There is a debate going on between the followers of school Shri Satchidanandendra Saraswati and Bhamati Vivarana schools of Advaita.

Whether humans temporarily achieve the state if Moksha during sleep or not.

The school of Shri Satchidanandendra Saraswati argues, as there is nothing to behold in deep sleep, the soul exists by itself and therefore the experience is the same, not similar, but it is the experience of Moksha or Turiya.

But the other schools of Vivarna Bhamati argue that there is still Avidya in deep sleep and the soul sees the ignorance of Sukshma Shareera in deep sleep.

What does Adi Shankaracharya say in his Prasthana Traya Bhashya regarding this?

Note: Please only cite references and explain from Prasthana Traya Bhashya of Shri Adi Shankaracharya as their authorship is undisputed.

P.S: I personally feel the view of Vivarana and Bhamati is correct, that the state of Sushupti is not the same state of Moksha,

  • Because Mandukya Upanishad says there are four states, Turiya and Sushupti being different, if not there would be only three states.

  • Because Patanjali says Nidra is one of the vruttis, it is the vruttis of nothingness.

  • Because people don't want to keep sleeping, people having already experienced sleep want to wake up and live their life, so it cannot be the sole goal of all spiritual effort. There must more to the experience of Turiya. Yogis explain the experience of Samadhi as something intoxicating and blissful, which they do not say of Sleep.

  • Because it violates Vaishamya Nairgrunya of Ishwara, if a person experiences Moksha, why will Ishwara bring him back again back to Samsara, back from Moksha?

  • Because Maya and Avidya are Anadi or Beginningless, and if one experiences Jnana or Vidya he cannot go back into Maya and Avidya. If not, then there is no purpose to strive for Jnana, as one can easily lose it. Having experienced the Jnana of Moksha in deep sleep, how can a person come back into having Avidya? Once Vidya and Jnana come, can they go back?

But this is all my logic based on my understanding. I don't know what is the authentic position of Advaita Vedanta according to Shri Adi Shankaracharya.

  • "why will Ishwara bring him back again back to Samsara, back from Moksha?" - why not ? nitya suris take avatars. in fact, bhagavan himself is in moksha, why does he still come to samsara ? because their visit to samsara is not the same as our visit to samsara - they are not bound by karma, we are.
    – ram
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 14:58

2 Answers 2


The locus of deep sleep is certainly the Atman. However, karma and avidya (ignorance) prevent the experience of the moksha state. They keep the jiva distinct from Brahman.

But the very same soul returns from sleep because of the reasons of action, remembrance, scriptural authority, and injunction.


And it was argued that just as a drop of water thrown into a mass of water cannot be singled out, so also a soul merging in Existence cannot spring up again. That is being refuted. In the analogy it is quite in order to say that the (selfsame) drop of water cannot be singled out, since there is nothing to mark out its individuality. But here we have karma and ignorance as the factors making the (individual) distinction.

Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sri Sankaracharya III.ii.9 translated by Swami Gambhirananda

  • Succinct. Karma and ignorance are acting in dreamless sleep. Though there is no memory of dreams, the collected karma experiences run hither and thither without being detected by the senses.
    – ajitdas
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 3:35

Following verses are part of Shri. Shankarabhagavadpada's Prakarana grantha Sarva Vedanta Siddhantha Sara Sangraha (English translation by Swami Tattwananda , Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama)

इति आनन्द-समुत्कर्षः प्रबुद्धेषु प्रदृश्यते समष्टेः च व्यष्टेः अपि उभयोः वन-वृक्षवत्…वस्तुतः जात्येकत्वेन अभेदः एव न उ भेदः तथा ईश-प्राज्ञयोः अपि अभेदः एव ज्ञातव्यः। Prājña is compact of bliss, for such is the immediate experience of every one upon waking up. It has been said that what the trees are in relation to the forest, that the individual is in relation to the group. Therefore, in the stage of deep sleep, the individual aspect of avidyā does not materially differ from its collective aspect. That is why Īśvara and Prājña should not be regarded as altogether different; for, there is no real difference between them.(326)

उपाध्योः अभिन्नत्वे सति तद्-विशिष्टयोः भेदः क्व तरङ्गाब्ध्योः एकी-भावे प्रतिबिम्बयोः कः भेदः। In as much as avidyā in its collective aspect is not different from avidyā in its individual aspect, what difference can there be between Īśvara and Prājña? When the waves and the sea are one, what difference can we find in their reflections?(327)

कारणम् वपुः अपि स्व-रूपाच्छादकत्वेन आनन्द-प्रचुरत्वतः आनन्दमयः कोशः इति ईर्यते। The causal body of Prājña is also known as the ānandamaya-kośa for it envelops Prājña like a kośa or sheath, and at the same time it is also characterised by ānanda or plenitude of bliss.(323)

अस्य एकाज्ञान-भासकत्वेन प्राज्ञत्वम् सम्मतम् अस्य व्यष्टेः निकृष्टत्वेन अनेकाज्ञान-भासकम् न। It is known as ‘prājña’ because it illumines the sheath of avidyā in relation to each individual self. But Prājña is incapable of lifting the collective aspect of avidyā.(322)

अज्ञान-तद्-अवच्छिन्नाभासयोः उभयोः अपि यद् आधारम् तद् शुद्ध-चैतन्यम् तुर्यम् इति ईर्यते। Both avidyā and its reflection have pure consciousness as their basis. In relation to the other three levels of consciousness, that pure consciousness is known as the fourth (turya) or the transcendent(328)

The above verses seems to be in conformity with the the school of Shri Satchidanandendra Saraswati. Despite the experience , that lasts for an extremely short duration, it is no different from the state of Moksha, notwithstanding it is not sustained.

there is still Avidya in deep sleep and soul sees the ignorance of Sukshma Shareera in deep sleep.

Identification of Self with the subtle(sukshma shareera)- known as Taijasa cannot be enjoined with its causal body identification -known as Prajna, so the ignorance in the state of Taijasa is inapplicable during the state of Prajna.


To my knowledge, Advaita scholars acknowledge this grantha


Any ananda(bliss) is that which stems from sat-chit-ananda only.

There is never another ananda apart from it. This is clarified in 15 th chapter of Srimad. Panchadashi.

Vritti ( thought modification) is the dharma(intrinsic in) of the mind . . Only when this mind becomes calm without an iota of agitation it can reflect the bliss(ananda) of sat-chit-ananda in its entirety.This happens to all Jivas during sushupti, when it abides its causal body.

But any karma/impressions as part of causal body is latent thereby it cannot agitate the mind .hence ,whether it is the collective causal body or individual causal body, the bliss experienced is not hampered, so it is infered to be the same.Sustaining it thru Yog or Samadhi, is yet another topic on its own .How can it be a bliss differently assumed from one in turiya . Ekam Eva adviteeyam .Thus It is the same Ananda every where.

Only the experience of sushupti (deep sleep) alone should be taken into consideration before coming back. I infer this, to be the view point Sri satchitananda Saraswati, when He says ... but it is the experience of Moksha or Turiya., as the triad of knower , known and the knowledge seizes at that point.

Deep sleep state is never equal to moksha or Turiya( not similar as stated), although there is a temporary suspension of vrittis during deep sleep , which doesn't mean the dawn of self knowledge,as ignorance still persist as seed , but still the bliss aspect is temporarily experienced thus known as anandamaya kosha.Its not possible to draw parallels bw yoga sutras and Vedanta.

एतस्य (या) दृश्य-धी-वृत्तिः केवली-भाव-भावना परम् बोधैकतावाप्तिः (अस्ति सा) सुप्ति-सुप्तिः इति ईर्यते। When the object of knowledge, Brahman, whose nature is one of supremely pure consciousness, pervades the whole field of the intellect and all that takes place in it, there is nothing left except the concept of one-ness. That is the deep sleep aspect of deep sleep.(SVSSS 957)

सर्वप्रकारप्रमितिप्रशान्तिः बीजात्मनावस्थितिरेव बुद्धेः । सुषुप्तिरेतस्य किल प्रतीतिः Profound sleep is the cessation of all kinds of perception, in which the mind remains in a subtle seed-like form.(Vivekachudamani 121)

Chandhogya Upanishad 6.8.1

  • Thank you for the answer. But if you read carefully it is supporting the view of Bhamati and Vivarana of Moola Avidya still being there in sleep. Prajna is different from Turiya. Prajna is bliss, but not comparable to Turiya. Prajna is unification with Ishwara not Brahman which happens in Turiya.
    – user28152
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 19:17
  • Your answer says "Prājña is incapable of lifting the collective aspect of avidyā.(322)" The school of Shri Satchidanandendra Saraswati does not agree with the existence of collective Avidya, as far as I know.
    – user28152
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 19:20
  • Here there is no contradiction as sri Satchitananda Saraswati does not say States of Turiya Moksha Prajna are all same , but here the concern is only about the experience of Ananda alone. Avidya in aggregate aspect is the causal body of Ishwara, there is a difference bw Ishwara Prajna and Turiya, but the aspect of bliss permeates from Turiya the substratum which is the same.
    – Athrey
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 10:15
  • there is something wrong with that explanation. The feeling of Moksha(Turiya) is not the same as Sushupti. As I hae said the amount of happines is not at all comparable. Samadhi is pure bliss. It's effect is far more than any drugs. But even regular people will tell you drugs are more joyful than sleep.
    – user28152
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 12:46
  • Also, the claim that Subject Object disappears in sleep is false. Because the soul still sees the Sukshma Shareera of itself or Ishwara. It is not equivalent seeing once own Atma. Patanjali clearly says this. Nidra is one of the vruttis.
    – user28152
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 12:49

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