material by means of the manifest content, but the language used in the narration of dream and in the giving of associations will itself help towards elucidation.

The subject of “dream” and its analysis will be, therefore, a most interesting one in understanding the true nature of the individual. We, therefore, quote in the following pages, relevant extracts from the lectures of Sigmund Freud, the famous authority on that subject and will evolve it further, if necessary, by the help of the knowledge we get from the Indian Sages and Seers.
4. Dream Philosophy

Certain Karmas are worked out in dreams also. A King experienced a dream in which he acts the part of a beggar and suffers the pangs of starvation. Certain evil Karmas of the King are purged out in this experience.

If a man is not able to become a king on account of evil influence of some planets, he plays the part of a king in his dream. His strong desire materialises in the dream state.

One derives more pleasure in dream than in the waking state when he experiences pleasant dreams because the mind works more freely in dream.

If you have made arrangements to go to Bombay in the morning of 30th April, you may experience a dream on the night of 29th itself that you are purchasing a ticket at the station and entering the train and some friends have come on the platform of Bombay station to receive you. The strong thoughts of the waking state find expression at once in the dreaming state.

When a strong desire is not gratified in the waking state, you obtain its gratification in dream. The mind has more freedom in the dreaming state. The mind is then like a furious elephant let loose.
5. Philosophy of Dream


One dreams many things that are never to be experienced in this life such as “He dreams he is flying in the air.”

A dream is not an entirely new experience, because most often it is the memory of past experiences.

In the waking state the light of the self is mixed up with the functions of the organs, intellect, mind, external lights etc. In dreams the self becomes distinct and isolated as the organs do not act and the lights such as the sun that help them are absent.

The dreamer is not affected by whatever result of the good and evil he sees in the dream state. No one regards himself a sinner on account of the sins committed in dreams. People who have heard of them do not condemn or shun them. Hence he is not touched by them.

The dreamer only appears to be doing things in dream but actually there is no activity The Sruti says, “He sees to be enjoying himself in the company of women.” (Bri. Up. IV. iii. 13.) He who described his dream experiences uses the words ‘as if’; “I saw today as if a herd of elephants was running.” Therefore the dreaming self has no activity in dreams.

An action is done by the contact of the body and the senses, which have form with something else that has form. We never see a formless thing being active. The Self is formless. Therefore it is not attached. As this Self is unattached, it is untouched by what it beholds in dreams. Hence we cannot ascribe activity to it, as activity proceeds from the contact of the body and the organs. There is no contact for the Self, because this infinite Self is unattached. Therefore it is immortal.

Doctors say, “Do not wake him up suddenly or violently”, because they see that in dreams the self goes out of the body of the waking state through the gates of the organs and remains isolated outside. If the self is violently aroused it may not find those gates of the organs. If he does not find the right organ the body becomes difficult to doctor. The self may not get back to those gates of the organs, things which it sent out taking the shining functions of the latter, or it may misplace those functions. In that case defects such as blindness and deafness may result. The doctor may find it difficult to treat them.


Dreams are due to mental impressions (Vasanas) received in the waking state. The consciousness in a dream depends on the previous knowledge acquired in the wakeful state.

The dreams have the purpose of either cheering or saddening and frightening the sleeper, so as to requite him for his good and evil deeds. His Adrishta thus furnishes the efficient cause of the dreams.

Even in the state of dream the instruments of the self are not altogether at rest, because scripture states that even then it is connected with Buddhi (intellect). “Having become a dream, together with Buddhi it passes beyond this world.”

Smriti also says, “When the senses being at rest, the mind not being at rest, is occupied with the objects, know that state to be a dream.”

Scripture says that desires etc. are modifications of the mind (Bri, Up. I-v-3). Desires are observed in dreams. Therefore, the self wanders about in dreams together with the mind only.

The scripture in describing our doings in dreams qualifies them by an ‘as it were’. “As it were rejoicing together with women, or laughing as it were, or seeing terrible sights” (Bri. Up. IV-iii-13). Ordinary people also describe the dreams in the same manner. “I ascended as it were the summit of a mountain, I saw a tree, as it were”.

Dream creation is unreal. Reality implies the factors of time, space and causation. Further, reality cannot be sublated or stultified. Dream creation has not got these traits.

Dream is called ‘Sandhya’ or the intermediate state because it is midway between waking and the deep sleep state, between the Jagrat and the Sushupti.


Dreams, though of a strange and illusory nature, are a good index of the high or low spiritual and moral condition of the dreamer. He, who has a pure heart and untainted character, will never get impure dreams. An aspirant who is ever meditating will dream of his Sadhana and his object of meditation. He will do worship of the Lord and recite His name and Mantra even in dream through the force of Samskara.
6. Who is it That Dreams?

If you ask any man in this world, “Who is it that wakes up? Who is it that dreams? And who is it that sleeps?” He will answer, “It is I that wake up; it is I that dream; it is I that sleep.” If you ask him “What is this I?” he will say, “this body is the ‘I’.” He will tell you that it is the body that sleeps. When the brain is tired or exhausted, it is the body that sleeps; when the brain is disturbed, it is the body that dreams; and when the brain is refreshed, it is the body that wakes up after sound sleep.

A psychologist who has made a special study of the mind will say that the mind, which has its seat in the brain, is the ‘I’. He says that the mind is inseparable from the brain and it perishes along with the physical body.

The metaphysicians and the spiritualists hold that the mind continues to exist somewhere after the death of the body. According to psychologists, metaphysicians and spiritualists it is the mind that wakes up, dreams and sleeps and this mind is the ‘I’.

A Theologist says that there is a soul which is quite independent of the body and the mind and it is this soul that wakes up, dreams and sleeps and the soul is the ‘I’. This soul enters another body in accordance with the law of Karma.

A Vedantin says that neither this body nor the mind nor the soul is the ‘I’. There is one pure consciousness or Atman in all beings which is Infinite, Eternal, all-pervading, self-existent, self-luminous and self-contained which is partless, timeless, spaceless, birthless, and deathless. This is the real ‘I’. This ‘I’ never wakes, dreams or sleeps. It is always the seer or the silent witness (Sakshi) of the three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping. It is the Turiya or the fourth state. It is the state that transcends the three states.

It is the false or relative ‘I’ called Ahamkara or ego or that Jiva that wakes up, dreams and sleeps. The waker, the dreamer and the sleeper are all changing personalities and unreal.

The real self, the real ‘I’ never wakes up, dreams and sleeps. From the point of the Absolute Truth or Paramartha Satta no one wakes up, dreams and sleeps.
7. Lord Creates Dream Objects

(Another view)

Some Indian philosophers hold that the creation of chariots etc. in the dream is verily by the Lord and not by the human self. The dream objects are created by the Lord as fruition of the minor works of the Jiva. In order to reward the soul for very minor Karmas, the Lord creates the dreams.

The followers of one Sakha, namely the Kathakas, state in their text that the Supreme Lord is alone the Creator of all Karmas in the dream state for the dreamers (Katha Up. V-8).

“He, the Highest Person, who is awake in us when we are asleep, shaping one lovely sight after another, that indeed is the Bright, that is Brahman, that alone is called the Immortal. All worlds are contained in Him, and no one goes beyond Him. This is that.”

Maya or the will of the Lord is the only means through which He creates dream objects. They are not made of objective matter (gross elements) because they are not perceptible to all persons, but are seen only by the dreamer.

He who can cause the bondage and release of the soul can easily bring about the dream and its withdrawal for the soul. There is nothing wonderful in it. Kurma Purana says: “It is He (the Lord) who makes the soul perceive the dream creation etc. and it is He who hides them from his view; for on His will the bondage and release of the soul depend.”
8. Prophetic Dreams

Sometimes dreams are prophetic of future good and bad fortune. The scripture teaches, “When a man engaged in some work undertakes for a special wish, sees in his dreams a woman, he may infer success from that dream vision”. “Then having washed the Mantha vessel which should be either of bell-metal or of wood, let him lie down behind the fire on a skin or on a bare ground silently and singly. If in his dreams he sees a woman, let him know this is an omen that his sacrifice has been successful”. (Chh. Up. V-2-8-9).

Other scriptural passages declare that certain dreams indicate speedy death e.g. “If he sees a black man with black teeth, that man will kill him” (Kaushitaki Brahmana.)

Those who also understand the science of dreams hold the opinion that the dream of riding on an elephant and the like is lucky; while it is unlucky to dream of riding on a donkey.

Lord Siva taught Visvamitra in dream the Mantra called “Ramaraksha”. He exactly wrote it out in the morning when he awoke from sleep.

Works of genius like poems etc. are found in dreams. Remedies for diseases are prescribed in the dream. Sometimes the exact object seen in dreams is seen afterwards in waking state.

Vyasa and other sages who know the science of dreams say, “Whatever a Brahmin or a God, a bull or a king may tell a person in dreams will doubtless prove true”.

Ramanuja holds, “Because the images of a dream are produced by the Highest Lord Himself, therefore, they have prophetic significance.”
9. Spiritual Enlightenment Through Dreams

“He who is happy within, who rejoices within, and who is illumined within, that Yogi attains absolute freedom or Moksha, himself becoming Brahman.” (Gita: V-24.) The highest spiritual knowledge is Knowledge of the Self. He who has known himself, rather his self, for him nothing remains to be known. The wisest of the Western philosophers Socrates, gave the highest and the best of his teachings to his disciples in the injunction “Know Thyself”. The Indian saints likewise gave their highest teaching in the form known as Adhyatma-Vidya or Self-Knowledge.

Knowledge of the Self, which has been called the supreme knowledge by the wise men of all ages, has seldom been recognised as a mystery by the ordinary man. He seems to know himself so well that he does not think it even necessary to reflect upon himself. Not only does the uneducated illiterate person think it useless to reflect upon himself, but the highly cultured modern man also thinks in the same way. The greater the advancement of science and learning, the less we find in the modern man a desire to know himself.

There are two opposite reasons that lead a man not to reflect upon himself: first, he thinks that he knows the self too well, secondly he thinks it useless to think about himself, because the true nature of the self can never be known. Some think that thinking about oneself is a morbid mentality. This is a form of introversion from which one has to free oneself as soon as possible. The study of dreams is corrective to such an erroneous view.

There was a time when psychologists thought, the less we thought about our dreams, the better. The psychologists who take consciousness to be an epi-phenomenon still hold the same view. Seashore, for instance, thinks that it is only abnormal people who think too much of their dreams, and that thinking too much about dreams leads to abnormalities. There is much in the waking life to be attended to and he who spends his time in thinking about his dreams is missing so much of his waking life and this contributes to his own failure in life.

Now Psychology, however, has changed this point of view. It shows that deepest wisdom comes through reflection on dreams. No one has known himself truly, who has not studied his dreams. The study of dreams at once shows what a great mystery our soul is, and that this mystery is not altogether insoluble, as some metaphysicians supposed. Dreams reveal to us that aspect of our nature which transcends rational knowledge. That in the most rational and moral man there is an aspect of his being which is absurd and immoral, one knows only through the study of one’s dreams. All our pride of nationality and morality melts into nothingness as soon as we reflect upon our dreams.

There is logic in our dreams or rather the logic of our waking consciousness is just like the dream logic. The great philosopher Hegel constructed his logic without taking into account what the dream logic has to reveal. Now logic, which at the same time claims to be a system of Metaphysics, cannot be complete without taking into account the absurd constructions of dream experience. Logic is only a tool of intellect, which enables it to deal with the waking experience alone. This fact is revealed to us through the study of our dreams. The real must transcend all logical categories; or the categories by which it can be comprehended have to be such as will not only suffice to catch the waking experience but the dream experience too. This simply means that it should be broad enough to comprehend both the conscious and the unconscious life of a man. To conceive of such a category cannot be the work of waking consciousness. Such a category must necessarily transcend both the waking and the dream consciousness. Thus we are lead to the necessity of intuition or a logical thought to comprehend Reality, when we begin reflecting upon our dreams.

The modern study of dreams shows that they are not meaningless presentations. Every dream presentation has a meaning. A dream is like a letter written in an unknown language. To a man who does not know the Chinese, a letter written in that language is a meaningless scroll. But to one who knows that language it is full of most valuable information. It may be the letter calls for immediate action; or it may contain words of consultation to one suffering from dejection. It may be a letter of threat or it may speak of love. These meanings are there only to one who would care to attend to the letter and would try to decipher it. But alas! How few of us try to understand these messages from the deep unseen ocean of our own Consciousness!

Why do we dream? Various answers have been given to this question. According to the most popular scientific view, dreams are nothing but a repetition of our waking experiences in a new form. A more thoughtful view regards them as productions of an organic disturbance somewhere in the body, but more particularly in the stomach. To this view medical men stick more tenaciously than any other people. Sometimes coming diseases appear in dreams. During an illness dreams are generally more horrible than they are in the healthy condition of the body. These are all scientific theories of dreams. We have here out of account the unscientific theories, e.g. that dreams are premonitions or that gods or demons or spirits produce dreams, or that the soul goes out to a sojourn in dreams etc.

The scientific theories have been very thoroughly exposed by Dr. Sigmund Freud in his Interpretation of Dreams. No physical stimulus, whether it is inside or outside the body, no experience of the waking or sleeping state can explain the presentation of the actual dream content. The same stimulus, namely the chime of an alarm timepiece produced three different kinds of dreams to Hidetrant at different times. Why should it be so if the physical stimulus alone is responsible for the production of dreams?

According to Freud all dreams, without any exception, are wish fulfilment. The wishes are actually of an immoral nature. They are revolting to the moral self, which exercises a control on their appearance. Hence to evade this moral censor the wishes appear in disguised forms. The dream mechanism is very intricate. Very few dreams present the wishes as they really are. Dreams are partial gratification of the wishes. They relieve the mental tension, and thus enable us to enjoy repose. They are safety valves to strong impulsions. Dreams do not disturb sleep but rather protect it. The irrationality and the immorality of dreams make the morality and rationality of our waking life possible.

The above statement of Freud shows that we know our animal self in dream. But he does not say anything about the spiritual life being expressed in dream. This, it seems, has been done by Jung. According to Jung, a dream is not causally determined as was supposed by Freud, but it is teleologically determined. The repressed wishes alone do not explain all our dreams. A dream presents a demand to our waking consciousness. If rightly interpreted, it shows the way to be at peace with ourselves. The dreams of the neurotics not only reveal the repressed contents but they also suggest remedies for the cure. A series of dreams sometimes occur to a patient, which reveal the way to cure.

The dream consciousness is superior to the waking consciousness in many respects. Many puzzles of life are solved through hints from dreams. All dreams, according to Adler, are anticipatory in character. They show which way the spiritual life of a man is flowing. To know the actual flow is necessary to correct possible errors. Dreams help us to discover the lifeline of the individual and help us to give him proper advice for self-correction.

Thus, through dreams one may know how one ought to act in a particular situation. The dreams point out a path unknown to the waking consciousness. Saints and sages appear in dreams at times of difficulty and show the way. The more one follows the dream intuitions, the clear they become.
10. Waking as a Dream

In both states—waking and dreaming—objects are “Perceived”, i.e., are associated with subject-object relationship. This is the similarity between the two.

The only difference between the two states is that the objects in dream are perceived in the space within the body, whereas in the waking condition they are seen in the space outside the body. The fact of “being seen” and their consequent illusoriness are common to both states.

The illusion of both the states is established by their “being seen” as “object”, other then the self, thus creating a difference in existence. Anything that is “perceived” is unreal, for perception presupposes relation and relation is non-eternal, for the relations of the waking state are contradicted by those of dream and vice versa. As duality is unreal, all objects must be unreal.

As long as the dream lasts, waking is unreal; as long as waking lasts, dream is unreal. The reality of the one is dependent on the reality of the other. But dream is proved to be unreal; hence waking also is unreal.

Dream-relations are contradicted by waking-relations. Waking relations are contradicted by Super-consciousness which is uncontradicted. Non-contradiction is the test of reality.

That which persists forever is real. That which does not and which has a beginning and an end is unreal. Dream and waking have both a beginning and an end. But it may be contented that one thing exists as the cause of the other in the beginning. But as causality itself is baseless, a thing cannot exist as the cause of another. That which has a beginning and an end is changeable and hence non-eternal and unreal, for change implies non-existence in the beginning or at an end. Hence all perceived objects are unreal.

As the objects of the waking state do not work in dream, they are unreal. As the objects of the dream do not work in the waking state, they are unreal. Hence everything is unreal. One who eats belly-full during the waking state feels hungry in the dream state and vice versa. Things are real only in their own realms and not always. That which is not always real is unreal, for reality is everlasting.

The perception of an object is unreal, because the objects are creations of the mind. An object has got a particular form, because the mind believes it to be so. In fact, the objects of both the dreaming and the waking states are unreal. An object lasts only as long as the particular mental condition cognising the object lasts. When there is a different mental condition altogether, the objects also change. Hence all objects are unreal.

Both in the dream and in the waking stale, the internal perceptions are unreal and the objects of external perception appear to be real.

If in the waking state we make a distinction of real and unreal, in dream also we do the same thing. In dream also objects of internal cognition, are unreal. Dream is as real as the waking state. But since dream is proved to be unreal, waking also must be unreal. Dream is unreal only from the standpoint of waking, and equally so is waking to the dreamer. From the standpoint of True Wisdom, waking is as unreal as dream.
11. The Unreality of Imagination

Through the play of the mind in dreams and deliriums nearness appears as a great distance and a great distance appears as proximity. Through the force of the mind a great cycle of time appears as a moment and a moment appears as a great cycle. The unreal world appears as real whereas it is in reality a long dream arisen in our mind. This world is nothing but a long dream. The mind sports and creates an illusion. Through the play of the mind the dream-world appears as real. The following story will illustrate this fact.

Lavana was a king of the country of Uttara Pandava. He was once seated on his throne. All his ministers and officers were present. There appeared at this time a Siddha or a magician. He bowed down to the king and said, “O Lord! Deign to behold my wonderful feats.” The Siddha waved his bunch of peacock feathers. The king had the following experiences. A messenger from the king of Sindhu entered the court with a horse like that of Indra and said, “O Lord! My master has made a present of this horse to you.” The Siddha requested the king to mount upon the horse and ride it at his pleasure. The king stared at the horse and entered into a state of trance for two hours. Afterwards there was relaxation of rigidity of his body. The king’s body fell on the ground after some time. The courtiers lifted the body. The king gradually came to consciousness. The ministers and the courtiers said to the king: “What is the matter with your majesty?” The king said: “The Siddha waved his bunch of peacock’s feathers. I saw a horse before me. I mounted on the horse and rode in a desert in the hot sun. My tongue was parched. I was quite fatigued. Then I reached a beautiful forest. While I was riding on the horse, a creeper encircled my neck and the horse ran away. I was rocking to and fro in the air during the whole of the night with the creeper encircling my neck. I was shivering with extreme cold.

“The day dawned and I saw the sun. I cut the creeper that encircled my neck. I then beheld an outcaste girl carrying some food and water in her hands. I was very hungry and asked her to give me some food. She did not give me anything. I followed her closely for a long time. She then turned to me and said: “I am a Chandala by birth. If you promise to marry me in my own place before my parents and live with me there, I will give you what I have in my hand this very moment.” I agreed to marry her. She then gave me half of the food. I ate the food and drank the beverage of Jambu fruits.

“Then she took me to her father and asked his permission to marry me. He consented. Then she took me to her abode. The father of the girl killed monkeys, cows and pigs for flesh and dried them on the strings of nerves. A small shed was erected. I had then my seat on a big plantain leaf. My squint-eyed mother-in-law then looked at me with her blood-red eyeballs and said, “Is this our would-be son-in-law?”

“The marriage festivities began with great éclat. My father-in-law presented me clothes and other articles. Toddy and meat were freely distributed. The meat-eating Chandalas beat their drums. The girl was given to me in marriage. I was named as ‘Pushta.’ The wedding festival lasted for seven days. A daughter was first born of this union. She brought forth again a black boy in the course of three years. She again gave birth to a daughter. I became an old Chandala with a large family and lived for a long time. Children are a source of grief. Miseries of human beings which arise out of passion take the form of a child. My body became old and emaciated on account of family cares and worries. I had to undergo pain through heat and cold in the dreary forest. I was clad in old ragged clothes. I carried loads of firewood on my head. I was exposed to the chill winds. I had to live upon the roots. I thus spent sixty years of my life as if they were so many Kalpa-ages of long duration. There was severe famine. Many died of starvation. Some of my relatives left the place.

“I and my wife left the country and walked in the hot sun. I carried two children on my shoulders and third on my head. I walked a long distance and then arrived at the fringe of a forest. We all took a little rest under a big palmyra tree. My wife expired on account of long travel in the hot sun. My younger son Pracheka rose up and stood before me and said with tears gushing out of his eyes: “Papa, I am hungry. Give me immediately some meat and drink or else I will die.” He repeatedly said with tears in his eyes that he was dying of hunger. I was then moved by paternal affection. I was very much afflicted at heart. I was not able to bear the distress. Then I made up my mind to put an end to my life by falling into fire. I collected some wood, heaped them together and set fire to them. I stood up to jump into the fire when I fell down from throne and woke up. I now find myself as the king Lavana once again and not as a Chandala.”

This story illustrates the heterogeneous actions of the mind. The experiences of the state of trance or delirium, the experiences in the waking state and those in dream are all similar. The Samskaras are ingrained in the mind equally in all the states of consciousness. The misery of Samsara is equally felt in all the states of the mind when it is vigorously working. Whatever we see is only a manifestation of the mind. It is quite illusory. Time is but a mode of mind. Centuries are passed for but five minutes and vice versa. Within two hours, king Lavana had experienced such a diverse life of sixty years.

None can say whether his life as king was true or as Chandala. Whether this is a dream or that is a dream we cannot say. Instead of thinking that the king dreamt of a life as Chandala, we can as well consider that a real Chandala dreamt that he was king Lavana. Both are unintelligible and unreal modes of imagination. Our whole life on earth is a similar play of imagination. Our states of consciousness contradict themselves when we try to reconcile them. We cannot say whether we are dreaming or waking. To us every state of imagination seems to be real. We may be in this world building castles in the air while sleeping on the bed in some other world. Nothing can be given as a proof for the reality of the world in which we live. If all of us now experience a common world it may be due to an apparent accident in the similarity of the states of consciousness in us. And moreover there is no guarantee that all of us look at the world in the same fashion. The world changes from person to person and to the same person at different conditions of the mind. This is the state of dream and waking.

We are so much engaged with the present state of the mind and so attached to the persisting condition of imagination, that nothing but the actual present seems to be real. We forget the past and ignore the future. We think now that the dream of yesterday is a falsity. And in the state of dream we apply the same conviction to the waking state also. Are we not mere slaves of imagination? Our individual life is thus proved to be a fallacy and a vile creature of the modes of imagination, which is itself an illusion!
12. Why Jagrat is a Dream?

Jagrat Avastha is waking consciousness. You perceive, feel, think, know and you are conscious of the external sense-universe. The organs of hearing and sight are very vigilant. The organ of sight is more active than the ear. It rushes headlong over forms (Rupa), various types of beauty, through force of habit. The Abhimani (person thinking upon) of Jagrat state is termed as Visva. He identifies himself with the physical body. Visva is Vyasthi (individual) Abhimani. The Samasthi Abhimani (cosmic) is Virat. Visva is microcosm (Kshudra Brahmanda). Virat is macrocosm (Brahmanda). Vyasthi is single. Samashti is sum-total. A single matchstick is Vyasthi. A matchbox is Samasthi. A single house is Vyashti. A village is Samasthi. A single mango tree is Vyasthi. A grove of mango-trees is Samasthi. Ear and eye are the avenues of sense-knowledge in the Jagrat State.

The mind creates the dream-world out of the experience and Samskaras of the waking consciousness.

Dream is a reproduction of the experiences of the physical consciousness with some modifications. The mind weaves out the dream creatures out of the material supplied from waking consciousness. In dream the subject and object are one. The perceiver and the perceived are one in this state. The Abhimani of Svapna Avastha is Taijasa. Taijasa is a Vyasthi Abhimani. The Samasthi Abhimani is Hiranyagarbha, the first-born.

In the Jagrat state there are two kinds of knowledge, viz., Abijna or Abijna Jnana and Pratibijna or Pratibijna Jnana. Abijna is knowledge through perception. You see a tree. You know: “This is a tree”. This is Abijna. Pratibijna is recognition. Here something previously observed is recognised in some other thing or place, as when, for instance, the generic character of a cow which was previously observed in the black cow again presents itself to consciousness in the grey cow or Mr. Radhakrishnan whom I first saw in Benares in 1922 again appears before me in Calcutta in 1932. There are cases of recognition where the object previously observed again presents itself to our senses. There is a Samskara in the mind of object, time and place. When I recognised Mr. Radhakrishnan in Calcutta, I omitted the previous place Benares where I saw him for the first time and the time also 1922 and I took into consideration the present place Calcutta and the present time 1932. This is knowledge through Pratibijna. In Abijna, there is no Antahkarana Samskaras. There is knowledge through mere sense-contact with the object.

When you take a retrospective view of your life in college when you are 60 years of age, it is all a dream to you. Is it not so, my friends? The future also will turn out to be so. There is only the present, which on account of the force of strong Samskaras through repetition of actions and Dhrida (strong) Vasanas appears to be real for an Aviveki (a man of non-discrimination) only. The past is a dream. The future is a dream. The solid present is also a dream. When you are alone at Allahabad for a month, you have entirely forgotten all about Chennai, your affairs, family, children etc. You have only Allahabad Samskaras. For the time being Chennai is out of your mind. There is only Allahabad in your mind. When you return again to Chennai, Allahabad affairs entirely disappear from the mind after some time. When you are in Allahabad, Chennai is a dream to you, and when you are in Chennai, Allahabad is a dream. World is a mere Samskara in the mind. For a worldly man with a gross mind full of passions this world is a solid reality.

According to Gaudapada, Dada-Guru of Sri Sankaracharya, the Jagrat Avastha is exactly a dream without any difference. Some saints say that the waking state is a long dream (Deerga Svapna). An objector says: “In Jagrat state we see the same objects in the same place as soon as we wake up (Desa Kala), whereas in dreams, we do not see again the same objects. We see different things daily. How do you account for this?”

Even in dreams sometimes we see same objects repeatedly on different occasions.

Every moment the whole world is changing. You do not see the same world every day. Young people become old. The molecules of the body are changing every second. Mind also changes every moment. Trees and all objects are continually changing. The water that you see in the Ganga at 6 a.m. is not the same when you see at 6.05 a.m. When a wick in the hurricane lamp is burning, you see the light but the wick is ever changing. There are continual changes in sun, moon, stars etc. The world is stationary for people of gross minds (Sthula Buddhi). A man of Sukshma (subtle) intellect does not see the same world every day. He witnesses changes—changes in every second and sees daily a new world. Therefore the waking consciousness also is a dream. Just as the dream becomes false as soon as you wake up, the Jagrat consciousness becomes a dream when you get Viveka and Jnana. Science tells you that the world is a mass of electrons that are in constant rotation and change.

An objector again says: “We remember the events, the persons, the places etc., in Jagrat Avastha. In dream we do not remember. How do you explain this?”

In Svapna or dream state there is Rajo Guna Pradhana. Rajo Guna predominates. In Jagrat state, Sattva Guna predominates. That is the reason why you have no remembrance in dream.

As soon as you wake up, the dreams turn out to be false. So long as you are dreaming, every thing is real to you. This world, the waking consciousness, becomes a dream when you get Jnana. Therefore Jagrat is termed as a dream. This appears to be paradoxical but it is not so. Think well.

In prophetic dreams the materials come from the Karana Sarira or seed body (causal body), the storehouse of Samskaras.

Readers are earnestly requested to go through very carefully Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika either in Sanskrit or English translation. The dream problem is very elaborately dealt with cogent argument.

“When I consider the matter carefully, I do not find a single characteristic by means of which I can certainly determine whether I am awake or whether I dream. The visions of a dream and the experiences of my waking state are so much alike that I am completely puzzled and I do not really know that I am not dreaming at this moment.” (Descartes: Meditations P. I.)

Pascal is right when he asserts that if the same dream comes to us every night we should be just as much occupied by it as by the things which we see every day. To quote his words, “If an artisan were certain that he would dream every night for fully 12 hours that he was a king, I believe that he would be just as happy as a king who dreams every night for 12 hours that he is an artisan”.

In dream the seer and the seen are one. The mind creates the bee, flower, mountain, horses, rivers, etc., in the dream. The dream objects are not independent of the mind. They have no separate existence apart from the mind. So long as the dream lasts, the dream creatures will remain just as the milkman remains so long as the milking goes on. (The dream is quite real when the man is dreaming). Whereas in the Jagarat state the object exists independent of the mind. The objects of the waking experiences are common to us all, while those of dreams are the property of the dreamer.

Jacob puts Gaudapada’s arguments in the following syllogistic form: “Things seen in the waking state are not true: this is proposition (Pratijna); because they are seen, this is reason (Hetu); just like things seen in a dream, this is the instance (Drishtanta); as things seen in the dream are not true, so the property of the being seen belongs in like manner to things seen in the waking state; this is the application of the reason (Hetupanyaya); therefore things seen in the waking state are also untrue; this is the conclusion.

Gaudapada establishes the unreal Character of the world of experience:

1. By its similarity to dream state;

2. By its presented or objective character;

3. By the unintelligibility of the relations which organise it; and

4. By its non-persistence for all time.


First Edition: 1958
Second Edition: 2000
(2,000 Copies)

World Wide Web (WWW) Edition : 2001

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© The Divine Life Trust Society

Published By
P.O. Shivanandanagar—249 192
Distt. Tehri-Garhwal, Uttaranchal,
Himalayas, India.
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