Sweet friend, finding rest on the bed of Turiya, the fourth state, [which] stays above the [other] three states [that include] wakefulness, etc. [taijasa/dreaming and prajña/deep dreamless sleep], forever be absorbed in the sleep without mental images [Yoga Nidra]!— [it is] immeasurable, comprising pure awareness
While the light of the Supreme Soul shines [it] utterly eradicates the blindness of ignorance. O Hallelujah! The awakened, their vision unstained, see nothing at all!
According to the Hindu conception of the Mind there are four states of consciousness. The first three were expounded upon by Adi Śankaracarya’s guru’s guru Gaudapada in his commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad. The first is viśva, or waking consciousness. The word viśva means all, universal, or omnipresent, and it comes from the root viś which means to pervade. It’s also where we get the names Vishnu and Viśvamitra. The second is taijas, or the dreaming state. Taijas (derived from tejas) means originating from or consisting of light. The third is prajña, which is the state of deep dreamless sleep. Prajña is also a term for a type of supernatural insight. The fourth state is called turiya, which means, prosaically enough, the fourth. This is the state beyond even dreamless sleep. It is a kind of binding substratum that holds all of consciousness together. If the first three states of consciousness could be analogized to the Brahma-Vishnu-Śiva trinity, then turiya would be Brahman itself.
In the Mandukya Upanishad these four states of consciousness are mapped onto the sacred syllable Om. Although at first glance there are only two letters in Om, it can actually be broken into four parts. In way similar to color theory, in which there are three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue), the Sanskrit alphabet has three primary vowels from which most of the others are derived. They are A (as in father), I (as in wheat), and U (as in hoot). The vowel O is a combination of A and U. So if you break the first vowel into its constituent parts, and then consider the silence after the utterance of the syllable as part of the whole, then you have four parts. A+U+M+__. In this schema A represents waking consciousness, U represents the dream state, M is deep, dreamless sleep, and the silence after is turiya, or the space beyond. And here, of course, Adi Śankaracarya gives turiya still another name: Yoga Nidrā.
A final note on śloka 26: The word friend, sakhe, is in the vocative case. The vocative is the case of direct address and very often is accompanied with either an O, or an exclamation point, or both. As in “Romeo, O Romeo!” Or one of my favorites, “O rose, thou art sick…” Although just in my last commentary I moralized about keeping as close as possible to the original sense, here I took some artistic liberty and added the word “sweet” in the address. What can I say? It feels right. It feels right because I begin to get a more personal, intimate sense of Adi Śankaracarya as the work progresses. If he has abandoned the pretense of the detached authority in some ślokas, then it seems reasonable to me that he may be addressing his reader in a more intimate way in others as well.
In translating śloka 27, which is otherwise relatively straightforward, I made another choice which I accept may be problematic to some. I’ve translated the word aho as hallelujah. Strictly speaking aho is a cinch to translate. It’s short and indeclinable so it doesn’t take much thinking. It’s just an exclamation, either of surprise or pleasure or regret. One could use “wow,” or “golly,” or “alas!” But since this śloka expresses something quite wondrous, namely the realization of the illusory nature of existence and that there’s no here here, I decided to use the word hallelujah for a little more emphasis. Hallelujah means “praise God” in Hebrew and is of course also exclaimed by Christians. But I believe it is also used commonly enough in secular contexts that its use here shouldn’t constitute any undue cultural violence.
Ok, readers. I know I’ve been churning these out at a quicker pace, and I hope you don’t feel bombarded. The fact of the matter is that I set myself a deadline to be finished with the commentary by the end of the month. It looks like I’m going to make it, praise God! Only two ślokas left, so check them out because in these two Adi Śankaracarya gets a little sexy! No shit. Stay tuned!