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Different States of Consciousness of the Living Entity
Originally, the living entity has pure consciousness, but when he comes in contact with the material modes, his consciousness becomes polluted just like pure rain water becomes muddy on coming in contact with the soil. In the polluted state, his consciousness becomes covered by so many unwanted designations— 'I am an Indian' T am a boy' 'I am fair' T am an engineer' 'I am rich' etc. These false designations are called maya.
While the living entity is in the material world, his consciousness is in four different states:
4.Turiya I Samadhi.
1.Jagruti: In the, jagruti state, our consciousness is alert, but still we identify ourselves completely with the material body and the material world. This state is therefore also called abhinivesha, absorption in material energy. For those in the jagruti state, this material world appears to be all in all and they work hard like donkeys to settle permanently here. But the pity is that all the arrangements made by them for a permanent settlement will be smashed to pieces by the force of time.
2.Svapna: In the svapna state, the consciousness of the living entity becomes covered and he enters a dream state. For example, suppose you see a tiger chasing you in a dream. You run, run, run and run to save your life. But the tiger keeps coming closer and closer and then it catches you by your thighs. You scream and jump out of your bed in mortal fear. You fall on the floor with a thud, wake up and realize that actually nothing had happened; you were safely sleeping in your bed. But your body is sweating profusely out of fear. Thus though the dream was imaginary, it had a real physical effect on your body. This means that when you are in the dream state you imagine the dream to be a reality. The following story illustrates this state of consciousness:
3.Once a king had a dream. In his dream, he was a butterfly and was moving from one flower to another sucking the honey.This dream appeared to go on for a long time and the whole experience of his being a butterfly appeared to be just like a reality to him. Finally, when the king woke up in the dead of the night, he was completely confused about his identity. He at once summoned all his courtiers, told them about his dream and asked them, "Please free me from my confusion: am I a king who is dreaming that I am a butterfly or am I a butterfly who is dreaming that I am a king talking with all of you? If you don't give a satisfactory answer to this question I will chop off the heads of all of you." On hearing this extraordinary question, all the courtiers were dumbfounded. They couldn't figure out which of the two was true - was he a king dreaming that he was a butterfly or was he a butterfly dreaming that he was a king? Actually neither of them is true. The truth is that a spirit soul has occupied the body of a king. But if he thinks, 'I am a king', that is an illusion. And if he thinks, 'I am a butterfly', that is an illusion in an illusion. The only difference is that the first one is a dream and the second one is a dream in a dream.
3.Sushupti: In the sushupti state, the consciousness of the living entity becomes even more camouflaged. He is in such a deep sleep that he doesn't even know what is happening around him.
4.Samadhi: Samadhi is the continued meditation to search out the four-handed Supersoul / Paramatma within one's heart and to see Him perpetually in meditation. In all the other three states, which are like dream for the soul, the living entity is put into different varieties of dualities and is subjected to a series of pleasures and pains.
As long as the living entity is in the material world, he lives in jagruti, svapna or sushupti. And all these states put him into complete illusion and constant suffering. At the time of death, the living entity is put into deep sleep, sushupti. till he is placed in a new body. During that period, he has to be in a mother's womb for many unendurably long months. In the third canto of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Lord Kapiladev describes how the fetus develops in the mother's womb around the soul. The consciousness of the soul is covered for seven months.During the seventh month, the child wakes up, and looks around to see where he is. It is pitch dark all around him, worms are biting his tender skin, the pungent food taken by the mother is also eating his skin. In that constricted chamber, he is lying upside down with his back arched like a bow. He passes stool in it and has to eat the same stool along with his hair. Being in such a miserable condition, he prays desperately to the Lord, "O my Lord! Please kindly rescue me from this horrible situation. I will eternally serve You." But once he comes out of the womb, he forgets his promise to Krishna and starts indulging in unwanted activities and gets entangled in the cycle of birth and death.
We should understand the helpless nature of the living entity. The living entity cannot perform any activity without the help of the Paramatma. The living entity is initially in a particular body and when he sleeps and wakes up, he finds himself in another body. This is very similar to a person, who is kidnapped in a blindfolded condition and, when released, he finds himself in an entirely new and unfamiliar place. In this way the living entity is helplessly thrown from one body to another according to his karma. And there is no escape for him unless he surrenders to Krishna. The living entity has thus been going from one illusion to another for countless millions of lives, perpetually tormented by the threefold miseries and repeatedly suffering birth, old age, disease and death. One should imbibe the divine vision of being able to see the suffering of the living entity because of his rebellious nature against the Supreme Lord. Then the doubt whether the living entity could be God will never arise in one's heart.And every intelligent person who is aware of his suffering situation should cultivate a thorough understanding about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, and about his eternal servitorship to the Lord. Then, if he performs devotional service by surrendering to Krishna, he will achieve the highest perfection in all of creation - freedom from the cycle of birth and death and return to the kingdom of God.