TURIYA AND THE CATUSPAD DOCTRINE IN ADVAITA VEDANTA: AN INQUIRY INTO AN INDIAN "STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS" DOCTRINE

ANDREW OSMUN FORT, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This dissertation traces the development and modifications of tur(')iya and the catuspad doctrine in advaita Vedanta. The catuspad (four "foot") doctrine is one traditional formulation of "states of consciousness" in Indian thought. This formulation, discussed most concisely in the Mandukya Upanisad, mentions three varying states (waking, dream, and deep sleep), and an unchanging fourth, tur(')iya. This fourth "state" is analyzed at some length in the advaita Vedanta school, particularly by the school's progenitors, Gaudapada and (')Sankara. In their view, tur(')iya designates the undifferentiated substratum of the conditioned states of consciousness and is identical with the ultimate, non-dual reality, brahman. While mainly a textual investigation directed toward Indologists, this dissertation also illuminates a non-Western states of consciousness scheme which emphasizes non-waking states for those interested in alternative psychological models. The dissertation first discusses advaitin psychology, and its interest in the substratum of consciousness. Advaitins emphasize the non-difference of "mind" and "matter". Tur(')iya, basic "consciousness", is to conditioned mental states what brahman, fundamental "substance", is to the apparent physical world--different aspects of a single substratum. After looking at some Vedic and Upanisadic precursors to the Mandukya's catuspad conception, I translate, with notes and comments, the Mandukya and the first prakarana of Gaudapada's karikas. (')Sankara's understanding of this scheme, particularly of tur(')iya as the self, follows. His analysis of sleep as blissful, unified rest is contrasted with other conceptions of sleep as ignorance. In later texts, the catuspad doctrine sometimes appears as a meditation stage scheme. The four states are linked with the morae of om (a, u, m). In some "minor" Upanisads and the Yogavasistha, tur(')iya begins to appear as an exalted meditation stage (samadhi), rather than as the substratum of states (brahman). Some modern swamis, recently interviewed, look back to the advaitin tradition; others, generally more aware of Western psychology, emphasize the meditation stage scheme. (')Sr(')i Aurobindo also recasts the catuspad doctrine as "planes of consciousness". The conclusion discusses transpersonal psychology, particularly psychologists looking "East" for new models of consciousness. We observe their interest in "altered" (non-waking) states and their sometimes simplistic understandings of Eastern ideas. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of school.) UMI

Subject Area

Religious history

Recommended Citation

FORT, ANDREW OSMUN, "TURIYA AND THE CATUSPAD DOCTRINE IN ADVAITA VEDANTA: AN INQUIRY INTO AN INDIAN "STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS" DOCTRINE" (1982). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8217116.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8217116

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