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This article is about consciousness. For the old chess game, see chaturanga. For the four-player game, see chaturaji.

In Hindu philosophy, turiya (Sanskrit: तुरीय, meaning "the fourth") or caturiya, chaturtha, is pure consciousness. It is the background that underlies and transcends the three common states of consciousness of waking consciousness, dreaming, and dreamless sleep.[web 1][web 2]

Mandukya Upanishad[edit]

Main article: Mandukya Upanishad

Turiya is discussed in verse 7 of the Mandukya Upanishad, but the idea is found in the oldest Upanishads. For example, chapters 8.7 through 8.12 of Chandogya Upanishad discuss the "four states of consciousness" as awake, dream-filled sleep, deep sleep, and beyond deep sleep.[1][2] Similarly, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, in chapter 5.14 discusses Turiya state, as does Maitri Upanishad in sections 6.19 and 7.11.[3]

Verse VII of the Mandukya Upanishad describes Turiya:[4]

Not inwardly cognitive, nor outwardly cognitive, not both-wise cognitive,
not a cognition-mass, not cognitive, not non-cognitive,
unseen, with which there can be no dealing, ungraspable, having no distinctive mark,
non-thinkable, that cannot be designated, the essence of assurance,
of which is the state of being one with the Self
the cessation of development, tranquil, benign, without a second,
such they think is the fourth. He is the Self (Atman). He should be discerned.

— Mandukya Upanishad 7, [4]

The insight during meditation of Turiya is known as amātra, the 'immeasurable' or 'measureless' in the Mandukya Upanishad, being synonymous to samādhi in Yoga terminology.[5]

Understanding of Turiya[edit]

Advaita Vedanta[edit]

Main article: Advaita Vedanta


Main article: Gaudapada

Gaudapada (ca. 7th century) was an early guru in the Advaita Vedanta. He is traditionally said to have been the grand-guru of the great teacher Adi Shankara,[6] one of the most important figures in Hindu philosophy. He is believed to be the founder of Shri Gaudapadacharya Math, and the author or compiler[7] of the Māṇḍukya Kārikā.

Gaudapada wrote or compiled[7] the Māṇḍukya Kārikā, also known as the Gauḍapāda Kārikā and as the Āgama Śāstra.[note 1] In this work, Gaudapada deals with perception, idealism, causality, truth, and reality. The fourth state (turīya avasthā) corresponds to silence as the other three correspond to AUM. It is the substratum of the other three states. It is, states Nakamura, atyanta-shunyata (absolute emptiness).[8]

Michael Comans disagrees with Nakamura's thesis that "the fourth realm (caturtha) was perhaps influenced by the Sunyata of Mahayana Buddhism."[note 2] According to Comans,

It is impossible to see how the unequivocal teaching of a permanent, underlying reality, which is explicitly called the "Self", could show early Mahayana influence.[9]

Comans further refers to Nakamura himself, who notes that later Mahayana sutras such as the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra and the concept of Buddha-nature, were influenced by Vedantic thought.[9] Comans concludes that

[T]here can be no suggestion that the teaching about the underlying Self as contained in the Mandukya contains shows any trace of Buddhist thought, as this teaching can be traced to the pre-Buddhist Brhadaranyaka Upanishad.[9]

Isaeva states that there are differences in the teachings in the texts of Buddhism and the Mandukya Upanishad of Hinduism, because the latter asserts that citta "consciousness" is identical with the eternal and immutable atman "soul, self" of the Upanishads.[10] In other words, Mandukya Upanishad and Gaudapada affirm the soul exists, while Buddhist schools affirm that there is no soul or self.[4][11][12]


Adi Shankara described, on the basis of the ideas propounded in the Mandukya Upanishad, the three states of consciousness, namely waking (jågrata), dreaming (svapna), and deep sleep (susupti),[web 3][web 4] which correspond to the three bodies:[13]

  • The first state is that of waking consciousness, in which we are aware of our daily world. "It is described as outward-knowing (bahish-prajnya), gross (sthula) and universal (vaishvanara)".[web 4] This is the gross body.
  • The second state is that of the dreaming mind. "It is described as inward-knowing (antah-prajnya), subtle (pravivikta) and burning (taijasa)".[web 4] This is the subtle body.
  • The third state is the state of deep sleep. In this state, the underlying ground of consciousness is undistracted. "[T]he Lord of all (sarv’-eshvara), the knower of all (sarva-jnya), the inner controller (antar-yami), the source of all (yonih sarvasya), the origin and dissolution of created things (prabhav’-apyayau hi bhutanam)".[web 4] This is the causal body.

In the waking consciousness there is a sense of 'I' (self identity) and awareness of thoughts. In the sleep/dream state there is no or little sense of 'I' but there are thoughts and awareness of thoughts. Waking and dreaming are not true experiences of Absolute Reality and metaphysical truth, because of their dualistic natures of subject and object, self and not-self, ego and non-ego.


Vishishtadvaita Vedanta (literally "Advaita with uniqueness/qualifications"). It is a school of Vedanta philosophy which believes in all diversity subsuming to an underlying unity.

Turiya represents consciousness free from material influence. The idea is that consciousness, of which the atman is constituted, exists in our wakeful state of material experience, as it continues during sleep. In sleep we dream and experience the mental realm, whereas during our waking state the physical plane has more bearing on our lives.[citation needed]

Kashmir Shaivism[edit]

Main article: Kashmir Shaivism

Kashmir Shaivism is a school of Śaivism consisting of Trika, the three goddesses Parā, Parāparā and Aparā, and its philosophical articulation in Pratyabhijña, a branch of Kashmir Shaivism.[14] It is described by Abhinavagupta[note 3]as "paradvaita", meaning "the supreme and absolute non-dualism".[web 5]

The philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism can be seen in contrast to Shankara's Advaita.[15] Advaita Vedanta holds that Brahman is inactive (niṣkriya) and the phenomenal world is an illusion (māyā). In Kashmir Shaivisim, all things are a manifestation of the Universal Consciousness, Chit or Brahman.[16][17] Kashmir Shaivisim sees the phenomenal world (Śakti) as real: it exists, and has its being in Consciousness (Chit).[18]

The goal of Kashmir Shaivism is to merge in Shiva or Universal Consciousness, or realise one's already existing identity with Shiva, by means of wisdom, yoga and grace.[19][20]

Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta[edit]

Vasugupta (860–925) was the author of the famous Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta. The Shiva Sutras are a collection of seventy-seven aphorisms that form the foundation of Kashmir Shaivism. The Shiva Sutras and the ensuing school of Kashmir Shaivism are a Tantric or Agamic tradition. The Tantrics saw themselves as independent of the Vedic mainstream schools of thought and practice, and as beyond the rules that had been put in place by them.

According to the Shiva Sutras, Turiya is the fourth state of consciousness beyond the states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep. Turiya strings together those three states. It is the Metaphysical Consciousness distinct from the psychological or empirical self. It is the Saksi or witnessing consciousness. And it is the transcendental Self.

According to Swami Shankarananda,

To find the Divine in the midst of the ordinary is turiya in the Shaivite sense of the word.[21]


Main article: Siddha

In the Hindu philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism (Hindu tantra), siddha refers to a Siddha Guru who can by way of Shaktipat initiate disciples into Yoga. A Siddham in Tamil means "one who is accomplished" and refers to perfected masters who, according to Hindu belief, have transcended the ahamkara (ego or I-maker), have subdued their minds to be subservient to their Awareness, and have transformed their bodies (composed mainly of dense Rajotama gunas) into a different kind of body dominated by sattva. This is usually accomplished only by persistent meditation.

In the Siddha System, the word turiya is not used to describe the fourth state of consciousness.[web 6] The Siddha Literature just mentions it to be the fourth state. The four states of consciousness as described in Siddha are:

  1. Nenavu or the wakeful state
  2. Kanavu or the dreaming state
  3. Sudhubdi or the Unsconscious sleep
  4. Thoongamal Thoongi Sukam pookuvathu, the conscious sleep state, or sleepless sleep full of bliss. This is the highest of the four primary states of consciousness.

This state has been described as a state achieved by meditation. The Siddha Turiya Meditation is a much coveted state of the consciousness and could be attained through sadhana, transmission through the eyes of master [web 7] etc. This consciousness takes one to the state of sleepless sleep, or the ‘zero’ point — where polarities collapse, duality dissolves, and the self dissolves into the infinite. It will allow you to let go of yourself, to trust your soul, and to experience the ultimate.[web 8][


Main article: Vaishnavism

Vaishnavism is one of the major branches of Hinduism along with Shaivism, Smartism, and Shaktism. It is focused on the veneration of Vishnu. Vaishnavites, or the followers of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, lead a way of life promoting differentiated monotheism, which gives importance to Lord Vishnu and His ten incarnations.

The Bhagavata Purana, verse 11.15.16 describes Bhagavan as turiyakhye (the fourth).[web 9]

The Bhagavad Gita, verse 7.3[web 10] defines turiya as:

Within the material world the Lord appears as the three Visnus (gunas). The original form of the Lord is another form still. He is beyond material nature and thus known as the fourth."[web 11]

Gaudiya Vaishnavism[edit]

Main article: Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Gaudiya Vaishnavism (also known as "Chaitanya Vaishnavism"), is a Vaishnava spiritual movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534) in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region (present day Bengal/Bangladesh) with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of the monotheistic Deity or Supreme Personality of Godhead, often addressed as Krishna, Narayana or Vishnu". Its philosophical basis is primarily that of the Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana, as well as other Puranic scriptures and Upanishads such as the Isha Upanishad, Gopala Tapani Upanishad, and Kali Santarana Upanishad.[web 12]

The Gaudiya Vedantins are interested in turyatitah gopala.[note 4] This is the fifth dimension in which one comes face to face with Gopala Krishna in Braj (Vraja Dhama), from adhoksaja to aprakrta, or from God consciousness to Krishna consciousness. Turyatitah (also spelled turyatita, turya-titah, turiyatita, or turiya-titah) is the experience of the ultimate reality:

The fourth dimension, turiya, is the ground of our existence and the goal of all transcendentalists. For the Vedanta philosophers it is perceived variously, either as undifferentiated consciousness or a relationship with the divine. Regarding the latter, Gaudiya Vedanta concludes that love is greater than ourselves, and it is the greatest aspect of God, one that he himself is motivated by. For them, the nondual consciousness of Vedanta philosophy is realized when we know that we do not belong to ourselves, what to speak of anything belonging to us. If there is any time at which we can accurately say that something belongs to us, it is when, having given ourselves in love to God, we can say that 'he is ours'."[web 13]

God and the finite souls are related:

This is the Krsna (Krishna) conception of Godhead, one in which God appears not as God, nor finite souls as finite souls. Both interrelate intimately as lover and beloved, Krsna and his gopis, beyond any sense of each others' ontological reality, yet beyond the material illusion as well. This dimension of love of Godhead is thus justifiably termed by the Gaudiya Vaisnavas as the fifth dimension, turiya-titah, the dimension of the soul's Soul."[22]

The turyatita state of consciousness is reflected in the Sanskrit poem, the Gita Govinda by Jayadeva, and Jiva Gosvami elaborated on this state in the Sandarbhas.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nakamura notes that there are contradictions in doctrine between the four chapters.[7]
  2. ^ Nakamura, as cited in Comans 2000 p.98.[9]
  3. ^ Abhinavgupta (between 10th – 11th century AD) who summarized the view points of all previous thinkers and presented the philosophy in a logical way along with his own thoughts in his treatise Tantraloka.[web 5]
  4. ^ Lord Gopala beyond fourth dimension, Gopala Tapani Upanishad 2.96


Published references[edit]

  1. ^ PT Raju (1985), Structural Depths of Indian Thought, State University New York Press, ISBN 978-0887061394, pages 32-33; Quote: "We can see that this story [in Chandogya Upanishad] is an anticipation of the Mandukya doctrine, (...)"
  2. ^ Robert Hume, Chandogya Upanishad - Eighth Prathapaka, Seventh through Twelfth Khanda, Oxford University Press, pages 268-273
  3. ^ Hume, Robert Ernest (1921), The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Oxford University Press, p. 392 footnote 11 
  4. ^ a b c Hume, Robert Ernest (1921), The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Oxford University Press, pp. 391–393  External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ Goldberg, Ellen (2002). Ardhanarishvara: The Lord who is Half Woman, p. 85
  6. ^ Potter 1981, p. 103.
  7. ^ a b c Nakamura 2004, p. 308.
  8. ^ Nakamura 2004, p. 285.
  9. ^ a b c d Comans 2000, p. 98.
  10. ^ Isaeva 1993, p. 54.
  11. ^ KN Jayatilleke (2010), Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge, ISBN 978-8120806191, pages 246-249, from note 385 onwards;
    Steven Collins (1994), Religion and Practical Reason (Editors: Frank Reynolds, David Tracy), State Univ of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791422175, page 64; Quote: "Central to Buddhist soteriology is the doctrine of not-self (Pali: anattā, Sanskrit: anātman, the opposed doctrine of ātman is central to Brahmanical thought). Put very briefly, this is the [Buddhist] doctrine that human beings have no soul, no self, no unchanging essence.";
    Edward Roer (Translator), Shankara's Introduction, p. 2, at Google Books, pages 2-4
    Katie Javanaud (2013), Is The Buddhist 'No-Self' Doctrine Compatible With Pursuing Nirvana?, Philosophy Now
  12. ^ John C. Plott et al (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Axial Age, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120801585, page 63, Quote: "The Buddhist schools reject any Ātman concept. As we have already observed, this is the basic and ineradicable distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism".
  13. ^ Wilber 2000, p. 132.
  14. ^ Flood, Gavin. D. 2006. The Tantric Body. P.56,62,63,66,68,146
  15. ^ Consciousness is Everything, The Yoga of Kashmir Shaivism, Swami Shankarananda pp. 56-59
  16. ^ Pratyãbhijñahṛdayam, Jaideva Singh, Moltilal Banarsidass, 2008 p.24-26
  17. ^ The Doctrine of Vibration: An Analysis of Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism, By Mark S. G. Dyczkowski, p.44
  18. ^ Ksemaraja, trans. by Jaidev Singh, Spanda Karikas: The Divine Creative Pulsation, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, p.119
  19. ^ Mishra, K. Kashmir Saivism, The Central Philosophy of Tantrism, pp. 330-334
  20. ^ Vijnanabhairava verse 109, dh 85, trans. by Jaidev Singh, p.98
  21. ^ Shankarananda 2006, p. 200.
  22. ^ Swami B.V. Tripurari. Entering The Fifth Dimension. 
  23. ^ Swami B.V. Tripurari. Jiva Goswami's Tattva-Sandarbha: Sacred India's Philosophy of Ecstasy. 



  • Nakamura, Hajime (2004), A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy. Part Two, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited 
  • Nikhilananda, Swami (1974), Mandukyopanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika and Sankara’s Commentary, Mysore: Shri Ramakrishna Ashrama 
  • Potter, Karl. H. (1981), Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Advaita Vedānta up to Śaṃkara and his pupils, Volume 3, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0310-8 
  • Shankarananda, Swami (2006), The Yoga of Kashmir Shaivism: Consciousness Is Everything, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited 
  • Sharma, C. (1997), A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0365-5 
  • Wilber, Ken (2000), Integral Psychology, Shambhala Publications 

External links[edit]