This is exactly what our introductory blog to Sloka 6 talked about. Many and in particular the Sunyavadis mistake this as emptiness, says Adi Sankara in this Sloka. Let us get into the Sloka.
सन्मात्रः करणोपसंहरणतो योऽभूत्सुषुप्तः पुमान् ।
प्रागस्वाप्समिति प्रबोधसमये यः प्रत्यभिज्ञायते
तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये ॥६॥
Meaning in Tamil
Meaning in English
Just Like the Sun and the Moon are Eclipsed by Rahu, the Pure Consciousness is Eclipsed by Maya (for a spiritually ignorant person). A Spiritually Elevated Soul can enter that state of Unborn Deep Sleep (i.e., Pure Consciousness) by Withdrawing His Sense Organs to such an extent that Only the Real Essence remains. That state (Pure Consciousness) is experienced during Spiritual Awakening whereby one clearly Perceives that “Before I was Sleeping” (by being eclipsed by Maya). Salutations to Him, the Personification of Our Inner Guru Who Awakens This Knowledge through His Profound Silence; Salutation to Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty.
Understanding the Sloka:
राहुग्रस्तदिवाकरेन्दुसदृशो मायासमाच्छादनात् Raahu-Grasta-Divaakare[a-I]ndu-Sadrsho Maayaa-Sama-[A]acchaadanaat
In the first line “divākarendu sadṛśo māyā samācchādanāt”, Adi Śankarācārya quotes the celestial phenomenon of solar & lunar eclipse as an example. He explains that just like the Sun & Moon are eclipsed by Rahu, Pure Consciousness is eclipsed by Maya
“Rahu” in mythological language is a dark snake which swallows the sun/moon; In astrological language, rāhu is only the shadow; that is why it is called chāyāḥ grahaḥ. Therefore, that shadow is eclipsing. We must understand that the eclipsed sun/moon is not non-existent; it is only not-prominent, dominant, pronounced during the eclipse. However, for the ignorant it appears as though the Sun/Moon is not there during the eclipse.
Similarly, when the transactions are not there; existence is not prominent. Non prominent existence is not non-existence. Non-transactable existence is non-prominent existence; it is as though nonexistent, but it is not non-existence.And therefore the general existence, in sleep, is as though eclipsed; because of:
- maya’s āvanara śakti (veiling power);
- resolution of the organs;
- end of transactions.
All these three are important; and therefore it is eclipsed as it were. And therefore, Shankaracharya compares this general sattaḥ to the eclipsed Sun and moon.
करणोपसंहरणतो karaṇopa saṃharaṇataḥ; and consequently, because of withdrawal of the kāraṇam. upasaṃharaṇam means withdrawal; kāraṇam means the eleven organs. With the withdrawal of sense and action organs (upasaṃharaṇam of Kāraṇam – karaṇopa saṃharaṇataḥ – करणोपसंहरणत),
सन्मात्रः करणोपसंहरणतो य्योऽभूत्सुषुप्तः पुमान् । San-Maatrah Karanno[a-U]pasangharannato Yo(a-A]bhuut-Sussuptah Pumaan |
अभुत् the individual Self (abhut – अभुत् – this jīvātma)
सुषुप्ता was in deep sleep (suṣuptāḥ – सुषुप्ता) meaning that without any transactions, in the form of
सन्मात्रा attributeless-unqualified, pure existence (sanmātrahaḥ – सन्मात्रा). This is the essence of the second line.
प्रागस्वाप्समिति प्रबोधसमये यः प्रत्यभिज्ञायते Praag-Asvaapsam-Iti Prabodha-Samaye Yah Pratyabhijnyaayate
Now let us go to the third line. What is the proof for the presence of pure existence in suṣupti? You say it is not available for transaction. That means it is not available for proving also; because proving itself is a form of transaction. So how do you know the pure existence as my true nature? For this, we say three प्रमाणस् pramāṇas are there to prove it;
- one is Shruti pramāṇas;
- another is yukti pramāṇas,
- and the third is anubhava pramāṇas.
Of these three pramāṇas, Adi Śankarācāryacharya gives in the third line, the powerful anubhava pramāṇam.
Let us see the Shruti,pramāṇa:
When a person goes to sleep, he is not becoming non-existent; but he is withholding himself into his pure nature called existent; sadā; sat, means existence. He merges into his pure nature of existence. स्वम् अवपतो भवशत svam apito bhavati; The sat which is his svarūpam into that he merges. So the Upanishad does not say he merges into asat. Therefore, Shruti, pramāṇam proves this.
The next one is yukti pramāṇam. Logic; in fact, we need not go to traditional logic; we can go to modern logic; modern science itself; by the law of conservation of energy and matter; nothing can be totally destroyed. An existent thing can never become non-existent. An existent thing can never become non-existent; destruction is what? You are not converting an existent thing into a non-existent thing. When pot is destroyed, what happens? Pot exists in a different form; it becomes what; clay. So, pot never becomes non-existent; then it becomes what; it is existent in a different form. So, there is no destruction, in the form of becoming non-existent. That being so, an existent thing cannot be converted into non-existence and vice versa also. And out of non-existence, an existent thing cannot come out. Out of nothing what comes? Nothing comes;
न सतो ववध्र्ते भावाः, न भावो ववध्र्ते सतः
na sato vidhyate bhāvāḥ, na bhāvo vidhyate sataḥ;
कथम् असतः सत्र् एथः
katham asataḥ satya ethaḥ
Existent-I cannot become non-existent in सुषुशप्त suṣupti and out of the non-existent I, again an existent-I cannot come; and therefore, in sleep I am existent; but not in the form of a qualified-I; I am existing in a different form. When pot is destroyed that potness attribute goes away. Similarly, when I resolve, my individuality goes away, the individuality_less-I. Like the potness_less clay. The attributeless-I am existent. I did not know then. You will not know. Because if you want to know, you have to become a knower. The moment you become the knower, you are no more in sushupthi. It becomes jagrat or swapna. Therefore, what is the second logic; the second pramanam, logic is; an existent thing can never become non-existent;
Then what is the third: अनुभव प्रमाणम् anubhava pramāṇam. And what is the anubhavam pramāṇam. Adi Śankarācārya calls it प्रत्र्शभज्ञा pratyabhijñā; pratyabhijñā means recognition. After waking up, this person says: I slept well; I slept well. What does it mean? I was very much existent there; as a sleeper. If ‘I’ am not there; the subject (see it as grammatical). If subject is not there; how can you use the verb, ’slept’?. Slept is a verb, whatever be the meaning. So, if you have to use the verb slept, it refers to the locus of the sleep, of the subject of sleep, which is I. And that-I, who slept before, that-I, that-I, am awake now. This is called recognition. and recognition means appreciating the continuity of I, in the sleeping state, as well as the waking state.
Let us take the word recognition itself. Recognition means re-cognition. When I say I recognise you – What do you understand? I have seen you somewhere; I know that you are so and so; and now I am recognising you; That means a continuity of your existence in the past and in the present is indicated. The verb of recognition indicates, the existence of the recognised-object in the past. In the past it existed as what? A cognised-object, and when you see again; it exists as the recognised-object, it existed in the past, as cognised-one, now as a recognised-one, which means continuity. of recognised-object. When I wake up, I am recognising myself. How? I who was sleeper in the past, am the I, which is the waker-in-the-present. ‘I slept well’ means I am recognising myself, which means I appreciate the fact, that I who was a sleeper in the past, am the waker-in-the-present.
Thus, Adi Śankarācārya argues self-recognition is the proof for self-continuity. And self-continuity proves that I existed in sleep also. And that proves in sleep, I am existent; it is not nothingness. Self-recognition proves self-continuity. Self-continuity proves that I am very much in the sleep also. That means sleep is not the state of nothingness.
And therefore, Adi Śankarācārya says प्रभोदसमर्े prabhodasamaye; at the time of waking; प्रत्र्शभज्ञार्ते pratyabhijñāyate; the self is recognised as the what? Self is recognised in what form? प्रागस्वाप्सम् prāgasvāpsam; I slept well before. When does he say? In the waking state; that means how I who am awake; now slept well before, (this is within quote “prāgasvāpsam”, iti pratyabhijñāyate. Self is recognised; therefore, self is continuous; Therefore, jāgrat avastāyām I am, svapna I am; suṣupti I am; I am the existence in all the three states. There is only minor difference. In jāgrat and svapnā, I am the attributed-localised-existence, in suṣupti I am attributeless-unlocalised-existence. And that is why in jagrat avastha, you can refer to your location; once you go to sleep, you do not know the location; and therefore that existence is recognised after waking up. Therefore, through प्रत्र्शभज्ञा प्रमाणम् pratyabhijñā pramāṇam also it is proved that sleep is not a state of nothingness and therefore mādhyamika buddhism is wrong.