IMPORTANT POLICY STATEMENT:
Kind attention of contributors is invited to the guidelines in
Sri Ranga Sri Issues 04/24 dated 06/05/03 and 04/25dated 06/06/03
and the amendment in 04/28 dated 07/29/03
(archived at Yahoo group Messages 2678, 2691 and 2903).
NO DISCUSSIONS will be allowed in the JOURNAL even on matters
featured in the Regular Issues of the JOURNAL.
Any such discussions, comments, criticisms or responses
may be addressed to - Satsangam@yahoogroups.com
As only members can post, those desiring to post
may enroll in the first place, by sending email to -
The Sleep of the Awakened
A Beginner's Introduction to the Mandukya Upanishad
by Sudarshan K Madabushi
As a child I remember I was ordered by mother not to
go to bed without the name of God upon my lips.
Without asking for the reason why, I would obediently
mutter the 'nAma' of "mAdhava" thrice and turn off to
sleep. Similarly, immediately on waking up I was told
I should almost bellow out the 'nAma' of "hari" seven
times before starting the day. ("It does not matter if
others around you too are startled awake... That's
part of the purpose, anyway!" mother would chuckle!)
The habit grew on me over the years, thanks largely to
my dear departed mother.
It was not until many years later that I learnt the
practice of uttering the 'nAma' of God, before and
after a night of sleep, has its origins in ancient
scriptures. AndAl in the "tiruppAvai", for instance,
"uLLatthu kondu munivargaLUm yOgigaLum mELLa-ezhundhu
ari-yenra pEraravam, uLLam pugundhu arULelOr
empaavaay!" (stanza 6)
"Yogis and 'muni-s' awaken with the blessed name of
Hari upon their lips and minds..."
Sleep is a deeply mystical, sacred experience. We all
sleep. Hence we are all mystics
and to utter the name
of God before and after going to sleep is a good way
to remind ourselves of the fact.
"Mother of Fresh Thought"
We work hard all day, go about the hectic business of
our daily life, and expend precious life energy on a
hundred things and activities through the restless
waking hour. When night falls, however, we quietly but
instantly wind down. No matter how grave or pressing
the burden of cares weighing upon its mind, when night
falls, the world downs shutters, drops everything and
simply goes to sleep... even if it is only to "sleep
over the matter".
Some people in the world have great difficulty going
to sleep -- insomniacs, neurotics, and sleepwalkers.
Those with "sleeping-disorders" are really very ill
people. Incapacity for sleep and insufficiency of
sleep are the chief causes of much ill health and
unhappiness in the world. If the world slept well
there would perhaps be fewer wars and less marital
discord in it... Who can tell? It is said a large part
of the global profits that big multinational
pharmaceutical companies make is derived from... guess
what? Sale of drugs and medications meant to make
people sleep like normal human beings!
There are as many people in the world who suffer from
excess of sleep as those who either lack it or have
too little of it. The character Kumbhakarna in the
epic Ramayana is an extreme example of such men. Such
men (and women too) just love to sleep. You call them
in the morning you are told "Sorry, he's still in
bed". You call again midday and the answer is "He's
having his afternoon siesta". You call in the evening,
"Sorry, he retired to bed early tonight"!
Then there are ladies too who believe long sleep
enhances their beauty and adds lustre to their looks!
All such men and women actually suffer from a chronic
"sleeping-disorder" or syndrome which the
Bhagavath-gita (Ch.18 Stanza 39) calls "tAmasa-nidra"
(the sleep of the slothful). The afflicted ones get
very special mention from Lord Krishna. He calls them
by a bewitching name -- "mohAna~mAtmA". It is a name
that with a single syllable wrongly stressed might
easily be confused with another Sanskrit word,
"mOhana~mAtmA", meaning "beautiful soul"! If we take
care not to fall into the trap of Krishna's naughty
wordplay, we will understand that "mohAnamAtma" refers
to soporific souls ("AtmA") condemned to remain
slumbering in the seductive embrace of Ignorance
yadagrE chAnubandhe cha sUkham mohAnamAtmAnah: I
nidrAlasya pramAdOttham tat-tAmasam-udhAhritam II
People who suffer from such "tAmasa nidra" are clearly
headed towards spiritual delusion and degradation, not
enlightenment, warns Sri.Ramanuja in his
'Gita-bhAshya': "nidrAyA mOha-hEtutvam spashtam".
Then there is another type in the world that neither
sleeps too much or too little but just well. They are
said to enjoy the sound and 'soulful sleep of the
carefree'. (In my experience, they also attract
good-natured envy wherever they go. Travelling on
Indian Railways, in an unreserved third-class
chair-car, I always envy the blessed few amongst my
travel-mates who can sleep soundly, blissfully snoring
too, amidst all the din and bustle of the rattling
train!). These good souls wake up from bed and begin
to immediately shine like the morning sun. They are
vibrant, cheerful, very sweet tempered; and they
remain pink with health all their lives. One of many
reasons why I think little babies... the ones we might
see cuddled up in cozy cribs or mother's arms... one
of the reasons why I think the babies of the world,
without exception, are all so angelic in disposition
is that they sleep so very well!
Genuine mystics ... the ones AndAl calls
"munivargaLum, yOgigaLum"... they are another sort of
angels that sleep really well. They sleep the sleep of
The mystic often goes into deeply meditative states
when it appears to us as though he has drifted off to
sleep. The Sanskrit word for such a state too is
"nidra" -- literally, sleep. But since this deep
meditative state is the special sleep of great yogis
(such as NammAzhwAr or NAthamuni, for instance), and
not the pathological slumber ("tAmasa nidra") of
"disordered" mortals, their "nidra" is differentiated
as "yOga-nidra". When mystics emerge from 'nidra-yOga'
they radiate grace... like morning sun rays bouncing
about splendorously inside misty woods of a dark rain
forest. Indeed, so fresh do mystics look, so magnetic
and so full of ineffable beatitude.
(They say the 'paramAchArya' of Kanchi Mutt,
'pujyasri' Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, often went
into 'yOga-nidra' only to emerge shining. In my
personal experience, the same could be said too of the
great "narasimha upAsaka", 'vaikuntavAsi' U.Ve.Sri
Mukkur Lakshminarasimhachariar. He frequently would
slip into "yOga-nidra" in the course of the many
'mahA-yagnyA-s' he performed. When he re-emerged he
certainly looked more radiant).
The sleep of good, ordinary mortals -- the 'nidra'
lasting just the right length of time, say, 5 to 6
hours a day -- though not of the same nature as the
sleep of the yogis, is nonetheless very invigorating.
We go to sleep every night as extremely tired men,
exhausted by all the strife and stress of the world;
but when we wake up in the morning we arise as
different persons altogether, isn't it? We feel a new
energy surging through our limbs and new light dancing
in our eyes! Like lesser mystics perhaps, but mystics
all the same, we too arise... make no mistake about
it... we too arise from the experience of deep sleep
exactly as yogis do from their own 'nidra' -- we wake
up strengthened, uplifted and revitalized! The famous
English poet William Wordsworth, in his poem "To
Sleep", describes exactly this kind of deeply
nourishing Sleep in lines that are memorable indeed:
"... last night, and two nights more, I lay,
And could not win thee, Sleep! by any stealth:
So do not let me wear tonight away:
Without Thee what is all the morning's wealth?
Come blessed barrier between day and day,
Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health!"
(W.Wordsworth "To Sleep")
Sleep, beloved Mother Sleep whom we beseech to take us
into her embrace each night, she turns even plain men
like us into mystics all...
(to be continued)
Yahoo! India Promos: Win TVs, Bikes, DVD players & more!
Go to http://in.promos.yahoo.com