Waking State, Dreaming State and Deep Sleep

There are essentially three states in us – the waking state, dreaming state and deep sleep. These are three manifestations of consciousness within us. By understanding the working of consciousness through these three states, we start to appreciate a lot about ourselves and the way we have been created in this universe.

states of consciousness

(Image Credit: Tony Alter)

19 Mouths and 7 Limbs

Our Individual Self is considered to have 19 mouths and 7 limbs in a poetic expressive manner. The 19 mouths are our 5 sense organs (Eyes, Ears, Taste, Touch, Smell), 5 action organs (Hands, Legs, Excretory Organ, Mouth, Reproductory Organ), 5 Vital Breath (Pana, Apana,  Udana, Samana, Vyana), Mind Intellect, Ego and Chitta. All of our experiences happens through these 19 means. There is no experiencing outside of these means.

The Seven Limbs of the Self are Effluent Region (Head), Sun (Eyes), Air (Vital Breath), Space (Middle Part of the Body), Water (Kidney), Earth (Feet) and Fire (Mouth). These “Limbs” also help us in experiencing the world that is around us. The Mandukya Upanishad claims it is these 19 mouths and 7 limbs that help us understand who we are and what is around us. To someone who does not understand the principle behind these concepts, such ideas may look far fetched.

Waking State

In the waking state, we use our 19 mouths very effectively. We sense the world around us using the sense organs and we act in that world using our action organs. Our most material life happens in this state. We recognise our possessions and relationships in this state of the consciousness. All our ambitions and aspirations for material wealth and positions stem from this state. This is the most familiar conscious state in our experience. All of science and progress are concentrated on the waking state. Also, we are most familiar with  the waking state. We can predict and control what we experience in the waking state. Any sense of power and influence over ourselves or over others happen in this state.

Our field of experience in the waking state is limited to our sense organs only. We chase behind objects of enjoyment, which results from satisfaction of sense organs in this state. Compared to the totality of experiences available in the universe, the sensory experiences that we enjoy is quite limited in many aspects. Yet, we are not able to move beyond the triviality of these senses.

Dreaming State

During the waking state, we collect a lot of information through our sense organs, action organs and mind faculty. These information collected during the waking state starts working in the subtle plane of dream state. Unlike the waking state, we have very little control of what we may experience in the dream state. There are practices like Lucid Dreaming where people bring control over their dreams. Yet, total control over what we could experience in our dreams is rare.

In the Dream state, we exercise our inner most mental pictures. Our subtle body captures a lot of information about us from the waking state and works itself out during the dream state. We do not dream totally unrelated things or in languages that we do not understand at all. There is often a lot of familiarity in the settings and environment in which we dream, as it is a subtle extension of our waking state.

We do not experience total bliss and peace in our dreaming state as well. We are not completely at rest when we dream. There is often movement of the body and reaction to stimuli in our dreams. People talk during sleep and even sleepwalk during the dreaming state.

Deep Sleep State

The deepest state of consciousness is the state of deep sleep. It is a completely joyful experience. We move beyond the gross objects of waking state and mental images of the dreaming state in deep sleep. Entire consciousness crystallises into one mass of awareness. Deep Sleep is considered as the pathway to true knowledge. Meditation is an attempt to recreate the deep sleep state in the waking state – when we detach ourselves from the gross objects and mental imagery of dreaming state.

Deep Sleep is a state of immense possibility. It is the closest state to ultimate bliss. In deep sleep, we experience our truest bliss. All forms of life enjoy true sleep, no matter how many times we have gone to sleep. Imagine listening to the same song everyday for 4 hours on loop. We may start losing taste for that track with time. Same is the case with food as well. The same food over and over again for a long period of time is not enjoyable. But, from birth to death, living forms never get tired of Deep Sleep.

A closer identification of our states of consciousness opens up a lot of possibility in understanding ourselves.

Vedic Principles behind Wealth

Vedic teachers have pointed that desire for wealth is a blessing only when the individual has been educated to entertain noble qualities of head and heart, and the enduring values of the spirit. There is a lot of work that needs to be done on the Self before we can deserve wealth. Otherwise, we may not know how to view wealth in the right way. Unfortunately, we do not learn what these values are in our formative years. Instead, we see how wealth is seen as a power tool that increases the division between the haves and have nots.


(Image Credit: Miran Rijavec)

Qualities to Deserve Wealth

Wealth can be deserved by a person only when she/ he has full discrimination, good health, spirit of tolerance and great will of service. Discrimination is the true capacity to distinguish right from wrong. It is the power to understand good and evil. Discrimination is the ability to read people and circumstances in line with the scriptures. A lot of problems in the world is due to the poor discriminating skills among the rich and powerful. Look at Wars, Poverty, Corruption, Government Scams and such that is so common today. At the roots of most of these evils lies the lack of Viveka or Discrimination.

In the Kali Yuga, the man with wealth is considered wiser than the one with a pure intellect. A man with true wealth and intelligence may however realise the weakness of wealth induced illusion of wisdom. With such great powers, supreme tolerance is very relevant. Tolerance is not just allowing any unacceptable qualities and ideas pass through unchecked, but higher sense of wisdom in itself. For instance, tolerance towards disrespect to a being weaker than you are is not good. Or tolerance towards letting someone sleep hungry is again weak. However, tolerance towards listening to both sides of a religious debate is good. We can again see how tolerance has an element of discrimination in it.

A wealthy person without a spirit of service is a very unfortunate phenomenon. Wealth brings in a lot of possibilities. The unwillingness to exercise such possibilities through selfless service is to disrespect your wealth. Wealth can answer problems in health, education, hunger, child care and so many such challenges across the world. However, when we think only about our selfish needs and our own people alone, sense of service does not kick in.

Wealth in Wrong Hands

Wealth in the hands of unprepared intellects and uncultured hearts is not only suicidal to themselves, but also a threat to the very stability of society. Extravagance and exhibitionism starts with unprepared intellects. With arrival of money, if our first instincts are to buy material objects and comforts, we may defeat the very purpose of prosperity. Material goods of very high scale results in division within the minds of people. Feelings of envy and pride may arise within hearts of men with wealth. This does not always proceed in the right direction. Competition and Race also ensues with wealth in wrong hands.

Wise beings claim that there is enough resources in this planet for everyone to live comfortably and happily. Yet, why do global hunger and poverty rise? Why do the gap between the haves and have nots widen? These are very relevant questions to pose to the society. Is there a fundamental problem in the way we perceive money? Are we too personal and narrow visioned that we cannot see beyond our immediate selves and immediate family? Do we disconnect from the needs and the reality of the planet?

Means to an End

Wealth can be justified only by the mission it fulfills. It is seen more as a means to an end rather than the end itself. For instance, beings who work towards uplifting the society by building universities, reviving libraries, providing nutrition to children around the world, raising vegetables without pesticides and so on can justify the need for money. Such money has higher Karmic value than the kind of money that is used to buy your fourth house.

It is good to understand “Dharmic Economics” as well in addition to the Materialistic Economics that we are all familiar with.

Vedic Gods of our Body Organs

The parts of our body are sacred. There is a Deva Sankalpa (Divine Invocation) in each part of our body. An understanding of the Vedic Gods that are associated with our organs and the mind will help us respect ourselves better.

Sense Organs

  1. God of Ears – Akasha (Dik Devatha)
  2. God of Eyes – Sun
  3. God of Nostrils – Ashvini Kumaras
  4. God of Tongue – Varuna
  5. God of Skin – Vayu

Motor Organs

  1. God of Speech – Agni
  2. God of Hands – Indra
  3. God of Legs – Vishnu
  4. God of Anus – Yama
  5. God of Sex Organs – Brahma


  1. God of Conscious Mind – Moon
  2. God of Subconscious Mind – Achyutha (Vishnu/ Krishna)
  3. God of Intellect – Chaturmukha
  4. God of Ego – Shiva

This shows that Divinity is right within us, as mentioned by our ancestors.