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Shiva Sutras 3.20, 3.21, 3.22 & 3.23 – Turya State


Shiva Sutra 3.20

Trisu caturtham tailavadasecyam

There are four states In Kashmir Shavism: the waking state (jagrat), the dreaming state (svapna), the state of deep sleep (susupti), and a fourth state called TURYA which is “filled with pure knowledge, pure light, and the ecstasy and joy of turya. … The state of turya is found in all these three at the moment of entry and at the moment of exit. [SLJ]”

Yet most people are absolutely unaware of turya. Jaideva Singh defines turya as the witnessing consciousness and the transcendental Self.

Swami Lakshmanjoo comprehensively explains turya in Chapter Sixteen of his book on Kashmir Shaivism. “Between the three states of the individual subjective body, waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, there is a gap.” When you pass from one state to another, from waking to dreaming or from dreaming to dreamless deep sleep, you enter into this ‘juncture’ called turya.

Perhaps one approach to glimpse the understanding turya is an experience I believe most aware self-reflective people are familiar with. In those subtle very elusive and quickly vanishing moments when we are first coming up out of deep sleep or even the dreaming state, many may feel that we have been given some insight or inspiration. Often this is very helpful and offers the resolution to an important problem or even practical advice. It is as if we are receiving guidance from our soul deep within or the inspiration for a creative endeavor.

Turya “cannot be experienced by focusing on it because whenever you gaze on this junction, waiting for it to happen, it will never happen. [SLJ]” So turya is elusive and yet is said to be “already found in the states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.” The three states are compared to swords and the fourth turya state is their sheath and thus “they are united with each other. [SLJ]” Turya is united with the other three states even though we are not aware of this fact.

In this sutra the imagery of pouring oil is used to illustrate that the state of turya, the ‘witnessing consciousness’ of the God-within, must be ‘sprinkled’ onto the other three states so that they “may acquire the condition of complete identification with it (i.e. turya). [Jaideva Singh]”

Just as oil spreads on a smooth “surface, adhering to it, so in this way a yogi must expand the state of turya into the other three states. [SLJ]” Kashmir Shaivism teaches that our awareness of God consciousness will eventually permeate not only our waking state, but also the dream and dreamless deep sleep states.


Shiva Sutra 3.21

 Magnah svacittena praviset

How do we achieve permeating these three states with the fourth - turya? Swami Lakshmanjoo says that we must become merged in the Being of the Oneness. “When you have developed I-ness on the body of wakefulness (the gross body), on the body of dreaming (prana – vital air, life breath), and on the body of deep sleep (the subtle spirit body – puryastaka), then that ‘I’ consciousness is to be merged in the nectar of the ecstasy of consciousness. [SLJ]”

This type of means for achieving God consciousness is shaktopaya, which is based in knowledge, a firm awareness, and does not involve saying mantras or breathing exercises.

Jaideva Singh: “By means of this (shaktopaya), one takes the plunge into the 4th State (turya) by silencing the mind, by detaching oneself from the body, prana, etc, by sheer awareness of the pure I-consciousness (the Oneness). The aspirant enters the secret chamber of transcendental consciousness with a spontaneous immediacy of feeling as the baby slips into its mother’s arms.”

Our sense organs, the five senses and the mind, control our every impulse in each moment. If we observe this phenomenon, we can detach our consciousness from the power our senses have to wrap us in self-created webs of delusion. The trick is to observe how they operate on us through external objects. The mechanics of the senses are a perpetual ‘sales’ job. They own us – we have to reverse that.

Jnanagarbha Stotra: “When in ordinary daily life one repels the actions of the mind and shatters dependence on the senses, by which one is enslaved, causing one to follow them according to their every wish, and instead diverts his senses towards God consciousness, then by your (God’s) grace he instantly achieves that supreme state of God consciousness, which floods him with the unparalleled nectar of bliss (ananda). [SLJ]”

Here the suggestion is made that slipping into God consciousness can be instantaneous and require no effort on our part at all. All distances between our temporal selves and God consciousness are in fact illusory. Eventually we come to know this.


Shiva Sutra 3.22

Pranasamacare samadarshanam

Swami Lakshmanjoo: “When his breath begins to slowly move out toward the external state, then he also experiences the pervasion of God consciousness there.”

The transcendent state of turya is found to permeate the other states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. All states are experienced as God consciousness and the yogi feels that his breath is filled with a supreme fragrance. He is “a king of yogis. He never loses his God consciousness… (which) endures in each and every state of his life, whether it be waking, dreaming, or deep sleep.”


Shiva Sutra 3.23

Madhye ‘varaprasavah

However, there are unfortunate yogis who cannot hold onto God consciousness in the waking state, dreaming and deep sleep states. The cause of this is explained in the Malinivijaya Tantra:

“Due to the impressions he has of what others think of him or expect from him and of his wanting to help others…he is played…played by every aspect of daily life. Therefore, the one who desires to achieve the highest being should not be attached to these outer impressions. [SLJ translation]”

Jaideva Singh translates this quotation from the Malinivijaya Tantra to read: “Even when one has obtained some impression of the transcendental state, if one is not on the alert, then the vinayakas induce him to transient pleasures.”  Vinayakas are defined as beings that create obstacles in spiritual progress by offering temptations. These ‘transient pleasures’ may be tendencies which are the consequence of spiritual pride.

Swami Lakshmanjoo elaborates in more detail the behavior of the yogi who is attached to these outer impressions such as caring about what others think of him or being in need of wanting to help them. He says that the yogi may want “to satisfy them with boons (gifts), he may lose his temper and become careless and uneven-minded, (thus) blocking his flow of God consciousness…(and) he is played.” Therefore we should not become attached to these impressions and the subtly deceptive vinayakas that seduce us away from the treasure of our God consciousness.

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Perhaps Swami Lakshmanjoo did not want to cloud our thoughts with visions of beings that tempt us away from God consciousness. We have understood that everything is God consciousness - therefore even the ‘entities’ that distract us and derail us from our Path are also God. The concealing binding energies and obstacles that hold our consciousness in illusory states and drag us back into delusion are also God and therefore produced by and within us. The ‘enemy’ is us!

Swami Lakshmanjoo seems to be more intent on the practical consequences of these impressions. Being attached to what others think of us, and the need to help others are seen as seductive traps. If we are genuinely immersed in the Oneness, there can be no feelings of insecurity that would leave us needy, vulnerable to the judgments of others.

However, I believe that the “need to help others” is even more insidious and subtle. All masters are helping others - and many are generous not only with their time and wisdom, but also often heal the sick.

Swami Lakshmanjoo was financially independent and never took money from his disciples. He taught freely to those who sought him in Kashmir. He did not like to use his siddhic powers and warned others of their dangers, but on occasion he did heal sick people who came to him and often gave money to those who needed it.

So I don’t believe he is saying we should not help others. Rather I feel that he is saying we should not ‘need’ to help others. In other words, helping others should not be a factor of our own weakness - our need to shore up feelings of insecurity and helplessness. Helping others must not be ego based. We help others because do so is in harmony with our own God consciousness.

The idea of God’s absolute Free Will svantantrya also becomes relevant here. God is everyone waiting patiently within us always. Swami Lakshmanjoo is quite clear in the teaching that God will wake up in each of us only when God is ready to do so. In fact, the longing for God consciousness, the willingness to seek wisdom and devote our lives to any practice is perceived as a ‘symptom’ that God has already bestowed Grace on an individual. Being drawn to a life of devotion to wisdom and the Path Home are the effects, not the cause.

Therefore we must face the fact that no one really needs our help, because they already have all the help they require – which is of course the God-within them! Everything is already always in each of us! We help others because it is in harmony with our own God consciousness – not because we need to feel needed. There is a difference.



KASHMIR SHAIVISM, The Secret Supreme, Revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo, edited by John Hughes; Universal Shaiva Fellowship, 1985, 2003.


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Swami Lakshmanjoo