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While dreaming is typically considered an unconscious process, and creating something consciously (may be 'sankalpa') is a distinctly separate activity.

Mahabharata, for instance, outlines the cyclical process of creation and dissolution:

With the commencement of Brahman's day the universe begins to start into life. During the period of universal dissolution the Creator sleeps, having recourse to yoga-meditation. When the period of slumber expires, He awakes. That then which is Brahman's day extends for a thousand such yugas. His nights also extends for a thousand similar yugas. They who know this are said to know the day and the night. On the expiry of His night, Brahman, waking up, modifies the indestructible chit by causing it to be overlaid with Avidya. He then causes Consciousness to spring up, whence proceeds Mind which is identical with the Manifest.

[Section 231, Mokshadharma Parva, Santi Parva, The Mahabharata]

The above passage clearly mentions that universe is present in Brahma's day time only and it ceases to exists in his night time when Brahma is in Yoga nidra. There is no possibility of Brahma to be in dreaming state so that Brahma creates universe unconsciously in dream. But in general,people use to believe that universe is in dream of Brahma.

According to the text, the universe exists during Brahma's "day" and dissolves when Brahma enters a state of Yoga Nidra at "night". This process doesn't suggest that the universe is an unconscious dream of Brahma's.

So, my question is this: in which 'avastha' (state of consciousness) is Brahma in when he creates the universe? And why is the common belief that the universe exists within Brahma's dream, even though scriptures suggest it is a conscious creation?

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You are taking a figurative picture literally. There is no need to do that.

Brahma’s day and night is figurative.

This period is called the night of god Brahma. The creation of the universe is called his day. Really, there is neither day nor night of Brahma. This is used in a figurative sense.

Kurma Purana I.4.11

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  • I agree with it. But the intention of question is about the avastha in which Brahma is in during universe creation.
    – hanugm
    Jul 1, 2023 at 7:05
  • It is not possible to any jiva to know that. This is the reason why Hindus scripture uses figurative expressions. Jul 2, 2023 at 4:14
  • I think it is 'Dhyana'.
    – hanugm
    Jul 2, 2023 at 6:44
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The state of consciousness in creation is the waking state and the dissolution is Turiya, samadhi, yoga, etc. Waking state is active, whereas Turiya is still. Kalpas and samkalpas are attached to the waking state whereas they fall away in Turiya. Yoga Vasishtha:

5.9.56. It is the conception of the world, in my mind, that causes its existence.

Similarly, Hathapradipika:

4.58. The entire universe is the fabrication of thought only. The play of the mind is created only by thought.

4.34. People say laya (dissolution), laya but what is the nature of laya? Laya is the non-recollection of the objects of sense due to the non-recurrence of previously acquired impressions and tendencies.

Creation is manifestation and dissolution is them returning to their source. As the Bhagavad Gita says,

2.69. The man of restraint is awake in that which is night for all beings; the time in which all beings are awake is night for the sage who sees.

8.17. They who know that the day of Brahma extends as far as a thousand yugas, and that the night of Brahma ends only in a thousand yugas, they are men who know day and night.

8.18. From the unmanifest, all manifestations come forth at the arrival of (Brahma's) day. At the arrival of (Brahma's) night, they are dissolved. That point is to be known as the manifest again.

8.19. This multitude of beings, having come to be again and again, is dissolved helplessly at the arrival of night, Arjuna, and it comes into existence again at the arrival of day.

Beings come into existence at the arrival of day and are dissolved helplessly at the arrival of night, on account of them identifying only with the waking state (day). These beings experience deep sleep as dissolution or non-existence. Said in 2.69, sages are awake in deep sleep (night) and are not subject to falling into the waking state or forgetting Turiya. In this way, the waking state is a day or kalpa of Brahma and deep sleep is night or pralaya of Brahma.

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